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Jess and the Ancient Ones - Vertigo Award winner

Jess and the Ancient Ones
by Mark Machlay at 06 April 2021, 6:59 AM

After quite a lengthy stretch between albums, Finnish psychedelic/progressive/occult rock band JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES is back with their fourth album “Vertigo” to be released on May 21st of 2021. The band was formed in Kuopio, Finland in 2010. Principle songwriter and guitarist Thomas Corpse was feeling disillusioned with the music he was playing at the time. He was part of death/thrash metal band DEATHCHAIN for many years but always had a soft spot for more classic rock like THE DOORS, LED ZEPPELIN, and BLACK SABBATH. After he indulged in listening to those artists again, he started traveling back to that psychedelic age of CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, JANIS JOPLIN and THE BEATLES and began to form a band to create the kind of fusion of the two he heard in his head. He brought bandmate Tuomas Karhunen (aka Thomas Fiend) and Antti Boman (aka Von Stroh) for a three guitar attack and add some backing vocals as well. Corpse then asked friend and punk/surf rock drummer Yusef to join and used his connections to fill out the roster. The final piece came when he heard Yusef’s girlfriend singing at their first practice together. “The minute Jess opened her mouth and started to sing the songs, I knew right away that this girl was really fucking good” Corpse recalls.

Thus, JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES was born. Starting out as a seven-piece, the band released their first self-titled EP with the monstrous single “Sulfer Giants” which would expanded to a full LP and re-released in 2016. In the meantime they released an EP – 2013’s “Astral Sabbat” – and a full LP “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes” in 2015, in which they would already shave away some of the doom metal elements and so refined their sound early on. Fast on the heels of their re-released debut, “The Horse and Other Weird Tales” would drop in 2017. Between the second and third albums, Corpse’s old bandmates would seem to drop away one by one, making the band a tight 5-piece. Also, in the long hiatus leading up to 2021’s “Vertigo” the members would dabble in side projects to fuel their passions. But eventually they came back together and now that venues are starting to open up, are perfectly poised to return this coming year.

Even though they seem to have distanced themselves a little bit from their doom metal sound fairly quickly after their debut – which is what drew me to them initially - I should probably admit that I have been a massive fan of JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES ever since I heard “Sulfer Giants” from their debut. “Vertigo” proved a little bit of a break did the band some good. They are stronger than ever and Jess’s voice still has that pleasant mix of the wild nature of Janis Joplin with the spacey-ness and otherworldly warmth of Grace Slick. Keyboardist Abraham has stepped in considerably given the absence of the other two guitarist’s departure. This is most heard on his solo intro to “Love Zombi” while still being able to gracefully interweave with the guitar work of Corpse. It’s particularly interesting track because it sounds like what might be playing in the dark recesses of a cavernous live hall of the later 60s while go-go dancers groove on the dance floor. I’m happy to see them get a little more experimental with the 11 plus minute closer “Strange Earth Illusion” but at times the instrumental can seem a bit meandering. This album was a natural and needed progression from their previous album “The Horse and Other Weird Tales”

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Burning of the Velvet Fires
2. World Paranormal
3. Talking Board
4. Love Zombi
5. Summer Tripping Man
6. Born to Kill
7. What’s on your Mind
8. Strange Earth Illusion
Jess – Vocals
Thomas Corpse – Guitars
Fast Jake – Bass
Yussuf – Drums & Percussion
Abraham – Keyboards, Organ & Synthesizer
Record Label: Svart Records


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