Jihad was a band on the periphery of the Texas dark electro scene which gave us Mentallo & The Fixer and Benestrophe. Jihad’s first and only release was A Prayer In The Night in 1997, now reissued in a deluxe digital format featuring rare compilation tracks. After years of dormancy Jihad contributed an exclusive track to the 2011 4-CD compilation Old School Electrology Volume One from Electro Aggression Records (EAR). The band followed this up with an appearance on the first EAR mixtape.
In recent years Jihad has also been contributing remixes to a variety of acts including Object, Terminal State, tEaR!doWn, Pyrroline, kFactor, MC1R and Universal Soldier. The band is now no longer the work of two brothers, James and Rich Mendez, but instead the work of James Mendez exclusively. An informative interview with James was previously published by Reflections of Darkness at this location. The interview gives much valuable insight into the Texas electronic scene and Mendez’s musical career since the late 1990’s. It also provides a reason for Jihad’s musical comeback, namely Mendez’s travels to Europe and his friendship with various European dark electro projects such as Pyrroline (formerly Nordschlacht).
From the remixes and compilation tracks released over the last couple years it’s a safe bet to assume that JIHAD will be releasing new material, which is in fact the case. As a primer to new material JIHAD has released Live In Bratislava 28.02.2015 Dark EBM Souls, which documents a live event that took place in Bratislava, Slovakia on 28th February 2015 and which is poised to become a yearly mini-festival. The bands performing at Dark EBM Souls in 2015 included ISH (Slovakia), Terminal State (Slovakia), Jihad (U.S.A.), KIFOTH (Slovakia), FÏX8:SËD8 (Germany) and MC1R (Germany). Jihad’s set clocked in at about 50 minutes and is captured in Live In Bratislava 28.02.2015 Dark EBM Souls. The set list covered mostly material from ‘A Prayer In The Night’ but also included a compilation track “Shades Of Grey” originating from the Dora Blue – The Ras Dva Fanbase Compilation. The big surprise here is two brand-new tracks “(I Can’t) Let Go” and “Visions”, both of which compare favorably with material from A Prayer In The Night, atmospheric and down tempo with a sense of melancholy.
Also of interest is a cover of the Benestrophe track “Endangered Species”, a nice surprise for European fans who have had very few opportunities to hear any music from the famed Dassing brothers in a live setting. The track’s dedication to Ric Laciak also provokes a bittersweet reaction for those of us who knew Ric personally. Ric was founder of RAS DVA Records and an important figure in the American electro-industrial community, but more importantly a wonderful person and friend to many. Ric valiantly fought terminal brain cancer for over a decade before finally passing on 18th November 2014.
I’m sure if Ric were with us today he would be as enthusiastic as anyone could be with regard to Jihad’s comeback. This live document serves as a reminder of the timelessness of JIHAD’s debut album, reinterpreted and with an eye to the future. Lovingly mastered by Arnte of Pyrroline this album sounds excellent, but you also get the sense of electricity and audience interaction that you want from any live album. The sound is not perfect but it gives the listener a feeling of being in a very special time and place to hear some amazing music.
As an aside, I’m excited that this yearly mini-festival takes place in Bratislava, setting of Eli Roth’s Hostel films. The 2016 Dark EBM Souls event is now two days long and features a spectacular lineup including Vomito Negro (Belgium), The Opposer Divine (Slovakia), tri-state(Germany), kFactor (Brazil), Kleqq (Germany), Ish (Slovakia), KIFOTH (Slovakia), Jihad (U.S.A.) and FÏX8:SËD8 (Germany). Check out the event’s Facebook page for more details.
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