posted on 11/2006 By:
Urgehal play satanic black metal. I know this not only because I’m already familiar with the band’s material, but also because vocalist/guitarist, Tronder Nefas is kind enough to remind listeners by screeching, “THIS IS SATANIC BLACK METAL!!” the second this record begins. It’s actually quite refreshing not having to spend any time figuring out what you’re about to listen to, but honestly, I think Urgehal tipped their hand to the rest of the table when they chose Goatcraft Torment as a title and brandished an extremely huffy looking goat head on the cover. Oh well, the band is obviously not looking to deliver their deviltry with the subtlety of a poet laureate, and I, for one, appreciate their beelzebubian bluntness.
Folks already familiar with Urgehal’s previous works know exactly what to expect when a new record is birthed from the depths - heavy, well produced Norwegian black metal with occasional wanderings into death metal, quite similar to Urgehal’s impish Oslo-ian cousins, Tsjuder. Each song on Goatcraft Torment follows this formula to a “T”, ignoring all the embellishments and experimentations that have become immensely popular in black metal scenes across the globe. There are no spooky samplings, no slow, suicidal keyboard atmospherics, no dips into the doom foray, just fast-slow-fast-slow-solo-screech-Satan!! from track one, to track ten.
To be perfectly honest, I was initially disappointed in the record because of this seemingly simplistic approach to the same formula yet again (honestly, this record sounds like it could have come out ten minutes after Through Thick Fog ‘til Death), but Urgehal deliver the goods with such conviction, and with such precise expertise, I was eventually won the hell over after only a few spins. These blokes know how to play this shit, folks. Drummer Uruz absolutely flails when necessary, and really does an excellent job of holding listeners’ attention with his nimble cymbal work on standout tracks such as “Dødsmarsj Til Helvete” and “Satanic Black Metal in Hell”. The anomalous Piledriver inspired look of lead guitarist, Mr. Triggerhappy Lepermessiah (!) doesn't stand in the way of this dude loading the record to the gills with razor-sharp black metal riffs and numerous blood-thirsty breakdowns. And, when I say breakdowns, I mean the kind of breaks that’ll have you daydreaming about flying off the top turnbuckle to deliver elbows to pious Pastors. Case in point, the truly savory, damn near grinding riff in the midst of the album’s kingly title track. Also worth mentioning is the remarkably clean production on Goatcraft Torment. One can easily make out each instrument on any given song, but it also doesn’t take away from the band’s raw, malign sound.
On the asshole side of the fence, this record does suffer from a case of the dreaded samey-sames. Some tunes are too long, and some riff patterns sound too familiar, but it’s basically the same issue the band has had since day one, and it’s one that’s definitely managed if you consume their efforts in sections. At 52-minutes in length, Goatcraft Torment is just too much to get down in one sitting without losing focus. However, apart from this relatively minor thorn, you get what you’ve come to expect from these Norwegian scalawags – satanic black metal – and a record I’m certainly comfortable recommending to those who aren’t put off by bands in the genre that mix in smatterings of death metal.
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