9/8/2006 - Review by: Etiam
Jotunspor - Gleipnirs Smeder - 2006 - Candlelight
But, truly, Jotunspor is a far different beast, and to label it as a ‘side project’ of said groups would do it a disservice. Surface similarities do exist, particularly with Gorgoroth—gritty and bleak Norwegian metal— but Jotunspor approaches both the album’s subject matter and the performance method itself in a manner entirely different from any of their more famous projects.
With the intention of crafting an album that would be heavily focused on ambience while maintaining an aggressively primal atmosphere, Kvitrafn and King created Jotunspor, and an album by the name of ‘Gleipnirs Smeder’. The album’s themes deal mostly with Nordic mythos: the binding chains of Fenris, the wolf who will devour the world when Ragnarok comes (Gleipnir being the chain, Smeder being ‘smith’).
To illustrate this concept, King and Kvitrafn have presented a nearly equal mixture of music and semi-rhythmic ambience, evoking an almost theatrical atmosphere at times. The album alternates between caustic, raw black metal strophes similar to the early 90’s style and prolonged, semi-rhythmic ambient pieces that loom large and cavernous with echoing clangs, distorted vocals, and fading howls as the main components. The first few times through this format is admittedly disappointing, but with an open mind and time one develops an appreciation for the approach, which is actually rather unique and refreshing.
However, it is the songs, few though they may be, that really draw the album together. ‘Gleipnirs Smeder’ develops a strongly tribal theme through intoned vocalizations: gravely, nearly spoken phrases, and dirge-like folk harmonies supplement the de rigueur black metal standard. At its best, the album slips from ambience to music almost imperceptibly, blurring the distinction between the two and drawing the listener into a state of hypnotic submission.
As one could imagine, ‘Gleipnirs Smeder’ is not an album easily recommended. It’s abstract nature makes it difficult to dig into, and its short duration combined with the prevalence of ambience will likely fend off many potential listeners.
Those, though, who enjoy the more hypnotic side of Gorgoroth or the more experimental side of black metal, will likely be pleased by this promising duo’s debut.
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