Tuesday 28 November 2023

KLEAZER ~ SIGNALS ... review

Kleazer, Berthil de Lange (bass); Steven van Olphen (drums/backing vocals); Matthijs Oldenhuis (guitar) and Harald de Ruiter (vocals/guitar), hail from Amsterdam in The Netherlands and jam a form of rock that sonically sits somewhere between what Josh Homme was doing when he was with Kyuss and what he is now doing with his current band QOTSA, a mix of straight down the line swaggering fuzz'n'roll and sleazy off centred and jagged alt-rock. The band have just release a new EP "Signals", a long awaited follow up to their two song release "Beautiful Violence" (2010), and we think its well worth a listen.

Title song "Signals" opens things up, a nice'n'sleazy slice of stoner/desert fuzziness with choppy guitar refrains crunching out over a stuttering rhythmic groove which is then decorated in clean strong vocals that regularly climb to falsetto and give the song an almost post-punk feel in places, the perfect driving song. Next track "Cracks" finds Kleazer still very much jamming a desert groove but this time shifting the dynamics between strident heaviness and off kilter stoner funkiness, the vocals here are slightly harder edged than on the title track but are nevertheless still deliciously melodic and clean. "Void" follows and here we find Kleazer adding elements of doom, sludge and heavy psych to their musical armoury while still retaining that QOTSA- like quirkiness that has become very much a part of their signature sound while next track "Hide" boasts a groove and vocal that back in the day might have seen the band gracing MTV, a three minute pop-punk romp. Penultimate track "Ambition" sees a touch of grunginess seeping into Kleazer's vocal attack which is especially evident on the call and response sections of the songs chorus , the clincher here though is the effect laden guitar solo that proceeds the songs final drive to the finishing line, finger blurringly old school and all the better for it. Closing number "Another Year" stays in that grunge/alt-metal pocket but adds into its mix touches of heavy psych, post-metal and the blues, it is not quite the barnstormer you might have been expecting to close the album but it is nonetheless still a great song.

If you are planning on a long drive you could not ask for a better soundtrack to accompany you than Kleazer's "Signals", its grooves are upbeat enough to keep you awake when those white lines are lulling you into slumber. its lyrics will make you smile as much as they will make you reflect and its melodies will lodge in your brain never ever to leave, its highway heaven.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 25 November 2023


Inspired by a collective love of American culture and 70's rock music. as well as more recent bands like Soundgarden and Sleep, Groningen, Netherlands based trio Chief of Smoke are the perfect fit for these pages as their music possesses all the attributes we at Desert Psychlist hold dear to our hearts like fuzzy guitar tones, clean slightly buried in the mix vocals and thunderous rhythms guaranteed to have the neighbours banging on the walls. The band, Omar Larabi (guitar/vocals); Romke-Theun de Vries (bass) and Tom Bak (drums), first appeared on Desert Psychlist's radar via their 2016 debut "A Fresh Round of Smoke" a gnarly mix of weedian heaviness blended with elements of early 70's proto-metal which they then followed up two years later with "Rice Paddy Rodeo"(2018), a denser darker sounding release, still 70's influenced but with a more of a low slow and heavy stoner doom dynamic. The guys slipped off our radar for a period after their second release but have returned this month with a new album "Short Cuts" an album that sees them exploring much the same musical territories they did on their previous releases but this time taking things up a level.

Devotees of fuzz teetering on the edge of total breakup will be in danger of ruining their underwear when they get a load of the guitar tones Omar Larabi employs on opening number "Burnt Cloth and Rancid Gardenias", those tones are not just a noise they are an almost tangible entity that crawls into your ears and spread through you like a contagion, tones that become especially effective when paired with Romke-Theun de Vries low growling bass lines, Tom Bak's sturdy thundersome drumming and the guitarists own clean slightly nasal but nevertheless powerful vocals. Next song "Embracing the Serpent" takes what is essentially a 70's hard rock groove, drowns it in fuzz and distortion and then tops it off with a Beatle-easque vocal melody, its a trick that has worked well for Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and it works here too. Chief of Smoke inject a little bluesy psychedelic texturing into the mix for next track "Arc of Resistance" along with an element of  Sabbath-like heft, an element also reflected in Larabi's vocal which channels a little Ozzy-like whine in its execution. For their last track, "Horsehead", Chief of Smoke don their cowls and cloaks and treat us to some dank, dark and nasty stoner doom, the songs sludgy guitar and bass refrains. reverberating over mountainous drumming, might fool you into expecting vocals pitched at the more extreme end of the vocal spectrum but instead what you get is a vocal melody that if stripped away from its dank doomic surroundings could easily pass as something lifted from some classic rock album, a contrast of styles that shouldn't work but just does.

If you are looking for an album that combines your love for 70's hard rock and proto-metal with your love of  sludge and stoner-doom then Chief of Smoke's "Short Cuts" is your new go to jam. It's an album that is musically heavy and blustering but at the same time vocally melodic and swinging, a true best of both worlds.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 24 November 2023


The mission plan for Almost Honest's latest opus "The Hex of Penn's Woods" was, in the bands own words, to " Musically go for everything that made our last record great and turn it up to 11. Groovier, heavier, funkier, catchier." The bands last release "Seiches and Sirens" saw the band garnering plaudits from all the right quarters of the underground press so to then declare that they intended to outdo that album with their new release was somewhat of a bold statement. The question on everybody's lips now is have they achieved what they set out to do and the answer to that question is yes... and then some.

Opening song "Mortician Magician" opens with rolling drumbeats accompanied by some introductory fairground spiel then is joined by the guitar and bass in a strident fuzzed out and distorted stoner/heavy rock groove decorated in vocals that are a mix of slightly manic clean lead and shouty backing responses, and if that wasn't enough to blow your mind the band then throw in a series of abrupt and totally unexpected changes in direction, tempo and dynamics, seemingly just because they could. Next song "Laughter of the Deer Owl" (featuring Brandon Yeagley of Crobot on the chorus) is a touch less schizophrenic and fractious than its predecessor and boasts ear catching melodies and harmonies voiced over a backdrop of crunchy guitar, growling low bass and busy punching percussion, if Desert Psychlist was asked to pick a song from "The Hex Of Penn's Woods" that stood the best chance of getting radio airplay then this song would be our choice. "Alien Spiders" follows and sports the sort of punkish gait that was the hallmark of many of the early stoner/desert rock bands while "Eyeless Herd" finds Almost Honest toying with elements of doom, alt-metal and heavy prog but then going slightly off- piste and avant-garde in the last quarter. The following "Where The Quakers Dwell" mixes QOTSA-like quirkiness with proggish complexity to create a sound that has a hard to put into words off-centred edginess. "Amish Hex" may already be familiar to some of you as it was released as teaser prior to the release of the full album, those not familiar with the song will be treated to what is lyrically a collection of words and phrases connected by a well sung and easy on the ear chorus backed by a groove that leans towards doomic yet has a funk(ish) core, it is easy to see why the band chose this song to spearhead their new album as it is truly representative of what the band are all about musically. There is a touch of madcap jazziness about next track "Haunted Hunter" with convoluted chord progressions and intricate drum patterns vying for space with crunching bass and guitar refrains beneath vocals that are constantly harmonising and trading off, we think we may well have heard a banjo in there somewhere too. "Colony Of Fire" starts life with one of those guitar refrains so beloved of U2's The Edge but then evolves into this grungy post-punk/stoner hybrid and is followed by "Ballad Of A Mayfly" a song that feels like its five different songs played back to back yet somehow works as one. "Goliath's Lamp" is probably the most straightforward rock song to be found on "The Hex Of Penn's Woods" well that is if you don't factor in the sudden burst of a Franz Ferdinand (Scottish post-punk band) like guitar refrain and the weird gruff and growly backing vocals that occasionally raises their heads over the parapet. The band round things of with "William Penn" an instrumental piece that the band describe as "a sombre instrumental piece that relaxes the listener and lets them reflect on what they just experienced" and as such achieves its goal

 "The Hex Of Penn's Woods" is based around the folklore and myths that Almost Honest grew up hearing in and around their Pennsylvanian homeland, mixed in with a few beasties and creatures dreamed up by the band themselves. The music they have surrounded these tales with is some of the most brilliantly off centred and bat-shit crazy grooves you are likely to hear this side of the new year, nothing on this album is delivered straight down the line, each song has the propensity to go off grid at any given moment and each is far richer for doing that. Those bemoaning stoner rock for being safe and predictable should get their ears wrapped around this album and revise their opinions.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 20 November 2023


Austrian quartet Honeygiant, Fabio Menches (bass); Christian Reitmann (guitar); Wolfgang "Wolli" Steinbach (vocals, guitar) and Lukas Ulrich (drums), have been doing their thing for around three years now but don't feel bad if this review is the first you've heard of the band because apart from "Mortar", a 2019 one track release, there has not been a lot for those outside of their Austrian homeland to latch their ears on to. That state of affairs changes with the release of the bands self-titled debut album "Honeygiant" (Independant Audio Management) a stunning collection of melodic heaviness that the band describe as being a perfect fit for fans of Red Fang, Witchcraft and Elder.

Red Fang, Witchcraft and Elder are not the bands that first come to mind when the intro to first track "Division" trickles gently out of the speakers, and it is still not the case even when the song erupts into a pre-verse doomic guitar refrain, especially when that verse is delivered in clean melodic tones over a laid back and jazzy groove that probably owes more to Steely Dan than it does any of those other bands mentioned, that said when Honeygiant do break out the big riffs, gritty up those vocals and push those rhythms hard they do make a mightily impressive gnarly noise. "Remain Where You Were Found" follows and musically is a much more gnarled and grimy affair than its predecessor, guitar tones here are dialled to nasty and the rhythms are big and thunderous while its vocals shift from a clean croon to a passionate throaty howl. Touches of spacious heavy psych make their presence felt on "Far Beyond" while things get a little raucous and raw on the garage like and punky "Phantom Hammer", both songs highly enjoyable outings with the former just shading it in the enjoyment stakes thanks to its soaring and emotive guitar solo. "What The Blind Eye Sees" twins choppy chord progressions with searing solos over a fractured but funky backing groove decorated in a vocal that shifts from laid back and jazzy to lilting and mournful. "Sisyphus" finds things getting lyrically reflective over a groove that sways back and forth between doomic and progressive and gets more intense and dark as it stretches towards its final note. Last song "Electric Ghost" mixes sections of post-metal tinted prog with passages of off-kilter spasmodic funkishness to create a constantly shifting dynamic that throws up surprises at every turn, a wonderfully schizophrenic ending to what is a wonderfully schizophrenic (in a good way) album.

Honeygiant may be new to us that live outside of Austria, and probably to some inside Austria, but if they continue to make albums of the quality of this their debut then it will not be long before they start to attract attention not just from the fans of the bands they mention but from fans of good rock music in general, these guys have the potential to be a big deal within this scene we call the "underground" they just need a few more people listening to what they are offering.
Check 'em out ....  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 16 November 2023



Like your riffs fuzzed to the max with a crunchy circular dynamic, your rhythms solid busy and tight and your vocals tinged with a crackled raw edge? Well if you do then maybe you should lend an ear to "Pilot The Dune" the self-titled debut from, you guessed it....Pilot The Dune. Pilot The Dune hail from Norwich, UK, a city only a hop skip and a jump away from the East Anglian coast line where it is possible to find actual dunes, something that might go some way to explaining why a band from the lower middle East of England have a sound so close to that once birthed in the deserts of  90's era California

The first thing that comes to mind when the initial riff of first song "El Machina" hits the ear is its similarity to Deep Purple MK III's "Mistreated" however you should never judge a track by its intro and its not long before Pilot The Dune jettison their Purple-esque intro and jump two footed into stoner/desert territory with fuzz pedals dialled to max and rhythms in groove mode, the vocal decorating this onslaught possessing a more than pleasing cracked and throaty resonance. "Zub" is up next its easy on the ear vocal melody is backed up by one of those repetitive circular refrains that are almost impossible ever to get out of your head, Desert Psychlist is reminded a little of Welsh weedsters Dope Smoker while listening to this which is a big tick in its favour. Pilot The Dune plump for some good old school hard rock with next song "Modern Slave", the band still keeping one foot in the sandy soil of desert rock but dialling the fuzz back to allow the guitars a little more crunch and the drums room to swing, a trick they repeat to some extent on "Interstellar" only here the fuzz fights back a little harder. There is an essence of eastern exotica to be found in the guitar work for the following "Suntide" and it gives the song an almost proggish feel, albeit slightly diffused by the furiosity of its rhythms and the throaty rawness of its vocal attack. Urban sleazy post-grunginess is the name of the game on "Thruvia" while "It's Not You" finds the band experimenting with elements of heavy psych and grungy blues and coming up winners all round. For their last two songs, "Druid's Feet" and "Space Junk" return to what they do best and what they do best is jam heavy rhythmic stoner grooves decorated in circular refrains and wild eyed throaty vocals, these two song being prime examples of that art.

Pilot The Dune have, with their self-titled debut, taken aspects of 90's desert/stoner rock and 80's grunge/alt-metal and smashed them together with aspects of present day doom and psych to come up with something that is representative of each yet despite that still very much has its own thing going down.  
Check 'em out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 15 November 2023



For a long time Desert Psychlist considered Peter Gabriel's song "Intruder" (from his 1980 album Pete Gabriel: 3) as one of the most unnerving things ever recorded, that was until we received a promo (via The Doom Charts) of Norwegian outfit Praise the Sun's latest opus "Sinister & Unhinged", here we found not just one unnerving song but a whole album of them. 
Remember to check under the bed before playing this one and DO NOT go investigating that noise in your cellar. 

A quick crash of cymbals and a thick reverberating circular bass and guitar refrain introduces first track "The ramblings of a human predator (1)" then in come the vocals delivered hushed breathy and sinister, asking "do you feel safe tonight" and "are you cognizant of your death" the backing track of doomic groove accompanying those words adding to the songs overall menace, if the Norwegian police do not have the writers of these lyrics on their radar already then maybe they should after hearing this. Next track "Breaking a sinister streak (2)" utilizes a part grungy part funky groove as the backdrop for its view of the scenario created in the previous song, this time from the perspective of an investigating officer, "Our quiet little town, stalked by ruthless killer, walking alone at night, shouldn't feel like a thriller" sings the vocalist in low key but melodic tones, the perpetrator of the crimes summed up in the lines "getting more assured, clearly mentally ill, resisting being cured", this is cinematic stuff! Having dealt with serial killers and cops Praise the Sun turn their attention to goddesses and their offspring with "Son of Kali", or so we may think, maybe this is somehow tied in with all that has passed previously and we have found the root of our serial killers obsessions, either way this is some damn fine low slow and heavy doom made even more cloying and dank by those distinctive and disturbing vocal tones. Following next is "Wolf Overdrive" a song slightly more strident and upbeat than its predecessors, the drums here are a touch more insistent and busy and the guitar textures a little less dank and dark but then as the lyrics tell of running with a pack on a hunt that should be expected, vocals here are buried a little deeper in the mix and fed through some sort of filter giving them an off kilter but none the less menacing feel, we have to admit to looking across at our own big wolf like dog while writing this and suddenly feeling a little bit afraid. Praise the Sun take some time to think about death, grieving, repentance and forgiveness on next song "Penitent and blasphemous", a sort of lyrical travelogue to the tribulations and miseries you can expect once brushing off this mortal coil told in those sinister tones we have by now become accustomed to over a backdrop of insidious doomic bass drum and guitar textures. Final song "I was before and forever will be" is a deliciously dark song with which to sign off with, its disquieting vocal melodies and swelling/dissipating guitar textures combine with its low slung bass lines and thundering drum patterns to create an ominous and suffocating atmospheric that will send shivers of fear running down spines and have listeners turning on every light in the house regardless of the time of day.

Those of you out there who like good well played heavy music but find it hard to sleep after watching a slasher movie, or get freaked out when a spider suddenly dashes across the floor and makes itself comfortable under your favourite chair, well then maybe Praise the Sun's "Sinister & Unhinged" is not for you. If on the other hand you love heavy music but ALSO like serial killers, creaking floorboards, noises in the attic and being totally alone in the dark then this little beauty is most definitely your jam! 
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 14 November 2023


What better way to avoid arguments with egotistical vocalists, bassists who are constantly turning their amps up and drummers who keep putting fills where fills are not meant to go than by doing everything yourself. This is the course of action taken by multi-instrumentalist Jake Lewis for his ongoing project Burn Ritual and its a course that has so far paid dividends with Lewis seeing all of his releases getting favourable reviews from all the right quarters and seeing Burn Ritual's 2018 album "Blood of the Raven" placed at #17 in October's Doom Charts for that year. Burn Ritual is not Lewis' only project, he has also put out a brace of albums under the name Gypsybyrd (a project with Sun of Grey's Freddie Allen on bass) but it is probably Burn Ritual that he is best known for, not because its better than his other work but just simply because it is the one he has been involved with the longest. This year Lewis brings us a new Burn Ritual album in the shape of "Grave Watcher", a collection of occult and mythological tales set against an enthralling backdrop of proto-doomic groove that contains just a hint of Sabbatian swagger in its attack.

"Becoming the Beast" opens proceedings with droning bass and economic but solid drumming creating a platform for fuzz heavy refrains and occasional bursts of searing lead guitar over which hazy melodic vocals tell of transformation and change, this is doom, of that there is no doubt, but it is doom with a lilting, floating quality that feels more hugging than crushing. Next Track "Waiting for the Sun" may share a title with a classic Doors song but that is where any similarities end, this "Waiting for the Sun" is all dank guitar refrains over sinister drum and bass grooves decorated with a vocal that sits just below falsetto, the contrast of  these two sets of dynamics creating an eerie and unsettling atmospheric. "Embrace the Flames" follows and is probably Desert Psychlist's favourite track on the album its quiet/loud/quiet dynamics, low key but wholly effective vocals and low walking bass motif's are everything a true aficionado of the doom genre could ever hope for in a song. Title track "Grave Watcher" sees Lewis adding a touch of Ozzy-like nasality to his vocals over a groove that although doomic in flavour also boasts elements of  heavy psych and 80's British goth rock while "Black Veil" has somewhat of an Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats vibe about it in that it twins delicious vocal melodies with dank dark guitar tones to create something that you can not only sagely nod along to but can actually hum along with too. Last but one comes "Demons" the song is a little bit different from much that has gone before, its guitar tones are thicker, sludgier and its rhythms are a touch more sedate and plodding all of which is also reflected in its vocal which is harsher and a touch more sneery. For the albums final track, "When the Darkness Comes" Burn Ritual (Lewis) goes into full doom mode, chunky dark guitar and bass tones reverberating out over tight drumming and occasional keyboard flourishes in and around which lilting hazy vocal melodies and bluesy guitar solos are injected.

Jake Lewis IS Burn Ritual and Burn Ritual IS Jake Lewis, one cannot possibly exist without the other. The Texas born musician's love of stoner rock and doom and his interest in horror movies, mythology and the occult are blended together in a sound that is deliciously dank and heavy but never crushing, a sound that is as reliant on its melodies as it is its riffs, both of which more than make their presence felt on "Grave Watcher". 
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones