The Stone - Umro
Folter Records
Black Metal
8 songs (52:46)
Release year: 2009
Folter Records
Reviewed by Kyle
Album of the year

The Stone is back again! With them, they bring their fifth full-length to date, Umro, which(alongside Immortal’s All Shall Fall) is my most anticipated black metal release of 2009. Never having the chance to listen to the band’s fourth effort, Neke Rane Krvare Vecno, I was very eager to listen to how The Stone had progressed since their third album, Magla (which I already gushed about in another review this week). Expecting to be presented with another masterpiece, I dove right into this album with high expectations…

...Or tried to, that is. After the first few seconds of the first track (The title track), I was instantly turned off. My first impression was that The Stone had taken a huge step backwards in their sound, resorting to generic BM riffs and drumming. It sounded as if they had lost all creativity and originality, and it resulted in a sloppy mess. I tried listening to the first two tracks, but never got past the one-minute mark on either song, and I eventually put the album aside in frustration, with hopes that one day I would “Get it.” So when It’s time to write this week’s reviews, I search my library to find an album to write about for an Archive review, and without hesitation I pick out Magla as my next victim. Then I remembered that I also had that new album from The Stone to review, so I figured “Why not review that as well? I need to write a review that craps on an album anyway, before the readers begin thinking I’m too soft.” So late one stormy night (it sounds cliché but that’s how it happened), I sat down with Umro in complete darkness and listened to it in its entirety. I was blown away.

How could I have missed this? Why had I not understood?! All of a sudden, the intent of the album became so clear to me, and I was completely hooked after just a few minutes of listening. I was drawn into the world of The Stone, and they were NOT going to let me go until I had listened to Umro from beginning to end. And when I was finished, they were going to make me listen to it again! I soon realized that this was going to be a VERY difficult review to write, but by God I’m going to, as this is an album that deserves to be shared with the world, just as Magla does.

Like Magla, Umro (which translates into English as either “Dead” or “Died”) is all about atmosphere. The production isn’t “Murky”, as it was on Magla, but it sounds much clearer now, and it fits the songs perfectly. Umro is much more straightforward, forgoing most of the thrash and death elements of the past for a more traditional black metal sound. The thrash and death moments are still very much intact (The thrash influence especially shines through on Krvav Ceo, Nigde Nijedne Rane); there’s just less of them. But despite that change, Umro is extremely complex. Tons of intricate riffs and insane tempo changes (One tempo change near the end of the title track made my jaw drop; the way it’s executed is phenomenal) are present, even more than were found on Magla. This album requires your FULL attention, or else it will race ahead of you and you’ll have to rewind the tracks constantly to see what you missed.

I can divide this album into three stages: The first two tracks are the most traditional-sounding, with evil-sounding riffs and a LOT of blast beats; The next three tracks are the most complex, featuring the most brain-shattering tempo changes and riffs on the album; And the last three songs (one of which being a VERY haunting interlude) are the simplest, solely relying on great, simplistic riffs and dark melodies. The way that the tracks on Umro are laid out and the way the album matures and progresses as it reaches the end makes it sound like a concept album to me (Multiple uses of the word “Umro” and that fucking scary interlude help my opinion). The lyrics are all in Serbian, as they were on Magla, but I actually like it that way; it leaves me to create a story in my mind to go along with the music, which is so easy to do here.

After listening to this album for the first time, I can honestly say I was on a natural high. Umro had ripped me from this world somewhere in the middle of the third track, and the effects remained long after the album was over. The Stone, while it might not seem like it at first, have crafted a truly incredible album, one that requires your absolute undivided attention to fully appreciate. Go ahead and listen to Magla first, though; it’s much more accessible at first listen. Most of you who decide to check this out will most likely think I over-quoted it and will say that Magla is better, but Umro to me has this magical quality to it that I've never heard anything like before. Umro truly shines as an album with several layers that will require multiple listens to fully understand, and it will stay in my playlist for a long, long time. For me, this is easily the best black metal album of the year, and Immortal better present us with a damn good record if they want to top this.

Killing Songs :
All. Every single one of them.
Kyle quoted 97 / 100
Other albums by The Stone that we have reviewed:
The Stone - Magla reviewed by Kyle and quoted 94 / 100
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