Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Jex Thoth - Blood Moon Rise | 75%

The awesome artwork created by Sami Hynninen, former leader
of Reverend Bizarre.

"Hey, I like that!" - my mom

Doom metal is a dark land, often nourished by sorrow and obscure fantasies, Jex Thoth, a member of this world is a fairy with cutesy wings living with her fellow creatures. While bright like a candle in a somber room and spreading some magic powder everywhere, the little fairy got a limited charm and you can, after some effort, see right through her bubbly eyes.

Jex Thoth's sophomore album will please the fans of the first release for sure. I always been a bit ambivalent towards the band, if we can even call them a band, it's all about Jessica Thoth anyway, she changed the whole lineup for ''Blood Moon Rise''. I guess marrying the guitarist was not a good idea for the long run. For what it is, it's as good as the self titled. What is it though ? It's mum doom, a genre coined by my fellow reviewer Caspian. It's encompassing many of the more trendy influences used by the modern doomsters, be it pejorative or not, it's for you to judge. I guess it's a sister term for ''dad rock''. The album, more rock than metal, is totally centered around miss Thoth's vocals and that's definitely a good thing since she's deliberately the main asset. It's so vocally centered that it sounds like it was composed by Jessica in her shower and the songs were transposed into the studio afterwards, that's probably why it still smells like shampoo. I have no idea why they still try to play metal though and except the vocals, the music is quite underwhelming. They try to mix the savory elements of psychedelic, they succeed at times such as in Ehjä, probably their best song ever. And I admit the vocals are very damn good, it's still not making this an awesome album, because you know, riffs are important and there's not many actual riffs here. It's all about atmosphere and they certainly know how to create some emotional moments and it works, but it's a bit of a facade for me.

Ok ok, calm down, it's not a bad album by any means and if you like the current occult rock scene, this will definitely please you. I personally like bands like Graveyard, Jess and the Ancient ones or Year of the Goat but these are way way groovier and they have a good cohesion between riffs and atmosphere  While they have a good vocal approach, they can grow elsewhere as well. Jex Thoth is encompassing what is trendy in the doom world for the better or the worse. I mean, a big part of the image of the band is their leader, a good looking woman, it seems a bit shallow and it's not something I fully support.

Jessica's vocals are no less than amazing and the production is better than on the debut, more atmospheric and a bit less fuzzy. I still think the riffs could be tighter and heavier though. It's very catchy and accessible and the vocal lines are enjoyable and well written. Nevertheless, I think it's a bit overwhelming at times, it's like if the emotions were so in your face all the time that it becomes redundant. Jex is the focus of course and she fits with her music, she wrote all the album by herself and I think that's showing her limits as a songwriter. While she's talented, it lacks a very good musician/songwriter to go with her vocals. It's a good album because of her vocals and it's not a great one also because of her. The songs are mostly slow and the guitars are often in the background. It's not trying to be heavy and it's succeeding at being a smooth, pleasing album to listen to that will please most psych rock and doom fans who have no problems with a modern appropriation of old stuff. I guess I was expecting something else, something more driven by riffs and I don't really know why but I wasn't able to enjoy the album that much.

Despite my criticisms , Blood Moon Rise is a fine album, If you're looking for some music to study or even make love to, I guess it's an apt choice. I feel it could have more musicality and substance but it's good for what it is nevertheless. It's pretty safe, atmospheric psychedelic doomy rock with a knack for good sexy vocals and pure emotion. If you want Sabbathesque and groovy riffs, look elsewhere, not at the new Black Sabbath though since this has a rotten archaic smell !


Eric Santos said...

This review is so exactly right on! I was starting to think I was crazy because people are going nuts about this dumb record. I think the songwriting is rife with every "mystical" cliche in the book, and honestly I get tired of Jessica Bowen's voice since the early days, when she was basically a puppet for Wooden Wand/JJT, who was CLEARLY the songwriter on Totem and early JT stuff. Also, THIS came out the same year as that first JT record: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH2UFSZ09rQ Oh yeah, she's SO authentically "witchy," lol.

Antoine Richard said...

Awesome comment, thanks. I mean, I can appreciate the music but I feel it's so dishonest and shallow.