Thursday 5 November 2015

Stoned Jesus - The Harvest (Album Review)

Release date: February 24th 2015. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Harvest – Tracklisting

1.Here Come the Robots 03:17
2.Wound 03:14
3.Rituals of the Sun 07:01
4.YFS 05:10
5.Silkworm Confessions 09:07
6.Black Church 14:45

Band Members:

Igor Sydorenko - vocals, guitars, Hammond organ, occasional keyboards and percussion
Sergii Sliusar - bass, FX, drummachine, backing vocals
Viktor Kondratov - drums, percussion, backing vocals


Stoned Jesus new album – The Harvest – was released back in Feb 2015 and it’s an album I’ve been sent numerous times to review but I’ve resisted all temptation as I’ve listened to it quite a few times and I couldn’t find any connection to it at all. That’s not to say I don’t like the band. Far from it, I loved their last album – Seven Thunders Roar. The Harvest is a slightly different beast to its predecessor. It’s a more complex, experimental and heavy offering from the Kiev based Stoner Metallers.

So why am I reviewing it now, 9 months after its initial release. It’s down to a lot of things. Endless people sending me copies to review, my friends within the Doom/Stoner Metal world telling me how much they love it and acting surprised when I stated I didn’t have time for it. So it’s now time to state that I was wrong. I’ve seen the light. The Harvest has restored my faith in Stoned Jesus as a band.

Maybe, The Harvest is one of the albums that need multiple albums to fully understand the amount of different ideas and noises the band have created here. Or maybe I was just being too stubborn for my own good. Opening track – Here Come The Robots – is a fast-paced Stoner/Desert Rock number with the band on fine bombastic form that fans of Orange Goblin/Kyuss will much to enjoy here. It has a stripped back punk vibe compared to their earlier albums.

Second track – Wound – is another 3 minute blast of psych based Stoner Metal grooves with the band adding a classic Hard Rock vibe with strong vocals to match. There’s nothing complex on show here but it’s great to hear the band having so much fun and you can’t help but rocking out yourself. Igor’s vocals have come on leaps and bounds since he first started this band as a solo project many years ago.

The next 4 songs on the album sees the band venture into more progressive territory as the songs become longer and even more complex. Third track – Rituals Of The Sun – is a bass-heavy affair with shades of 70s Black Sabbath as Igor feels like he’s channelling a young Ozzy Osbourne at times. You’ll experience your first true hint of Doom Metal here as the Stoner Rock/Metal atmosphere is layered with doom/gloom noises and Igor’s vocals feel slightly demonic at times. It would have been good if the band added faster riffs as the song does drag at times. Other than that this is a fantastic song.

Fourth track – YFS – opens with a superb bass heavy funk-driven riff that sees the band offer crazed psychedelic and trippy Stoner rhythms that gets you into the mood to fully lose control. The part I loved most about this song and the album is when they start playing a more soulful/funk based Stoner rhythm. It’s an original sound that I want to hear more of especially when it’s played against the heavier riffs. Perhaps my fave song on the album.

Fifth track – Silkworm Confessions – offers 9 minutes of slightly crazed Doom/Stoner Metal riffs with the band keeping you entertained until the final riff. Before then you’re treated to a demonic progressive treat. Igor once again impressing the most with his vocal range. And the riffs aren’t bad either with the band staying firmly in the Stoner Metal world.

The final song – Black Church – is perhaps the most complex song the band has written so far. It’s a slice of progressive and experimental based madness with the band slowly adding noises to give this song quite a claustrophobic feel. The drumming is fantastic on this song as it becomes the main weapon of choice for Stoned Jesus to scare you with. The heavy riffs do appear but it takes 5 mins of the songs 14 minute epic run time. The vocals become slightly repetitive and tiresome at times especially with the endless chants of “HA” near the middle of the song. I can detect a slight Nine Inch Nails influence on this song as the band experiment with their sound with industrial and ambient noises drilling into your psyche. It’s quite an adventurous and depressing song for the band to create. Though I give them top-marks for doing something different.

I still have some of the original reservations about The Harvest when I listened to it months ago. However, I can now see what the band was trying to achieve with this album. Mainly to offer something different and perhaps unsettling compared to their previous albums. I still prefer – Seven Thunders Roar – to this album. Though this is still a fantastic and at times unique take on all things Stoner Metal.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR (and the multiple other people who have provided me copies over the last 10 months or so). The Harvest is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl