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Radio Drama of Nightmares - 80%

Aetheraeon, February 14th, 2009

As most of you reading this review will probably know already, The Axis of Perdition make strange and fucked up music and while expecting the same thing to pop up on their new album, “Urfe”, I have to admit that I was still wholly unprepared for what ensued. This surely was something unexpected. First of all, if you are hoping to find sick and twisted black metal with all sorts of additional elements of creepiness, you might as well stop reading this review because there is hardly any real metal of any kind to be found on these two discs. In fact, the metal sections that do come up are mostly to be found on the second half of the second disc. However, when able to look past this, you will be treated to something intriguing, regardless of the lack of metal music.

What is offered on “Urfe” is the story of the eponymous main character's struggles with all sorts of psychological evils. Urfe himself tells us his rather intricate story in both direct and quoted speech while being backed by what can best be described as dark ambient sounds that try to recreate the scenes which Urfe is reliving through his narration. The atmosphere created is chilling and as intricate as Urfe's story itself and it really helps the listener envision the scenes. As such, not much can be said about the music itself, because it is merely the means to a greater end, but it works and does what the band presumably wanted it to do. As soon as the first disc starts off and we are welcomed by the narrator's voice, it is impossible not to be drawn in by both the narrator's soothing vocal qualities as by the atmosphere that is created by the music.

At different times, “Urfe” reminds of Silent Hill soundtracks, Diabolical Masquerade's “Death's Design” album and even Jeff Wayne's “War of the World” (without the sappy love songs). The music and story are clearly to be thought of in a horror and suspense related theme and as such remind of the former two, while the narration and the story telling reminds mostly of radio plays and the “War of the Worlds” album. One of the downsides of the album and one which is difficult to look past is that at certain points the ambient (background) sounds are too overbearing and drown out the narration, making it impossible to hear what the narrator is telling. This can get quite frustrating, especially when you are really intent on listening to the narrator's story and finding out what happened to him during his struggles. While, for the most part, the background noise helps in creating the scenes and is really a valuable part of the whole, it is disappointing to notice that sometimes it just gets a bit too much. This is only a small negative point, however, and it is largely made up for by the fact that the story itself is intricate and intriguing.

In short, the new The Axis of Perdition album is an intriguing piece of work and should definitely be listened to at least once by anyone who likes dark music in general. That being said, the listener is advised to remind him or herself of the fact that this is an album that should be enjoyed for its story-telling qualities and not so much for its musical brilliance.

(Originally written for http://www.gothtronic.com/)