If your quest is for metal, and nothing but the most extreme, sorry, but here’s the time you should click away to the next review on Ave Noctum. Still reading? Good, because that means you know that the site prides itself on not the purely metallic, but the atmospheric, and if the atmosphere you seek is heavy with the smell of patchouli and other herbal substances, then with Banquet and their first long player ‘Jupiter Rose’, you have arrived at the right place.
With a fuzz heavy guitar, rumbling rhythm section, and outer space bound lyrics, opening track ‘Mastermind’ takes this San Francisco based four piece on a trip back in time from the modern city of iPhones, twitter, and skinny hazelnut soya cappuccino swigging hipsters to an age of bead wearing, flare swinging hippies. ‘Sword of Damocles’ follows in fine Steppenwolf form, the hard rocking opening mellowing out mid song with some mellow vibes as the vocalist gently trips away, his blissed out state being short lived as the band wakes up to the stomp of ”Run To You’, the bass and drums coming to the fore with a confident swagger that easily matches the pomp of the guitar work.
The garage sound of the production is nowhere more apparent than in ‘Set Me Free’, and no, I do not use the recent drum machine based electronic bastardisation of the term, but rather the raw sounds of The MC5 and those acts that oversaw the progression of underground rock branch away from the all too easy sounds of the Eagles and other stadium filling FM friendly acts, towards the sound that became over time punk. Simplicity is the key, the music sounding like it was recorded in one take after a blast of the good stuff rather than polished to blandness by the overly intrusive ministrations of an engineer, and in this respect Banquet deliver in spades. The Blues come to the fore with ‘Burning Bridges’ a number that slowly builds from the laconic opening into a chugging rock number. Closing the album is the title track ‘Jupiter Rose’ where in the one number the band manage to mix together their obvious love of the psychedelic with blues, hard rock and the proto-punk of The Stooges into what is practically a mission statement to eschew all things modern in music.
At barely over the half hour mark ‘Jupiter Rose’ practically flashes past, but demands repeated plays by the listener. Yes, it could well be dismissed by some as just yet another addition to swelling ranks of bands that are riding the retro wave, but with this first album Banquet have managed to capture the authentic raw edge that acts such as The Vintage Caravan thrive on, but so many others manage to miss. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop.