It is always interesting to see well established artists step out of their comfort zone, attempting to broaden their horizons and produce something novel. Jonathan Hulten has taken such a turn once already, when his main band Tribulation departed from their early, death metal drenched style and stepped into a forward-thinking heavy metal bliss. Incorporating everything from black metal to psychedelic rock and goth rock, Tribulation became one of the acts to redetermine how heavy metal can be approached from a fresh perspective, free from the orthodoxy of past decades.
Still, Hulten does not appear to be contempt to only stay within the metal genre and with his solo project he decides to wholeheartedly roam into the minimal folk domain. This journey began back in 2017, as Hulten unveiled his project’s debut EP The Dark Night of the Soul, an excellent introduction to his romantic take on dark, folky music. The return today with Chants from Another Place offers an in-depth dive into the core of Hulten’s vision, exploring the vast riches of a stripped down approach.
Chants from Another Place offers a magical journey, aptly kicking off with the repetitive strums of “A Dance In The Road.” The percussion is beautifully introduced to awaken a mystical tone, while the additional instrumentation in the form of a retro synthesizer adds the necessary twist to this earthy tone. A more minimal setting is still possible, as Hulten unfolds “Holy Woods” in all its otherworldly glory and “Where Devils Weep” with a slightly Americanized attribute, before the upbeat and energetic “Next Big Day” arrives, showcasing the sentimental versatility of Chants from Another Place.
The descent to eras past, with Hulten drawing influence from the great Nick Drake and his legendary adventures, continues with a slightly mythological twist. “The Mountain '' arrives with a restrained sense, as Hulten’s vocals take their place front and center with some excellent double tracking, while the guitar beautifully weaves this tale in its glorious progression. There is an interesting kinship to folklore literature, and even though Hulten does not explicitly highlight this fact, there is a poetically Tolkien-esque take on tracks like “The Big Adventure'' and “The Mountain.” Even more pronounced is this fabled sense in “The Roses,” detailing the human struggle of uniting the Appolonian and the Dionysian sides.
Within this space there is still room for Hulten to experiment with further ideas, tying together his subject matter in beautiful segways. Ambient keys and slow hums create the desertous “Wasteland”, leading to the piercing and fluid guitars and the moving piano of “Outskirts” and its constant motion. The piano takes a more sorrowful turn in “The Fleeting World,” with a distorted effect adding a retro quality, while the a cappella renditions of “Ostbjorka Brudlat” and “Deep Night” create an imposing and deeply atmospheric effect. It all makes Chants from Another Place complete, a record of great storytelling ability and deeply moving qualities.
8.0 / 10
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