Jotunspor - _Gleipnirs Smeder_
(Cold Spring, 2006)
by: Alexandra Erickson (8 out of 10)
This one took time to grow on me, I'll admit it. I've been waiting to get my hands on a copy of their first release, _Gleipnirs Smeder_, from the first moment I heard about Jotunspor. King ov Hell (Gorgoroth, I, Sahg) and Kvitrafn (Gorgoroth, Sahg, Siegfader) amass respect with anything they touch, and with this as their first effort together and together alone, it stands tall. But, like I said before, it took time to grow on me.

Coined by the artists themselves as "noisy black metal", I first had trouble with the industrial droning that can seem to extend to the deepest of doom metal voids. But that's just it; the industrial tinge is simply black metal matured. Looming and as terribly resonant with hate as black metal can be, but completely diametric from the old guard black metal standard of basement recording quality and tinny vocals.

Opening with the title track, "Gleipnirs Smeder" is an aggressive effort on the whole that is strongly evocative of traditional harsh, depressive Norwegian black metal. Overlaid with tracks of wolves howling, paired with vocals that stay camouflaged in the heavily distorted guitar work until the end when chanting, menacing and wholly Nordic vocals tear in. Wandering into "Svartalvheims Djup" amid ambient droning and whispers, a step is taken away from black metal and into the daunting chasms of the artistic muscles being flexed on this work by King and Kvitrafn. Skipping to "Solartjuven", the blackened doom is brought back to the surface in the midst of chugging guitars and agonized vocals, all overcast with thunder rolling and wolves howling. The entire effort of _Gleipnirs Smeder_ is unrelenting in its depressive atmosphere and masterful ability to use noise in an agreeable way rather than the traditional overdone noise-for-the-sake-of-noise art house way.

The next two tracks, "Freke Han Renn..." and "Sol Mun Svartne", both demonstrate this release's deep-running pure black metal heritage and Scandinavian birth. "Freke Han Renn..." starts as a slower, sludgier and more melodic track with an unabated guitar interlude that commands respect, then pitches directly into a cacophony of shrieking vocals and combative melodies. With machine-gun paced drum work and ceaseless guitar sawing its way through, "Sol Mun Svartne" is a call back to assertive metal with a strong backbone that finds its way to fierce yet absolutely stirring, almost beautiful melodies. The pace is kept up with "Ginnungagalder", that starts as a discordant, noisy track that gets lost in itself, then finds is way to a plateau of concordance and an air of epic proportions. The album closes itself out with "Ildkrig" that, with chanting vocals and a marching pace, has an atmosphere that can't be called anything short of militant and fierce, a fitting note to close the effort on.

As Jotunspor's first and only release to date, _Gleipnirs Smeder_ leaves an indelible and completely ominous impression on the listener. The album has been labeled as atavistic, and I was apprehensive to believe it at first listen, but I think that the term is only fitting now. It's a call back to the days of metal that was herculean in strength, and this debut effort is a must for fans of metal with raw muscle.


(article published 6/4/2008)

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