On this hot, humid uncomfortable night I am currently sitting down typing this review listening to one of the hidden gems of the ever expansive atmospheric black metal scene. The air is still but the images in my head as I am writing about Downfall of Nur’s new album “Umbras de Barbagia” are filled with the incredibly dark and somber kind. I stumbled upon “Umbras de Barbagia” by going through countless YouTube channels dedicated to black metal. The album cover interested me and I gave it a further listen and felt myself just blown away by the sheer black beauty found in the music.The amount of layers and ideas found in “Umbras de Barbagia” were numerous and unique and it felt new and fresh to me. Nowadays black metal albums come out and they are a dime a dozen they all have a similar sound and it grows rather boring after a time. Downfall of Nur has crafted something that is different and incredibly engaging.
The best word I can describe “Umbras de Barbagia” is expansive. Each track (except for the intro) is between 9 to 17 minutes long. There are so many different elements that blend into a an alchemy of darkness and emptiness in the music. The one thing that stood out most to me was the vocals, they were chilling and void-filled. I felt like I was getting drawn deeper and deeper into a wet abyss when Antonio Sanna screams and wails inhumanly. This was music of the blackest pitch with only dim light to be seen like a cave infested with glow worms and fungi. The guitars are incredibly hypnotic and unrelenting but crescendo like wind blowing snow off mountain tops. There was a strong sense of ancient history and nature in the music, and a dark and forbidden folklore to be found within the lyrics:
“In the eyes of the druid,
a sacred fire burns eternally.
He can see inside the woods,
the Golden Age over this land.
For over a thousand years
the Gods had protected us
our Mother gave animals
with forests and sacred rivers.” ~ II-The Golden Age”
The air of mystery found in “Umbras de Barbagia” is wonderful to hear. I think of lost civilizations, old pagan rituals and the creeping unknown with every guitar lead and drum beat. Sanna parallels themes of old Sardinian history and the fall of the ancient Nuragic civilization in the music and tone of Downfall of Nur. I think he managed to make a stunning album dedicated to his ancestors and birthright. What really stuns me is how this dark and foreboding music came from the mountains and woods of Argentina. It makes me want to visit Argentina at some point to see how the natural surrounding affected his art. The music of “Umbras de Barbagia” tells a story like none have been told before. You go through emotional highs and lows when listening to every note and lyric. The one thing it does consistently is put you into a reflective state of mind while it takes you deep into the depths of your subconscious. You think of memories beyond childhood and infancy, memories that occurred when your ancient ancestors walked the Earth. “Umbras de Barbagia” is simply an album that should have been played in the ancient world, it echoes back to those dark times of death and isolation into a piece of music that is darkly and brilliantly memorable.