After a warmly received support slot for death-metal front runners The Black Dahlia Murder in January, Brighton based Metal 2 The Masses winners Jonestown have hit the scene with an explosive bang, preparing to unleash their debut record, Aokigahara on the unsuspecting public this March. However, do Jonestown have what it takes to stand out among the already superb underground metal scene the UK has to offer?
- Mass Extinction Six
- Apres Moi
- 33rd Parallel
Utilising a sound reminiscent of the bastard lovechild of Meshuggah, Behemoth and Gojira, Jonestown have crafted something wholly unique and incredibly deadly. The riffs on display here carry enough weight to knock down a small horse, and the constant, grudging onslaught of solid heavy metal is something for any fan of the genre to get their teeth stuck into. Keeping the record strictly within the confines, the band make stellar use of the elements presented to them, refusing to resort to a mass of electronic elements or clean backing vocals. With themes similar to the polarising King 810 debut a few years back, given the right attention this release could become huge.
The production here lends itself to the absolutely crushing nature of the music on display, managing to maintain both a fuzzed out, raw sound whilst keeping an air of polish very few debut records lack. For Aokigahara, intensity really is the word here. At a perfectly timed eight tracks, the record holds absolutely no fat within its content. Every single track here is killer with not a single second of filler, and its harsh attitude to ancillary content keeps this release fresh with each listen, with very few songs passing the five minute mark. For me, any bands with the self-respect to keep it brief earn extra marks in this time of overfilling albums with unnecessary music. Whilst it could be argued the album keeps to it’s mission statement a little too closely throughout its running time, this is an issue that didn’t register with me personally.
With short, sharp riffs and a barrage of stickwork sure to make any drummers head spin, the band’s dynamic meshes seamlessly with the tormented vocals of Harley Anderson, whose lyrical content comes across as both refreshingly honest and incredibly dark. Whilst it may not be anything you haven’t heard before, the delivery here packages the sentiment in an unrelenting, sinister form. The confrontational allure of tracks like record opener Deliverance and lead single Cenodoxus remain dripping with venomous bile, creating some of the most aggressive heavy metal I’ve heard in years. Taking its cues from the forest it’s named after, Aokigahara is every bit as dark as it is crushingly heavy.
In Aokigahara, Jonestown have delivered an incredible debut record that honestly, I have trouble finding any faults in. From the absolutely no-holds-barred approach to song writing in both musical and technical forms to the almost sickeningly bleak lyrical content and production, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better record that sits so firmly in the heavy metal camp this year.
Aokigahara Is Released March 31st and can be pre-ordered from the band’s website for £3 here http://jonestownbrighton.bandcamp.com/