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A title generally provides some hints on the actual content and when you take a look at Jute Gyte’s Old Ways release and take into consideration that this would be one of their black metal ones, then ‘the’ idea behind it becomes somehow obvious. Yet are the expectations met? Are those old ways really walked upon? Let us see …
Those three terms used for the description of the art are important to give at least a small indication on the performance of the band. With some obvious hints on the black metal side of Gnaw Their Tongues, Jute Gyte explores an extreme form of music, which is not too common. Distorted guitars, harsh screams and monotonous rhythms make up the basic oeuvre and they appear in varying degree and style over the course of the album. So, while the basic concept of the Dutch band was copied in some respect, there is nevertheless some form of limitation when it comes to the facets of the art. Old Ways appears in a more controlled and focused manner and therefore also in a less variety of genres or influences. There are no samples, there are no aggressive switches in tempo … the music is noisy and extreme but kept in a certain narrow corridor. Facets appear in a variety of ways, but the focus is kept on the metal side and what can be achieved by using a guitar. Weird samples and atmospheres are rather the exception and as the drums were made with a machine, a surprising level of limitation can be found here. Again, compared with the other earlier mentioned band, the listener experiences a flow of distorted sound, whose arrangements are rather calm and hardly ‘offensive’. Where is the emotion, where is the tendency to grab the listener and take this person on a trip this person has never been on before?
Track 4 – Interlude – falls it bit out of the flow and comes with an interesting type of sound: the one of a Theremin, but here created with a guitar and not with the original instrument. Nevertheless, this weird oscillating noises are a stark contrast to the general style of the band and it would be nice to see this particular style appear on an even larger scale.
Track 6 – Snail – would be another ‘non-metal’ track, one that would not follow the dominant style on this album. Again, no transitions, again a rather disruptive character and again a sound a listener might hardly expect. Here, dissonance and a lack of harmony play an important role and they give you the idea of patiently watching a snail crawling on its way. You might get mad, due to the slow movements of this animal, you might loose some of your sanity. Once ‘Snail’ is over, some sort of depressive black metal inspired noise stuff turns in again … the same concept as before, but now presented in a somehow melancholic or sad style.
What are you left with at the end? Jute Gyte’s art is an ambiguous and by no means a convincing performance. What is the band’s style? What is it they wanted to express? Confusion … confusion at a large scale is what remains. Not only the shallowness and tiring kind of the music strains the patience of the listener or the lack of a clear direction, it is foremost the messed up way in which the tracks had been arranged. While the opening comes with a clear progression as well as escalation of intensity – Waves → Teeth –, those weird switches to and fro with which the listener is confronted later, leaves this person astounded about what is actually going on there. To have one break is already a difficult task to deal with, but to have two of these makes it nearly impossible to create some amount of density and consistency in the music. Old Ways is a fitting title. It gives the impression of something done to death, bereft of life, eaten once before and tiring at most. Jute Gyte is a one-man-band and you can hear it on this release. All the fallacies, all the short-comings lie open here.
Interlude (second part), Teeth
Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 7)’:
Review Originally published at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
Who knew such a calamitous, primal and experimental noise resided in the very depths of Southwestern Missouri, and that such a sickly, harsh example of cracking, fuzzed out, lo fi misanthropy is the brain child of a polite, unassuming twenty something college student named Adam Kalmbach?
This is one of those releases that’s sure to polarize black metal fans. On the one side the brittle, atonal buzzing experimental noise and tortured shrieks will be touted as pure noise with little or no musical value. On the other side, for the purpose of pure, unadulterated tortured sonic nihilism, Jute Gyte’s industrial tones and discordant throes are the perfect delivery for utter devastation.
With the obvious undercurrent culling from notable one man black metal acts like Burzum, Leviathan, Xasthur and such, Jute Gyte has given the droning, rangy ambient basement black metal a truly sickly mechanical sheen, some might point to early Anaal Nathrakh for sheer, ear violating boundaries of aural violence but slowed down to a mechanical plod injected with missed with the harsh programming and experimental noise of Aluk Tolodo, Black Vomit and Diagnose: Lebensgefahr. It’s to the point where it’s almost unlistenable- again a factor that will divide fans. Personally, the grating, fuzzed out guitar tone and the menacing pace mixed with the screams, programming and even a couple of mechanically serene mandolin interludes made for a disturbingly hypnotic experience, though one I’m not likely to revisit often.
At times, the 7 tracks and 62 minutes that comprise Old Ways is a test of perseverance as the discordant guitars buzz and screech with plodding, marching gait with the occasional blast beat and the continually screeched vocals. The feedback drenched likes of “Teeth”, “Round”, “Peace” and the 18-minute “Death” will beat you into submission like you were listening to Burzum in an old foundry works grinding, and shuddering with metal on metal grating and gnashing of vast gears and sparks flying in the blackness. And the thing is -there are some well done, dissonant riffs tucked away behind the noise as the later stages of “Teeth” and “Death” delivers some creepy, menacing lurches. However, on “Interlude” and “Snail” there is a welcome break to the draining cacophony by way of some mandolin plucking, that while a welcome respite, seem a bit out of place, though still somewhat discordant and “Snail” is vocally draining.
Jute Gyte will be a love it or hate it band, as are most on the genre, but for you sonic masochists out there, Old Ways will provide an hour or so of stripped down, torturous extremity that’s one of the better and more caustic, disturbing and unsettling one man basement black metal efforts I’ve heard of late. That all being said, I should also mention that this release ships in a DVD style case, – a minor annoyance for CDs storage -o-phobes like me.
I hope someone at Moribund Records is reading this…
Experimental noise rock, often with a metal or industrial influence, has been on the rise in the United States: bands like Blue Sabbath Black Chiar, Hair Police, Mammal, Wolf Eyes and Yellow Swans have brought noise to a wider audience and it helps too that people have become more accepting of PCs and laptops as musical instruments capable of generating their own distinctive sounds which can be used in writing and performing music. Some time earlier this year I came across "Old Ways" by Missouri-based one-man act Jute Gyte (headed by Adam Kalmbach) which is very much in the mould of dense and devastating, blustering harsh noise with strong industrial and metal overtones, especially in the singing which resembles a black metal style of vocals. The album's packaging and theme are very much in sync with black metal themes and ideas about the faults and failings of humanity, the precarious nature of existence and people's relationship with death. One very unusual aspect of the music here is that mandolin is used throughout the recording in addition to the usual guitars, bass, voice, percussion programming and effects, though on most tracks it's very hard to tell it apart from the other stringed instruments due to their sound being very heavily distorted.
The whole album seems like one massive bloc of constant noise distortion with lots of screaming at first but with repeated listening you can make out seven distinct tracks. There are definite guitar riffs of a repetitive slashing sort, all heavily processed so the sound tends to be rough and crumbly. Sometimes the strings will fall away to allow bass and other instruments to be heard. Rhythms are usually medium-paced or slow enough that the music acquires a bombastic air. Overall it sounds like a very noisy minimalist black metal band with some doom rhythm influences. The drumming isn't anything special but with music like this, perhaps the percussion should be kept basic, not competing with the noisy flow for listener attention. Vocals often aren't all that distinguishable from the constant blizzard crunch and scree but they are deranged and filled with rage, pain and anguish.
The best tracks include "Interlude" which is one of two fairly noise-free tracks and features the mandolin as the main instrument, played in much the same way as the guitars with repeating riffs that go up and down. The sounds are still beautiful and round so the way the strings are struck rather than strummed or plucked is very jarring to the ears. A drone accompanies the mandolin in the manner of an annoying kid brother or sister. Then there's "Round" which is a solid slab of grinding, growling concrete rhythm alternating with light silver stabs of tone and woozy background churn. The second half of the track rages with insane shrieking voices and heavily distorted layers of noise while a lone guitar riff picks its way through. "Snail" is a gloopy watery being of repeating twangs and short booming bursts laid over a slow wavering bass, all held together by a crazed wailing vocal. Final track "Death" deserves some mention for its length (nearly 20 minutes) and very distinctive if abrasive noise guitar riffs. The music is massive and tends to flow more and the vocals become even more screechy and insane but for a long piece it holds together well.
"Old Ways" is hardly a subtle recording: the heavy, repetitive noise and in-your-face production have a bludgeoning effect and volume dynamics seem completely non-existent here. Though the album seems to be about a strange mass execution of fantastic creatures that might have existed in the imaginations of mediaeval age people, and is almost science fiction in some ways, the blasting noise can have an alienating effect so I sometimes feel that I'm just observing a parade of death and violence and its effects on the human psyche: pain, desperation, madness, more terror and violence, other people's lives being considered cheap, no respect for the preciousness and fragility of life. I can imagine some people might feel pretty numb listening to this album. Perhaps that effect of alienation and numbness may be intended. The funny thing is that though the lyrics sometimes refer to demons and other beings of ectoplasmic substance and can be hideous and gruesome, I don't find the music to be very sinister or ominous. Unlike some other noise metal acts I've heard - the over-the-top Gnaw Their Tongues comes to mind - Jute Gyte's style is not at all bombastic or histrionic, not to my ears anyway; there's something calculated about the music's structure, it seems very controlled. With the kind of lyrics "Old Ways" has, I'd prefer to hear them in their unadorned, matter-of-fact glory.
I really can't find much to fault about the music as it is. Initially when I first heard the album, a lot of it went way over my head and it felt very bludgeoning. Repeated listenings have changed my view drastically to the extent that what I think about "Old Ways" now, six months after I first heard it, is almost opposed to my first impressions of the music. If there are any changes I'd like to see to this album, I'd say the heavy noise could be toned down a bit in parts to allow for some subtle volume and sound changes to give the recording a bit more depth and perhaps a three-dimensional sculptured feel. If the noise textures were to go loud and soft, loud and soft, the music would acquire an organic "breathing" rhythm which might make it "come alive" and seem really menacing. I'd like to have the feeling that there is more evil and madness from where "Old Ways" is coming from, that no matter how maddened the music is, there is still more insanity behind it waiting to take over when it all ends and silence falls.
This is pretty cool; this whole big wall-of-sound, vaguely industrial-ish vaguely BM-ish type stuff. I heard a similar band a little while ago called "The Human Quena Orchestra" (not on MA) and remembered thinking that it'd be cool if someone could perhaps utilise a more, I dunno, riff-centric core into the general squall and screams. Well, here it is, sort of, and for the most part it's great.
Strip away the Swans-y atmospheric touches and for the most part you've got some fairly normal one man BM, although it's far too well composed and recorded to ever deserve the dreaded bedroom- prefix. Grinding, simplistic riffs that are like a really harsh mix of maybe the first Animus and later Burzum, a dreary drum machine smashing out elemental beats and real low kicks, with some vicious screams over the top. It's a simple enough formula but it achieves it's purpose; personally I think a few more rhythm-orientated bits would've been nice (that noisy, glitchy breakbreat or whatever it's called in Round is brilliant), perhaps a bit more to engage the heart as opposed to crushing inhumane indifference, you know?
Attention to detail is definitely what lifts this from a one man 'n' audacity experiment to something that's actually rather good. Jute Gyte have clearly spent a lot of time on the production here; nasty and clipped to all hell and while the guitars may well have just been plugged into a sound card and turned up way too loudly the various swathes of noise, the clean, pristine and rather disturbing tones in Interlude and Snail, and those soaring, vaguely Methadrone-ish synth/guitar leads over the really-quite-bummed guitars in Death all fit perfectly and really make this thing great. On that topic, Death is the thing that really makes the album. I think it's just that I'm quite the fag who enjoys soaring, noisy tunes full of vaguely hopeful and redemptive things, but it's just a brilliant 18 minutes of noise, stunning guitar leads, simple and crushing riffs, all arranged in a way that sounds fantastic and gives the album a fitting and really satisfying conclusion. It'd be utterly amazing on drugs...
So, "Old Ways" is really quite good, and if you enjoy distorted, wonky guitars, noise, and a dude screaming at you for an hour or so you should get it.
I'm not particularly familiar with too many of these noisy BM acts, but Jute Gyte may be the only one I truly enjoy on a musical level. While I do get a lot enjoyment out of many of these bands, I have to admit is a slight case of B-movie "So bad it's good" syndrome. Black Tribe gains it's appeal not from being an oppressive and challenging piece of evil carnage, the thrills I gain from the band come from the terrible arrangements, laughable sound and all round rubbishness of the whole experience, it somehow possesses a form of charm, and as a whole, this sentiment is mirrored in the 5 or so bands I've heard playing the style. This is not the case with Jute Gyte's black metal albums, which are quite interesting in that they could almost be considered regular raw BM, but the sound happens to be shifting in and out of time, with strange industrial noises and passages of formless distortion breaking everything up to just help it keep that noise/experimental sound. The way everything comes together is destructive, oppressive and ugly, but it's also really, really cool, which is something I couldn't say of many of Old Ways' contemporaries.
The metal on offer is pretty much Darkthrone worship, and for the first minute or so, if it wasn't for the better than usual riffs and production, it would be easy to lump this band with the thousands of one man bedroom black metal acts, but shortly enough, in come the weird industrial, crushingly heavy pulses of sound which really set this band apart, and quickly become the main drawcard of Jute Gyte's music. "Round" is the first song which really steps up the noise elements, and they kick ass. That song really strips away the BM and instead focuses on and interesting buzzing piece of distortion with strange and obscure beats clunking away in the background. It's truly hideous and dominating, but it's also driving and gripping. It's actually a bit of a disappointment when the album switches back to black metal mode because Adam Kalmbach does this noise stuff exceptionally well.
The real black metal side of things lacks the variety and development of the follow up Young Eagle, the concept behind it stays the same for basically the whole duration. It's simple Darkthrone worship performed with considerably more taste and attention to quality than most, but with an added touch of weirdness too, as riffs grind against each other moving between being comfortable almost melodic affairs, and then getting slightly out of time so as to become quite cacophonous. Most of the time this works pretty well, with "Peace" being the only black metal heavy song which fails to really achieve anything.
Musically, Kalmbach is pretty solid, but not great. Most of the sound is processed and computer generated, and his choice of drumming sample is interesting, obscure and still pretty driving in a subtle way. It's as if the sample gets the reverbed part of a bass drum hit, but not the actual impact, the result is a sort of background rumble which is ever constant, but difficult to follow. His guitar work is reasonably sloppy, but not what I would call inept, it doesn't detract from the music. Luckily, unlike many of the raw BM guitarists who aren't particularly skilled, he puts a lot of effort into making riffs that are simple, yet not overly generic or so easy an ape would play. Most of them are pretty solid trancey Transilvanian Hunger based stuff, but they work pretty well. Although the concept of trancey repetitive black metal riffs doesn't exactly fit well with oppressive industrial noise; half the music wants you to drift off into a hazy world, and the other wants to dismember you and leave you in a ditch. This causes a bit of a clash. The more violent and misanthropic riffs of Young Eagle would suit the non-metal side of the better that what we are offered here.
The vocals are pretty unassuming, just the usual standard rasps and distant screeches, both delivered with heavy distortion. Lyrically however Jute Gyte is on a different wavelength than many bands popping up. Rather than being pointlessly preoccupied with Satan, destruction and other goofy clichés, this project features extremely detailed paragraphs of almost ad libed weirdness. Songs about murdered dwarves and exploding bipedal rats are uncommon in black metal, and also pretty much everywhere. It would easy to dismiss it as borderline gibberish, but the nature of the project suggests there being some level of purpose to them.
For all the excitement and bizarreness of Old Ways, there are a few downsides. Both the interlude type tracks, being "Interlude" and "Snail" are pretty weak, they attempt to show a little more subtlety than the 10 minute violent monsters that make up most of the songs, but it doesn't really work. The horrific and miserable moods don't appear as they are obviously hoped to be in the mellower sections. Along with the couple of dud songs the sound is obscenely loud, changing from really any other recording to this one will result in a sudden and crippling amount of hearing damage.
This album is a standout amongst the few who have tried to marry the misanthropy of black metal with general oppressiveness of noise, it certainly stays a lot further on the black metal side of the line than most, and it works to its advantage. For anyone looking for some really destructive, malevolent music which still manages to keep hold of a few shreds of sanity, this is a good place to look.
To many untrained ears, black metal music is already noise enough, crossing the line from comprehension to confusion. Part of this is an unwillingness to accept extreme climates in which art can find a center, and part is simply the natural, visceral shock to such elements being streamlined into the brain with such seemingly inhuman pacing and energy. To those well indoctrinated in the form, sometimes the traditional rock band instruments are not enough, and thus we've seen a wealth of black/noise artists spring up since near the genre's very inception. Pioneers like Sweden's Abruptum or the USA's Havohej have given way to a landscape of solo and paired projects worldwide, and of these, Missouri's Adam Kalmbach has to be one of the more interesting I've encountered as of late. Hit output through Jute Gyte spans a range of styles. Some of the albums pursue a more purely experimental, ambient texture, while others lap at the bloodspring of primal black metal in the vein of Darkthrone and Mayhem and take their aesthetics into an even more grisly territory than the woodlands in which they were born.
Much of Old Ways, Kalmbach's third full-length release through this project, carves a simple but destructive path through a carnal and uncomfortable territory. The raving guitars and rasped vocal lunacy are gowned in veils of hideous distortion, industrial-like drum beats, and strange psychedelic segues into bass and noise samples that make me feel like Attila Csihar, Skinny Puppy and Merzbow are hosting a housewarming party together, with your ears as the appetizer. Like much primitive black metal, repetition is key to the music's hostile, drowning breech of the listener's defenses, but Kalmbach is wise to shift it up as often as he does. There is of course a barrier to entry in place for the unsuspecting listener: the intensely saturated hiss of the distortion will provide much pain until you can latch onto the underpinning rhythms. It's like a musical release via smokescreen, but glimpsing that beauty behind at this or any other angle, through any obstacle is almost sweeter than a clear, sunny day.
Old Ways is comprised of seven acts performed in just over an hour, and I'd recommend you partake of this for the long haul, since the relative consistency of style will easily hypnotize the errant cerebronaut for that period. Several of the songs operate in fairly straightforward, archaic black metal territory with the added advent of the noise functions, like the openers "Waves" and "Teeth", but others take some liberties. "Round" incorporates segments of processed guitar noise, swollen dark ambiance and broken industrial rhythms against periods of necrotic surge, while "Interlude" is all out mystical twanging strings and freaky synth tones that remind me of something Muslimgauze might create. "Peace", one of my favorite pieces on the album, is a slow, damning burn with periodic, cautionary lapses into this fuzzy, doomlike rhythm that almost awakens the listener from the cobwebs of stupefaction to a rapt awareness of his environment. "Snail" provides another interesting guitarscape below tortured vocals, and the extensive finale "Death" is 18 minutes of rampant, plodding hostility, a cryptic black haunt in a gargantuan, rusted junkyard through which electronic roaches skitter and feed upon the last strands of life and human nutrition.
I might also point out how much I truly love this man's lyrics, a conceptual procession that details the struggle of organisms with such an infusion of blunt poetry that they almost exceed the music in ghastly effectiveness. The song titles are all quite minimal here, proof of their existence in a pattern, but some of Kalmbach's prose is truly bewitching:
'A pale dwarf-wrath keels over, fatally injured. Mouth gaping, revealing long, curved and yellowing hook-like teeth, it vomits a chunky white substance with the texture of curdled milk. It foresaw this long ago, but now cannot believe. Crimson patches darken a miniature black cloak. Small hands clutch at the brumal air.'
No, folks, we are not in Norway anymore. A project like Jute Gyte both compels and disturbs me. The former because I so enjoy the rewards obscured within its oppressive borders, and the latter because I know so few people out there will be able to form the connection to its strange, abstract beauty. Through the Jeshimoth imprint, Kalmbach has offered an attractive if minimal packaging which I found highly appealing. The CD is placed in a DVD shell, with a simple black and white cover and a lyrics sheet tucked into the booklet flap. He does this with a lot of his releases, and though they occupy a little more space than a standard CD, they look very flush together and impressive. I might add that the DVD presentation does more than simply gather dust, it offers you an almost theatrical insight, like a Luis Buñuel picture, a conflagration of sounds and distressful imagery, only here it is delivered through Kalmbach's unhinged control over the chaos and struggle of existence. This is yet another of those works that can change you in increments, as I'm sure it has changed its maker, and worth entertaining if you favor the more experimental extremes of black metal music which in its some of its most incendiary personas reside (Abruptum, De Magia Veterum among numerous others).