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Umpfel - As the Waters Cover the Sea CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.67 | 14 ratings

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5 stars The Progressive Metal band Umpfel was formed in 2011 in Norway by Anund Vikingstad (guitar, bass) and Andreas Skorpe Sjoen (drums, keyboards, vocals). In 2015, they released their first full length album named "Cactus". Four years later, they have finally released their 2nd album called "As the Waters Cover the Sea". They have recruited a total of eight guests to help them out with this album, and among those musicians we have violinists and cellists along with additional guitarists. The album consists of 11 tracks that have a total run time of just over an hour, most tracks being around the 4-5 minute mark, but with a few on the last half of the album extending past that mark, up to just over 8 minutes.

The music on this album is very well thought out and executed. Overall, the music is heavy as you would expect, but it also has a lot of jazz elements and softer sides to it. Above all, it is very progressive, with some original riffs and sounds which raise the music above the norm and even above some of the best Progressive Metal bands. This band sounds like they have been fine tuning their sound for a long time and the compositions are very strong. During the first few tracks, you will know right off the bat what you are getting into, or at least you think you will, sections of heavy aggressiveness with plenty of jazz sensibilities thrown in everywhere, complex vocal and instrumental passages, and a uniqueness that plays through the entire album. One of the most aggressively progressive tracks, "Sphere of War", is a definite highlight. There are some more standard sounding tracks like "What Else?" that leans on the lighter side, but it is still complex enough to not be considered standard. But, just like in the track that follows, "Shofar", there are complete extremes with clean and dirty vocals and a much more complicated sound.

There are hints of religious overtones here and there, in the lyrics, but don't let that frighten you away. If you don't listen to this album, you will miss some absolute genius moves, like the high falsetto, the jazz vocal harmonies and the great guitar work that are simply superb in "Peddler of Words". The sublime harp-like sounds in the instrumental title track are a nice touch and add to this melodic, yet kaleidoscopic track which echoes more of a jazz fusion style than anything else and the guitar passages in this one are excellent. The other instrumental on this album is "Glass Score" in which you can really hear elements of Neo-prog but with the band's jazz touch, especially with the easily identifiable strings and synth solos.

Though there is probably not as much metal in this album as a regular metal-head would like to hear, it is there at times, but there is also a surprising amount of progressiveness and variety, but everything is executed so very well. Yes you have to get around some of the preachy lyrics. If that is not your cup of tea (it's definitely not mine), then just ignore the lyrics because these guys are amazing. You should not let that keep you from hearing this album. On the other hand, if you don't like metal, then don't let the Progressive Metal label scare you away from this album. The music is dynamic, ever changing and full of some very nice surprises, complexities and textural passages, and nothing is really weak on this album. This is definitely one that will be in contention on my list for one of the best of the year.

TCat | 5/5 |


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