Urgrund
The Graven Sign

This relatively new Australian band has been around since 1998. The Graven Sign is their second release and first full-length. The most direct way to describe their sound would be black metal Motorhead style, not really in the sense of early Bathory, but old style black, pre-Norwegian revival. Spikes and bullets are the props of choice, not corpsepaint, and the music has the directness of style and simple predictable melodies that Motorhead made into an institution.

Obviously, the whole scene has been influenced in some fashion by Motorhead, so it is possible Urgrund have never heard the old classic tunes. To use an actual black metal band, Gorgoroth is another valid comparison. There are probably hundreds of bands going back to the ’80s for inspiration since that has become a fad of late, but the thrash aspects are well-crafted and fit within the framework of the songs.

To me, sticking in the random gimmick, be it industrial noise, sound samples, or Slayer-esque riffs, is usually a distraction. Here is thrash German-style integrated into the music; definitely not a gimmick to keep up with the Joneses. I actually found the songs on the debut that had a heavy thrash feel. “Oskereien,” for example, to be the most interesting, so it is nice to hear more of the same on The Graven Sign.

The production is rougher and rawer this time out. Intentional? It works, so it matters little. There is a chaotic aspect to the songs that is all guitar originated, which some would call a lack of skill. It seems intentional and there are enough passages and pseudo solos to acknowledge suitable familiarity with their instruments. One could complain of simplistic song structures, but they would be missing the point. I guess this all gets back to my opening remark about Motorhead: simple, chaotic, yet more complicated that it seems at first listen.

I neglected to mention the vocals… typical black metal snarls – easily understandable, not outstanding, but certainly not a detraction. Lyrically, heathen pride sums it up. Germanic folklore, the plague, war, etc. “We do not stop the fight for night or day for fair weather or storm we come to kill by sun or moon.” Memorable songs: all songs are short – about 4 minutes. “Scourge (of God),” “War Elite,” “Oskereien” and “Heathen Dionysian” stand out. Overall a satisfactory release, and as such Urgrund’s The Graven Sign is better than most.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
April 27th, 2002

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