Review: “Umbra Mortis” by She Must Burn

It has been a long hard road out of hell for London based Blackened Symphonic Death Metal act She Must Burn and at each fork in the road they’ve consistently taken the left hand path, enhancing their reputation for an intense live show and sharing stages with everyone from Cradle Of Filth to Lorna Shore and even Rings Of Saturn over the past seven years. Now they return with sophomore album “Umbra Mortis” and new line up, preceded by 2019 single “Of Blood And Bone“, a record that was due to surface from the black depths in 2020 but was postponed until extensive touring was a viable option. That new line up finds original members James Threadwell (guitars) and Frankie Keating (bass) joined by Kyle Lamb (vocals), Valis Volkova (keyboards and vocals), Jack Higgs (guitars) and Steve Padley (drums) as the reign of 2017’s “Grimoire” and the days of their work with Artery Recordings are no longer…

There is nothing quite like waiting for something and for She Must Burn, waiting 3 years since the recording of “Umbra Mortis” to release the record can only have been perpetual agony, however with the better part of 195k of YouTube and Spotify Streams combined for the trio of pre-release singles must have kept them warm on a cold winters night. The album begins theatrically with “Nine“, a melancholic cut that showcases the beautiful clean vocal talents of Volkova as well as her keyboard work in a fashion which Dani Filth would not doubt applaud as it is nothing short of a stunning introduction to “The Rats in the Walls“. A powerhouse cut that reminds of “Decimate The Weak” era Winds Of Plague with monstrous percussive battery from Padley and venomous uncleans from Lamb injecting an electrifying energy while also allowing the clean vocal passages to shine without taking away any of the sheer violence of the energy away. Their are vague comparisons to Cradle Of Filth but in truth She Must Burn are a heavier band as “Of Blood And Bone” proves,  with less Black Metal influence and more Deathcore punch about them despite having the keyboards and glorious female clean vocals that add another dimension. The riffs are razor sharp and the keyboards are as cold as ice, perfectly contrasting the heat from the rampaging guitar work delivered at an adrenaline fuelled pace during the title track and how they have managed to back a clean vocal passage with blast beats and make it work is just jaw dropping. Alchemy has created the perfect blend of the Symphonic with Deathcore and Death Metal moments, the clean vocals allowing the brutality of the heavier aspect to hit that much harder, “Eulogy” being the perfect example as Lamb uses vocal layering to mix a shriller throat shredding tone with a deeper one. The solo is vibrant, the jewel in the crown of this windswept melancholia before it mournfully falls away.

Sometimes albums of this nature suffer from a soft underbelly but She Must Burn have ensured that the restless and relentless nature of this beast is maintained with furious energy in “Misery Eternal“. A cut soaked in Black Metal and Gothic influence, it finds the band throwing down the gauntlet with staccato riff breaks delivered at break neck pace before a huge breakdown section re-decorates with walls with blood in an unexpectedly bold fashion. The dark descent into madness begins with the “A Truer Hell“, a piano piece of mesmerising quality that serves as a moment of respite before the final onslaught while at the same time serving as an introduction to the punishment beating that is “Incantation“. Majestically shrouded in darkness with banshee like unclean sections, it’s a beast of a track with blood and thunder percussion and several well executed breakdowns that feels like “This Is Love, This Is Murderous” era Bleeding Through on steroids thanks in part to the eerie keys. The same can be said of “Souls Asunder” but with more of an Operatic touch in the clean vocals as the neck snapping guitar work elevates it as the whirlwind tears through the small town, Lamb’s brutal roar as the end approaches reminds of the kind of vocal power that Alex Terrible has in Slaughter To Prevail, as if the pair have been comparing notes. The grand finale was always going to be a chemically enhanced monster and “The Serpent” don’t disappoint as the band go all out attack one final time with a circle pit starter. This one has a face melter of a classically styled solo as well as a lethal breakdown section to bring things to a violent end before the curtain comes down on what has to be considered one of the finest pieces of brutality of the year [9/10]

Track Listing

1. Nine
2. The Rats in the Walls
3. Of Blood and Bone
4. Umbra Mortis
5. Eulogy
6. Misery Eternal
7. A Truer Hell
8. Incantation
9. Souls Asunder
10. The Serpent

Umbra Mortis” by She Must Burn is out 14th October 2022 via Grey Rock Music

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *