Iotunn take the title of their record to heart, as this debut is both a revelation and a surprise for fans of the band’s excellent EP. The Wizard Falls was an astounding bit of proggy power thrash, full of fast and bombastic fun. Access All Worlds has those elements within, but there’s so much going on in these seven songs that go well beyond previous expectations.
With new vocalist Jón Aldará (Barren Earth, Hamfero) along for the ride, Iotunn have unearthed a seemingly new form of progressive metal to these ears. Imagine early Scar Symmetry’s spacey prog death mixed with mid-career Katatonia, laid on a bed of power metal, and you’re part of the way there. There’s even a pronounced black metal influence in both atmosphere and rhythm. Iotunn are clearly accessing a whole different metallic planet here.
New ideas are great and all, but it’s the execution that’s most important, and the word of the day here on Metallic Sesame Street is “expressive”. Whether it’s Aldará’s haunting melodies, soothing solos, or earth-shattering death metal force, there’s a force here that’s impossible to miss. Each song has a unique vibe and leans further into one of the aforementioned sonic touchstones; however, it’s to Iotunn’s collective credit that the album feels cohesive and best taken in as a whole.
At seven songs and sixty-one minutes in length, there’s no doubting the band’s prog bonafides, but what’s shocking about that runtime is how quickly the songs and record fly. There’s really no obvious filler puffing out the length, no unnecessary interlude to skip. Access All Worlds feels essentially whole.
With records this long and cohesive, you always see one critique: there are no standout tracks, and that’s somehow not the case here either. I mean, sure, just about every song has a standout melody or musical movement, but “Voyage of the Gargeney I”, “Waves Below”, and “Safe Across the Endless Night” feel like clear highlights, both in terms of vocal hooks and songwriting—despite all doing different things. “Voyage” is the closest to that Katatonia/Scar Symmetry hybrid in terms of gothic prog death, while “Waves Below” leans wonderfully into blackened power metal. However, it’s the nearly 14-minute closer “Safe Across the Endless Night” the showcases everything Iotunn do well in a rather stunning package.
Look, it’s early in the year, and we’re starved of anything resembling joy right now, but Access All Worlds is the happiest and best listening experience I’ve had in years. Iotunn is a band filled with creativity and the ability to make interesting ideas into excellent songs. This is likely to fly under many people’s radar, but don’t miss this if metal of any stripe is your thing. This is a classic in the making.
Pre-order this incredible record at this location.