Monday, 25 September 2017

MOUNTAINWOLF ~ ABSINTHE MOON ....review


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

MOON MOTHER ~ RIFFCRAFT ...review


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

DOGZILLA ~ ASTRAL WORSHIP .... review


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

CROWTALKER ~ CROWTALKER


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

SWAMP RITUAL ~ SUNCHASER ... review


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 RitualDustin 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

MOTHER ENGINE ~ HANGAR .... review


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

STARBURNER ~ STARBURNER EP ....review



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 ...
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© 2017 Frazer Jones