Formed in 2016, URNE were quick to gain hordes of fans with their quick and heavy riffage, introspective lyrics, and *punishing* breakdowns. Their breakout EP ‘The Mountain of Gold’ and their follow-up debut 2021 album ‘Serpent & Spirit’ catapulted them firmly into the crosshairs of many a metal fan, and their latest release ‘A Feast on Sorrow’ keeps them there.
On their opening track, ‘The Flood Came Rushing In’, vocalist and bass player, Joe Nally starts his engines in top gear, as guitarist Angus Neyra rides shotgun. Drummer James Cook directs the journey and provides the spine of the 8-track composition. Nally kicks off with his declaration “Where do the memories go!!?” From then on, the pace of this song is breakneck.
This tune catches multiple facets of metal styles, including thrash and prog, and folds them into a fist to put through a wall. The initial breakout riff gets the blood pumping fast and keeps the old heart rate up good and high throughout the song. One minute in, and the headbanging starts. I’m not talking about regular headbanging; I’m talking about the kind that is powerful enough to put nails through timber.
The second tune that’s up for the offering is ‘To Die Twice’. This is slower, but the ferocity is still every bit as apparent as the previous track. Nally really puts his voice through the ringer, but carries a tune from start to finish, helped by a face-melting solo from Veyra and machine-gun intensity from Cook, pounding the double bass. It’s a 5-minute attack on the eardrums until slows down for an instrumental outro, allowing ‘A Stumble of Words’ to begin.
I’m not sure if they are all recorded back-to-back (it sure sounds like it), and Nally’s vocals don’t let up – not for a second. The third song is a little longer than most of the other tracks on the album at 11 minutes, but it is so jam-packed with riffs, it’s impossible to wrap (good thing it’s not for Christmas). The trio really do strut their stuff on this, as Veyra cuts loose with pinchy little licks scattered throughout the track that slot in perfectly with Nally’s basslines and Cook’s drums.
Harmonisation ensues as an acoustic fill slows the pace, until a gravelly distorted voice creeps through the music and fills the earholes with a thick, chunky and death-infused stew. Cue more power-tool headbanging.
‘The Burden’, ‘Becoming the Ocean’, and the eponymous title track, ‘A Feast of Sorrow’ continue this aural pounding. ‘The Burden’ has an intensity that is akin to stamping in fury on the ground, and pay particular attention to the intro for ‘Becoming the Ocean’ – it has a real Arch Enemy vibe to it. Drumming whizz, Cook flies straight and true, never missing a beat and perpetuating the fact that drummers really do hold it all together. Delivering blow after blow, he focuses the cooperation between Veyra and Nally into delivering some awesome breakdown thrashings and maintains a steady rhythm for the others to hook themselves up to.
‘A Feast of Sorrow’ opens up with a slow piano sequence, but that doesn’t last long. (There’s that power tool headbanging urge again). Veyra dances on the fretboard with a masterful command of fretwork and chord progression. Dirty palm-muting peppers the track, as Nally hammers home his lyrical delivery. Cook strikes again, shifting between tom-work, bass drum assault and cymbal smashing with envious ease.
The penultimate track ’Peace’ lasts just over a minute; a quiet number allowing the listener to take a breath and rest for a minute (it is needed), before ‘The Long Goodbye / Where Do We Go When We Die?’ starts. A power-ballad worthy intro greets us before the meat and two veg are served at the stroke of 1.45.
More head-banging (head is starting to get sore at this stage). At 11 minutes 15 seconds, it’s is the longest track open the record but it is far from repetitive. This is a feast for the listener as it reaches far into URNE’s capability to show that they can pull a blatant riff masterclass out of the blue, and bludgeons the listener with beat after beat (the real fun starts at 4 minutes 37 seconds, with a truly thrashworthy section that could glorify many a Megadeth album.
Overall, this song is more atmospheric than fast and thrashy but no less melodic, and perfectly serves URNE’s modus operandi of being one of the UK metal’s rising stars. Having the ability to flip and flop between those two genres isn’t easy, and the lads pull it off without a hitch.
This album is right up the street for fans of heavy prog and sludge metal. URNE are playing on the Ronnie James Dio Stage from 11.45 to 12.25pm on Saturday August 12th, and then they’ll be in the signing tent from 2.30-3.10pm. If you’re lucky enough to be at the festival, be sure and check them out, otherwise you’ll have to wait for them to come to you. Don’t wait. GOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
A truly outstanding album 4/5.
Track of Choice: ‘Becoming the Ocean’. Stream the full album via this link.
Words: Shaun Martin