Release DetailsLABEL Avantgarde Music
RELEASED ON 4/15/2013
...U.M.A. announces the arrival of a hugely promising new talent.
Progenie Terrestre Pura
If I’m being completely honest, I should probably admit that Progenie Terrestre Pura had me hooked before I ever heard a note of its debut album U.M.A. Not only am I a certified sucker for almost anything even vaguely categorizable as post- or industrial black metal, but that cover. I mean, seriously, take a good look at that gorgeous cover art. Accepting the band’s invitation doesn’t mean I have to stay for the whole party, though. Luckily, the album is every bit as classy and satisfying as its futuristic artwork implies, and U.M.A. announces the arrival of a hugely promising new talent.
The funny thing is, Progenie Terrestre Pura is a hell of a tough thing to describe. It’s nominally black metal, I suppose, but what else? Symphonic? Sort of. Ambient? Sure. Industrial? Of a kind. Atmospheric? Certainly. But if we combine any of those terms with black metal - symphonic black metal, industrial black metal, etc. - you’re sure to get the wrong idea. How about this: The first time I dived into U.M.A.’s deep, tremulous pools, the overwhelming impression that came to mind was that this is the album to answer the unasked question: What if Devin Townsend’s Ocean Machine was a black metal album? Superficially, there’s almost no real similarity here with Townsend’s masterpiece, but I still can’t shake that initial thought. There’s something about U.M.A.: its production, maybe, or its dense yet spacious sheen, or just some damned, intangible...feeling.
The album’s opening tune doesn’t even bother getting around to any actual blasting until near the four-minute mark, and even then, nothing sounds in the least bit aggressive, even as the guitars tremolo constantly, and the programmed beats pound unerringly, and the vocals float above the fray in a hoarse, detached whisper. The closest to properly “heavy” the song gets is when the drums lock in to a double bass pattern in the last minute or so. But even then, sheesh, this is like jackhammering through a rolling countryside of cloud-hills from 30,000 feet.
As the album unfolds, Progenie Terrestre Pura consistently reminds me of countless other artists and sounds without the entire assembled package ever sounding quite exactly like anyone or anything else. Imagine, I suppose, if DHG had set up shop in Star Wars’s Cloud City rather than the dank bowels of the Death Star to record 666 International. Or, I don’t know, if Darkspace and Blacklodge took some tranquilizers and fiddled around with the space disco of Lindstrøm and Pantha du Prince. The band’s sound is split almost cleanly down the middle between space-age black metal tricks and mellow, soundtrack-y bits stuffed full with all the retro-futurist-sounding bleeps and bloops of, hell, Tangerine Dream? Maybe some Windham Hill compilation?
Given the clear difficulties I’m having in communicating Progenie Terrestre Pura’s expansive vision, is it...is it cool if I dub this “new age industrial black metal”? Probably not, at least to anyone but me, but boy oh boy, this album is a pure sensory treat. And of course, to call any portion of this album “black metal” in any restrictive sense of the genre is a stretch. But still, lineage matters: I can’t see quite how you get to a world with Progenie Terrestre Pura without first moving through Mysticum, Limbonic Art, Aborym, and Dodheimsgard.
The most important point, though, is that U.M.A. is one-hundred percent about mood. You’ll find some muted clean vocals way toward the end of “Sovrarobotizzazione,” and “Droni” sees the band whip up some (relatively) intense interplay between the programmed drums and mechanistic riffing, which later transitions into a classic heavy metal gallop, but almost certainly by design, U.M.A. is a single, 51-minute journey through pillowy atmospheres and sharp outcroppings of metallic suggestion, like crude three-dimensional polygons barely glimpsed through the glittering haze of a comet tail. Elsewhere, the instrumental interlude “La Terra Rossa Di Marte” swoons and plunks away like Joe Satriani playing a Perdition City pinball machine in Tron, because, well, of course it does.
For all its brilliant, gleaming surfaces, though, Progenie Terrestre Pura seems to understand the tension, the undercurrent of whitewashed unpleasantness that simmers in all utopian futures. By grafting this sort-of industrial black metal onto such beautifully atmospheric soundscapes, U.M.A. occupies the same aesthetic terrain as a Minority Report or a Blade Runner. Maybe U.M.A. takes the listener on a similar journey to Ocean Machine, after all, except that the referent unit is an entire civilization rather than an individual, cast into an uncertain future and left to consider the conditions of its inevitable end.