Basically unknown in Italy, the Canadian troupe already has a long discography at its shoulders, a great deal of radio passages in the years, and a thick live activity that brought it to share the stage with international acts such as KMFDM, Nashville Pussy, Birthday Massacre, Groovie Ghoulies, Voltaire, Discover Channel's Guine Pig show and the list could continue long...Unluckily only the original singer and guitarist still belongs to the early line-up. Today The New Jacobin Club is a septet availing itself with 4 female stage theatrics artists, trying to make the visual aspect more interesting than the same genre bands, and allowing the four girls to achieve a broader audience in a faster way.
The Canuck 7-piece deals with Horror metal, Death rock, ghoulish gothic Punk, all fused in a weird manner, so as to render their tracks as unexpected as possible and at the same time trespassing the boundaries to create a new concoction, most of the time with successful, smooth results. Actually the effort has been even bigger due to the fact that for the first time the composers had to face a concept-album challenge, which means two things:
a) The band have gained enough self-confidence and they really feel as one at last.
b) The level of songwriting masterdom has become elevated, allowing the inspiration to be channeled to a sole large project instead of 10 easy different structures.
After an intro starts the real title track: a song including theater, circus elements, symphonic keys, stubborn bass lines, amazing vocals halfway between epic and gothic patterns, and finally a theremin solo! The music goes hand in hand with the above-cited concept, concerning the final days of King Edward II's reign.
"Private Hell" is powerful metal with blazing guitar licks, baroque keys and several cello interventions; how not love the piercing axe solo and the tight pace of the composition and we're barely at one fifth of the record!
Classic crushing riffs along with granitic drumming open "Countess Scorned", followed by unexpected rides alà King Diamond and vocals sometimes Black metal, sometimes Power, and on other occasions closer to the band's Gothic-dominating style. The piece also contains a guitar solo with 70s Rock sound and the guitar vintage sounds match with the keyboards ones perfectly: it's like Type O Negative + Deep Purple + any symphonic Black metal band without making anyone listening unhappy; simply amazing!
"Breath Like Wine" is a moving semi-ballad with bittersweet vocals, that even a not-Metal girlfriend with a musical background close to zero would appreciate, whereas "Like Dogs" begins moving in a lazy way before exploding in all its intensity; two theremin interventions are comprised and this time they sound like a shortwave radio receiver unable to focus on a strong radio signal in particular. Yes, guys and girls, this music is taste at the nth degree!
The irresistible Thrash metal assault of "The Fall" is undoubtely avulsed from the rest style-wise, yet a delightful surprise in the middle of the album; here you'll meet the highest vocals ever, and afterwards a shitton of assorted fresh musical mosaics: fantastic electric cello breaks and fill-ins, occasional acoustic guitar interventions in the background, low Tibetan/Siberian vocals and other clean bizarre ones. The theremin together with the refrain makes this song sheer Avantgarde metal, there's no doubt at all.
The instrumental "Kronos Devours His Children" alternates tribal drums to fiery passages led by dynamic guitars and a bunch of assorted noises to vary the theremin intermezzos. The guitar solos turn out to be extremely euphonic and, when the tribal drums are absent, one might think of certain elements of the early Marylin Manson pumped on steroids; sounds incredible but I'm convinced of what I'm stating!
As the title suggests, "All Mourning Long" is a somber acoustic interval with minimal distorted guitar sounds mixed low and stalwart bass strokes. The song takes energy twice, both with distorted guitars and rocky drumming, but what's interesting is the nice blend of Axl Rosian and Rob Halford-like vocals. When the distorted parts erupt short- and long-haired heads both have lots of spins in the air to perform. There's a Thrash metal break with stopped drums, other Metalcore vocals unheard before on this CD, others use clean vocals, and an intense shredding guitar solo. The song is the longest and definitely the most unforeseeable one, and the final obscure arpeggio confirms my impression we're ahead of a Dark metal song even if not in strict accordance with the usual genre cliches.
"The Bishop and the Executioner" wins the palm of most theatrical track, with the singer recurring to pretty declamatory vocals; the rhythmic base is minimalistic, the keys repetitive, while the guitars hang back working hard to maintain the song interesting, until it changes as usual, still gradually this time. The crescendo is accentuated by the keyboards, this time real protagonists of a good part of the song; first they sound very early Dimmu Borgir, but during the second intervention they sound more original and thus the symphonic Metal effect is heightened without leaving the listener with the feeling of having already heard the same fugue elsewhere.
The symphonic side is also present - but limited - by the vigorous guitar and the adrenalinic/horrorific vocals of "Penance at the End of Days", which is a treat for those like me who love to listen to a lively bass, but also for those who want to enjoy a cello solo. It's the right way to connect to the beginning of the record, even tho it must be said the true end of the album comes with a hidden track of 80s Dark synth Pop, a mysterious choice indeed, but this seems to be the course for the 2010 New Jacobin Club.
This album is composed of a set including a DVD as well, "Inside the Cannibal Circus", containing a whole lot of material: first of all there's a new video where the ensemble's great look can be seen, enhanced by the make-up and masks. The musicians play in front of a selected young elegant unmoving audience, till they capture the band and get prepared to behead them.
Soon after the live at the World Famous Amigos Cantina held on Sep. 12th, 2009 interspersed with interviews with all the members separately and the stage performers The Angry Teeth. All lasts an hour and seven minutes and the live show was shot with two cameras. Two girls are closed into a plastic bag, another enters and pierces the capturing girl's ass with two hypodermic syringes, then the two girls are set free. This is just the introduction to the live show and the girls are appearing multiple times later, especially during guitar solos and instrumental parts.
Musically the first aspects to be noticed are a more imposing presence of the keyboards and the fact that the Canadian deconstructivists don't change the structures of their songs at all; probably everything is calculated in sympathy with the 4 female exhibitionists at the second and thus there's no space for improvisation or alternative song renditions.
The song list is as follows: House of Craven, Alive again, Deceiver Heart, Blood of the Servant, Chamber Door (blatantly early Iron Maiden-like, and still a very good song not sounding like a cheesy copy whatsoever), Like Dogs (a new classic from their latest CD), This Treason, Kronos Devours His Children, Creeping Flesh (what an astonishing composition! there's also a video for that), and finally Wicked City, a song where many are going to find similarities with Zakk Wylde's repertoire.
If there's one thing I have to criticize the performance for, that is around the guitar solos, which often leave large margins of improvement, whereas a positive aspect resides in the combo's capacity of drawing an ample spectrum of public in terms of musical tastes.
Like the CD, the live depicted on this DVD enjoys great sounds, yet some of the most striking images come from the four burlesque artists, doing all their best to shock and disgust. They eat worms, swords, fires, they use hot wax, stapling, they recur to painful and scary tricks (like a long nail into the nose), they disturb and entertain by torches, machetes, and the ever-popular flaming hula-hoop, and I'm sure I've forgotten to mention further stunts!
The bonus materials feature a 2010 gig, where the audio and video quality are a tad worse, and a 1999 show, a time when the band was more into Death rock than Horror metal, music-wise and look-wise. Moreover we find a recent acoustic version of "Hallowed Halls", the pictures of all the members who took part in The New Jacobin Club adventures and the concert posters, even back when they had just started or so, something that I really appreciated (I belong to an old generation and therefore those posters are constantly having a pleasant nostalgic effect on me).
Top-notch sounds but a pity the lyrics aren't included, notwithstanding I find irresistible to let this rich CD/DVD set pass by, in particular if your discography contains lots of albums out of Saviour Machine, St. Madness, Misfits, Danzig, mid-era Judas Priest and The Dwarves, and also if you like artworks in the vein of Necrophagia.
One of the most promising unsigned acts to surface in quite some time.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - Jan 30, 2012