Urne – A Feast on Sorrow
Release Date: 11/08/23
Running Time: 52:00
Review by Rory Bentley
“Where do the memories go?” It is a lyric that is beautiful in its simplicity yet opens up a near infinite number of meanings as the leitmotif on Urne’s sophomore masterpiece “A Feast on Sorrow”. It can be viewed as a wistful rumination on the passage of time, an anguished longing for better days past or a more literal expression of the album’s theme of loss through gradual decay and dementia. In many ways it is the ultimate distillation of what Urne get so right on this record, that is making harrowing and labyrinthine themes instantly accessible through a medium known for a more direct approach. There aren’t many straight-up Metal albums that are able to grasp such weighty, emotionally raw subject matter without feeling heavy handed. Yet Urne have created something that is for everyone. Of course, there are elements here and there from other subgenres of heavy music, but at its heart “A Feast on Sorrow” is a straight-up red-blooded Metal album in the truest sense.
The band’s debut “Serpent and Spirit” was met with rabid enthusiasm by the Metal scene at large, garnering Urne some high-profile supporters, none more fervent than Gojira lead singer Joe Duplantier who takes the concept of fandom to another level by flying the band over to his studio and producing the album, and predictably his contribution is incredible. As you’d expect from someone of such peerless artistic integrity there is evidence all over this record of the band being pushed to wring out every drop of passion and pain in their performances. Singer Joe Nally in particular puts in a masterclass in naked, brutal emotion, his voice cracking under the strain of every heartfelt lyric. It is no surprise that the closest album I can compare this to is Gojira’s own “Magma”, in which the loss of the Duplantier brothers’ mother permeates every pore of the record, even when the guitars are at their most devastating and crushing. There is an elegant melancholy that elevates the furious heaviness to new heights, something which translates to “A Feast on Sorrow”’s stunning centrepiece ‘A Stumble of Words’.
If the discussion has been on the emotionally heavy end of things so far, fear not. There is a triumphant neck-snapping, air-guitar inducing Heavy Fucking Metal album here that is as good as the genre gets. ‘The Flood Came Rushing In’ is a God-tier album opener in the mode of Architect’s ‘Nihilist’, replete with a bludgeoning verse riff and gargantuan chorus. The middle eight riff belongs in the headbanging hall of fame next to the slow part in ‘Angel of Death’ and the ‘Die By My Hand’ bit in ‘Creeping Death’, it’s that fucking good. Meanwhile ‘To Die Twice’ sounds as planet-smashingly huge as Mr Duplantier’s band at their nastiest, with some frankly mind-blowing drums that Mario would be proud of.
The title track itself is genuinely terrifying and upsetting to listen to but so, so rewarding. There is an oppressive lurching menace as the band embody the spectre of creeping dementia like a malevolent demon crawling into the lives of its victims and gradually stripping away every last vestige of hope. Much like Mastodon created the physical and aural embodiment of cancer on “Emperor of Sand”, Urne do the same for Alzheimer’s here. Thankfully, there is nothing quite so relentlessly bleak on the rest of the record, but it is this willingness by Nally and the band to tunnel into the darkest recesses of grief that made the score at the top of the page the easiest decision I’ve made all year.
I really could spend ten times as long delving deep into this forlorn magnum opus, but when something is this life affirmingly brilliant I feel the job of the reviewer is to do enough to convince you to hit play and experience it for yourself. ‘The Long Goodbye/Where Do the Memories End’ closes the album with everything that’s great about the earlier songs while expanding into even more progressive territories. When I say progressive, I am speaking in the sense of ‘Master of Puppets’ or ‘The Gift of Guilt’, something that morphs and contorts before your eyes without ever losing sight of its job to channel the glorious power of Heavy Metal. By the end of the record, you will feel emotionally drained yet cleansed if you’re anything like me. The subject matter hits close to home, and I’ve shed a few tears during the near constant rotation this album has received since I got it through nearly a month ago. Despite being put through the wringer every time, though, more often than not I’ve hit that play button the moment the last note has rung out. At the time of writing, I’m mere days away from seeing these songs in the flesh at Bloodstock and I fully expect to be both misty-eyed and bloody-nosed by the end of the set. However you like your Metal be it heartbreaking or neck breaking, Urne have got you covered with this instant cast-iron classic.
‘Becoming the Ocean’ Official Video
01. The Flood Came Rushing In
02. To Die Twice
03. A Stumble Of Words
04. The Burden
05. Becoming The Ocean
06. A Feast On Sorrow
08. The Long Goodbye/Where Do The Memories Go?
Joe Nally- Vocals/Bass
Angus Neyra- Guitar
James Cook- Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.