Notes From Underground

Album Review: VITA IMANA – Oceanidae

VITA IMANAFor Spanish sextet Vita Imana, there is more to groove metal than a momentary union of chaos and broken bones. What puts this band in a different league is a strong spirituality that shines through each phase of instrumentation. But perhaps their most recognizable asset is the entrancing Batucada-style percussion that is equal parts aggressive and ambient. Ultimately, it is the band’s fluency and consistent growth that has kept them going ten years strong.

Vita Imana’s latest release, it seemed as if the band knew exactly what to include in a worthy follow-up. There’s a fine balance of song keys, musical styles and album structure that will surely entice any metal listener with an open mind.

Vita Imana Band PhotoIn the first track, “Depredador de Luz,” is a newly refreshing and flowing patience—an opportune progression that gives the listener time to absorb the two-year lapse between albums. While the instance of tenderness on Uluh mainly existed in interlude form, this time it is included in a full-length song. The initial calm lasts for more than a few measures, in such a way that the eventual heaviness makes sense. By the following track “Equilibrio,” the momentum is sustained so the listener can settle into a pumped mindset. The verses are dominated by rumbling double bass drums, and pleasantly searing guitar and bass riffs. At the three minute mark is a section of well-integrated dive bombs which make the main riff punchier and more defined sound upon return. Toward the end of the song, the heaviness is brought to a halt. The third track, “Ablepsia,” is the carrier single that aptly demonstrates the accessibility of the band. Some components to consider are the consistent and structured tempo, the surprising clarity of Javier Cardoso’s vocals, or the fact that he borders on singing. Nevertheless, it meets expectations for a tune that can be repeatedly enjoyed.

Similarly, the fourth track, “Mar de Cristales,” further extends the band’s appeal. In addition to having female vocals give the track a healthy dose of soul, there’s a pronounced alternative rock edge that complements the metal. It begins much like the album’s first track but feels like a newcomer to a scene, unsure whether or not they’ll be embraced by native dwellers. Nevertheless, the octave-based chords indeed make a welcome transition and also give the song a solid accessibility. Once the chorus hits, the chugging metal riffs are smoothly accentuated by the alternative sounding string bends. Cardoso sings with a clearly defined vocal melody, which is a nice change. While “Manos de Sangre” rebuilds the band’s tried and true nu-thrash momentum, the track after that, “Almas,” is a rightful ode to Vulgar-era Pantera. Fans may very well appreciate the Dimebag-influenced drop D tuning, as well as the certain crisp yet chunky quality of the bass that defined metal of the early 90s.

Again, the heaviness subsides, and is followed with by all-acoustic track, “Hydros”. The fingerpicking that sets the mood for the track is quite soothing, to say the least. As the playing style shifted to strumming, I felt like I was floating underwater, but instead of losing air, I was absorbing it in infinite amounts. The deep, reverberated kicks throughout the song are a pleasant background texture and do nothing to deter its relaxed nature. “Oxigeno,” the penultimate track, returns to double-bass drum warfare and holds nothing back. It’s a kind of wake up call to a harsh reality, full of constant stress, stinging pain, and little room to breathe. During the breaks between verses, the singer’s voice feels strained and distant, as if the air is thinning. The guitar solo in this song is also a better fit and an effective utilization of oriental scales.

In the eponymous final track, the music is perfectly akin to the cover art that depicts the Oceanidae species. Its main chord progression is a bit subdued in terms of distortion, but it works effectively in combination with the singer’s vigilant whispers. The extent of the drum and bass’s prominence is heard in the breakdown; both are sinister and grinding, much like a jellyfish eagerly anticipating its moment to strike. After the buildup, every bit of instrumentation works hand-in-hand to showcase a stellar finale.

Overall, Vita Imana won me over with their knack for variety, spirituality, and meticulously tight musicianship. Oceanidae took some time for me to digest, but eventually, I was able to understand that the band has much to offer beyond brute force. Since listening to this band, it’s fair to say I’ve become more open-minded to modern metal music. I’m genuinely psyched to hear what the band creates in the future, and strongly feel that a new milestone is yet to be reached.

 

 

Check out the video for “Ablepsia”

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Jake Küssmaul

Jake is a musician and writer from the hamlet of Hawthorne, NY. Despite having mild cerebral palsy, he continues to break barriers, developing solid connections and lasting friendships with bands around the world.

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