JACULA — In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum (review)

JACULA — In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum album cover Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
One of the recurring controversies surrounding this release was whether it genuinely came out in 1969 or not. I can see a case being made either way; the vocal parts, organ, and drums are all in keeping with the spookier end of the psychedelic or proto-prog scene at the time, whilst the guitar parts consist of metal riffing which I'd be surprised to hear from anyone other than Tony Iommi himself in 1969. I suppose it is possible that the band may have heard some of Sabbath's early performances, but given how rare - sparse, even - the guitar parts are, and considering how occasionally they even seem out of place, I think it's possible that they were added to the recording at a later date - perhaps in the early 1970s, at a point when Sabbath, Budgie and the like could have offered some more precedent for it.

On balance, I'm inclined to believe that at least an early version of the album came out in 1969; it feels to me like it's halfway between a demo tape (though a reasonably competently produced one) and the sort of meandering improvisational jam releases you saw in the psychedelic and Krautrock scenes of the era. In other words, if it's a fake, it's a passable enough fake that I don't particularly care. What I do care about is the musical approach, which involves long almost ambient stretches of church organ backed with occasional bursts of riffing and rare intonations of sinister Latin phrases. Like the first Tangerine Dream album it's perhaps better approached as spooky, psychedelic-leaning proto-prog background music than as a set of fully developed compositions, but the atmosphere of doom and dread evoked here is so different from what most bands producing this sort of jam album was going for, and the musical approach is very different from the approach taken by the doom-and-gloom brigade in the 1960s and 1970s, making it a gratifyingly unique work.
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