Access All Worlds
Review by Brexaul on April 25, 2021.
2021 has been quite consistent with quality releases, that I hope I can soon find the time to review them all! Iotunn was a late addition but cut the line and won its rightful place at the top of my review pile, and for good reason. The album is a mixture of space themed death-prog metal (yeah, it’s crazy) with a larger-than-life approach to everything, but we have seen similar grandiose ideas failing miserably in the past, so the obvious question is, do they manage to deliver the goods?
Hell YES. A thousand times yes. Iotunn manage to hit dead center at almost everything with this album, their song structures, their approach to melody, the traditional death metal outbursts all accompanied by a fantastic, cosmic atmosphere throughout. Bonus points for the fantastic cover that sets the mood. It is overall very impressive since Access All Words is not an easy album to get your teeth in, but the payoff is great if you invest the time. On my first few plays, I really enjoyed the second half much more than the full album, but after a while everything clicked.
Jón Aldará sounds absolutely fantastic, diverse and gives a performance of a lifetime here, since his versatility beautifully adds to the eerie atmosphere of each individual song. There is no shortage of death metal growls, clean, well-tuned vocals as well as some occasional black metal shrieks, but it all works out great. The guitars are also shining bright, with multiple dual melodies and excellent solos, always emotional and on point. The rhythm section is tight, with the bass lines diverse enough to keep things interesting, while the drumming is another highlight of technical mastery and musicality. All the songs are extremely diverse and the band sounds surprisingly coherent even if they jump from a death metal onslaught to a space rock soft passage.
So, any flaws then? Well, one could argue that the band might have benefited more with a little trim to some of the songs as all of them are 6+ minutes, but the album is weird anyway and needs a fair amount of time investment to let it get in the way. The production is a bit too compressed and while it’s not a deal breaker, I would love to hear the sound closer to -what I imagine- was intended to sound like, thus my 4 point deficit.
It is way too early to speak about the album of the year, but Iotunn easily moved to the top of the list so far. Excellent album.
Worthy tracks to check: Most of the songs are good indicators, but I'd go with 'Waves Below'.
Rating: 9.6 out of 10283