Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise

The 2008 release of the self-titled album had brought Jex Thoth to attention as the authors of a doom strongly steeped in psychedelia and characterized by the use of a female voice with a pronounced ritual intonation. The U.S. band, along with Blood Ceremony, was in some ways the emblem of this particular stylistic strand that has, at times, opened new paths even for those who had initially opted for a more canonical male voice (emblematic, in this regard, is the case of The Wounded Kings, authors of a more classical doom style, who found further impetus from the entry of Sharie Neyland into the lineup). Five years later, the fascinating Jex returns to the long-distance test with a revolutionized line-up without, for that matter, the underlying characteristics being particularly changed. This is certainly not a bad thing, given the quality expressed in the previous work, but the real added value in Blood Moon Rise is the decisive increase in a more melodic vein and the consequent landing to a more delineated song form: the record obviously benefits by gaining in dynamism and thus being more enjoyable. Clearly, it is not that out of the blue Jex Thoth has turned into a conventional band suitable for all ears: the concept of melody on this record should always be taken with a grain of salt, but there is no doubt that the singer tries her hand at more persuasive vocal passages on the occasion, perhaps with an inferior hint of the arcane, but equally endowed with an enormous evocative charge. If the first two tracks flow away with melodies that are undoubtedly as linear as they are charming (particularly in the splendid The Places You Walk), the ritual aspect of their music comes overbearingly to the fore with the long The Divide, followed by the vague bluesy hints of Into A Sleep. A short instrumental track serves as an ideal watershed introducing us to the second half of the record, where the sounds become deceptively milder with the catchy (by Jex Thoth‘s standard, of course) Keep Your Weeds, before plunging into the priceless atmospherics of the masterpiece Ehjä, in the equally emotional The Four of Us Are Dying, and finally coming to a conclusion with another eleven-load as Psyar, with tones cloaked in an intimism that gives vent, in a memorable finale, to splendid guitar work. The musical journey one embarks on with Jex Thoth is never trivial: although the rhythms are often very relaxed, the sound is constantly imbued with an atmosphere cloaked in mystery aimed at further reinforcing the charm emanating from a vocalist who, in Blood Moon Rise, gives a chilling performance. Frankly, with this record I would prefer to go beyond the concept of categorization: doom, occult metal, psychedelia, call it what you will, but this is simply great music, the kind capable of bringing together even those who listen to genres diametrically opposed to each other.

2013 – I Hate Records