Music is a funny thing sometimes. The definition of what qualifies as music is so open-ended that it seems like anything could really qualify. From the most complex of baroque classical suites to the 2 second long burst of noise that is Napalm Death’s classic “You Suffer”, music can truly be anything with some kind of rhythm and melody. Melodic to atonal, basic rhythms to complex and shifting time signatures, there is little sound in the world that could not qualify as music. Such is a great discussion to introduce you to Oslo’s Golden Core and their second full-length, Fimbultýr.

Golden Core is an interesting band to talk about in general. The stoner doom and sludge duo of Johannes Thor Sandal and Simen Jakobsen Harstad began when the two were 9 and 11 in 2014. So now at 14 and 16, these two are making what I would define as a pretty developed and refined sound for two teenagers working on their second full-length release. It’s a pretty dense sound for any metal fan or musician in general, even for the most experienced and well-read metalhead. For that, these two deserve a huge round of applause.

But let’s get back to that discussion of what qualifies as music. Golden Core is really great at the riff drone. That repetition creates a unique atmosphere where you completely feel enveloped by the music. It can create a scene in your mind of what the song could possibly be translating. In a way, it’s about more than creating melody and harmonies. It’s about creating an experience. Golden Core is a duo that seems quite well suited to creating these kinds of experiences, and it really shows on Fimbutyr. The lo-fi nature of the recording can just make the riffs seem that much more overpowering and oppressive. In this way, they’re pushing the boundary of what music is or can be. Their version is about setting the scene and letting the listener hear what they need to.

The boys can also write a heck of a riff. I had to stop several times and really ponder on what I was hearing. Sludge is such a unique genre in that it can blend these ideas of fun riffs and rhythms but place it in a much darker scene than your average stoner rock or metal band. It seems like Golden Core has placed themselves in a unique position to expand on this idea. These riffs could easily be in the middle of the average Fu Manchu record where the atmosphere is far more fun and inviting. The fact that the duo can do something similar to Fu Manchu in this oppressive way is something to be truly celebrated.

All of these ideas blend together on record that’s a real interesting experience. It’s stoner riffs combined with an overwhelmingly oppressive atmosphere that’s in a package all its own. These two actual teenagers have created something truly impressive. Not just because they’re young, but also because their youth means there’s a long road still ahead of them. They’ve clearly taken in a lot influences and really chewed on them awhile to get as much out of them as they could to really inform their own music. Their age means they have so much more time ahead of them to take in more and further refine their art. Given what I heard on Fimbultýr, I’m really looking forward to hearing what else this band can come up with.

Fimbultýr is available Nov. 1 via FysiskFormat.