For the most part, the fourth album from Jess And The Ancient Ones continues down the low-key approach to Occult Rock that was established on 2017’s The Horse And Other Weird Tales. Just about every song on Vertigo (Svart Records) is driven by a short length, an upbeat structure, and extensive layers of psychedelic instrumentation. Aside from the eleven minutes of the closing ‘Strange Earth Illusion,’ the first two albums’ more drawn-out runtimes seem to be a thing of the past.
On day two of Eindhoven Metal Meeting, a surprising amount of energy has been drained by the inevitable afterparties that spread through Eindhoven, but also to the neighbouring town of Tilburg. Metalheads simply cannot stop a party once they get going, and so the next day starts up a little slower. Thinking I may be able to skip the long line for the pat downs if I arrive a bit later, I’ve decided to arrive between the first and second band. Nope. There is still a line as many more of the partying metalheads had a similar idea, as did many of the day ticket holders. Thankfully the line is a fair bit quicker today though than it was yesterday, and I manage to get the first band of the day.
Every year as people around the world gather to celebrate their own midwinter celebrations, usually focussing around light and warmth, the Effenaar venue in Eindhoven instead celebrates the dark and heavy. Eindhoven Metal Meeting is seen by many as the Christmas party of the Benelux metal family. As in previous years, Ghost Cult Magazine sent me to report, and take some snaps.Continue reading
Jess and the Ancient Ones are back with a new album! This Finnish occult rock band have released their third album, and with The Horse and Other Weird Tales (Svart) they have taken a nosedive further into the psychedelic genre. Spanning only 34 minutes, the album isn’t terribly long, but it manages to cram a lot of goodness in that half an hour. Continue reading
With just over a month to go, the 2017 Eindhoven Metal Meeting approaches The lined up boasts the likes of Venom, Dark Tranquility, Coroner, Carpathian Forest, Master’s Hammer, Destroyer 666 and many more. The full lineup is listed below and tickets are still available but expected to sell out. As always, the “longest-running indoor extreme metal festival” in the Netherlands will take place Friday 15 & Saturday 16th of December 2017 at the Effenaar venue in Eindhoven. Continue reading
Due to unforeseen personal circumstances, My Dying Bride has dropped out of this December’s Eindhoven Metal Meeting. Apparently, the cancellation was beyond the control of both the band and the festival. The good news is, Dark Tranquility has been added as an exclusive headliner on December 15th, the first night of the fest. More details, ticket links, and the full lineup so far are listed belowContinue reading
Myrkur has generated lots of attention, and seemingly Amalie Bruun, primus motor, has received threats to her life for being a female musician doing the post black metal thing. It seems to be the ultimate blasphemy to certain individuals, that probably haven’t been there from the inception of the scene nor have they understood the rebellious primary foundation of the initial scene, where most of the legendary figures embrace both musical diversity and experimentation. I must admit to first seeing it as yet another cash-cow of everything that is black metal, like most things these days, it seems. However, with the release of her début album, M (Relapse), she won me over. Therefore I really wanted to catch her full set, as this would be my first exposure to her music in a live setting. Sadly, we didn’t manage to be at the festival site until Myrkur were in the middle of their set. Yet, even from afar, in between all the bustle from festival-goers elsewhere on the site, her angelic voice penetrated and created a welcoming atmosphere.
Gojira were simply incredible! It’s not the band I have played the most, although I became a fan around From Mars To Sirius (Roadrunner). But as a live band they are simply amazing! The level of musicianship, the songs’ ability to balance brutality and catchiness… It’s simply one of the best live bands in the metal genre these days, just like Behemoth. Both bands are able to create this energy that just makes the audience feed from it for the entire time the show lasts. With a set consisting of twelve songs, and with a good variation of songs from all their five albums, the show had a little for everyone of their fans. But maybe the most spectacular about the show was seeing them perform ‘Stranded’ live for the first time. That song manages to take some minor details and create an enormously catchy extreme metal song.
The mood was entirely different as we entered the tent stage again to catch Swedish gloomsters Katatonia. The band used to struggle live, but has since the mid 2000’s also become a live band worth catching. Their new album, The Fall Of Hearts (Peaceville) is really good, and it was nice to get to hear a couple of songs from it. The only negative aspect of the show was really that it didn’t last long enough, and that they neglected their back catalogue somewhat. Then again, they played ‘Nephilim’, and ‘In The White’, two personal favourites of mine, and two songs I never had expected for them to play. And of course the band played the hits, and by saying that, I am thinking of ‘My Twin’, and ‘July’.
Finishing off the Tuska experience: Children Of Bodom. Actually they seem to be more about calling themselves The Children of Bodom Hate Crew these days, which makes Alexi Laiho slightly come across as an emo boy at 37 years of age with mascara and nailpolish and an attempt at the teenage rebellion thing going with his image. Musically on the other hand the band are rock solid, and if you enjoy seeing keyboards tilted forwards to show off solo skills or you enjoy endless solos more reminding of power metal than extreme metal, I’m sure this would be the show for you. I, as you might have figured out, think Children Of Bodom are a bit too cheesy to my taste. I enjoyed my sixth serving of muiku immensely more than this last Tuska headliner.
WORDS BY PÅL LYSTRUP
PHOTOS BY TJ FOWLER PHOTOGRAPHY
Saturday was hot, and very very bright, and somehow the head had felt better. With a yearning for some sunglasses, it was time to get to the main stage and catch Primordial’s set. The band where one would think it was a solo performance with some backing musicians, but it has always seemed like nobody minds Alan Nemtheanga stealing the spotlight. Seven songs with what one can only assume is filled with the struggle of Irishmen and dissatisfaction with modern times – of course without any countering solution, but at least in ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ what seems to be a defense and rationalization of black-and-white thinking.. But it’s good fun! And who were we to ever expect intellectualism or deeper psychological self-awareness from extreme metal, and to most of us I expect the intellect to seek out food for thought elsewhere.
Next up was Tsjuder, the festival alibi for true Norwegian black metal, anti-life anti-human, so on and so forth. Right from the start no energy was saved as the band kicked off their set with ‘The Daemon Throne’ and ‘Slakt’. What from afar looked as a tent crammed to the brim with people actually turned out to be a half empty in the front towards the stage. Apart from the disappointment in terms of turnout, it didn’t seem to have any effect on the band, who kept the audience on their toes throughout their entire set. In terms of putting on a proper show the trio may have fallen short though, compared to other bands. Not that primitive black metal was ever about putting on a show – or so they would probably claim –, but three guys in makeup on a large stage lacks a little in terms of the visual aspects.
Back at the main stage Anthrax was about to prove that age is no limit to putting on a good show. As someone said: “I’m amazed at how they still have all that energy and jump and run around on stage as if they were still teenagers”. Indeed this was true, the band were on fire! Yet, it was somewhat special to have crossover thrash metal legends on stage for ten songs, when one fifth were actually covers. Then again, their own songs included ‘Indians’, ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Madhouse’, and they did finish it all off with ‘Among The Living’. As this for some reason was my first time experiencing the band live, I can’t say anything else than that I would sure like to be able to experience it again sometime. On our way to catch Anthrax we were also able to visit the smaller Inferno stage at the other side of the festival area. On stage Jess And The Ancient ones were seemingly pulling of a great gig, but staying at the smaller club scene was not an option when Anthrax were set to perform, as much as the Finnish band recently released a great album.
Finishing off the second day of the festival were none other than Ghost, the band that have grown to mega size over the course of just three albums. The melodic rock had people come from all sorts of places to catch the band live, at least judging from the people I was able to talk to before, during, and after the show. Where the first album was a bit more on the hard rock side of things the music has also taken a turn towards the more poppy. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that love songs about the devil seems a bit far out there, and almost completely surreal. The lyrics could just as easily have been about the more worldly concepts of love, but I guess the satanic stuff makes it a little more mysterious, or something like that. I think it’s starting to become slightly cartoonish by now. That the weather turned full on Marvel with thunder and lightning as they finished off their set only seemed even more fitting.
WORDS BY PÅL LYSTRUP
PHOTOS BY TJ FOWLER PHOTOGRAPHY
Hailing from Finland, the country that gave us Nokia phones, Nightwish, and the actual home of Santa Claus, comes psychedelic sextet Jess and the Ancient Ones. Formed in 2010 initially as a seven piece, the band released their self-titled début two years later and quickly found themselves lumped in with the burgeoning occult-themed rock movement; their second full length album Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes (Svart) distancing them from such casual pigeon-holing, proving there’s more to JATAO than just occult imagery with a ’60s/’70s vibe.
Beginning with a drum intro that sounds like The Surfaris performing ‘Wipe Out’ at midnight while wearing black robes and cowls, opener ‘Samhain’ (remember to pronounce that as “Sow-in”, kiddies) is basically surf music for Satan. Adding excerpts from the “Witches’ Sabbath” episode of CBS’s Radio Mystery Theater, actor E.G. Marshall‘s monologue about convocations of sorcerers, old chronicles and orgies gives the song a real White Zombie feel before hitting you with an unnaturally bouncy riff and a chorus you won’t be able to get out of your head before the next autumn equinox.
‘The Flying Man’ slows things down a little and features some nice organ work and a simple chorus. ‘In Levitating Secret Dreams’ is a catchy little number with hand claps and more surf guitars, written about Swiss scientist Dr. Albert Hofmann. Not heard of him? Well, he’s the chap who synthesised LSD way back in 1938 and took the world’s first intentional acid trip five years later.
‘The Equinox Death Trip’ is driven by a pulsing bass line and a strong beat. Singer Jess‘s vocals ring clear above everything, backed by some nifty keyboard work and lots of wah pedal during the extended solos. No album like this would be complete without the recorded ramblings of Charles Manson, and the excellent ‘Wolves Inside My Head’ uses them to great effect, accompanying the trippy surf guitar riffs and “Oh, Charlie darling. What have you done?” refrain perfectly.
If you ever wanted a song where a band throws everything they have at a dartboard to see what sticks, then the ambitious 22 minute closer ‘Goodbye To Virgin Grounds Forever’ is for you. Luckily, far more sticks than falls out, and although clearly overlong, only really drags in a couple of places.
Although not as immediate as the début, The Second Coming has a lot more going on and may take a few listens to fully get to grips with. It can occasionally feel cluttered, or conversely, need a bit of a kick every now and again, but overall it’s a more than worthy follow-up that will have you reaching for the denim flares and incense sticks to make the experience even more authentic.
The heady, seedy sound of Finnish psych occulters Jess and the Ancient Ones garnered much praise with their debut long-player, and that’s sure to be repeated with this sinister yet nice, speedy yet languid 10″.
Castaneda (Svart) marries a murky production and an occult organ feel with a spooky rhythm reminiscent of the 50s shock ‘n’ roll of The Munsters; an eerie lead twang finalised with backward masking and some serious drums booting the track up the arse, with Jess’s honeyed pipes flickering over the whole. Flipside ‘As To Be With Him’ has a similar feel but with an easier, more lazy rhythm, bubbling synths and that powerful voice graced with All About Eve-esque backing harmonies, the whole further sunken by that deliciously nebulous production. It’s so relaxed there’s something of a ‘lounge rock’ air until a strange amalgam of 90s indie and 70s ambience closes the track.
This is a taster for a new album and reminds us what a refreshing departure this lot are from the glut of female-fronted occult rock bands out there at present.