Jade – The Pacification of Death


We know very little about Jade, other than the fact they released their debut EP in 2018. Each band member uses an initial as their pseudonym, but Encyclopaedia Metallum tells us that two of them hail from Barcelona, and one of them calls Germany his home. As an international group, this may explain the gap of five years in between releases, and The Pacification of Death is not the type of debut you can conjure in twelve months. Indeed, the attention to detail and peculiar gears of Jade’s atmospheric death metal deserves forty minutes of your time.

Though not easy to navigate through Jade’s death metal dream world, they furnish you with the illusion of lucidity. But all is not as it seems, and the symmetry and order you take for granted provide only superficial reassurance. This is because the soundscapes second-guess you all the way through the opening title track. You can hear why people identify their art as atmospheric death metal. The hostile wind noises, laser synths, and distant gothic choirs in the first fifty seconds set the scene for a gradual transformation to distorted guitars and a regular beat. Both possess an unusual ethereal presence in the mix underneath the guttural growls and sliding guitar chords, like rumbling clouds announcing an upcoming shower of rain. When the skies open, they do so like the severe judgement of a creator God unhappy once more with his flock. Listen to the heroic struggle vocals in the background cry out like the recruiting voice of a Napoleonic sergeant descending into town with his press-gangers.

The melodic guitar phrasing of ‘Dragged Fears & Drowned Bones’ highlights another distinctive feature of Jade’s sound. These high-register patterns ache with a cold heart, like Gregor Mackintosh’s iconic work on Paradise Lost’s Gothic album from 1991. Here, the main riffs are happy to play the sliding fifth chords and let the more inquisitive guitar textures in the second channel guide the songs. The footwork from drummer, M., keeps an animated tempo throughout. Think of Mournful Congregation, but with a sensual side to the music.

There’s no doubt this band have a distinct sound that is still in flux and will only get better with each album. You wonder if the low-end riffs could be sharper and less inclined to dwell in the heavy gain of the amps for sustenance. ‘Emanation of Decay’ would be more satisfying if it produced the guitars to match the clarity of the drums, but the purpose here is to create atmosphere, and, in that regard, they succeed. Weep for the fallen and lament the tragedy of existence is the message of the six-string instruments on ‘Silk Ransoms’. It’s not easy to discern the words as they disappear into the microphone in a monotone projection, but the earnest cries of the backing vocals invite your sympathy. If only you knew this mysterious voice had nothing but sinister intentions. This is what makes Jade a death metal band. At the other side of the mist is a dark force that wants to mould you to its malevolent designs.

You don’t know how to respond to the audio temptations of Jade, and that’s the point of their enigmatic music. Closing track, ‘The Saddest Night’, starts with purposeful drum patterns and lively tempos, but the guitars hold down a gradual reverse pitch-bend to keep you unbalanced. Triptykon fans should be excited by the incorporeal darkness on offer. Think of the drums as the body, the guitar as the soul, and the vocals as the heart of the music. Schammasch do something similar in their art, but Jade do not allow their output to veer off into unmelodious pastures or abstract chord shapes.

It’s not an immediate sensation, and it sometimes baffles the mind, but The Pacification of Death provides a glimpse into how death metal might evolve into a metaphysical audio experience in the future. Let’s hope this is only the beginning of a fertile period for Jade’s music.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 25/11/2022

Record Label: Pulverised Records

Standout tracks: The Pacification of Death; Dragged Fears & Drowned Bones; Ghastly Eyes

Suggested Further Listening: Paradise Lost – Gothic (1991), Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (2014), My Dying Bride – The Ghost of Orion (2020)