Jesters Of Destiny - The Sorrows That Refuse To Drown
Released by: Jesters Of Destiny
Released on: April 6th, 2017.
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Back in the early 80's, Metal Blade Records released a series of compilations under the Metal Massacre banner which were often the first vinyl appearances of future metal legends like METALLICA and SLAYER. Up until about volume 6, the level of quality was quite high - with even more obscure acts like MEDIEVAL and AUGUST REDMOON delivering memorable tunes.
Which leads us to the mysterious JESTERS OF DESTINY.
The Metal scene was a far less forgiving landscape in those halcyon days. Thrash was just finding its feet and classic metal was still going strong and belching up quality acts like SAVATAGE, but the legions of iron and steel were divided into fairly strict camps. If you were a thrasher you weren't going to be caught dead listening to MOTLEY CRUE. Backing legends like BLACK SABBATH was ok, but you probably needed to hide your prog habit. And as far as punk and hardcore went, you needed to stay in the thrash end of the pool with albums like AGNOSTIC FRONT's "Cause For Alarm". And for God's sake - no short hair (the excellent MEDIEVAL ran afoul of this edict despite their awesome doom/sludge/thrash sound)!
The JESTERS broke the rules when the rules were strict. "End Of Time", their Metal Massacre V ditty, was a cool offbeat rocker that sounded like SABBATH getting indie psychedelic. The fact that they held their own with the likes of the brutal HELLHAMMER and cast iron METAL CHURCH was pretty impressive. After this they released one wildly eclectic LP and a cool EP of offbeat covers. And then, they disappeared after label Metal Blade's subsidiary Dimension unceremoniously dumped them. It was a bummer end to a fine band.
The members scattered to the four winds and met with success in various other endeavors, but always kept in touch. Now, 30 years later, the JESTERS have dropped another wonderfully weird record on us. The only band I've heard quite this bizarrely imaginative is ex-BLUE ÖYSTER CULT drummer Al Bouchard's defunct project THE BRAIN SURGEONS.
"The Sorrows That Refuse To Drown" sees the band wackier and more experimental than ever. Their sound is difficult to describe but is a melting pot of psych, doom, classic rock and power pop with some metal moves tossed in. Opening track "Fire In The Six Foot Hole" sounds like Frank Zappa playing doom metal. "'Til The Following Night" (a radical Screaming Lord Sutch tune reworking) has a great faux live sound and a cool vocal that sounds like CHEAP TRICK bassist Tom Petersson (how's that for an obscure reference?). Then there's the short rude instrumental shock of "Peace, Blood And Charlie Cocaine" which recalls a boogie band at a 70's truck rally replete with compact drum solo. Second track "The Flesh Parade" has a gorgeous vocal melody that conjures up THE BEATLES with ringing melodic guitars. "Chalk Outline" is a heavy rocker with some more excellent axework, mixed with touches of carnival keyboards. The stomping "The Misunderstood" is another highlight. And I love morbid closer "Happy Ending" - billed as a waltz without drums.
Special mention should go to bassist/vocalist Bruce Duff and guitarist Ray Violet who are the masterminds of the JESTERS and responsible for all the musical gold here.
Anyone with a taste for the musically adventurous should check this one out. The JESTERS have released an album that ain't no joke.