Review Summary: A dark and engaging listening experience not for the faint of heart. Bolstering together a strong foundation of ambient, industrial, electro, dark-wave, and avant garde, Sui Generis Umbra have created a draining yet rewarding listen.
I have something to tell you all of you sputnik dwelling music enthusiasts. My last review, you know that pretty little Hey Monday number I wrote back a couple days ago, well now it’s starting to leave a bitter taste in my mouth which refuses to exit the premises. The oh so sickeningly sweet band image starting with front woman Cassadee, the bubble gum sweet choruses, and the juvenile puppy love lyrics have filled my soul with darkness, more darkness, and even more darkness. Fortunately I found a cure from all the happiness and positive messages that Hey Monday could have corrupted me with. The Cure? A rather obscure and unholy Polish experimental/dark ambient project called Sue Generis Umbra. The group is composed of two artists, Elle, the voice of the project who alternates between clean singing and ominous spoken word sections is just as likely to muster out tortured howling and blood curdling screams. And Macie, the brains of the operation who used to play in the gothic metal band Artrosis leaves all of the metal elements out to create a terrifying and drawn out experience for the listener.
Coma, the duo’s second full length record finds Elle and Maciej transcending through a wide variety of tones and heavily synthesized soundscapes all the while utilizing an avant-garde mindset to the songwriting. Sue Generis Umbra like to toy with the listener and then finally dispose of the body after they get bored by throwing in elements of dark wave, industrial, electro, black ambient, and avant-garde to a constantly dark, depressive, and hellish environment. Elle brings to the table one of the most disturbing and schizophrenic vocal performances that I have ever heard. Picture a young woman named Eobraj backwards for Jarboe succumbing to utter madness by eerie and chaotic means almost as if she was possessed by Lucifer herself. This is what Elle sounds like because at one moment she is conjuring up a black mass as demonstrated in “A Black Headed Female” and at the next transitioning into a droning wail before morphing into something completely different. My favorite aspect about Elle besides her vicious and off kilter delivery is her clean singing. Because when she sings, a haunting purity resounds from the echoing syth lines and industrial beats. Of course without superb backing instrumentation her performance would come off as little more than a purely maniacal rant.
Maciej conjures up the best of electro and dark ambient with subtle noise effects, sweeping orchestrated patterns, and industrial beats that create a dark and cinematic listening experience. Each of the album’s eleven tracks generally retain a down tempo and depressive stance but Maciej isn’t afraid to kick up the tempo with a roaring industrial like rhythm. The midsection of “Lashta” for example brings to mind an ominous clip from any classic horror film with it‘s “he‘s right behind you, watch out, he‘s going to kill you“ bass and synth driven march. The mechanical feel of the drumming is as loud and punishing as the imagination allows it to be. Very crisp and full of punch, the drumming adds a nice rhythmic movement to the vocals and keyboards. Lyrically, this album is just as dark and oppressive as the vocals and backing music. The occult is a primary theme on this album adding yet another layer of darkness to the already bleak environment. Once your sucked into this recording there is a great chance you wont return feeling the same way you did before popping it on.
All in all, an engrossing and challenging listen not for the faint of heart. Sue Generis Umbra, just a band that I’ve come in audio contact not too long ago is quickly becoming one of my favorite dark and sinister indulgences. For those who like to push their music boundaries to the max, go and check this band out. I could see fans of black metal being attracted to this because of the strong ambience and tortured vocals that are present but I could also see fans of dark wave, industrial, and experimental music giving it the same appreciation. Godspeed little Vikings, bible thumpers, and Dark Knight fanboys.