[Metal Blade Records, 2021]
Intro: Christos Minos
Iotunn is the name that met Jens Nicolai Gräs’s expectations in search of the right word to describe his new musical vision that began in 2009 and dreams of space rock which crystallized a few years later into something quite different: a modern version of progressive metal. The lineup of the Danish band also includes Gräs’s brother Jesper (guitar), drummer Bjørn Wind Andersenm, and bassist Eskil Rask. The voice of Jón Aldará (Barren Earth, Hamferð) completes the band that returns after the EP Wizard Falls (2016) attempts a big leap entitled Access All Worlds.
The future of prog metal comes from outer space
An unprecedented journey to unknown planets, invisible to the human eye. An ode to the distant points in space that reveal secrets of knowledge and wisdom. Access All Worlds is a fascinating story about the vast universe and the answers hidden in its enigmatic highways.
In this adventure into the unknown, Iotunn’s music aspires to combine different music genres with progressive prevailing and acting as the connective power between them all. The album carries the musical tradition of the great Scandinavian scene. Melodic death metal that highlights the atmosphere and lets the melody breathe through those heavy riffs. Metal that holds the art of touching progressive values without losing its original identity. Their music reflects the adventurous spirit of Enslaved as well as Dan Swanö’s songwriting style.
The mood of the album seems constantly changing for almost one hour. As the lyrical journey enters deeper and deeper into space, the music becomes more and more ambitious. There is an intense dimension of grandeur in the compositions that sometimes sounds stormy in the magnificent Waves Below and sometimes melancholic and mysterious, e.g. in The Tower of Cosmic Nihility.
From Voyage of the Garganey I to the last song, Safe Across the Endless Night, we hear an odyssey of passionate music with technical perfection, and you almost hope that Ithaca will not be reached, so that more miracles will be revealed.
Jón Aldará’s performance gives you the impression that he’s witnessed everything he sings. Dramatic and generally theatrical, his voice balances brutal and clean vocals, adding even more colors to the songs.
Undoubtedly, the guitar duo shines with its inspiration and producing sounds that go from death metal to power and doom metal. Their performance shocks from the first song and assisted by a solid rhythm section they lay the imposing foundations of a debut album that goes beyond the description of promising. Access All Worlds sounds more and more fascinating after each spin. Numerous hidden spots await their discovery and the journey seems inexhaustible on the horizons it promises. If today’s progressive metal was looking for a place to flourish, this album offers the seeds.
8.5 / 10
Listening to Access All Worlds, you get the feeling that the band wants to keep a balance between extreme sound and heavy / power / progressive metal. At the point where the classic cold Scandinavian death / black riffs dominate, a classic heavy metal melodic solo of will change the balance. Let’s not forget that the roots of Iotunn are based on traditional and technical 80’s heavy / power metal.
The whole style is majestic, with a diffuse space atmosphere that also supports the relevant lyrical concept. The vocals are split between brutal and clean / deep almost doom / viking. I hope the latter will prevail in the future.
Iotunn impress the listener by maintaining interest throughout the album, which is not at all easy for 60 minutes of music. There’s no weak song here, but Waves Below with those aggressive vocals and melodic outbursts, The Tower of Cosmic Nihility with its catchy chorus, and the dramatic The Weaver System are the highlights.
Metal Blade seems to believe a lot in them by releasing a lot of promotional official videos, Iotunn themselves seem committed to what they do, so maybe we should expect great things from these Danes in the future.
8 / 10