Review Summary: Produced by Ian Gillan, Jerusalem’s debut is an excellent proto-metal offering that brings to mind bands such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Budgie.
It was 1972 and Machine Head
had hit the shelves. Deep Purple were at the top of their game after releasing three successful and highly influential albums and were at the verge of giving us what is now considered one of the best live recordings of all time. At the same time, a number of obscure hard rock acts were influenced by their well-known contemporaries. However, while some of them turned out to be cheap imitators, others incorporated the elements they felt they matched their style and added their personal touch. One of those bands was UK based Jerusalem.
Formed in 1967 after a John Mayall and the Bluesbrakers concert, Jerusalem spent their first years touring and playing in front of a few people when their bassist’s sister introduced the band to Ian Gillan. After listening to Jerusalem’s material, Gillan decided to get involved and subsequently set up a management company for the band. Jerusalem
is the band’s one and only album and those of you who enjoy discovering obscure heavy rock albums from the 70s are in for a treat!
With one word, and considering the music scene at the time, Jerusalem
is heavy. One can identify a number of musical influences in the band’s debut including Deep Purple, Budgie and Pentagram. The bassist and founding member of the band was a Black Sabbath fan so expect to listen to influences by the forefathers of metal too. Overall, their music is guitar-driven with some excellent leads and a few good basic solos. Moreover, the riffs even though simple are addictive. One thing that amazed me was that from the very first listen I memorized a couple of guitar riffs and vocal melodies so don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing to the chorus of “When the Wolf Sits” which is one of the standouts of the album. There are also proto-doom moments in this album evident in the first and last minutes of “Primitive Man” as well as moments of psychedelia and even some krautrock influences in the sense of utilizing hypnotic melodies. One thing that is hit or miss about this album is its raw and unpolished sound even by the standards of the era. Those of you who are familiar with Sir Lord Baltimore’s work will find similarities in the sound of these two bands. In addition the singer’s vocal delivery can be compared to that of James Hetfield’s on Kill ‘Em All
when he screams lyrics about dark and morbid themes. Nevertheless, the unrefined sound adds to the charm of the band’s music as it provides it with additional energy and aggression. Interestingly enough, the odd track of the album is its closer due to its generic nature as it’s a standard well-played blues rock song and nothing more.
To sum up, Jerusalem with this album delivered some bone-crushing heavy rock with proto-doom influences and early NWOBHM tendencies so it’s highly recommended to those of you who wish to experience that sound. For every Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin there’s a Jerusalem to make us wonder how they didn’t become bigger but pleased at the same time to discover their music.