Monday, May 28, 2012

Utumno - Across the Horizon [1993]

Utumno are quite the oddball death metal band to say the very least. Hailing from the land of death metal, Sweden, you would expect for them to at least sound somewhat similar to the majority of the punk-driven bands there, but they don't. Not one damn bit. This band is more likely to be compared to groups like Ripping Corpse, Sepultura, Revenant and Morbid Angel than they are Grave or Entombed. It's a shame that these guys never got anywhere past this six-track debut record, "Across the Horizon," because the amount of promise and talent that is found here is remarkable and likely could have pushed them to relative success in Sweden's death metal scene. 

With only six songs, Utumno does a fantastic job of mixing in so many different sounds that the shortness of the album becomes completely irrelevant. The opening track "The Light of Day" features some decent thrashy riffs that eventually turn into sludgy powerchords that are later accompanied by a grim narration and sinister melody, before turning into a riff-fest that encompasses early-Sepultura-like thrash riffs, insane bass lines and midpaced riffs that are damn-near as catchy as those produced by bands like Terrorizer and Bolt Thrower. "I Cross the Horizons" is one of the more "weird" tracks thanks to its eclectic mix of techy riffs and melodies, very similar to death/thrash legends like Ripping Corpse and Revenant. And "In Misery I Dwell" and "Saviour Reborn" are both death metal tunes of the highest caliber, as Stalhammar's vocals slay (His vocals sound a lot like a less gruff Max Cavalera), and the violent riffage crushes. 

Had the last two tracks "Sunrise" and "Emotions Run Cold" been as stellar as the four preceding tracks, then "Across the Horizon" would have undoubtedly been a pinnacle in the Swedish death metal scene. With so many bands trying to catch up to the giants in Dismember, Entombed, Unleashed, etc, Utumno was perfecting their craft of thrashy, yet atmospheric death metal that spanned the metal spectrum without sounding like a clusterfuck of influences. Had the band moved on to create a sophomore album, their ascension in the metal world would have been inevitable, and what a wonderful world that would be. 

"The Light of Day"
"I Cross the Horizon"
"In Misery I Dwell"

Final Rating
Awesome [8.7/10]