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Jotunspor > Gleipnirs smeder > Reviews > drengskap
Jotunspor - Gleipnirs smeder

Interesting industrial influences, but uneven - 65%

drengskap, May 3rd, 2007

Jotunspor are a Norwegian duo consisting of King (ex-Gorgoroth, Sahg) and Kvitrafn (ex-Gorgoroth, ex-Sahg, Sigfader), and their debut album Gleipnirs Smeder (‘Gleipnir’s Smiths’) is the first release on Satanas Rex, the black metal imprint of cult English industrial and dark ambient label Cold Spring Records, attesting to the considerable amount of collaboration and cultural cross-pollination occurring between the black metal and industrial scenes these days. Jotunspor declare their music to be ‘Black Metal In Honor Of Nordic Heritage’. Gleipnirs Smeder’s seven tracks extend over 35 minutes, and the cover art on the digipack sleeve is a tastefully rendered silhouette of a loping wolf in deep earth browns.

The album begins with the title track, where powerfully doomy riffs lead into a chorus of lupine howls. The second track, ‘Svartalvheims Djup’ is a lengthy (seven minutes) dark ambient piece consisting of a subdued beat, subterranean sploshing sounds and sinister whispers and groans, which seems pretty misplaced so early on in the album. This would have been better left to the end. As it is, the album just loses momentum. ‘Solartjuven’ beings with jangly, discordant guitars displaying the post-punk influence of 80s bands like Killing Joke and Swans. The slow pace and the riff of ‘Solartjuven’ also put me in mind of Slayer’s ‘South Of Heaven’. ‘Freke Han Renn...’ is another slower-paced song, again with a Slayer / Metallica-style thrash riff emerging around the 2’20” mark. ‘Sol Mun Svartné’ is faster and blastbeat-propelled, with clean choral vocals blending nicely with Kvitrafn’s harsh growls. This song leads abruptly into ‘Ginnungagalder’ which maintains the same tempo – in fact, blink and you’ll miss the transition. Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to mix up the slower and faster songs rather than clumping them like this? The final track 'Ildkrig' verges on martial industrial territory, combining military snare beats with battlefield atmospherics.

It’s good that Jotunspor are interested in pushing the black metal envelope and incorporating industrial, ambient and even retro 80s influences, and from this point of view Satanas Rex does seem to be a natural choice of label for them, but I’m not convinced they’ve got the balance of elements quite right here. Gliepnirs Smeder is OK, but not brilliant, and I haven’t gone back to it many times in the months since I first acquired it.