Fear not, Hang The Bastard fans, a new project is in town.
We, for one, were crestfallen when Hang The Bastard called it a day. Even though this writer’s preference of their hardcore era had passed with Tomas Hubbard taking over from Chris Barling on vocals, they were still one of the best bands to crank up on the car stereo or to go and witness carnage unfold to live.
As URNE includes vocalist/bassist Joe Nally and guitarist Angus Neyra, formerly of Hang The Bastard (not to forget Rich Wiltshire on the drums), you could be forgiven for expecting Sabbath worship, and lots of it. However, URNE’s combination of styles, and the resulting diversity of their four-track debut EP The Mountain of Gold, makes them very much their own band – The Mountain of Gold is for life, not just for Hang The Bastard fans.
Produced by Josh Middleton (who also features on ‘The March Towards The Sun’) of Sylosis/Architects fame, it’s a diverse listen, encompassing rock, prog, thrash and the groove, as well as moments of black metal and NWOBHM. It takes its time to move through sections and different tempos, and URNE show they really know how to write a chorus. The prog influence, including clean vocals, calls Blood Mountain-onwards Mastodon to mind, but always in influence and never in mimicry.
With their first release and music video now out, enthused – nay, excited – we asked Joe and Angus a few questions about URNE’s origins, influences and future plans. Read on.
How did URNE come to fruition? Has it been in the works since Hang The Bastard split?
Joe: Yep! On the last Hang The Bastard tour, myself and Angus spoke about doing something straight away. The original idea was very different to what it is now. I had a few parts written for the next Hang The Bastard record and took them over to this.
Why the name ‘URNE’? What does it mean to you?
Joe: I could say it has a cool meaning but really I just thought of “Urn” and one of the lads said “do it the German way ha”, so that’s how it came to be.
‘Dust Atlas’ has a surprising chorus. Are you being wilfully experimental, or is this something that has happened naturally?
Joe: In Hang The Bastard we didn’t really have melodic vocals and it was something that a few of us wanted to try. So with a clean slate in URNE, It was the best time to try it.
Following on from this, there are some similarities to Hang The Bastard, but overall The Mountain Of Gold is a very different listen. Are you setting out to be different, or again, is this a natural change?
Joe: I think it is a natural change. The first versions of the songs sounded more like Thin Lizzy‘s Thunder & Lightning, but as we worked away on them and got Rich in on drums the whole dynamic changed. Angus and I loved playing the Hang The Bastard songs, but we couldn’t do something the same without those core guys.
Angus: Definitely more of a natural change. Essentially this was a fresh start meaning we could take the songwriting anywhere, but there was a lot of learning what worked and what didn’t before completing The Mountain Of Gold.
Do you find yourself listening to material similar to that which you play? If not, do you find yourself taking ideas from more unexpected sources?
Joe: One thing I love about this band is we all like a ton of different stuff. Of course, we all love listening to metal/rock but outside of that I am a big soul fan, so for vocal melodies I listen to a lot of soul to get inspired.
Angus: There’s definitely a lot of things I personally get inspired by outside of metal. Recently film soundtracks and orchestral stuff have been great for thinking outside the box with song structures and chord progressions.
Do you all have similar musical tastes and influences, or does one of you bring the hardcore, another the black metal, etc.?
Joe: I think we all have similar tastes, which really helps as we don’t all pull in different directions.
There are a couple of different moods on The Mountain Of Gold. What do you want listeners to take away from it – or is it up to them?
Joe: I just want people to enjoy it! The stuff we have for the next record is a huge step up and I think this is a good taste of things to come.
Angus: Same for me really! I hope people find it a great introduction to URNE, catch us live and stay tuned for what we’ve got next.
The lyrics seem to have a bit of a fantasy theme running through the EP. Is this correct? If so, do they come from any particular source or inspiration – or are they entirely your own?
Joe: There is a story running through the EP. It is something that I had in my head but listening to Dio and early Rainbow certainly helped.
What’s next for URNE? Are there plans for a full-length in the future?
Joe: We have a few songs written and a ton of skeletons to work on for the full-length. I believe this band has lots to offer and I can’t wait for people to hear what is next!
Angus: We didn’t stop writing during the process for The Mountain Of Gold, so there’s a lot more ideas for us to work with, and more space for us to push our writing abilities for the full-length.
The Mountain Of Gold is out now via self-release. Purchase here.
Words: Gregory Brooks