Beauty and paradise can turn to pain and hell with seeming ease within the hands of mankind; the utopian vision of the charismatic and disturbed central figure in the inspiration to the band’s name a prime example. UK metallers Jonestown seed their sound and lyrical confrontations in such personal and worldly tempests; to borrow words from their bio, “The name Jonestown encapsulates the fragility of our state in nature and in society. We’re oblivious to how fragile we are and how quickly life can turn to death.” Musically, the Brighton band starts in hellish landscapes of sound and emotion too which, as shown by new album, Aokigahara, is then taken to fiercer debilitating states whilst subjecting the listener to one seriously thrilling incitement.
Formed March 2014, Jonestown took little time to impress and lure thick attention. They won the Metal 2 The Masses competition that same year with their first ever gig together being the initial round of the event which they also won. From there they have played with the likes of Soulfly, Monuments, No Consequence, and Black Dahlia Murder , toured with Prolong the Agony, and drew acclaim with performances at festivals such as Bloodstock Open Air in 2014 and in 2015, both Leofest and Mammothfest. 2016 is going the same successful way as its recent predecessors for the band, starting with the recent release of their stunning debut album Aokighara. Named after the forest at the base of Mount Fuji known as ‘the Suicide Forest’, the release is cauldron of raw and varied metal ferociousness fuelled with a hardcore laced antipathy in sound and tone. It is a creative animus, a web of inventive rabidity and ravenous imagination, and quite irresistible.
It opens up with Deliverance, a track taking its time to come into view from within a haunting cold ambience. Chilling winds wash provocatively over the senses as a melancholic melody sighs in the background. Soon an imposing wall of intimidating chords and raw intensity looms up though, it in turn erupting into an onslaught of corrosive sonic and rhythmic animosity led by the vocals squalls of Harley Anderson. It takes little time for the technical prowess and unpredictable enterprise of the band to show its impressing nature with guitarist Craig Radford spinning a web of grooves and melodic temptation as a suggestive wrap to his and bassist’s Tony Hardwick predatory riffs and lines, this all without defusing the unbridled rancor of tone and touch of the song.
It is a striking start to the album quickly matched by Cenodoxus and Borderline. The first of the pair is equally as bitter and uncompromising as its predecessor, the senses bruising swings of drummer Rich Owen as virulent as they are punishing. It also pushes the imagination further with a great Korn-esque twist within its Black Dahlia Murder meets Meshuggah meets Murdock like ravishing of ears and emotions. Its successor has its own creative vendetta to share; grooves an infestation as toxic as they are seductive, simultaneously tempering and accentuating the impressive and varied strains of Anderson’s vocal enmity and the carnivorous voice and exploit of the bass.
Mass Extinction Six is a merciless knot of emotional tension and sonic jaundice next, again an assault brought and veined with some richly flavoursome and appetite inciting invention, whilst the album’s title track breeds an emotionally corrupted atmosphere around a whirlpool of virulent riffs and grooves. Without quite matching the earlier pinnacles of Aokigahara, both leave ears resonating and pleasure thick before Aprés Moi shares its own caustic drama. As with all tracks, it is an unrelenting predator, never giving ears a moment’s breath or the imagination time to settle before another raging and contagious outburst of invention and breath-taking hostility erupts to steal attention.
With the mouth-watering emotional discord and physical bedlam of The 33rd Parallel and the sonic terrorism and mesmeric beauty of the equally outstanding Deadweight bringing Aokigahara to a riveting and ferocious close, the album stands as one of the best metal debuts this year and back. At times it almost proves too brutal and invasive to take in one go, but every track brings such a fresh adventure of conflict and emotional friction that tearing away from the album’s grudge proves impossible. Bottom-line is that this is a treat no one should ignore.
Aokigahara is out now @ http://Jonestownbrighton.bandcamp.com
Pete RingMaster 28/04/2016
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