URNA — Mors Imperatrix Mundi (review)

URNA — Mors Imperatrix Mundi album cover EP · 2005 · Funeral Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
URNA was formed in 2003 in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia off Italy’s western coast by Roberto Mura (vocals) and Marco Z (guitar, bass). The band was formed with the idea of bringing many ideas of black metal into the mix but the duo quickly became enamored with the sounds of the atmospheric black metal hybridization of dungeon synth with industrial from the likes of Tronus Abyss along with the slow plodding doom metal of Void of Silence, both emerging from Italy’s underground metal scene.

The project evolved into a blackened form of ambient funeral doom metal and the duo released a debut demo titled “Justia Funebria” which some databases consider the first proper album but since it’s impossible to find anywhere to hear it i will ignore it and consider this following EP titled MORS IMPERATRIX MUNDI to be the first available to listen release which came out in 2005. There are actually two versions of this one. The first was a four track EP that consisted of four tracks and clocked in at 34 minutes while a re-release on the GSP label came out in 2014 with two extra tracks that basically doubled the playing time with the 25 minute closer “Incipit modesta vita (Malus vivendi).”

Despite the EP status this is basically a full-length album although it’s possible that this is designated as an EP because the original release featured three original tracks and the bonus cover of Mayhem’s classic “De mysteriis dom sathanas.” The sounds on MORS IMPERATRIX MUNDI really does blur the line between dark ambient / dungeon synth, atmospheric black metal and gloomy funeral doom metal. The production is excellent as it captures the bleakness of space synth in the cold impersonal universe while capturing the droning distortion of doom metal chords and plodding rhythms. The black metal aspects come in with the raspy vocals, guitar tones and overall feel.

The first three tracks are hypnotic and flow like molasses as synthesized sounds provide a percussive drive while metal oriented distortion from guitars sustains. The only true black metal performances comes from the Mayhem cover and it is actually quite a decent cover equalling or excelling the quality over the original. The two bonus tracks on the 2014 edition are more or less lengthy excursions into dark ambient soundscapes that ramble on for lengthy processions down various avenues much like a Klaus Schulze album as it provides an alienating effect. The 25 minute closer eschews guitar altogether and drifts off into the vastness of space.

Funeral doom metal covers a wide range of styles ranging from the guitar driven lo-fi offerings of Skepticism to the ethereal and surreal sonicscapes of Esoteric but blackened funeral doom wasn’t quite the thing back when URNA cranked out their series of albums that merged the two styles of metal into a single musical paradigm. Like many funeral doom releases, this one requires patience and the ability to passively let the random sounds float by but for my personal likings i find this one to hit all the right notes with production precision that allows all the elements to be heard and a nice mix of gritty metal sounds with spaced out dark ambient and dungeon synth. Not quite as out there as Esoteric but approaching that side of the spectrum.
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