Ural – Psychoverse (Xtreem Music)Monday, 9th October 2023
Crossover / old school thrash metal has seen a certain uptick resurgence in popularity – as styles do have a cyclic nature from generation to generation. Italian band Ural aren’t newcomers to the movement, as they formed in 2010 and released a demo, two EP’s and two full-length albums over the course of their career. Signing with Xtreem Music for this third album Psychoverse, what helps the quintet set themselves apart from the pack is the avant-garde Voivod influence that infiltrates the guitar playing. And we all know that distinctive elements usually pay dividends long-term for establishing your own following.
After a bone-chilling horror-themed intro, “Drag Me to the Wolves” comes bursting out of the gates, the oddly shaped chord transitions very much Voivod-like against some natural Bay Area/neoclassical-oriented lead breaks. You can expect adrenaline-oriented bass/drum parts that go full-force one minute, then stop on a dime into this progressive manic fill before settling into solid groove mechanics – check out the slamming action for “Heritage” or the evil twists in the almost seven-minute train odyssey that is “Carousel of Hell”. Amidst the riffing and hooks that can mix in aspects of Nuclear Assault, Testament, and Pantera, you have the barking, hardcore meets rhythmic vocal delivery of Andrea Calviello – who figures out a way to weave his passionate words into the musical maelstrom which works effectively in highlights such as “Nightmare” and crunchy meets progressive volley match for “Fall of the One World”. Just when you think you have your pulse on what is going to happen, guitarists Alex Gervasoni and Luca Caci throw down a flurry of notes or Piggy-ish left field chord passage that sets your ears ablaze. The key gang-like choruses boost the memorable factor, while the record closes on a calmer note through the short “66.6 FM” instrumental- the soothing, acoustic guitars allowing the listener an aural reprieve.
Listeners who crave crossover thrash with a bit of intricacy/progressive action should find Ural and Psychoverse immediately favorable to their tastes. One of those records that could grow on you through each successive playback, as there’s plenty of information to process/devour in an ideal, 38 minutes and change vinyl-length outing.