Jericho were an Israeli band who started out as The Churchills and later became Jericho Jones while still playing as The Churchills as a backup band for another artist. They changed their name to Jericho and released this one album in 1972. With only five tracks, one can guess that Jericho were keen on longer songs as were many other bands at the time. In fact, Jericho could just as easily be considered early heavy prog as they can be proto-metal.
For starters, there is a generous dose of hard rock guitar with distortion and some very energetic playing. The opening track, “Ethiopia”, almost seems to be an instrumental as the hard rock guitar and accompanying rhythm section of drums and bass go on well into the song before the vocals finally come in. The sound and playing move between hard rock and heavy rock, so certainly for the year of 1972 it’s easy to see how this band was part of the metal movement with this track.
“Don’t Let Me Down”, however, takes us into more standard rock with an acoustic guitar intro. It has a typical gritty early seventies American sound, and for some reason I'm reminded of the James Gang. Not a bad song but not much worth mentioning from a metal viewpoint.
"Featherbed” is the first of the longer tracks. The song part is not much heavier than the "Abbey Road" Beatles and has a good melody. However, the extended instrumental section includes some "Metamorphosis" era Iron Butterfly heavy soul and some tremolo bar fuzz guitar playing. The songs wraps up with more growl to the vocals and thunders to a halt with some hysteric crazy guitar to bring it home.
The last two songs are much more worthy of mention, in my opinion, and are fairly different from each other. “Justin and Nova” works more like a progressive rock piece with acoustic and electric guitar, piano and strings. At first this one passed right over me but later when it came up on a mixed playlist it caught my attention. I put it on another mixed playlist later and once again, when it started playing it had me. Still, more prog than metal this one is. It makes me think of a cross between the piano-based prog band, Renaissance and Golden Earring during their more adventurous pieces.
“Kill Me with Your Love” is where the band returns with high energy, heavy rock. Another longer number, it begins with acoustic guitar, flute, and a sombre electric guitar. The intro comes to an abrupt halt and the mood changes to a hint of something ominous to come. Then the metal-style playing begins and very gruff vocals deliver the lyrics. The song’s chorus is a wonderful heavy piece of action which somehow reminds me of something that could have come out in the 90’s instead of 25 years earlier. After an energetic guitar solo we get a classical piano interlude before returning to the harder stuff.
Still fairly new in my collection, at least three of the five songs get repeat appearances in my weekly playlists for listening to during my commute. Not as worthy of mention as a proto-metal band as some bands out there but still worth checking out on YouTube. My only complaint was that I could only get the 1990 reissue from Amazon. I read there’s a more recent reissue out there but it seems the label is one of those “grey labels” so perhaps this was the best copy to get. The sound quality is good enough, unlike many other proto-metal albums from the same period which are often just demos or recorded in low-budget studios.