So Alex Turner asked, through the arse-trumpet that NME has become, “are you onside?”. Leaving aside that the correct answer is “fuck off before I kick your head in you public schoolboy lookin’ cunt”, you could just play him your tape copy of Exaanum at full blast through the dusty beat-up cobweb-covered speakers sitting at the back of Bannerman’s on any given night. The latest much-delayed full-length from Edinburgh’s master-of-ceremonies-at-large motherfuckers Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead, set to be released on Saturday, the 22nd of March with a full live festival of monstrous paranoia and Lovercraftian otherworldliness and a playing of the album live, in its entirety. Because if you’re going to talk about rock and roll, and its state of health, you’d be better looking to the grimy basements, the dank stairs and poster-wallpapered low-roof cellars with concrete floors and foot-high stages. The bar doesn’t accept card and you don’t get 4G inside, and from the back room each and every night unholy noise is giving people of all stripes unbelievable kicks. The music is made for passion. Most of the musicians are stone broke, and don’t want and can’t dream of any kind of award or even radio play. Small communities grow around the bands like mould, and they occasionally release albums.
[Alternate opening: It just came out that the famous Stonehenge Bluestones may have been selected for their acoustic properties at that historic rave site. It would make sense, our oh-so-modern forbears were keen on hallucination, and they needed something to groove to, echoing out across the prehistorical landscape and scabby locals boogieing into the night. Just goes to show what critics have been saying for years, this whole rock ‘n roll schtick is nothing new. Please make your own Spinal Tap references.]
The new album is richer, the monolithic riffs hanging in space just off the encompassing Jupiter-size bass and stars-aligning drums of Grimoire and The Sky Has Been Riven and Our Flesh Has Been Rent have been substituted with frequent noodly guitars put you in mind of John Carpenter scores; there is less forward progression, and a lot more wallowing, and that’s a compliment when the riffs are this good and the music is this Electric Wizard Come My Fanatics… heavy. With the exception of Covenant of the Gargoyle, which is like being in a lift with the cable cut. Oh and with sumptuous production, it all sounds superb.
The new Jackal album, long awaited as it is, is the best kind of update. Clinging to what the previous albums created, but forging ahead into new areas and slaying any natives. If you’re in Edinburgh, or able to get here, you do not want to miss the (possibly only) live performance of the entire record. I’ve always claimed you should watch people, not brands, and whether it be as part of Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves, or their individual bands, or in any of their other musical and non-musical endeavours; following Stu, Chris and Tommy will be a fruitful decision. They live on the ragged edge, in a perpetual drug haze, and have locked themselves into a oubliette of distortion to masturbate in public view. A couple of the Old Bill are trying to get them down halfheartedly, while the rest of us chant that Edinburgh's premier doom cunts are back. Alex Turner, we're coming for you, and we're going to ram a broadsword up yer arse to the hilt. No seriously, these guys have a sword.
Written under duress by Steven.