We’re kicking off 2018’s Meet The Band feature with the Polish group Ur. Their full-length debut album is Black Vortex. Vocalist/guitarist/bassist Gregor and drummer Kroll introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Ur.
Kroll: Our history is quite short so it shouldn’t be a problem. (laughs) Ur was created in winter 2015 from the ashes of Recall. From the very beginning, we knew exactly what we wanted to play. A few months later Hail Death was recorded, our first MCD. We played some interesting concerts and then we started to work on the material for Black Vortex. Many rehearsals, a sea of vodka, a lot of conversations on topics of all kinds and here it is! This is Ur in a nutshell…
Describe the songwriting and recording process for Black Vortex.
Gregor: We started work on Black Vortex immediately after recording Hail Death, so actually the creative process over both releases lasted continuously from December 2015 to July 2017. That’s why from my point of view Black Vortex is a natural continuation of what we started on the debut
MCD. Our style has become more clear, noble, we have developed over this long time as a band, and with us our music. On the other hand, does the first track from Hail Death differ from the last track on Black Vortex?
We recorded the album, like the last one, in our rehearsal room, which is now in a different place than the last one. Recording, mixing and mastering has been done by Marcin from Left Hand Sounds Studio, with whom we know and understand each other very well. The process itself was very short, it was three days of murderous work, dropped with alcohol, but as we all know, good albums always are created in pain! (laughs)
How has your style evolved from your debut EP?
Gregor: Evolution, both in nature and in our band, is very slow, which is why the changes are not so striking. However, while Hail Death was supposed to shake heavily and leave unsatisfied, Black Vortex leaves no doubt and is already a full development of the theme and the bright end of the concept.
The tracks on Black Vortex are longer, more certain, and the motives that become characteristic of our style of playing are intertwined in them. There is also room for counterpoints, contrasts and elements of surprise. I believe that we have become richer in music and that’s the reason for me to be proud!
What lyrical topics do you address?
Gregor: I will start with the fact that the lyrics are very personal, they’re not some fancy stories, but rather the baggage of my life experiences spilled onto paper. Some of them, like “Black Vortex”, “The Beckoning Silence” or “Oblivion” concern my sick fascination with death. These are my private philosophical essays on the life cycle and the senselessness of existence.
The second part of the songs are aggressive hymns of hatred like “We Are Mortal” or “The Last Feast,” talking about human stupidity and vanity which is currently escalating. Materialism is a total plague of the 21st century and I think it is a plague so dangerous and lethal that it can lead to a fall. I will not reveal all content because even my loved ones do not know the meaning of some verses, let it be a secret.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Kroll: It’s really hard to say. We are no longer youngsters and unfortunately we are aware that many things will not be easy to achieve. I am pleased because Black Vortex is proof that Ur is something very serious and real. It’s a band that creates its own music! We want to show ourselves to people and check their reactions to what we create. What will be, will be.
Do you have any plans to play live?
Gregor: So far we are playing material with a new bassist and we are not yet fully ready to give concerts but we are open to any suggestions. We prefer smaller concerts in small, dingy and smoky clubs. I think that in such conditions our music works best. If we do not receive offers, we will probably need to take matters into our own hands again and knock on the door to places where underground playing still has a place to live.
How did you get started in music?
Gregor: I think that just like everyone, with a badminton racket jumping on the couch. (laughs) But seriously, it began with the first lesson of playing the guitar. The music drew me in and I devoted all my free time to it. Either I listened to the tapes or learned new scales and chords. I think that these beginnings are always the most exciting. Then there were the first bands, rehearsals, concerts and first girls who try to destroy your career at any price! (laughs)
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Kroll: I think that both Gregor and I will answer similarly, that a lot of different bands had and still have an impact on what we create. I do not want to say that we listen to the same, but in both of our cases the sounds that are shaping us are very different. If it comes to me, of course, 90 percent is just metal, but also a lot of rock, classics or even electronic sounds. I will not give you any names, our music is probably, in a sense, the answer to your question.
Gregor: I agree! Apparently, the most inspiring is silence! I think that the desire to create “something of your own” influenced us both at the beginning of the career and at the present moment.
What drew you to black metal?
Gregor: The second wave of Norwegian black metal. When I listened to In The Shadow of The Horns it just shook me. This music grabbed my heart and has not let go to this day!
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Kroll: My first big metal concert was a Slayer performance in 1998 in Katowice. As a 16-year-old I thought, when the whole hall was drowning in smoke and red light, and from the speakers I heard the first sounds of “Diabolus In Musica”, that this is it! I remember it very well.
Gregor: Concert of the legendary Polish heavy metal band Turbo in our hometown, Leszno. It probably was 1999. Today I mention this with a slight smile, but then it was really a total blast!
What is the metal scene like in the area of Poland where you live?
Gregor: We live in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) and in fact the whole scene from this region is closely related or even considered to be Poznan. This is not happening without a reason because everything is going on around this city. Our scene is quite strong but I think that it is still weaker than scenes from the Silesia, Krakow or Warsaw and this is due to the passivity of the local youth.
Why is it like that? I have no idea! the scene in Poznan actually creates several friends such as Moloch Letalis, Mordhell, Zmora, Abhorrent Funeral, Freezing Blood, Anthem and Hegemone. Also bands in which I have the honor to play: Bloodthirst, Martwa Aura, Bloodstained and Ur. All of them are definitely worth attention!
Who are your all-time top 5 Polish metal bands?
Kroll: There are not many bands from Poland which strongly influenced me. If I had to pick one, it definitely would be Kat. Until 1998 also Vader and maybe Profanum and also a lot of bands from the underground scene, with which over the last 18 years I had the pleasure (and sometimes the opposite) to share the stage and a beer.
Gregor: Absolutely the most inspiring three are Vader, Kat and Christ Agony! The last one has recently crushed with a great album Legacy, which I definitely recommend. At the moment, Furia is the most interesting and controversial band on the stage. Respect!
What were some of your favorite albums of 2017?
Gregor: I had to think seriously about this question and I admit that it was quite pleasant because I did not do this type of summary for a long time. Here are the results: Kawir – Exilasmos, Light of The Morning Star – Nocta, Slaegt – Domus Mysterium, Execration – Return To The Void and Venenum – Trance of Death. They are the absolute killers of the year!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Kroll: Thanks for being interested in Ur! Black Vortex is really the beginning and we are already planning more things. Do not look for any hope, “the time of total settlement has come…”
(interview published January 6, 2018)