After a wintry silence of 4 years about a new solo record, Vintersorg is finally releasing the long awaited follow-up to Solens Rötter. If you consider the early solo career of Mr. V, this is actually pretty surprising. His fecundity has been next to almost none, producing a record a year, as well as having a myriad of other excellent projects (like Otyg, Waterclime, Havayoth, Gravisphere, being in the mighty Borknagar and I’m sure someone will correct me on something I’ve missed). But for this Angry Metal Guy the new record coming has been a worrisome thing, as the taste that was left in my mouth by Solens Rötter was a bit bitter. To date, the record is my least favorite of everything that has been released under Mr. V’s solo moniker and the decision to ditch the amazing Steve Digiorgio and Asgeir Mickelson and bass and drums, respectively, was definitely felt. So I guess the question for Jordpuls was… what next?
Fortunately for fans of the band, this has apparently not been four wasted years. In fact, for traditional fans of the bands (the ones who like everything up through Cosmic Genesis) this will probably be a welcome return to what Vintersorg was best known for folk-influenced black metal, made with an eye towards nature, natural sciences and with a sense of wonder and awe. And while this record maintains some of the more progressive things that have been added to the sound in the later years, more 70s-influenced harmonies, layers of instruments and the occasional musical non sequitur, it is remarkably straight forward and direct for a band (loosely speaking) that has been moving away from those two adjectives since Visions from the Spiral Generator hit.
Jordpuls really bursts out the door with the best, catchiest tracks since Cosmic Genesis with “Världsalltets Fanfar” and “Klippor och Skär,” both of which sport choruses that sing more to the soul than anything Vintersorg has released in a while. For me, actually, the first listen through of the record was almost disappointing after hearing “Klippor och Skär” the first time, because the chorus is so damn incredible and memorable that the tracks after it actually kind of paled in comparison. But upon a second, third, (fourth, fifth, […] twentieth, twenty-first) listen, the rest of the album came into focus as well and has really stuck fast. Not to give away too many secrets about the record, because you really should get it yourself, the thing that stands out for me about Jordpuls is that this is the record where Mr. V has recaptured the elusive, addictive choruses that were ubiquitous on the earlier records but seems to have slipped away a bit since moving into the more progressive era. This becomes evident as, despite almost feeling a tad front-loaded with excellent songs, when you reach the end of the record you’re still getting excellent tracks like “Palissader” and “Vindögat,” and they’re all addictive in their own right.
I do have a few mild complaints about Jordpuls, however. This record doesn’t quite live up to a “perfect” album for me because there are a couple of things I miss. While the bass is passable and the programmed drums are fine, I really will never understand why Vintersorg dropped Steve Digiorgio and Asgeir Mickelson from the line-up. Both musicians are cream of the crop players who added a dimension to the music that would have been just as welcome on this record and Solens Rötter as they were on their predecessors. Secondly, I sometimes feel like the music is too busy. While the layers can be highly successful (like in the aforementioned “Klippor och Skär” where some of the vocal harmonies are playful and amazing), there are times when the keyboards and other instruments feel a bit like they’re missing some direction and were just recorded on a whim and never touched.
All of that said, though, Jordpuls is a great success. Reclaiming the beautiful and heartwarming melodies, the fantastic choruses and the rawer production make this album feel like it should sit alongside Till Fjälls, Ödemarkens Son and Cosmic Genesis instead of Solens Rätter. For the poets among us, Jordpuls is a record that should speak to your own joy at the world that surrounds you. Tracks like “Klippor och Skär,” “Mörk Nebulosa” (which you can hear over at MySpace along with the “Världsalltets Fanfar”), “Skogen Sover” and “Vindögat” are the kind of music that deserves to be listened to while wandering through the blooming forests of spring. It’s not exactly angry, but it’s definitely excellent and old fans and new alike should be pleased.