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While not quite as well-known as some of the other black/thrash bands out there, Finland’s Urn has been around for just as long as some of the established names.  Originally formed by Sulphur in 1994, the band released its first demo shortly after his departure from Barathrum and has since released three full lengths with different line-ups.  Following 2008’s ‘Soul Destroyers’ Blackvenom and Hellwind Inferion both left the band, but rather than calling it quits Urn has once again assembled a new lineup and put together this year’s ‘The Burning’.  In many ways the group has continued to deliver the type of raging black/thrash found on their past efforts, but they’ve also pushed outwards and incorporated even more old-school heavy metal influences.  Though there are some areas where the album stumbles, ‘The Burning’ still has plenty of riffs to latch onto and leaves this current version of the band with plenty of room to grow.

Early on it sounds as though Urn has taken their roaring black/thrash from past albums and wrapped it in production values that add a good deal of clarity without sacrificing grittiness…

‘The Burning’ starts off on a very strong note, with the short intro track Resurrection giving way to the fast paced riff-fest of Celestial Light.  Early on it sounds as though Urn has taken their roaring black/thrash from past albums and wrapped it in production values that add a good deal of clarity without sacrificing grittiness.  It works to their advantage, as there is a balanced feel between the instrumentals and plenty of space for the high-flying solos to shine.  But as you make your way through the ten tracks, it becomes clear that Urn has attempted to branch out further on ‘The Burning’.  Not only are there raw, sleazy cuts like Hail the King that have a Venom and Motorhead feel, but around the middle of the album the instrumentals slow things down quite a bit.  These mid-tempo pieces open up the sound quite a bit and come off feeling more like blackened heavy metal, pulling in some of the epic riffing of classic acts like Bathory.  The group does stumble a bit when moving into these areas though, as some of the slower moments start to drag and can be hard to distinguish, with the title track’s epic leads being a notable exception.  It’s important to note that these songs don’t full derail the album, but they do put a damper on the momentum and intensity that the band establishes early on.

Urn

Sulphur’s handled vocals since Urn’s formation, and he continues to have the type of raspy scream that’s perfectly suited for this type of metal.  His main pitch has a commanding presence, as the screams come across feeling abrasive and gritty, and the album has been recorded and mixed in a way that gives the vocals the spotlight on quite a few instances.  But unlike a lot of black/thrash where the vocals never waver from that initial pitch, Sulphur is able to switch things up quite a bit.  On some of the slower numbers there are cleaner chorus lines that are somewhere in between traditional heavy metal and sleazy speed metal.  The title track even showcases some sweeping clean singing/chanting that works quite well and is sure to catch listeners by surprise the first time through, so this may be something the band could continue to incorporate moving forward.

There are some killer riffs on ‘The Burning’, but there are also some songs that drag and don’t quite match the raging intensity found on the rest of the album.  It’s great to see a long-running band like this attempt to further branch out, particularly with new members in tow, but Urn doesn’t quite have the blackened heavy metal locked down as well as their trademark black/thrash just yet.  Considering how one-dimensional and poorly recorded this genre can sometimes be ‘The Burning’ is still worth a listen if you’re a fan of the style, but I think the best is still to come from this current incarnation of the group.

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Author:

Chris Dahlberg Owner of Cosmosgaming.com, avid metal head, video game, and anime fan. The noisier and harsher the metal is, the more I like it!