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This album is in two parts. There are some significant differences between the two so I'll review them separately.
Grief of the Unclean
Don't you hate how an album is bad but for reasons that aren't related to the content at all? Examples would be bad production, sound issues, tracks cut off, and so on. Well Grief of the Unclean is about 45 minutes of dramatic storytelling backed by spooky machine-like dark ambient music. Now Urfe is my first album by The Axis of Perdition so I can't give the same criticism as others seem to be giving, which from what I gather is that they're a black metal band and their first offering in four years is a big bloated piece of spoken word. ("I spent so fucking long waiting for a bad Jeff Wayne horror album.") Fortunately, I'm the type of chap that just loves a good story so I approached this optimistically with an open mind. The result is I didn't really enjoy it. It's a shame, though, because I didn't not enjoy it because the story was bad or anything like that. The problem is I haven't a clue what the story was. The audibility of the narrator varies depending on how clear he's speaking and how loud the backing music is at the time. Part V of this story is a great example of this. The narrator is very exasperatedly telling an intense profanity-laced story which I can't make head nor tail of because of the loud machine music. Towards the end of the track the machine horde seems to recede and I can hear what this dude is trying to say. He was explaining the aftermath of the big epic thing that was happening over the past five minutes but it all meant nothing to me because I hadn't the slightest idea what the fuck had just happened. On a fun side note, I have something good to say and something bad to say about the actor doing the narrating on this album. Put in a nice way, the band got one of the actors from one of my all-time favorite movies, Dog Soldiers, to tell this story! However, the actor is Leslie Simpson. He's the one that played Private Terry Milburn; the cowardly pansy that got pulled out through a window and raped by lycanthropes off-screen for the next thirty minutes or so before being decapitated in front of the much cooler, much manlier Private Joe Kirkley. Now see if they'd gotten that Scott that played Private Cooper to do the narrating, that would've been groovy-pants! The mere thought of some deep Scottish-accented dramatic storytelling tickled my engorged pseudo-intellectual fancy. But no, they got the British Army equivalent of Saving Private Ryan's Timothy Upham. Oh, bother that nonsense.
The Great Unwashed
The first movement of the second section of this album is in the same fashion as Grief of the Unclean. We've still got dramatic storytelling with meaning rendered moot by the loud ambient backing. The next movement is a very different story, mind you. This track is actual music instead of the unfortunately pointless storytelling I've been served with for almost an hour. It's pretty alright too! It sounds like a curious mish-mash of Shining, Deathspell Omega, and Meshuggah. It's very pompous, industrial, depressive, dissonant, and creepy-crawly. I was diggin' it, but after just 3-minutes of this coolness, the instruments fade out to form ambiance while Private Pussywuss resumes telling his story. It takes 3-4 minutes of painstaking narration and buildup for the song to really start being interesting again. The third movement starts with more storytelling before going into what's actually a pretty nice spooky drone section for a few minutes but ultimately failing as the rest of the movement is kind of a clusterfuck of storytelling, industrial metal, and ambient. Mixed as such, it all falls flat. The fourth movement further compounds the problem of the incomprehensible story by having multiple voices narrating at once. Ending on a positive note, though, things sort of pick up with the sixth movement. No storytelling, no ambient machine sounds, just a nice moody piece of melancholy.
Grief of the Unclean is a big chunk of useless talking while The Great Unwashed is more of the same but with some cool-sounding metal spliced into a couple tracks and a nice sad song to go out on. I guess what's meant to be appreciated here is the story, so it's a shame I can't follow it. It still all sounds pretty interesting though, so perhaps in the future the verses will be posted online somewhere and I can give this album another spin in hopes of getting the full intended experience. It might turn out pretty good! Still, the negative opinion I'm holding right now ultimately cannot be changed. It doesn't really make sense that in order to appreciate some spoken word I need some written word to help me comprehend it. To be brutally simple, the album is not good. The Axis of Perdition have created a story that can't be followed, a flow that's broken, and an album that sucks.