ALBUM REVIEW: Umbra Vitae – Shadow of Life

Converge is one of the lucky Hardcore/Punk bands that has seen notable success over the years. Though they have flirted with the metal genre on some of their albums like The Poacher Diaries (Relapse Records) and You Fail Me (Epitaph Records), frontman Jason Bannon has been itching to make something heavier. This veteran vocalist loves his celebrated children Converge and Wear Your Wounds, but is now really exposing his heart for ferocity with his new Death Metal project, Umbra Vitae. Along with some other experienced and eager members, Bannon has just released the band’s debut LP, Shadows of Life on his own label, Deathwish Inc.

The album opens with the short, ominous number, ‘Decadence Dissolves that prepares the listener for the brash brooding ahead. “Umbra Vitae” is the name of an acclaimed German poem that takes a very dark, intensive look at life. Which matches many of the doleful themes running through this entire record. Next up, ‘Ethereal Emptiness’ is a wave of merciless mania that immediately washes over the listener due to the skillful, uninhibited abilities of each member. The guitar’s authoritative tones and masterful melodies are brilliantly presented by Mike McKenzie from The Red Chord and Sean Martin from Twitching Tongues/ex-Hatebreed. The weight of their chaos settles in and overpowers the senses. Each savage sound delivered rips and roars with hostility. The filthy trudge of groove from The Red Chord’s Greg Weeks on the bass is highlighted on songs like ‘Mantra of Madness’ and ‘Blood Blossom’.

The menacing screech of Bannon saturates each piece with an unearthly angst and is particularly featured on the short chuggy song, ‘Polluted Paradise’. The shifts from speed to sludge and back again are seamless. There is design in their hysteria, and each skill set it brilliantly blended. The deliberate frenzy and blast beats from Jon Rice of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats/ex-Job For A Cowboy on the drums ignite a kind of rage that exposes the turmoil Bannon is singing about. The album ends with the title track which culminates each member’s discontent in an eerie, impressionable way leaving the listener’s heart racing. In under 30 minutes, this brand-new brutal band gives you a potent portion of deliciously aggressive Heavy Metal.

7 / 10