Even though recent years have seen them reaching broader audiences, URGEHAL have never seemed to slow down or compromise their brand of Black Metal. Their latest blasphemous incantation shows no sign of changing this tendency, even though it sees the band showing a certain progression. The ever-prolific Trondr Nefas and Enzifer have returned to smash the trendies with a ghostly pale bloody fist.
Fans of the band will recognize the Death and Thrash Metal influences that URGEHAL incorporate. Crushing many of their contemporaries in terms of songwriting and musicianship, this is about as tight-sounding a Black Metal band can get without becoming too refined. Some break-neck speed has been given up in favor of punishing groovy bass-lines, courtesy of Mannevond (KOLDBRANN). Nefas' vocals are raw and gritty, yet somewhat decipherable, giving credit to the standard eviler-than-thou lyrics. Add some excellent riffs and guitar solos, devastating skin-pummeling, and you've got the best that Black Metal has to offer. Of course, the combined musical effort wouldn't mean anything if the instruments all mended together in a distorted mess, and fortunately the production keeps a perfect balance between necro and polished.
It's always a pleasure to see that some bands stick to their guns and hold the flag up high. "Ikonoklast" takes URGEHAL from the realm of good metal, and exalts them to the ranks of the greats. If you thought Norwegian Black Metal was a dead horse, it's time to grab your boomstick– this zombie is as animated as ever.
(Online March 27, 2010)