New Jacobin Club “Empire of Dis” 

Acts and artists of every ilk are always ballyhooed as being “unique”. It is usually puffery, a PR flack trying to justify their pay, and bears scant resemblance to reality as heard on the release. New Jacobin Club, however, deserves distinction – they share surface connections with recognizable influences but reproduce them for listeners as something wholly their own, beholden to no one, paying tribute to nothing. New Jacobin Club has something few do – their own voice. It is undeniable and apparent from the first time you hear their work.

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The band’s sixth album and first since 2014’s Soldiers of the Mark is entitled Empire of Dis. The ten song effort finds New Jacobin Club in as fine fettle as ever with the six piece ripping through a set that does not recall the band’s halcyon days but, instead, blazes a new path towards tomorrow. New Jacobin Club’s core of Xerxes Praetorius Horde and the band’s second lead vocalist, percussionist, and occasional theremin Poison Candi remain as unstoppable as ever before. This is a complete unit, however, and not a glorified solo or duo vehicle.

“In Crimson Snow” serves ample notice of that. The frantic pace and fiery musicianship igniting at first never dims as Horde, bassist The Ruin, and drummer The Rat King lay down a ferocious groove. Keen-eared listeners will appreciate how Horde mixes classic rock guitar lead breaks into sometimes otherwise shred-y guitar passages; he is a player capable of more than just one sound and approach. “The Priestess” has a more inviting commercial edge than the opener and springboards from its strong central riff into everything else. Poison Candi’s contributions are much more prominent than the opener, as well, making the second track additionally noteworthy.

The slight commercial flavor continues during the track “Behind the Veil”. This quality announces itself during the song’s chorus louder than elsewhere and never dilutes an otherwise hard-hitting track among many. “Lord Henry Steps Out” is easily the album’s most overtly theatrical moment with a spoken-word vocal instead of the one-two punch of Horde and Poison leading the way. It does not sound out of place, however.

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“Slenderman” is an instrumental late in the album’s running order and highlights Mistress Nagini’s synthesizer talents. She is a presence on each of the album’s ten songs, but her efforts here are particularly standout. The album’s title song comes at an excellent place in the album’s running order, it is a clear climax, and this imaginative restatement of the album’s themes makes for arguably the collection’s most invigorating moment.

The marriage of visual and auditory that New Jacobin Club brings listeners isn’t revolutionary. It’s how they do it that stands out. New Jacobin Club’s stirring return to releasing albums will seem well worth the wait for the band’s longtime fans and newcomers will come away from the release feeling like they’ve discovered their new favorite band. Empire of Dis stands alongside any of the band’s previous five albums as representative of the band’s best work. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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