Review Summary: Do you feel in space?
Allow me to open up my review with a wonderful audition from "Britain's Got Talent": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiWm4pxuh8w#t=02m06s
So, DO you feel in space? Italian black metal/ambient duo Progenie Terrestre Pura certainly want their listeners to. The attention-wresting cover art of their debut LP, U.M.A, unabashedly presents romanticized, fantastical imagery of the final frontier. The five tracks while being quite multi-faceted in terms of structure, all implement congruent thematic tropes; Progenie Terrestre Pura's steep their atmospheric black metal brew with a smattering of electronics, which phase in and out of the freezing blues of traditional tremelo-picked guitars and pseudo-string synths like a crackling satellite transmission. The overall aesthetic is about as grandiose as you'd expect given the scintillating cover art, but the actual material feels a bit reserved.
U.M.A.'s most apparent vice is that it may be too multi-faceted for its own good. Each of the album's five tracks fall into the seven to thirteen minute range, and each of them spiral into the vastness of infinity, without much thought for cohesion, other than the unifying theme of feeling "in space". Atmospheric Black Metal in particular is guilty of sacrificing attentive songwriting in favor of fabricating a lurid sketch of a (commonly frozen) landscape. But the tracks on U.M.A. are egregiously unfocused and any semblance of structure is thwarted by the sheer abundance of ideas presented. While U.M.A. is certainly successful in being very, VERY space-sounding, the musicianship itself is much less dimensional.
That isn't to say that this album isn't at all enjoyable, quite the contrary. U.M.A. is both aurally immersive and modestly entertaining throughout its 51-minute runtime. The sci-fi electronics that permeate each track fall somewhere between cheesy B-movie and the queue music during Disney World's Space Mountain. For all of their songwriting blunders, the band does a solid job at injecting interesting, and perhaps unexpected, moments into each song. "Sovrarobotizzazione" for example, features a fretless bass riff that one wouldn't expect to hear in a black metal record. La Terra Rossa di Marte" is the album's most electronically dominated track and ends six minutes of meandered swirling with a surprise blues-guitar solo. The album's most effective track, "Droni" builds to a wailing electric guitar solo before being released back into the vacuum of space.
While ultimately enjoyable, U.M.A. is mostly an album that will be remembered for directionless song-writing and punchless production. The album is interesting in that the electronic elements sound fantastic, but the actual black metal and potatoes sounds watered-down and flavorless. Progenie Terrestre Pura are certainly driven and ambitious, but they haven't yet carved an entirely effective niché for themselves. Space is cool and all, but how much does atmospheric black metal actually have to sound in space
in order to succeed artistically?
If Star Wars and Michael Machell have taught you anything, the answer is not very much.