This is one of those records. You commence on them with no major expectations. But then, this thing starts to fascinate you. And you didn’t expect to waste quite so much time on its innards. But there you are, headphones glued to yer head despite yerself.
In other words, the reviewer’s mighty crystal ball usually won’t work out as expected.1) Because you’ll only find out what’s really in it, once you let ‘yet another metal piece’ roar out of your music machine.
And contrite RMR is also somewhat embarrassed. It took us way too long to finally pay some attention to Access All Worlds from the Danish/Faroese band Iotunn2). Almost a year, to be precise. Well, let’s blame the garish cover that would have worked well on one of those age-old pulp fiction magazines. And there’s indeed some truth to that. But the local deckhands’ footdragging still sucks.
Because once the record on full blast in the RMR office suite, we discovered layers upon layers of juicy metallic snazziness. This piece of Sci-Fi Metal won’t bore you one millisecond. It’s a tightly packed and equally tightly arranged record full of a weird mix of Melodic Death Metal and Power Metal that the band enigmatically called Progressive Death Metal. Yet again, they’re not all that wrong. Because as you continue to listen to this wild amalgamation of metallic sounds and flavors, the progressive part manifests itself ever more – somewhere in there.
Then, there’s the case of Jón Aldará. Polivalent, versatile, proficient. A gifted vocalist whose knack to switch from clears to growls and back again is as uncanny as it is sometimes unsettling. And that’s not all. He’s mastering mean growls but also shouted vocals, and any fine shade in between. His soaring clears often crazily sound like a perfected and space-infused bot-like impersonation of Morten Harket (A-ha).3) Now, many a metalhead might struggle with the crystalline quality of those clears. But they do fit perfectly into Access All Worlds‘ fold with never a stumble. In fact, hearing him take off always makes me want to fire up one of these space games and hunt some bandits.
The Gräs brothers indeed deliver often stunning and – yes – thoughtful excursions into guitar soundscapes that we haven’t quite heard anymore lately. And that doesn’t mean that today’s guitarists don’t master their instruments anymore. Yet, deftly delivering some insane shredding has – sadly – become some sort of a staple. Iotunn here, on the other hand, dazzled us with juicy riffs and – for sure – solos that often took our breath away.
And again, whatever they do fits perfectly into the overall arrangement. Never a proverbial hair out of place. It is thus a true pity that the production here starts to sound lackluster on lower-quality devices. It’s even somewhat flat on the high-end earphones I usually employ. And that was a true pushback for that record.
Ultimately though, Iotunn created one pretty cool piece of Sci-Fi Metal that resonated off our walls for way too long. Access All Worlds is the proverbial proof that space rock can be brought to you without cheese and with masterful precision. And delivered with soaring soundscapes, monolithic riffs, and stellar solos to dream for. In addition, records of this ilk often sound cheap with those abundant clichés they serve. But Iotunn also and successfully sailed around that metallic space rock with ease to continue on with warp speed to galaxies unknown.
It was a true pleasure to review this disk. And more’s the pity that we didn’t pick it up earlier. But better late than never, right?