In case you were somehow unaware, there are a few of us here at Heavy Blog who enjoy some good science fiction. Especially when it pertains to metal, which praise be to our space-based overlords is becoming a staple theme particularly within the modern black and death metal scenes. In this regard, last year presented a veritable smorgasbord of great albums. Bands like Vektor, Khonsu, Mithras, and Wormed created vast sonic landscapes which fans of all things extreme and heavy could giddily bang their heads to while simultaneously scratching their collective sci-fi itch. It was a glorious moment for metal geekdom. Thankfully, the era of the sci-fi metal epic continues in 2017. Exhibit A: Progenie Terrestre Pura and their latest record, oltreLuna.
For those unfamiliar, Progenie Terrestre Pura (PTP henceforth) are a progressive/industrial black metal trio from Italy. Their music tends toward the richer and more diverse aspects of black metal, utilizing a full-bodied production style to create smooth and heavy textures that incorporate a multitude of instruments and sounds outside of the expected tremolo-picked, blast beat goodness of more traditional black metal fare. With only one previous album to their name (2013’s quite good U.M.A.), PTP had quite a bit riding on their sophomore effort. Let it be known that there is no sophomore slump here, as oltreLuna is an incredibly fun, engaging, multi-faceted and rewarding listen that is a step up from its predecessor.
There are so many great things about this album, but one of the most immediately striking elements of oltreLuna is its artwork, crafted with skill and incredible detail by Alexander Preuss. With its Gojira-style inorganic space whales and moon-sized stations, it should be fairly simple to guess the lyrical and thematic content of the album. These are some dark songs tinged with sci-fi elements. But an album survives not on lyrical themes alone. The sounds contained within this record are as intricate and lush as the artwork adorning its cover, making for one of the year’s more compelling entries into the world of sci-fi-tinged metal.
Musically, oltreLuna thrives on a blend of sharp and angular sounds mixed with an almost mystical, tribal flavor. Album opener “[Pianeta.Zero.]” kicks in with a sterling example of this mixture. Hand-struck small drums and light cymbals establish a mood of brooding darkness, only to succumb to an early onslaught of blast beats dripping with mammoth guitar heaviness. This bludgeoning salvo eventually transforms itself into a far less suffocating soundscape of intermittent guitars and light drum work that feels ethereal in a way that befits the album’s themes. Subsequent tracks such as “[.subLuce.]” and the album’s title track take the band’s musical exploration even further with use of electronics, disorienting vocal effects, and epic builds that crescendo into abject atmo black despair. The album’s final two cuts bring to the forefront some of the band’s more industrial elements as well, grafting these onto the musical foundation of previous tracks to create something hard, sharp and fierce.
PTP is not for the faint of heart. Song lengths on oltreLuna are intense, with the shortest track capping itself at seven minutes and the longest reaching a whopping fifteen. But these elongated song structures benefit the music, allowing the band time to explore their ambitious musical bent to its fullest extent. None of these tracks feel tired or repetitive, but vibrantly alive and multifaceted. oltreLuna should be absorbed and enjoyed by all fans of adventurous metal, and is highly recommended listening.