Review Summary: URSA give you “Dragonlance” in a world of “Lord of the Rings.”Abyss Between the Stars
is like one of those old frayed paperbacks adorned with a magical buxom woman wearing impractical skin-bearing armor; a look into a fantasy world and dripping with the maudlin charm of its era. With songs like “Dragon’s Beard,” URSA’s Abyss Between the Stars
is pure musical escapism, painting an enchanted portrait by way of thick 70s inspired doom.
Being more or less a side project of the genre-twisting black metal band Cormorant, URSA eschew expectations by presenting an album more in line with recent outings from Spirit Adrift, Pallbearer, and Khemmis. Nick Cohon pads each track with lofty guitar solos while Matt Solis’s vocals march bold and heroically—all feeling very much in line with the glut of other stone/doom bands that have ridden the post-2014 wave. It’s all so sweet that even at its most derivative, Abyss Between the Stars
still feels lovely and majestic. With a wry smile, URSA give listeners “Dragonlance” when they’ve become so accustomed to “Lord of the Rings.” The lightly unpredictable progression of “Wizard’s Path,” for example, allows the band to sit comfortably within convention without feeling distractedly cliche. Meanwhile the heavily instrumental “Cave of the Spider King” is wound tightly with frenetic solos and chunky riffs. Each of these six tracks have just enough of their own flavor to escape being too painfully well-trod.
So, if sitting on a bean bag chair and getting stoned in your parents basement while talking about “Thomas Covenant” is your jam, then URSA deliver. It’s nostalgic and fantastical in a lot of important ways, making for a delightful listen from start to finish. That is if you don’t mind this style being found in other, sometimes better, places.