Within the last couple of years there has been a strong resurgence of Stoner and Doom Metal within the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania scene. Today we are going to take a look at new kids on the block Makeshift Urn with their debut Self-Titled EP.
To start off, Makeshift Urn was a rather refreshing listen. I dabble within the genre of Stoner Metal every now and then when I get the itch, but let’s face it, if you’ve heard one band you’ve heard 1,000 other acts in this genre out there (as is with most music nowadays). Makeshift Urn doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel on their debut, but the addition of noise influences sprinkled throughout their work gave my earholes a rather nice surprise. The band sift through the mire and muck for most of the EP, but the main overall appeal is how they say what they need to say and get out before overstaying their welcome. The rhythm section that lies within Makeshift Urn is some of the best and most creative in the genre I’ve heard in a long time (listen to the cymbal and bass work under the dissonant guitars during the intro of “Qandisa” and you’ll know exactly what I mean). The vocals are bound to be hit-and-miss with some listeners. There’s no outright screaming, growling, or even crooning besides a sparse appearance, but sounds as though the singer’s flesh was being torn from his body while recording this album. While they may not be everyone’s flavor, they get the point across rather quickly; this album is dark, ugly, and painful, just the way the band likes it. The guitars help keep the album flowing rather nicely with their harmonized lead work and alternating between mid-paced groove riffs, dissonant chords voicings, chunky breakdowns, and drone cadences. Is it a tried formula for the genre in 2020? Absolutely! But knowing how and when to spice up their songwriting up is where Makeshift Urn succeed by leaps and bounds over their peers.
“Work Til You Die” opens up the album on a promising note. With a chunky dissonant groove, the band waste no time sinking their claws into you. If a powerful riff and groove that just slams you into submission without remorse is what the doctor ordered, your order is ready to be picked up at the pharmacy. As mentioned above “Qandisa” opens up with powerful instrumentals that incite the “creepy-crawlies” with disturbing guitar work and intricate cymbal play. Here is where we really see what Makeshift Urn bring to the table throughout the rest of the EP. The bludgeoning breakdown mid way through this track is a monster (imagine the closing breakdown at the end of “Davidian” by Machine Head played at half speed). “No Place For Good People” follows the standard Doom Metal pattern, but the drop off around the 1:00 is absolutely haunting with its spoken word vocals. This is where the band succeed in taking the tried formula and putting it to good use. Clean vocals make a welcome appearance toward the end of this eerie track, something I was pleasantly surprised by. “The Great Attractor” does a fine job of closing the album out by combining all of the above influences into one grand finale. Opening up with an urgent riff before slipping into drone territory, the band go through the motions of dropping into a beautiful interlude before shredding some lead guitars to drive everything home. The band have done this for the duration of the EP, but the finesse used with weaving in and out of these compositions is simply fantastic.
Makeshift Urn have crafted a rather powerful statement with their entry into the underground Pittsburgh scene. With extremely tight songwriting, it is easy to see it’s only up from here for these guys. I’d really like to see the band dabble more in the sounds and groove of opener “Work Til You Die” and add in some more clean singing into the fold. I just simply can’t get enough. Be sure to keep tabs on these guys as I am more than certain they will be making waves in the Doom Metal scene in 2020. Check out Makeshift Urn’s Self-Titled EP and get your Doom on!