Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Rarely do you come across an album that so perfectly traverses the line between brutality and beauty in the way that Evoke Thy Lords do with their latest opus "Lifestories". The Siberian quintet, of Alexey Koslov (bass/vocals), Sergey Vagin (guitar), Vasiliy Yuzhanin (guitar), Yaroslav Kaigorodov (drums) and Irina Mirzaeva (flute), have with their latest album managed to create something that almost defies the usual labels and tags we use to describe musical genres and constructed a sound that although sitting within the territory of doom is not defined by that term.
As "Regressed" peels from the speakers on a wave of low,slow stonerized heavy riffage, layered over a pulverising bedrock of pounding rhythm, it might seem that the opening paragraph of this review had given the listener a bum steer and that this was just another ten-a-penny stoner doom band experimenting with elements of psych and space to fill out there sound, well you couldn't be more wrong. Around gnarly refrains of dank dark psychedelic doom, replete with swirling solo's, low, low menacing vocals and earth shaking rhythmic grooves, comes the sweet, almost saccharine sound of a flute, it's breathy tones bringing a whole new dimension to the relentless heaviness surrounding it.
Mirzaeva's flute majestically weaving in and out of the molten doom grooves on songs like "Life Is A Trick" and the epic "Heavy Weather" is the weapon of mass destruction around which Evoke The Lords build their monolithic grooves of molten metallic doom, it could almost be argued that it is their trump card, their "raison d'etre", those gently blown tones, ringing sweetly above the dark murky doom grooves beneath them, bringing a sweetness to the sour and giving the band an edge that, combined with the psych drenched guitar colouring, tumultuous rhythms and bear like vocal tones, creates a sound that is wholly unique and wonderfully spine-tingling.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 24 April 2017
With the sometimes overwhelming amount of music being released these days it is not uncommon to miss a few gems every now and then, as was the case with "Exit Grand Piano" a five track masterclass in fuzz drenched stoner/desert dynamics from a Belgian quintet flying under the banner of Von Detta. released in October last year (2016).
Von Detta, Tom Claus (vocals), Jeroen Vandamme (bass), lef De Deurwaerder (guitar), Jonas Verheist (guitar) and Koen De Borle (drums), are in their own words a band who "don't fool around", a band whose incendiary riff driven grooves are fronted by a man even his own band members call a "nut house maniac", a band that are fast gaining a reputation as must see live entity.
Blending elements of punky aggression with gritty stoner/desert attitude Von Detta's "Exit Grand Piano" is an EP that will wholeheartedly appeal to those brought up on the Palm Desert grooves of bands like Kyuss and Unida but also to those who dig the harsher more psych orientated grooves of todays underground rock scene. Songs like "Get Better (At Lying) ", "City Of Glass" and "Wrong Headed" jam riff heavy grooves salted with quirky QOTSA-like funkiness underpinned by solid, tight rhythmic bluster over which Claus croons, roars, rants and spits lyrics dripping with angst and attitude, his vocals a gentle caress one minute, a slap in the face the next. Combine these vocals with the sand blasted refrains and rhythms provided by the rest of the band and you arrive at a sound that is not only startlingly effective but one that is as exciting as it is addictive.
"Exit Grand Piano" is a joyous EP that recalls, in places, that transitional period when American punk loving youths, strung out on peyote and LSD, loaded their vehicles with instruments and amps and headed into the desert and in doing so started a whole new musical scene.Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 23 April 2017
Finding kick-ass Brazilian grooves is becoming the norm of late with bands like Stonehouseonfire, Black Witch, Pesta and Old Stove all making inroads into the international underground market with some seriously essential sounds. Latest band to have caused the ears of the stoner/doom and psych community to stand up and take attention consist of Felipe Cazaux (guitar / vox), Capoo Polacco (guitar), Hamilton de Castro (bass) and PH Barcellos (drums), a four piece hard rock band going by the name of the Mad Monkees from Fortaleza in North-eastern Brazil, a band who have only been together since 2015 but who, with the release of their debut, self titled album "Mad Monkees" are already making waves both within their own country and outside of it.
Mad Monkees, both band and album, deliver the kind of rock once classified as "hard" but nowdays more and more is found falling under the banner of "stoner", in other words ..riff fuelled grooves powered by an underbelly of tumultuous drums and big gnarly bass lines overlaid with fuzzed/ overdriven guitars and coated in grizzled clean vocal tones. Where Mad Monkees differ from the thousand and one bands ploughing similar furrows is in the sheer joie-de vivre they bring to the table with their 70's inspired refrains and rhythms, filling songs like the hard driving "Bombman", the southern flecked "Try Harder(Again & Again) and the bluesy "Deamons and Angels" with an uplifting sense of fun and excitement, a sense that transfers perfectly to record and one that is both highly enjoyable and infectious. The band keep things focused and tight by delivering their grooves in short sharp bursts, no meandering twenty minute opus's to be found here, only one tune of the album's ten stretching past the four minute mark, giving the album a more immediate and direct feel, but even with this feeling of immediacy the band still manage find time to invite a few guests on board with Anderson Kratsch (Marrero) helping out on vocals on "Bombman", and Emmily Barreto (Far From Alaska) vocals on "I Cannot Feel" as well as additional guitar from Estevan Sinkovitz (Marrero) on "Bombman" and Klaus Sena contributing bass on "Try Harder (Again & Again)".
Brazilian rock is growing stronger and stronger by the day but there is still a way to go before it can compete on an equal footing with those grooves regularly coming out of Europe and the USA, but if bands like Mad Monkees are an example of what Brazil has to offer then it won't stay that way for much longer.
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 22 April 2017
Argentinian desert groovsters Aridonia, Tomas Longombardo (bass), Matias Paiva (drums), Fernando Echenique (guitar/vocals) and Benjamin Yecora (guitar/vocals), are a band hailing from Argentina's Jujuy Province in the countries north-westerly extreme, a place renowned for its arid/semi-desert environment. Its no surprise then to find the bands debut EP, "EP1", is duly informed by that environment.
"Cenizas" begins its journey around a throbbing thick toned guitar refrain bolstered by massive a bass and drum groove over which clean, powerful vocal tones are delivered in the bands native tongue of Spanish. The songs initial attack of doom-ish riffage, laced with twisty desert guitar colouring, gradually shifts its focus and veers into more psychedelic country and sees Aridonia stretching out and flexing their musical muscles with Floyd-ian/ Colour Haze-ish tinted guitars soaring and screaming over jazzy, lysergic backdrops of cosmic groove dripping with spacey effects.
"Enteögeno", a homage to natures hallucinogen's, opens with a lone liquid bass line soon joined by a jazzy fusion-like guitar motif before taking off into the stratosphere on a brief wave of gnarly desert riffage, falling back into its ambient beginnings when the mellow, laid back clean vocals appear. Whether intentional or not the songs groove seems to musically mirror the lysergic rollercoaster ride of "being on a trip" with spirituality, wonder and chemically induced awe all musically represented here as the groove wends its way back and forth between ambient periods of jazzy fusion and crunching heavy riffage the dynamics of which periodically fall and rise until finally bowing out on a wave of heavily psyched desert bluster.
"Larga Duna" begins gently and folk-like with sweet clean vocal harmonies sang over a foundation of gently swept guitar arpeggios and shimmering percussion interrupted by sporadic moments of gnarly heaviness. As with previous tracks the dynamics swing between gentle and heavy, the band going off on the occasional tangent but always keeping one eye on the groove, mixing elements of heavy psych texturing with those of hard rock and fusion-like jazz in an exciting blend that is both unique and familiar at the same time.
If you like your grooves a little experimental yet with a heavy stonerized core then Aridonia's "EP1" is an EP you should check out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 17 April 2017
There are those that think "the blues" has no place in today's music scene seeing it as a genre that has passed well by its sell by date, a genre that peaked in the 70's, a time when British musicians re-packaged the blues, channelling those melancholy grooves through stacks of Marshall amps and basically selling the results back to the place of its birth. "The blues" though is a resilient old bird and she won't let go without a fight, her leathery, calloused fingertips clawing their way into all aspects of music from pop to black metal, she refuses to just curl up and die.
The latest band to be seduced by her tear stained visage and mournful embrace are Newcastle-on-Tyne trio Cave Suns, three guys who coat delta inspired grooves with elements of psych and stoner creating a sound that sits somewhere between the Doors and All Them Witches, a sound that can be witnessed on their two track EP "Canned Howl".
First track "Canning A Howl" sees Cave Suns flaunting their blues credentials in a song that references every form of the blues known to man and then some. Kit Endean (Guitar / Vocals), Mike Hill (Bass / Vocals) and Ewan McLaughlin (Drums / Vocals) effortlessly shift between bar room shuffles, heavy blues bluster and out-there psychedelic flights of fancy, taking the music on cosmic journey's to places it never knew existed until it arrived there.. Hill and McLaughlin hold down the percussion and bottom end perfectly, tight and solid on the more rockier moments, loose and fluid when the dynamic gets a little lysergic, the pair perfectly complimenting each other allowing Endean's guitar the freedom to roam. Endean lays down a swathe of six-string colouring, soaring over Hill and McLaughlin's rhythmic pulses, his guitar screaming banshee-like one minute, laid back and dripping with reverb the next, his immense tones recalling those of blues rock icon Robin Trower in places. The guitarist also supplies the majority of vocals , his Geordie twang bringing a bluesy grittiness to the table, a grittiness that enhances those blues credentials and gives the listener a feeling that your listening to something rooted in the past but very much of the now.
"Black North Sea Coast" begins moody and sullen, coloured with a hint of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" in it's intro, slowly building layer on atmospheric layer via choir-like vocal harmonies, laid back percussion, liquid bass lines and dark chordal colouring. Like a plant shoot filmed on a time lapse camera the song gradually branches out growing darker, heavier and more atmospheric with each passing minute finally coming into bloom when Endear's warm vocal appears at around the halfway mark. Cryptic lyrics, telling of "A heart made of wood, only mahogany would dry and splinter like waves", are sung majestically over a backdrop echoing guitar textures superbly backed by McLaughlin and Hill's sympathetic and diverse array of rhythmic pulses. As the vocals fade into the ether the songs groove shifts into freefall with the band hitting a Zeppelin -esque heavy blues groove around which Endean peels off scorching solo's and jazzy chords before finally bowing out on wave of electronic noise, stunning!
Heavy (in the old sense) and way out there, Cave Suns reinvigorate the blues with their sonic excursions, bringing it up to date and once again relevant. There's an old lady out there somewhere with calloused hands and rheumy eyes smiling.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 16 April 2017
Leicestershire's Mage will not be a new name to those familiar with the UK's stoner/doom underground scene, the East Midland groovmeisters have been a constant force on the scene since their inception in 2010 releasing two well received albums "Black Sands"(2012) and "Last Orders"(2014). as well as gaining a reputation for being a fierce live draw. Things took a sharp downward curve last year after the loss of their guitarist Ben Aucott but after a period of mourning and reflection the band recently reconvened in the studio as quartet to record their latest album "Green" (available here.)
"No Where To Nothing" kicks things off with the Mage jamming a Sabbathian proto-doom groove replete with Iommi-esque guitar colouring pushed hard by a backdrop of storming bass and drums over which clean throaty strong vocal tones are delivered. At just over the halfway mark the song takes a slightly left of field turn, moving from mid tempo proto to low,slow and heavy with the vocals taking on a hazy psychedelic hue underpinned and taken to the close on a wave of heavily fuzzed guitar, throbbing bass and pulverising percussion.
"Heroic Elergy" sees Mage taking the lower, slower aspects of the previous tracks finale and expanding on them while at the same time adding to them element of swirling psych and space. It's hard not to believe that the songs dark lyrics of battle and loss, bolstered by the recurring mantra of "fallen brothers, we'll see you on the other side", is not something informed by the band recent loss, if this is indeed the case then this acts as a fitting tribute to their own "fallen brother".
"Primitive Drive" begins with tribal-like drum beats before being joined by a thunderous rolling guitar riff broken momentarily by crunching doom laden powerchords, the groove tantalisingly swinging back and forth between the two dynamics before proceeding ahead on the latter. Vocally darker than previous tracks, with a mix of clean and semi-harsh tones, the song veers close to the extreme in places but is pulled back from the abyss by it's clever arrangements, effectively blending melody and menace together in a mouth watering blend of both.
"Green" is next up, it's circular stoner doom groove underpinning a lyric that pays homage to the beauty of nature's open spaces sang around a wah drenched guitar motif under which a thunderous foundation of booming bass and pounding percussion is laid.
"Eclipse King" utilises swirling dark guitar colouring over a slow to mid tempo doom groove creating an atmospheric feel that borders on traditional doom but has its roots in Sabbath-esque stoner territory.
"The Wheel" picks up the pace a notch or two and sees the vocalist roaring clean impassioned lyrics bemoaning the circle of life over a galloping heavy stoner groove that employs a chugging guitar refrain embellished with twisty little fills and hooks. Broken briefly, mid song, by some nasty slow/low doom with thick fuzz drenched chords reverberating over pulverising rhythmic thunder, it then swings back into the main riff and is taken to the close.
"Vultures Mass" closes the album and starts innocently enough with dark guitar arpeggios gently picked over an almost jazzy backdrop of brushed skins and low throbbing bass before erupting into a volcano of heavily fuzzed and distortion soaked doom, subsiding briefly back into tranquillity before the hammer goes down again and the listener is pummelled and awash in a sea of heavy riffage. The singer tells of being "laid bare to my bone, sunburnt, ragged and raw" over a soundtrack thick with musical malice made darker by an emotive, soaring guitar solo and the addition of demonic tones mirroring those of the singers giving the songs already blackened groove an extra malevolent and menacing dimension.
Mage are back, a little bit battered and bruised, still grieving for their fallen brother but channelling those feelings into an album that's as strong if not stronger than anything they've done before.
Check it out ......
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 13 April 2017
Kitchen Witch, Georgie Cosson (vocals), Simon Elliott (bass), Conor Kinsella (guitar) and John Russo (drums) hail from Adelaide, South Australia jamming a groove that mixes the psychedelic blues of The Big Brother and the Holding Company with the stoner/desert grooves of Kyuss fronted by big Joplin-esque vocals and underpinned by big thundering rhythms and thick fuzzy refrains.
The band who in their own words state they are "Too Bluesy for Metal, Too Heavy for Blues"are now releasing their first full length ,self-titled, album "Kitchen Witch"(Kozmik Atifactz) a compendium of tracks gleaned from their two previously released EP's "Trouble"(2015) and "Back To The Mud"(2016)
From the moment the needle drops on "Kitchen Witch"'s first track and the listener is assailed by the heavily fuzzed riffage of "Slipstream" it becomes glaringly obvious that Kitchen Witch are not one of those archetypical stoner blues bands that are currently the vogue these days, Kitchen Witch are a force to be seriously reckoned with. Blessed with a vocalist of truly immense power and tone whose vocals walk a line between those of the legendary Janis Joplin and those of not so legendary, but just as impressive, Stone The Crows chanteuse Maggie Bell, Georgie Cosson is a woman who can hit a note and hold it in a way some can only dream of, her mix of raw bluesy power and smooth velvet croon a masterclass in vocal gymnastics. Behind a good voice you need a good band and in Elliott, Kinsella and Russo the vocalist has found the perfect match, Kinsella's dark and sometimes doom-ish, guitar work backed by Elliott's grizzled bass lines and Russo's pulverising and solid percussion at times wrestle the spotlight away from Cosson's impassioned and emotive vocals, taking things to another level on songs like the rocking "Delusion", the emotional and eclectic "Like Blood" and the highly psychedelic and hazy "Smoking", band and vocalist combining musicality and passion in equal abundance.
If you already own the bands previous EP's then your already familiar with the songs on "Kitchen Witch" and the quality of both the performances and songs herein, still its nice to have them all in one place. If though your coming to Kitchen Witch anew then be prepared to have your mind well and truly blown.
Check 'em out ......
© 2017 Frazer Jones