When encountering bands like Italy's Story of Jade
, it leaves me wondering whether to take the band seriously or not. First, the name of the band reeks of ambiguity, leaving people who are unfamiliar with the band unsure of what the band plays (the band calls their music "horror metal", a term that I tend to associate with Indian
metal band Albatross instead). Then there is the corpse/face paint that the band utilises, yet the band claims that they have no connection with black metal. What surprises then, does the band's debut full length album, The Damned Next Door
hold for the listener?
Half expecting a half-assed glam metal music to come out of my speakers, it was perhaps surprising and somewhat comforting then that Story of Jade
instead plays a heavy form of thrash metal, with some references to more extreme variants of the genre that are present throughout the album. The horror and gore themes of the music is immediately obvious right from the start, with the whispered vocals at the beginning of Self-Inflicted Masterpiece
giving a strong hint to the lyrical direction of the album. As the first riffs begin, I was immediately pleasantly surprised by the grooviness in the music. This could actually have the potential to be a kickass ride ahead.
Vocalist Bapho Matt alternates between an high-pitched bark, death growls and clean vocals, displaying his wide range of vocal techniques. In particular, the clean singing would probably charm fans of glam/shock rock bands such as Alice Cooper
or Wednesday 13
, with his style sounding like a more gruff version of the aforementioned vocalists. Throw into that the old-school feel that the band has managed to conjure with the nice blend of heavy metal, thrash metal and rock 'n' roll inspired guitar riffs. Apart from that, these are often punctuated with melodic death metal riffing patterns and pinch harmonics like on Afterlife Confusion
, making the music all the more catchy and easily gets listeners to headbang to the music, despite the mostly mid-paced tempo that the band tends to move at. Songs like Afterlife Confusion
even have a slight Maiden touch, with the lead guitar lines reminding listeners of their post-reunion material, and this only serves to make things more enjoyable for me. The solos of guitarists Matt and A.G. are technical yet manage to retain that melodic edge, blending in nicely to the foundations upon which the music of Story of Jade
are built upon. Songs like C F Virus
also displays the innovative use of guitar effects, with the guitarists using artificial harmonics to create a ECG sound effect. Closing track This Bleedin' Cage also shows the versatility of the guitarists, with the inclusion of a Spanish-folk styled acoustic guitar solo in the middle of the track.
Story of Jade
also attempts to create a haunting backdrop in their narration of their horror-themed album, and songs like Enemy in Me see the band making use of a piano at the beginning of the track, attempting to create that ambient, though this ended up sounding slightly awkward and the track would have fared better without that intro segment. The usage of a child singing towards the end of Jade
also provides that adorable/haunting dichotomy, messing with the listener's head. There are also heavier moments on the album, such as those on HMKM, which include crossover/thrash metal-styled shouting at the background, ensuring that the element of fun is constantly remains in the music.
If one ever wondered what 80s-styled glam or shock rock would sound like if put into a more extreme mode, perhaps Story of Jade
's The Damned Next Door
could be the perfect answer, with the heavy yet melodic music present, and the horror-themed lyrics.