Stoned Jesus are a new name to this writer. The 3 piece outfit come from Ukraine and are described as “prog-doom-grunge“. Which is actually a pretty good description. This is the band’s 5th album and took longer to record due to their country being invaded. They had to stop in March but due to liberation of the area they live in they were able to get back into the studio in September and finish the recording.
The band are comprised of lead vocalist, electric/acoustic guitars and organ on “Thought And Prayers” Igor Sydorenko, Dmytro Zinchenko on drums, percussion and backing vocals, as well as bassist and also backing vocals Sergii Sliusar. The 6 songs are a mix of shorter pieces of 3, 4, and 5 minutes and longer at 8, 9 and 11 minutes. Their influences are quite varied going from Mastodon, Porcupine Tree, Soundgarden, King Crimson and The Cure. There is a strong psychedelic feel to the album, stoner but with a great deal of melody. They also have a great sense of groove, I found myself moving along as I listen and even as I type (probably not wise😂).
Opener and album title “Father Light” is a lovely acoustic opening with sounds of birds chirping away in the background. It is a mix of gentle grunge and folk music (whilst making me think of Monster Magnet for some reason) and cleverly via the lyrics points towards the last song on the album. The ending is rather sudden with a “ting” before silence which may be a hint to the sudden change in their world circumstance.
Following on is the longest track on the album at 11 minutes “Season Of The Witch” which turns up the dials kicking in with a slow but heavy doomy riff. A mix of Sabbath, Elder, etc for around 4 minutes before it flips into a more 1960s/70s proggy rock piece, with a space rock feel. They utilise motifs on this and stay on them each time for a while. They speed up for a couple of minutes before dropping down a little. The track is an earworm, whether in the stoner doom or prog parts, it is a good listen throughout. I felt I was nicely carried along, almost like I was floating along on the music. It is heavy music but still very accessible to those who like their music with melody.
“Thoughts And Prayers” is a wonderful track that shows up the utter uselessness of doing nothing about a problem but offering “thoughts and prayers“. Within the lyrics, they sing “nobody’s there, nobody cares, our only answer is STILL thoughts and prayers” which works on 2 levels; those being no god in the sky or actual humans with the ability to help in that hour of real need. The music has a few changes in it with a more edgy doomy part aroud the end of the 4 minute mark to turn into a gentle reflective chorus delivery before it opens up for a guitar solo. I think the pacing is perfect on this song, the track has a solid groove that matches the vibe of the lyrics. It isn’t the heaviest of tracks music wise but the melody is.
“Porcelain” brings the fuzz. It gets heavier and heavier as it goes. Opening with a bass line, the drums gently come in with light guitar work lulling you into an almost false sense of security whilst also sounding quite threatening. The vocal is quite whispered at the start, low in the mix, again drawing the listener in. Around the 2-minute mark it gives a foretaste of what is to come when it cranks up and repeats the riff in a much louder refrain before it lets the guitar take over in a solo.
There is a mix of grunge and stoner here between the light and heavy parts and again there were vocal moments that made me think of Dave Wyndorf from the previously mentioned Monster Magnet. Like all good stoner there is no hurry to change a riff or groove, they take time to explore and have fun with it.
“Con” starts with the title being said and speeded up to sound almost cartoonish. This is probably the fastest of the songs when it comes to riffage. It is almost speedy Gonalez compared to the other songs. It is also the proggiest with more changes and stops and starts. There is a playfulness about the piece and there are what I would call gang-style vocals through it. The whole thing speeds by so much that I tended to go back to the start and listen again to it!
The last song “Get What You Deserve” is another heavy, groovy hard hitting opening of a song. When it drops down it is quite psychedelic, in fact, the guitar tone and effects made me think a little of “Black Hole Sun” without actually sounding like it! The song is about the climate crisis so has a deep and powerful message and has some fine doomy sections whilst having that 60s trippy thing going on. The ending riff is fabulous, heavy and incessant, pummelling your head until the whole thing falls apart into feedback and noise, perhaps much like what will happen to our planet!
This is an album I have listened to over and over again, I keep returning to it. It has all sorts of musical styles to keep my attention whilst entertaining me and kicking my butt. From 60s psychedelic through 70s style Sabbath (and similar) and into 90s grunge and alternative with a sprinkling of progressive rock throughout for flavouring, what’s not to like? The fact the playing is great, the vocals are nicely performed and the production is clear and a delight to listen to adds to the whole package. The band say this is part 1 of 2 albums on a theme, well all I can say is roll on part 2 because this is terrific.
The album is out March 3….
Purchase Album Via BANDCAMP
Check out my other reviews here. Tom.
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