- Year 2017
- Genre Black Metal
- Country Norway
- Label Svart Records
- Rating Excellent
Urarv’s debut ‘Aurum’ is familiar yet unpredictable, and for a band led by Aldrahn that makes perfect sense. Listeners who have spent any amount of time with Dødheimsgard is likely to have come across his unique vocal style, but he’s also fronted The Deathtrip in recent years. Like that group, Urarv has its fair share of riffs that pull from the older Norwegian black metal framework, but on each of the eight songs the band pushes outside of the usual boundaries and never retreads the same ground. It’s not quite as outwardly avant-garde as some of Dødheimsgard’s work, but there’s still an off-kilter and psychotic feel to ‘Aurum’ that’s incredibly appealing.
Urarv rarely stays in the same place for too long, and these familiar bursts of blasting and abrasive leads give way to spacey melodies and strange rhythms that feel like they’ve been purposely injected into the material to trip up listeners…
One of the first elements that listeners are likely to notice about the album is Aldrahn’s vocal performance. He’s in top form here, delivering just about every manner of pitch that you can think of, ranging from high pitched manic shrieks to cleaner ranges that still tower over the instrumentals. But “clean” is a relative term when referring to Urarv, as even when the singing/screaming mellows out a bit and the lyrics are easy to make out there’s still an abrasive, unsettling tone driving everything forward. It’s impressive just how much variation Aldrahn is able to deliver throughout ‘Aurum’, and some of the shrieks and other distorted pitches on the second half of the album sound both inhuman and psychotic. What stands out the most after spending a couple of weeks with this material though is that the vocals have been given as much room to experiment as the instrumentals, as there are sections where the cadence of the singing is just as off-balance and strange as the riffs that support it.
‘Aurum’ is one of those albums where the instrumentation can be deceptive, as a lot of the songs initially sound as though they’re headed down that familiar path that Norwegian black metal has offered over the past two decades. But Urarv rarely stays in the same place for too long, and these familiar bursts of blasting and abrasive leads give way to spacey melodies and strange rhythms that feel like they’ve been purposely injected into the material to trip up listeners. That’s not to say that this is one of those recordings where it was written for the sake of being weird or avant-garde, as there is still plenty of black metal’s trademark grit and weight present here. What Aldrahn and company have done is to put their own spin on this familiar sound, letting off-kilter transitions or ventures into hazier tonality lead the listener in unexpected directions. There’s an unexpected amount of depth to quite a few of these tracks, and it’s likely to take multiple times through to fully get a feel for what each piece brings to the table.
Urarv’s debut may prove to be a polarizing release, as it takes the aggressive, distorted riffing that is so common in black metal and throws abrupt transitions and unexpected tonality and rhythms at the listener. It’s a take on the genre that pushes off into different territory in a manner that often feels on the verge of collapse, as if one sudden beat or scream will cause the whole thing to implode. But that’s part of the appeal, and those that have a taste for the more eccentric side of metal will find ‘Aurum’ to be an album that transports them to a lot of different places. Each listen allows you to dive deeper and deeper into the madness, and it’s an experience you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon.