Great art can come from the wellsprings of our deepest pain. It's perhaps no coincidence then that UK metallers Urne have struck gold with their sophomore studio effort A Feast on Sorrow, an album that beneath the surface grapples with real world implications of unthinkable loss.
Frontman and bassist Joe Nally recognizes the irony of the situation, how amidst the most trying moments of his personal and professional life – grappling with loved ones suffering from degenerative illness – catharsis emerged, bleeding through emotive and crushing heavy metal.
"The word crush is something that I certainly reference a few times throughout. And certainly a word that I feel is very fitting with the songs, with the artwork and the lyrical theme and recording where we recorded, with someone who gets that, gets that passion. And there's a lot of people out there who don't have that passion,” Nally shared in a sit-down with Metal Injection, referencing the therapy through songwriting that helped him navigate his recent bleak timeline.
"It definitely helps because, I mean, if you're not talking about the issues, a nice way to get it out is to be able to be creative and to write lyrics,” Nally discloses. "Certain songs I kind of approach from a different angle. Like the opening track is the day one, just the first day of finding out how your life's going to change. And then track two is you're asking yourself the initial questions and track three, 'A Stumble of Words', is loosely kind of the moment you notice the changes and you see things and hear things and they're different and the shock of what's happening here."
Don’t get it twisted, A Feast on Sorrow is not just grief incarnate. Nally, guitarist Angus Neyra and newly minted drummer James Cook have crafted a violently delicate dance that treads the line between calm and chaotic.
"It's done in such a way to create emotion. It's made to feel very real and live. There are a lot of records at the moment that feel very flat and there's no colors to it. There's no peaks and dynamics whereas Joe wanted this album to have that.”
"I think the cool thing about Gojira is, people can go 'what's your favorite three albums?' And it feels like so many people will have a different three or in a different order. And I think that's amazing. For me, the production of Magma was what I wanted, what I was searching for, and so when the opportunity came up it was just like yeah, wicked. I wanted that thing where it felt really, really real and raw.
"Honestly, I've said this the whole time, another day in the studio and I would have learned so much more. And God knows what he would have done if we had another week in the studio.” Nally adds, heaping praise on Duplantier’s ability to cut through the noise and hone in on the heart of an album, while simultaneously remaining one of metal’s good guys.
"There's a bit of chaos to him and that's what's exciting. But he is legitimately one of the nicest guys, as they [Gojira] all are. It's mental how nice they are as people. I've met a lot of bands in my life, being a fan or being in a band. There's some lovely people. There's some lovely people within bands and there's some shit people. These guys are so nice. It's like how have you managed to create this thing? It's amazing to see.”
Beginning to distance himself from the draining experience of digging deep within for arts sake, Nally expresses doubt as to whether he'd take such an in-depth emotional approach to songwriting on Urne's third studio effort. Though that intensity, which has only crept ever higher with each passing year, will remain a constant.
"Yeah, I don't think I'd ever do anything like this. Me and Angus are already planning for the next one and we've written some stuff and it's a story that's not my story. It's going to be something based on something, because there's only so many times I think you can put yourself through that. Like most I've had ups and downs in life and had stuff happen. For this album things just came up and it was my way to get stuff out. I don't think I'd ever go into anything like this again unless something fucking horrific happened. I don't feel there'd be a need to do it. It's maybe not a good thing to keep going to always do the bleakest side of life. I mean, I'm not going to start writing an album that sounds like we'er at a Brazilian festival, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to go happy, but I'm just going to be normal from now on.
"It is a heavy record. It's miles heavier than the last one," Nally adds reflectively of A Feast on Sorrow. "I think there's still some tracks on this, the track 'A Feast on Sorrow', the ending 90 seconds, I'll listen to that and I'm like fucking hell, that goes hard. It sounds so ridiculous. It sort of sounds like the best of Behemoth meets Paradise Lost with a bit of Bloodbath. I'm like 'Oh, my God. I can't believe me and Angus wrote that!'
"It does go very heavy, this record. And I'm sure there's some people who might miss that kind of more classic metal side of what we did. I think we did that halfheartedly. If I listen to the last album I think there's four really good songs and I feel there's four whatever. Too much of a mish-mash, too much of different shit. Whereas this album, this is what we want the band to sound like."
A Feast on Sorrow is available worldwide through Candlelight Records on August 11. Get it here!