Are the days long gone when a person buys a CD or album without first hearing something from it? And I mean zero radio air-play. I bought Enchant’s Blueprint of the World in 1993 because it looked interesting plus the song lengths were promising; same with Morningrise by Opeth. A double-whammy via Columbia House of which I’m very proud, I discovered Voivod’s Nothingface (1989) and, signed to Metal Blade, Thought Industry’s Songs for Insects (1992). Taking the plunge into sounds unheard is an underrated exercise. (to be fair, I did spend hours at Cheapo in Minneapolis listening to used CDs to be sure what I purchased was worth my money but these rare finds are special).
I felt like that person again taking the plunge into a mysterious new discovery when I listened to the full-length debut “Access All Worlds” by Iotunn. I found an Instagram repost by Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel of someone claiming this CD is “most refreshing thing heard in decades.” I felt it was time to “buy” the CD without listening to it and see if almost 30 years later Metal Blade still slays.
Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, Iotunn consists of brothers Jesper & Jens Nicolai Gras on guitar, Jón Aldará on all vocals, Eskil Rask on bass, and Bjørn Wind Andersen on drums. A debut CD that is this polished, consist of numerous epics, and catches the attention of one of the biggest names in the metal industry, it starts to make sense how a one social media post made its way to my consciousness. The vocals of Jón Aldará are going to be impactful regardless of one’s opinion: he has growls, shouts, powerful tenor and all else in between (he is also vocalist for Barren Earth from 2014 to present). I’m reminded of Katatonia and Solitude Aeternus as far as the clean vocals go.
The music is a potent mix of many genres of metal. The traditional features are given a contemporary update and the different ratios of metal make listening to this not only enjoyable on a visceral level but I am having a great time picking out what influences are showing up where. The recipe is Death/Extreme Metal (guitars, rhythm section, guttural vocals), Power Metal (clean vocals, euphoric energy), Doom Metal (tempo, deliberation), Progressive Metal (arrangements, concept, total package) but that is subject to change depending on where one might be in a song.
I’m intrigued as to who does the writing and arranging for the band and how two brothers on guitar impacts the whole (i.e. twin brothers Robby and Joey Baca play guitar & drums respectively for The Contortionist).
Bottom line #1: Iotunn is the real deal!
Bottom line #2: Metal Blade still slays!
Full disclosure: I did receive this music as a free download to review it. I then sent $7.77 to purchase the download via Bandcamp because supporting musicians: that is the way.
Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Voyage of the Garganey I
Access All Worlds
Laihem’s Golden Pits
The Tower of Cosimc Nihility
The Weaver System
Safe Across The Endless Night