Penumbra – “Era 4.0” (2015)

Independent Release

Review by Tony Cannella

After an absence of 12-years the French Gothic metal band Penumbra has returned. Actually, their latest album ““Era 4.0”” (which happens to be their 4th album, by the way), came out over a year ago, and it is shame that we missed it but that doesn’’t mean that we can’t delve into it anyway, does it? First a little backstory on Penumbra. This band isn’’t exactly a newbie. They formed way back in 1996. They released their debut album, ““Emanate”” in 1999. In 2006, female vocalist Asphodel joined the ranks, before the band briefly split up in 2010 before reforming in 2013. Now almost 10-years after joining the band, Asphodel finally gets to make her debut with Penumbra, and ““Era 4.0”” ” is the result. Penumbra reminds me of a cross between Amaranthe and Lacuna Coil. They definitely have an ear for accessible music whilst still remaining heavy and the duel male/female vocals are also remiscent of those two aforementioned bands. The male vocals range from extremely extreme to mildly extreme, to almost melodic, to definitely melodic (if that makes any sense); sometimes it is hard to believe they are the same guy – I am assuming it is because he is the only male vocalist listed. The female vocalist is Asphodel and man, does she have a set of pipes. She is just a wonderful vocalist and definitely a star in the making. They also spice things up with the inclusion of some non-traditional metal instruments like bagpipes and oboe. The songs have some great riffs, killer melodies, and a steady groove throughout the 40-minute disc. The intro ““New Era”” does what all intros try to do and that is set a positive vibe as you prepare for the main course. “”Insane?”” is the next track and it totally slays. The male vocals at the end of the song reminded me of Cronos from Venom, in fact, I had to check the ‘net to see if he made a guest appearance on the record. Sadly, it doesn’t appear so. “”Charon”” keeps things going in the right direction and is followed by the fantastic “”Save My World””. This song offers some great heaviness, cool tempo changes and a killer stop/start guitar riff – great f’ing song. ““Exhumed”” is another winner. This is just a very, very beautiful song, with a dark, haunting melody and Asphodel taking 100% of the vocals on this one. ““Insidious”” is the song that mostly resembles Lacuna Coil –not a rip-off, mind you –but definitely a song that I could see the Italian legends recording earlier in their career (like on the ““In a Reverie”” album). “”Eerie Shelter”” features some great orchestration and probably the most ambitious song on the album. ““Before Oblivion”” throws another curve at us with it’s almost electronic beat and this unexpected kind of, psychedelic breakdown early in the song which the band revisits later. Besides that, the song shows the two vocalists at their best working together. By the time ““Avalon”” and ““Malice in Wonderland”” ended the record, I was definitely ready for another round. How is it that a band with such a lengthy history could fly under-the-radar for so long? I could see if they weren’’t very good (although, I in no way am qualified to decide what is good or bad), but seriously, Penumbra is quite good. I must admit that I am late to the party on this one (as in very late), but as they say, better late than never. I enjoyed ““Era 4.0”” tremendously.

Rating – 90/100

 

Tracklist

  1. New Era
  2. Insane?
  3. Charon
  4. Save My World
  5. Exhumed
  6. Insidious
  7. Eerie Shelter
  8. Before Oblivion
  9. Avalon
  10. Malice in Wonderland

 

Line Up

  • Asphodel – Vocals
  • Jarlaath – Vocals & Oboe
  • Neo – Guitar
  • Loic – Guitar
  • Agone – Bass & Vocals
  • Arathelis – Drums

 

Links

facebook.com/penumbra.band.official

twitter.com/band_penumbra

penumbra.fr