Ur Draugr - With Hunger Undying
Progressive Black/Death
8 songs (45:55)
Release year: 2015
Ur Draugr, ATMF
Reviewed by Goat

Following up their still remarkably good debut EP of earlier this year, Australian trio Ur Draugr are back with a newly rewritten full-length after the original album was wiped out by a hardware failure. Still something like a mix of the best bits of Behemoth and Agalloch, the cavernous occult death metal roar of the former mixed with the delicate folk-black of the latter with a proggy twist, the band are undoubtedly impressive. Despite the initially offputting production (which is a little too murky for this sort of music but at least has a nicely audible bass) you soon grow used to it and it even gives some of the lighter moments a pleasingly ghostly feel, a la classic Opeth. The mix of styles gels well, and makes an undoubtedly heavy but complex morass of sound flow well and make sense in a way that much technical death metal fails to. Opener Fertile Crescent's brief acoustic strums are a tease, immediately overtaken by a flurry of technical riffs and roars, chaotic and strange at first but soon building into a torrential blackened flood. Dissonant, oddly melodic soloing only increases the weirdness, and a false ending works well to jolt the listener with a shift away from blackened metal to tech death riffing, before ending on ominous piano.

It reminds me very much of crappily-named and now sadly split-up Norwegians She Said Destroy, which is very much a good thing if you're not familiar with them. The following Seeds Soaked in Famine is even more reminiscent of that kind of fantastic proggy death-thrash, with wonderfully intricate drum work and guitar lines that snake around and about, melodies rising and falling while the growled vocals invocate demons above it all. Shorter, heavier moments show the band off very well indeed – the three-minute blast of Rise of the Thaumaturge, for example, is terrific, the black metal elements working to create a dark atmosphere for the swarming riffs to envelope. Yet even longer pieces like the five minute-plus Cult of the Greatwurm are fantastic, moving between trippy Voivod-esque riffs and atmospheric, almost gothic moments to great effect.

The only weak point on the album is interlude Solace Within Torpor, an acoustic piece that simply goes on too long to be interesting at nearly six minutes' length and begs to be skipped – especially when it's followed by tracks as good as the furious Augur Incarnate, seething with rage yet with an atmospheric touch akin to the better melodic doom bands. Thankfully Lethe Drinker, the other interlude, is around the three minute mark and serves well as an introduction to the closing epic, the nine minute title track. It's here that Ur Draugr are at their most epic, building slowly but steadily with more of a proggy feel than before, leading to a grandiosely occultist mixture of experimental black and deep, dark death metal that is well worth the wait. It's a particular form of ear candy to a certain sort of extreme metalhead; one that sets the band up well for future masterpieces that will hopefully be free of the few faults here. A little more focus, a little more originality, and Ur Draugr will be truly extraordinary. Until then, With Hunger Undying is a remarkably good debut album.

Killing Songs :
Seeds Soaked in Famine, Rise of the Thaumaturge, Augur Incarnate, With Hunger Undying
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Ur Draugr that we have reviewed:
Ur Draugr - The Wretched Ascetic reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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