With the untimely passing of guitarist/vocalist/mastermind Trondr Nefas in 2012, it seemed unlikely that Norwegian black metal stalwarts Urgehal would ever be heard from again. The surviving members of the band had other ideas however, and at long last we have a fitting epitaph for the band as well as a heartfelt tribute to their fallen frontman in the form of Aeons in Sodom, Urgehal’s seventh and final(?) full length.
Rather than finding a single replacement vocalist, Urgehal chose to record Aeons in Sodom with a little help from their friends; a who’s who of black metal royalty lend their throats to the album’s ten proper tracks, including the likes of Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone, Nattefrost of Carpathian Forest (where the hell have they been?), Hoest of Taake and Niklas Kvarforth of Shining. The use of guest vocalists gives each track its own distinctive vibe, yet the the album remains a cohesive whole thanks to the razor-sharp riffing and strict adherence to the established Norse black metal paradigm.
Built from Nefas’ final recordings, Aeons in Sodom is about as orthodox as black metal gets, but would you expect anything less from Urgehal? The band has been among the Norwegian scene’s staunchest traditionalists for over twenty years; it’s a little late for the remaining members to start broadening their collective musical palette, not to mention the fact that Nefas would likely be spinning in his grave if they did. This time honored approach works in their favor; sure, there are a lot old school black metal bands running around out there, but Urgehal slaughters 99.9% of them with a mix of intensity, conviction and nastiness that most can only dream of mustering.
Indeed, Urgehal have done a damn stellar job of putting Aeons of Sodom together in spite of the loss of their primary creative force; what could’ve ended up sounding like a thrown together hodgepodge of leftovers instead sounds like the same burly, vicious black metal we’ve come to expect from them over the years. While no one can replace Trondr Nefas, Urgehal have done the next best thing by assembling a legion of like-minded genre devotees to help them craft an album that would no doubt please their fallen leader, wherever he may be.