Ars Magna Umbrae

Ars Magna Umbrae’s previous album, Lunar Ascension, was a good, but not great representation of post black metal. One standout is that the cover looked like a duck-billed platypus. If you take one piece of information from this review, let that be it. You can’t unsee it.

Once you’ve stopped laughing, you need to wipe that silly grin off your face and listen to the seriousness contained within their new album, Apotheosis. No duck-billed platypus here. Just skulls… and boobs. Ghost boobs, probably. I think that’s a metaphor for what you’ll find within the intro track “Through Fields of Asphodel,” which is mostly subdued ambience.

The first proper track “She Who Splits the Earth,” is definitely a great title. The vocals kick in almost immediately with the music, which sounds far more like early black metal than I expected. The production is sufficient for this genre yet suffocating in the way that there’s not a lot of breathing room for the instruments. With all that being said, it’s still a solid opener.

The next track, “On the Wings of Divine Fires,” hits me hard. I’m likely alone in this opinion, but I felt a palpable Mayhem De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas vibe. It has a mystique to it. The title track, “Apotheosis,” is next, followed by “Mare Tenebrarum.” To be honest, they blend together quite a bit. The latter track includes a section where it goes silent for a moment, which grabs your attention before getting back into a slower groove section. If not for that, these tracks would fly by without much attention being paid.

With about two minutes left, “Oracle of Luminous Dark” includes a weeping lead section, which essentially continues until the end of the track, but perhaps drags on too long. If not for the last 40 seconds, the closer, “Ignis Tenebris,” would sound exactly the same as all the preceding tracks, but it still doesn’t stand out too much.

After listening to this album more times than I can count, it falls heavily into the “I wanted to like it more than I actually do” category. Of course, I want to enjoy every album to which I listen. If not, why would I even do this? The truth is, you can’t win them all. In fact, you’ll lose most. There’s a life lesson for you. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Apotheosis. While I do enjoy some of the material, the production, while not horrible, is quite thin to my ears, and it impacts the overall product, turning it into background noise most of the time.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 2nd, 2020


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