Jollymon is comprised of frontman/principal songwriter Carey Rich (vocals, bass), Mark Blackburn (drums), and John Colgate (guitar, vocals) – originally formed in Eugene, Oregon, releasing their debut full-length, ‘Sailing’, in 1995 on Eugene’s Elemental Records. They followed up Sailing with 1997’s ‘Nobody Knows Who You Are’ and 1998’s ‘Stoned Nation Radio’, both on Elemental Records. Then, in 2000 they released their fourth full-length, the self-titled album, on Battle Arena Records, before imploding shortly thereafter, walking away, with no plans to return. Now after 18 years, the Stoner Metal outfit is set to release their fifth full length, ‘Void Walker’ on June 8th, 2018!
Right off the bat I was drawn to Jollymon because of the album title: ‘Voidwalker’ now that’s a title that immediately evokes thoughts of the Science Fiction realm and indeed, lyrically you get lots of those themes throughout! As for the albums (Kickass) title vocalist Carey Rich explains “that the album is entitled Void Walker because it “is what Jollymon’s name should be,” he says with a laugh. “Before life began, before even the cosmos took shape, there was light – and there was void. Both were unfettered by the confines of time and space, swelled across all existence in the form of a boundless sea of sound. So, Void Walker is a kind of symbol of what our sound is. It’s hard to describe, because it’s really left up to the imagination, which has been more of what we are: less wordy, forced lyrics, but simple imaginative shorelines with an epic soundtrack to back whatever is said.”
‘Voidwalker’ opens up with “Tsunami”,” which is a groove driven space rock track that proves that this band has not lost a step in their long absence. The rhythm section on “Tsunami” is tight and allows for the guitar(s) to deliver some hard hitting riffs! As for the lyrics vocalist Rich explains “One of my favorite lyrics on the album is a line from ‘Tsunami,’ in which I sing, ‘Your soul is fine, even though you war and parasite. This is not to punish you for crimes or for all the sins of human kind.’ This comes during the mellow, melodic bridge in a pretty heavy song. It’s about a celestial maintenance spaceship that travels about completing orders to ‘clean’ or ‘maintenance’ planets. This particular job is on earth; the spaceship can cause mass natural destruction and/or kill off any living thing, or any specific species, in any particular way. These lyrics are part of the song where the ship is explaining to earthlings that they’ve done nothing wrong, that this is just a scheduled job and not to worry, it should be over quick.”
As for other tracks with particularly stand out lyrics we have “A Good Day” in which Rich describes the tale of Three fantasy/ D&D style characters who welcome all comers to challenge them to a battle to the death! “We are here to set you free, our friends are in the gallery. As you can see, their heads are on display. Death by three is destiny, the warrior, warlock, and the priest. We have no enemy. They’ve all been slain!” As for the song itself, this is much more metallic than most of the songs on ‘Voidwalker.’ The drumming is in your face from the opening fill/ flam and manages to keep the intensity going throughout. Honestly, I feel “A Good Day” could have easily been written for the new album by fellow Stoner Rock band Orange Goblin!
“Sky Burial” features a line in which Rich sings, “When it’s finally over now, I promise you I never lied. I’m afraid that what I say will probably make you cry. In a moment I’ll be crossing to the other side, hold my hand and close my eyes. Now, say goodbye.” “This song can be about any story in any time about any person. It can be an everyday man or the Ork on the battlefield. It’s basically a choose your own adventure song, which might make you cry.” This track manages to blend the heavy riffs of Black Sabbath with the space elements of a band like Hawkwind or perhaps Pink Floyd!
Other stand out tracks for me are “Be Nice” and “Slice of Life” which are space rock jams with some funky and even reggae elements that keep your head bobbing. These are the songs that you are meant to just relax to before the metal returns and assaults your senses! ‘Voidwalker’ is a welcome return to a band who had already left us on a high note. With this release Jolymon have proven that they are still capable of writing groove-driven/ Melodic stoner anthems that are on par with their strongest past efforts!