Label: Signal Rex
Oh god this is fucking filthy. As soon as the feedback-drenched 20 second introduction gives way, you know exactly what this demo is all about: death fucking metal, played the old way, with a sound dragged right from the depths of hell. This Icelandic four-piece may have formed in 2013, but Urðun’s sound is that of a rotting corpse, buried sometime in the late 80s and arisen anew to wreak vengeance upon the living. Much like Coffins, they successfully capture the spirit and sound of old death (with hints of doom) without ever sounding like a redundant imitation of what came before. And with names like Putrifier and Yakuza Dethfukkk, you know exactly where these guys are coming from.
Originality isn’t high on the agenda here; this is pure old-school in sound and attitude, and revels in those regressive tendencies. Instead, Horror & Gore is all about good song-writing, crushing guitars and drums, bass that makes your bones vibrate, and the deepest of bestial vocals. The doom sections are incredibly heavy, as weighty as wading through tar (just check out the intro to “Horror Spawn”); the up-tempo assaults as violent as you could hope for, with just the right amount of groove to keep you banging your head, but also chaotic enough that it remains a bit of a challenge to those not well versed in the underground. It’s not the kind of tape you need to listen to multiple times to pick the details out of: everything is front-and-centre, primitive and crude, and all the better for it.
For a demo, the production on Horror & Gore is pretty incredible. Whilst hardly clean, it’s strong enough for individual elements to be clear, with the details in the music not getting lost in the whole – and there are some nice little touches, such as the background guitar movements during the breaks in the later half of “Horror Spawn”, that demonstrate that whilst aggression and power is the order of the day, it’s not all there is to Urðun. There’s an understanding of the small touches that help elevate a record above the mundane masses of old-school death metal revivalists. There’s a few rough edges that could be improved on – most notably the way closer “Mortuary” just seems to come to a rather sudden halt – but on the whole, Horror & Gore is a gruesome, thrillingly intense 16 minutes, that fans of the likes of Coffins and Autopsy would be fools to miss.