Monday, January 22, 2018

Umbra Noctis - "Via mala" (Novecento Produzioni, 2017)

Band: Umbra Noctis
Title: Via mala
Genre: Black Metal with Rock influences
Year: 22th April 2017
Time: 47 min
Rating: 84/100

The Italian black metal band Umbra Noctis, through their singer Filippo Magri, sent to me, in September 2017, the physical CD of their second album "Via mala" ("Evil Way"), released some months before by Novecento Produzioni, a small and unprolific label from Italy specialized on black metal. But, when you will put their new effort into your turntable, you will discover a very particular and innovative kind of black metal!

First of all, there is need to say that Umbra Noctis dub their music as an "extreme unconventional metal". The "extreme" side of this definition comes from their strongly pure black metal nature (don't forget that they were born as a black metal band in the now far 2005). This means that you have to expect to listen to the screeching screams of Filippo Magri, simple and tremolo-picking riffs with a melodic approach and without playing any guitar solos, and also some furious attacks in blast-beat.

Instead, the "unconventional" side extend all the aforementioned black metal features towards strange musical horizons. This because Umbra Noctis claim to be influenced a lot by the rock music, so you can clearly hear this influence from the same riffs to the frequent melodic clean vocals (sometimes even integrated in the black metal parts) of Filippo, a singer full of talent and responsible of very deep lyrics sung (almost) exclusively in Italian (soon I'll talk you about them in a more specific way). You have also to consider that, here and there, you will find delicate acoustic passages in which it's possible that the drummer Omar Maghella beats on the borders of his snare drum, a technique certainly not common in the extreme metal, as all we know.

This live pic was directly given to me by Filippo Magri.
But all this "unconventional" side regards even the sensations that Umbra Noctis are able to transmit to the listeners. If they give sensations related with melancholy, winter (it isn't a case if a song is called "Nevica", that means "It is snowering") or pride during the black metal parts, the most relaxing ones gives to you a kind of serenity and hope. As a notable example, these last ones are expressed perfectly by "Maree" ("Tides"), a surprising sort of 10-minute ballad of pure poetry opened literally by the seagulls' squeals and noise of the waves, a very strange landscape for a black metal album. And incredibly, this is my favorite track of the entire album!

Another interesting feature of this band comes from the ability of every instrument to be fundamental for the success of the songs. In this sense, the basswork of Davide Bottoli is amazing while, also if the guitar solos are completely absent, the two guitarists Tiziano Valente and Filippo Oneda sometimes supports each other with layered riffs, in order to make more complete and suggestive the discourse. At this point, I think that the addition of another guitarist in the person of Filippo Oneda in 2016 has been a very good idea able to offer to the band new ways of expression!

Now, it's the turn of the lyrics! They are really fundamental to understand the music of Umbra Noctis, so I recommend to you to read them during the listening of the album. But unfortunately, you have to read the lyrics through the band's website because the CD has no booklet. Anyway, Filippo Magri draws poetic scenarios singing about, for example, melancholy and nostalgia ("Nevica"), hope ("Maree") or the cyclicity of life ("Spirale" - "Spiral") but I have to say that "Via mala" seem to be a half concept-album about winter considering that some songs are focused on it, and this is strange because the album was Summer 2016! In addition, the band show also a genuine Italian Patriottism ("Il sentiero del cervo" - "The Path of the Deer") while "Il Solco" ("The Furrow") is dedicated to the land where Filippo was born and raised singing even through his own dialect, and "Somnium" talks about Europe and its moral decadence.
But now I have to stop this review, otherwise it risks to be a real novel! As you seen, this album offers a lot of interesting inputs, so discovering it in its entirety is a journey that now goes to you. I think that "Via mala" is truly one of the better black metal albums from Italy released in 2017 also thanks to standout tracks like "Il sentiero del cervo", "Il solco" (watch above its promotional video with static images), "Maree" (WOW!) and the last one "Spirale". And now Umbra Noctis are preparing to play the next 3th February 2018 in a particular gig along not only with black metal bands like Avoid the Light and Asmod but even with a post-rock act named Baffodoro! And don't forget to go to Mantua, the beautiful city of Umbra Noctis, visited by me in the last Summer holidays!


1 - Nevica
2 - Il sentiero del ervo
3 - Il solco
4 - Maree
5 - Somnium
6 - Nami
7 - Spirale


Filippo Magri - vocals
Tiziano Valente - guitars
Filippo Oneda - guitars
Davide Bottoli - bass
Omar Maghella - drums

Official website:

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