Is “unholy black worship” a style? In the case of Finland’s Urn – yes, it is. I remember these guys from as far back as 2001, when their debut album 666 Megatons (recorded in two days only!) stated quite clearly what their ethos was. With 5 full-lengths in their 25-year career, Urn cannot be called prolific, but it is undeniable that their releases are growing in quality.
An evidence of that is the fact they are now finally signed by a big label, and are having the best exposure and promotion of a new release ever. The tongue-in-cheek and yet dead seriously titled Iron Will Of Power continues where 2017’s The Burning left, but there are several notable changes. First of all, only Jarno Hämäläinen (a.k.a. Sulphur) is left from the line-up of The Burning, with two new guitar players and a drummer injecting fresh blood and dedication (not to mention increasing the number of bullet-belts and spiked wristbands worn on stage). Second, the production is better and the album is mixed in a great way, sounding balanced and at the same time powerful. Even Sulphur’s vocals sound more expressive and are now a much more efficient compliment to the musical assault.
A first look at the cover artwork gets you in the desired mood which never leaves you during the album’s less than 41 minutes. Prayers and especially Spears Of Light sound just a little bit more melodic and musical than what we were used to, while Downfall Of Idols, Malignant Strange Vision and Demonlord are the essence of Urn’s blackened heavy metal, this time enhanced with more (not just in number, but in capability) guitar solos. The closing, and longest, song Will To Triumph, starts with a trademark Bathory riff and goes along in a mid-tempo march, before climaxing at the 4:25-minute mark with tremolo guitars and percussive cannonade, to finish the album in a spectacular way.
With their fifth album, Urn have refined their craft and made a huge step forward on almost all fronts. 2019 has not been too fruitful with new releases in this particular niche of extreme metal, but who can we count on, if not the genre veterans?