Doommantia weighs in on the Jerusalem reissue!

DoommantiaAnother review request and a new once a month feature for Doommantia Dot Com where we dig through the past and present to you a forgotten band from the 70’s or a band that still is a major underground Doom/Stoner Metal influence but SHOULD NEVER be forgotten. The first of these bands to be review is the 1972 self-titled Jerusalem album. Its a album that should be reviewed anyway because of its historical importance but also because it was re-released not too long ago by the good people at Rockadrome. Bands like Jerusalem, Night Sun, Leafhound, Warpig, Iron Claw and Sir Lord Baltimore are bands that were and still are ignored by all mainstream media but are very much adored by the underground Hard Rock scene. Anyone who has had the pleasure to see the excellent documentary “Such Hawks, Such Hounds” would know by now if they didn’t know before what a impact and a influence the obscure bands of the early 70’s have had on the underground Hard Rock community. These were bands that lived in the shadows of the superstars of 70’s Heavy Rock like Sabbath, Purple and Zeppelin. The reason why they never got to the heights reached by those bands was mostly bad luck, bad management or simply the lack of support from the mainstream labels and media, something that is standard in today’s Heavy Rock culture.

Jerusalem CD

Jerusalem released only one self-titled album worldwide in 1972 on the Deram label, the only other release was a single, the non-album track “Kamikaze Moth” backed with “Frustration” from the one and only album. I first heard the band after buying a scratched up piece of second-hand vinyl way back in the early 80’s, despite the pops and crackles I listened to this weather-beaten old slab of vinyl till I picked up the re-released version from Rockadrome last year. The joy of hearing the album with the sound quality in perfect shape after so many years was one of my highlights of 2009. Jerusalem with their cult status have had their fair share of over-blown comparisons with the biggest and most used one being that they are heavier than Black Sabbath, I have read this many times, the truth is they are not, NOT EVEN CLOSE and they are a vastly different band to Sabbath in many ways. Having said that though, Jerusalem are the real deal when it comes to early proto-metal and proto-doom and there is only about another 10 bands that I know of that come close to the raw darkness that Jerusalem produced during those halcyon days of heavy music. The album was produced by the one and only Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, he had this to say about the band………

“This is the first album by Jerusalem, a band which excites me very much; they are rough, raw and doomy with their own strong identity. As they are young and a bit green, they don’t follow many rules, so their material is almost crude – but still immensely powerful in content.
I believe that, whenever possible, the work of writers and players in their formative stages should be recorded; before inhibition and self-consciousness set in, before fire and aggression die down, and while they are still absorbing influences and doing things which others might consider ‘uncool’. Most important though, before they might develop that self-imposed rigidity which afflicts so many. I hope none of these things happen to Jerusalem, we’ll have to wait and see, this album is just in case. I hope you like it as much as I do.”

Jerusalem were ahead of their time in so many ways, they were un-polished, raw with dark, sinister riffing that still included some Sabbathisms but Jerusalem was much more energetic, especially in their live performances where the band always put on a show that demanded the audience stood-up and rocked out. They share the same stages as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and many more and also they played many major Festivals in Europe to audiences of 50,00 or more so they had made it big, right? No, sadly the wheels fell off the Jerusalem bandwagon soon after all this action and the band faded into obscurity, founders of the band Paul Dean and Ray Sparrow went on to formed a 3 piece with Bob Cooke called “Pussy” who released a single on Deram called “Feline Woman” (there is an un-released album) which was also produced by Ian Gillan. The ex-members of Jerusalem had to wait till 2004 before out of the blue, a Jerusalem revival gained momentum mainly due to the re-released of the album on CD by Universal. The news quickly spread about this obscure, forgotten band from the 70’s and then the Jerusalem name starting appearing all over the Internet. This eventually led to original bass player, Paul Dean taking to various record companies about re-mixing and re-releasing the album which indeed happened in 2009. The re-released version comes with a 20-page color booklet which contains liner notes written by bassist Paul Dean, lyrics, press clippings, rare photos, bonus tracks and sounds much more vibrant than the original vinyl.

The album boils over with proto-metal energy as in “Frustration” with its fuzzy blues riffing or “Hooded Eagle” that is about as crushing as anything ever recorded in the 70’s. They were right up there with Sabbath in the darkness department too with the song “Primitive Man”, the fuzz drenched intensity of this tune is hard to match for 1972, the vocals are spewed out rather than sung, it literally sounds like vocalist Lynden Williams voice is about to break completely during this tune. “Midnight Steamer” and “She Came Like A Bat from Hell” are like early versions of dirty Stoner Metal blended with a gritty funky attitude and are both timeless songs that still sound fresh despite the production that while this new version sounds better than the original, still sounds like total vintage 1970’s. “When The Wolf Sits” is dark and yet has a incredibly infectious melody and “I See The Light is soaked in old-school prog-doom atmosphere. The other tracks, “Murderer’s Lament” and “Beyond The Grave” might not have the immediate impact as the other tunes but over time they grow on you and also become classics. With the modern day music industry basically falling apart these days, its refreshing to go back and listen to these bands that recorded albums at a time when record labels didn’t let bands slip through the cracks if they could help it, unlike now when all they do is the economic aspect of being a business and couldn’t give a toss about the art of making music.

The Jerusalem album is a golden nugget of early metal from 1972 and while it may not have the sheer heaviness of Black Sabbath or the polish of Deep Purple or Zeppelin, it has a songwriting quality that was ahead of its time. This album has a sound and style that many bands today strive more and still don’t come close to obtaining. If you have been thinking about starting a obscure 70’s rock collection, then there is no better place to start than with Jerusalem. 10/10