Oslo duo Golden Core got off to exactly the kind of rocky start you might expect from two members aged just nine and eleven, as they were when they first formed in 2014. The band’s 2017 debut album Norweigan Stoner Machine was fun and fuzzy at best but dull and derivative at worst, though there were hints at something more within, and it is that potential that has been realised more thoroughly on follow-up Fimbultýr. Now fifteen and seventeen respectively, guitarist/keyboardist Simen Jakobsen Harstad and drummer/vocalist Johanes Thor Sandal boast more consistent material this time around, with a solid conceptual focus backed up by quality riffs.

Like many before them, the band draw from Norse poetry for inspiration, even citing one Jon Julius Sandal (politician, founder of Norse haven heimskringla.no and Johanes’ father) as the album’s “Old Norse Lyrical Consultant”, but those in search of sledgehammer riffs need fear not – the music itself is a far cry from the likes of Wardruna or Heilung, with whom such themes have become synonymous. Mammoth riffs drenched in bleak fuzz hammer down like Mjolnir itself whilst the stoner grooves remain catchy but are suitably buried in the murk, flowing leisurely but destructively like lava on a mountainside. The raspy vocals and blunt instrumentation is reminiscent of Mantar, but the lack of punky adrenaline and proclivity for fluid guitarwork puts this more in line with the likes of High On Fire, at times. 

Repeated listens reveal some more left-field inclinations hidden amongst all the implacable riff-work, though. The post-metalisms, particularly prominent on longer numbers like the title-track, ‘Rúnatal’ and ‘Buslubæn’, are the most obvious examples, but the blackened touches of ‘Hrafnaspá’ and ‘Villist Vættir’, as well as the patches of noise rock-esque experimentation which crop up briefly but repeatedly throughout, also aid in bolstering Fimbultýr’s multifaceted composition. 

This, in turn, only boasts the record’s conceptual weight, something that’s rather fitting for an album inspired by Norse tales. Though the mythical stories of mighty gods and heroic battles are often what metal bands choose to latch onto, the mythology is more varied than that, and deserves to be treated with the nuance this young duo approach it with on their truly quite astounding second full-length.

 Fimbultýr is out now via Fysisk Format and can be purchased here.

Words: George Parr

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