Here in the United States, Halloween is upon us. With that comes a lot of things, such as retailers dropping all pretenses of not trying to push Christmas on us already, and it also means a ton of album releases to coincide with the spooky occasion—at least sixty this year, going by Metal Archives. Among them is Jointhugger, who released their sophomore album Surrounded by Vultures today to mark the date. It's a suitable record for the holiday—while it's not the scariest record you might hear today, it's definitely supernatural. Teeming with surreal warmth, the Norwegian stoner doom band's second album creates an immersive soundscape full of fuzzy magic, crushing grooves, and startling technicality, doling out big riffs (a requirement for any metal band with a drug pun in their name, really) and psychedelic jams. And after all, what better holiday on which to hail the Devil's Lettuce?

Swirling, rustic melodies run rampant within Surrounded by Vultures, smoky cantrips meant to invoke ancient gods—and they succeed, judging by the procession of empyrean riffs that stomp on by as the record continues. The tight interplay of bass and drums opens the floor up for some intricate, mind-bending moments, but as often as not the rhythm section rides the pocket, letting the twisting groove speak for itself. Soulful vocals also make an appearance, notably stealing the show on "Midnight" as their intriguing cadence and multi-voiced delivery make each verse a standout moment.

Jointhugger's approach stands out from the mundane, standing out from what stoner rock can usually provide. However, it's a natural kind of difference, like some forgotten rite put back into practice. As the night winds to a close and the jack-o'-lanterns flicker and extinguish, Surrounded By Vultures heeds the reverent majesty of one of heavy metal's favorite holidays.

To coincide with the release, the band has provided a track-by-track rundown of the album below.



In Dire Need of Fire Ch. 2: This is a triptych. An instrumental composition in three movements that will eventually span across three albums. The first instalment, ‘In Dire Need of Fire Ch. 1’ can be heard on our debut, I Am No One. It’s one of the first songs we ever wrote as Jointhugger. No lyrics, no deep meanings, just something that started when the band started and has since evolved over time.

Midnight: ‘Midnight’ is a song about alcoholism and addiction, and the world as seen through the eyes of an alcoholic. It’s based loosely around things I saw and experienced while bartending, particularly in terms of how that relationship between those addicted to the bottle keep flocking back to the watering hole like lost souls, day after day. It’s also a reflection on how an addict sees the world. In that sense, ‘Midnight’ is both a celebration of hope that there is more to life, and a cry for help. The golden carpet is a symbolic metaphor for some mythical opportunity to be carried away to a better place in time. A place where the struggle to be human, and “well” isn’t so hard.

Empty Space: ‘Empty Space’ is about hopelessness and longing and being empty from hash. Literally, that is it…

Delysid Rex: …whereas ‘Delysid Rex’ is a story of two halves. One about being on an acid trip and the second about being on the edge of madness. It's the madness Nico is talking to in his lyrics, almost as if it were a person or an entity. It’s the devil on his shoulder.

The Calm: The calm is an ardent stoner hymn about discovering a new world where the herb takes us by the hand, through thick and thin. It’s almost like a love letter to Marijuana. Our companion, an ode to the peace and comfort it brings to an addled mind.


Surrounded by Vultures releases today via Majestic Mountain Records.

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