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Urgehal - Through Thick Fog Till Death

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Artist: Urgehal

Album: Through Thick Fog Till Death

Label: Southern Lord

Review date: May. 8, 2005

Norwegian Black Metallers Urgehal have been around since the early ’90s, recording two searing discs for the German Black Metal imprint No Colours. The second, Terrestrial Strike, was plagued with production and post-production snags – a missing track, poor marketing, and typographical mistakes. Disgruntled, founders T.L. Messiah and Trondr Nefas split with No Colours and sided with the dipsomaniacal Morten Kaalhus, who runs the prejudicially subterranean imprint, Flesh for the Beast. Kaalhus unleashed Atomkinder, 28 minutes of orthodox Black Metal with Death Metal tendencies – recalling especially the Northern California “kvlt” [sic] typified by Possessed and Death Angel.

Two years, and another imprint, later, Urgehal released its most focused recording to date, Through Thick Fog Till Death, on the Polish label, Agonia. Leave it to Sunn 0))) earthdogs O’Malley & Anderson of Southern Lord, and Urgehal’s masterpiece is loosed to the North American hordes.

Through Thick Fog is as good as any recent Black Metal release, with its monochromatic buzzing guitars, inhumanly fast drumming, and apoplectic vox. And comparisons with Norse brothers, Mayhem, are inevitable – if not a bit unfair.

Mayhem, clout and reputation aside, have not released a worthy record since 1994’s masterwork, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Ousted vocalist “Manic” is ostensibly to blame for their swift decline. Now that frontman Attila Csihar is back, perhaps that will change. Urgehal, however, haven’t abated: If anything, they’ve become more potent.

Through Thick Fog’s most outstanding feature is the claustrophobia it induces – a confining dread not demonstrated since the incessant power of War Metallers Zyklon-B, or even the repetitive lunacy of Polygon Window’s Quoth. Urgehal’s music is pure Black Metal: an unforgiving, and incessant march towards humankind’s darkest tendencies.

Like any genre, especially one as specialized, and as minutiae logged as Black Metal is, penetrating the chaff is a daunting job. Those without access to Mincemoyer’s Oaken Throne, or the willingness to do a little archeological work on websites Red Stream, Ajna Offensive, or even O’Malley’s Ideologic, should do themselves a favor and just add this disc to the shopping cart. With no clearly marked starting point, this is a great place to begin the journey.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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