Nailed it. Again.
Release date: 4 December 2015
Review by Jason Guest
JATAO’s 2012 eponymous début album was an interesting and impressive introduction to a unique band, one with as much musical and instrumental capacity as mystical insight. Blending NWOBHM with grandiose 70s-inspired riffs and penetrating melodies, the album bore a dark enchantment that lingered long and has since prompted many returns by this writer. The 2013 three-track Astral Sabbat EP (reviewed here) saw an emphasis on heavy psychedelia and surf rock to augment the band’s astral propensities and see them move further into their own.
2014 and the two-track Castaneda EP (reviewed here) appeared, rock, metal, jazz, blues and psychedelia woven into something beautifully macabre and carnivalesque. And though these two EPs were great, it’s an album that’s long been needed. So what do JATAO do? They record a load of tracks and release them under a different banner: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra (read our interview with Thomas Corpse here). Though comprised of the same musicians, it’s a very different band to JATAO and the album I, released in 2015, is an amazing piece of work that shows that there’s much more to this bunch of adept musicians than JATAO would have us know. And so at long last, album number two, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes is upon us.
Throughout their career, JATAO have been consistently moving forward, evolving, developing, but always in a specific direction. And with this album, it’s no different. The band seems to have become an even more refined and unified beast. They let the songs breathe, moving in and around each other to let the music guide their performance. For instance, the three-minute ‘In Levitating Secret Dreams’ is a tightly focussed track with a dark aspect and one that seems to be driving itself, Jess’s vocals weaving in and out of its mystical depths as the band is urged onward as if compelled by some other force. ‘The Equinox Death Trip’ balances the driving and the determined with the psychedelic and the sinister, the farting bass rumbling along with the drums while guitar and organ spiral and swirl in the ether.
The slower parts of the album tend to be where the weak points are, but they are few and far between. For one, ‘Crossroad Lightning’ has a harmony vocal intro that is beautifully compelling but as the track moves on, the slow tempo make it feels laboured and in need of a kick. But the up-tempo and incredibly catchy ‘The Lovers’ and the jazzy swing and Doors-esque keyboard work of ‘Goetia of Love’ more than make up for such minor imperfections. And what can be said about the twenty two and a half minute long ‘Goodbye to Virgin Grounds Forever’? To take on such a lengthy composition is an ambitious task for any band but JATAO manage to pull it off with aplomb.
A band that’s continued to evolve since their inception, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes captures the band at their best. Sixty six minutes of material gives the listener a lot to digest and there’s a lot going on here. Fortunately it’s an album that compels repeat listens, and every listen brings greater reward. An accomplished piece of work, JATAO have nailed it. Again.
8 out of 10
- The Flying Man
- In Levitating Secret Dreams
- The Equinox Death Trip
- Wolves Inside My Head
- Crossroad Lightning
- The Lovers
- Goetia of Love
- Goodbye to Virgin Grounds Forever