Julie Christmas
Ridiculous and Full of Blood


3.8
excellent

Review

by Miloslaw Archibald Rugallini STAFF
June 21st, 2024 | 50 replies


Release Date: 06/14/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mariner II: Eclectic Ballyhoo

In accordance with the appropriate level of fart-sniffing required from a steadily ageing man preaching his supposedly learned opinions about art on the internet, I've been doing my best to be a real arsehole about what kind of music I do and don't like. This perversion of self-importance has led me to attempt to look PAST the sounds that yesteryear's simpleton would simply extract dopamine from and INTO artistic intention in order to DENOUNCE any cunt that gets the balance wrong

and then "Not Enough" sets off with a frantic clattering, contrasts this percussive momentum against guitars riding unmoving arpeggios and harmonic instability, developing a jittering tension that eventually drops away into a kickdrum-assisted lacuna in which Julie Christmas murmurs "I've not yet begun to defile myself." This suggestion of defilement is worked toward steadily, then made good across the last minute of the track as a wall of guitars pummel the tonic relentlessly and the drummer thrashes the snare on the offbeat while Christmas declares war on her larynx, and SWEET JESUS I'm staring at the walls drooling like yesteryear's simpleton considering some kind of self-administered lobotomy that'll make this feeling last forever.

But as the sequencing of Side A falls into place, I find myself peeling the electrodes from my temples, wringing out the sponge, and being simultaneously placated and teased. "Supernatural" lays the ol' switcheroo on you by first delivering a Johannes Persson riff that'll have you screaming Mariner! like it's your safe word then following it up with a track that only lasts for 3:36 and is all about its scream-along chorus; "The Ash" veers notably into something resembling shoegaze to remind you that this is NOT a Cult Of Luna album; "Thin Skin" does its best to kick your teeth in before three minutes can elapse; and "The End Of The World" sternly announces that Julie Christmas & Co. understand perfectly that tattooed men the world over really liked Mariner, OH GOD, eight years ago.

Eight tracks in, "The Lighthouse'' strikes a number of Johannes Persson-shaped chords both vocal and guitaral for the third time in the album's unspooled span. At this point in my inaugural listen, I grew suspicious of the musical chemistry on display, wondering just how much Cult of Luna I might be hearing, and decided to write down precisely who contributed what on each track of Ridiculous And Full Of Blood. This made me feel Foolish And Deprived Of Ink. This album was made in collaboration with enough noteworthy musicians to fill a clown car well past its gunnels, some old, some new, some probably just pseudonyms donned by an omnipresent Andrew Schneider.

While accolades very much deserve to be dispersed among these people*, it is the spirit of Christmas that brought them into literally eight different studio spaces to record this thing. Advocates of music that's deemed "extreme" are guaranteed to be familiar with vocalists that provide catharsis for their day-to-day frustrations — the difference with Julie Christmas's performances is that they sound like they're more cathartic for her than for anyone else, lending her clear histrionics a surreal authenticity. Beyond her technical ability, the way she services the demands of the music she accompanies is the real artistry. Consider "The Ash", where she weaves her wailing way through the gazey affair with relative moderation, reserving her intermittent vigour to colour key words at key moments, most effectively as she laments that "all the leaves turn grey" in the song's climax, stretching one syllable of 'grey' into about seven (and roughly as many notes), messily scream-singing most of the word before smoothly sliding the pitch down to its lowest point right as she enunciates that last letter.

And that's just one iteration of one line! Inarguably wondrous stuff! Although, regrettably, it's time to revisit my aforementioned mandatory critical arseholery. Across Ridiculous And Full Of Blood, occasions where the lyrical content raises the vocal performances up are rare. "The Lighthouse" is the most unwieldy and tired metaphor of the bunch, cliffside sirens and trawlers reposing in mist before a tempest arrives that will "mow you down like a hurricane / and you'll never see her again." Oh my! These fumbles are sometimes songwide ("Blast"), and sometimes they're a brief unfortunate marriage of performance and line delivery ("I can unleash like a train" on "The Ash" being the most hilarious example). Nevertheless, once the general sonic brilliance of this project is adjusted to and accounted for, the content itself doesn't bear quite so much scrutiny. One gets the feeling that if Christmas's own catharsis were more accessible to us via an explicit target or three (atheist musings don't count) and some more creative phrasing or a general touch up of her prose that this project could be as acidic and emotive as your favourite spittle-laced noise rock album.

Meanwhile, while Side B kicks things into gear with a distinct album highlight in "Silver Dollars", the impeccable sequencing and songwriting shifts down a gear across the last four tracks: "Kids" constructs an indomitable sonic cathedral that is abruptly torn down before it can be properly admired; "The Lighthouse" will get your heartrate up with its gnarly duo of vocal performances, but it's strangely sandwiched between the major-key wonder of the two tracks preceding it and the "Kill! Kill! Kill!"s that serve as the centrepiece of the rather inane "Blast"; and "Seven Days" closes things solemnly and solidly, but not quite definitively. Bugger!

And bugger my whining even harder! Ridiculous And Full Of Blood has its flaws, but they are ghostly white in comparison to its strengths, and its greatest strength comes from a very unlikely place. Somehow, on a record named for an artist revered by many as one of the great vocalists of contemporary metal, with accompaniment from musicians whose number matches roughly a lifetime's worth of extraneous Slipknot members, on an album recorded ad hoc across multiple locations, the """band"""'s chemistry and respect for a Musical Moment provides the real juice; most obviously across the coda of "Silver Dollars" wherein the very brave and literally one-note bassline is reinvigorated through a broad switch from minor to major, layers of guitar and choral vocals slowly accrue and retreat as naturally demanded, and a minute is stretched into glorious eternity, but rendered into an immutable now by a venerable vocal veteran gone volatile. Fuck your pretensions — feel this one.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

* Listed here: https://www.discogs.com/release/30988273-Julie-Christmas-Ridiculous-And-Full-Of-Blood
Great interview over here: https://www.soundspheremag.com/features/interviews/julie-christmas-discusses-new-album-ridiculous-and-full-of-blood/



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user ratings (83)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


3068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Go jam her discog RIGHT NOW and appreciate what we've got here!

someone
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2024


6758 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good boy, good review

someone
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2024


6758 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"This made me feel Foolish And Deprived Of Ink."



Is a fucking line of the year

Pikazilla
June 21st 2024


30439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

slaps



her best work yet, might bump dat rating soon



Wildcardbitchesss
June 21st 2024


12662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

she sounds like she’s been locked in an asylum since that Cult of Luna record.



It’s amazing.

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


5075 Comments


Not Christmas in summer for the summary smh



DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


5075 Comments


Also much hype for this from what I've heard so far

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


3068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

ty someone, sorry for the delay! Most shoehorned line of the review no doubt

working summary was Christmas in June, Dad, but I think I'd already seen that joke too many times to follow through haha. Listen to it, I implore you

Senetrix666
June 22nd 2024


1619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

easily aoty so far

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2024


3068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

For you geezers that are repping this hard: what is is that sets this apart from other Julie Christmas projects? Tell us what's happening! Life is good!

Pikazilla
June 22nd 2024


30439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the fact that this isn't a CoL collab

Wildcardbitchesss
June 23rd 2024


12662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I honestly haven’t listened to her first solo record, guess I’ll jam that tonight

SharkTooth
June 23rd 2024


14929 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I only heard this and Mariner out of Julie Christmas, this one has its own sound imo compared to the latter, not least of which coming from Julie carrying the whole thing vocally, but also the songs are much shorter and are not the epic passages you get from CoL's stuff, this is far more verse-chorus-verse which i'm cool with, having CoL's heavy sound in a poppy sound structure sounds great. I will have to check her debut tho

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 23rd 2024


3068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Make sure to peep Made Out Of Babies and Battle Of Mice too - they provide context (and personnel) for her first album. With you on the pop structures, they make this a very easy listen

Wildcardbitchesss
June 23rd 2024


12662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And accessibility is great! You know, if you have a good voice, good riffs, any amount of creativity, general competence etc etc

Jasdevi087
June 24th 2024


8143 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

finally, music for people who are full of blood like I am

Wildcardbitchesss
June 24th 2024


12662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And ridiculous like I am

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2024


3068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

My insides are a 50/50 split of piss and vinegar and I feel excluded

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2024


32073 Comments


I'm still recovering from Alcest, you can't throw me into this just like that milo, I'm not ready for Mariner II

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2024


32073 Comments


Really enjoyed this. Reminded me of Battle of Mice if anything, but nothing like Mariner. Actually listening to this made me realize we may not need Mariner II after all.



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