It is time for the Underground Metal Alliance (UMA) compilation of some of the best underground metal bands in Italian, and once again UMA Compilation 2015 awakens ears and attention to a host of highly accomplished and thrilling encounters. With a line-up selected by fans and the UMA jury, which included members of Exilia, Sadist, Nanowar as well as managers of studios and festivals, plus other bands already part of the selected UMA roster, the album is an eclectic treat which is all the more sweeter through its availability as a free download for all.
It kicks off with Milan symphonic folk metallers Atlas Pain and their track Each Uisge, a rampant canter of rolling feisty rhythms and raw folk tenacity. It roars and bristles with magnetic persuasion lifting its potency further when allowing a Celtic influence to flirt with the aggressive heart of the excellent starter. It is a fine opening continued by Avoral, epic metallers from the same city, and the dramatic War Is Not Over. With nagging riffs, enjoyably theatrical vocals, and muscle-bound rhythms, the track is an attention grabbing bellow which even ears not quite enamoured with their seed genre can find plenty of resourceful and imaginative textures to enjoy and be involved in. In any large compilation you will always find some songs not quite fitting personal tastes but from start to finish it is fair to say that the compilation has little difficulty sparking a healthy appetite for the strengths and unique characters of all those involved.
Caelestis and Calico Jack are another example of the diversity across the release, the first a Naples duo creating provocative blends of post/progressive rock and shoegaze which immerse ears in captivating landscapes and the second pirate folk metallers from Milan who stomp over the senses and into the imagination with their busy and fiery adventures. The band’s songs are poles apart yet alongside each other, Ode Al Mare and House Of Jewelry make a highly satisfying union backed by the following punk folk metal of Evendim, their raucous temptation Whiskey On Fire an instinctive whipping up of energy and participation from those taking a swig of its rousing persuasion.
A web of nu and progressive metal cast by Pescara quintet Fake Heroes is next and quickly emerges as another keen favourite. The strong vocals in On The Hill are a mellow lure within skilfully conjured tempestuous sounds which busily twist and entice around them. Featuring Giacomo Castellano, the song is a compelling embrace of emotive and technical tempting, almost volatile at times though it is soon clear that GorganerA have that area cornered with their malevolent fusion of death and black metal. As shown by Veleno, The band embraces familiar inspirations yet though only one song, as it stalks and barbarously seduces ears there is an open variety of flavours and ideation ensuring the track stands out.
Away From My Fears from Edolo trio Hell’s Guardian is one of the songs which on first listen seem to lack the spark of others but with persistent listens begins revealing its eventful and increasingly enjoyable attributes, the vocals especially growing in stature and raw charm. It is a slow burn of persuasion, just like the following Falling Snow from avant-garde metallers Ideogram, but an increasingly impressing one. The latter’s offering from its first breath casts elegant melodies and evocative sounds in a masterful invitation, the track subsequently growing into an unpredictable and again persuasive offering as operatic and guttural growls bring their striking mix to an unrelenting maelstrom of musical enticement.
Como quartet Ignotum offer a slice of their enjoyable debut album Larvas Mortal God next, the atmospherically fiery and raucously trespassing Hecatomb Memories an intrusive and compelling insurgence of the band’s black/death enterprise. Its mighty incitement is matched by Kanseil and the excellent roar and devilment of their track Panevin, a song which leaps upon ears from its first breath inciting pleasure physical and emotional enjoyment from thereon in with its anthemic and melodic folk metal revelry.
Novara avant-garde metallers Locus Animæ is another band taking longer to get into, their startling sounds and minimalistic ambiences a pleasingly testing adventure with constant rewards ensuring their song, which also carries the band name, grows to be another welcome proposal over time. Similarly Insane Asylum from heavy rockers Mary Brain is a y less immediate tempting compared to other tracks but soon turns into a raucous highlight with its jagged riffs and predacious personality.
For personal appetite and ears, the album hits the sweet spot over the next handful of songs, starting with the excellent Mechanical God Creation and their slab of technical death metal brilliance, Shadow’s Falling. The song is a brutal beast of intensity and craft, a track making you stand up and pay attention with consummate ease. To be fair every song on the album does do that, though maybe few as commandingly as Milan quintet’s offering. It is followed by Lady Loneliness from Misteyes, the song a bewitching serenade of gothic metal led by a beauty clad caress of female vocals and keys. It gets darker and nastier over time but never loses its elegance and grace.
The outstanding rapper/masked guitarist Red Sky is next, his percussively lively and rhythmically compelling track I 7 Vizi Capitali, an undiluted temptation. The track is a quickstep of animated ideas and atmospheric shadows, a riveting jungle of stirring textures and shamanic tones kissed by the pipe seduction offered by guests Kanseil. Its enslaving persuasion makes way for Scum and their ferocious assault on the senses, Becoming Heavier. Thrash bred, punk infested, and woven with a host of metal essences, the song is a delicious and bracing onslaught, rich in craft and unbridled in fury, and quite thrilling.
Gallipoli heavy metallers Serial Vice provide a heftily flavoursome roar next with You Are Heroin, the song another inescapable anthem bellowing from within the album, whilst the blackened death metal fuelled Il Culto Della Pietra reveals its creators Veratrum to be a gripping and quickly intriguing prospect from Bergamo. Both songs are ripe with enterprise and craft, the latter of the two a broad expanse of textures within a mix of blistering hostility and alluring melodies.
The collection is brought to a close by a trio of tremendous creative outbursts, starting with Roma heavy metallers Whisperz and the rabid tempest of metal bait called Malicious Intent. Taken from their self-titled album, the track is a rugged and flirtatious lure of old school and modern metal, a rousing of attention and energy which the following Winterage takes on its own bold journey with The Harmonic Passage, a symphonic power metal recruitment of body and emotions, and yet another inescapable anthem bursting out. If there is still anyone yet to find their feet listening to the release, there is no chance of remaining uninvolved as Wolfang brings it all to a storming end with their fiery riot of Wild Forest. It is symphonic folk metal let loose to ravish air and ears with unbridled passion and energy.
It is a fine end to an invigorating and exciting release. Italian metal is blooming right now and the UMA Compilation provides all the evidence whilst shaping up to be one of the best collections of artists to thrill ears in recent times.
You can get your copy of UMA COMPILATION 2015 as a free download HERE.