Umbra Vitae
Shadow of Life


3.0
good

Review

by Tyler W. USER (47 Reviews)
May 2nd, 2020 | 52 replies


Release Date: 05/01/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Potential undermined by execution.

Umbra Vitae, the newest death-metal quintet fronted by Jacob Bannon, brings forth plenty of old faces to a newer sound. With a mixture of talents from Converge, The Red Chord, Uncle Acid, and Wear Your Wounds, the supergroup’s debut Shadow of Life fires on all cylinders, invoking an immense amount of ferocity and pure chaos. To make this album a bit more digestible for the casual listener, let’s observe the pros and cons:

Shadow of Life has a rather short runtime which greatly complements the abrasive and unrelenting heaviness that consumes the entirety of the album. In the same likeness, Umbra Vitae draws influence from each member’s previous band, coalescing into a product of mass composition that doesn’t shy away from the songwriting vein of its predecessors. Lastly, the record puts the pedal to the metal from its introduction and shows no signs of restraint through the entirety of its tracklist.

As for the cons… Well, just re-read the pros once more.

Seems a bit counterproductive, doesn’t it? Despite the cohesive efforts of Shadow of Life, everything that works for it simultaneously combats its progression. At first glance, the short runtime doesn’t extend its welcome is greatly appreciated within context as the brutality burdens the listeners in one fell swoop, leaving little room to breathe. However, the runtime comes with a set of its own issues as it fails to provide the necessary space for the music itself to fully progress, leaving it sonically in a monotonous state of heaviness. This is ultimately expected considering the parent bands that birthed Umbra Vitae, most of which are notable for their abrasive construction of death-metal tinged instrumentation and songwriting. As pleasant as this sounds on paper, Shadow of Life is riddled with remnants of its superior predecessors. From the hardcore-influenced riffs, to the blast beat laden drums, to Jacob Bannon’s iconic screeching, the impressive musicianship fails to evoke any sort of remarkability as it resorts to the trademarks of the orignal bands. Moreover, the members focus more on the ferocity of the genre rather than the immersive songwriting, resulting in a massive heap of intensity with little substance among tracks to fully digest, hindering the potential of the record.

However, the amalgamation of talents from the death metal veterans does not go unnoticed entirely. The vocal versatility present shines at the forefront of the album, seamlessly moving from highs to lows effortlessly. The heavy-riffing of the guitars are effectively complemented by melodic, albeit scattered, harmonies embedded within the atmosphere of Shadow of Life. Jon Rice’s efforts behind the drum are technically proficient on every front, bringing forth a performance of superb talent. The album’s concluding moments emphasize the sheer songwriting chemistry preserved within the vast lineup, as the highlight of the record closes the album with a culmination of each individual aspect of the preceding tracks. The melody, riffs, diversity, and instrumental proficiency concludes the journey perfectly as the band takes the best of their talents and displays them through a cohesive track of finality. Nonetheless, Umbra Vitae only present brief moments of potential, leaving a bittersweet taste in the mouths of listeners desiring more from what the band has to offer.



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user ratings (119)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
tyman128
May 2nd 2020


2269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That line up was so promising, but the album didn't really impress me all that much...

Shadow of Life easily takes best track on here for me

calmrose
May 2nd 2020


5669 Comments


good review

not in any rush to jam this but still curious

tyman128
May 2nd 2020


2269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks man! nothing really outstanding on here, but definitely check out the closer if anything at all

AsleepInTheBack
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2020


6796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I found the intro and opener the best of the bunch on this. Mostly agreed with your take; the record lacks character, but is certainly enjoyable enough.



"the impressive musicianship fails to evoke any sort of remarkability" is spot on.

Scoot
May 2nd 2020


20373 Comments


too safe for the amount of talent in the band

Digging: Growth (AUS) - The Smothering Arms Of Mercy

tyman128
May 2nd 2020


2269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yea, the musicianship was about as good as I expected from that lineup, but it lacked that extra bit of character like you said that would’ve definitely made it more enjoyable personally

SteakByrnes
May 2nd 2020


22089 Comments


Great review man, idk when I'm gonna get to this lol I'm in no rush tbh, the single didn't do much for me

MotokoKusanagi
May 2nd 2020


3666 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fun album for sure, great to hear Mike Mckenzie doing DM again

CugnoBrasso
May 2nd 2020


1109 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This album feels like holding your pee for an entire day

WatchItExplode
May 2nd 2020


8394 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I will say it again I think Bannon is the weak link here. This album made me realize how much I love the red cord though so there is that.

Digging: Broadway Calls - Sad In The City

Lucman
May 2nd 2020


5104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Dang, I really liked the lead single from this. Gonna check it today, hoping I'm not disappointed too.

Digging: Mew - Frengers

Lelle
May 3rd 2020


2591 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I think when it comes to this release, for most people I believe their feelings on the singles are going to be more or less representative of what they feel about the album. But it's definitely worth checking out, it's pretty solid.

TiedDown93
May 3rd 2020


67 Comments


Heard the single and was turned off so idk if I’ll check this out

Lucman
May 3rd 2020


5104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I see what they're going for, but it does sound like a one-ton stone tumbling through your eardrums. Too many chugs, no real interesting dynamics, and there isn't a ton of chemistry. It's like you said, they all tend to rest on their own laurels. There's nothing really noteworthy, unfortunately.

Million Ghosts
May 3rd 2020


125 Comments


i was interested for the first couple songs, and then i couldn't even force myself to pay attention. homogeneous is an understatement. sad considering the talent. also the production is weirdly flat which just highlights how samey it all is. it isn't bad, but it's not really good either.

tyman128
May 3rd 2020


2269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yea, it just falls flat with dynamics. It’s not bad but it doesn’t highlight anything special

fromrows
May 3rd 2020


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For what it is I quite enjoy this album.

Digging: Black Button - I Want To Be In Control

AxeToFall93
May 3rd 2020


259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's a pretty fun experience I think. Was hoping for more Red Chord magic here.

rafalafa
May 3rd 2020


218 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The okayest outcome from the personnel involved. I wonder if this is a one-off or not; I’d be interested in a follow-up.

spanndrew58
May 3rd 2020


150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It was definitely fun, but I doubt I’ll ever listen to it again.



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