Umbra Vitae’s deathly hammering match a chaos-ridden society in decay on debut ‘Shadow of Life’

Things arrive at strange times. I’m not asking you to read back the last couple weeks of this site, but so much music is landing at times where they are needed most. This doesn’t necessarily mean the music will make you feel better, but it comes to us at a time when its digestion will be most meaningful.

New death metal band Umbra Vitae is arriving at one of those opportune times with their debut “Shadow of Life,” which is the translation of their band name. The band itself takes their name from the Georg Heym poem of the same name, and that piece of work that was released posthumously in 1912, envisions a world where destruction is at hand and societies are folding on themselves. Fuck, did you pay attention to the news the past week or so? We’re on the brink, man, and this record puts a lot of that in perspective. Right, the band. You know these people. On vocals is Jacob Bannon, vocalist for Converge and mastermind behind Wear Your Wounds, guitarists Mike McKenzie and Sean Martin (both of Wear Your Wounds), bassist Greg Weeks (The Red Chord), and drummer Jon Rice (Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats), and here, they level you with death metal panic that crushes.

“Decadence Dissolves” is a quick intro where guitars crawl through thick humidity, and then it’s right into “Ethereal Emptiness” that’s a wild assault right away. Bannon’s voice is absolutely unmistakable though a little gruffer than his Converge delivery, as guitars unleash a sludgy fury around him, trampling and defacing before everything mercifully fades so you can breathe for a second. And it’s literally for one second as “Atheist Aesthetic” arrives and hammer away at your wounds. Shrieks and growls combine to amplify the pain as Bannon shouts, “One by one until there is none!” Muddy guitars pick up from there, and shrapnel is tossed dangerously through the air. “Mantra of Madness” is off to the races once it steps in, and the drums open up a massacre that has absolutely no mercy. Like, seriously. It kills. Anyway, the thing keeps ripping shit apart as raspy shouts rain down, the tempo fires up, and the track ends in total destruction. “Fear Is a Fossil” has grime-filled vocals that utterly punish on the verses. The chorus rolls you in a bath of cinders while guitars smear, and the ending adds salt to the punishment you endured.

“Polluted Paradise” is a really quick one where growls and shrieks warp together, and speedy devastation then piles into “Intimate Inferno” that continues to pound the gas pedal through the floor. Manic howls and huge jolts rattle bones before a strange psychedelic section hits and melts minds, and then it’s back into the heart of the inferno with riffs swirling and steady mashing doing their last bits of damage. “Return to Zero” blasts out as rapidly spat vocals shoot sparks, and sinewy guitars begin to flex their muscles. The leads swim through again before the song comes to a crunchy end. “Blood Blossom” lands heavy blows and feels a bit more ominous while thrashing takes over and continues bruising. The track grinds to a brutally slow mashing that sticks around until the pace ignites and ends in fire. The title cut closes and opens with drums assaulting and darker tones mixing into the waters. “We won’t find peace,” Bannon warns before deeper growls enter the picture, and the playing hits on a staggering pace. Screams reach out and soar into space while fluid guitars make their way in and help the track fade out.

Things are collapsing around us, people in our communities are losing their minds, and there isn’t a hope in sight that things will work themselves out. That’s not exactly a plus, mind you, but it should help you digest what Umbra Vitae deliver on “Shadow of Life,” a debut record that wrecks your guts and splits your mind. Yeah, you know the main players here and you know their pasts, but forget all of that and commit to a display that lets out all of its inner turmoil and matches the chaos around you.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

For more on the label, go here:

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