When Dylan Carlson wrote the first notes to his defining album, Earth 2, for his band Earth, I wonder some days what was going through his mind. For anyone unaware, Earth 2 is arguably the heaviest, deepest, darkest guitar album ever written. It’s minimal and droning structure scares off listeners within seconds, and lucky for me I have the entire album on vinyl for the pure cult status of the music. Although I can’t honestly say if the album actually gained popularity at the time of it’s release, besides the fact that it’s an icon in music today, but I do know that it proved that Sub Pop can release all sorts of music. The label itself was the only one that gave this monster a chance, and thank you Sub Pop. Without Earth 2, there would be no Sunn O)), Melvins, or the Underground Mondays featured artist, urr from Denmark.
You read that correctly. Much like Sunn O)))’s unnecceasary brackets, urr does in fact have all lower case letters. They’re name could resemble the buzz of the extremely downtuned guitars or a message that the band created. What I love about this album, titled The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth released by Golemtapes, is how bleak, defining, and unique it is. It has more tone than a Sunn O))) album, but just as much punch as early Earth. They put their twist on drone metal and create a unique unmatched sound by today’s standards.
Take the first song for example; titled “Bleak and Golden”. It’s the same riff over and over again, and is quite quick by for a drone metal song. It’s like a crashing wave in the dark off a coast of Scandinavia that still cools the rocks it pummels. Even at almost 8 minutes, it’s only the beginning of a monstrous listen. The second song, “Sun – Moon – Earth”, is a more traditional drone metal track. While most drone metal tracks don’t have any sort of drum track on them, the duo of urr add in the cymbals and drums to keep things heavy and intense. The second track is far longer, at 23 minutes, and I cannot describe the feelings I have while listening. I head banged (at super slow tempos), I air guitared, I zoned out, I was in a trance. That’s the best way to put it. The band puts the listener in a state of semi-consciousness, only letting them go after the breaking of sound stops.
The third and final epic track is titled, “The Branches That Bend the Most Bear More Fruit”. Now it’s structurally the same as the first track with the looping guitar riff that changes throughout the song, but it also contains the dynamics of the second track. It’s the grand finale of the album, building to the crushing final moments of the album, but never feeling like it’s missing a beat. The song, along with the rest of the album, contains a slight buzz that’s so omniscient in the background. It adds to the droning effect of the album, capturing anyone who focuses on the waves of sound. It’s a beautiful effect that urr have created.
Giving drone metal a chance can be hard. I compare it to scene in “Lawrence of Arabia” when they travel through the desert, or the entire movie of “2001: Space Odyssey”. My guess is if you enjoyed either/or, you’ll have a real connection with drone metal. Urr is a band that takes the elements of drone, and even stoner metal, adding to the ever growing popularity of heaviness in music. The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth is an album that needs more attention. It craves the necessity to be recognized as a new face to the drone metal scene. There aren’t enough house-hold names in the genre, and the ones that are known need a young gun to help progress them. Urr is just the band they need.
Also be sure to listen to their soundcloud below: