Jagged Vision, a five-piece band from Stavanger, Norway, have come out fighting on their second album Death Is This World, and they’ve come out fast! Combining the grooves and melodies of stoner metal with the intensity and gnarly savagery of hardcore, Death Is This World delivers a fast and brutal assault over its ten tracks.
Now signed to Fysisk Format and following a change in lineup, with guitar and bass duties being taken up by Tommy Jacobsen and Morten Transeth, Jagged Vision have taken on a slight change in sound since their debut Harvest Earth. This isn’t a complete shift in direction as such, but they have certainly picked up the pace, grabbing their existing blend of sludge and stoner metal and smashing the black, steel toe-capped boot of hardcore into it.
The blending of multiple sub-genres doesn’t always work out, but on Death Is This World, Jagged Vision mostly manage this with flair and aplomb. Kicking the album off purposefully, “Betrayer” sounds like High On Fire with punky vocals and Mastodon-style duelling guitar melodies and finishes with a flourish that leads straight into the sludgy stomp of “Euthanasia”.
Much of Death Is This World is played at a noticeably higher tempo than anything from previous releases; advice that Jagged Vision received from producer Philip Cope (of Kylesa) – guidance that they’ve clearly taken on board. Death Is This World is in your face right from that first burst of “Betrayer” through to the big, wailing solo that closes “Palehorse”. This new injection of energy is most apparent in Joakim Svela’s drumming style; his blast-beats driving tracks forward and his range of other techniques complementing the multitude of riffs being fired out by the two guitarists.
Philip Cope’s impact didn’t just amount to fine advice. There has also been an improvement in his production quality from the fuzzy and muddy sounding Harvest Earth. Death Is This World isn’t over-polished or too clean – this is still a distorted beast of an album – it’s just clearer and more filled-out in terms of sound. Jagged Vision’s songwriting has been tightened up considerably as well. This may be down to Death Is This World being more of a team effort rather than relying mostly on vocalist Ole Urke Wik for writing duties.
Ole Urke Wik’s range has also come on leaps and bounds in the intervening time between albums. Rather than just sticking to ferocious screams the vocalist has incorporated new styles to more suit the music’s mood, and from what I can tell anyway, he seems less reliant on effects to achieve those harsh howls. On fifth track “Feeble Souls” he and Jagged Vision really start to establish their development. The track has a chorus that’s more catchy than it has any right to be and it’s only helped by the Maiden-esque guitar hooks. The slow(er) tracks on Death Is This World are no less intense for the change in pace and the band don’t just rely on the typical hardcore breakdown to do so. Instead, Jagged Vision aren’t beyond throwing in a couple of lighter moments like the acoustic intro to the otherwise leaden “An Emperor of Foul Interest”, a track that goes through three distinct transitions.
Jagged Vision have really proven themselves on this sophomore release, discharging a short, intense salvo at full force, and for an album of angry, sludgy blackened hardcore, “Death Is This World” is actually relatively good fun. It’s not quite at Black Tusk or Red Fang levels of party, but fun nonetheless.
Death Is This World is out now