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Umbra Nihil : Gnoia

This is the first full-length by Finnish duo Umbra Nihil, the band that debuted officially in 2003 on the split with fellow Finns Aarni. Released in a digipack with a striking painted labyrinth on it, it is a visual eyecatcher.

Since the 'Aarni/Umbra Nihil Split', the sound of the band has evolved considerably. The murky 'underwater' production from the first release has disappeared, giving way to a clear, more conventional production. Very good, except for the drums, which sound a bit artifical, as with Aarni.

That aside, I find it a bit difficult to describe the music on this album. First of all, it takes a long time to get into the Umbra Nihil style. Although doom riffs feature in many of the songs, the music doesn't closely compare to anything out there. The seven songs on 'Gnoia' are varied, enigmatic, and very melodic. They progress through their structures in a very natural, but original way. While it may be difficult to really get into them and find something, they're not boring.

My favourite tracks are the title track and 'Shields Down', which gets my vote for one of the most unusual song titles in doom. Wherever it comes from (Star Trek?), it has some beautiful acoustic/electric melodies. The solo on 'Gnoia' is equally great. Another interesting track is the Lovecraftian 'The Dreams In The Witch-house', the heavy parts of which remind me of that other Lovecraft-inspired classic, 'The Thing That Should Not Be', by Metallica.

This isn't an album that immediately grips you by the head and shouts "I'm brilliant", right in your face. Like I said, I think many people will have a hard time liking and/or grasping this album. Nevertheless, I think it's worthwhile to give this one a shot, especially if you're in for a bit of unconventional, but certainly good doom.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Nocturnal Occurences
2. Fear Of The Void
3. Gnoia
4. Shields Down
5. Words Left Unspoken
6. The Dreams In The Witch-House
7. Fade Out

Duration : Approx. 61 minutes.

Visit the Umbra Nihil bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Oscar Strik
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