Friday, 7 October 2022

FAITH IN JANE ~ AXE TO OAK ..... review


With seven fairly well received albums under their belts and hailing from Maryland, a place many consider to be the epicentre of  the underground's rock, metal and doom scene, you would think that Faith in JaneDan Mize (guitar/vocals); Brendan Winston (bass) and Alex Llewellyn (drums), would be a band getting mentioned in the same breaths as The Obsessed, Clutch and all those other Maryland based warriors of the riff  but unfortunately that is just not the case. Maybe it is because the band have in the past toyed with such un-metal musical elements such as reggae, funk and soul or maybe it is simply a case of under promotion, whatever the reason Faith in Jane are a band in need of more love and the band's eighth album "Axe to Oak" (Grimoire Records) might just be the album to get them that love.

"Whiskey Mountain Breakdown" kicks things off and it would seem its business as usual for the Baltimore trio, the screeching solos', raucous riffs and thunderous percussion that have always been a staple of Faith in Jane's sound are all nicely in place as are those throaty vocals which give the bands grooves such an air of southern soulfulness. Having opened with a sound and groove that will be familiar to their fans the band then test those same fans devotion by going completely off-piste and diving headlong into the heady waters of traditional Irish music with "She Moved Through the Fair" a song that has been covered by everyone from folk rockers Fairport Convention to jazz legend Wayne Shorter. Vocally Mize sticks pretty rigidly to the song's original melody with the singer/guitarist adding folkish tones and meters to his delivery for added authenticity and it is his powerful and emotive vocals, twinned with Llewellyn and Winston's sympathetic drum and bass backdrops and Mize's own Celtic tinted guitar textures, that takes this song away from being just an interesting filler to being something truly heart-rending and beautiful. The awesomeness doesn't just stop there either because without a second for the listener to catch their breath the band slam straight into "Enter Her Light" a fitting sister piece to the previous track that boasts another great emotive vocal from Mize and a nice combination of bass and drums from Winston and Llewellyn, the pair locking down tight on the songs busy groove to create a solid a platform for Mize, when he's not singing, to launch his scorching solos from. "Heavy Drinker" follows and finds Mize telling a lyrical tale of struggle, addiction, resignation and apathy against a heavy rock backdrop tinted with elements of southern rock bluesiness. while "How Many Ships Sail in the Forest" is an instrumental that gives the band the opportunity to throw off the shackles and just jam on a groove. Title track "Axe to Oak" is up next and Desert Psychlist has already read reviews comparing the bands performance of this song to that of Pearl Jam and we have to concur, this is a song that had it been recorded by Vedder and co. would easily have made the track listings for either "Ten" or "Vs." thanks in part to the songs strong classic rock meets alt-rock groove but mainly thanks to Mize adopting many of Eddie Vedder's vocal ticks and mannerisms in his delivery, a trick the trio repeat with final song "The Seeker" only this time with the band adding into the mix a little more stoner bite and bluesy growl.

Why Faith in Jane are not one of the biggest names on the scene is a mystery, the band have over the years consistently released quality music that is well arranged, well written and possesses a groove that is both soulful and heavy. It is time these guys got the break they deserved and were elevated to the same levels of appreciation that is afforded many of their Maryland peers and "Axe to Oak" might well be the album to make that happen.
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

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