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JIRM - The Tunnel, The Well, Holy Bedlam

JIRM
The Tunnel, The Well, Holy Bedlam
by Matt Bozenda at 23 May 2022, 9:34 PM

It is very true that drugs do not make a musician better. Talent is talent and you either have it or you don’t, because you can’t imbibe it into you; you’re thinking of sketch comedy. But seriously, the only surefire way for drugs to have any effect on music is to be the one listening. Psychedelic drugs in particular are not performance enhancers, but they do have a deserved reputation for being experience enhancers.

So, anyways, you holding? Well, maybe you should make a few phone calls then, because it might help with this one. Formerly known as JEREMY IRONS AND THE RATGANG MALIBUS, the Swedish band has distilled themselves down to simply JIRM for their fifth full-length offering, “The Tunnel, The Well, Holy Bedlam”. The colossally excellent title imbues the old saying of ‘never judge a book by its cover’, as what follows is almost an hour of halfway-decent Psych/Prog which could maybe use an eighth of shrooms.

It’s actually kind of frustrating how close these songs get to real greatness. The opener, “Liquid Covenant”, comes in strong with a powerful and thundering groove in line with the likes of THE BLACK ANGELS but with an incredible heaviness. Then it disjoints just a little, a chaos which is beautiful to watch unfold, and even the sudden changes in rhythm aren’t enough to derail the work going on. Even so, there’s a feeling like there’s something being left on the table. “Repent In Blood” similarly feels reserved; the song doesn’t really get cooking until the middle, and even that’s only so brief that the rebuilding done for the excellent final minute seems like a waste.

Some of the songs, for example “You Fly”, carry out a formula that generally seems to be: start slow for a couple minutes, hold a rhythm for a few minutes more, break for the middle, return to the prior rhythm, break again, close it down. There’s also the hallmark of the Cowboy Bebop sax which pipes in from time to time, closing the track “Carried Away” most notably.

The album’s colossal heavyweight is undoubtedly “Deeper Dwell”, a twelve minute monster which outsizes the formula given above and would give some listener’s trip a lot of room to explore. Ending the album is “Pestilence”, which like the opener comes agonizingly close to being a really great track, worthy for radio even, and the first half at least accomplishes that. But the second half carries on business as usual without adding a memorable kicker and ends walking over the finish line.

If you’re not busy for a few hours in the throes of an acid trip, “The Tunnel, The Well, Holy Bedlam” could provide an excellent diversion while you unpack the nuances inherent to the genre. To the California sober such as this critic, we’ll find things we like and things we don’t like. As for the teetotaling community, they might well find it to be abhorrent noise.

Ultimately, this one is up to the listener and how much thorazine they have on hand. Altering course is normal for a name change, but if JIRM was sedate-sounding before, they’ve developed a tendency to go nearly comatose on “The Tunnel, The Well, Holy Bedlam”. Again though, as said, certain experience enhancers could be just the ticket to take this ride, not that we at Metal Temple specifically endorse that sort of thing. So if it’s your natural inclination, this album could be exactly what you’re looking for.

However, if you’re the sort to get your cardio from exercise instead of palpitations, you may want to look elsewhere.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Liquid Covenant
2. Deeper Dwell
3. You Fly
4. Repent In Blood
5. Carried Away
6. Pestilence
Lineup:
Karl Apelmo - vocals, guitars
Micke Backendal - guitars
Viktor Kӓllgren - bass
Henke Persson - drums
Record Label: Ripple Music
     


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