Please welcome into your life, if you haven’t already, possibly the most exciting metallic band to come from the UK for some time. The bizarrely named Aerosol Jesus reside in Brighton geographically, but in every other respect they’re very much in a world of their own, and on Survive they send us a five song transmission that paints a bleak, but utterly intriguing portrait of where they are at mentally and emotionally.
There’s a lot going on with this band sonically – take the more articulate end of the sludge spectrum, add a sprinkle of post-hardcore, and filter all that through an evocative narrative of noir rock balladry. The results combine the bludgeoning kinetics of the best heavy music with a thoughtful, self-reflective edge that very few other bands I can think of in the field possess. And in vocalist Oli Melville, the band have a secret weapon, a frontman who even while screaming his head off, can convey emotion at a level that shows up most sludge/doom vocalists for the blubbering inarticulate children they are.
Cowards opens with all guns blazing, probably the most aggressive thing here as the band fall into a seething groove formation that carries a hint of Kowloon Walled City’s noise-rock edged heft. It sets the tone, but not the pattern, for what’s to come. The title track follows at a funereal pace initially, Melville seemingly having an argument with himself over the dirge, before the band change sail and the song lifts into an unexpectedly upbeat direction that emphasises that more post-hardcore/screamo side.
Survive is a vision of substance that’s all too short and wildly impressive…
As impressive as that opening duo is. Others, however, is where the magic really starts to happen. Melville switches from the hoarse yelling to an entirely unexpected low register croon that’s gravelly and melodious. The band begin to work up the atmospherics behind him subtly at first. ‘I’ll get back to normality by the skin of my teeth, by the skin of my teeth’ he sings, in a tone that sounds like someone trying to convince themselves of something they know isn’t true, before the band deploy their full force for a punishing chorus. Alternating between another song, verse and an angular sludge workout, the seven minutes fly by in what seems like seconds and there’s even a last minute twist that’s almost overwhelming. Powerful stuff.
The despondent atmosphere carries on into Just, a song that feels like a calmer late night post script to what’s come before, an orchestration of the dark night of the soul as Melville pours his heart out. His band mates build drones to a crescendo, distorting more as his intensity grows. And finally, after such an affecting moment Drown closes things out, the great Tanya Byrne of Bismuth guesting for a closer that’s sonically all devouring but not without light and shade.
What these five men have done is to create a metal record that conveys, without exaggerating, the mental turmoil of negotiating modern life through music that’s rooted in the metal sphere, but has a keen understanding that ‘heavy’ comes as much from emotional weight as it does sheer clangour. Indeed, in exposing Melville’s vulnerabilities Just is arguably the heaviest thing here, even though it’s not necessarily the loudest. Survive is a vision of substance that’s all too short and wildly impressive.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes