Urarv – Argentum (2018) REVIEW

This grand silver platter of seconds is the overflow from the sessions for long-conceived debut of Aldrahn (Dødheimsgard, The Deathtrip) lead avant-black metal project Urarv. The same experimental wilderness explored in ‘Aurum’ unfolds here with a mix of Ved Buens Ende-like terror, folkloric technical black metal mutations, and Aldrahn‘s patent howling vocalizations. I felt ‘Aurum’ one of the most underappreciated black metal records of 2017 and perhaps more pleasant digestion compared to ‘A Umbra Omega’. A few changes offer some reasonable differentiation of ‘Argentum’ most notably more prevalent use of Norwegian lyrics, and fewer ‘straight forward’ tracks like “Ancient DNA”. If you wanted ‘Aurum’ to whip out the strange side of Aldrahn more often, then I think ‘Argentum’ is an addendum aiming for you.

Conceived in 2003 during a stay at a mental institution Urarv‘s initial goal aimed for true Norwegian folkish black metal and instead morphed into a complex mountain of future-proofed, erratic Scandinavian avant-metal. Never ‘weird for the sake of it’ but off-kilter and aggressive by nature of it’s collaborative machination, Urarv‘s style still evokes an expression of freedom amidst it’s twisted and dream-like forms. Though there aren’t a multitude of stoic riffs or classic throwbacks in this cluster of songs, at least not compared to ‘Aurum’, the appeal of ‘Argentum’ for my taste was in the smaller details of the composition as well as Aldrahn‘s performance.

Buoyant basslines from Sturt (Whip), harried drumming from Trish (Nidvind) and additional guitars from Ynleborgaz (Angantyr) and Camille (Smohalla) are all vitally important to the swinging Voivod and Fleurety-esque delivery of ‘Argentum’. In some ways it reminds me of the experimental album Nagelfar wanted to forget ‘Srontgorrth’, but hyper-focused and seen through a Norwegian lens. When spinning ‘Aurum’ and ‘Argentum’ back-to-back I have to say I think these two groupings from the same session are better off separated. If combined, the experience would have been long-winded and scattered. Though I would have perhaps included “Sannhet” on ‘Aurum’ and “Valens Tempel” on ‘Argentum to balance each out slightly.

Even if it is considered a silver metal to the resplendent gold of ‘Aurum’ this EP stands quite well in it’s own right. I would suggest it as something more fantastically wild at heart compared to the structured and aggressive feel of it’s antecedent. To aim for solace and pride and end up with a forward-thinking exaggeration of black metal is a wonderful result and Urarv takes avant-black style to a more powerful and listenable place than most freak-shows they could be compared to. For preview I would suggest “Krakekjott” and “Soloppgang” to start and absolutely track down ‘Aurum’ if you missed it in 2017.

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Artist Urarv
Type Album
Released June 1, 2018
BUY from Svart Records!

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Genres
Black Metal

Some infamous degradation. 3.75/5.0

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