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Urarv – Substratum

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 18 May 2023, 4:14 AM

From Bandcamp, “You might recognize some titles, but this is not a compilation. It should be considered an alternative debut album by URARV. In another universe this would have been the first release. These recordings were done in 2013, before the two first albums, and additional instruments and vocals were added in 2021/2022. Making this an epic and insane dive into the cesspools of sewers long forgotten. As a bonus, we have recorded one brand new track.”

“Fancy Daggers” is the first song. An odd, metallic buzzing sound opens the song, with dissonant strings and guitars. The vocals vary from impassioned screams of desperation to anger. This isn’t your dad’s Black Metal…instead, it’s a unique take on a genre of old. “Forvitringstid” begins with shore notes…soft guitars, seagulls verbalizing, and waves. A steadier sound rolls from there, with audible bass notes and some original riffing. Again, the vocals vary and are, at times, a bit strange. “Vi Som Skuer Nordover” has some folky elements in the beginning…is that an accordion? The vocals roll with a tossing and care-free sort of groove at first, until chaos spews forth. From there, an equal dose of the two wanes back and forth.

“Valens Tempel” has some crispy rhythms from the overuse of treble in the mix. There are background screams, and bombs going off while the guitar and bass dance up and down. The pace varies from there with hasty tones at times, and depressive runs during others. I love the bass work so far on the album. “Soloppgang” has another odd, but pleasing sound, in a way that is hard to describe. Guitar and bass play nicely together in the opening, like two toddlers in a sandbox. But there are times of conflict as well, evidenced by raging tones amidst the smoother ones. “Sannhet” has another steady pace that is at times smooth as butter, while other times it is sharp and jagged. The music is equally as polarizing…fast and hasty, and clean and easy. It’s almost as if Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde wrote the album.

“Aurum” is more in line with a traditional Black Metal song…it’s angry, and hateful, though the vocals again sound like the come from a madman’s eerie ravings. “Le Retortion” closes the album. Some strange, unconnected songs open the album, followed by more hateful raging from the rhythms and vocals. The vocalist pleads for his life at times, while other times he screams out “fuck you, kill me.” The contrast is quite stark. Overall, the varied vocals are one of the strangest features on the album. At times, they are raging Black Metal screams, while at others, they are clean, almost questioning, and playful, in a deviant sort of way. The music is as polarizing as well. This was a unique listen that I enjoyed, but the production needs some work.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Fancy Daggers
2. Forvitringstid
3. Vi Som Skuer Nordover
4. Valens Tempel
5. Soloppgang
6. Sannhet
7. Aurum
8. Le Retortion
Aldrahn – Guitars, Vocals
Sturt – Bass
Sakis – Guitars
Record Label: Polypus Records


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