Through Thick Fog Till Death
posted on 2/2005 By:
Ah, Southern Lord, one of the few labels thats genuinely accepted amongst elitists trying desperately hard to get into heavy music in order to broaden their horizons. So how great is it that for the distribution they have, their releases usually range from mind-numbingly slow to blisteringly fast? Norway's Urgehal most definitely fall under the latter category. Featuring ex-members of Kvist(!) and current members of Crest of Darkness and Asmegin, their latest release concentrates on constructing black metal that's eerie and creative, but primarily, fierce.
Using customary Norwegian black metal riffing, they manage to prevail in fusing together the usual buzzing staccato picking with doomy ethereal breaks on "Raise The Symbols Of Satan", bending notes throughout small solo sections. In spite of their seemingly ferocious ethos, Urgehal also adjust to a mid-pace earlier-Burzum or Khold feel on occasion. Such parts bring a much-needed atmosphere, doing so with the complete absence of damning keyboards. The vocal patterns are well-done and play a large role in giving the album that 90's sound of the glory days of grim music; they're not treated as an obligatory layer of sound. It's the time changes that prevent Through Thick Fog Till Death from dull or tiring. "Invasion" begins moderately paced and unexpectingly leaps into a lively rhythm for a while, and eventually stays upbeat through the end. Being a long song, the band made a wise move in choosing not to torment everyone with the attempted "brutality" that eight minutes of the same unyielding beat would've brought. There's also the unexpected utilizing of very slight thrash characteristics - the title track, when it's not tearing through the usual Norwegian assault, picks up to a gallop, while "Mirror Satan" blasts thoroughly before a slower part enters, finishing the passage by giving an indicative nod to the bay-area sound. I could sit here and analyze every song piece by piece. There's an interesting characteristic in almost every song. But for the sake of brevity, I'll end the analysis. There's also four live tracks added on of the band playing older material, which I personally feel wasn't necessary to include, but I can't imagine someone complaining about their addition.
While this is an album clearly best suited for fans of older Satyricon or Darkthrone, Urgehal present a refreshing slant on a time-tested blueprint. The few unorthodox traits exhibited on the album leave me feeling very curious as to what they'll develop into, as it's plausible their next offering could be revolutionary.
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