Sonus Umbra

Snapshots From Limbo

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Snapshots From Limbo is the first album by Mexican prog rock band Sonus Umbra (although a self-released CD-R came out under the band name Radio Silence in 1998). For a debut, this CD shows strong potential. The music oscillates between acoustic guitar songs à la Jethro Tull and hard prog rock anthems reminiscent of Rush, with an occasional nod to heavy metal. Other useful comparisons would be High Wheel (the atmosphere) or even Eloy (because of the lead vocalist). Keyboards play a minor role in the arrangements (some piano or decorative chords here and there); the sonic space is mainly occupied by guitars, bass, and drums. Singer Andres Aullet is gifted with a warm and delicate voice, but he needs to work on accuracy. He is seconded by guest vocalist Lisa Francis; not very convincing in general, she really brings something to the second part of "Insects." Complexity is not the key here, although some moments have exciting developments -- it's all in the moods. The opening piece "Ghosts From the Past" is beautiful, using a music box-like melody with acoustic guitar -- very classy. The two instrumental pieces "Doppelganger" and "Erich Zann" also constitute highlights. The main problem with Snapshots From Limbo is that whenever the music becomes harder, it also gets stiffer, as if the musicians of Sonus Umbra are only capable of subtleties during slow numbers. An old hard rock fan's bad habit? The album is still worthy of the attention of progressive rock fans.

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