Uranus is probably not the first Greek god you'd want to name your band for, but then I'm thinking only in terms of a Westernized toilet humor perspective and no real classic connotation. Nonetheless, the primal sky deity is exonerated by a troop of imaginative if ultimately futile Greek black metal musicians upon their sophomore Doctrine of Immortality. Having not had exposure to their first record in 1999, Heathendome 1999, I had little idea to expect other than the words of a particular Finnish wordsmith of note and a truly terrifying band photo which has soiled my attempts at sleep ever since. That being said, Doctrine is rather a surprise. Symphonic black metal is hardly a novelty, but the approach Uranus uses here is glorious despite its admittedly scattershot qualities.
These guys have a very strange means of writing riffs that sound warm ("War Diary"), almost power metal in origin, and then marrying them to violent black rasping, many layers of synths and even an angelic female vocal here or there. I admit, the various elements are oft misaligned, but when you break them apart, they actually work wonders. The guitars on the album are quite well conceived, from the spasmic and conmplex ("War Diary", "Schism") to the more barbaric black metal undertow ("Thy Will Not Be Done", "Songs and Dances of Death"). All manner of synthesizers are implemented, from the expected pipe organs to more progressive rock tones, and the eerie girl wailing is thankfully not so prevalent that you wanna hurl. Then again, the cover of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's "Fire" did in fact send my lunch steaming through my nostrils and mouth to splatter on the nearest hard surface, which unfortunately I am now typing upon.
Also, the album gets less interesting as it goes on, with close to 70 minutes of content! Tracks like "Pillars of Hercules" and "Blood Sweat and Tears", anchored by curious guitar passages, seem to repeat themselves in A-B-A-B patterns that quickly lose their luster. There is simultaneously 'a lot' happening here, and 'not enough', which I admit has my brain in a binder. The satisfying sneer of the vocalist inevitably grows tiresome, and the processing levels of the mix sometimes seem uneven, with keys or vocals sticking out too far. Apart from such flaws, though, I can't help but feel that some further gestation would have transformed this same material into a strong work of symphonic black metal that might have turned a few more heads. As it stands, there are a few genuine thrills throughout, but it feels only partially formed, and Uranus seem stranded in a rectal abyss of its own design.
Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]