Release Date: 16th March 2018
Record Label: Unsigned
Jörmungand were kind enough to send me a link to their press release, so I was very lucky to be able to listen to this album nearly a month before its official release. Jörmungand are a blackened pagan metal band from Germany.
The press release describes the work as a concept album, based on The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and describes the story of the human life from birth to death, and the cycle of that life.
Zwischenwelten starts with und es wird Tag, with atmospheric notes; wind and flutes. There is a buildup in the atmospheric instrumental, before the all familiar distorted black metal guitars kick in, and the drums begin. The vocals are exactly what you would expect from black metal. There are folk rhythms and I can hear elements of Finntroll in this track. At some points the vocals almost seem to become secondary to the guitars, and there is a spoken word section. There are several spoken word sections throughout the album, which are really cool and tie the whole album together as one big story. The track ends with the atmospheric sounds and instruments from the beginning, it’s almost like a breather before the next track. Almost all tracks on this album have this “breather” at the beginning and/or end, and I really like this, it means that each song is like a different chapter.
Morgenrot is most definitely black metal from the start, there are blast beats, and there is a lot of melodic elements. Some of the vocals almost seem like more death metal vocals. There are choral elements and another spoken word section. The track alternates between more atmospheric and melodic sections to more traditional black metal.
Ruf der Vergängas is a 9 minute epic, and for the first half of the song, there is the atmospheric and melodic sections that are heard in the previous tracks. Around halfway through the track, the more traditional black metal blastbeats come in, and then the atmospheric and melodic section comes back in at the end, it almost has a Native American element at the end, there is a spiritual element to this. zu hohen Himmeln continues the spiritual theme, with percussion and strings. This song also contains the first clean vocals, there are male and female harmonies, and at the end of the clean vocal section, the black metal vocals begin to take over.
The beginning of Werdegänger has an symphonic feel to it, almost power metal. It is a little remeniscent of Nightwish for me. The track goes from symphonic to power to melodic black metal. There is definitely a heavy folk influence in this track, I can hear elements of Moonsorrow.
In Hallen stummer Worte starts out with flute and an organ background, it is a beauiful orchestration for an instrumental track, which becomes more sinister towards the end. Dämmerung continues on from the sinister ending of the previous track and we get some guitar melody to accompany the strings, it then leads to black metal style guitar build up. The strings continue through the track, fading in and out of the mix, and there is a piano that enters later into the track, and it ends on a black metal cry.
The penultimate track, Neumond, begins with calming guitar and strings, our “breather” from the previous track. There are gentle drum rhythms and a flute melody. The strings and flute almost seem to compete with each other, but they complement each other at the same time. Then, we are smacked by black metal again. Again there is a spoken word section, it is whispered and hurried this time, not calm like the others. The track ends with another “breather”, it sounds like a tide, or maybe a distant battle. The final track begins leading on from the previous, there are string melodies and it has a folky start, but the guitars have a black metal sound. There are clean vocals again, there is a tense and fast paced section, before the pace slows again and it is calming again. A cymbal 4-count leads to a black metal cry and finally, at the end, we hear the flute, calming the listener before the track fades to nothing.
I have not been a massive fan of black metal in the past, but in recent years I have been listening to more melodic black metal. This album is an amazing blend of black metal, melodic, symphonic and folk metal. Sadly, due to the British education system being terrible for teaching languages, I am not able to understand any of the lyrical content, but I find that with these genres of metal, I can get vivid imagery from the instrumentals and vocal inflections. These guys would be an ideal addition to a festival lineup such as that of Warhorns Festival in Selby, UK. They encompass all the genres Warhorns promotes. I’m very much looking forward to hearing more from Jörmungand in the future, and I thank Stef and the rest of the band very much for giving me the opportunity to listen to this album before its release.
Buy Zwischenwelten: https://joermungand.bandcamp.com/