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Into the onion - 73%

Felix 1666, September 10th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Folter Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

Serbia's leading black metal horde The Stone never stood for easy listening black metal, but even in comparison with the further outputs of these dudes, "Umro" confronts the listener with a massive challenge. A good friend of mine said the album is like an onion with many layers, but with amazingly raw yet beautiful music to discover. I like this analogy, because it fits the multi-facetted result. Nevertheless, I must admit that I miss a iota of catchiness in this "beautiful music", but this does not mean that the full-length from 2009 is disappointing in any way. It just does not have the one kick-starting riff or something else that pulls the audience into the material in a matter of seconds. However, it is definitely a good idea to invest time into the album.

Basically one can say that "Umro" sounds nihilistic and violent, unorthodox and opaque. I guess The Stone would rather sell their instruments or take a trip to the Vatican than presenting songs with a conventional verse-chorus-verse pattern. This mentality in combination with their affinity for excessive song lengths creates the obstacle the listener has to master. Don't forget the onion, albeit here comes my own analogy: if the album would be a natural phenomenon, it would have the form of an underground cave with bizarre rock formation. And you surely know that these locations are usually dark, cold and slightly spooky, but impressive at the same time. Not to forget the many crooked and trodden stages you have to take in order to get into the cave. But let's get back on the surface.

The first song that I (more or less) understood was "Krvav ceo, nigde nijedne rane" and ironically, this marks the longest track. This fact clearly indicates that The Stone are able to manage complexity. Maybe the awareness of their own strength seduces them a little bit too often to show their skill. In my humble opinion, one or two more straight songs would have increased both the diversity and accessibility of "Umro". Nevertheless, I also cherish the clear concept of the dudes. The fact that they know their direction and that they implement it without compromises deserves respect. The production also supports the musical vision due to its dense and powerful appearance. It may sound slightly esoteric, but somehow it mirrors the dedication of the band. By the way, its passion has also left its mark on a visual level. The stylish artwork and the design of the whole package shows that the band and / or its German label Folter Records know how to visualize this kind of music.

So as long as you connect black metal with negativity, misanthropy and recklessness, The Stone and in particular "Umro" can become your personal sonic paradise. And, no doubt about it, these terms are inseparably linked with this type of metal. Don't take care of old geezers like me who miss a number - or at least some sections - with earworm qualities. The bulky riffs and the menacing nagging of the lead vocalist as well as the resilient basis of the rhythm section and the sinister spirituality lead directly into hell, into the cave or into the onion, who knows? Only one thing is for sure: The Stone do not copy any other genre formation and they embody black metal in a manner which is almost second to none. I take my hat off to them, albeit I give "only" a rating of 73 percent.