2014’s Metal to the Masses (South East) winners and a band that Metal Hammer said had released “The best Metal debut of 2016, by far!” in their release “Aokigahara” are Brighton’s Jonestown. They signed to SPV imprint label of the moment Long Branch Records for their new album “Dyatlov” which saw release on 16th November with single “Blunt Force Nihilist” appearing everywhere that’s good.
The album starts with the dark and atmospheric “Burns Victim”. The haunting opening guitar work makes way for some bludgeoning Tech-Metal riffs that are delivered with pace and urgency while swirling around some pummelling kit work from sticksman Rich Owen. The band maybe a quartet but they certainly don’t give that impression with guitar work that sounds like it belongs to a pair of players from Craig Radford. “Blunt Force Nihilist” picks up with a gradual build over a few seconds after the opening track stops on a dime. Vocalist Harley Anderson impressed on that opening tune but steps everything up a notch for this obvious single showcasing greater range and power. It’s a bludgeoning riff fest that is fitting of the songs title. “Noave” lyrically seems to be about a broken relationship and waves a clenched fist in the direction of the naysayer with a vicious roar. The kit work once again is a step up with blast beats and polyrhythms adding to the fury. There are sing-a-long linel that are obviously going to be live favourites while breaking up the attack with an atmospheric pallet cleansing melodic closing passage only allows a brief respite before the next wave.
“Abyss” has something of Heart Of A Coward about it with some dark and atmospheric DJent wrapped in swirling lead riffage. Harley Anderson improves his already glowing reputation for not only vocals but storytelling and dynamics with this cut. Album title track “Dyatlov” then builds on that dynamic and again lifts things up a notch. It’s an album that not only gets better as it progresses but also improves with repeated listens, more and more coming out of the woodwork in terms of nuances and also bits you simply miss in the enjoyment of each spin. The DJent heavy breakdowns of the songs mid section are glorious while the blast beats into the chorus add weight and gravitas to the throat shredding vocals. The closing elongated scream of “Pain” is a fitting ending. “The Scorpion and The Frog” doesn’t give any pause for breath, kicking in full throttle from the outset. It’s driven nature and unrelenting quality mirror the album as a whole, only slowing for a description of Medusa and a clean pair of words before diving back into its story at a hundred miles an hour! It’s very much the kind of storytelling that Iron Maiden would produce, just delivered in a completely different way as it tells it’s tales of Gods and Monsters.
“The People’s Temple” tells a tale of the relationship between God and Man via some insanely fast polyrhythms with slab after slab of DJent guitar work hammering down like a jackhammer on your skull. The lead guitar flourishes add another dimension to the sound and a perfectly timed atmospheric pallet cleansing closing then gets smashed into oblivion by the brutal pummelling opening of “Cut Throat Lane”. Craig Radford’s guitar work impressed from the very start of the album but at this point, you’re wondering how he manages it. The bounce and flow is phenomenal and the play on polyrhythms is fantastic. How one player can get through so much work is the most impressive thing. Including the lyric “water fills my lungs” this one is a far more personal cut than some of the others on the album. That gives the song vocally an extra edge and showcases another side to the band lyrically.
“History of a Drowning Boy” starts with a drum fill before bursting into life. There is a mid section change in vocal tone to deliver a clean-ish edged pair of passages that bring something new to the table while sounding like they belong on a hardcore track. The Nihilistic lyrics are edgy and on point while the music is driven and raging. Album closer “The Pass” clocks in at 8 minutes and 45 seconds, showcasing a more progressive side to the band with elongated instrumental passages that build in layers. Indeed it’s a good 70 seconds before guest vocals from Helena McLeod add texture to the sound. Indeed it’s the 4 minute mark before the sound lifts up into heavier guitar tones and the unclean vocals from Harley Anderson rear their ugly head. When the vocal pairing blend it brings another new dimension that they may wish to revisit on future releases. Keeping things fresh on a track of this length can be a challenge to lesser mortals but Jonestown take it in their stride and once again use a palette cleaning 15-20 second passage of haunting instrumental to bring a track to a close [8/10].