It’s a gloriously gloomy world that Jex Thoth create on their second full-length. Over nine rock rituals, they raise dark forces to summon a sound that sits somewhere between the portentous kosmische atmospherics of Amon Düül II and the devilish rock rituals of Blue Öyster Cult. The doom-laden To Bury sounds more like a medieval death knell rather than an album opener but it sets the tone for songs such as The Places You Walk and Keep Your Weeds.
It’s five years since Jex Thoth – aka Jessica Toth – formed Totem (who would then rename themselves after their singer) and like their contemporaries Purson and Blood Ceremony, they hark back to a time when Hammer Horror, dark folk and the proto-stoner vibes of Black Sabbath colluded to steer rock into a new direction. They recall that moment when the punch at the 60s party was laced with bad acid and the dream turned into a 70s, blood-drenched nightmare.
Like Earth and Sunn O))) – both of whom they share a producer with – Jex Thoth play like they’re in no hurry whatsoever, their songs funereal slabs of lurching melancholy that sound like something rising from the fetid and fecund American soil. Big riffs and a somnambulist approach are Jex Thoth’s currency, with Jex’s vocals on the PJ Harvey-esque The Four Of Us Are Dying sounding as if they were recorded through a wall of flickering bonfire flames. Of course, this is a good thing.
By the end of maudlin album finale Psyar, you’ll probably be wanting to step out into the sunlight for some fresh air, but this is one doom trip that’s worth taking.