O...K... a band named URN on a label named Rotting Corpse Records. Which sound would that hint at? Exactly – Gothic Metal. Who doesn’t quite follow this twisted logic, you are not alone. Anyways, I know a bunch of people, who had expected the Finnish Black/Thrash brigade of the same name, but this Chicagoan quintet has been around for 16 years already and is now releasing its second album only, so they were not in a rush, I would say. Apparently they have been pretty well marketed, though, as some of their music has appeared on A&E Biographies as well as the Sci-Fi Channel, so they must be doing something right, so I was intrigued to say the least.
Well, I hate to say it, but that was relatively short-lived, because ultimately “Scribings Of A Forgotten Soul” ended up to be a mild to medium disappointment. If you slap 80 minutes of music onto a CD, you better be sure that you are able to maintain at least something of an even level of quality, which URN technically achieve, unfortunately that even level is not as high as I would have hoped for. Sure, the songs are well written, have a high level of catchiness and also bring in a certain degree of variety, but ultimately fall flat no matter what the promise of the song had been originally. The concept is interesting, as it deals with a prison riot at a state correctional facility and it tells a good story, but there is more to this than just that.
The shortcomings are actually quite manifold, so here goes: I am not a big fan of the vocals, as they are sometimes more spoken than sung and lack expression, when clear, while the semi-growls that sometimes are thrown into the mix (for example on “Hero Worship” or “Dancing On The Day Of The Dead”) are less than convincing as well. Also the extensive use of keyboards sometimes pushes the song itself into the background and appears too prominent, just mentioned “Hero Worship” would definitely have benefited from the “less is more” approach, as it does show good variety and drive. At times it almost seems as if the lyrics/story were more important than paying attention to a proper fully composed song that has the hooks, the corners and edges required to leave a lasting impression, but almost each of the twelve songs here is missing something intangible to elevate it to the next level.
So if you take that and then look at 80 minutes of these shortcomings, then the verdict cannot be good and as you can see with my rating, it drags things down considerably. This is not a bad band by any means and these are not really bad songs and the production is good and clear, but if you add everything up, the sum of all parts just doesn’t work, save your money, there is a lot more deserving releases out there, this one’s due to be cremated...
(Online April 22, 2010)