Friday, November 24, 2017

Progenie Terrestre Pura - oltreLuna

Progenie Terrestre Pura’s (aka qTp) second full-length oltreLuna is the band’s best release to date and is undoubtedly an essential album for anyone with an interest in the fusion of metal with electronic music. In addition to electronica and ambient music the band’s sound is also heavily influenced by industrial black metal, where a number of sub-styles have emerged over the years. It has ranged from mechanically pulverizing bands like Mysticum to lighter dancier bands along the lines of Samael. oltreLuna falls firmly in the latter category, to the point where the release can be described as what Samael’s Passage would sound like if it was released today instead of 1996. Yes, you are reading that right. This album is at least as good as Passage.

Despite the band’s really cool space aesthetic, the electronic influences give off more of a techy general science-fiction vibe. It’s probably better to say that you shouldn’t go into the album expecting something cosmically oppressive like Darkspace or trippy like Oranssi Pazuzu. While the band’s dry black metal croaks are similar to Vorph of Samael and some of the tribal drumming and crunchy guitar trills wouldn’t sound out of place on the Samael’s song “Jupiterian Vibe,” Progenie Terrestre Pura’s approach is entirely of their own creation. Each of the songs has an excellent sense of pacing, balancing soft electronic or the airy synth parts that transition to catchy/interesting riffs and mesmerising drumming before cresting into all out black metal tremolo picking and blast beats.

It’s easy to overstate the electronic elements on this album and give the misimpression that it isn’t a predominantly metal release or that every moment has some kind of step sequencer. But the electronic feel, while often subtle in the mix, is really enhanced by the album’s ultra digital production. So, even moments that structurally seem atmospheric come across as more electronic influenced. The ultra-sterile production style makes every last element of the mix perfected, digitized, and probably accounted for in some kind of a ledger or spreadsheet. While on the balance you weigh something like the outro on [.oltreLuna.] that has a dubstep kind of wobbly bass section, against a bunch of more straightforward metal riffs, it still comes across as more experimental than what you would think by just looking at the sheet music. Fortunately the music’s hard edge is never sacrificed, and it ends up feeling like something you would hear in the 2016 version of Doom (the game) minus the lethal adrenaline overdose.

Many aspects of the album that I consider as downsides essentially boil down to the release being a smidge softer, less abrasive, and more produced/clean than I prefer. For those that don’t take issue with that, parts of the album like the delicate outro on [.Proxima-B.] or the mournful viola on [.Pianeta.Zero.] will be rewarding in their relaxed atmosphere and crystal clear sound. Even the parts of the release that take cues from dance music have enough variation and rhythmic complexity to keep things interesting. [.Deus.Est.Machina.] however is an exception to the album’s extremely high quality because it stacks up as “only” a fine song in comparison. It lacks the energetic and memorable elements that make the rest of the album so great. Despite the album’s 55 minute run time being divided across just five songs, this slump comes across as minor because it is followed by the 15 minute monster closing track [.Proxima-B.]

One deeper flaw however shows up when the eponymous song [.oltreLuna.] starts off by abusing the living hell out of this world music sample that uses overtone vocals. It repeats for nearly two minutes straight pulling the listener out of the band’s atmosphere into a 90’s alt-rock hellhole swirling with ankh tattoos, Charmed the tv show, baristas saying namaste, and Enigma’s “The return to innocence.” Overly dramatic? Maybe, but think about how you feel when an album you otherwise love has a part that outright pisses you off. Fortunately putting the intro aside, the song is absolutely superb and the only other hint of this problem is during the brief female vocal section on [.subLuce.], which actually works quite well as a pivot point to transition between melodies.

The synthetically crisp production and brilliantly executed aggression swells from electronica to blastly black metal and back on this release are a one of a kind experience and the punchy rhythmic riffs are absolutely top notch. Despite digging into a bunch of sub-genre minutia in describing this release, oltreLuna is the kind of album I’d suggest to anyone who likes metal at all. However, if you like industrial or electronica influenced metal, this is a necessary album.

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