Apparently, along with “Tarantos” and “Níbelum Das Uhört,” this release concludes a trilogy, but since I don’t speak Spanish I can’t tell what are the themes or the story.
Anybody who has heard “Tarantos” (and probably the first album, but I haven’t) knows that USER NE doesn’t make common music. Even in the realm of Folk/Pagan Metal they strive a bit from the beaten path. You’d expect the requisite acoustic intro to be calm, introspective, but instead it’s an active creature galloping through burning woods. Neat! While it’s not too uncommon anymore to find a band with a bagpiper or flute, USER NE uses them slightly differently than we’ve come to expect. On “Das Uhört” (a really strong track) the bagpipe is often in the background, wailing its mournful tune even as the rest of the band is uplifting the listener through a time of tragedy. “Chanson, Femme, Vie” is a short acoustic piece, solid folk rumination, but at the end Kyrtan goes all jazzy on his cross flute.
Oh yeah, if you haven’t read anything about USER NE before, the band is comprised on nine members, eight men and a woman. There are three vocalists providing everything from deep growls and blackened shrieks to male choirs to Pantaraxia’s beautiful soprano (which reminds me a bit of Filipa Mota of HYUBRIS and Lydie Robin of VENTURIA at times). Almost all of the ranges are on display on “Atropa Datura,” which launches into Black Metal after a disjointed intro but somewhere along the way becomes a drifting Folk piece.
But the band doesn’t limit itself to what I’ve already mentioned. There’s also caustic Industrial/Dance (“Temptation Of Belief”), Alternative noodling (“III”), Flamenco (“Mañana Mañana“ and “El Chascarrillo“), and something I’m not sure how to describe besides an occasionally schizophrenic children’s sing-a-long meets the music from Warcraft II („Finger Pinini“). The band has their hands in a lot of musical pies and they can make it intimate or epic („Stramonium“). It’s really quite remarkable what they do and they make it sound so natural, so organic. Many of the songs are fairly short, one or two minutes, and they serve as pleasant rest stops for ideas that didn’t warrant full-length songs.
One caveat: This is not background music and treating it as such will greatly diminish your experience. A week of listening to it as background music left almost no impression on me, but as soon as I sat down to write this review and really concentrated on the music it immediately opened up. "Atropa Natura“ is an album worth your attention if you like Folk, Pagan, or Progressive Metal.
Oh yeah, and tracks 17-21 are just five to six seconds of silence each.
(Online December 15, 2006)