Saturday, 24 November 2012

Jucifer - Nadir

Jucifer are one of the most inspiring bands I've ever come across, their nomadic lifestyle convincing me to pack up all my records, stuff a backpack with denim and doom shirts, and drop out of life in pursuit of riff-filled lands. It was during this time I got to see Saint Vitus, Pentagram, The Obsessed (twice), Sleep, Electric Wizard, Eyehategod, Ramesses, Orange Goblin, Noothgrush (twice), Thou (twice) and also Jucifer themselves. Twice.

I caught their set at Roadburn, in the tiny, packed, blisteringly hot room at the very top floor of the 013. It was after two hours of Sleep, so my ears were already ringing by the time Amber and Edgar hit the stage at midnight and proceeded to redefine what I thought I knew about volume.
Loud does not adequately describe what they do. It's an enveloping feeling, waves of sound washing over you, destruction by decibels.
By the time I staggered out into the cold Netherlands night I felt pulverized, in the best way possible.

I went to see them a week later, playing my favourite venue in Germany, the AZ Mülheim. It was another tiny room who's walls could barely contain (an unfortunately greatly reduced version of) Amber's Amp Mountain, but they still managed to create sheer sonic mass.
I was so captivated I missed the tram back to the couch I was crashing on, and had to walk for three hours through the heart of industrial Germany in the pitch back night. But it was so very worth it.

I'd had a digital copy of Nadir for a while by that point, put out by the very excellent Grindcore Karaoke, J Randall's not-for-profit outlet for the weird and wonderful sounds being made worldwide. Remastered by Scott Hull, it sounded great, but without something I can see spinning, I never really feel any great attachment to an album.
I'd heard rumours that there'd be a cassette release to coincide with the European tour I was seeing them on, but it never really materialised. Months passed, my nomadic existence ended (temporarily), and I found myself with access to a record player again.

Which was just as well, as I got the news that the dude behind Handshake Inc would be releasing a vinyl version of the Nadir album, remastered for vinyl by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, who also remastered the holy grail of low and slow; Sleep's Dopesmoker. Sweet!
I was so excited, when it was finally released I managed to snag the first copy. Now to finally hear it as it was intended; LOUD.

Opening with 'Prime', feedback oozes, before the riff lurches and staggers from my speakers. You can already hear the telepathic level of tightness of Amber and Edgar's playing. I've never seen a band so able to switch between droning guitar/drum atmospherics and shrieking blastbeat fury in time with each other without exchanging so much as a glance.

'Hachimantaro' alternates between the clanging discordance of the intro and a solid, crunching stomp. Amber's ethereal vocals not quite synching up with the harshness of the instruments, her voice contrasting it nicely, something they'd explore a lot on their later releases. It's an eerie effect.

Third song 'Withering' is an exercise in tension and release. The drums ratcheting, the feedback building, before they bring it back down again. The vocals once again have that unsettling, airy lilt, as opposed to the variety of the later releases, which feature Amber growling, barking, singing softly, screaming her head off, even singing in a variety of different languages.
You can hear that this is the origin of their sound, that they're already exploring contrast and volume.

The second side starts off with 'Glamourpuss', descibed as "kind of a revenge fantasy [about] girls who pretend to care, will compliment you to your face, then betray you at the first opportunity" in the liner notes, its initial gigantic rumble giving way to a fretboard-spanning weird riff, the vocals coo-ed honey sweet over the top. You can almost hear the malicious grin in Amber's voice as she calls out her betrayers.
They re-recorded this track for their debut album Calling All Cars On The Vegas Strip, which sounds a lot more confident in it's performance, but it's cool to hear the prototype version here.

'Crossless', with its croaked, creaking witchy vocals, all-encompassing guitar tone and heavy-hitting drums closes out a short-but-sweet glimpse into the origins of a band who would pioneer the sludge metal two-piece so prevalent today.

They were staking out unknown territory all the way back in 1994, no-one was playing anything like this (but if you've heard bands that were, please, send me recommendations of other female-fronted weirdo sludge bands!).
There's still no-one quite like Jucifer.

You can download this (and hundreds of other weird awesome shit) for FREE from Grindcore Karaoke here:

But I recommend splashing some cash on the vinyl from Mutants Of The Monster:

Catch Jucifer on tour constantly, and worship at Thee White Wall Of Doom!

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