The Axis of Perdition - Urfe
Code666 Records
Dark Ambient, Industrial, Spoken Word
Disc 1: 6 songs (44:25) Disc 2: 6 songs (45:38)
Release year: 2009
Code666 Records
Reviewed by Goat

It’s always oddly appealing when bands take massive risks, especially in the Metal realms; you’re never quite sure whether you’re listening to genius or delusion, or both. British Black Me(n)talists The Axis Of Perdition have been steadily moving away from the filth-ridden genre over the course of their two albums to date, and new opus Urfe, spread over two CDs and running in at over an hour and a half in total length, is another step away from Black Metal. The first CD, titled Grief Of The Unclean, is a single long piece broken into parts, narrated by actor Leslie Simpson, telling of a man moving through a filthy, nightmarish world as in the two previous albums, more like a radio play with added strange background ambient sounds than the coherent piece of music that you’d expect.

As far as it goes, it’s sadly ineffective, partly because of the lack of structure in the backing sounds but mostly because there are moments when it’s hard not to giggle, especially if you have a keen sense of humour. Dramatically-spoken vocal lines such as “the square slopes down on all sides to a steamy manhole in the centre that looks like a giant arsehole,” and “with its sexual appetite virtually slaked, it's now ready for the chase, ready for the fight, perhaps ready to try and munch on my dick” are hard to take seriously, and the frequent swearing made me giggle more than once. Seriously, I could quote from this for hours, it has all the makings of a hilarious British comedy show – “the cock in my pants begins to harden, but it’s bent in two so it hurts like hell”. After each listen, there’s absolutely nothing about it that makes me want to sit through it again, unlike Deleted Scenes From The Transition Hospital or The Ichneumon Method, which were like a horrific car accident, hard to look away from once you’ve seen them for the first time.

The second CD, entitled The Great Unwashed, starts with more narration, much in a similar fashion – “I try to hold back a gobful of sick but it explodes from the corner of my mouth” – but we finally get some proper music in The Great Unwashed II, as guitars and ponderous drumming appear out of nowhere. Another shock comes as you hear the vocals for the first time, clean singing which sounds like Nemtheanga’s (Primordial) more emotive moments jolting me out of the bored daze I was otherwise in, but it soon drops back to the same Industrial-esque ambient sounds as before. This pattern seems to repeat for the rest of the CD, and it’s hard not to lose whatever interest remains as Industrial clanks and grinds are interrupted by the occasional slow riff or piece of hard-to-hear narration. Calling the fearsome being that guides the protagonist through this landscape ‘Pylon’ is a questionable move, too. By the time you finally hear some harsh vocals in The Great Unwashed III, the delay has removed all impact, and the switch to the ‘proper’ Axis sound in part IV is anticlimactic.

It could be argued that a moment like this lay somewhere in The Axis Of Perdition’s career for certain, a dark, fateful day when they would get too carried away and produce something that takes steps into the ridiculous – there are only so many pieces of music that one can create about someone moving through a nightmare without it losing its effectiveness, and I’d say that Deleted Scenes From The Transition Hospital is the best that could be done, the peak. The Axis Of Perdition have gone in the wrong direction, in my view; a more stripped-down and basic sound that continued to use the deranged formula could have been wonderful, but instead they’ve gone fully for the ‘cinematic horror’ route, and Urfe is like an remake of a classic horror film – think the Nicolas Cage-fronted rape of The Wicker Man for the true level of disappointment that I felt. Fine, towards the end things do improve, but the narration does dip into silliness again, and there’s nothing done musically that the band hasn’t done better before apart from the freakish male backing vocals on The Great Unwashed V, which caused the one uneasy feeling I had on the entire listen.

Maybe I’m wrong, and this is actually on the genius side of the dividing line, but based on the listens so far The Axis Of Perdition have taken that fatal step into self-delusion. If this were a play, I would cautiously praise it, but as an album it fails on most levels. Music transcending its boundaries? Maybe, but the fact remains that Urfe is nowhere near as frightening as Deleted Scenes..., nor as violent as The Ichneumon Method. With many more listens I may come to recognise Urfe as the individual piece of art that it desperately wants to be, but for the moment it’s a colossal disappointment.

Killing Songs :
The Great Unwashed V
Goat quoted 40 / 100
Other albums by The Axis of Perdition that we have reviewed:
The Axis of Perdition - Tenements (Of The Anointed Flesh) reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
The Axis of Perdition - Deleted Scenes From The Transition Hospital reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
The Axis of Perdition - The Ichneumon Method (And Less Welcome Techniques) reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
The Axis of Perdition - Physical Illucinations in the Sewer of Xulchilbara (The Red God) reviewed by Aaron and quoted no quote
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