CD Review: Jotunspor - Gleipnirs Smeder
In American law, the doctrine of "fruit of the poisonous tree" refers to the inadmissibility of evidence obtained through illegal means. For example, if the police searched your home without a warrant, found your cell phone with your weed dealer's name in it, and arrested him, the cell phone evidence would not be admissible in court against him because it was obtained illegally. All well and good, you say, but aside from "breakin' the law" (and the the weed part), what does this have to do with metal?
In contrast to the above scenario, Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth has been a delightfully productive and poisonous tree, of whose fruit one should definitely partake. Not only did the band release a well-received record this year, ex-members have also put out fine albums with stoner/doom outfit Sahg, black metal supergroup I, and Jotunspor.
The latter is a two-man band consisting of King ov Hell and Kvitrafn, both ex-Gorgoroth. Gleipnirs Smeder is their debut, and at 35 minutes in length, it's either a long EP or short album, depending on how you see it. Its seven tracks consist of black metal and dark ambience that mix freely with each other. Some tracks are fairly straightforward black metal, but others begin or end with dark ambience, and the final ambient track has metal elements in it.
There's a lot of electronics here, with menacing drones and "something's lurking in the basement" noises, so the whole thing has a somewhat industrial feel. Kvitrafn's drumming, in particular, is extremely disciplined (either that, or they're using a machine), as he does blastbeats steadily and consistently for long stretches at a time. The riffs are quite evil, ranging from low chords to tremolo picking to eerie, jangly figures (think the intro to Slayer's "Seasons in the Abyss"). The vocals go from midrange shrieks to demented growls to low, majestic singing, with lyrics entirely in Norwegian and old Norse. The production manages to layer these elements and preserve their primal power without sounding over-polished.
The only downside here is slight. The dark ambient bits break up Gleipnirs somewhat, and putting a seven-minute ambient piece as the second track really kills the momentum. But while they're a disjointed listen, individually these tracks are of the highest quality. Here's hoping this project will bless us with more poisonous fruit in the future.