Rating:
8.5
The Axis Of Perdition - Urfe
16 January 2009


Disc I
01. Grief Of The Unclean I
02. Grief Of The Unclean II
03. Grief Of The Unclean III
04. Grief Of The Unclean IV
05. Grief Of The Unclean V
06. Grief Of The Unclean VI

Disc II
01. The Great Unwashed I
02. The Great Unwashed II
03. The Great Unwashed III
04. The Great Unwashed IV
05. The Great Unwashed V
06. The Great Unwashed VI


The exploration of the Homo sapiens psyche through musical medium is one of continual and ever more impressive evolution (and sickening transgression), no more so than when expressed through the rotting, psychological blasphemy of England's The Axis Of Perdition. Previous incarnations have seen them embark on vague, uninhibited forays into post-apocalyptic themed, dank, depraved industrialised spewings and harsh, ravaging brutality inspired by Silent Hill (enriched with samples from the games themselves) and Lovecraftian mythos. The dual CD'd, concept outing that is Urfe marks a more focused, dare I say, thoughtful, approach without diluting the sound they so violently carved for themselves.

Whereas before, they have relied entirely on a visual palette to convey the process, Urfe shifts the focus to the spoken-word, narrated brilliantly by English actor Leslie Simpson who regales, with a concoction of cold deliberation and manic intensity, the story of the eponymous "Urfe" and the otherworldly being known only as "Pylon" as it guides Urfe through a city of shit-filled nightmares, debilitating pain, misery and sexual subversion. Bleak? You haven't heard the half of it. The featured language is particularly graphic and spares no expense in detailing every vicious, putrid event and emotion throughout its discourse.

The music is superlative; dark ambient has never sounded more appropriate as it sways back of fourth, undulating around Simpson's word play, interspersing itself with deceitful piano inflections, unidentifiable metallic discordance and machinery incarnate; the state of a diseased metropolis imploding in on itself. Not entirely devoid of more traditional black metal musings; on the second CD we're treated to almost Blut Aus Nord-ian metallic dirges, serving to break up the potential monotony of the story (it's a lengthy album) before returning to its stylistic origins to conclude the hellish tale.

Nevertheless it's not without its detractors: the baffling seclusion of the printed lyric. It makes little sense to develop a piece of music specifically around a narrative (and one so esoteric) and not give the opportunity for the listener to fully understand its full implications. Though the general tone can be easily deciphered, the voice often disappears into a void of sound and you're left with a longing for clarity, not just a cursory glimpse into a maddened hypothesis of a broken mind. The second gripe, relegated entirely to the second disc, is the abrupt shifts in tone from ambient to metal. Though the variety is welcome, the change, not only lacking in continuity, is potentially painful for the listener; if like myself you had the volume cranked to its peak in order to hear every word (or at least try) then you'll likely be deafened by the ensuing guitars. Despite these shortcomings you'll be hard pressed to find something as intelligent and dark as this and though it may take more effort to appreciate given the demand for full attention, it's well worth dedicating your time to.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: The Axis Of Perdition
Album: Urfe


 


written by !J.O.O.E.! | 25.05.2010


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Troy Killjoy - 26.05.2010 at 23:56  
Nice review - but I wouldn't go so far as to suggest this is intelligent. If anything this album makes for a decent "scare track" during a haunted house run on Hallowe'en, but nothing more. The second disc is better as it doesn't rely solely on the supposedly cathartic narration, but overall this just sounds like a British Professor Knowby from Evil Dead II telling me a story I don't even care to understand due to the lack of effort musically.

Maybe if this album included demonic resurrection passages and a possessed hand running through a house trying to avoid shotgun blasts from a man who would later attach a chainsaw to his stump of a wrist, this would be half-way interesting.

Unfortunately Sam Raimi wasn't able to pay a visit to the studio during the recording sessions. :/
!J.O.O.E.! - 27.05.2010 at 00:11  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 26.05.2010 at 23:56

Nice review - but I wouldn't go so far as to suggest this is intelligent. If anything this album makes for a decent "scare track" during a haunted house run on Hallowe'en, but nothing more. The second disc is better as it doesn't rely solely on the supposedly cathartic narration, but overall this just sounds like a British Professor Knowby from Evil Dead II telling me a story I don't even care to understand due to the lack of effort musically.

Maybe if this album included demonic resurrection passages and a possessed hand running through a house trying to avoid shotgun blasts from a man who would later attach a chainsaw to his stump of a wrist, this would be half-way interesting.

Unfortunately Sam Raimi wasn't able to pay a visit to the studio during the recording sessions. :/

An interesting point but I think Evil Dead comparisons are a little disingenuous considering the films were too amusing and tongue-in-cheek (at least from a modern day sensibility) to be considered as especially frightening and this narrative takes an entirely different perspective, clearly deriving inspiration from psychological and surreal horror such as Silent Hill and the style of old radio plays. But yes, lyrically speaking, this isn't the most glaringly original vision but its objective is clear and I think the tone and execution warrants at least one decent listen, to be taken as it is.

And concerning its intelligence, compared to existing industrial black metal projects, most of which seem to think they can splatter a bunch of clanging household objects and ghostly sounds together and call it a record, Urfe (for the most part) allows the music to take a backseat in more of a supporting role with what I think is exceptionally balanced dark ambient (the vocal overlaps not withstanding). It should probably be a little shorter in length though.
!J.O.O.E.! - 05.06.2010 at 20:34  
Lyrics to Urfe: http://www.last.fm/user/ThanatosUK/journal/2010/05/31/3ocfwh_the_axis_of_perdition%3A_urfe_-_the_great_unwashed
moonflash - 16.08.2014 at 22:35  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 05.06.2010 at 20:34

Clearly deriving inspiration from psychological and surreal horror such as Silent Hill and the style of old radio plays.

And the album samples dialogue from the Silent Hill series as well? Sold. So hard.
!J.O.O.E.! - 16.08.2014 at 22:40  
Written by moonflash on 16.08.2014 at 22:35

And the album samples dialogue from the Silent Hill series as well? Sold. So hard.

Possibly not on this album however. This one is basically a concept album but Silent Hill samples definitely crop up on other records.
moonflash - 16.08.2014 at 22:50  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 16.08.2014 at 22:40

Possibly not on this album however. This one is basically a concept album but Silent Hill samples definitely crop up on other records.

Ah, right. I should learn to read. Great review though, it really managed to pique my interest in the band's music and I'll definitely be giving them some attention. So cheers!

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