Jollymon – Void Walker (2018) REVIEW

You almost have to have been a huge follower of underground alt rock/stoner metal, or just an avid Oregonian show-goer, in the late 90’s to remember who Jollymon aka Jolly Mon as they’ve been long buried in the backyard for the last eighteen years. I don’t remember ever seeing them play Corvallis but most certainly saw them at the Wow Hall as a teenager. They were the sort of band that translated a bit better on stage than on record for me at the time but really only persisted in my mind as ammo on a short list when folks said there were no bands from Oregon. Jollymon definitely appeared too late on my funk-stoner metal radar as I my own exploration of music rebelled against the ‘hippy dippy’ taste of my friends and towards darker sounds. The band’s return is certainly geared towards stoner metal rather than their previous stoner/alternative rock sound.

Their self-titled 2000 full-length seems to have held up the worst based on a few clips but I have little to no recollection of their music outside of a CD-R copy of that record from 2001. So, this new album ‘Void Walker’ has served as a natural reintroduction to the band and a solid representation of the sort of alternative ‘stoner’ music that evolved across the 90’s. Their core sound sound comes from that funk/alt rock kick of the early 90’s but also stretches out into early Atomic Bitchwax and Fu Manchu territory just slightly. My first impression of ‘Void Walker’ huddled around a comparison to the Mother Superior era of Rollins Band and pre-‘Power Trip’ Monster Magnet. I was slightly confused by the jocularly aggro Prong ‘Prove You Wrong’-esque delivery of “A Good Day” and the ‘Music’-era 311 jam of “Slice of Life” made little more sense. For someone always clamoring for variation in all forms of metal I don’t always recognize it at face value.

Taken for what it is, and without consideration for their past releases ‘Void Walker’ essentially sounds like my memories of what stoner rock didn’t actually sound like in the early 2000’s. When going back and digging through those records they’re far flatter in comparison with Jollymon‘s clean and bright production, though I have to admit the aftertaste of ‘throwback’ still sticks in my mouth no matter what. Some great deal of that nostalgia comes from few guitarists bothering with groove riffs or the Hendrix-ian wah pedal ways anymore. When Snail similarly returned after a few decades back in 2009 I felt they were able to draw an obvious, but updated, line towards their previously forgotten 90’s work. In the case of Jollymon perhaps I’m not equally enamored because I’m less familiar with their original work, so at the very least keep that in mind.

“Be Nice”, “Missile Commander” and “Tsunami” have a wicked allure similar to Them Crooked Vultures and I enjoyed those tracks  the most. The other half of of ‘Void Walker’ seems afraid to go to any particular extreme and the listening experience felt uneven as a full spin with a few odd/mediocre moments. I connected with only a small part of this record and found the ‘metal’ aspect of the guitar performances entirely lacking but, I’d suggest more dedicated stoner rock fans will find some of the heavier moments thrilling enough to adhere to and the production quality is undeniably fantastic.

4PAN1T

Artist Jolly Mon
Type Album
Released June 8th, 2018
PREVIEW/PRE-ORDER on Jollymon’s Website! Follow Jollymon on Facebook
Genres
Stoner Metal, Stoner Rock

Endless shores of jagged rocks. 2.75/5.0

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