Review: Utumno “Across the Horizon” [Cenotaph Records]

Review: Utumno “Across the Horizon” [Cenotaph Records]

- in Reviews

Although Swedish death metal consists of a few key ingredients, it goes without saying that most bands that were around during the genre’s peak had their own unique approach to the style. Utumno are certainly a great example of such; while not the most vicious, nor the gloomiest, they provide a versatile listening experience.

Indeed, you’d rather compare Utumno to Desultory, Gorement and God Macabre than Entombed, Dismember and Grave, even if they certainly know how to create havoc. That said, I’d describe the band’s style as an accessible and melodic one, yet with enough grit to it to satisfy the conservative Swedish death metal fan. Besides outbursts of controlled aggression, there’s a forlorn feel to their doom-laden guitar work, yet Utumno incorporates these with far better results than the aforementioned gloomier death metal bands. Fluently mixing testosterone-fueled aggression of youth with a touch of bitter melancholy, “Emotions Run Cold” proves what the band is capable of. You’ve got furious guitars grinding through the verses with no damn given, melodic breaks that take the tune into a different direction all together, before an epitaph of an ending flips the mood of the track completely; as if you’re suddenly witnessing the end of your own futile existence in slow motion.

Of course, it’s not just about the emotional versatility that make Utumno great. They’re not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves and this is what I find most appealing about them. The eccentric riff that kicks Across the Horizon off even reminds me of The Astral Sleep, before Jonas Stålhammar’s piercing rasps and a vortex of Swedish buzz saw guitars come crushing through the gates. “Sunrise” features a chilling introduction passage that would have fit perfectly on The Nocturnal Silence, but instead of turning into a satanic, yet vicious affair in the vein of Necrophobic, the tune reveals some of the most melodic guitar lines that aren’t unlike those of early Desultory. Perhaps best of them all, “Saviour Reborn” ranges from vulgar Entombed-esque passages to bombastic tremolo riff segments that vaguely resemble the early occult-leanings of Morbid Angel and if that doesn’t sound fantastic, then I don’t know what to tell you. Indeed, there’s always something fascinating to behold and not for a single moment does Across the Horizon ever turn dull.

Seriously, why bother with the next new band that rips Entombed off when you could discover an old treasure of a band such as UtumnoAcross the Horizon remains one of the best Swedish death metal outputs of 1993 and since it’s just an EP, that should certainly tell you something.

Score: 87/100 – Swedish death metal buffet

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About the author

I have been listening to metal since the age of... 14 or so. Besides music, I'm also interested in boxing, fitness, meeting new people and enjoy reading about a variety of topics.