By Jonathan Smith
Though Umbah has been around for quite some time, 2007’s Trilobeth has been given a more widespread release on I, Voidhanger Records. It’s a technical album that demands patience at first, but one that will offer up many-layered rewards for those who like their extreme music to be maniacal. Cal Scott’s one-man project is a smorgasbord of influences and sounds, and this album is no exception. I, Voidhanger’s press release states that Umbah is influenced by everything from Skinny Puppy and Fear Factory to Cynic and Voivod. Indeed, the album’s schizophrenic songs owe much to influences ranging from from prog metal to industrial music. Rather than try and blend all of these elements together, however, Scott goes for a more scissors-and-glue approach. Trilobeth is an album that is impossible to pin down, so it’s best to just go with its flow. Some examples of the album’s shifts in direction? The sudden bursts of drum-machine blast-beats and the eerily calming jangling guitars in “The Fall of Modern Thought,” and more recent Skinny Puppy-esque electronic stylings that collide head-on with crushing metal riffs and sewer-gurgle vocals in the title track. “Beehive” builds to an eerie chorus in which a buzzing, whiny-voiced narrator comes to terms with its (de)humanization in a dystopic society, while “Girl From Mars” is an endearing “ode” filtered through distorted vocal effects and galloping riffs. The whole album is open to jazzy digressions and coated with a science fiction-themed gloss. Trilobeth doesn’t offer much of in terms of a focused style, but its seeming adaptability and multiplicity are its strengths. It’s a release that is a musical tribute to our technological and frenzied reality.
(I, Voidhanger Records)