The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: Cult of Jester
Label: Flaming Fish Music
Time: 57:40 minutes/10 tracks 4 hidden tracks

There are so many sub-genres and styles that if an artist has any sense of adventure, they are labeled instantly with thirty different styles. Ed Finkler's Cult of Jester is labeled hybrid drum and bass with electronica and hip-hop influences meshed together, but basically it's just really hip industrial. They claim influence from anyone like U2, Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, and Sister Machine Gun but this is not a Bono/MikeD/Jake/Vampire debut album. What this is, is an impressive yet uninspiring hour's worth of music that will either offend, intrigue, or amuse  you. Flaming Fish Music, their distributor, warns: "A few instances of mild profanity may offend easily offended listeners."
This album has great music, fat beats, and well sung vocals, but some "disturbing" sound clips will ruin it for most Christian listeners and the most blatant reference to God is in the sleeve when Finkler writes, "this album would not exist without: God..." Obviously. Those who would argue that the profane words he used are also in the Bible should also take into account the context from which he uses it. Since neither radio nor television bans the words, I would not consider this to be harsh language but I would not call it edifying. To further prove my point, read: Phil. 4:8

Get ready for hard guitar driven songs, dark jungle beats, and an overall industrial vibe. I like the style this guy plays. It's like he incorporated the "big-beat" with his dark side and the resulting chaos was "funkatron." The majority was composed and performed on a Kurzweil K-2000, with the occasional assistance of a Boss DR-660 drum machine, and it's high quality madness.

Finkler wrote all the songs, except for a cover of "Lucretia My Reflection" which was originally done by the Sisters of Mercy, and his lyrics are nothing spectacular, although you can't understand a lot of them and there aren't any words on the album sleeve. He must be counting on the listener feeling what he's trying to get across. I was somewhat annoyed at his voice at times. He struggled between black metal and a lame Tool groan. I preferred the hissing and found it easier to grasp his words when he did. Finkler was also able to escape a curse that plagues the better half of industrial singers: he sang on key, and didn't use distortion.

He is obviously talented in the world of beat production. I found the album to be well layered with a solid mix, and a great effort all the way musically. It's music you could dance to, and if you can't dance, then just shake your head. Every song has a killer groove or loop in there somewhere, and when it hits, it hits hard.

I found a hidden sense of humor throughout the album. You get the impression that a lot of what he's saying is dripping with sarcasm, or done in "jest" (pardon the pun), but this guy enjoys doing what he's doing.

There are hints of jungle/big-beat that don't fit in the typical "industrial" category and if you like those hints, then you would most definitely enjoy the "Cult of Jester." I think that it's a great album musically, a good album vocally, a fair album lyrically, and a poor album spiritually. This is a publication that bases its reviews "from a Christian perspective," and that is incorporated into my rating, and by the way, I am not "easily offended."
 Justin W. Jones