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Urkraft has one of those band names that sounds a bit like a death grunt. Sometimes that can work well for a band and capture the primal essence of their music, while sometimes it makes them sound stupid and neanderthal. For these Danes, it could go either way, since they certainly profit from some neck-snapping, chugging momentum and crazed death thrash speed, while also plugging and chugging away at the same rhythm for a large portion of the album. The fact is, if you are going to call a release something as outlandish and attention grabbing as 'The Inhuman Aberration', you had better either have the chops to back it up (like 'Eternal Nightmare' or 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus') or you had better be prepared to sound a little stupid. Urkraft do not manage to do the former, though they don't fall into the trap of the latter - listeners are more likely to forget what they hear.
These guys sound like some other bands that you will recognise pretty quickly if you're familiar with the slightly less pure edges of the melodic death scene. I think of Darkane and The Haunted and Nightrage before I think of In Flames or Dark Tranquillity, since the rhythms and general atmosphere of the music attempts to be fully oppressive and clinical, rather than sometimes uplifting and varied. I feel rather like Urkraft have provided two feelings for this album, one of which is that of going down in an elevator into the Earth's core, with all the dread, revelation, and claustrophobia that you would imagine, and that of riding the death thrash rollercoaster back to the surface. This largely depends on whether there are supporting keyboards or not, since we get attack without them and awe when they are included, which isn't a very subtle way of doing things, though it is largely effective. You may notice that those two feelings lead us back to the start; simply standing on the surface of the Earth after a long journey, and that's kind of how 'The Inhuman Aberration' feels. You travel a long way, and then you end up where you began. Pointless? In a sense, yes.
The fact is that those two sections keep coming back every minute or so throughout the album, so that the songs very similar and the writing doesn't particularly progress. What's strange is that, although we only really have one song repeated nine times, it isn't a bad song, and it doesn't necessarily make the album awful. I actually enjoy listening to 'The Inhuman Aberration', especially when I'm doing something else, because it has a lot of energy and a thundering, jolting rhythm to it that inspires movement and concentration. The problem is, I don't think a band like this has aimed for hypnotic or workout music on this album, so as a death or melodic death or thrash release, it's somewhat of a failure. In terms of genre, there isn't enough lead work to make the melodeath tag stick, the thrash is definitely impure and looks towards the late-90s alterations made by The Haunted et al, while there just isn't anything like the brutality of a pure death album, dark atmosphere included. However, it is certainly these three genres that form the centrepoint of Urkraft's sound, so I can't help but saying that they attempt something slightly different and utterly fail.
There isn't anything intrinsically wrong with the music they play, it's just that there isn't any variation whatsoever. The same lurching riff comes out with roared vocals over it, then the same tremolo riff with keyboard topping, then perhaps a lick that we haven't heard before, and occasionally a solo (not even in every song), then we do the same thing again in the next track, and so on. If you played me any of the first seven tracks, I wouldn't be able to tell you which one was which unless I happened to overhear the vocal line of an especially obvious part, and that doesn't happen often, since the singer is always gruff and monotone. There is a moment at the end of the album when I think that I hear something distinctive: 'Liberation' manages to craft a memorable refrain out of a slow melody and gives the listener something to hang onto, though there are still the other nonsense identical death thrash parts in the verses; the closing 'The Pressure of Our Jaws' (apart from a pretty cool title) pulls off one definite thrash metal riff and one genuine death metal part, which I don't prefer as genres but, in contrast to the repetitive style on here, they shine through.
If I'm going to point at one single problem, it's the rhythm. Almost every rhythm is the same for 40 minutes and that's inexcusable, however muscular and energetic it sounds at first. The songs aren't awful, just the songwriting, and if you listen to only one or two tracks or aren't paying much attention, 'The Inhuman Aberration' will sound bearable, good even. Just don't expect to find any depth or invention on this release. They only have one trick, and it's about as dangerous as a puppy.
Say what you want about At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul," but there are few albums that you can easily point to and stay..."this started a genre, and everyone else just copied it." Everyone else most certainly includes Urkraft.
I mention "Slaughter of the Soul" because it is the template for every Urkraft song. In fact, forget the whole album, almost every song off "The Inhuman Abberation" seems to borrow directly from "Blinded by Fear!" There weren't even that many riffs in "Blinded by Fear," so that's not saying much for the variety displayed by our good buddies at Urkraft.
Yeah, there are some keyboards that magically don't sound cheesy, but this style is worn thinner than Steve Buscemi after sex with Oprah. Sorry about the mental image. The vocals have a bit of extra heft here and there too, deviating from the typical raspy screech perfected by ATG, but that ain't enough to save this disc from frisbeeville. The whole band is proficient, in fact, but manage to sound EVER MORE GENERIC thanks to their ubiquitous "in demand" producter who shall remain nameless, and whose biggest accomplishment so far seems to be Aborted. The drums in particular sound very Tue-y.
Seriously, cut off all off Urkraft's limbs, lay them in front of your door, and call them Matt. Nothing exciting here.