Release Date: 27th July 2018
Genre: Heavy Metal/Sludge Metal
Debut releases tend to set the template from which a band can grow, with The Mountain Of Gold, URNE leave no doubt of their crushing mission statement. Muscular slabs of thrashy riffs, a healthy dollop of sludge and a deep understanding of how to get you to bang your head off the nearest wall for a good 20 minutes or so.
If this doesn’t immediately grab you (you have a problem) then the abundance of clean vocals certainly will. There’s screaming here for sure, but it’s used sparingly and to devastating effect, showcasing a more atmospheric, less formulaic take on the modern sing/scream dynamic. This keen sense of melody shines in ‘Dust Atlas’ and particularly in album highlight ‘The Lady & The Devil’, seeming to spectrally weave itself throughout the duration, contributing to the track’s strange, occult narrative. Despite occasionally feeling a little clunky, these sections come across well and seek only to enhance each song, whilst never feeling shoehorned in or reduced to ear-candy. Soaring, 70s flavoured vocal passages over grunting mid-paced riffs lend themselves to a Sabbath-gone-thrash feel with a scorching guitar tone reminiscent of something Goatwhore would carve out. Everything feels gigantic, yet grinding and primal with a powerful sense of restraint. Riffs repeat until they just teeter on becoming redundant, before a nimble shift in rhythm or classy embellishment twists the song in a new direction.
URNE have clearly found a blend of styles that works for them and appear to be sticking to it. Tempo barely varies from track to track and each song seems to contain very similar elements, but redistributed in a multitude of ways across the runtime. As a by-product of this, the less-memorable guitar passages often find themselves blended into a chuggy mush, leaving a little to be desired in terms of catchiness. You can still slam a beer to them, but they won’t be bouncing around your head any time soon. This aside, the production is extremely tight and well balanced with a rawness that prevents the recording from feeling clinical. Josh Middleton of Architects and Sylosis fame delivers a crushing guest vocal on ‘The March Towards The Sun’, a song which also features an incredible, uplifting guitar solo before breaking down and rebuilding into an epic melodic finale. Each track feeds off an atmosphere that seems to have existed for centuries and never once drags or gives you reason to shift your attention. Refreshingly, there is zero filler here, just massive grooves, exceptional pacing and a brilliantly evil sense of melody.
It will certainly be interesting to see where the band go from here onwards. This EP definitely showcases a group brimming with potential and a fully formed idea of what they want to create and expand upon moving forward. You’ll be hard pressed to find another release with quite as much universal Metal appeal as The Mountain Of Gold in 2018. Though still drenched in old school charm, it retains a modern, underground edge that will certainly appeal to younger listeners. This won’t be the last we hear from URNE and if you’re looking for something fresh with a classic vibe to bang your head to, this is absolutely worth your time.
Recommended track: ‘The Lady & The Devil’