Over the last decade, one band I have become increasingly more aware of as time has passed is Stoned Jesus. A friend put me on to them a long time back, and as albums were released, I picked them up and loved the band more and more. The album Seven Thunders Roar, in particular, opened my eyes to a level of unparalleled intensity that I had never heard before.
Pilgrims, the 2018 release, sealed the deal for me, and I’ve been desperate to see the band perform ever since, if it ever became a possibility, to see if the live experience matched the music committed to record.
With the band being Ukrainian and having had to endure the deplorable things the Russians have unleashed on them over the past twelve months, the thought of any new Stoned Jesus material being released any time soon seemed like an impossibility. That is, until recently, when the band announced that a new album was on its way, and for me this news came as an absolute surprise. Since then, I’ve been waiting patiently, for the opportunity to get to experience this new work, so, as always, when The Shaman calls, I rise to the cause, and thankfully the album came my way, to be able to review it, and share it with you good people today.
The new album is entitled Father Light, and truly is a thing of wonder that it’s getting to see the light of day, especially considering that shortly after being recorded, the Russians took control of the recording studio. Thankfully it has recently been liberated by the Ukrainian people, so now hopefully it will remain in the hands of its rightful owner, and not an invading force.
Right, on to business…
Father Light is six brand new tracks, filled with everything I’ve come to expect from the band. Its just short of forty-five minutes of pure stoner bliss, guaranteed to leave your brain turned to sponge.
Opening with title track Father Light, I’m instantly propelled back into the world of Stoned Jesus, and even after the initial bars, I’m already on board. The band take a moment to get themselves set, before a nice mid paced acoustic passage rolls in. As Igor Sydorenko’s recognisable vocal adds to the tune, it appears clear and vulnerable, but this is always the way, heartfelt lyrically, and delivered fantastically. This track is a very stripped back affair, preparing for what’s about to come.
to beat an oppressive regime is to rise beyond, and show that you won’t be beaten, and with this new album, Stoned Jesus prove they aren’t bowing down to anyone…
Track two, Season Of The Witch, is where things really heat up. Opening on a trademark Stoned Jesus heavy slow drudge, its as heart-warming as it is heart stopping. The doomy chug encapsulates that dank Sabbath richness that the band excel at, and its really satisfying to hang off of each and every second. The track jumps up in tempo before midway, into a funkier section, and this up and down play occurs throughout the whole piece. It really is a wonder to behold. Between the dark basslines, Sabbathy chugs, and intense drumming, it has a real retro feel about it, and it takes a moment to even remember that I’m listening to something new.
Thoughts And Prayers is more upbeat in tone, and has an interesting seventies feel to it, with some catchy hooks that should really draw you in. For the band, I feel like this is definitely a step forward in their sound, or maybe its more of an extra string to the bow, but I really love this addition on the album. It isn’t any less Stoned Jesus, but more so an upgrade.
Track four, Porcelain, brings the band back round to what they do best. The rolling bass lick that opens is truly awesome, and once accompanied with a chilled drum crawl, and a sweet ass guitar passage, it all comes together beautifully. By the time the vocal joins in, it is already deeply dark, and all elements in unison makes for something truly rich in sound. CON has a driving beauty to it, and also has me looking towards an early Genesis vibe at times. Theres definitely an early seventies prog feel at play here, which is strangely hypnotic.
Get What You Deserve finishes Father Light and its everything Stoned Jesus excel at. Its as unique as they can be, with each part being as eloquent as can be. The guitar soloing is emotional and feels improvised and spontaneous every time. The whole chugging vibe is monumental, and definitely seals any doubt on just how epic this new work is. It slows to a crawl in the final quarter, with each second becoming more and more hopeless in tone, such is the weight on the atmosphere.
Now, I’m not one for pushing any agenda on people, with each review I write I give my honest opinions, and hope that they are felt as such. With this work, it would be easy to say the band need to be embraced for everything they are going through, and have been through, but even above that, I feel that as a band, you should take them to your hearts if you do not already know them, because the music they create is truly something of wonder.
Father Light is an incredible album, by three incredible artists, and is fully deserving of your attention on its own merit. The best way to beat an oppressive regime is to rise beyond, and show that you won’t be beaten, and with this new album, Stoned Jesus prove they aren’t bowing down to anyone.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish