UPYR – Altars/Tunnels (2013)
Self release (CD and Digital)/Serpent Eve Records (Cassette)
Review by Trevor Proctor
UPYR is a five piece blackened doom band from Sofia, Bulgaria – featuring Mora on bass, Tymnokryw and Spasm on guitars, Brodnik on vocals and VB on drums; they initially got together during the winter of 2012 and subsequently released their first demo Altars/Tunnels on the 6th of December 2013. Altars/Tunnels was initially self-released on CD and digital download via the group’s Bandcamp page but was soon snapped up by Serpent Eve Records for release on cassette.
All tracks on the demo were written and arranged by UPYR, with all lyrics by Brodnik except track 3, the lyrics from which are based on the poem “Hymn to Pan” written by Aleister Crowley in 1913. The first two tracks, Altars of Necrotic Karma and Into the Tunnels of My Sleep were recorded live at Loud Fi studio and mixed at Gate 32 studio in Sofia by Yanis Petras; track three, Hymn to Pan was home studio recorded and the fourth track Welcome to the Ritual which is available on cassette only was recorded at an early rehearsal jam.
Each of the four tracks pretty much last ten minutes, I’m a fan of longer tracks but with doom there’s a very fine balance between excellence when executed well but potential boredom if carried out ineffectively. Fortunately UPYR use the longer track time very competently and tracks never seem drawn out – starter track; Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma is a perfect example of how UPYR ply their trade, starting out slow it gradually builds, taking close to five minutes to reach their fastest pace, briefly sounding slightly reminiscent of the groovy doom from early Cathedral only to slow the pace right back down again to the funeral pace of My Dying Bride – this track is a shining example of UPYR’s ability and any track that holds your attention the way this one does is worthy of many listens.
The way is which UPYR vary tempo and mood throughout is exemplary and contributes to their unique sound, switching from funeral pace to much faster sections both seamlessly and at will. The only track that maintains a regular pace is Hymn to Pan; it’s a track devoid of drums or bass – a spoken word ode/poem/hymn to Pan penned by Mr Crowley, despite being intensely slow at times this track still manages to hold your attention for its ten minute duration.
If we consider this as a regular release it’s easily good enough to go toe to toe with many signed and established bands, however when we consider this as a demo it’s exceptional. I’m keen to hear a lot more from UPYR, they deserve support and a wider audience than they currently have as their music has achieved a unique blend of all things doom with a nice shot of blackness for good measure - the cassette is available directly from Serpent Eve Records with the CD or download being available directly from the band.
1. Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma.
2. Into the Tunnels of My Sleep.
3. Hymn to Pan.
4. Welcome to the Ritual.