Vintersorg

Jordpuls

01. Världsalltets Fanfar
02. Klippor Och Skär
03. Till Dånet Av Forsar Och Fall
04. Mörk Nebulosa
05. Stjärndyrkan
06. Skogen Sover
07. Vindögat
08. Palissader
09. Eld Och Lågor

[04/05/11]
[Napalm Records]

It’s always a pain in the ass when a band takes a while to do a follow-up record for a critically acclaimed album. With Sweden’s Vintersorg though, it’s excusable. For the unfamiliar, Vintersorg is a two-piece group that blends folk metal, black metal, and prog into a unique sound all their own, which was fully realized in 2007’s Solens Rötter. Creative force and namesake Andreas “Vintersorg” Wedlung’s various other band’s and projects (most notably including Borknagar) put Vintersorg in idle since, so it’s not like they were sitting around twiddling their thumbs before realizing they had stuff they had to do. After four years, we have their much anticipated follow-up Jordpuls, which proves to be worth the wait.

Vintersorg have an interesting approach at songwriting. To be listening to heartwarming vocal harmonies mere moments after segments of black metal tinged folk is quite peculiar. It takes a special kind of band to pull off the almost seemingly disparate influences of black, folk, and classic progressive rock and put them together in a package this fun and exciting. Wedlung  is a musical genius—why Borknagar is more popular than Vintersorg, I’ll never understand. The quality of musicianship shown here exceeds that of not only Borknagar, but his many other projects as well.

Jordpuls is a fairly diverse album, journeying between the technical and blackened riffing of “Vindögat” and the vocal driven pop-folk appeal of “Till Dånet Av Forsar Och Fall.” Vintersorg’s ability to deliver both of these styles in a seamless and deadpan fashion is remarkable, switching between the two on the fly several times through the course of any given song. It’s hard to pinpoint where the song of the moment will end up; will it turn into a jolly and soulful folk tune or a blasts-and-growls practice in grimness? This varied one-two punch of styles helps to keep Jordpuls interesting.

The strongest aspect of Jordpuls, as I’ve touched on throughout the review thus far, is the vocal work of Mr. Vintersorg himself. The sense of melody is astounding; believe it or not, this record features some of the catchiest hooks I’ve heard all year. I’ve always been a sucker for harmonies, and as anyone who is familiar with previous album Solens Rötter can tell you, Vintersorg brings them in spades. If you couldn’t tell from the tracklist, the lyrics are entirely in Swedish, which creates a bit of a language barrier and may alienate some audiences, lacking intelligible lyrics to associate with these beautiful melodies. To expect any different is asking for too much, so luckily the vocals stand out on their own right in their musical context.

From a production standpoint, Jordpuls could have been pulled together so much better. The bass isn’t nearly present enough, and while the programmed drums aren’t so bad as to distract, they can sometimes feel a bit plasticy. The folk instruments and synths shine through quite well along with the vocals though, which is pretty important considering how melodically driven Jordpuls is. The guitar feels thin as well, being almost imperceptible at times. While a record of this nature should feel a bit raw, the mixing is spotty.

Jordpuls is one hell of a classy album, no doubt having the appeal to pull from several different audiences, which is certainly an accomplishment. Not only is Jordpuls fun, but it is musically enthralling and completely serious. Balancing the two is no easy feat; a lot of bands that go for ‘fun’ end up with dumb or spastic music, and some of those that strive for musical seriousness lose soul. Neither is the case here, as Vintersorg’s Jordpuls manages to be both cohesive and varied in its approach. This overall dichotomy proves to be successful—Jordpuls is probably some of the best work that Vintersorg has ever done.

Vintersorg – Jordpuls gets…

4/5

– JR

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