Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 10/21/2003
posted on 1/2004 By:
I really want to like Penumbra, and Penumbra really wants me to like them. But, we just don’t go together. Much like if I ever met Carmen Electra in person, potentially it would be a continual wet dream, but in reality it would be a messy, awkward, squidgy affair and ultimately a huge letdown. I mean for this album, Penumbra have added bagpipes, some ever so cool artwork, (like if Carmen agreed to wear a Valkyrie warrior outfit for our meeting). Still their blackened, over the Goth Pomp just doesn’t do anything for me despite its lush production, varied vocals and deep atmospherics. Alas, my musical Carmen Electra is a deadweight in the sack.
Much like similarly ineffectual prior album The Last Bewitchment, third effort, Seclusion is a concept album about the forbidden love between an angel and a mortal (Carmen and I?), so that predictable base is well covered, but musically Penumbra never rise to the visage they seem to offer with their concept artwork and stage presence (apparently). I mean every conceivable Goth metal trapping is used here, often overly. There’s the beauty and the beast vocals, with the beast being a far less harsh black metal squawk, there’s lots of sweeping keyboards, lots of choir filled operatics and clean male vocals. Sometimes I think a band of this style would get their album from a kit that came free with some cereal. It's certainly not bad, and Penumbra do have a level of artistry but so do Delight, Thalarion, To Elysium, Sacriversum, Via Mistica, The Provenance, The Blue Season, The Crest, Asgaard, Tristania, The Sins of Thy Beloved…..shall I continue?
The problem is the album just doesn’t do anything different, it extols the addition of bagpipes, but they only appear in a hugely disappointing limited role (the title track), and the Therion/Nightwish like choirs, while entertaining are also clichéd while being underused. If you are going to use a something another band does better, at least do it often. Even original female crooner Anita Covelli (back into the fold after a short break) sounds like every other angel voiced female singer in the genre. The band is tight, and they play their chosen style well, but it’s a.) nothing you haven’t heard before, and b). not much different than their last album, which I thought showed some promise. If anything, the material on Seclusion is more poppy and upbeat than its predecessor, with the choirs having a lessened role, and unfortunately it’s the one area where a rather enjoyed Penumbra.
To some credit though, Penumbra sound a little more natural though, from the little used bagpipes to the delicate flute that starts “Conception”, there is a little more of an organic vibe, despite the same ill advised dance beat they used on the last album again inducing cringes on “Cursed Destiny”. Penumbra don’t sound as forced as some of their peers and they are never quite as over the top, and maybe that’s why they don’t grab me by my puffy lace shirt and gently slap me into a teary eyed submission as some similar bands do.
For fans of the genre this isn’t by any means a must have, but it’s also not the worst I’ve heard. Penumbra are decent at what they do, but that’s about it. If they are happy being in the middle of the the eyeliner drenched pack, that’s fine, but to make strides in a competitive genre they will have to take some chances like country mates Leiden.
Like I said, I really wanted this to be a great album and like it immensely, but instead I got an OK album that after this review is published, I wont be listening to again.
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