Sunday, 10 December 2017

SHADOW WITCH ~ DISCIPLES OF THE CROW ...... review


Sometimes a band appears and manages to cut a swathe through all the bullshit of genres and sub-genres by just delivering good old fashioned, well structured, superbly written and arranged rock songs and in doing so manages to unite fans of all the genres of metal and rock under one flag.  Shadow Witch, from Kingston, New York, are one such band, the collective of David Pannullo (bass), Doug "Beans" Thompson (drums), Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples) and Jeremy H. Hall (guitars) have created ,through a combination of sheer hard work and determination and after only one previous album "Sun Killer", an unprecedented air of anticipation among the underground rock community for where their next album may take them. Well with the release (December 15th 2017) of "Disciples of the Crow" ( Salt of the Earth Records) we can now find out!


"Love Could Be Like This" kicks things off and finds Shadow Witch delivering the goods with a song that is a little bit galloping NWOBHM, a little bit soulful hard rock and a whole lot enjoyable. "Older than emeralds am I, darker than shadows at night" sings the vocalist over a backdrop of insistent rolling rhythms and a mixture of crunching powerchords and neo-classical shredding, the band coming together to hit a perfect balance between that which is heavy and that which is soulful . The song exemplifies superbly Shadow Witch's "modus operandi" of serving up grooves that have the ability to traverse genres, like Sweden's Spiritual Beggars did, and continue to do, Shadow Witch fill that void between fuzzy stoner/hard rock and traditional heavy metal with the band hitting a groove on songs like "Cruel","Stranger Skies" and "Beneath The Veil" that, in places, could be described as something akin to Iron Maiden jamming with (Mark III) Deep Purple. This is not to say Shadow Witch are unoriginal or retro just that they use what's available from both the past and present to create something new yet still pleasingly familiar, utilising what has gone before with what is here and now to the utmost effect.



Not wishing to go over old ground but the description that Desert Psychlist gave when reviewing Shadow Witch's last opus "Sun Killer", of them being a band who encompass all aspects of  rock's vast cannon, once again rings loud and clear throughout every one of the eight gloriously addictive songs on "Disciples of the Crow", this is an album you truly MUST...check out....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Big thanks to Leanne Ridgeway at Mettle Media PR for promo materials

Saturday, 9 December 2017

DEADLY VIPERS ~ FUELTRONAUT .... review


Deadly Vipers, a quartet hailing from Perpignan, France consisting of  Fred (vocals), David(guitar), Thomas (bass) and Vincent (drums), deal in grooves of no nonsense rock'n'roll that are two parts stoner/desert fuzz, one part raucous hard rock and one part bluesy classic rock all parts of which can be heard on the band's debut album "Fueltronaut"


The band kick things off with a "Fuel Prophecy", a brief instrumental built around crunching riffage and rolling percussion, then plough straight into "Universe" a sweaty hi-octane fuzz fest that has more than a whiff of the Truckfighters testosterone fuelled attack about it. This track is a monster and it's full on assault on the senses may have fuelled a few of the Kyuss/Truckfighters comparisons that Desert Psychlist had read prior to this review but there is far more to Deadly Vipers than just a kicking groove and a fuzzy riff. Dig a little deeper into "Fueltronaut" and among the fuzz and distortion you will start coming across little touches of classic rock texturing and dynamics as on he excellent "The Prey Goes On" where the fuzz subsides for a moment and the band drops briefly into a more laid back rock groove before erupting again into its initial raucous refrain or on the Bad Company/Free like "Stalker" where the vocalist  does a sterling job of conveying the songs emotions with a superb range of vocal pyrotechnics, all bluesy crooning one minute full on rock god roar the next.



The vocalist is ably supported throughout the album by a strong rhythm section with the drums and bass creating a series of strong foundations for the guitarist to overlay with big crunching chords and well chosen solo's ,the quartet coming together as a whole to create an overall sound that although not totally unique and original is nonetheless highly enjoyable.
Check it out ...

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 7 December 2017

OMEGA SUN ~ OPIUM FOR THE MASSES ... review


Slovenia might not yet be one of the "go to" countries for underground music but there is a small yet thriving scene taking shape in the Central European republic. One band attempting to break out of that scene and make a name for themselves further afield are Medo..,Seba..and Aris..otherwise known as Omega Sun, a trio from Koper who have just released their debut album "Opium For The Masses"


Although sitting quite comfortably in stoner/desert territory, due to its heavily fuzzed guitar tones and throbbing, muscular rhythmic grooves, there is nonetheless an air of old school classic/hard rock to be found swirling over and around the six songs that make up "Opium For The Masses" thanks in part (a large part) to its strong clean vocal attack. Bassist/vocalist Medo harnesses a vocal tone not dissimilar to that of Kyuss front man John Garcia and combines it with the feral power of late Soundgarden/Audioslave's Chris Cornell ,this when combined with his thunderous bass lines,Seba's solid, insistent percussion and Aris' superb deep toned guitar riffs and solo's, makes for a compelling mix that although owing a huge debt to those dusty grooves born in the deserts of the USA has a charm and uniqueness all of its own.


If you like your grooves Kyuss-like with a touch of 70/80's hard rock vocal swagger then you can't go far wrong by taking "Opium For The Masses" for a spin.
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

SUN DANCE ~ MANITOU ... revew


Hardly has Desert Psychlist finished reviewing one Polish band before another one comes knocking at the door demanding our attention and on the strength of their twisted stoner metal grooves ,,,getting that attention! Sun Dance hail from Krakow, Poland and consist of Jan Gajewski (vocals), Jacek Szczepan (guitar), Adam Gajewski (guitar), Kacper Półchłopek (bass) and Jakub Tokarz (drums), five guys who first came to our attention with their 2014 debut EP "Valley of Fears" a release that this reviewer described on their Bandcamp page as sounding like "Rage Against The Machine meets Down". This year the band return with "Manitou" (releases 10th December 2017) an album that, although still retaining faint traces of the metallic hip-hoppery that informed their first release, is an album that leans slightly more towards the heavier end of the stoner/psych spectrum.

Sun Dance, with "Manitou", deliver a true masterclass in how to evolve as a band, the slightly "street vibe" the band adopted on "Valley of Fears" has taken a back seat on this release and been replaced by a more forceful stoner feel, still as metallic but with a stronger focus on dynamics and texture. The slightly rap-like meter of the vocals on the bands previous work, although good, nonetheless had an air of gimmickry about them, here though they have been jettisoned for a more straightforward vocal approach with a mixture of strong powerful clean and throaty harsh tones utilised to superb effect. Musically the band are on top of their game executing scorching riffs and solo's over a diverse array of rhythmic patterns, in places even getting a little bluesy and anthemic ("Join The Circle") and lysergic ("Into The Sky"), mixing these elements up with huge swathes of fuzz and distortion and enhancing them with those, already mentioned, big vocal tones.


In a year that has seen the likes of Egypt, Elder, Greenbeard and many more make triumphant returns to our listening posts of choice the average stoner/metalhead may find him/herself a little a overwhelmed and battle wearied by the constant waves of quality underground music 2017 has seen fit to throw their way. Well its not over yet so don't finish those best of year lists yet, 2017 is a year that keeps on giving and Sun Dance's "Manitou" is vying for a place on those lists
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 4 December 2017

OCTOPUSSY ~ DWARFS & GIANTS .... review


"If music be the food of love, play on" wrote Shakespeare and although not wanting to disagree with him if the 16th century playwright had replaced the word "love" with "life" I think he may have been a little nearer to the mark. Music is the soundtrack to our lives whether it be cheesy pop, bangin' dance beats or crunching powerchords we are surrounded by it, blaring out of radio's in car's, factory's and shop's, played on phones. I-pods, like death it's one of life's constants. Music can be emotional, inspirational and all stops in-between, what music fan has not had that shiver down the spine-moment when hearing something that hits that sweet spot just right? Where are you going with this I hear you ask, well Desert Psychlist recently experienced one of those rare moments while listening to Polish riffonauts Octopussy's latest release "Dwarfs & Giants"


As the stoner/desert scene has developed it has increasingly taken on board elements from those other genres surrounding it, old Sabbath riffs, tuned down and soaked in swathes of fuzz, although still enjoyable, are no longer enough to make a band stand out from the rest of the herd. Octopussy, Jan Babiński (vocals), Konrad Ciesielski (drums),  Piotr Danielewicz (guitars), Michał Banasik (guitars), Marcin Bąkowski (bass guitar) and Michał Koziorowski (keys), address this dilemma by adding into their grooves a little edgy southern swagger and elements of soulful funky swing, so much so that there are songs on "Dwarfs & Giants" it would not be hard to actually dance to. The blues however remains the driving force at the core of Octopussy's sonic assault and although this bands take on those delta grooves are a little more twisted and lysergic than those of your standard blues rock band they are nevertheless from the same source. From the soulful stoner fuzz of opener "Birdman" through to the epic closer "Future Western" "Dwarfs & Giants" is an album full of clever twists and turns with swathes of keyboard texturing weaved around a mixture of swirling guitar solo's, funky chords and ,crunching riffs pushed by growling bass and solid punchy percussion all overlaid with ultra-cool, strong clean vocals.


If you like your grooves a little sandy and Kyuss-like but are also partial to some keyboard soaked soulful funkiness à la Mark III Deep Purple and don't mind a bit of Lynyrd Skynyrd style Southern swagger liberally sprinkled about then "Dwarfs & Giants" is an album you should...
Check out.....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

PILLARS ~ PYRES AND GALLOWS ...review


Sometimes a band releases an album or EP through a site like Bandcamp only to find it gathering dust in the lower reaches of that sites vast catalogue of artist and bands, however sometimes that same album gets picked up by an independent record company a while later and is given a second chance. This was the scenario with French doomsters PillarsDisaster (bass), Djé (guitars). JJ (drums) and Klem (vocals), who released their EP "Pyres and Gallows" through Bandcamp in April 2016 only for it to slip quietly under the radar of many of the scenes bloggers, podcasters and doom fans, thankfully this year Seeing Red Records have seen fit to give the EP another spot in the twilight by re-releasing it as a limited edition hand numbered  cassette.


"Pyres and Gallows" is essentially a doom album, not so much the doom of the present with its guttural growls (although those tones are are touched on) and bass strings tuned so low they could be classed a tripping hazard but more the coffin creaking, sacrificial altar, old school doom once the territory of bands like Candlemass and Lord Vicar. This is not to say "Pyres and Gallows" is a throwback to another era, far from it, there is plenty about "Pyres and Gallows" that is bang up to date and "current" but the band  balance these more "modern" elements out with more than a  smattering of old school doom atmospherics and proto-doom dynamics and groove. Black Sabbath are usually the yardstick by which we judge anything with even a hint of proto-doom classification but Pillars veer more towards the Electric Wizard end of that spectrum with songs like "Green Magik Ritual" and "Dirty Whoreshippers" having a much more visceral attack than anything Ozzy & Co ever came close to, thick layers of grainy distortion and fuzz pushed hard by growling bass and powerful percussion all topped off with a mixture of strong classic doom and harsher "modern" doom vocal tones.


All in all "Pyres and Gallows" is a coming together of some of doom's sub-genres cleverly stitched together so that the join is virtually invisible, old and new blended and mixed together to create a sound that is familiar and comforting yet still fresh and challenging.
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 25 November 2017

MOTHER MARS ~ ON LUNAR HIGHLANDS ...review


Australia, that land filled with everything that wants to  sting,bite, kick and eat you is also a land brimming over with untapped musical talent, talent that slowly but surely is, through sites like Bandcamp, ReverbNation, Spotify and the like, making its presence felt internationally especially in the underground rock scene. Comacozer, Dr Colossus, Motherslug and Holy Serpent are just a few of a vast array of new and exciting bands garnering attention outside of their native shores. One band who have been at the forefront of this antipodean influx since their inception are Sydney's Mother Mars, a trio consisting of Frank Attard (drums, percussion, Clavinet, synth), Paul Attard (guitar, bass, synth, banjo-mandolin, piano, organ) and Dave Schembri (vocals, harmonica, mellow vibes), who have been releasing a steady stream of well received albums and EP's since their formation back in the early 00's. After what seems to be a lengthy absence (from our ears anyway) the band are back with a new album "On Lunar Highlands" (releases December 06 on Pepper Shaker Records).


Those out there expecting the Kyuss/Dozer type stoner/desert grooves the band first brought to our ears with their debut "Take The Ride" or even the slightly heavier doom tinted space and psych that permeated their last full album "Steam Machine Museum" might be surprised by some of the directions taken on "On Lunar Highlands", though it would be fair to say there is plenty of both still to be found among the eleven songs on offer. Maturity is the word that first pops to mind while listening to Mother Mars new opus, if the bands earlier output could be visualised as a youth kicking against the rails and partying all week then "On Lunar Highlands" is that same youth finding his place in the world and only partying at weekends This more considered, mature approach combined with the bands increasingly impressive instrumental prowess and the bands willingness to occasionally throw away the rule book and step into unknown gives the songs on "On Lunar Highlands" an added level of depth an intensity that pays huge dividends right throughout the album and makes for a delightfully fulfilling and totally enjoyable listen.
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones