Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Umbilicus – Path of 1000 Suns Cover


Album Review: UMBILICUS Path Of 1000 Suns

8.5 Reviewer

Upon announcing their arrival earlier this year, vintage heavy blues/psych rock quartet Umbilicus engendered plenty of interest. After all, the supergroup is comprised of Vernon Blake (Anarchus), Paul Mazurkiewicz (Cannibal Corpse), Brian Stephenson (FORE), and Taylor Nordberg (Deicide), so they certainly know a thing or two about creating intense and engaging tunes. Thankfully, their debut LP—Path of 1000 Suns—lives up to the hype. Purposefully evoking 1970s mainstays such as Bad Company, Lucifer's Friend, Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, and Scorpions, it's a sleek and fun throwback that all fans of classic rock and early heavy metal should dig.

Although Umbilicus is just now releasing their first record, the project first began roughly 20 years ago. As Mazurkiewicz told Extreminal in 2021, he and former Cannibal Corpse rhythm guitarist Jack Owen "started a side project [called Path of Men] and… wrote some original songs." Sadly, he clarified, after creating "a couple of demo tapes" and playing "two shows… the band fell apart."  

Fascinatingly, Path of Men also included Vernon Blake, so when the time came for Mazurkiewicz to revitalize the project around 2020, it was clear that Blake would be asked to return. (If for no other reason, Owen wasn't involved because he didn't live close enough to Mazurkiewicz.) Soon after, they'd recruited Nordberg and created about a dozen "very cool" songs, and before too long, the final piece of the puzzle—vocalist Stephenson—was added.

According to the band, the themes of Path of 1000 Suns"vary from purely fictional accounts to topics that explore all facets of the human condition and delve deep into the injustices we cast upon ourselves and others." Even without looking into it any deeper, though, the perpetual catchiness and rawness of the tracks are enough to make them instantly enjoyable and successful.  

Case in point: opener "Hello Future," a rip-roaring slice of slightly trippy defiance whose tight harmonies, cosmic guitar riffs, and rebellious rhythms evoke Baroness, The Allman Brothers Band, and Stone Temple Pilots. It's a rugged yet melodic and welcoming burst of fetching feistiness that demonstrates well the sort of old-fashioned Southern metal vibe Umbilicus are going for.

Later, the more gothic and danceable "I, Human" embodies a comparable ethos, as does the sing-along joyfulness and six-string theatrics of "Life on the Sun." In contrast, "The Call" is dark and epic—with arena rock build-ups giving way to hypnotic catharses—whereas "Gathering at the Kuiper Belt" barrels along several short but sweet movements with the high-pitched operatic vocal outbursts of, say, Queen, The Darkness, and Muse. Thus, the heavier numbers still do enough to stand out from each other.

That said, there are also some resourceful implementations of acoustic guitars along the way. For instance, "Gates of Neptune" is a heartfelt arid ballad with golden six-string strums and softspoken singing. (Oddly enough, it conjures the lighter pieces of Ted Leonard-era Spock's Beard.) It packs some punch as it goes, but for the most part, it's delicate and soothing. "My Own Tide" strikes a similar balance but with more downtrodden verses; as such, it seems like the surprise hybrid between Alice in Chains and Pantera that we didn't know we needed (but man, we did).

Path of 1000 Suns is far from revolutionary, but it manages to mix several styles in highly effective—and sometimes surprising—ways. That accomplishment, in addition to the fact that the project had been gestating for literally decades, means that Umbilicus have achieved something quite rewarding on both artistic and professional levels. It's certainly not the most ferocious thing these guys have done (so come with appropriate expectations), but it completely nails what it's going for. That alone makes it worthy of your time.

Show Comments / Reactions

You May Also Like