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In interesting take on black metal - 80%

lord_ghengis, July 18th, 2010

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 clich├ęs, 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.