Jess and the Ancient Ones – The Horse & Other Weird Tales (Svart)

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This is the third album from Finnish outfit Jess and the Ancient Ones, and once again offers us a glimpse into their occult psychedelic world. Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of reviewing their dark hymns and bearing witness to how Jess and her unholy legion hone their sound. This newest album is a trip from start to finish – building on the sounds of sixties rock but not sounding in any way dated or being retro for the sake of it, then smashing it through the kaleidoscope. It is a timeless style, where hammond organ, blazing guitars, meandering basslines and solid grooves come together in harmony, providing the perfect backdrop for Jess\’s soulful voice. Previous albums were perhaps more influenced by doom metal but The Horse… benefits from a cleaner sound with the vocals pushed more into the limelight. The songs on the whole are shorter than on previous releases so you do have a few fairly straight-forward rock tunes on here as well as some longer tracks that build the atmosphere. Where the album shines is through the use of samples and haunting backing vocals which are almost used as an instrument in their own right. These really give the album mood and depth, serving the purpose of transporting the listener somewhere far away – I could imagine this album being the ideal soundtrack to a film like The Wickerman. I was going to mention other bands here and there for points of reference, but Jess and the Ancient Ones have designed and defined their own style, no comparison necessary. Tom Chapman

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