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URNA : Mors Principium Est

A gripping album of passionate Black/Funeral/Death doom from the enigmatic Urna project.

Truth be told, coming from my humble Trad/Sludge background, I was a little intimidated by the idea of reviewing this one. From the albums artwork and symbology, to the lengthy songtitles, worded in Latin, and into the depths of the music itself, I felt a little out of mine. Depth that is.

The Occult, however, is a many splendid thing though, and within this arcane field when the going toughens, and the greater the imposing challenge, the larger the payoff. So I'm glad I persisted here, for 'Mors Principium Est', is indeed powerful and stirring stuff. On the surface, a gripping album of passionate Black/Funeral/Death doom, yet at the same time I would hazard, a work with a certain hidden depth.

Of all the bands from the "...Threnody stable" (as I think of it), Urna are to my ears a touch more esoteric, a tougher nut to crack and get into. Possibly too, far more of a personal artistic statement by its members. That may or may be not true, this is purely from the 'ears of the beholder', so to speak. Albums of this nature certainly have the ability to move the listener, if not actual mountains, and whilst I can't claim to have been as enthralled by it as I was with the recent Arcana Coelestia CD, I can imagine many might be.

Formless keyboard sounds usher in the albums dramatic opening track. Switching from slow to mid paced tempos 'Omnis Infinita...' is a compelling journey out of the void and into a sonic world of possibilities. There were a number of words and notions that came to mind as I listened to 'Mors...'. The idea of breathing was one. The music itself breathes, there are no sharp edges, nothing to really shock the listener. It ebbs and flows like the rise and fall of the lungs. Even the heavier passages which are melodic and orchestral, with some very subtle guitars and keyboards nicely placed in the mix, seemingly expand and contract with the competing emotions given off by the instrumentation.

The production is both clear and dense, if that's at all possible, and the overall vibe is one of personal deference to the material and mundane, yet with a reverence to the majesty of the cosmos. Musically, as mentioned earlier, I would say this release combines three of the doom genres, and blends them to excellent effect. Those being Funeral, Black, and Death, but with a heavier lean toward the initial two. One other distinction to make is that we're not dealing with the out and out moroseness of something like Catacombs or Frowning but with the orchestrally uplifting movements of atmospheric black metal minus too many fast passages.

The final track emerged as a personal highlight by both challenging that which preceded it and instilling a healthy level of intrigue as to Urna's divergent capabilities. Whilst not straying all that far from their path it appears Urna may have a little more to offer up, and with a new release due out later on this year, an album boasting many such little differences could well be a very rewarding listen indeed.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Omnis Infinita Mens Est Gremium Et Sepolcrum Universi
2. Ego Sum Templum Et Principium Omniae Rei
3. Intermezzo
4. Octo Sunt Grados Ad Capere Fine Cycli Magni
5. 137 = 73 + 64
6. Fui Sum Ero

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the URNA bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-04-06 by Matt Halsey
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