The Moor - Ombra

Artist: The Moor

Album Title: Ombra

Label: Inertial Music

Date of Release: 15 March 2024

For those of you out there that continue with the narrative that album artwork doesn’t matter, it’s all about the music, I can tell you that were it not for the striking visuals for this album, I may never have explored it further. As it is, thanks to the 1920s art deco-inspired dark cover art courtesy of Niklas Sundin, I ventured into the realm of a hitherto unknown musical entity and have been highly rewarded.

The musical entity goes by the name of The Moor and is a quartet who call Venice home. ‘Ombra’ is the title of this, their third full-length studio album. The press release describes the music as progressive death metal but if I may be so bold, I feel that this term is something of an over-simplification. Yes, it’s progressive, but it’s not at the more complex and mind-bending end of the spectrum. And yes, vocalist Enrico ‘Ukka’ Longhin, who also contributes guitars and synths, does break out the deathly growls alongside some meaty riffing and all-round muscularity of death metal. However, to leave it there fails to recognise the strong melodic element to the band’s sound, not to mention the dark atmospheres, cinematic soundscapes, electronic embellishments, and the hints of Gothic music thanks to the rich, lush textures that are at play within the compositions.

Rounded out by lead guitarist Davide Carraro, bassist Massimo ‘KKTZ’ Cocchetto, and drummer Edo Sala, The Moor are a band that has really caught my attention with ‘Ombra’ for all the right reasons.

And it all begins with the opening composition, ‘Il Tema dell’Ombra’ which, for once, is an introductory instrumental that’s worthy of its inclusion. A blend of piano notes and electronic sounds brings the track to life before rousing orchestration swells and recedes around a strong melody. It’s full-on Craig Armstrong or Hans Zimmer until just after the halfway mark when drums, guitars and bass add their power to a rousing symphonic finale. It’s rare that an intro stands as an album favourite with me, but it’s hard to deny it here.

The more metallic leanings of the band are then fully unleashed courtesy of ‘The Overlord Disease’, which springs to life in urgent fashion, complete with chugging riff and blastbeats, surrounded by layers of atmospheric synths. The initial vocals appear as raspy growls to accentuate the extreme metal trappings before Longhin reverts to his reasonably deep clean delivery. The track then flits between the two; fast and extreme one minute, slower and more atmospheric and melodic the next, offering an irresistible vocal hook, plus a guitar solo that’s right out of the Evergrey playbook in the latter stages.

It’s a strong start to ‘Ombra’ but the quality is pretty consistent throughout, with some excellent material littered frequently throughout the album. I like the fact that the music retains its aggressive intent despite also managing to create a softer, more vulnerable side too. There’s a complex delicacy to lots of the music that’s not immediately evident thanks to the dense, heavy, and dark approach. But listen to the wailing, pleading lead guitar solo that erupts within ‘Illuminant’ and tell me that there’s not a tangible sense of loss and suffering conveyed through the notes.

The Moor - Ombra

Or, if you’re looking for more vulnerability within your music, look no further than the exquisite title track. Starting off with a serene electronic and synth intro, the guitars are slow to emerge. But when they do, they are joined by a powerful rhythm section and opulent orchestration before giving way to something much slower, moodier, and poignant. Singing in his native tongue, Longhin’s vocals drip passion and fragility when delivered clean. And, when growled, there’s a real sense of venom and frustrated spite to them. The orchestration ebbs and flows throughout, and the simple melodies that are deployed are devastating, accentuating the sombre mood of the song.

There’s no let-up either, as ‘This River Spoke’ is another crunching track, full of pleasing melody, subtle progressive ideas, committed vocals and another Evergrey-esque lead solo that pleases my ears most wonderfully. The aggression is never far away, however, with the off blastbeat and fast riff signalling that The Moor can switch direction deftly when required. ‘Lifetime Damage’ meanwhile, offers a chorus that’s catchy and vaguely stadium rock like, albeit must heavier and imposing.

Occasionally, I can hear echoes of mid-era Katatonia, a smidge of Paradise Lost, and others within the music, but the references tend to be fleeting and rarely overshadow The Moor’s sense of identity. It’s not the most original sound that you’ll hear all year, but equally, it’s hard to think of anyone else who sounds quite like this. Maddeningly, Longhin’s croon does remind me of someone, but every time I think I’ve worked it out, the epiphany eludes me.

As the album nears its end, we’re hit with ‘Our Tides’, another monster of a track and a firm favourite around these parts. Again, the intro is dominated by atmospheric synths and a cinematic veneer, but the riffs that ensure are pure NWOSDM, perhaps inspired by early In Flames. Then, there’s a strong doom element that emerges before the Kataonia-esque chorus knocks me for six. The ground that this song covers is truly impressive, filling every second with something different and mesmerising, creating a real treat for the ears.

‘Passage’ then tries to bludgeon us into submission with an incessant stomping chug of a riff, before switching to one of the more overly progressive attacks on the record. And then they experiment with a stark, minimalist soundscape that introduces acoustic guitars for the first time. With no let up to the end, ‘Vitreous’ offers a compelling, slower, moodier approach, whilst ‘Thirst’ closes things out in majestic fashion, pulling all the individual strengths and facets of the band together one last time in a glorious last hurrah.

The more I’ve listened to ‘Ombra’, the more in love I have become with it. With barely a weak moment to be heard at any point, The Moor have crafted a really excellent body of work that manages to combine heaviness, melody, atmosphere, and subtle complexity into something that hits me right in the feels time and time again. Trust me when I tell you that you really mustn’t sleep on this album because if you do, you’re seriously missing out. So, what are you waiting for? Get on it. Now.

The Score of Much Metal: 93%



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