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Uriel - Multiverse

Uriel
Multiverse
by Kira Schlechter at 15 December 2019, 11:21 PM

URIEL is an interesting beast. The Montreal-based Folk-Orchestral-Melodic Death metal five-piece (plus an uncredited drummer) is undoubtedly skilled technically, but their latest, “Multiverse,” released in October, might be a case of too many cooks and too little broth, to borrow a cliche. They began as a studio project in 2008 and have three previous albums to their credit: “Serenity in Departure” (2009), “From Ashes to Phoenix” (2012), and “Remains of Innocence” (2016).

“Multiverse” begins with the brief track “Long Way Home,” layered with harp, cello, and violin, which segues quickly into the hellish waltz of the title track, one that starts with what almost sounds like harpsichord and piano. We get heavy and wickedly fast right off the bat, with Philippe’s growls and Gaia’s singing alongside each other, a la ELUVEITIE. But the music drowns the vocals, especially hers.

There are definitely very clear classical influences at play, like the especially fluid and melodic bass, and the uncredited drumming is excellent, with clever fills and emphases. When it settles down to Gaia and the strings at the end, she is again buried – even acoustic instruments can get pretty loud, after all.

“Mysterious Dancer” pits the strings against a heavy, crushing rhythm and a frantic, frenetic pace, but Gaia gets lost again – Philippe is plenty audible, though. The sound here is so interesting, with the almost cold quality of the guitar (and that excellent bass) going against the warmth of the violin and cello. “A Thousand Burdens” kicks off with Philippe’s brilliant bass – he’s stellar – and it continues in an almost Celtic vein with the violin sound and almost jig tempo. The band’s song structures are loose and experimental, almost avant garde, with few clearly apparent verses and choruses.

Gaia sometimes serves to simply add atmosphere and texture, since it’s so hard to hear her actual words. You can appreciate her in the bridge in “A Thousand Burdens,” singing abreast of violin and military-style drumming, then she is promptly drowned out again. “Follow You” is crisp and exciting and really fast. The overall sound of the two singers is appealing – her soft, liquid purity, his vicious roaring. Other bands do this, of course, like ELUVEITIE, as mentioned, but it’s mixed so you can hear everyone cleanly. The string part with Gaia midway through, though, is gorgeous and wrenching, and when it speeds up, it’s breathtaking, showcasing her impressive operatic range.

The first single, “Insight,” does have cohesion both musically and lyrically (it has an accompanying lyric video, which helped). It seems to be about eschewing religion or divine guidance to find wisdom in favor of looking within – “the truth I heard has died/that’s why I turned inside,” Gaia says, “You point at the sky/But I look and deny/I was looking at your finger,” Philippe responds. “War Hammer” and “Lies,” though, have just so much going on that it’s almost incoherent and hard to latch on to at times. There’s so many tempo changes, so much instrumentation, that it’s hard to appreciate either the parts or the whole.

Now “A Heart Underneath,” which closes the album, is simple and pure and lovely, with violin and harp, Gaia’s gentle singing, and ethereal choral backing vocals. You can really appreciate her voice here because you can hear it clearly. More tracks like this would be ideal, not necessarily acoustic songs, but ones more clearly constructed and focused.

URIEL just needs a little more organization and structure in terms of songwriting. Their instrumental curve balls (a piano riff here, a bass line there, a cello melody elsewhere) are ear-catching, and they are definitely extremely adept musicians. But it’s almost like everyone wants to be heard all at once and it’s sometimes hard to process as a cohesive unit.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Long Way Home
2. Multiverse
3. Mysterious Dancer
4. A Thousands Burdens
5. Follow You
6. Blood Forest
7. Insight
8. War Hammer
9. Lies
10. A Heart Underneath
Lineup:
Philippe Paquette - Bass and Vocals
Gaia Guarda - Vocals and Harp
Dave Hazel - Guitar
Jessica Ricard - Cello
Ariane Paquette - Violin
Record Label: Wormhole Death Records
     


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Edited 31 May 2020
 

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