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Young Eagle, the second foray into black metal by typically industrial/noise focussed musician Adam Kalmbach is an impressive piece of oppressive, devastating raw art. It's not ultra grim, nor is it needlessly harsh in production value, instead Jute Gyte hit us with wave after wave of merciless riffs, surprising stylistic changes and harrowing vocals. This achieves in being what most one man BM bands want to so badly without resorting to a single cliché or accepted norm.
Jute Gyte's previous journey into black metal was more or less standard raw black metal with a noise twist and better sound than many, this one shows a much further development musically and conceptually. No longer is the music simply Darkthrone worship with the odd disturbing noise effect thrown in, Adam Kalmbach instead chooses to offer us a pretty cool mix of the aforementioned Darkthrone, more vicious faster black metal riffing, occasional melody, some crushing mid paced riffage, and a few avant-garde leanings in the forms of noisier sections, ambient sections, haunting acoustics or creepy almost industrial touches. Despite the plethora of directions this album goes at times, by and large this release is all about the metal, and considering the largely unassuming nature of Old Ways it's a nice shock. This release hits in so many more ways than pretty much all the other ultra grim raw BM bands could ever dream.
This does genre hop quite a lot from song to song, but luckily the songs themselves tend to stick to one or two styles for their duration, instead the mix and match nature of the album is really only noticeable over the course of the whole running of Young Eagle, each song remains an understandable, logical entity. It's isn't as flawless in it's flow as last time, but the music itself is so much more exciting and full of ideas that it's pretty forgivable. Some of the slower sections, most notably the off-time groove in the second song never really fits in among the violent blasting that surrounds it on all sides.
The album does lose out a little on the noise and effect side of things when compared to Old Ways, as there’s nothing from that side of the band that comes close to touching "Round", but the massive improvement in black metal quality more than makes up for it. This definitely is not a part of black/noise style like the previously mentioned album, this is genuine black metal through and through with experimental touches popping up every now and then. The first two songs alone showcase more improved riff layering, more complex riffs, weird atonal melody, and amazing vocals than occurred over the whole duration of the previous album. This is just as thrilling as it is devastating and malevolent, which takes to a whole different level of greatness. Something like the weird atonal jamming around 5 minutes through “Glory at Hand” simply wouldn't have worked before, but this busier, more exciting, blast-beat laden music helps Kalmbach explore all of these new areas and ideas. This isn't by the numbers black metal either, the riffs are ever shifting between melody and atonality, apart from "The Might of Ash Spears" almost every moment of this release feels fresh, yet it doesn't lose any quality in its pursuit of originality.
Vocally, Kalmbach has improved tenfold, in the past his standard black metal rasping was solid enough, but not all that impressive, this time around he goes all out in his screams. It worked for Anaal Nathrakh and it works here, it's intense, huge, unique and just as vile and destructive as the music demands it to be. Along with this he tries his hand at clean vocals on "What a Bird Bore Away Over the Deep Ocean", which are certainly bearable, but nothing to write home about by any means.
Guitar-wise this album is miles ahead of his previous work just two years prior as well. To imagine Jute Gyte releasing something like the title track or "See the Abandoned Throng" compared to the project's earlier black metal effort is hard to comprehend. It's just on a whole different level of technicality, competency and originality and is where the album truly shines. The guitar based sections are largely a mix between standard fast buzzing riffs, weird lead melodies, and chugging midpaced grooves, and apart from a couple of the mid paced riffs, it's all of A-grade quality.
The other noticeable changes in sound are the drums, which are now fully realised and meaty helping the music step free of it's bedroom BM constraints and become something which appeals on levels beyond simply grimness. The new shift towards blasting and intensity certainly helps the music belt your face in quite a lot more. Secondly is the use of keys, which have several opportunities to really shine and take control, such as the middle section of "Young Eagle" or "The Flower and the Chain" are quite new areas for the project to explore. With all the various directions this album throws us in there are 4 or 5 more albums worth of ideas here that could be expanded on in the future.
This is one of the most impressive black metal releases I've heard in the last few years, particularly the first two songs and the title track, it maintains the harsh atmosphere that the genre strives for, still sounds unique and sonically appealing. This is experimental but it never really threatens to be a mess, I suppose it could be flawed for trying maybe a few too many things over the duration, but the quality of the metal is outstanding. In fact the only songs which didn't leave me impressed were the acoustic, "What a Bird Bore Away Over the Deep Ocean" and the most typical number, "The Might of Ash Spears". This is vicious, hateful music delivered in ways which are both familiar and surprising combining extremely well composed black metal with the various experimental elements, giving an exceptional balance between the two.