Released: 1999, Bethany Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Anyone remember Fear of God? After two albums (Within the Veil, 1991, and Toxic Voodoo, 1994) and several years of inner turmoil and countless lineup changes, the band fronted by vocalist Dawn Crosby came to an end with Dawn’s death in late 1996. However at this point in the band’s career, the members felt they had finally found the style and lineup they were looking for. Refusing to let go, the other four members of Fear of God found a new vocalist, changed their name to FOG, and continued writing. Soon thereafter, Jezabel’s Dream was written, although it wasn’t until last year that is was released. I came across this album by accident, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t too interested in hearing it. Like many other Fear of God fans, I felt Toxic Voodoo was a big disappointment. On top of that, I couldn’t fathom how the rest of the band would hold of without Dawn’s emotional and somewhat disturbing vocals. But I was given the opportunity to listen, and I did.
FOG is actually impressive, and does not resemble Fear of God that much. Jezabel’s Dream is a doom-death metal album. Musically, the songs range from slow, depressing, and haunting to blasting speed, much like My Dying Bride’s debut As the Flower Withers. Keyboards frequently back up the music to create a darkened atmosphere, especially during the slower moments. Lead guitars, when present, are also impressive (and unexpected). But the biggest question for everyone is “how are the vocals?” A fellow named John Childs is the new vocalist, and I must admit, I was really skeptical during my initial listening. In fact, when I put on the CD and “Three Days of Darkness” started blaring, I thought “what in the hell is this crap?” as John’s moaning beckoned from my stereo. But soon FOG unleashed their fury with a full-on death metal assault. And being death metal, his vocal style is not that original. But the interesting thing is his variations in style. First there’s the typical low death growl, which brings to mind Karl Willets of Bolt Thrower and Mike Perun of Cianide. Second, there’s the acid-drenched death tone similar to Aaron of My Dying Bride. Lastly, the gothic-like moaning, bringing to mind Anathema. So there’s a lot going on with John’s voice on Jezabel’s Dream, and with each listen I become more comfortable with his approach. Even though the individual aspects of his voice aren’t anything new, together as a whole the variety sets him apart from other death metal vocalists. Another helping hand is the interesting, cryptic, and somewhat abstract lyrics. But probably the thing I like most about the album is its production. Somewhat unpolished and cold, the sound of the album fits the music perfectly.
The only remaining member from the lineup on Fear of God’s Toxic Voodoo is drummer John Grden. So unless you’re a Fear of God maniac and have been following them for years, FOG will sound like a completely new band. The only other direct link to the past is the re-recording of three Fear of God songs, all of which originally appeared on the 1995 Killing the Pain demo cassette, which was the last recording Dawn appeared on.
Overall, Jezabel’s Dream exceeded my expectations tremendously. I wasn’t quite expecting a death metal album, but in the end it is probably for the better. This is some great atmospheric, haunting metal! There’s a lack of doom-death bands in my collection, so I am happy with FOG and I am sure over time it will sound better and better. One thing’s for sure, Jezabel’s Dream is a perfect album for those dreary, foggy, or rainy days! Visit this web site for all the information you could ever ask for on Fear of God, FOG, and even Detente (Dawn’s ‘80s thrash metal band): http://www.jezabelsdream.com/.
Also on the site, you can find information on obtaining both the FOG CD and the aforementioned Fear of God Killing the Pain cassette!! And get this: there are plans to release two CDs in the future, which shall contain a slew of rare and unreleased material from Fear of God, Detente, and FOG!! Check out the web site for more information!!