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Fun, but gets old fast - 70%

Lord_Jotun, January 17th, 2004

God forbid, what do we have here? A Metal supergroup that's actually worth listening to?? Well... almost. Although Wurdulak's first album sounds like a masterpiece when compared to most of those lame ass attempts at impressing the listener by sporting amazing line-ups paired with an appalling lack of musical interest whatsoever (you won't have to look that far to understand what I'm talking about: Killjoy is in here), it's definitely not the ultimate Black / Death experience, and the first thing that jumps to the listener's attention is that - yet once more - the final result is way inferior than the sum of the single elements.

First, the cast... as I mentioned, Killjoy of Necrophagia fame stars in this record, and shares the microphone with current Mayhem frontman Maniac. This should provide quite a deal of vocal variety, and to some extent it does (and although I'm not a big fan of Maniac's voice, I have to admit that his gurgles fit Wurdulak way better than Mayhem), but not as much as one could expect, as both vocalists stick to a very similar, vomit-like tone most of the time. At various points there's also too much random screaming going on, which ends up being neither sick nor brutal as it probably was supposed to be - just tedious, as anything does when it becomes overdone.
The line-up also boasts the partecipation of three (count 'em) guitarists - namely Frediablo, Fug and Ihizahg - when actually one (ok, let's say two) would suffice. Really. Apart from the fact that there's hardly any soloing at all (not necessarily a bad thing, as this genre has never been about wanking up and down the fretboard), most of the time the guitar work consists of basic power chords, with no harmonies at all and generally very few variations from this pattern.
Finally, the rhythm section, consisting of Iscariah (ex-Immortal) on bass and Jehmod (of Bloodthorn) on drums. The bass lines are nothing mindblowing either, but provide a solid backbone and are kept audible in the mix, and Jehmod does an equally fine job, although there are very few fast parts to be found.

Musically, Wurdulak's roots are obviously rooted in old styled Black Metal (lots of processed Celtic Frost and Bathory influences can be easily made out), although the band mostly sticks to mid tempos with a few slightly faster sections here and there and very few blasbeat parts. Not a bad thing, since a bit of groove rather than constant shredding can't be bad. The songs also have a nice amount of twists and turns that keeps them from being predictable and boring... at least to a certain extent.
For here lies the real problem with this record: after a while, the riffs (which are generally well done and interesting) start to show a common pattern that undermines the album's variety way before time. This is not saying that the songs all sound the same, as most of them have their peculiar elements, but the style of playing, the very melodic structure of the riffs an dthe general feeling of the music really stays the very same from the beginning to the end. Some riffs also tend to drag on for too long, something that doesn't help the general variety either.

There are, however, standout tracks: "Statanic Utopia", for example, has a very headbangable opening riff and mantains a killer groove all the way through; "Containment of Inferno" (which also features lyrics penned by veteral Black Metaller Faust) begins with a blasting riff which wouldn't be out of place on a Setherial album, and closes with a really cool and creepy part introduced by a haunting clean guitar; "Cauterizing the Wounds of Christ" has a chorus that manages to stick in your mind without letting go, while "Chosen Below" at times explodes into a sudden blasting part backed by a very strong riff.
The downsides, however, are always waiting in the dark, ready to assault the good impressions: the title track, for example, opens with a nice guitar line but that's about it, as the rest of the song quickly becomes anonymous, repetitive, and too similar to the rest; the same can be said about tracks like "Buried Beneath Perversion" or "Gospels of Depravity", while "At One With the Beast" has some nice riffs which however are repeated for too long.

All in all this is an enjoyable album, ideal as something to listen to that doesn't require too much concentration. I picked this one for a special price, and would have never payed for it as much as for a regularly priced cd, quite honestly. Check it out before you consider purchasing it.