Jess and the Ancient Ones are a Finnish “occult metal” outfit signed to Svart Records, the Finnish label famed for beautiful vinyl releases, so it’s no surprise you can also get this album as a beautifully-packaged gatefold vinyl.
When I’m told a band is “occult metal”, I expect something closer to Impiety. Jess and the Ancient Ones instead have an almost classical metal sound, mixed with a heavy dose of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. The riffs in “Sulfur Giants (Red King) are pure Iron Maiden, while “Prayer for Death and Fire” could’ve been a b-side on Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble. This album has a real classical sense of composition, and the moods invoked are more of a progressive introverted sense of occultism than the desolate finality of occult black metal.
The frontwoman, Jess, has a unique voice with a beautiful tone. She’s sultry and alluring while creating those soaring melodies progressive rock demands. The presence of a clean female vocal line isn’t grating, but fits perfectly with the otherworldly nature of the music. The seven-piece group fill out the sound with solid riffs and big, full bass. The sound has a bit of that ethereal quality reminiscent of bands like The Man Eating Tree, and something I consider to be a bit of a Finnish phenomena. There’s something in the air up there that seems to produce the most beautiful and delicate melodies.
The lyrics are based on the occult experiences of the writers, lending the music an real authenticity – this is a world that feels real – no make-believe castles and cinematic ghosts. Jess and the Ancient Ones is an album of progressive occult rock that will sit well alongside your favourite seventies classics.