This CD contains the first recordings with Joyless, “more or less the metal years of the band, where Forgotten Woods turned into Joyless and Joyless turned from one thing into something else.”
Tracks 1–4 and 7 are taken from Unlimited Hate (1996); tracks 5, 6, and 8 are taken from the Blue in the Face EP (1999); track 9 is not listed in the booklet or on the cover.
- Thomas Torkelsen — Vocals
- Reinhardt Toresen — Vocals
- Olav Berland — Guitars, drums, backing vocals
- Nylon — Guitars and harmonica
- Rune Vedaa — Bass
- Your crystal fragments
- Blå melankoli
- Inherent emptiness
- Room of velvet splendour
- (Don’t need) religion (Motörhead cover)
- Room of velvet splendour pt. 2
This album was not what I expected. And sometimes that turns out to be a good thing.
Encyclopaedia Metallum categorises Norwegian metallers Joyless as “Black Metal (early), Depressive Rock (later)”. But — at the risk of upsetting Mikael Åkerfeldt who lamented earlier this month that “the metal scene was so conservative” — this doesn’t sound like any black metal album that I’ve ever heard.
Wild signs of the endtimes is a compilation album comprising five tracks from their first album (which itself contains some songs from Olav, Rune and Thomas’s days as Forgotten Woods), three from their Blue in the face EP (1999), and a surprise track that isn’t listed on the cover.
The opening track “[untitled]’ is a delicate, piano-led instrumental with a vibrato keyboard solo that carries the melody. It reminds me of the kind of music that accompanied 1970s public safety films. It is beautiful and oddly eerie all at once.
“Your crystal fragments” (track 2) has a very lo-fi sound that’s not too far from Pulp or other Britpop-era bands. It has a kind of modern-retro feel.
“Blå melankoli” (track 3) has a more typically metal tempo even if the guitars are not particularly overdriven.
“Inherent emptiness” (track 4) is very bass-heavy, and a world apart from the tracks before it: shouted vocals, and a melody that trundles along in the depths.
The following two tracks, “Room of velvet splendour” and “Swansmile” return to the retro/indie/Britpop sound. The latter is perhaps a little more catchy and features Nylon on harmonica.
Then it’s hair down again, gently nodding while staring at the floor, metalesque riff with a lot of bass in the mix: “(Don’t need) religion”.
“Room of velvet splendour, part 2” sounds like it could be incidental music for the original Italian Job film.
And then the mystery track, “Trilobite” (track 9) keeps the vibe firmly in the sixties with lo-fi guitars and vocals that sounds distorted but in the arty-rather-than-metal way.
All in all, I was surprised by this album. It’s not what I would class as black metal by any stretch of the imagination. But I rather liked it. There’s an honesty to it, and it was really rather fun in places. I could happily listen to this for some years to come.
Review score: 80%