Saturday, 20 May 2017

THE SONIC DAWN ~ INTO THE LONG NIGHT ...... review


America's West Coast scene was the place to be in the hippy, trippy days of the 60's, kaftans, beads and bell bottomed trousers were the uniform of the day worn by a youth movement revelling in a new found freedom that was further fuelled by freely available hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, mescaline and psilocin. The 60's also saw a major sea change in popular music with bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and The Electric Prunes all experimenting with sound, exploring new ground, mirroring those drug fuelled journey's through the windmills of their minds with a music that was devoid of boundaries a music that was full of possibilities.
Denmark's The Sonic Dawn were not around in the 60's and not even from the USA's West Coast but somehow or other these Danish psychonauts have absorbed those 60's ideals of musical freedom and experimentation and tweaked them for a 00's audience resulting in a sound that is informed by the past but targeted for the present, a sound that listeners can experience for themselves on the band's second album "Into The Long Night".


After a brief 33 second intro, interestingly entitled "Intro", featuring backward guitars, disembodied vocals and shimmering noise, we arrive at "Emily Lemmon" a stunningly beautiful mix of acid folk and psych rock enhanced by reverb soaked guitar colouring layered over a backdrop of sympathetic bass and drum rhythms around which Emil Bureau (vocals, guitar, sitar, recorder) wraps warm clean mellow vocals. The songs groove climbs and dips on a glorious rollercoaster of psychedelic dynamics that in places recalls John Cipollina's Quicksiver Messanger Service in others Roger McGuinn's The Byrds. "On The Shore" continues in much the same vein but this time around those Byrds vibes are pushed further to the fore. Jonas Waaben (drums, assorted percussion, backing vocals) lays down a funky jazz like backbeat perfectly supported by Niels 'Bird' Fuglede's warm liquid bass lines over which Bureau delivers a mixture of wah drenched and chiming guitar colouring as well as providing another warmly effective vocal.  "As Of Lately" raises the tempo and sees Bureau getting a little grittier vocally as he channels the spirit of Dick Dale through his guitar, reverb drenched notes hanging in the air, dripping with echo over Waaben and Fuglede's insistent rhythmic foundation. "Six Seven" and "Numbers Blue" finds The Sonic Dawn finding their "mojo" and injecting a little bluesy swagger into their trippy acid grooves with the former a slow blues enhanced by subtle keyboard colouring (courtesy of Eric "Errka" Petersson) and the latter a psych drenched, acid tinted country blues taken to another level by a guitar solo not dissimilar to that of Roger McGuinn's on The Byrds iconic "Eight Miles High". Next tracks "Lights Left On" and "l'Espion" finds the band mixing introspective Lennon and McCartney type vocal melodies over mellow psychedelic grooves touched by elements of jazz-like fusion. "Summer Voyage" raises the mood and jams a groove that takes in influences from both eastern and western  musical culture, the song taking off on psychedelic voyages of discovery with Bureau singing achingly beautiful melodies while swapping between sitar and traditional guitar, his stringed forays superbly backed up by Waaben and Fuglede's intricate rhythmic accompaniment.


Heady, trippy with a big 60's vibe The Sonic Dawn's "Into The Long Night" references that early "West Coast Sound" so loved by many but is not defined by it, the band add a 00's twist to those lysergic grooves of old and bring them up to date for a new generation,
Check 'em out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jomes

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

SUMMONER ~ BEYOND THE REALM OF LIGHT .... review


Boston's Summoner seemed to tap into something when they decided to change their name from Riff Cannon to its current title, why this is no one knows but it appeared to spur the band on to greater heights and saw them releasing two stunningly good albums in 2012's "Phoenix" and 2013's "Atlantian" both of which were warmly embraced by the underground press and fans alike
.The band are now back to entertain and amaze with their third album "Beyond The Realm Of Light" (Magnetic Eye Records).


So what do you get for your money this time around? Well nothing much as changed, Summoner are still slaying all before them with their addictive grooves of molten metallic stoner, still blending heavily fuzzed and distorted riffage with intense vocal melodies and still managing to sound fresh and vital. If there is something new to be found in Summoner's sonic attack it is that there is a little more focus, a touch more musicality and a stronger emphasis on arrangement to be found in their highly addictive sound. Songs like. the gloriously rifftastic. "The Huntress", the melancholy and prog-ish. "The Emptiness" and the epic and atmospheric closing track "Into Oblivion", although still retaining the intensity and drive of  previous work are imbued with a newly found sense of adventure and experimentation, the band unafraid to go out on a limb on occasions, flexing their musical muscles, going off on a tangent here and there but never losing sight of the groove.
If you enjoyed "Phoenix" and "Atlantian" then your gonna love "Beyond The Realm Of Light", it's like someone buying you your favourite pizza opening the box and finding its got extra topping.
Check it out ....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 11 May 2017

SAVANAH ~ THE HEALER .... review


Austria's Savanah blew everyone's minds when in 2015 they released their debut album "Deep Shades" a stunning collection of grooves that garnered plaudits from bloggers, journalists and music fans from across the globe. Well two years after that iconic album Savanah are back ready to re-blow those minds and a few more besides with their second album "The Healer" (StoneFree Records).


"Intro" a short  51 second piece consisting of howling feedback and droning effects is used as a gateway into the next track
"Mind"  is a stunning mixture of riff heavy stoner bluster and laid back psych all coated in warm clean vocal melodies, the band switching back and forth between the two dynamics and along the way visiting a plethora of differing grooves, tempos and time signatures.
"The Healer" follows, it's initial stoner doom groove of heavy crunching riffage and monotonic vocal tones is broken up by sudden bursts of feral energy with banshee-like guitar wailing,  growling bass tones and ferocious drums all creating a raucous heavily psyched groove before the band dive headlong back into the murky doom to start the whole process all over again.
"Pillars of Creation" an instrumental, sees Savanah jamming a hazy desert/psych groove that builds layer by glorious layer until exploding into a heavy psychedelic freak out replete with soaring guitar solo's and dusty desert rhythmic splendour, it goes to prove those nights sharing stages with the likes of Colour Haze and Seven That Spells didn't go to waste.
"Black Widow" initially follows a similar sandy path to the previous track but then takes a sudden left into harder, darker territory with the refrains and rhythms getting a little menacing and  the vocals taking on a darker more mournful edge. Leaning close to doom in places the song is pulled back from the edge of the pit by the band going off on delicious tangents into desert, psych and even a little lysergic funkiness.
"Panoramic View Of Stormy Weather" closes the album and finds Savanah fully embracing those Colour Haze influences touched on earlier with twisty liquid bass lines and intricate percussion laying a foundation for the guitarist to paint lysergic portraits with his six-string palette. This is not Colour Haze though, this is Savanah and its not long before they wrench the warmly fuzzed groove back and move it into darker, doomier regions, the band hitting into a crunching, stuttering  doom riff overlaid with powerful gritty vocals  enhanced by soaring guitar solo's over a foundation of grizzled bass and powerhouse drumming. Just as your getting down and dirty, nodding your head and throwing horns to the dark, dank doom Savanah once again pull the rug from under you and the listener is transported from the dank doomy darkness back into a multi-coloured world of  lysergic splendour, the band taking the song to its conclusion on wave of intense psychedelic groove that sits somewhere between Earthless and Elder but still retains a sound that is wholly Savanah.


I could finish this review with a whole paragraph of reasons why you should  buy/hear "The Healer" and none of them would do justice to the molten grooves of doom, desert and psych the band deliver on these six gloriously schizophrenic songs, so your just gonna have to hit the link below and check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 8 May 2017

BETWEEN THE LINES ~ BETWEEN THE LINES ....review


Ireland's Between The Lines description of themselves as "a diverse rock and heavy band from Galway exploring light and darkness", is one that is hard not to agree with, the bands blend of alt/grunge and heavy psych/stoner dynamics textured with post-rock complexity is a groove that most certainly has one foot in the shadows and the other in the sunlight, as can be witnessed on the bands self-tiled album "Between The Lines".


First track "Rumour" begins sparse and atmospheric with shimmering percussion, liquid bass and guitar arpeggios gently supporting a wordless choral melody before a circular fuzzed refrain appears slowly growing in volume until the rest of the band join in and the song takes off into a gritty hard rocking stoner groove that shifts up and down through a series differing riff fuelled dynamics coated in strong clean and effective vocals.
"All Free" is next up and jams a rolling guitar refrain backed by a massive drum and bass backdrop enhanced with clever touches of lead guitar colouring that erupts from the speakers with feral furiosity that only lets up when the vocalist finally bringing things to a close on the poignant and unaccompanied vocal line "You will"
"Sands of Time" sees Between The Lines embracing their prog-ish ,post-rock side while at the same time sprinkling elements of doom and space into the proceedings. Startling and atmospheric it's a fine example of a band who are not prepared to just live and die by the ferocity of their riffage but one who want/need to stretch out into other areas and are unafraid to do so.
"For Your Sanity" finds the band blending into their heavily fuzzed post-rock grooves a touch of alt/grunge dynamics, weaving them around truly stunning vocal melodies and harmonies underpinned by thunderous rhythmic backdrops and taken to another level by swirling guitar motifs and crunching riffage.
"Southern Steel" follows, it's crunching chords and swirling guitar motif's, delivered over a foundation of grizzled low bass and tribalistic percussion, are drenched in  a swathe of gnarly eastern promise into which a mix of gritty and smooth vocal tones and harmonies are expertly woven.
"Shellshock" sees Between The Lines changing tack slightly and heading in a  more stoner/hard rock direction albeit one informed by a darker more post-rock approach..
Lastly comes "Sleep" a song that sees Between The Lines once again dipping their toes into the waters of eastern mysticism. The song builds layer by layer with gently swept arpeggios, sitar-like guitar effects and intricate bass and drum rhythms supporting a smooth mellow clean vocal, the song gradually building momentum bothy musically and vocally until exploding into gnarled heavy psych groove in the last quarter and then fading out in the same sparse and atmospheric fashion the band used to open the album.
Melodic, metallic and marvellous "Between The Lines" is an album that deserves to be heard outside of the niche sometimes "insular" market of the rock underground, this is music and sound that has the potential to appeal to much wider audience, whether that will happen or not only time will tell.
Check it out ......


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 7 May 2017

BALEFUL CREED ~ SEISMIC SHIFTER ..... review


Northern Ireland's Baleful Creed have been strutting their brand of gritty stonerized hard rock and bluesy metal around the halls and clubs of  Belfast since their formation in 2009 going on to release three well received EP's "Killing Time" (2011), "Buried Underneath"(2012) and "III"(2013) as well as one full album (consisting of remixed, re -mastered  song from the two later EP's) simply titled "Baleful Creed".
The band, Fin Finlay (vocals / guitar), John Allen (guitar), Davy Greer (bass / vocals) and Dave Jeffers (drums) are about to release their second full length album "Seismic Shifter".


Baleful Creed state their influences as Danzig, Fireball Ministry and Black Sabbath and although elements of all three of those bands can be heard throughout "Seismic Shifter" the thing that hits you most is the bluesy undercurrent that flows beneath each and every one of the albums ten songs. From the southern rock tinted swagger of opener "Devil's Side" ,via the lascivious sexual innuendo  of  "Grind" and the groove laden bluster of "Memento Mori", with it's big grizzly bass line, to the epic closer " The Wolf", Baleful Creed coat everything in a swathe of bluesy hues.
Although "Seismic Shifter" is informed by the blues it would be wrong to call it a "blues album" nor could you class it as "blues rock" or even "heavy rock", a term that would imply there were brutish elements to be found, no what Baleful Creed bring to the table is good old fashioned "hard rock" with a strong leaning towards its stoner cousin, a sound bathed in fuzz and drenched in groove.
At the core of Baleful Creed's sound is the twin guitar attack of Finlay and Allen, the six-string duo lay down a barrage of crunching fuzz drenched riffage and soaring solo's, with the former's gritty rasp adding an extra level of stoner rock authenticity to the mix ,the pair pushed hard from beneath by Greer's luscious bass noodling's and Jeffers powerful mix of intricate and powerful percussion, the four musicians combining to create furiously addictive grooves that are not only highly enjoyable but rock so hard they could be registered on a Richter scale.


Over the years there's been some great music coming out of Northern Ireland, Gary Moore, Them, Therapy? and The Answer are just a few who have made considerable waves outside of their homeland base and if Baleful Creed play their cards right and all the planets align there's a chance they could do the same
Check 'em out ....

Saturday, 6 May 2017

BENEATH THE DIVINE ~ WICKED RESURRECTION ... review


From Chepstow, a little town in Monmouthshire,Wales, known more for it's racecourse than it's music, come a band who in their own words "Enjoying making noise and keeping life stress free", four guys who collectively fly under the banner Beneath The Divine,  four guys who have just released their first full length album "Wicked Resurrection".


It's hard to name a style or genre of heavy metal that does not, somewhere or other, raise it's elaborately horned head into view over the duration of "Wicked Resurrection's" eight gnarled and grizzled songs. Doom; stoner, traditional and epic mix together with metal; old school, power and proto and are fused together with elements of swampy sludge, hard rock and even a little ferocious thrash, these elements appearing sometimes all in the same song, sometimes separately,  Songs with titles like "Odin's Law", "Swamp King and "Phoenix Rising" are infused with a variety of differing dynamics, tempo's time signatures and tones ensuring that although some of the song's theme's of mythology, witchcraft and the occult, may seem a little generic they never ever sound stale or boring. Guitarist Kev Stait brings a plethora of fuzzed and distorted tones to the table, crunching out saw toothed riffage one minute, the next peeling scorching note perfect solo's from his fretboard, beneath him Tim Evans holds down the bottom end with big grizzly booming bass lines locking in perfectly with drummer Barney Haskey's mix of intricate and brutal percussion. Frontman Jason Hamilton Davies' vocals puts the icing on the cake , the singer deliberately avoids the usual growling, demonic approach that seems to be the norm these days instead opting for clarity over possession, his powerful clean, clear tones soaring and swooping over the perfectly executed grooves laid beneath him, voice and music combining in a heady mix of glorious heavy rock bluster and scintillating metallic groove.


"Wicked Resurrection" is a superb debut from a band who's manifesto  of delivering  familiar themes over diverse metallic grooves has definitely got Desert Psychlist's vote and hopefully will have yours too
Check it out.....



© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 5 May 2017

BLACKBIRD HILL ~ MIDDAY MOONLIGHT ..... review


Alexis Dartiguelongue (guitar/vocals) and Maxime Conan (drums/vocals) are Blackbird Hill, a duo from Bordeaux, France with a love of Delta blues, Americana and good old rock'n'roll. The pair blend these elements together in a heady mix on their new release "Midday Moonlight" that although at times sits a little left of Desert Psychlist's usual remit of stoner/doom & psych nonetheless has a sound that the Psychlist believes is worthy of your attention.


"Trigger Law" kicks things off and dives headfirst into the blues with an initial burst of heavily fuzzed guitar and thunderous percussion that then makes way for a slower laid back country blues groove that sees Conan's tubthumping percussion supporting Dartiguelongue's clean, clear  vocal and gently picked guitar, slowly building, via a section of old school rock'n'roll with the guitarist/vocalist tailoring his tones accordingly, into a massive heavy blues finale.
"Horseback Sight" sees Blackbird Hill laying out on a slow wistful blues fractured by moments of heavy riffage that sees Dartiguelongue delivering emotive vocals over a mixture of sparse and heavy guitar colouring around a backdrop of sympathetic and tight drum work.
"Run Like Mad" jams a skiffle-like groove over which Conan and Dartiguelongue sing clean but gritty harmonies, the upbeat tempo pushed by Conan's insistant percussion recalling the crepe shoed refrains of  defunct New York rockers The Stray Cats.
"Stories From The Road" finds Blackbird Hill delving into  Americana territory and sees Dartiguelongue delivering beautifully clear and clean vocals over gently picked arpeggios, superbly backed up by Conan's shimmering percussion and occasional vocal harmonies.
"Hold Your Fire" has Blackbird Hill cranking up the fuzz and diving headlong into a more stonerized blues groove, albeit more blues than stoner.
Title track "Midday Moonlight" jams a heavier Zeppelin-esque groove with Dartiguelongue's vocals taking on a harsher,grittier tone beneath which he delivers thick distorted chords of fuzz drenched guitar enhanced by fiery licks and fills pushed hard by Conan's thunderous and precise drumming.
Blackbird Hill's "Midday Moonlight" is at it's core a blues album but a blues album informed by a variety of differing influences and genres and is an album that, whether your a stoner, a doomer or a metalhead, should be enjoyed for what it is ...damn fine music.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones