Monday, 18 September 2017

SWAMP RITUAL ~ SUNCHASER ... review


Whether its the economics of touring with just two members that has been the catalyst for the current glut of rock duo's to assail our ears Desert Psychlist does not know, but bands, stretching right across the many genres and sub-genres of the underground rock scene, from Year of the Cobra to Telekinetic Yeti, seem to be finding an audience eager to lap up their stripped down grooves.
Montana's Swamp RitualDustin Fugere (bass, vocals) and Sid LaTray (drums, vocals), put their own twist on this two members, two instrument phenomenon and it's a twist listeners can witness for themselves on Swamp Ritual's brand new opus "Sunchaser".


The bass guitar is a lot more than just a prop to anchor a groove and in the right hands it can be a weapon of mass destruction with a vast array of sonic possibilities. Swamp Rituals's Dustin Fugere understands this and uses every inch of his fretboard in an attempt show the instrument in a new light, employing his four stringed guitar as both a lead instrument and as a means to drive the groove, combining with Sid LaTray's pulverising percussion to fill every song on "Sunchaser" with a mixture of deep rumbling undertones and dark swirling dynamics. LaTrey meanwhile, on drums, seems destined for, at the very least, a spell in some sort of recovery unit such is the force and power he brings to the table with his percussive contributions.. Fugere and LaTray  also share vocal duties throughout the albums five songs and hereby lies the twist spoke of in this reviews intro. the pair do not approach dual vocals in a "traditional" sense as in say lead vocal/backing vocals and not even in a twin harmonies sense but more of a two men roaring at you in unison style, the resulting effect, at times,  coming across like the raucous voices found singing on the terraces of a British football/soccer match, something that works especially well on the slightly throwaway party song "Lawnmower" with it's "I mow the lawn when I'm high, Take some shrooms, put on some doom" lyric. It is, however, when Swamp Ritual get down and seriously doomy that they really come into their own and shine as on the epic instrumental "The Bearded Dragon"with its mixture of low slow dynamics and moments of manic furiosity, and the moody psychedelic tinted closer "Malacastria" a place "Where dead walk ghouls have their home" and "Spectres sneer and the phantoms moan", sang/shouted over a backdrop of growling stoner doom groove.


Swamp Ritual describe themselves as "a couple of scuzzballs who needed to play something loud" and with a need to create a sound that "can always be felt as well as heard". Well with "Sunchaser" it seems those needs have been well and truly met..
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 17 September 2017

MOTHER ENGINE ~ HANGAR .... review


When the stoner/desert scene exploded into being in the early 1990's it was pretty much split into two camps, one camp, which included Kyuss. Fu Manchu and Unida, came from a more hard rock/punk background the other which was championed by the likes of Yawning Man, RotoR and Colour Haze took a more experimental approach to the music, often taking off into long extended jams with minimal vocals (if any at all).
Germany's Mother Engine hail from the second of those two camps and have to date released two well received albums "Muttermashcine" (2012) and "Absturz" (2015), the trio, Cornelius Grünert (drums), Chris Trautenbach (guitar) and Christian Dressel (bass) are just about to release their third album "Hangar" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records).


The album continues the bands loose theme of cosmic journeying that informed the bands first two albums with four songs split into movements that flow seamlessly into each other and sees the band shifting gears through a smorgasbord of differing dynamics, tempos and dramatics using not only melody as the basis for their grooves but also dissonance and atonality, moving from harmonious and pleasant to discordant and ugly in a heartbeat. Funky in places, hard rocking and raucous in others the music shifts back and forth between serene ambience one minute, fuzz drenched riffage the next, never sitting still long enough for someone to lay a musical tag or label on, the band even throwing in a little modal jazz colouring on "Tokamak".


"Hangar" is an immense album which was two years in the making and the time and patience put into this project has well and truly paid off. Instrumental music can be a little one dimensional in the wrong hands, sometimes just a vehicle for one member (often the guitarist) to show off his or her musical prowess, not so with Mother Engine, each member brings to the table not only a high level of individual skill but also an ability to play off of each other with no one musician dominating proceedings, the trio playing as an ensemble and creating a sound that is the sum of its whole as well as a sum of its parts..
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 15 September 2017

STARBURNER ~ STARBURNER EP ....review



Intricate, complex music is all well and good when your in the mood for some deep thought and reflection but there are times when you just want to kick over a few tables and throw a chair or two around and for that you need some good ol' in your face, aggressive grooves. Well if that describes your current state of mind and musical need then look no further than Starburner's self titled debut EP "Starburner".


Anger is often a short lived emotion bursting forth suddenly from somewhere within and then dissipating almost as soon as it has been released, much like the four songs that make up "Starburner", Starburner (the band) deal in short sharp blasts of molten stoner metal that hit you hard and hit you heavy, blasts laced with elements of doom and hard rock fronted by raucous larynx tearing vocals. Songs like "Palms", with it's addictive chorus, powerful drumming and wah drenched solo's, "GTI", with its pacey hard driving groove and "Slow Obsession", with its swinging vocal line are delivered with a feral ferocity that at times is overwhelming but are balanced out with little subtle touches of bluesy/hard rock guitar colouring. Even when the band  ease up on the ferocity, as on the relatively slow, low and doom drenched penultimate title track "Starburner", such is the undercurrent of simmering malevolence boiling just beneath  its surface that the listener is left with a feeling that this  song could at any minute explode into another onslaught of anger and aggression.


Powerful, short and to the point and heavy without being overly brutal  "Starburner" is an EP that smacks the listener hard round the face, leaving an imprint that'll take a long time to fade and will leave a lasting memory.
Check it out ...
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© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 14 September 2017

DR. COLOSSUS ~ THE DANK ..... review


Imagine waking up in an operating theatre to find yourself surrounded not by white suited surgeons trying to save your life but by three hairy stoners trying to slay you with their raucous fuzz drenched grooves, frightened and alone you then scream for a doctor only to see all three turn as one and utter the words...."Yes!". Sound like a scene from "The Simpsons"? Well you could be closer than you think!
Dr. Jon (guitar/vocals), Dr. Love (bass/vocals) and Dr. Johnston (drums) are Dr. Colossus a trio hailing from Melbourne, Australia who use America's yellow tinted dysfunctional cartoon family "The Simpsons" as the inspiration  for their brand of fuzz drenched riff'n'roll, something that on paper sounds a little ridiculous but in reality strangely works. The band have just recently released their latest album (or should that be episode) "The Dank"(Death Mountain Records).


"Thrillho" opens things with a slow throbbing doom riff over which reflective, woe is me type lyrics are sung from the viewpoint of Bart Simpson's long suffering best friend Milhouse. Dr, Jon's clean, strong vocals ooze with a knowing resignation of goals unattainable as he sings "My best friends sis, wanna kiss her sexy lips" against a backdrop of (Jacques) Brel-like vaudevillian melancholy and fuzz drenched stoner swagger.
"Future Bart" struts straight out of the starting blocks on a swirling circular guitar refrain supported by Dr. Love's spine-crumbling bass and Dr. Johnston's pulverising percussion. The song's doom desert groove and vocal refrain of "I wash myself with a rag on a stick" harks back to a Simpson's episode where Bart is shown his future and finds sister Lisa has become President of America and Bart is a failed musician forced to eek a living playing gigs at a beach bar.
"It's Still Good" echoes the mantra Homer voices as he chases a pig he was cooking  all over Springfield on a mobile barbecue after vegetarian Lisa has pushed it downhill. The song sees Dr.Jon and Dr, Love trading off vocals over a crunching stoner groove and has an almost "pop" feel to it owing to its addictive chorus and fresh bright dynamics.
"Dr. Colossus" follows and sees the band veering towards darker territory telling the story of Springfield's very own mad scientist over a soundtrack of menacing low slow grinding riffage and pulverising rhythms coated in a mixture of low,sinister and clean, roared vocals.
"Excellent" is an ode to the Simpson's resident all round not so nice guy "Mr.Burns"set to a backdrop of crunching desert groove taken to an epic close on a swathe of discordant guitar riffage.
"Holy Driver" utilises a throbbing, heavily distorted bass line as the anchor for a growling stoner riff fest that along the way references the great Ronnie James Dio in snatches of melody and phrasing.
"Lemonade" with it's "Eat my shorts" vocal refrain and totally addictive groove is one of the highlights of the album, Built around a rumbling bass and guitar refrain perfectly supported by Dr. Johnston's tight economic percussion the song rolls along with an understated menace yet retains that tongue in cheek humour that colours all the bands work both on this album and their previous work.
"Dr. Tongue" closes the album with a doom flecked ode to lust, loss and infatuation edged with a bluesy swagger and contains the immortal lines  "I don't believe it but now my pants are chaffing me" .....pure poetry.


Some might see Dr. Colossus's Simpson's themes  as being a tad gimmicky but with so many bands writing songs about a cloven hoofed man with horns and a forked tail, who also only appears in books and on screen, then that argument falls a little flat. Desert Psychlist's advice is to just listen with an open mind and enjoy.
Check 'em out ...

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 10 September 2017

THE BLACK WIZARDS ~ WHAT THE FUZZ! ..... review


Portuguese fuzz'n'rollers The Black Wizards will be no strangers to those who prefer their grooves a touch psychedelic, a touch fuzzy and a whole lot bluesy. The quartet of  Joana Brito (vocals, guitar), Paulo Ferreira (guitar), João Mendes (bass, acoustic guitar) and Helena Peixoto (drums, congas, backing vocals) have previously released one very impressive EP, "Fuzzadelic" and one equally impressive album "Lake of Fire" both of which were very well received by critics and fans alike. The band are now hoping for a similar reaction for their second and latest album "What The Fuzz!" (Raging Planet).


The incredibly short and noisy "Side by Side" is the intro by which you enter into The Black Wizards world of bluesy torch songs, raucous riff fuelled rockers and fuzz drenched jams and it's a world you will want to dwell in for some time. From the achingly beautiful "Freaks and Geeks" where Brito's majestic vocals soar and swoop over a backdrop of searing slow blues groove. through to the country edged gospel feel of  "Everything Is Good Until Trouble Comes" the listener is treated to a masterclass in fuzz edged delta groove and bluesy vocal pyrotechnics. Brito's vocals throughout "What The Fuzz!" are revelation, the guitarist/ vocalist's natural vibrato adding a unique edge to her powerful tones, the singer using it as a tool to add extra layers of texture to each songs lyrics coming across at times like a female version of (British 70's rock band) Family's vocalist Roger Chapman but a whole lot easier on the ear. The Black Wizards are not all about one members vocal gymnastics however and beneath that voice the listener will find a band of musicians who are wholly on top of their game. Ferreira compliments Brito's vocals and crunching powerchords with scorching lead work, his solo's and riffs filled with emotion and feel taking off soaring flights of fancy one minute laying out with intricate fills and licks the next. Every band needs a good rhythm section to drive its grooves and The Black Wizards have a superb one in Mendes and Peixoto Mendes holding down the bottom end with a mixture of bone shaking distorted riffs and liquid clean lines and motifs while Peixoto brings a natural Latin swing to both her drumming and assorted percussion, the pair together laying solid foundations for Brito and Ferreira to build upon.


"What The Fuzz!" is a fine album delivered with a high level of musicianship and packed with a range of blues rooted songs that run from the stonerized to the countrified, paying homage to the genres history while at the same time giving it well needed shot in the arm.
Check it out ...

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 9 September 2017

OWL COVEN ~ COSMIC VOID EP ... review


Slow, low and heavy is the dynamic that many of us associate with the genres of sludge metal and doom, these more sedate tempos and lower tunings somehow amplifying the music's intensity and depth in a way that standard tuning and brighter dynamics would struggle to emulate.
France's Owl Coven know a thing or two about dynamics, the Nantes quartet use them to create huge monstrous rumbling grooves of sludge tinted doom flecked with pinches of psychedelic colouring and occult texturing, two examples of which can be heard on the band s debut EP "Cosmic Void"


"Wanderer of the Cosmic Void" opens with the obligatory narrative soundbyte lifted from some classic horror movie, something that seems to be mandatory these days, beneath which a reverberating guitar arpeggio is gently and slowly picked. As the song slowly evolves the guitar is joined by sporadic bursts from bass and drums embellished with Gregorian-like vocal chanting before guitar, bass and drums all come together and the songs drifts into a low, slow heavy doom groove with the vocals shifting from monk like to demonic. Now there are those that rail against harsh vocals but here mixed low down amidst a tsunami of swirling, psychedelic morosity they work perfectly and give the song a feeling of epic magnitude.
"Dying Mammoth" begins with swirling wind like effects then segues into a sludge heavy desert groove over which glistening shards of chordal guitar colouring sporadically erupt like lightning illuminating a black sky. Buried within this maelstrom of sound rasping, chanted vocals tell of  "Mountains made of concrete" and "Modern altars built to ancient demons", a damning verdict ,set to a soundtrack of unrelenting heaviness, bemoaning  mans unstoppable quest to destroy his only habitat. The song then takes flight into an extended jam with bluesy guitar solo's swooping and swaying over a foundation of earth-shaking bass and pummelling percussion before finishing with another soundbyte, this one very apt and simply stating "One day, sooner or later, you will remember my words"



Atmospheric and strangely spiritual "Cosmic Void" is a superb debut from a band who are unafraid to bring a little social commentary and self analysis to a genre of music renowned for its obsessions with the macabre and dismal, and that alone deserves our applause.
Check it out....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 8 September 2017

COMACOZER ~ KALOS EIDOS SKOPEO ... review


Sydney, Australia's Comacozer raised the bar high with their 2016 release "Astra Planeta" an instrumental album brimming over with eastern tinted mystic vibes and swirling heavy psych grooviness, the albums scorching guitar fuelled grooves scoring a minor triumph for non-vocalised rock music.  The problem with releasing an album with such a strong sonic impact is that its always going to beg the question "how are we going to follow this?" Well with the release of their latest album "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" we are about to find out.


The first thing the listener will notice when giving "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" a spin is there is an undeniable heaviness to the proceedings, a heaviness that although present on previous outing "Astra Planeta" here seems to be magnified. Whether the band have been listening to a steady diet of Ufomammut and other bands in that vein, Desert Psychlist knows not, but there is definitely a grittier, more intense feeling to be found amongst the four epic sized grooves that make up this new album. This heavier feel is most evident on the albums opening track "Axix Mundi" a hypnotising doom tinted slow burner, briefly broken by a deliciously lysergic mid section ,that gradually grows in depth and intensity, adding little subtle layers, as it wends its way to its noisy fuzz drenched climax.  Ambience and tranquillity, however, are never far behind in the world of Comacozer  and these two elements are used to great effect on the superbly eclectic "Enuma Elish" a track that sees guitarist Rick Burke laying down a swathe of psychedelic textured  six-string colouring around Frank Attard's swirling array of synthesised keyboard effects ably supported by Rich Elliot's deep booming bass lines and Andrew "Pana" Panagopoulos's complex drum patterns that then erupts into gnarly fuzz drenched refrain that the listener will not want to end.
Between these two tracks of essential heavy psych reside "Nystagmus" and "Hylonomus", the former a moody eastern flavoured piece that finds Burke gently picking effect pedalled arpeggios over Pana's intricate jazzy percussive patterns that are perfectly underscored by Elliot's thrumming bass motif and Attard's swooping synthesised effects, the latter a lysergic romp through the cosmos that suddenly takes off into a stratospheric space/psych jam that in places recalls the more rockier moments of British psych/prog/rave exponents Ozric Tentacles



The Eastern/North African themes Comacozer explored on "Astra Planeta" are still in evidence on "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" but this time around the band have edged them with an element of gritty darkness, the band finding a balance between the exotic and the brutal that is both intoxicating and exhilarating.
Check it out....

© 2017 Frazer Jones