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Sonus Umbra (Mexico/USA) - 2003 - "Spiritual Vertigo"
(61 min, 'The Sound of Shadow')


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TRACK LIST:

1.  Bone Machines 5:56
2.  Fool's Arcadia 8:40
3.  Man of Anger & Light 4:18
4.  Fascinoma 7:10
5.  Self-erosion 6:03
6.  Amnesia Junkies I 4:19
7.  Amnesia Junkies II 3:42 
8.  Timequake 5:31
9.  Rust in My Sleep 3:31
10. Snakes & Ladders 10:58

All music & lyrics by L. Nasser, except
4: music by L. Nasser & R. Gomez.
All arrangements: by Sonus Umbra.

LINE-UP:

Luis Nasser - bass, acoustic, & crunch guitars; keyboards; vocals
Andres Aullet - lead vocals
Ricardo Gomez - lead guitars
Jeff Laramee - drums; vocals

With:

Lisa Francis - additional vocals
John Grant - additional guitars

Produced by J. Grant, L. Nasser, & J. Laramee.
Engineered mainly by J. Grant at "Secret Sound".

Prolusion. "Spiritual Vertigo" is the third album by Sonus Umbra. Although their previous output was released in 2000, the line-up of the band hasn't changed since then, and even guest musicians are still the same. For more info, check the preface to the review of the band's second album >"Snapshot from Limbo" and Related Links below.

Synopsis. Sonus Umbra was always notable for a unique and immediately recognizable sound, and the band's new album is no exception to this rule, as well as an amazing ability to combine complexity with accessibility still remains one of the central hallmarks of their creation. Which, however, doesn't mean that nothing changed in their music with years, by no means. All the compositional and performance aspects of "Spiritual Vertigo" are marked with distinct signs of a highly increased maturity, but this is not all. The attempts to play both heavy and intricate that Sonus Umbra has undertaken on "Snapshot from Limbo" have been continued and successfully developed on "Spiritual Vertigo", so Prog-Metal has now become the essential part of the band's music. To be precise, it's not a classic Prog-Metal, but a very original Progressive Cathedral Metal with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock 'rules' on four out of the ten tracks here. These are: Bone Machines, Fascinoma, Amnesia Junkies II, and Rust in My Sleep (1, 4, 7, & 9), the second of which is the only instrumental composition on the album. The moderately slow, but really heavy and, at the same time, very diverse guitar riffs are in the basis of each of the said tracks, while varied interplay between amazingly inventive and highly virtuosi passages and solos of acoustic and semi-acoustic guitar and solos of bass, piano, and synthesizer form, proper, arrangements. The band's main man Luis Nasser, who now handles not only bass and acoustic guitar, but also all keyboards, has become a real and truly masterful multi-instrumentalist. Timequake (I like this title) and Snake & Ladders (8 & 10) also contain structures typical for Cathedral Metal, though the main constituents of stylistics of these are both of the guitar and symphonic kinds of Art-Rock. The remaining four songs: Fool's Arcadia, Man of Anger & Light, Self-erosion, and Amnesia Junkies I (2, 3, 5, & 6) represent the further development of the style prevailing on "Snapshot from Limbo", which, of course, is a guitar Art-Rock with elements of classic Symphonic Progressive and the parts of bass and acoustic guitar being mostly at the helm of arrangements. Vocalist Anders Aullet follows the best traditions of romanticism in music. On most tracks, his distinctive singing is from time to time supported by that of the other band members, as well as Lisa Franklin (of Kurgan's Bane). By the way, there is the eleventh, uncredited and, thus, nameless, track on the CD. It runs about one minute and features only the brief synthesizer solo concluded by Lisa with saying "I wanna tell you..." Thanks!

Conclusion. Sonus Umbra's "Spiritual Vertigo" is one of the best examples of an honest contemporary Progressive. By avoiding any cliches of the genre's glorious past, Sonus Umbra forms the glorious present of our beloved genre. What is more, this band has everything to become another representative of it in the so-called mainstream. In any case, the album is above all destined to the Classic Prog lovers, while Neo fans will be disappointed in any case:-).

VM: February 4, 2004


Related Links:

Musea Records
Sonus Umbra


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