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Album review: Urne – Serpent & Spirit

Rising Brit metallers Urne bring the chaos and riffs on their hugely impressive debut album, Serpent & Spirit.

Some heavy bands manage to be thoroughly enjoyable in their predictability. There’s something to be said for a formula done well, but a dislocating debut like this one is even more satisfying. Serpent & Spirit is a very chaotic album. Not in the frenetic sense of a grindcore or mathcore explosion – there’s a precise, measured approach to everything they do – but certainly in the sense that you have little idea what the band will do next.

With Urne rising from the ashes of respected metallers Hang The Bastard, the one thing that isn’t surprising is the fact that they’re handy with a riff. There’s a core element of chugging grooves holding the whole thing together, but beyond that all bets are off. The Devil speaks to me through my dreams,’ rasps Joe Nally on the opener and title-track, kicking off a series of nightmares and dreamscapes with a fractured theme of good and evil that could almost grace a Mastodon concept album.

The Atlanta sluggers are a good jumping off point, as there are some similarities in the way that Urne wrap their crunching heaviness in convoluted, proggy twists and turns. But as soon as you think you have them pegged they’ll veer from an eight-minute instrumental (Memorial) to a slab of dirty rock‘n’roll (Envy The Dead). Elsewhere there are post-metal swirls and furiously technical passages. Parts of Desolate Heart sound like a Gojira/Slayer hybrid (no bad thing), while classic metal licks and thrash riffs abound. 

It’s not an instant album but it rewards repeated listening and heralds the arrival of a vital new force in British metal.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Mastodon, Gojira, Barishi

Serpent & Spirit is released on 25 June via Candlelight.

READ THIS: Mastodon: Every album ranked from worst to best

Posted on June 24th 2021, 10:05a.m.
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