Since forming in 2008, Thurmont, Maryland trio Faith In Jane has racked up an astounding eight releases of which Axe To Oak (Grimoire) is the latest. Quite impressive when you consider it takes a band such as Guns ‘N’ Roses decades to put out new music. The band is comprised of Dan Mize – guitar/vocals, Brendan Winston – bass, and Alex Llewellyn on drums.
Speaking of Maryland, it is renowned for both its Doom scene and the accompanying Maryland Doom Fest, of which Faith In Jane are five-time veterans. Interestingly, according to the promotional notes, the band started out as a punk band with a reggae-inflected sound but over time embraced heavier influences. The artwork (by Austyn Sullivan) which adorns the album’s front cover intonates a psych kinda vibe which wouldn’t be far removed from what featured on works by the late great Samsara Blues Experiment.
‘Whiskey Mountain Breakdown’ is the album’s longest track at over nine minutes and is a definite nod to the nineties Seattle scene; think Gruntruck and Soundgarden but fronted by Corrosion of Conformity‘s Pepper Keenan. There are some absolutely monster riffs here and parts of the track reminded me of the aforementioned Soundgarden’s ‘Like Suicide’.
A fantastic opener.
If ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ sounds a bit, er, folky, that’s because it is a cover of the traditional Irish Folk song that a massive array of artists far too numerous to list here have recorded throughout the years. The track in Faith In Jane’s hands has been given a gothic twist with vocals that remind one of the late, great Pete Steele. A beautiful interpretation.
‘Enter Her Light’ the first single from the album was previewed on The Obelisk website, with frontman Dan mentioning that it “is loosely based around the demon Lilith in Judaic mythology”. Considering the subject matter, the track is unsurprisingly a good deal heavier, darker and more mysterious than its predecessor. There is some amazing blues influenced soloing present and music wise I’m reminded a little of Danzig and Pentagram.
‘Heavy Drinker’ is imbued with the spirit of Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as overlooked COC offshoot Leadfoot while ‘How Many Ships Sail in the Forest’ is a jammy instrumental that at a mere 2:37 takes you on a short and trippy psych influenced journey. Loose is what Lars Ulrich said Metallica were going for on Load/Reload, which they achieved with incredibly mixed results: that is not the case here. ‘Axe To Oak’ has a progressive feel in a similar vein to Tool, (though we shouldn’t hold that against them) but with more of a bounce and groove, meanwhile ‘The Seeker’ recalls fellow Marylanders The Obsessed with its biker influenced riffing and attitude that help bring the album to a cool ass conclusion.
Axe To Oak is definitely Faith In Jane’s tightest and most accomplished album to date and should start to see them finally reaping the attention and critical plaudits they so clearly deserve.
8 / 10