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Jex Thoth : Blood Moon Rise


It took Jex Thoth five years to deliver a second full-length, but it was worth the wait: doomy Retro-Rock will hardly get any better than this.



It’s been a while since we last heard from Jex Thoth. Their last EP Witness was released three years ago and didn’t give away much about the direction the band might take in the future. Some – including myself – perceived it as a rather unspectacular release. Still, the fact remained that their self-titled debut full-length showed a lot of identity and promise, ultimately proving to be one of the most interesting albums in the doomy Retro-Rock genre that has become so popular over the last couple of years. Now, five years later, the long wait is finally over: with Blood Moon Rise, the US-band is back, and let me tell you, they’re in better form than ever! Interestingly, the singer Jex herself seems to be the only remaining member of the line-up known from the debut – against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the new record is somehow different.

The album starts off with the almost ritualistic piece “To Bury”, and you will easily recognise the band’s sound right away. Yet, it all sounds surprisingly fresh and deep, making the debut look pale in comparison. Somehow, everything seems to have changed while at the same time, Jex Thoth stay true to their roots and won’t disappoint any fan. There’s so much going on here that the first listening session is a sheer delight. As basic as most of the song structures are, the increase in complexity derives from the details. Take “The Places You Walk”, for instance: of all the tracks, it probably comes closest to qualifying as a hit, but it is way beyond straight rockers such as “Separated at Birth” from the debut. Perfectly placed clean guitar overdubs enrich the stanzas while the guitar effects in other places will bring a bright smile to the face of any psychedelia fan. “Keep Your Weeds” is another catchy song which impresses in a similar fashion – despite its sing-along character, it remains genuinely atmospheric and features a fantastic instrumental section in the second half. The production, too, is different in that it sounds deeper and also somewhat more powerful and modern, but without abandoning the retro-feel that is essential to this particular style. So in short, you’ll get everything you could possibly want from a new Jex Thoth album and a lot more.

With “The Divide”, “The Four of Us Are Dying” and “Ehjä” (a Finnish adjective meaning something like ‘intact’, ‘full’, ‘complete’ – only the band themselves know why they’ve chosen this strange title…), the album features the heaviest and doomiest songs ever recorded by the band, but mind you, this is meant on a relative scale. You’ll get your fuzzy guitars, oldschool riffs and sultry vocals all the way despite the unexpected Doom edge which surfaces from time to time. Besides, these tracks are original and experimental in their own right. For instance, there’s some great (and perfectly uncheesy) cello work on “The Divide”, one of the many marvellous details that are scattered across the album. “Ehjä” features almost mournful lead guitars which are another novelty for the Americans. To make things even more varied, fragile moments counterbalance the heavier tracks, most notably the Psychedelic Rock-influenced ballad “Into a Sleep”.

The only fault I can find with this album is the last track which cannot really maintain the overall qualitative level; it is a little too monotonous and unspectacular for focused listening and closes the album rather inelegantly with a seemingly endless solo. Still, it has its rightful place among the tracklist and does in no way seem superfluous. All things considered, it is safe to say that doomy Retro-Rock will hardly get any better than this. Fans of the genre shouldn’t miss out on this gem. Even the artwork is way more interesting than anything we’ve seen on previous Jex Thoth releases. For me, Blood Moon Rise is certainly a strong competitor when it comes to finding the best albums released in the Doom spectrum this year.


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Reviewer's rating: 9/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. To Bury
2. The Places You Walk
3. The Divide
4. Into a Sleep
5. And the River Ran Dry
6. Keep Your Weeds
7. Ehjä
8. The Four of Us Are Dying
9. Psyar

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Jex Thoth bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-06-04 by Dominik Sonders
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