Friday, 20 October 2017
When Desert Psychlist reviewed Desert Colossus' self titled debut "Desert Colossus" back in January 2016 the words punky, hard rock and fuzz were mentioned as well as comparisons to Kyuss, Fu Manchu and The Truckfighters, so with the release of a brand new album "Omnibeul" we have to ask the question do those mentions and comparisons still hold water today?
Thankfully, and with the addition of a little more muscular oomph and musical focus, the answer is a resounding yes! Raucous grooves of chainsaw fuzz and insistent rhythmic might are the order of the day as Dutch groovsters Desert Colossus take you on a musical road trip through their world with nine of the most fuzzilicious grooves your likely to hear coming from our side of the big pond this year.
"Omnibeul" kicks off with "White Rabbit", a frenetically paced rocker packed with crunching riffage and strident rhythms overlaid with manic wide eyed vocals, that hurtles along like a runaway train and in doing so tells you, in just 2 minutes and 28 seconds of scintillating stoner/desert groove, everything you need to know about what Desert Colossus do . Desert Psychlist could leave it just there and just allow the music to do the talking but "Omibuel" is an album that inspires words and deserves to be talked and written about, such is the sheer joie de vivre and sense of fun Desert Colossus bring to the table with their punchy punky.fuzz drenched grooves. Whether borrowing Nirvana-esque licks and vocal inflections, as on "Hustle", or mixing up their deliciously dusty desert refrains with touches of doomy low and slow atmospherics, ala the superb "Sleeping With Stones", or even when they are getting a little sludgey and alternative. as on the totally schizophrenic "Give Gas Chopperbike", there is a sense that they are doing so with a glint in their eyes and an ever so slightly sardonic smile on their lips.
Desert Colossus, Frank Zoomer (vocals/guitar), Frank Fey (drums), Tom Collé (bass) and Leon van Wijk (guitar), should be roundly applauded, not only for creating, with "Omnibuel", an album that pushes all the right buttons both musically and dynamically but also one that leaves the listener wearing a big cheesy satisfied grin on their faces and nodding their heads knowingly.
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 19 October 2017
It's not often Desert Psychlist gets to wax lyrical about a band hailing from its own backyard so it's with great pleasure and also a certain amount of pride to introduce you Sickfist, Jed Baker (lead vocals and bass guitar), Rik Spanner (backing vocals and drums), Aris Perperoglou (rhythm guitar) and Max Mayes (lead guitar), an Essex, UK based quartet who first came to our attention with their three song self titled EP "Sickfist" (2016) and are now just about to release their debut album "Adrifft" (released 21st October 2017).
The first thing that hits you when listening to the eight tracks that make up "Adrifft" (nine if you download the digital version where you get a bonus track "Godzilla") is that although the grooves owe a huge debt to the stoner/desert grooves of the USA and and Europe the vocals have a quintessential Englishness in their feel, tone and delivery. Clean with a slight indie vibe their initial impact comes as quite a surprise on first listening, especially to those who may be used to the more growlier, throatier styles that are the norm in this genre, but as the album progresses the ear gets accustomed to their tone and delivery and the listener begins to appreciate the elements of uniqueness and quirkiness they bring to the proceedings. Musically Sickfist are all about the fuzz and Perperoglou and Mayes lay it down thick and grizzly backed superbly by Spanner's solid, tight percussion and Baker's grizzly bass.
Like The Who did before them Sickfist write anthems for their generation, telling tales of disillusionment and detachment against backdrops of warm, fuzz drenched stoner/desert groove as on "Isolate" where Baker sings "Play my music loud to block out reality,standing in a crowd trying to hang on to sanity, enclosed in a bubble I can feel serenity, get out of my face, don't invade my space", voicing the angst and frustrations felt by disenfranchised youth and young adults and once again proving that rock music works best when its angry and pissed off!
Check 'em out....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 16 October 2017
Florida may be feeling a little battled and bruised since Hurricane Irma blustered and blew her way across its coastlines, towns and cities but the people there are a resilient bunch and hopefully it wont be too long before they are back on their feet rebuilding, repairing and slowly putting their lives back together What effect these recent events have had on Florida's local music scenes is as yet unknown but if the posters announcing an "After Hurricane Party" on Tampa juggernauts Beerwolf's Facebook page are anything to go by then things are soon gonna be back on track!
Beerwolf, Jason Kleim (vocals and bass guitar), Matthew Howland (lead guitar) and AJ Prasad (drums), have been a bit quiet on the recording front since the release of their debut album "Oracle's Prophecy" in 2015 but the Tampa, Florida band have returned this year with new ideas, a new focus and in "Planetfall" a brand new album.
Title track "Planetfall" opens Beerwolf's new opus, a throbbing doom-laden instrumental crammed with dark swathes of heavily phased riffage and pulsating rhythms, then goes full circle to finish with "Epilogue" another instrumental this time marked by it's swirling spacey effects and slightly heavier Hawkwind vibe. In-between these two tomes of instrumental diversity, however, are found the real meat and potato's of Beerwolf's groove and sound with songs like "Eagle Shirt", "Crom's Steel" and "Bones of Titan" showing a definite leaning towards the old school aesthetics of 70's hard/classic rock sprinkled with an even pinch of gnarly stoner/desert fuzz all coated in strong clean vocals. Beerwolf do dip their toes into the instrumental pool again with "Haze Arcane" and "Serpentine Fiend", both excellent jams replete with swirling guitar solo's screaming over grizzled bass lines and solid punchy percussion but it is when the band turn to delivering actual songs they really come into their own.
"Planetfall" is a superb album that's sure to be a serious contender for many of those end of year lists so beloved by fans and critics alike and one that's gonna be spinning on a regular basis here in the Desert Psychlist bunker.
Check it out ....
Sunday, 15 October 2017
When a band cite among their main musical influences such luminaries as Black Sabbath, Motorhead, St.Vitus and Corrosion of Conformity you get a fairly good idea of what to expect from them when they finally release a product. Philidelphian trio Hellrad deliver on all those expectations with their debut release, a raucous riff fuelled romp they describe as "ugly sludge metal", flying under the title "Counting Sins".
Hellrad make no apologies for what they do, the trio of Mike Hook (guitar), Herb Jowett (bass, vocals) and Robert Lepor (drums), intend to give no quarter in their attempts to slay all before them with their raucous riffage, pulverising grooves and big throaty vocal tones. First track "The Night" opens innocently enough with a brief droning effect then Lepor's drums kick in and all hell breaks loose, the drummer quickly joined by Hook's guitar and Jowlett's bass, the band erupting into a face melting stoner/sludge groove fragmented with lysergic atmospherics over which Jowett also delivers grizzled vocal tones. Following track "No Getting Out" follows a similar path but with slightly doomier undertones it's menacing moodiness heightened by Jowett dropping his vocals down into a sinister half spoken, half sang growl and is further enhanced by Hook's clever use of guitar dynamics and Lepor's astonishingly powerful drum skills. "Staring At The Walls" is up next and is akin to being hit by a truck such is the force of its ferocity and intensity, both Jowett's voice and bass growling in, over and around Hook's crunching guitar riffs and Lepor's pummelling rhythms . Final track "Counting Sins" closes the album with a pulsating stoner/sludge groove that finds Jowlett roaring about "finding the truth" and announcing "this is your fate" against a backdrop coloured by growling bass riffage and punishing percussion finished with searing shards of dark guitar colouring, Hellrad finally closing proceedings the way they started them in a wave of droning noise..
Sludge metal has a tendency towards unrelenting brutality but the four songs that make up "Counting Sins"are balanced with elements of atmospheric light and shade saving what, on paper, looked to be just another riff fest into something quite dynamic and highly enjoyable
Check it out ....
Saturday, 14 October 2017
The art of songwriting and arrangement sometimes gets a little overlooked within this scene we call the underground, too often we get side-tracked by the sheer power of the riffs on display and tend to forget about everything else that actually goes into making a song work. Fortunately there are still bands out there who although duly able to supply crunching refrains and punchy rhythms also understand the importance of well written, well structured songs to accompany them.
One such band are Young Hunter, Benjamin Blake (vocals, guitar), Sara Pinnell (vocals, keys), Erik Wells (guitar), Sam Dean (bass) and Grant Pierce (drums), a quintet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who's mix of melody and might can be witnessed on their latest full length outing "Dayhiker". (Fear and The Void Recordings)
"Dayhiker" is a stunningly eclectic album and one that at times may come across as a little schizophrenic but is also one that is highly enjoyable , an album that mixes genres and styles from across the board but does so without losing its focus or sense of its own identity. Elements of Americana, psych, stoner and classic rock are all touched upon as Young Hunter take you on journeys through their world via seven songs of both smile inducing and spine-tingling excellence. Vocals are handled individually and jointly by Blake and Pinnell, Blake's tone mellow and dreamy, Pinnell's a mix of ethereal and sweet, their harmonies plus own instrumental contributions, when combined with the superb grooves brought to the table by Wells,Dean and Pierce, giving songs like " In The Shadow of the Serpent", "Entered Apprentice" "and "Dark Age" an almost Fleetwood Mac meets early Sleepy Sun aesthetic.
In summing up Young Hunter have with "Dayhiker" made an album that shows not only a step up in levels of musicianship but also one that shows an elevated maturity in both ideas and songcraft, long may it continue.
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 13 October 2017
"Fuzzed out riffs. spaced out jams" is how Bradford. UK's Captives of the Void describe their music and to be honest those six words probably sum up their grooves better than Desert Psychlist could do with a hundred but we are gonna give it a go anyway.
Captives of the Void first came onto the radar of the underground's fans and intraweb press via their self titled debut release "Captives of the Void" a stunning collection of fuzzed out instrumental jams that prompted Fuzz FM to proclaim it as "Some of the best instrumental psych ever conceived", high praise indeed for a debut release and praise well deserved. Now the band, a duo consisting of Jack Larkin and Max Storr, are back fresh from the studio and ready to rock our world with a whole new set of jams flying under the banner of "Hypnos".
Fans of Floydian soundscapes, Earthless type wig outs and Ozric Tentacles like cosmic travelling will all find something to hang their hats on over the course of the eight jams to be found on "Hypnos", jams replete with scorching guitar pyrotechnics, crunching riffage and punchy, pummelling percussion that come at you from a myriad of different directions to entice and delight in equal measure. Whether laying down moody doom edged psych ("It's Not Safe"), eastern tinted lysergic stoner ("The Search") or spacey Ozric tinged fusion ("Joined In Orbit, ft. Tilly Riddle) there is no denying that these guys have a firm grasp of what makes instrumental music work, not only for themselves but also for the listener. Instrumental music can often lend itself to overindulgence and self importance causing the listeners mind to wander while the guitarist goes off on yet another endless solo this is not the case with Captives of the Void the two musicians allowing each other the space and time to develop ideas and themes within a song and then filling those songs with little twists and turns that peak the interest and keep you guessing where the music may take you to next, taking their listeners with them on heady cosmic trips they will not want to miss a second of.
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 9 October 2017
Russia still remains a little bit of a mystery to those living outside of its borders, we are never quite sure that things we hear about the country from our governments and news media is really the truth or just political spin, what we can be sure of though, thanks to sites like Bandcamp and Reverbnation, is that there is some damn fine music being made there.
Corroded Realms, Redneck (vocals), Kazak (guitar), Alisher (guitar), Nil (bass) and Bobrrr (drums), hail from St. Petersburg and jam a groove heavily influenced by the southern sludge and metal refrains of Down, Pantera and Crowbar and first came to Desert Psychlist's notice with their debut album "Widow"(2015) a raucous collection of crunching riffs and rhythms fronted by big throaty vocals, the band have now followed this up with their second full length album "No Healing For Tortured Mind".
Somehow those sounds of southern flecked metal mixed with elements of doom,thrash and hardcore, associated mainly with New Orleans, Louisiana, have migrated their way north from the swamps and bayous of their homeland and found a home in the colder climes of Russian city Saint Petersburg. Well that is how it feels when listening to the ten songs that make up the track listing of Corroded Realms "No Healing For Tortured Mind". If the casual listener happened across the bands second album with no prior knowledge of its origins it would come as no surprise, if when hearing songs like "Grenade In The Mouth", Bone Tomahawk" and "Stone Fire", with their full on metallic grooves fronted by throaty bear like growling, they were not fooled in to thinking that what they were listening to was recorded in some Louisiana studio by a fresh new NOLA band with their eyes on the glittering crowns of Crowbar and Down. Vocalist Redneck shows barely a hint of his Russian accent as he roars Anselmo-like over the crunching powerchords and searing solo's of Kazak and Alisher, his powerful, strong tones superbly backed up by Nil's growling bass and Bobrrr's solid, punchy percussion, the five musicians coming together to create a whirlwind of growling groove that although slightly familiar is at the same time exciting and fresh.
Southern tinted metal can some times sound a little generic in the wrong hands but Corroded Realms, with "No Healing For Tortured Mind", avoid the old clichés by keeping their southern leanings buried beneath an onslaught of bruising metallic bluster allowing those southern tendencies to colour their grooves but not overpower them resulting in an album that swings as much as it swaggers,
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 8 October 2017
Doom comes at the listener from an increasing array of musical directions these days, brutal and intense, progressive and complex. psychedelic and swirly variations have all found a niche to call their own beneath the huge shadow cast from the genres dark umbrella. With so many styles of doom to choose from it is however those slightly bluesy, slightly heavier grooves that Black Sabbath brought to the table back in the early 70's that seem to still resonate with listeners the most. Sabbath in looking for a darker, heavier sound, and as the result of an unfortunate incident whereby their guitarist lost the top of his finger, started experimenting with lighter strings and lower tunings and in doing so almost by accident created a sound that many believe birthed what we now call heavy metal and in turn the heavier, lower sound of doom. Greece's Acid Mammoth, Chris Babalis (vocals, guitars), Dimosthenis Varikos (bass), Christos... Babalis (guitars) and Marios Louvaris (drums), acknowledge Sabbath's influence on their sound and understand doom's history, using elements of all its various guises to create a sound that blends its past with its present, jamming grooves informed by that which has gone before but which are still very much of today, grooves that can now be heard and appreciated on the bands self-titled debut "Acid Mammoth".
Although Acid Mammoth cite Black Sabbath as their main influence "Acid Mammoth" (the album) is not a recording to go to if expecting or wanting to hear rearranged Iommi riffs and Ozzy type nasal vocal tones, far from it, songs like opener "White Hag", "They Live" and the appropriately titled "Mists of Doom" may have their roots entrenched in the dank proto-doom grooves of the Birmingham four but are in no way bound to them, in fact they are probably closer in sound to the later doom of Candlemass than they are that of Ozzy & Co. Clean mellow vocal melodies are the order of the day throughout the six songs presented here, melodies sang over a swathe of fuzz drenched and distorted guitar riffage, grizzled bass and pounding percussion with the occasional scorching guitar solo punching through the mire to throw in a little light here and there. It is however when the band stretch out on longer songs like "Eternal Sleep", with it's undulating vocal melody floating over a backdrop of deliciously atmospheric and restrained doom , and the epic "Black Rites", with it's slightly gothic/occult vibe, shifting time signatures and dark psychedelic undercurrent, that Acid Mammoth really come into their own and show what a force they can be when given a larger canvas to paint their deliciously dark grooves on.
Check 'em out ..
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 1 October 2017
Little Rock, Arkansas prog metal sludgsters Sumokem have not had the easiest of rides on their journey to where they are today. their original lead guitarist Josh Ingram sadly passed away in May 2015 and they parted ways with their bassist Alan Wells a month later but undeterred founder Jacob Sawrie (vocals//rhythm guitar) and Drew Skarda (percussion) decided to carry on and with the recruitment of Tyler Weaver (lead guitar) and Dustin Weddle (bass) a new chapter in the bands story was written, a chapter marked by the release of their first full length album "The Guardian of Yosemite"(released 6th October 2017)
First track "Attack of the Mammoth" musically echoes its title giving a feeling that something large, feral and powerful is coming at you and there is nothing you can do about it except stand strong and try to somehow absorb the impact, Huge swathes of gnarly riffage roll over the listener pushed by growling bass and pulverising but complex percussion all coated in a mixture of growled but clear and pristine clean vocal tones around which swirling guitar solos soar and scream. Heavy, intense with prog-like elements bubbling beneath its surface the song sets a high standard for the rest of the album. "Warning" follows, it's deliciously addictive guitar motifs, swirling over a backdrop of melodic prog-ish/post-rock groove, are overlaid with strong clean vocals. As the song progresses the band move this groove briefly into harder, doomier territory with Sawrie's vocals shifting into feral mode over slow raucous riffage before taking things back to its melodic beginnings for the close. "War Pipe/Rite of the Calumet" tells a tale of Native American mythology against a backdrop swaggering heavy rock underpinned by Weddle's grizzled bass playing and Skarda's powerful,intricate percussion over which Weaver threads swirling lead and Sawrie roars, croons and bellows while chopping out monstrous powerchords. "Ogama" and "Tisayac" follow respectively, the former a mid paced slow burner that starts gentle and considerate and slowly shifts through an array of musical tempo's and vocal dynamics until finally ending in a swathe of metallic bluster, the latter a schizophrenic mixture of chugging riffage and ambient folk tinted prog that sees Weaver providing scorching lead work while Sawrie switches, as the groove dictates, from sweet clean and folky to maniacal and menacing vocally. Reverberating arpeggios played over tribal rhythms herald in "Mescalito/Meeting of the Half Moon" before the hammer goes down and the band shift gear into a sludge drenched refrain with Sawrie roaring his lyrics while Weaver rips scorching solos over the top, the band then taking a detour into the melodic prog arena for the second half of the song. Closer "Nantucket" begins low, slow and heavy with clean vocal tones and searing bluesy guitar solos ringing overhead, the groove switches back and forth between varying degrees of crushing doom/sludge and prog flavoured metal with Sawrie adjusting his vocals accordingly until finally coming to a slow pounding close.
# note those buying the digital version of the album get a near perfect rendition of Thin Lizzy's "Emerald" as a bonus!
Imagine, if you can, a cross between the prog-ish metal of Opeth and the equally prog-ish sludge of Mastodon sprinkled with a touch of stoner swagger and a pinch of heavy metal thunder and you might just arrive at the sound of Sumokem's "The Guardian of Yosemite".
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 29 September 2017
Every now and then a new release slips through the elaborate netting system Desert Psychlist uses to capture all that is new and interesting in this scene of ours, thankfully those releases that do slip the net are not usually left floundering for long as there are all manner of fans, band members and even PR firms standing ready to throw those strays back into the net for our perusal and review. One such band that initially eluded us is Germany's Hammada a four piece from Freiberg consisting of Kristian Schulze (Vocals, Organ), Christian Döring (Guitar), Lenz Fiedler (Bass) and Sönke Tautorus (Drums) who in February of this year released their latest EP "Sfara"
"Heliokratia" kicks things off nicely, the song beginning with lone guitar tones reverberating over fuzzy white noise before being joined by bass and drums in a hazy lysergic groove interrupted by sporadic moments of heavy psych bluster. The band bring it all down to allow the vocals to enter, Schulze's clean warm tones, crooned over a backdrop WAH drenched bass and pounding drums, are smooth, clean and easy on the ear and retain this clarity even when the songs dynamic shifts into harder territory and he is forced to alter his delivery to match its power. The song holds the listeners interest by shifting through a series of differing soundscapes with soaring bluesy metal, tranquil psychedelics and swaggering classic/hard rock all visited as it weaves and winds its way to it's glorious conclusion.
"Monument" follows and wastes little time in introductions by plunging straight into a fuzz drenched refrain pushed hard by Fiedler's thrumming bass and Tautorus' solid percussion with Schulze crooning and roaring forcefully overhead as well as adding deft touches of keyboard colouring
"Helios" finishes the EP with a deliciously lysergic romp, coated in Schulze's sublime vocal tones and underscored by his keyboards, that continuously undulates between moments of heavy stoner brutality and psychedelic tinted beauty. Seamlessly shifting gears and dynamics the song wends its way, enhanced by Doering's scorching solos and driven by Fiedler and Tautorus', drums and bass, through a diverse array of rhythms and grooves finally finishing where it all began in a swathe of white noise.
"Sfaira" is an album that has an echo of the past but lives very much in today, the three songs premiered here having an essence of hard/classic rock, touches of fuzzy stoner bluster and whole lot of diverse and complex groove, if there is a downside to this EP it's that its not a full album!
Check it out....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Wednesday, 27 September 2017
Even before Hawkwind first beamed down to Earth from the planet Ladbroke Grove in the early 70's there have been bands toying with cosmic themes, either in their lyrics, their artwork or in their music. It's not suprising then that space, after women, fast cars, drugs and the devil, is still as popular today, as a subject to base your grooves around. as it ever was.
Polish cosmonauts of groove Spaceslug, Bartosz Janik (guitars/backing vocals), Jan Rutka (bass/vocals) and Kamil Ziółkowski (drums/main vocals), who have released two previous albums "Lemanis" (Feb. 2016) and "Time Travel Dilemma" (Feb. 2017) , have long been fascinated with all things Galactic and this fascination as been the basis around which they have built their sound, the band telling tales of vast multiverses, black holes and dark matter in low clean vocal tones over slow heavy rhythms and swirling psychedelic guitar colouring, themes and grooves they continue to explore on their latest release "Mountains & Reminiscence" (Oak Island Records)
. "Bemused and Gone" signals lift off and propels the listener through the troposphere into the stratosphere with mournful vocal harmonies chanted over a backdrop of slow tribal drumming, growling low bass and soaring guitar solo's before "I Am Gravity" tries to tear your body apart with it's insistent heavy groove and crunching riffage. "Elephemeral" follows and sees Janik laying WAH drenched guitar motifs and crunching powerchords over Rutka's thrumming bass lines and Ziolkowski's punishing beats all coated in mellow clean vocal harmonies. "Space Sabbath" begins with Janek evoking pinging, spacey effects from his guitar expertly supported by the drums and bass of Ziokowski and Rutka with the drummer crooning mantra-like vocals overhead. The song slowly grows in tempo and menace slipping gradually into a mid-tempo Sabbath-esque groove, broken only by soundbytes lifted from 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey", taking flight again on a wave of Iommi-like guitar colouring before finishing back where it started. We finally reach our destination with "Opposite The Sun" a song that again utilises Iommi-type solo's and riffs but this time sets them against an ever shifting backdrop of strident rhythms overlaid with an array of subtly changing vocal harmonies that gradually decreases in tempo until almost, but not quite, moves into slow blues territory.
Set the controls for the heart of the sun listeners, you are about to go boldly where no man has been before as Spaceslug take you, with "Mountains & Reminiscence", on a musical journey across infinite galaxies and endless universes to a soundtrack of low, heavy riffage and powerful complex rhythms. In space no one can hear you scream.... for MORE!
Check it out ....
Monday, 25 September 2017
Absinthe. a strong alcoholic beverage often the favourite tipple of 19th century France's many resident artists and novelists, was also believed (wrongly) to be a hallucinogenic able to inspire high levels of focus and creativity within its drinkers. Now whether this little piece of modern mythology/folklore was the inspiration for Maryland trio Mountainwolf to name their latest opus "Absinthe Moon"(Tiny Horns Records) you will have to ask them but there is an undeniable lysergic quality to be found within its diverse grooves as well as an equally high level of focus and creativity.
"Release me from this prison that you have created for me" screams vocalist/guitarist Tyler Vaillant on opener "TWST" his clean slightly manic roar, bookended by dissonant crunching chords. booming bass lines (Chris Gipple) and shimmering percussion (Tom Coster), a feral plea to be released from the restraints of an existence not of his choosing. The song and indeed the lyric serve as the perfect opener for an album that breaks as many rules as it creates new ones, an album that flits across genres and musical styles like a bee collecting nectar, unaware that along the way it maybe creating whole new species with its accidental cross pollination. Alt/Grunge dynamics, stoner/hard rock fuzz, psychedelic funkiness and exotic eastern textures are all mixed, blended and used to great effect throughout "Absinthe Moon" giving the album an at times experimental feel yet one that never strays too far out into the stratosphere, it's swirling heady forays into the unknown anchored to earth by its complex and unrelenting heavy rock rhythms, the resulting sound almost as breath-taking in its diversity as it is in its execution.
Check it out ......
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 24 September 2017
Such is the significance of Sweden's contribution and influence on the underground rock scene that the mere mention of the words "Moon Mother are a band from Sweden" will no doubt guarantee a whole throng of doomers and stoners pricking up their ears in anticipation.
Moon Mother, Sara Trollpacka (vocals), Pat Ahlstrom (guitar), Jesper Wallin (drums) and Thomas V Jäger (bass) first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via their excellent two song demo "Moon Mother" the demo making such an impact that Hard Rock Revolution (Facebook music forum) were compelled to include the song "Sleeping Society" on their compilation "Vol. III", now, just over a year later, the band are back with four new songs flying under the very descriptive title of "Riffcraft"
"Vast Blues" opens "Riffcraft" with a song that although being infused with an essence of the blues is not quite the delta musing of say Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson. A gnarled, slowly evolving, Ahlstrom guitar motif, underpinned by Jäger's grizzled bass and Wallin's solid economic drums, is overlaid with Trollpacka's distinctive vocal tones, her sweet but grainy voice possessing a slight folkish lilt giving the song an almost Celtic feel.
"Black Hole Demons" initially veers closer to a traditional blues with Ahlstrom's palm muted guitar motif the foundation around which Trollpacka sings of "Black Hole Demons walking on the Earth". The song then picks up pace and moves into proto-doom territory with Wallin and Jager laying down a solid drum and bass platform for Trollpacka and Ahlstrom to colour with their vocal and six-string colouring before taking things to a close on a wave of slow, low doom-lite groove.
"Mountain of Lies" sees Moon Mother eschewing the blues orientated grooves visited in the two previous songs and opting for a more doom/occult rock feel with Trollpacka pleading "don't drag me down" against a backdrop of crunching fuzz and strident but nicely restrained rhythmic bluster.
"The Wizards of Earth" begins with Ahlstrom comping out jazzy guitar chords over an exquisite Jager bass line, expertly supported by Wallin's understated percussion,.with Trollpacka moodily crooning overhead, her voice, pitched in the lower register, taking on an almost sinister aspect. The song then takes a series of twists and turns, with Trollpacka following suite vocally, moving through moments of fuzzy stoner swagger and low doomy atmospherics before closing in a swathe of lysergic bluesy ambience.
Moon Mother state that their intention is to heal through music and it has to be said that after listening to the soaring lo-fi doom and occult-ish blues grooves of "Riffcraft" Desert Psychlist did feel a little more refreshed and touch more at one with the world.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 23 September 2017
Seems quite a time since Desert Psychlist has had the pleasure of featuring a Polish band on its hallowed pages so it is doubly enjoyable that when that country does returns onto our radar it is with a band so damn good it would be remiss of us not to shout it to the world.
Dogzilla are a trio hailing from Tamöw, Poland and consist of the mysteriously named KW (guitar, vocal), JS (bass) and NZ (drums), and are a band who deal in heavy assed sludge/doom grooves tempered with elements of swirling space and heavy psych, all of which can be heard on their soon to be released debut album "Astral Worship" (30th September).
Monster guitar riffage roiling down on you like boulders from a mountain, thunderous bass lines that rumble and groan like distant thunder and pulverising percussion that shakes the very earth beneath your feet are the basis around which a mixture of throaty clean and bear like bellowed vocals tell tales of distant stars, cosmic travel and arid planets. Now from that description you would hazard a guess that Dogzilla are all about brutality and bluster and just another in a long line of heavy stoner bands more intent on riffs than songs but you would be wrong. It is true there are plenty of riffs and refrains to be found throughout the five songs that make up "Astral Worship" but they are ingrained with subtle touches of lysergic colouring and spacey cosmic texturing, the band, at times coming, across like a sludge metal version of Hawkwind especially on the latter half of album closer "Andromeda". The band never let the riffs dictate the songs however and move seamlessly through a gamut of different dynamics, tempos and time signatures to keep the listener both interested and on their toes, never sure where the band might take them next. Eastern motifs, moments of ambient space, bluesy guitar solo's, lashings of grinding fuzz and a barrage of pounding rhythmic groove are all thrown into the melting pot to make this not only one of the most interesting albums of its genre but also one of the most satisfying.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 22 September 2017
If you take some bluesy hard rock add a pinch of proto-metal and season with a touch of doom and then coat the resulting groove in Glenn Danzig -like vocal tones then your likely to arrive at a sound not unlike that of Ohio's Crowtalker. Crowtalker, Ryan (drums), Jesse (vocals), Kyle (guitar) and Wig (bass) hail from Columbus, Ohio and are a relatively new band who having only played their first live show in May of this year are trying to keep the momentum going by now releasing their first EP "Crowtalker".
First track "Them Crows" moves from a fizzing drone intro into a bluesy doom refrain that leans more towards the Zeppelin-esque than it does that of the more Sabbath orientated grooves that are the norm today, a groove ingrained with a dark metallic edginess that even Page & Co., at their most satanic, would probably struggle to replicate. Over this tornado of metallic delta groove are delivered powerful deep baritone vocals that have, as already mentioned, a distinct Danzig like feel giving the song an added dimension of gothic rock splendour.
"Sleeper" starts off life as a stonerized hard rocker driven by booming bass lines and pounding drums furnished off nicely by an addictive fuzz drenched guitar motif before shifting gear into a pulverising slow, low doom groove with those uber-strong vocal tones roaring manfully over the top.
"Wither" raises the tempo and sees the band jamming a galloping hook laden groove, replete with clever little musical twists and turns, around a slightly more strident vocal performance.
"The Well/Train Wreck" is, at a guess, two songs cleverly cobbled together to make one epic statement with the first part having an almost outlaw country feel, both musically and vocally, and the second being a storming atmospheric doomy blues foray enhanced by crunching riffs and searing guitar solos all underpinned by a pummelling, pulverising combination of bass and drums.
Swagger is often a word bandied around when describing music that has a bluesy core but what does that mean? Well the English Dictionary defines swagger as " to walk or behave in a very confident and arrogant or self-important way" and if you transpose this to musical terms then we are talking about grooves that have a certain strutting quality that say "this is us and this is what we do, deal with it" and "Crowtalker" is an EP that swaggers like a peacock in full display from start to finish.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 18 September 2017
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 Ritual, Dustin 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
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
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 ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones