Finnish occult rockers Jess And The Ancient Ones have been around since 2010. Around that time, many new 60s and 70s occultic inspired psych and doom revival bands were cropping up, many of which clustered around UK label Rise Above (perhaps the most prominent surviving act from this scene in present day being Swedish group Ghost, then known as Ghost B.C.). If you perused this wave of bands at the time on YouTube and similar sites, you may recall coming across Jess And The Ancient Ones’ debut 2012 self-titled release in your suggestions bar. Since that first album they have written two more albums of mystical bluesy and soulful tunes, and now they bring us another - their 2021 release Vertigo.
Despite the ominous black and white photo of a tornado on the cover, Jess And The Ancient Ones' sound is not that dark in tone overall (unlike some of their occult rock/doom peers) save for the odd doom-ish riff. Rather their songs are fairly upbeat – more occult rock than doom metal. They capture that late 60s/early 70s heavy psych blues sound demonstrated by bands such as Coven, Deep Purple and The Doors. Compared to the record's preceding material though, Vertigo is perhaps a little more doom-laden than usual – there are a fair few descending chord progressions on the guitar reminiscent of their 2013 song ‘Astral Sabbat’. Samples from what sounds like 60s Hammer horror films add to the ominously retro vibe.
Jess’s vocals are very powerful and soulful, the most immediate comparisons springing to mind are Janis Joplin and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane but also at times it sounds like there is some Jim Morrison influence. The organ playing is also very reminiscent of The Doors as well as early Ian Gillan era Deep Purple. The vocals are also quite jazzy and agile with lots of belting and wailing similar to Ian Gillan.
At just eight tracks the album is quite short and sweet, but the closing track is an 11.34 minute long behemoth of a blues ballad so the album feels longer because of this. Overall Vertigo isn’t wildly dissimilar to the band’s previous offerings but it is good to see that Jess And The Ancient Ones are still going strong to this day and sounding just as fresh as when their first album landed nearly ten years ago.
Vertigo is released May 21st via Svart Records.