Yet again, I am left shaking my head in simple amazement; how the hell does Sweden keep on pumping out so many bands of such ability? As much as I love the UK doom scene, in terms of crushing riffs per capita, this nation does lag far behind those oh so productive Swedes. What has made me postulate this question is the arrival of ‘Fornjot’ by Mammoth Storm, the latest signing to the ever swelling roster of excellence that is Napalm Records. Mammoth Storm are not a brand new act, and for the past couple of years I’ve been enjoying their self released 2013 demo and 2014 EP ‘Rite of Ascension’, both of which are available for a pittance on Bandcamp (follow the link below), so the debut full length release did come with high expectations.
Formed by Daniel Arvidsson, guitarist of Draconian, itself signed to Napalm, Mammoth Storm are pretty much everything you could ask for in no nonsense doom with a capital “D”. ‘Fornjot’ is the name of an ancient giant of Norse mythology; the album cover is one of a fantastically rendered scene of time old magic; and track titles like ‘Horns of Jura’ promise heroic music, a promise the band fulfil in spades. Opener ‘Augurs Echo’ lumbers forward like the album’s titular titanic namesake, the riffs slow and hypnotic, weaving around a concrete heavy rhythm section, the listener being treated to a sonic pummelling that stretches over a solid eleven minutes plus, the lyrics telling a story as brutal as any Viking saga. The fuzz of ‘Augurs Echo’ is replaced by a wall of howling feedback as bleak as the North wind to herald ‘Vultures Prey’, and Mammoth Storm’s agenda to batter anybody who plays their music into submission continues with a pounding that would leave Matt Pike himself reeling! In contrast to this drawn out assault, the instrumental ‘Sumerian Cry’ sprints past in under three minutes, and compared to the other tracks seems a little out of place. To me it almost felt as if it were meant as an intro to another of their epic numbers, but one that never worked out or came to fruition; were it not for the fact it is listed separately, it could easily be the intro to ‘Fornjot’ that follows, its upbeat tempo contrasting with the deep dragging tone of the title track, the thick wall of the bass creeping forth like a fog to envelop the North sea in a blanket of sludge.
Closing the album is ‘Hekla’ and like the Icelandic volcano from which it takes its name, it is massive and full of foreboding, the dark opening riffs bubbling like lava under the surface, threatening an eruption of devastating power and destruction, the song cycling through periods of calm and violence like the geological processes of the mountain itself, layers of sound building up like lava deposits. Despite being well over thirteen minutes long, like the work of Yob, it doesn’t seem to drag, rather carry the listener along in with the flow.
For me, 2015 has seen some remarkable debut LPs in the Doom genre, and with ‘Fornjot’, Mammoth Storm have not only lived up to their name, but staked a claim to be at the forefront of the scene.