Monday, February 8, 2021

Full Length Review: Upon Shadows "Modern Obscurantism" (Ground Media Group) by Daniel M. Ryan

Band: Upon Shadows
Location: Montevideo
Country: Uruguay
Genre: Dark metal
Full Length: Modern Obscurantism
Format: Digital album
Label: Ground Media Group
Release date: October 18, 2019
First off, I'd like to say the lyrics for the song, "Out of the Blue Comes the New Plague..." are very relevant... to our current times... Chemical conspiracy!!!
The multifaceted works of Tamara & Natalia expand among many musical efforts in many professional mediums available today. If you had to look up one band this female metal duo is known for the most, it is here in their darkest efforts for their latest album Modern Obscrunatism from 2019 with their band, Upon Shadows. If you are seeking out really great extreme metal female minds creating original black metal that doesn't sound like all the other stuff that is really generic, it is all right here.
The whole album itself to me is a soundtrack to a show like ancient aliens, or this weird andromeda-themed metal space opera with a dark vibe to it. Along with the influential sounds highly regarded of dark metal music that is known to be absolutely menacing.
A real authentic & fresh black metal sound that is always evolving in their music they have made together over the years!
The vocals by Tamara always have a dark ferocious feel along to the sung clean vocals like a honeydew whisper...that suddenly is exploding in my ears like a Big Bang theory in my own mind...purely mesmerizing! The guitar compositions here mixed with keyboards resonate sonically inducing realms along with the musicianship found throughout the album kept me tentatively listening. It adds elegance but also a devastating feel that raises the hairs on my arms. Goosebumps all over here!
In the intro, Back to the Dark Ages, I played this many times over, you get that initial mythical vibrant feel that gives off the cosmic presence. Not too long of an opener and very pleasing to my ears. Vanity's Bonfire is a solid track to follow up to it with a crushing theme that moves things moving smoothly along to the metal here. That from its shadows claim! In this parody of life. A great start here.
The Archaic Censorship Of Your Eyes has many meanings to me. Very well composed and thoughtful compositions at play here. Keys that are playing ring notes in my mind that last forever. The drums here and bass are moving everything along to its very forward purpose with the guitars that keep everything sounding super well done. Aiming right towards the wounded heart.
Creators Of Shadows opens up real strong and shows off some sounds that I would like to put in my own music too when I hear them. The way they compose songs like this is very deep and dark. It is a feeling to me of embrace with one's darkest self. Bringing an idea of the creation of shadows that we see but sometimes never care to look to notice. Also absent from our own selective ears, and our own cut-out thoughts.
Dogma; The Infamy Of Fire starts with leading keys that are now set aflame, fire burning slowly in mounds of molten magma ever-flowing inside an ancient cavern of inner thoughts that bring a passionate but strong sense of raging red colors I can feel in the track from start to finish. In it is an inescapable aura of burning red to me that eventually ends in the song when it burns itself out into glowing embers & ash. Going against the grain of our own individualism & realizations. The neverending burning found in the infamy of dogma & fire.
Lux et Umbra has to be my personal favorite. A very heavy track on the album because it is a dreamy song that is also nonstop destruction all at the same time. When I think of aliens in deep space from other galaxies in fleets of ships traveling through dimensions, I hear Lux playing along to their galactic travels. It leaves you with a trail of specks & dust. A turbine burning the arrogant sights of the limited knowledge of man.
Illusion Of Freedom, what can I say? The song title itself is very thought-provoking whereas the music gets right to the subject of the matter. No further explanation required here. A really great track I can vibe to, too. In the existence of sad truths, & the banality of everything shared.
Did I mention the drumming on the album is super well done & on point here too?! Excellent job, Joonas! \m/
I know to some readers I may be exaggerating or to who remember me from the past doing metal journalism, I'm doing one of these reviews where I describe totally cold what each track while listening to them offers to me & the feelings I get from them all here. Which is pretty indescribable to describe in this format, but I digress.
Time well spent on making music like Upon Shadows has done on this album to me deserves time & thought well put into it. With me telling the readers exactly where they can go or get out of listening to this album. Coming from a whole different perspective. From someone else who is well acquainted in the realm of extreme black metal when I am playing this gem from start to finish. To any other metal fan out there new or old, you also may find high interest in this record too if you are a fan or have not heard their music yet.
Handling Cognitive Factor. I can tell you one thing, it sounds like to me it has a lot to do with personal mental health. "Overwhelmed with information... mix with lies & hate." Knowledge is a useful weapon very few these days can use. Without the real awareness from their own minds knowing where they may be heading... Big Data! Our culture to me is more unhealthy in this world than we want to admit it to be. People have a right to do what they please, be who they are, no matter where they are from, and be with whoever they want in their lives. Even though very few last long enough to find their true self when they are worried about what we have in life that takes time away from more rational things. Meaning, the things we should be grateful we take for granted & for what we have that has become an everyday use to us in our daily lives.
Especially the handling of current technology in these times where we must also remember to keep in check. We must re-focus our psyche back to basic instincts & more important life fulfilling, cognitive factors. Not to say we can't enjoy what we have, but we also must learn something called moderation. Life offers many choices now to us but somethings can be lived without. Hunting eyes are following the traces we leave behind!
Out of the Blue Comes the New Plague was the first song I listened to from this album. Like I said earlier, this song covers a topic we all know much about. But this is just my opinion on it other than the lyrical & musical presentation on here. Even though it can mean many things to many different people. A lifetime treatment. Where suddenly no one seems to be strong enough to hold their own cries. This plague from which we already have had in the first place. Side note, some songs are also sung in Spanish that speaks of this disease induced by depression in this perpetual melancholy...
Now the last track, simply titled, Lucifer, is not a heavy track like the others but is somewhat similar to the intro. A majestic atmosphere that is portrayed here in the mix of a clean vocal presence of Tamara again sends chills down my spine. The lyrics here also are of an ideological standpoint to me that many may not agree with but I can explain for others to possibly understand from my own personal religious background.
I don't know if I can honestly say I believe in God or Lucifer or such entities existing in the afterlife when we die even though I heard of people who have said through near-death experiences they have seen or felt such things come before them but what I do know is growing up, whoever Lucifer maybe, also rebelled through disobedience according to what we all were taught growing up from the Holy Bible. If you came from an occasional church-going Christian family like mine.
It is told here lyrically, through all this disobedience, or rebellion that one learns to eventually master one's true self. May it be in the league of Lucifer, or not. It is a song I believe even God-believing people could enjoy. Regardless of your background.
The message I get is that throughout history, we, as people, progressed through such rebellions or through our own personal disobedience. No one is ever born purely good or evil. Unless they boldly claim to be one day. No one is perfect as you know. Which is also ridiculous to think one can ever be. So to me, this track strikes a chord in me in more ways than one. There is a choice though when it comes to it all in life. You can choose one side, light or dark, or you can find it in yourself to be in control of both. Which I find to be something I can identify with. In both.
The quote here is also by a man named, Oscar Wilde. It has to be one of the best quotes that I have read in a very long time that I can personally relate to, to the fullest. Through my own life experience.
"Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion".
So I can say, this is not just another black metal album I just can play to say I like metal like this in a particular genre, but I can personally find a deeper meaning to it all lyrically and musically from a mindful place. It offers me a great insight into myself. If it can do that with me, I'm sure it can with others too. I only wish I had the initiative to listen to it much sooner. Listening to it 3x over got me to this point. Remember also, well this may just be me talking because I must be getting old... to read the lyrics and liner notes along to the music! I can't stress that enough. I know, don't listen to the old guy! I never did either.
Thank you Upon Shadows for giving me the time to collect myself to look much deeper into your latest album here entitled, Modern Obscurantism. I like to believe in my own small way, that this record was personally made for someone like me. I can't describe exactly what it is about it or why other than a sense I get from it. Which is something that I have to learn more to trust. I find immense meaning in the music they made here. I have been a listener of them for years but to me, this album seems much different from the rest. I am behind them both on this, all the way.
You can find the album digitally and physically, here-Daniel M. Ryan

Natalia Arocena: Bass
Tamara Picardo: Keyboards, guitars, vocals
Joonas Alaräihä: Session drummer

Track list:
1. Back To The Dark Ages
2. Vanity's Bonfire
3. The Archaic Censorship Of Your Eyes
4. Creators Of Shadows
5. Dogma; The Infamy Of Fire
6. Lux et Umbra
7. Illusion Of Freedom
8. Handling Cognitive Factor
9. Out Of The Blue Comes The New Plague
10. Lucifer

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