Austrian newcomers Gjoad create atmospheric dark rock that builds worlds instead of destroying them. Their debut LP Samanōn bristles with life while honoring the weight of death. The notes bloom in the sunshine before retreating to the shadows. It’s an album that feels like a film shot in cinematic wide-screen. The album is officially released on December 15 from Antiq. But Decibel magazine has an exclusive stream so you can take the journey with Gjoad early.
Ten minutes pass before distorted guitars rise from the album’s soft soil. Amid a 14-minute opening track, distortion is a minor character in the song’s near-instrumental narrative. Callused fingers slide down acoustic guitar strings. Traditional drums and bellows lend a sense of history. While the first track feels like dusk on a summer day, there’s a shadowy menace to “Peraht.” But the shadows lift as that song unfurls. There’s an autumnal vibe for the track; a preparation for winter and the darkness ahead. “Gartsang” feels like that bridge to a new season. As thunder rumbles, the song’s sullen rhythm feels like a funeral procession in cold rain.
“Hagazussa” invites distorted guitars back into the fold as the lead melodies uncoil like waking serpents. The song feels like it would be played from a mountain top as an offering to old gods. Then there’s album closer “Untar.” The song’s ominous throb never quite reaches the climax the slow-build suggests. But Gjoad isn’t focused on starting infernos on Samanōn. There’s a simmering energy to the entire record, like the countryside is holding its breath before a storm. This is an album for patient observers of beauty who like their soundscapes draped in shadows.
Venture into Gjoad’s striking soundscapes and stream Samanōn below. Also scroll down to read an interview with Gjoad about the album’s influences.
Decibel magazine interview with Gjoad
This is Gjoad’s debut album. How did the members meet, and what was the goal for the band’s sound from those early discussions?
Gjoad: We know each other from hanging out at concerts and we’ve played in a metal band together before. Gjoad started as a side-project where we focused on acoustic and ambient sounds in the beginning. Later it became our main project. But neither of us had a certain intended direction for our music’s sound, nor would we restrict ourselves to one musical genre. Our target is just that it has to be intense.
Did you have any themes or narratives in mind for this mostly-instrumental album?
Gjoad: We’re inspired by the legends and myths from our region, which is partly reflected in the artwork of the album or song titles. Also nature and the alpine landscapes surrounding us have a great impact on our music. We try to capture moods you can experience at these remote places.
While the bio mentions an influence from black metal, Samanōn never approaches that extremity. What black metal influences do you feel as a project?
Gjoad: For our first album, this genre reference is probably less relevant, as these songs mostly emerged from the reduced compositions mentioned at the beginning. But when finishing the songs for the record we decided to integrate also heavier elements again. For us, the influence of Black Metal mainly relates to the atmosphere transmitted by the music.
What’s the significance or personal meaning of the Franz Steinfeld painting used for the cover?
Gjoad: It shows a landscape from the area of Salzburg back in 1852 and it fits the atmosphere of our music. Somehow it’s like a link to past times. The content of Samanōn deals with old stories, becoming and passing… And we see that reflected in this painting too.
What are your plans for Gjoad in 2021 and beyond?
Gjoad: Currently we’re working on new songs for our next album. And we would love to play some live shows, when the situation will allow it again…
Pre-order Gjoad’s Samanōn from Antiq at Bandcamp HERE