It’s always an interesting experience when what you think an album will sound like and what it actually sounds like end up being vastly different. When I took the promo for Jordablod‘s debut album, Upon My Cremation Pyre, I thought based on the logo, promo pictures, and label associated with them, I had this band pegged for that ugly blackened death metal that is commonplace now. Not that I would have minded if that were true, but I think the fact that Upon My Cremation Pyre was almost the opposite of what I was expecting contributed a lot to why I love this album as much as I do. The sense of having the rug pulled out from under me made me appreciate all the unique touches the band puts here even more.
While rooted in death metal and tinged with black metal, Jordablod’s music bucks the traditional melding of the two styles; the production, for instance, is anything but murky, with the guitars in particular given a crisp tone that shimmers and crackles beautifully. Yet what distinguishes this album further, even from most other things you may hear this year, is just how weird and proggy these Swedes are willing to get. Adding prog elements to black and death metal is in something of a renaissance right now; look at recent releases from Tribulation, Venenum, and the Ruins of Beverast for example. Yet Jordablod incorporate these elements in a way that almost puts it ahead of the black and death metal influences rather than the other way around.
The lyrics and the skeletons of the song structures may be black and death metal, but the vast majority of Upon My Cremation Pyre is carried by the band’s willingness to play with melody, rhythm, and tempo that recalls the heyday of classic jam rock. The psychedelic elements coupled with the occult inspired lyrics give a much different take on esoteric worship than is usually presented, and when paired with bluesy, melodic solos and dizzying rhythm crescendos show a band that is fearlessly inventive. Tracks like “Liberator of Eden” and “A Sculptor of the Future” take extreme metal’s aggression to dizzying, cosmic heights very few others would dare to attempt to reach.
Jordablod may be a relatively young band, but as far as debut albums go, Upon My Cremation Pyre is about as good as you can get. This is a passionately performed and intelligently written album that puts many established band’s late game catalogs to shame. If this is only the tip of the iceberg, these Swedes are poised to set the world on fire.