Jarboe – Cut Of The Warrior

Jarboe, or Jarboe La Salle Devereaux as she is known to her accountant, is also the other founding member of the legendary Swans. So, no pressure there, then. She’s also shockingly busy, with a looooong discography, and a new ambient/experimental rock album, Cut Of The Warrior (Translation Loss Records) out this month. But is it her swan song, or will it break this reviewer’s arm?

On a superficial level, Cut Of The Warrior is an interesting experience. It helps that Jarboe has excellent and versatile vocals, as long-term fans will attest, and the rest of the musicianship has a mature, nuanced depth to its almost cinematic vibe. It certainly makes an impression from the first listen, and avoids being formulaic.

But this is also the problem. Much of what ails the album (really, four original tracks and three remixes thereof) is that it consists entirely of interludes. By that, I mean the more experimental, instrumental sections that many metal albums have, mainly to prevent repetition and to keep it varied.

Nile‘s records are full of them. Indeed, Karl Sanders even did a whole album of them in the form of Saurian Meditations (Relapse) back in 2004. There, as here, the problem remains the same. It works well when sandwiched between more “conventional” songs, but it can’t really hold up on its own.

That’s not to say that the tracks are bad. In fact, as said, they’re rather impressive in their own way, and songs such as ‘GodGoddess’ and ‘Karuna’ are distinctive and have a suitably engaging ethereal vibe. It’s just that the ‘kebab’ has the pita and the salad, but there’s no dead Alsatian or violently hot chili sauce to fill the rest of the package. Or chips.

Put simply, the album is crying out for a song here or there, just to break up the odd feeling that one should happen. Instead, we get yet more interludes. Good interludes, but interludes nonetheless. Perhaps the real issue here is that Cut Of The Warrior sits in an odd position, where it plainly has its strengths but is at odds with what the listener may expect, and what an album should offer.

6 / 10