Downfall of Nur
Umbras de Barbagia

Downfall of Nur, both the band name and this album, are inspired in full by the Nuragic civilization that existed on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean from the middle Bronze age, until its dissolution in the early Iron age.  The arc of this civilization is represented across the five lengthy tracks.  Immediately I’m hooked by the niche historical subject.  Press play.  The intro is distant low tom drums, strings, and woodwind flute.  All humming and breathing, making for a dramatic, melodic stage setting.  It’s short, as it should be, fulfilling the function of an intro track:  a brief transitional piece, easing the listener into the album.  Here it is very effective at setting the atmosphere for this entire record.

“II: The Golden Age”, carries on where the intro left off.  Barely a perceptible change, until guitars and full drums fade into the mix.  A ceiling of gray clouds move swiftly over the land.  From the flat prairie beneath one could nearly touch the billows.  Sharp rising hills protrude on either side. Drums increase the pace.  Far off, but rushing thunder makes for concussive aftershocks that spread across the valley. Farm animals cease grazing and stir into commotion.  Clouds rapidly blacken.  The first blazing streak of lightning punches the earth.  Drums roll into a blasting pattern, and shrieking vocals pour down in dense sheets.  The gods have been slighted, and everyone pays.  From here the album is in full stride.  This album wanes with ritual music passages, argues against the native deities in folk-metal flourishes, and rages forth when the gods exact their punishment on the land and people.

The cover of Umbras de Barbagia features a horned individual in a mask with a curved snout, covered in white script.  Absolutely curious, and convincing as an ancient ceremonial relic.  Being someone that truly believes in the power of “the album” in physical sense, having compelling art work lends to the imagination of the listener; supporting the music.  I envision the character on the cover as a modern representative of his lineage, using the mask to enter a spiritual dimension.  Working to end the effects of a curse that his plagued his bloodline for dozens of generations.  Battling the now diminished gods worshipped by Nuragic ancestors for control of his own destiny.

Responsible for this creation is one 20 year old Antonio Sanna.  The young man behind all of the writing and instrumentation, save for drums, for which a session player is credited.  Sanna in fact can claim connection to the subject Nuragic culture, having been born and raised on the island of Sardinia.  Only a few years back Sanna relocated to Argentina where the album was conceived.  The production is, as I like it, an indispensable factor.  The entire album is enhanced by a valley filling reverb. Sanna has banchee like screeching vocals which would have fatigued the ears had they been presented like most any depressive black metal record, but their treatment in the mix here is well suited, with omni directional distance.

If Fen appeals to the gods residing within the Earth, and Agalloch of the forest, then Downfall of Nur ride the wind in defiance of those that conjure rain and thunder.  Umbras de Barbagia displays a real competency for album length composition.  You listen from beginning to end or you don’t bother.  But, absolutely do bother.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
June 26th, 2015

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