Featuring former Barathrum bassist Sulphur, blackthrash veterans Urn have lain dormant for a decade nigh on, but long term fans of the band will be pleased to hear that the wait since 2008’s Soul Destroyers hasn’t been in vain – The Burning is a bit of a ripper.
Joined now by new members Too Loud (guitars) and drummer Revenant, Sulphur has put together a riotous slab of resolutely old school entertainment for your listening delectation, with every track reaching back through the foetid recesses of metal history to the early eighties when black metal, thrash metal and death metal had yet to splinter into their now very distinct personae; Venom loom large, natch, although every now and then you’d think the late lamented Lemmy might have had a hand in the songwriting – at times it’s that good.
Standout cut Morbid Black Sorrow will ride it’s longboat roughshod over your ears, melding stately Viking metal with vicious thrash with carefree abandon, Too Loud adding some quite superb soloing to the mix. And that perhaps is the only area in which Urn don’t bow at the altar of authenticity with quite so much fervour – where the Gods they so clearly worship were, shall we say, often primitive in their application of musical skill back in the day, Urn are themselves clearly musicians of high repute, meaning that there’s a sophisticated sheen to much of the material here where once there would merely have been the stench of well-meaning incompetence. The highly melodic – almost tuneful, it we’re being honest – Wolves of Radiation bares this theory out to the fullest.
Whether that taints your enjoyment of proceedings is surely down to nobody but you; this review certainly enjoys the flair Urn bring to the table. There remains a terrible ugliness to much of the material whatever the merit of the players involved. Sons of the Northern Star is superb, it’s hectoring semi-chorus chiselling swathes into the consciousness, but the same could be said of much of the material on display on The Burning.
If you feel like giving your old Hellhammer and Venom records a rest for a while, this could be the album you’ve been looking for to fill just that role.
The Burning is released by Iron Bonehead on July 28th