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Butterflies and unicorns and a little gloom - 79%

mad_submarine, June 22nd, 2013

Some time ago, a bit after Jex Thoth's self-titled album was released, I was complaining to a friend that doom metal bands with female vocalists suck - well, you guessed right - that was before I actually heard Jex Thoth's actual recording. The first second my ears were touched by Jessica Bowen's voice I was mesmerised and all my previous doubt on the matter of female-fronted doom vanished into thin air. However, I have to correct myself - for Jex Thoth is not about doom as you would suppose - it's more of a fairy, folky hardrock messing with the doom from time to time rather then Conan-like sound of tectonic plates collision.

The s/t album from 2008 is a true masterpiece, there's no denying it. Start with the ultra mythical cover artwork and the moment you hear 'Nothing left to die' you know there's no joking here. Wherever you look it upon, it's a great album. It's not a secret for anyone that the best of this band is their lady's astonishing voice. Seriously, I've heard this and that, but nothing matches the mighty vocals and live performances of this woman, she knows perfectly well how to use her tools of the trade.

So, when you have released such a well-received and flawless album, what do you do to top it? I am not sure whether they have topped the s/t with Blood moon rise, but at least it's not bad in any way. The one thing that I think is obvious from the first listen is that it sounds a little more mellow-hearted. You can literally play songs like "Keep your weeds" to grandmother and she would find them enjoyable if she's not a sour granny. On the other hand, there are songs like "The Divide" which stand out like a lot heavier and sour.

I like this album loads, because at one moment it sounds like a sweet forest lullaby, it would make you take a nap around the fallen autumn leaves, smell the pine spruce in the air and walk in peace, at other times it is so much darker, from the lighted forest your enter the dark cave. Blood moon rise somehow managed to find the perfect balance. Not to mention that Jex's voice would easily be mistaken for the one of a forest priestess. Truth is, I am sure that if they exist, they sound like her.

The reason for which I mention the presence of doom metal in Jex Thoth's sophomore are songs like "The four of us are dying" and "Psyar". There are the characteristic grim moments and unlike bands like Jess and the ancient ones, the heaviness is not entirely lost. Also, while there are many fashionable bands these days in the like of Jex, the music here really lives in a world of its own. You just wouldn't mistake this record with the thousands of others female-fronted hardrock bands. Witchcraft's debut reminds me of this in a way, only that the folk influences here are even more massive.

If you loved the previous Jex Thoth, you would find the sophomore at least appealing. There's no need to dig in it with a thousand listens, it's potential is revealed from the very beginning and starts to grow with every listen.