As far as full lengths go, Access All Worlds is Danish progpower outfit Iotunn’s first offering, coming after an EP released five years back. The album consists of a mere seven tracks spanning an hour’s runtime. On it, the Danes give ample reason for their gigantic name, offering epic scores and colossal soundscapes set to massive, towering walls of riffs and flowing melodies crushing in both weight and melodramatic pull. Having since the debut EP recruited Faroese vocalist Jón Aldará (Barren Earth, Hamferð), the man’s impeccable vocal performance lends both depth and magnitude to the production. Blending clean vocals with harsh sets the band apart from peers within the genre, and Aldará’s performance definitely takes the album to a new level. Guitarists Jesper Gräs and Jens Nicolai Gräs delve into some flesh tearing riffage throughout and continue to battle off each other in harmonic solos. The dual guitar approach alongside Eskil Rask's bass and a towering performance from drummer Bjørn Wind Andersen gives the epic sound more fuel; one to pound the riffing, the other to fuel the fire with harmonic leads beneath Aldará’s impressive vocals.
At times cosmically cold, lending influences from extreme genres like epic melodeath, not unlike Duskmourn or the obvious comparison Barren Earth or even In Mourning. The epic feel brought alive by the melodic power metal tropes that build some of the material however bring a sound closer to Tanagra or even Dimhav; atmospheric, high and airy, yet grounded in flawless musicianship and an immense production. While never fully steepled in the power metal camp, the choruses are still catchy and melodic hooks abound in the intertwining guitar play; lengthy, monumental instrumental sections, thick groove riffage filling the spaces, arcane melodics strewn across to take it just one step further. Massive mid album epic Waves Below comes with pounding drums and, slowly burning and building bridges between genres with luscious, melodic riffing atop groovy rhythms from Rask and Andersen, while the shorter Laihem's Golden Pits picks up some speed and weight, with some blistering, face melting soloing to boot - perhaps the closest the album gets to accessibility.
As previously stated the album consists of a “mere” seven tracks, so picking even a few to mention is a almost makes this track-by-track review. There is however one more that must be mentioned. Closing track Safe Across the Endless Night might be the absolute highlight; a cosmic journey through phenomenal guitar licks and soloing galore, strewn across a starlit vocal performance and a soundscape built by the rhythm section and flawless songwriting. Both guitarists pull their greatest tricks here, through flashy solos and a haunting middle section, almost like ascending into finality as the massive crescendo ultimately arrives. Iotunn present nothing immediately accessible, by any means, but a monstrous epic that’s both well planned and meticulous; Access All Worlds doesn’t beg you to like it, and it’ll take time and repeated listens to grasp and fully appreciate its many layers, and even more time to comprehend the scale the Danes have put to reality. Not an album you’ll put on for idle listening, but one you’ll return to, be swept away by and finally to be consumed by.
Standout tracks: Access All Worlds, The Weaver System, Safe Across the Endless Night