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Young Eagle is another excursion into the realm of the unholy impulse below the existence of all thinking beings, courtesy of Missouri noise musicians Adam Kalmbach. It is the 6th long player from the Jute Gyte project, and while a worthwhile successor to Old Ways, it actually expands upon those ideals and takes the aggressive maneuvering into new directions, untapped abysses through which a broader palette of atrocities are committed. For a great deal of its playtime, Young Eagle is simply not as noisy as its spiritual predecessor. The harsh distortion that once was the rule is now the exception, but Kalmbach's brutal delivery is carried out through other means on this 61 minute audio terrorist extravaganza.
Kalmbach maintains the early, unrepentant black metal influence, but here it is amped up through a generally faster execution. He's also come some way as a guitarist for this, and incorporates some nigh on technical noodling and busier rhythms, which make a very interesting dent on the poetic, smoggy din of the percussive landscape. The drums are patterned in a mix of straight rock, metal and varied patterns, and and there's a strong presence of the distorted bass here, which I barely noticed on the prior work. Young Eagle is a more potentially random experience, as songs will segue in and out of depressive, slightly distorted guitars-only passages or other diversions. It's still highly destructive, despite the fact its easier on the ears, and I'm reminded of what might occur if some avant-garde luminary like John Zorn danced on the precipice of black metal, rather than the Merzbow meets Burzum & Darkthrone feeling that permeated Old Ways.
The heretical floe of sewage begins with "See the Abandoned Throng", a rather straight black piece with chugging, strange bass and drums that often seem as if they're moving so quickly you can no longer hear them. If Transilvanian Hunger were re-written as a concept album about the abandoned caverns and sewers beneath and beside a metropolitan subway system, it might have come across something like this, though I doubt the Norse would have incorporated the schizoid guitar weaves and chugging patterns that break up the crashing forceful gale of the verse. "Glory at Hand" explores the dynamic contrast between slow, dirty guitar drone and grim, blasted hubris, with some sludgy rock rhythms added, for over 11 minutes, while "The Wine-Halls Are Crumbling", one of the albums best tracks, micro-manages dingy guitars, a muddied, subtle pipework of throbbing bass and the overall feeling that your brain is being extracted through your ears and nostrils by a very clever mind flayer who doesn't wish to tamper with your skull, instead saving it as a trophy for his lair.
In another stark contrast, the album moves into the gloom of a rolling ambient piece, "What a Bird Bore away Overwith clean guitars, soon layered in the cystic fibrosis of hell-scarred distortion winds, with some trippy, moaning vocals that I was not expecting. "The Might of Ash Spears" transforms from an acoustic guitar intro to a chugging, bizarre metal force, later affixed with strange electronic signals like aliens trying to break a communication satellite code. "Young Eagle" is pretty much a straight black rocker with some strange start/stop drumming and a melancholic, off-kilter guitar melody that arrives above some distorted, retch inducing vocals. "The Flower and the Chain" explores a jarring, desperate piano line with an unnerving mix of subtle dark ambient architecture and summery sounds of nature.
The lyrical talent here remains impeccable, and perhaps superior to that found on Old Ways, though the imagery being conveyed has the benefit of grasping from a wider collage of images both beautiful and frightening. Many noise artists or noise/black artists do not even attempt to incorporate lyrics into their composition, much less good ones, so Jute Gyte remains a treat to the imagination, an added dimension that elevates the listener to a rapture of both sound and word. Yet some of the statements are noticeably subtle, and gentle in their passing:
In winter we make the spring. In summer, the harvesting. I feel the nothing accumulate as days go by. I feel the weight of every passing sun and moon. In autumn we search and store. In springtime, we wanted more.
Though some of its contents are superior to the previous album I've listened through, I did find Young Eagle a touch less consistent. Several of the tracks are brilliant and breathtaking, like "The Wind-Halls are Crumbling", "What a Bird Bore Away Over the Deep Ocean", and "The Flower and the Chain", or for the aggressive fare "See the Abandoned Throng" and "Glory at Hand". However, "The Might of Ash Spears" and "Young Eagle" had a few minutes there that I could have lived without, where suddenly the album felt a lot less interesting than I'd expect of Jute Gyte, largely due to some mediocre metal riffing tucked in there. Still, for an album that is largely diverse and experimental, it rather holds its conflicted aural imagery together well, and still worth purchasing. What it might lack in coherence it compensates for with an increase in sheer musical skill, and the inclusion of the pianos and more ambient range from other, non-metal Jute Gyte efforts is welcome. Combined with its curious packaging (DVD case, lyric sheet, minimal black/white text and cover image) it makes for another exquisite journey into a nexus of corrosion and rainbow light.