Monday, 19 August 2019

MORGANTHUS ~ MORTAL ..... review


In alternative universe somewhere there is church, inside that church a black carpet leads the way, between pews decorated in black leather and purple velvet, to an altar table where a battered Gibson SG lies surrounded by worn down guitar picks and four silver crucifix's. On a nearby wooden bannister surrounding a bat winged shaped font is hung a well worn buckskin jacket with tasseled strips decorating its back and dangling from its sleeves. In one corner of the churches apse broken drumsticks lie atop a small heap of charred facial hair while in the opposite corner, propped against another bannister, a Fender Precision bass guitar stands with dog eared manuscripts scattered beneath it with words like wizard, void and children scrawled across them in spidery handwriting. This is the Church of the Black Sabbath where acolytes come to worship the almighty riff.
Ok there is no such place but if there was (and there should be) then as sure as eggs are eggs Pennsylvanian trio Morganthus would be jostling for a seat in those leather and velvet pews, bowing and nodding their heads in reverent unison to the sounds of Birmingham's finest echoing around the rafters. I guess what Desert Psychlist is trying to say here is that if you are a fan of Ozzy and co's proto-doomic swagger and dark hard rock bluster then your going to fucking love what Colby Neukum (bass); Dustin Ganoe (drums) and Doug Miller (guitars/vocals) bring to the table with their latest album "Mortal".


Like Sheavy, Orchid, Rare Breed, and to some extent The Sword and Freedom Hawk, Morganthus are not going to get away without terms like "sabbathian" and "sabbathesque" being hurled in their direction, in fact only a couple of days after the release of "Mortal" those Sabbath comparisons have been appearing all over the comments/reviews section of the albums Bandcamp page (ours included). To the bands credit this does not to seem to have phased them at all, stating via the same page that they are just jamming "vintage style metal for the like minded".
"Plague Bell" is probably the least "sabbathian" song on "Mortal"and starts with a weathered voice, accompanied by a ringing bell, calling "bring out your dead" before exploding into a dark doomic groove that probably owes more to Egypt than it does Black  Sabbath. Miller's vocals here, and on the rest of the album, do posses similarities to Birmingham's bat biting ambassador but only in that they have a similar whining nasal quality in fact the more you hear them the less Ozzy-ish they seem to get.
"Super Science" starts the Sabbath warning bells ringing despite the fact that the main riff is built around a WAH pedal drenched riff (not something Iommi was famed for), it is the songs vocal melody that gives the song its sabbathesque feel, not so much in tone but in how the melody swings
"Phosphorous" follows and begins with Neukum tearing a Geezer Butler shaped bass solo from his fretboard (not too dissimilar to that which introduces Black Sabbath's "N.I.B"). before being joined by Ganoe's solid and on point drums and Miller's fuzz drenched guitar in an engrossing proto-doom groove that utilises subtle prog shading to enhance its appeal
Title track "Mortal" drops all its sabbathian pretence and goes for the throat with some truly heavy metallic doom attack with distortion its main weapon of mass destruction.
"Devil's Due" finds Morganthus falling back into line with a song that chugs along at a nice healthy pace while at the same time throwing in clever attention catching little hooks before then finally bowing out on a monnolithic stoner doom groove with the singer telling tales of the "devil", "peddling his white roses and snake oil"
"Mosquitos" closese "Mortal" with a song that mixes old school metal with elements of doom and its proto flavoured cousin while at the same time managing to sound fresh and of the now.


"Mortal" is an album that is undeniably Sabbath influenced and has a strong sabbathian feel however it is just a "feel", if you listen harder and dig deeper you start to discover that Morganthus are a band with their own sound and their own identity, a band who although may bear sonic similarities to a certain iconic band are in fact not that band, nor want to be.
Check 'em out ...

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 18 August 2019

PLANET OF THE 8s ~ TOURIST SEASON ...... review


Although there are large parts of Australia dominated by deserts Melbourne, Victoria is not one of them, however, this has not stopped, sons of Melbourne, Planet of the 8s releasing one of the best examples of sand blasted desert rock to come out of the southern hemisphere this year. Planet of the 8sMichael 'Sullo' Sullivan (vocals and bass/guitar); Justin 'JC' Cruickshank (guitar/vocals) and Pete Carter (drums) do not try to deny that their sound has a feel and vibe born from a love of the early stoner/desert grooves of bands like Kyuss and Fu Manchu but they are equally vocal in citing Mastodon, Tool and Elder as influences too. The band first brought their heady mixture of desert groove and metallic bluster to Desert Psychlist's attention with their 2017 self titled debut "Planet of the 8s", a scintillating collection of QOTSA-like quirkiness and jerky Palm Desert grooviness that gained them many admirers, the trio return this year with "Tourist Season", an album that picks up pretty much where the previous one left off but this time with a little experimental vavavoom added to the mix.


Those out there who believe that the whole stoner/desert thing has had its day (we've all read these posts on music related social media) and we are just listening to rehashed Kyuss riffs and recycled QOTSA rhythms maybe in for a shock when "Tourist Season" steamrollers its way out of their speakers. Here we have an album that although informed by its influences is in no way defined by them, yes there are times when you are reminded of certain iconic bands from desert rock's golden period but those moments are far outweighed by the band's willingness and need to push the envelope, to take things to the edge and to not opt for safety. On songs with titles like "Christopher Walken In The Jungle With Fkin Animals", You You You" and "Drive Through Jesus" Planet of the 8's drag desert rock into realms and regions it has never been to before and may never go to again, the band spiraling off on cosmic tangents one minute, jamming on heavy twitching dissonant grooves the next, each song a shifting ever evolving amalgamation of grooves and words where dynamics constantly clash and collide in glorious structured chaos. This chaos is further enhanced by a few notable guest appearances, Fu Manchu's Bob Balch, puts his guitar shaped weight behind "Christopher Walken In The Jungle With Fkin Animals" with A Gazillion Angry Mexicans guitarist Dan Smith adding subtle textures to its final third while fellow Angry Mexican Ben Smith gives some six-string colouring to "The Epic Space Adventures of the Intergallactic Guru", the Mexican connection completed by James Coelli helping out, vocally, on "Visions & Runaway S02E07".


A stunning and totally engrossing album "Tourist Season" serves up old school desert values allied to new school attitudes and themes, an album delivered by a band unafraid to occasionally step outside the boundaries of the genre they choose to work in and who sound all the more impressive because of that.
Check it out .....

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 15 August 2019

SHANKAR ~ UNDER THE HUMAN STATE .... review


This may well be a first for Desert Psychlist, we have travelled around the world bringing you music from Australia to Iceland but today we bring you grooves from the worlds fourth most populated country, a collection of islands that sit between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, a place called Indonesia. The band in question are a four piece from Denpasar, Bali consisting of Adit (guitar/vocals); Gus Adi (guitar); Aditya Baskara (bass) and Yoga Aryawan (drums), who go by the name Shankar and who have just released "Under The Human State" an album that could be, for Desert Psychlist, one of the best albums released outside of Europe and The America's.


Some reading this review will already know that in the fields of traditional and extreme metal Indonesia has slowly been building a reputation, articles have appeared in such respected magazines as Kerrang and Metal Hammer extolling the many virtues of the burgeoning Indonesian metal scene. Indonesian stoner, doom and psych bands however have not faired so well, there are bands out there working in these fields but they don't seem to be getting the same exposure, Shankar could be the band to change that.
Fuzz drenched guitar refrains are of course the meat and potatoes of any band tagging themselves as  "stoner" and Shankar do not disappoint in this department, on songs entitled "Last Stand" "Darkest Haunted", "Savior of the Death" and "Beyond The Light" fuzz pedals are dialed to warm and grainy and are driven by a solid bedrock of deep rumbling bass and pounding, punchy percussion enhanced by a mixture of laid back and screaming blues edged guitar solo's.  As good as the musicianship is, and it is very good, what however will grab your attention more than anything else is the quality of the albums vocals, clean,slightly echoed and with barely a hint of accent they roar and croon in warm powerful tones over and around the doomic stoner grooves laid beneath them and in doing so take "Under The Human State" to a whole other level of aural enjoyment.


"Under The Human State" delivers four must hear to believe tracks of atmospheric heavy stoner groove underscored with elements of the type alt-rock and grunge you might expect to find gracing albums by Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. It's a little too early to start talking about end of year "best of " lists but at this point in time this one  from Shankar has more than a fighting chance of making ours.
Check it out ….. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 12 August 2019

BAD FRANKENHAUSEN ~ ZWE: DIE RACHE ...... review


"A progressive concept album that tells a tale of treacherous magic, vengeance and interdimensional insanity through a heady blend of doom, stoner rock, classic rock and even a little surf rock". is how London, UK trio Bad Frankenhausen describe their second album "Zwei: Die Rache" (English translation; Two: Revenge). The band, Rob Hollinshead (drums, vocals and piano), Paul Commerford (bass and vocals) and Tom Goldman (vocals and guitar) tell tales populated by characters such as The Baron and the Countess Roundabout, characters that dwell in settings very much inspired by such giants of popular fiction as Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. 


Bad Frankenhausen are at heart an old school heavy metal band but one with its toes dipped in a pool blended from the waters of doom, stoner, classic and hard rock, pick any one song from the ten on offer and in that song you will find elements of all those genres mentioned plus quite a few that were not. Despite the dark themes running through songs like "Whoresradish", and "Shambleman" there is an underlying feeling of playfulness and mischief to what Bad Frankenhausen bring to the table, the albums concept and lyrical subject matter having a comic book feel much like the Penny Dreadful books that become popular during the Victorian era. This feeling is further enhanced by Goldman's unique lead vocal stylings, the guitarist/vocalist giving each song an extra level of macabre gravitas by telling the albums stories of revenge and treachery in lived in tones that are at the hoarser end of husky. The album is bookended by two instrumentals "Serf's Sup" a reverberating slice of surf rock/metal with a Dick Dale meets The Shadows vibe and "Scherben" a haunting  melancholic piano piece, both songs going a long way in proving that there is a far more to this band than just a few crunching riffs and thunderous rhythms.


Bad Frankenhausen are not your run of the mill stoner/metal/hard rock band, there are touches of British music hall/American vaudeville about what they do, there were times during "Zwei: Die Rache" when Desert Psychlist were reminded of the theatrical garage rock musings of early Alice Cooper and in our book that is no bad thing, no bad thing at all.
Check it out .... 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 11 August 2019

MORENO ~ NÓMADES ... review


Formed in 2008 Argentina's Moreno, Juan Martín Sosa (drums), Nacho Telleria (bass) and Mariano Morero (vocals/guitar), have been consistently delivering quality stoner/desert rock to the masses via their live gigs and a series of well received albums and EP's (most of which are available as free downloads on their Bandcamp pages). The band return this year with "Nómades" an album, it could be argued, is their best release to date, a mesmerising blend of grainy hard rock and stoner grit decorated in clean punk(ish) vocal textures (Spanish).


An insistent drum pattern, accompanied by a busy, busy bass line introduces first track "Buscar la muerte" and is then joined by a circular six-string motif before then falling into heavy stoner groove over which are delivered strong, slightly untamed but hugely effective vocals punctuated by equally effective guitar fills and solo's, the trio telling you, in just one song, everything you need to know about the rest of the album. Moreno are not a band trying to pretend to be anything else other than what they are and what they are is a kick-ass rock'n'roll band with a penchant for Sabbathesque flavoured riffage played with Motorhead like ferocity. Vocals throughout "Nómades" are sang in Spanish but even if you have no understanding of the language just the feel they convey on songs like "Todos los vientos terminan en el médano","Jabalinas" and "Auroch"  should be enough to have you reaching to press repeat again and again.


Great artwork, great grooves "Nómades" is the complete package, an album that delivers on all levels and one that hopefully may cause those who refuse to listen to anything not sang in English to seriously think again.
Check it out .....

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

DREAD FATHER ~ DREAD FATHER ....... review


Dread Father want to make you an offer you cant refuse, four tracks of desolate low, slow doomic splendour for the one time only price of your mortal soul., well a few dollars actually but "your mortal soul" sounded a little more "doom"
Dread Father, a trio from Charlotte, North Carolina, are, despite a (present) lack of social media presence, starting to cause a few  ripples of interest to spread around the underground rock scene thanks in main to the unannounced arrival of their self titled debut album "Dead Father" on the hallowed pages of ye old Bandcamp, If those ripples have not quite reached your end of the pool yet then please read on.....


Dread Father deliver with their debut album four tracks of desolate and distorted doom served up achingly slow and devastatingly low, songs decorated in slightly monotonic but mainly clean vocals with just a hint of a demonic growl thrown in to keep things interesting. Now there are plenty of bands out there (we are not mentioning names) doing the same sort of thing so why should you give these guys a listen we hear you ask, well the answer to that is that many of those bands have been around for a number of years and in that time have lost a little of their raw edge and with access to better studios and well respected producers/engineers their sound has tended to become a little polished, with Dread Father however those edges are still as raw as an open wound. On songs with occult(ish) titles such as  "The Ritual", "The Arrival", "The Revival" and "The Divination" guitar tones are dialled to desolation and thrum menacingly like overloaded power cables while underneath drums crash and pound in slow steady unison. Its not all dank dismal devastation however, there are rare occasions when the band pull back the dark curtains and allow a little sunshine into the room, these moments come in the form of lysergic textures and psychedelic colourings and although brief they do give some welcome respite amidst all the rumbling monolithic mayhem.


Raw, a little naïve in places, but wholly entertaining "Dread Father" is a fine, if not a perfect, debut from a band who if they play their cards right could well find themselves being mentioned alongside those bands we didn't mention earlier
Check 'em out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 5 August 2019

MOTHRASHIP ~ SMOTHER EARTH ..... review


To describe Mothraship's sonic assault we need to paraphrase Star trek's Bones and say "this is prog Jim but not as we know it", Mothraship are Beau Callies (vocals/guitars); Michael Gonzales (drums), Matt Bugielski (guitars/vocals) and Sam 'Rahldg' Wizer (bass) from Denver Colorado and bring to the table grooves that are complex and intricate yet at the same time are unashamedly feral and wild, a sound that is hard to describe but easy to fall in love with. Take a listen to their latest release "Smother Earth" to see/hear what we mean by that last statement.


A shuddering drone effect followed by ringing arpeggios introduces "My Own Kind (Intro to My Dead Horse)", the song, an introduction in itself for its following track, is filled with little twists and turns, the band shifting up and down through the gears on a song made especially memorable thanks to its hazy vocal melody and recurring guitar motif. As promised "My Dead Horse" follows and expands on the musical themes of its predecessor while at the same time throwing a little grungy vocal dynamics into the mix resulting in, to Desert Psychlist's riff worn ears, an intriguing blend of Tool like angular intensity and Alice In Chains like emotional gravitas. "Cannonball" rolls in next and here we find Mothraship exploring more jazzier territories with slurred vocals expertly crooned over a backdrop of sharded guitar chords, accompanied by deep rumbling bass and sympathetic percussion."Lycabthrope" follows and boasts a chugging garage rock groove matched with sneering almost new wave/punk like vocals, Mothraship however are not a band to stay put in one place for too long and as the song approaches its final quarter things start to get a little bluesy and doomic the band heading off on enthralling musical tangents before bringing things full circle to take the song to its close. A Celtic tinted circular guitar refrain announces " Walmartyr" around which swirling swooping solos are majestically wended and weaved driven by an exceptional tour de force of percussive might and grumbling, thunderous bassitude. The song slowly builds in both volume and intensity, with the vocals reverting from the garage like sneer of the previous track back to the slightly grungy vocal dynamics of the albums first three songs, before suddenly exploding into a wonderous instrumental finale that blends elements of proggish metal with those of cosmic, out there heavy psych, the song taking off  in a hundred directions all at once yet somehow managing to still sound totally focused and on point at all times, breathtaking!


Mothraship made a lot of friends with their debut self titled release "Mothraship" but even those already familiar with the Denver quartets previous work will be surprised and amazed when they hear "Smother Earth", a superb release that deserves to be mentioned on everyone's end of year "best of" lists, it'll definitely be on ours.
Check it out …. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones