JADE – The Pacification of Death (2022)REVIEW

遼闊 — Associate no suffering with the voyage of the deceased. Instead imbue the body with chanting odes, humble dress, stillness and reflection as the subtle slinking fabric of consciousness peels itself in separation from our undesirous realm. Now in the murk and the darkness this casting off of the body reveals thousands of realms to the passenger for a singular moment, none of them comparable in suffering to that which they’d endure if reborn back under our wheel. Sentiment with respect to infinite darkness and transcendental luminance trade-off as spinning spokes in this imposingly dramatic and full featured debut long-player from Germany/Spain-based atmospheric death/doom metal trio Jade who find themselves maturing, honing in admirable delivery upon the promise of their not-so distant beginnings. ‘The Pacification of Death‘ delivers a sublimation of arcane death/doom metal storm elevated to a nigh psychedelic level of atmospheric futurism, an impassioned experience guaranteed to perk the ears of the open-minded classist and the psilocybe’d avant-gardist alike.

Most all of the interviews Jade have done up ’til this point have been published in fairly obscure print zines which, when paired with each band member being named with a single syllable, means I’ve no on-hand information on the general impetus and background of their formation. They’d formed at least four or five years ago with membership split north and south of France and soon produced their well-received first demo tape (‘Smoking Mirror‘, 2018) which’d been modestly noticed until it eventually caught wind with Nigredo and Pulverised Records who’d decided it’d been well-worthy of a fully pro treatment on vinyl and CD in 2019. Those issues had been when I’d discovered and reviewed it favorably, keeping tabs on the band since in great anticipation for more of what they’d introduced. The main references I’d found where somewhere in between ‘Clouds‘-era Tiamat per the lofty psychedelic death/doom atmosphere, Bølzer‘s ‘Hero‘ per the use of dramatic clean vocals calling into chasm (see also: newer Imha Tarikat and Balmog), and a bit of Ataraxy in their more semi-traditional yet atmospheric death/doom metal impulse. Jade‘ve not necessarily changed their core sound and style on ‘The Pacification of Death‘ so much as they’ve picked up the pace and focused heavily on lead guitars as the melodic driver for their pensive and pummel-paced style.

A leap is made herein but not one which deforms the face of Jade so much as their inherent tonality, the signature is yet intact and emphasized heartily. Though their propulsion is yet driven by a fuel of urgent death metal riffs and echoing-upward clean vocals rants it now resembles a cacophony in motion, once which relies upon memorable lead guitar strings draped across consistently ~6-7 minute pieces for effect. The timbre of their meditative yet dire accost previous was rooted in a different yet similar rhythmic map and, sure, this is an elaborate way of suggesting that a different drummer has made for a somewhat different result on ‘The Pacification of Death‘ but this is only one of several determinant factors. Stronger production values and a pointed focus upon the far less peripheral use of chasm-resonant clean vocals we’d found on ‘Smoking Mirror‘ find Jade directly honing in on what makes their gig unique while also bulldozing some of the psychedelic death drift that I’d liked about their first record. This is a fair trade and especially if you’d been partial to the dual vocal styles as much as I had.

A vast and unrelenting spiritual sojourn. — Opener and title track, “The Pacification of Death“, does not mince or meander in getting right to this suggested crossfire of bliss within soaring leads this side of ‘The Tritonus Bell‘ and a sort of early Bølzer-esque vocal push n’ pace, effectively generating a potent yet familiar sort of magick which sets the tone for the rest of the listening experience. “Dragged Fears & Drowned Bones” essentially reiterates the gaping atmospheric resonance of the introductory piece necessitating a closer look at rhythmic voicing and the general arrangement of the song for differentiation, at least beyond the second of many graven melodic guitar leads which act as the sort of chorus section of each of the best pieces on this record. By the time I’d been neck-deep in the third piece the whole experience began to wear momentarily, though it is a spectacular thing they’re doing in terms of sound design and unique voicing it’d soon become clear that this is an all-or-nothing record wherein the vibe is so tightly contiguous in its advance that many listeners won’t be up for that initial salvo of similar feeling pieces. I’d no such complaint as the doom metal riffs began to finally arrive to color the darker, heavier mid-portion of the full listen as immersion would prove unrelenting.

“Silk Ransoms” is probably the only point where references to ‘Never Cross the Dead‘ are at least somewhat less vaguely applicable, an unexpected pure death/doom metal piece which leans into their heavier than thou brutality at just the right time and features arguably the best standalone solo on the record. Side B follows suit beyond this leading track, a bit more loaded with doom metal rhythms but no less excited to shout its assail down the mountain. “Ghastly Eyes” piqued my interest from the first listen by way of its slightly Sulphur Aeon-esque weaving between tremolo riffed intro before dropping into a full death metal roll. The way the lead guitar melody develops in the center of the fray is perhaps one of the few truly subtle yet easily read moments on this album and that’d be my main criticism, they’ve had to keep up with the indomitable momentum of the opener and as a result the full listen bleeds into one great glom of work distinguished largely by its lead guitar work. “The Saddest Night” breaks out of this mold almost completely, working up a groove in exception to the rest of the record and extrapolating a sort of run-on post-metallic moment as it starts. It’ll be a bit too little/too late for some listeners but I’d appreciated that we’d end up in a different state of mind than before in some clearly signaled way.

Upon revisiting the album roughly thirty times I’d found the first half endlessly redeeming, a joy to return to and immediately dive into the alchemical netherworld their work creates, yet the second half took longer to appreciate in mind for the sake of it not leading with any equally big boss guitar hooks. Jade have certainly found and developed a unique combination of influences which are enriched by exceptionally fine, well-fitting production values (via Moontower Studios) and this point arrives in mind without caveat, the listening experience is an absolute pleasure. I suppose the challenge for many listeners will be a question of how much depth they’ll expect to extract from looking beyond the blustering, morbid and surprisingly guitar hook filled majesty of ‘The Pacification of Death‘. The lyrics certainly have a wealth of meaning to explore and the rhythm guitars do shine with a keen ear directed at their motions yet this one might actually be at its best simply enjoyed at face value for the voluminous storm, the vastness it creates in motion. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (87/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:The Pacification of Death
LABEL(S):Pulverised Records
RELEASE DATE:November 25th, 2022

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