Diabolical – Umbra (ViciSolum)

Sunday, 17th July 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

Two years after the release of the excellent yet somewhat elusive Neogenesis, Diabolical have put together the four track EP Umbra. Two years would be enough for some bands to make a full album (or two). But what you get on Umbra isn’t some hastily glued together riffage with random acts of symphony, even though the symphonic parts are there (and the riffage is definitely there).

Mostly taking a mid-tempo pace, opening track ”Requiem” begins with a choir chanting, then bursts into a massive riff-and-growl bombardment. The sheer heaviness of it reminds of Blackwater Park-era Opeth. Indeed, the progressiveness of this new Diabolical EP has several parts that are distinctly Opethian. Even the vocals at times hint at Åkerfeldt in his prime. Needless to say, this is high praise. Opeth are one of a kind and producing something even reminiscent of their heavier material should be considered no small feat.

But Diabolical is of course no mere Opeth rip-off. These guys have been around since 1996, releasing their first material around 2000. They do their own thing and they do it damn well. Just listen to ”Tremor”, where they choose to play an (almost) instrumental track overlaid with the words of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti regarding the concept of fear. The production alone in this track is superb, making it seem as Krishnamurti’s words were recorded specifically for this track.

The final track picks up the pace with some much needed blast beats after the Krishnamurti lecture; a touch of balance between the tracks to make them stand out even more. ”Decline”, as the closer is called, blends the blast beats with heavier parts that once more bring to mind Opeth as well as prog deathsters In Mourning.

On a final note the production is amazing. Having producer Sverker Widgren of Necromorbus/Wing Studios fame in your band ought to give you some such advantages. Everything is clear and audible yet heavy and crushing at the same time. Even the ambient, symphonic moments are well paced and fit naturally into the songs. Well worth the wait, but hopefully it won’t be years on end before we get another full album.

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