Written by: The Administrator
I'm admittedly a little late to the draw on this one. That said, our endorsements of good music shouldn't be constrained, as we slumbering scribes are attempting to actualize, by the constant churn of the promo pit. In any case, let's not delay any longer.
Coming off the success of their stunning I Am No One--an album I liked so much I blatantly pressed the title track into service for our Caravan of Doom compilation--Norway's own Jointhugger dropped a single track EP on April 2nd of this year. It's an absolute stunner; the best thing they have done to date, and that's saying something. This 18 minute epic takes a slightly more progressive angle, illustrating the band's ability to build a complete and varied story across multiple acts. The musicianship across the board is as impressive as ever, and the hugely impactful songwriting places Reaper Season in the highest echelon of this year's doomier offerings.
Over the course of its runtime, Reaper Season moves gracefully through a variety of doom and doom-adjacent aesthetics, ranging from vibrant psychedelia, to excitable stoner rock, to thick fuzzy groove, to somber feedback-laden noise. Despite covering a whole lot of ground, the organic approach to composition allows for transitions that don't quite feel like transitions--the track cleverly moves the listener along without ever overtly appearing to do so. Many bands attempt to constructing a natural and effortless flow, but few ever achieve such a sense of seamlessness. The track cleverly maintains a jam session-esque appeal while simultaneously feeling like a sharply honed final product, and that alone is an impressive achievement. Critically, the back half does feel like it could have been trimmed by a minute or so to avoid repetition, but let's be real: that's just excessive nit-pickery. Take it with the smallest grain of salt.
While Reaper Season as a whole picture is a success, the devil is in the details--and here, of course, "the devil" refers explicitly to "the good stuff." There's simply so many little moments that I truly love sprinkled throughout this mammothian track. The group vocals that crest around the song's midpoint are energizing in a fashion typically reserved for live performances--the stadium-filling refrains of "take me away/I'll do whatever you say" practically feel like an invitation to chant along with gusto. The little twists of melody scattered throughout provide a majestic glimmer that prevents the track from falling victim to its own atmosphere. The drums consistently deliver unexpected layers of presence and intrigue. During the quietest moments, the vocals serve as the vehicle for emotion, but in the instrumental passages, that emotion is somehow never lacking. Jointhugger are masters of the little special moments, and here, the result is absolutely engrossing. I've listened to this damn thing a grand total of six times in the past 24 hours, and seriously doubt I'll be stopping anytime soon.
Dear reader, if it sounds like I'm gushing, please know that it is because I am. Jointhugger are an astounding band--indeed, one of the very few who could pull off a masterpiece of this magnitude. I suspect they'll reject said praise with stoic humility, but as someone who listens to a helluva lot of doom, I feel like that's a pretty damn accurate statement. Beyond the scope of the track itself, I'm very excited by this subtly YOB-ian direction they seem to be drifting, and can hardly wait to hear what they cook up next. In the meantime, you'll certainly find me throwing Reaper Season on repeat for the remainder of the year (and beyond!) Needless to say: highly recommended!
Jointhugger - Reaper Season was released April 2nd, 2021 via Majestic Mountain Records.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!