Album Review: Ur Draugr – “The Wretched Ascetic”

Ur Draugr
The Wretched Ascetic
(Self-Released)

This Australian progressive blackened death metal act is formed from members of One Too Many Camel and Corpsebitch respectively. Dave Griffiths handles the vocals on the album, which consist of mainly thick growls, not dissimilar to Mikael Akerfeldt’s earlier work in Opeth. Additionally, there seems to be a lot of that same progressive take on death metal explored here as was on those earlier and arguably more memorable Opeth releases. But all comparisons aside, these guys aren’t exactly Opeth. If anything, they seem to be taking the work a bit further by beefing up the acoustic sections as well as the more brackish death metal portions, making me think less of classic death metal acts like Grave and Entombed and more of later acts like Cryptopsy and fellow Aussies, Portal. This album does indeed get rambunctious and that’s going to be just what the doctor ordered if you’re looking for a bit of unhinged fury in between your acoustic sandwich. I do find it a little odd that these guys would put so much emphasis on the acoustic sections however and I think that more often than not, the album’s closer “Sombre Moribund” will be the point in which most listeners become turned off by the rest of the performance and will end the listen completely. The meat of this album comes in on the latter part of “Unseen Golgatha” and comprises nearly all of the album’s title cut, which is where the juiciest sections of it reside. I’ll agree that there is a lot of promise to be had on the record, but unfortunately there’s just not enough material here to really predict where this band is going to go next. The score applied to this release concerns mainly its length and your wallet, as you are essentially getting a song and a half of heavy material sandwiched inside some rather dull and forgettable acoustics. When the metal listener wants metal, he can at times stomach and even enjoy enough of the acoustic approach, but with The Wretched Ascetic there’s just not enough bang for his buck. But on the other hand, if you do like the sound of acoustics just as much as you like the sound of unbridled brutal death metal with a progressive tinge, than I think you’ll find this record suitable to your palette. At most, it’s a mere sampling and does make me a bit thirsty for their next offering. (Eric May)

Purchase The Wretched Ascetic here.

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