Jess and the Ancient Ones - Jess and the Ancient Ones
Svart Records
Occult Stoner Rock
7 songs (53'00")
Release year: 2012
Svart Records
Reviewed by Alex

When you come across a moniker like Jess and the Ancient Ones in the realm of heavy music, somehow you know not to expect the materials to be downright blasting and extreme. The premonition would not be wrong in the case of this Finnish band, as Jess and the Ancient Ones play stoner rock, combining flower power and personal occult experiences of the bandmembers with a certain amount of coolness and playfulness. Reinforced by the cover art, the eponymous album is labelled by the band as progressive occult rock, and cuts like Twilight Witchcraft and 13th Breath of the Zodiac have certain amount of dark dreaminess about them, but the band is really intent on getting their groovy rockers going in Prayer for Death and Fire and Ghost Riders. Even if multi-part lengthy Sulfur Giants begins with a cool piano/bass instrumental intro seriously reminding me of Lake of Tears on Forever Autumn, cool poppy gallop follows and catchy factor is turned on way up before the song drifts away into the hazy nothingness.

Doesn't matter if you are a male or female fronted band, if your singer's name appears in your band’s name you pushed that person squarely into the spotlight and are determined to live and die by that sword. Frontlady Jess mostly does a good job, but her delivery sometimes is a little boyish, which isn't a turn-off, but at times she plays it a little coy, singing sort of off-the-cuff and casually. It is when she stops pretending, and shows of her tender and vulnerable side in the closer Come Crimson Death, then you become entrapped by her voice. It helps, of course, that Come Crimson Death has an excellent buildup, great melodies and a killer polyphonic ending.

Songs like Prayer for Death and Fire and Twilight Witchcraft grew on me with time and multiple listens, but Jess and the Ancient Ones is no The Devil’s Blood or Jefferson Airplane and Coven before them. Noodlier ABBAesque riffs and Hammond organ swirls are fun and dandy, but for three guitars I simply did not get enough density in the music. Whereas The Devil’s Blood finds the way to step it up in the complexity and progressive nature of their music, Jess and the Ancient Ones ultimately lack in that department. The atmosphere is definitely created, but to say I was completely smitten by the album, not likely. It is interesting that in preparing to write this review the song I related to the most was nearly out of character and unexpected The Devil (in G-minor), a great chanson, lounge music with prominent piano and Jess stepping it both up and out in a major way.

Killing Songs :
Prayer for Death and Fire, The Devil, Come Crimson Death
Alex quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Jess and the Ancient Ones that we have reviewed:
Jess and the Ancient Ones - Castaneda reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Jess and the Ancient Ones - Astral Sabbat reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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