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Jess And The Ancient Ones - Self-Titled

Jess And The Ancient Ones
by Tom Coles at 04 October 2012, 3:02 PM

To give this album some kind of context, we have to look at what the rest of Metal is doing with itself. Aside from the Djent explosion and the ever-expanding waves of Progressive Metal, there’s this incredible yearning for the past, notably in the new waves of Doom. Arguably due to influences being apparent in bands like MASTODON, NEUROSIS and SAINT VITUS’s newly-found success, there’s freshness to it which a lot of revivalist Metal lacks. Of course, to an extent all Metal has elements of antiquity – the very idea of ‘Metal’ is rooted in an ideal developed and refined between the 1970s and 80s, and all bands will have a link to some extent.

What I generally don’t get on with in the common trend of nostalgia bands is that it tends to be a series of reference points to older bands. At worst, they’re re-hashed ideas or lots of different ideas explored in a linear fashion. JATAO reference a lot of bands; there’s as much IRON MAIDEN here as there is HAWKWIND or even THE DOORS and ABBA. But they’re not aping them; they manage to remain fresh whilst rooting themselves in nostalgia.

The main thing here is that they’re a very tasteful outfit. Nothing stands out as being the focus – the bass gets as much attention as the vocals. It’s refreshing to see a vocalist like Jess who has such a unique voice – a phrase which has been abused since the beginning of time, but here she manages to evoke a powerful sense of ritual without being a cheese-fest like HUNTRESS.

JATAO’s conviction serves them well, and their ear for songwriting is phenomenal: the tracks are equally bombastic, space-y, mellow and startlingly beautiful. Listening to this album is like watching the doings of druids from afar; I could go as far as to say that every song was a miniature ritual in itself, evoking subtle and nuanced emotions.

This album is also fun. Really good fun. At no point was I bored, even if the thrilling bombast of the intro “Prayer for Fire and Death” is never really recaptured. That’s only one aspect of the album though – “Sulfur Giants” is epic without treading MANOWAR territory, “Come Crimson Death” is streaked with LED ZEPPELIN-esque textures and the ascending riff of “Twilight Witchcraft” reminded me of HAWKWIND’s sonic exploration. The production is superb - as I said earlier, Jess’s voice works superbly throughout all of these, and whilst it cuts through the mix it’s not overpowering; I noticed the presence of the bass here particularly, which works as a good counterpoise to the often-sharp keyboards.

If I had to add some more creative criticism, I’d like them to find their own voice and personality – variety is always good, but when they find a more focussed sound then they’ll sound amazing. To summarise – if this is the future of Metal, I want in, and from my viewpoint I would be very happy if this album got a whole lot more well-known than it is.

4 Star Rating

1. Prayer for Death and Fire
2. Twilight Witchcraft
3. Sulfur Giants (Red King)
4. Ghost Riders
5. 13th Breath of the Zodiac
6. The Devil (in G Minor)
7. Come Crimson Death
Jess- Vocals
Fast Jake- Bass
Yussuf- Drums
Abraham- Keyboard
Thomas Fiend- Guitar, Back Vocals
Thomas Corpse- Guitar
Von Stroh- Guitar
Record Label: Svart Records


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