The Pacific Northwest seems to have no limit to the amount of talented artists it spawns, particularly when it comes to the realm of black metal. One such act is Portland’s Urzeit, who have just released their first full length, Anmoksha. Having been a fan of the band since their 2014 compilation tape Die Geschichte bisher (one of the first cassettes I have ever owned) it is my pleasure to bring you my thoughts on this outstanding album.
Anmoksha is an album conceptually rooted in the Hindu idea of moksha: the escape from the karmic cycle of death and rebirth. Anmoksha, or without moksha, would then be the feeling of never being at peace, stuck in an infinite repeating loop day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime. ‘This endless cycle, this Samsara / is a vacuous perseverance / a damned permanence / inverted essence – invisible, omnipresent’ is the wisdom the title track imparts to the listener, told from the perspective of someone who not even in death would be free from the hell of having to live with themselves. Indeed, much of Anmoksha lyrically focuses on the sense of self-hatred that comes from attempting to better oneself and be free of the cycle of rebirth, but knowing the struggle is utterly useless. There is a world-weariness that permeates the lyrics on this album that offsets the frenzied nature of the music that contains them. The song “Bellisunya” sums it up best: ‘And I cannot bear to be alone / cannot stand the sight of myself / sober, drunk, low, or high / I’m still myself… and I hate it.’
Urzeit channels this feeling of misery and unrest musically through the form of raw, surging black metal, filled to the brim with angry feedback screeches, growling bass, and pounding drumming. Anmoshka‘s raw production adds the jagged edge that suits the musical and lyrical vitriol perfectly. Often crossing into the black/punk territory (though far from going full Bone Awl), the songs here lock into bouncy grooves that break up the monotony and make Urzeit something more memorable than your average straight ahead blast-beat heavy black metal band. The dual vocal style employed by Urzeit also works to give the music a charm not found in other similar bands; the contrast between guitarist R.F.’s low growls and drummer A.L.N.’s throaty howls give the songs on Anmoksha the added dynamic that keeps the songs interesting. Add in the stunning cover art by Wormlust’s H. V. Lyngdal and this album is indeed the complete package.
It’s been a long time coming for Urzeit, but Anmoksha was worth the wait and is absolutely the album I wanted from this band. The ten songs contained here are a pummeling affair, and the album leaves the listener drained in the best way possible. Take a listen and remember: ‘For all life, now, after, and eternal is surely suffering and hell.’