PENUMBRA - Era 4.0

Penumbra - Era 4.0

10 songs
40:10 minutes
***** ***


Around the turn of the millennium, Penumbra were one of the most successful metal bands in France. They released three albums between 1999 and 2003 before things became quieter, until the band went on a hiatus in 2009. With a new female vocalist on board, they are now ready for a comeback with their fourth album, aptly titled Era 4.0.

The main stylistic orientation is still gothic metal, but Penumbra are also open for other influences. This can be heard right on the opener New Era which starts as an industrial metal track and then gradually turns into a symphonic metal direction. The following tracks underline the importance of electronic elements and give the keyboards quite a dominant role. Which doesn’t mean that this goes at the expense of the heaviness, as the driving guitars don’t allow themselves not to be heard. Also don’t ignore the evil growls of vocalist Jarlaath who is next to guitarist Neo the only remaining member from the original line-up. It may sound meanwhile like a cliché, but the evil make vocals are contrasted by the cleaner performance of new female vocalist Asphodel who sounds like a blend of Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia and Evanescence’s Amy Lee. Her strong and firm voice is at all events a worthy addition to Penumbra’s sound. More surprising is the contribution of bagpipes and flutes by French bard Loïc Taillebrest on the quiet Celtic infused song Exhumed and on the relaxed Eerie Shelter which sounds, apart from the growls, like a track from Kari Rueslåtten. Another highlight is Insidious which is once again a heavier track with a surprising pop part at the end. On the bombastic Avalon the band is flirting with symphonic black metal, and the gloomy Malice In Wonderland ends the album with a Sisters Of Mercy touch.

This comeback is definitely worth your time. Despite their long break, Penumbra haven’t unlearned anything and can still keep up with the younger generations on the multi-layered Era 4.0. Repeated listening will let you discover new details, and even those not so in tune with gothic metal might be captured by the vast talent featured on the album.

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