Napalm Records, November 2015
Ivory traders have been braving inhospitable weather conditions lately. Climate change is causing the Arctic ice to melt, revealing the remains of woolly mammoths frozen since the Ice Age. Mammoth ivory is legal and sells for enormous prices, apparently, so the hardiest souls head into the blizzards of Northern Siberia to dig for their grim treasure.
If you’re not an international ivory merchant, however, fear not. There is another type of Mammoth Storm to get your pulse racing – this beautiful, thundering new doom oeuvre from Napalm Records.
Named after a giant king from Norse mythology, ‘Fornjot’ is the debut album from Sweden’s Mammoth Storm, the brainchild of Draconian guitarist Daniel Arvidsson. It is a big step forward compared to the band’s encouraging 2014 EP ‘Rites Of Ascension’, being more ambitious and exciting than the earlier work.
The words “progressive” and “drone” have been used to describe Mammoth Storm, but neither is particularly appropriate. This is essentially good old-fashioned, bone-crushing doom metal, backed by a strong concept. The guitar tones could uproot trees, Arvidsson’s bass sounds like it wants to kill someone, and his vocals fall somewhere between a fearsome snarl and a thoroughly depressed groan. Gentle hints of black metal in some of the delicate guitar work add to the expansive, frosty atmosphere, as do the fleeting keyboards.
The album is unrelentingly slow, dense and bleak but it still courses with musical energy, especially on the glorious ‘Vultures Prey’. Elsewhere, ‘Horns Of Jura’ is reminiscent of Clouds-era Tiamat, while the patience and elegance of the title track is stirring in its unhurried simplicity, allowing emotional drama to build as you slowly drown in the low-end onslaught.
There are a small handful of moments (notably on the lengthy closing track ‘Hekla’) when the sludgy, doom-plod becomes mundane, but these aberrations pass and you are transported back to a snowy land of myth and misery.
This is a classy, thoughtful and intelligently-wrought album from a doom metal band on top of its game. The woolly name might suggest colossal riffs and shuddering tones – and you get those by the bucketload – but there are many other treasures to be found in this Mammoth Storm.