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What a Long, Strange Trip... - 95%

Algar, August 23rd, 2007

Why the Grateful Dead based review title? Well, because in the case of this album, "strange" and "trip" are the only fitting descriptors. What we have here is a pairing of two of the most unique bands currently operating in the black metal world--- more or less. Urfaust kick off the proceedings with a side of strange murky sewer ambience and midpaced, droning Burzum-influenced stomp. All well and good, you say, but there are a shitload of bands currently out there mining such aesthetics. What makes Urfaust worth your time? Simple answer: vocals. The howling, demented clean singing is just as honest as Varg's maniacal shrieks, and much more real that his countless imitators. These vocals are outstanding enough to give this side a 100%, but some of the ambient sections do go on a bit long, enough to deserve a deduction of 10% for this side (5% overall)

Then, flip over the record (which is the format you should be listening to this on), for Finland's Circle of Ouroborus. A lot of people have been talking about the post-punk influence in this bands work, and in all fairness, it is there, but not in the quantities one would expect. What is there is more of a lo-fi stumbling forest folk. Blown and distorted to all hell on some tracks, and shining in acoustic simplicity on others. In fact, in some of the tracks I pick up more of a gothic country vibe than the city- weary feeling of most post-punk. I don't think that CoO will soon be writing balleds and anthems for a population of drugged-up hillbillies, but listen to these songs in comparison to a gothic country band, like say Those Poor Bastards, and there is a definite similarity in terms of the lo-fi , twangy presentation, and the dreary chanting vocals (like Urfaust the vocals in CoO are clean, not shrieked). Whether there is any actual intention or that's just what I am hearing, but damn does it sound good (in a shitty way). A full 100% to these boys then!