Tuesday, 26 March 2019

HHOOGG ~ EARTHLING, GO HOME ...... review


Musical Improvisation (definition) : performance given extempore without planning or preparation.
To put that definition into layman's terms would be to say... music that can go in any direction at any given time, music steered only by the whims and imagination of the musicians executing that music.
BostonMassachusetts collective Hoogg's third release "Earthling, Go Home" is an album of improvisational music, the band having entered into the studio with no preconceived ideas and in effect just pushed the record button and gone for it! This off the cuff approach can sometimes be risky and fraught with failure but we at Desert Psychlist think Hhoogg's  "Earthling, Go Home" manages to pull off playing the "improv" card without suffering any significant injuries.


"Space,the final frontier" were the words that introduced each and every episode of TV's original Star Trek franchise and space is the theme running through all seven of this albums jams. Space may have frontiers but the music Hhoogg bring to the party however seems not to have, Hhoog are fearless in their improvisations the band unafraid to go wherever the groove takes them, be that swirling and lysergic, brutal and heavy or serene and ambient. "Earthling, Go Home" is an album drenched in diversity, a place where complex chord progressions can just as suddenly be replaced by crunching powerchords as they can be by intricate jazzy noodling, keyboards that can swoop as much as they can swirl, bass lines that can growl or flow like liquid mercury and percussion that can be as shimmering as it is pummelling. There are no rules here apart from the ones being made up on the spot, the band confusing, confounding their listeners as much as they dazzle and delight them.


Improvisation is not an exact science, as legendary Norwegian jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek once said "Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails, but that's what we face when we're dealing with improvisation". "Earthling, Go Home", although a little meandering and wayward in places, works.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 25 March 2019

ALMOST HONEST ~ SEICHES AND SIRENS .... REVIEW


Desert Psychlist closed its review of Almost Honest's previous release "Thunder Mouth" with the words "Quirky, funky, gritty and raucous all wrapped up in one bundle might sound like a recipe for disaster but Almost Honest manage to pull all these threads together to create an album that is slightly different but highly enjoyable". Well the good news is the bands new album "Seiches and Sirens" follows much the same path, still quirky, still funky, still gritty, still raucous and still damn enjoyable, the bad news is.....well there isn't any bad news.


A galloping, almost thrash-like refrain introduces first track "Fools Gold Flesh" and from that moment on its all aboard the Almost Honest express to quirksville as the band steam through ten songs that run the full gamut of all that is good within the stoner/hard rock scene. Melody and might are Almost Honest's calling cards and they use both to great effect, crunching chord progressions and jagged solo's , growling bass lines and tight complex drum patterns populate weirdly titled songs like "Interstellar Executive", "Dancing Shaman and the Psychedelic Cactus" and "Jenny Greenteeth" and combine with the mix of off-kilter melodies, unconventional and quirky lead vocals and occasional bear like growls to create a sound that is as kooky and weird as it is breath-taking and brilliant!


If you are an underground rock fan looking for something in the vein of Sleep, Sabbath or Elder well then you might have lucked out landing on this review, but if you came looking for something a little wacky, eccentric and challenging that doesn't quite conform to the norm then "Seiches and Sirens" is the gift that keeps on giving.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 24 March 2019

ELEPHARMERS ~ LORDS OF GALAXIA .... review


Desert Psychlist is ashamed to admit that despite the release of two previous albums Elepharmers latest venture, "Lords of Galaxia" (Electric Valley Records), is the very first time we have listened to the band. How we have missed out on this intriguing Italian trio from the island idyll of Sardinia is beyond us, but believe us when we say, on the evidence of "Lords of Galaxia", their back catalogue is now our number one priority of things to check out.


The sci-fi novel/comic type artwork that adorns "Lords of Galaxia" leaves no doubt in the mind that Elepharmer's interests lie at the more cosmic end of the rock spectrum, not so much in the way of say Hawkwind, Øresund Space Collective or the early space rock of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd but with more of a Clutch,Cybernetic Witch Cult approach, in other words still utilising all the swirling whoops and whistles of the former but with the crunching metal riffs and blues infused grooves of the latter.
Dark crackling static heralds in first track "Ancient Astronauts" followed by a pulsating electronic groove over which spoken narrative sets the scene for the song, and for that matter the albums, lyrical storylines of extra-terrestrial visitation, space lords and cosmic conflicts Around these tales, told in clean, strong vocal tones, are laid grooves that swing between driving hard/stoner rock and spacey psych, Maurizio Mura (drums) and El Chino (vocals; rhythm guitar; bass; harmonica) providing a huge foundation of diverse and delightful cadences for guitarist Andrea "Fex" Cadeddu to decorate with his fiery rhythm and lead work., his blues infused solo's and crunching riffs undershot with an array of swooping, swirling effects giving songs like "Ziqqurat", "The Foundation" and "Stars Like Dust" an added element of cosmic gravitas.


Based around the novels of sci-fi writer Issac Asimov and the ancient astronaut theories of author Zecharia Sitchin "Lords of Galaxia" is that much maligned of mediums a "concept" album, however where many concepts fail ,due to being over convoluted and just to damn clever for their own good, "Lords of Galaxia" works because its "concept" is kept simple and works like a novel, each song a page in a very exhilarating and mind blowing tale.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

GREEN LUNG ~ WOODLAND RITES .... review


South London's Green Lung return this year with not only a revised line-up but also a more expansive and spacious sound. After the release of the excellent "Free The Witch" EP the band, Tom Templar (vocals), Scott Black (guitar), Andrew Cave (bass) and Matt Wiseman (drums), realised in order to fully realise the sounds within their heads an extra component needed to be added to the mix and so the band invited organist John Wright in to add extra weight to their compositions, the results of which can be heard all over the bands latest release "Woodland Rites" (Kozmik Artifactz)


The sound of chirping birds and gently plucked acoustic guitars suddenly exploding into a maelstrom of heavy stonerized instrumental groove is the best way to describe opening track "Initiation", its swirling guitars, growling bass and pummelling drums concluding in a wall of screaming feedback while a short narrative tells us that "witchraft is dead and discredited", Almost immediately we are thrown into next track "Woodland Rites" a song that blends chugging proto-metallic riffage with strong vocal melodies, Templar's voice a perfect blend of sneering grittiness and melodic cleanliness. Next up is "Let The Devil In" and if you thought the title track was something special then this one is going to blow your socks clean into another dimension,. Beginning with a medieval tinted acoustic refrain and another short piece of sampled narrative the song suddenly explodes into a heavy but measured groove that utilises neo-classical and folk motifs to add an extra level of atmospheric occultism to proceedings, add into this equation a superbly executed vocal melody and you start to wonder can this album get any better. Well the answer to that is, it does, and "The Ritual Tree" proves it, a song that balances its heavy doomic bluster with sublime lysergic tenderness courtesy of Black's screaming, wailing  guitar solo's and Wright's swirling textured keys. "Templar Dawn" sees Green Lung exploring stoner doom territory with the vocals taking on a slightly more sinister tone over a thundering backdrop of grizzled bass and powerful percussion, expertly provided by Cave and Wiseman. "Call of the Coven" raises the tempo as well as the temperature while "May Queen" takes the dynamics in the opposite direction having an almost ballad-esque vibe and is blessed by some sterling lead work from Black. "Into The Wild" closes the album, a song that undulates between hazy psychedelics and smouldering occult rock, the song bringing to an end a very impressive debut from a very impressive band.


The term "occult rock" is one that causes a bit of confusion, at Desert Psychlist we tend to think of something tagged as "occult rock" as being grooves that although "doomic" are not what you could call full on "doom", grooves that share many of doom's characteristics but lean towards the more melodic and accessible end of the spectrum. Now you may not agree with our definition but whether you do or not does not take away the fact that "Woodland Rites" is a superb album that is both melodic AND accessible.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 17 March 2019

CRYPT TRIP ~ HAZE COUNTY ....... review


For Desert Psychlist the hard/classic rock of bands like KISS, Van Halen and Aerosmith, although very good, always came across as a little bit like an American attempt to emulate the British heavy rock grooves of the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. For us, here at Stonerking Towers much more interesting was when American bands like The Allman Brothers,The Outlaws and The Grateful Dead strived to add a little of their own country's culture to the mix, blending their hard rock grooves with elements of soul, jazz, bluegrass and country to leave the listener in no doubt of the music's North American origin. So why are we telling you this, well the answer is that, despite the doomic dynamics of their self titled debut, Texas trio Crypt Trip, Ryan Lee (guitar/vocals), Cameron Martin (drums) and Sam Bryant (bass), have been steadily moving, release by release, towards this more organic and honest American sound, a sound that is born from the musical diversity of its populace, a diversity reflected and celebrated on each and every song of the bands latest album "Haze County" (Heavy Psych Sounds).


The mushrooms, armadillo's and motorcycles that adorn the cover of Crypt Trip's latest opus, perfectly capture both the mood and vibe of the music therein. Crypt Trip have come a long way from their early proto-doomic beginnings, in fact if you didn't know any better you could well be fooled into believing there were two Crypt Trip's, one a hard rocking combo with stoner leanings , the other a country/southern rock band in the mould of The Allman Brothers and The Marshall Tucker Band.
"Haze County" kicks off with "Forward", a twang drenched instrumental chock-a-block full of catchy guitar hooks and motifs and sounds not too dissimilar to something the great Dicky Betts might of penned in his days as an Allman, "Hard Times" follows, a song that goes through more changes than a supermodel at a fashion show, the band seamlessly shifting between tempos, time signatures and dynamics with an ease that defies description, Lee's smooth vocal tones the one constant holding it all together. "To Be Whole" goes for a more straightforward classic rock groove, securely nailed down by Martin's industrious percussion and Bryant's busy solid bass, with Lee's vocals and superb guitar work the icing on the cake. "Death After Life" finds the band hitting into balmy psychedelic territory while "Free Rain" mixes up the psychedelics with some good old rock'n'roll swagger. Next up is "Wordshot" a country tinted medium paced rocker that is followed by "16 Ounce Blues" a song that, to these ears, channels a touch of early Eagles Californian sunshine in its execution.. "Pastures" is a finger-picking acoustic delight, enhanced by some achingly beautiful pedal steel from guest contributor Geoff Queen, that paves the way for closing song "Gotta Get Away" a track that adds to Crypt Trip's already cram packed resume an element of Spirit type late 60's pop/psych sensibility.


Crypt Trip have with "Haze County" finally shook off the stoner/hard rock tag, that had many mentioning them in the same breaths as Sweden's Graveyard and Witchcraft , and have embraced the roots of their own countries musical history. The fact that the band have shifted towards this new direction gradually and without some sudden sea-change means that we as fans have been privileged to take that journey with them, a journey that may have started with a thick distorted crunch but has slowly evolved into a hearty southern fried twang.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 11 March 2019

DUN RINGILL ~ WELCOME ..... review



Finding themselves at a loose end, after their main band The Order of Israfel decided to take an hiatus, Patrik Andersson Winberg (bass) and Hans Lilja (drums) teamed up with Winberg's old Doomdogs bandmate Tomas Eriksson (Intoxicate) on vocals to start a new project. The trio soon recruited guitarists Tommy Stegemann (Silverhorse), Jens Floren (Lommi) on and Patric Grammann (SFT/Neon Leon) to their cause and Dun Ringill was born.
The band have just released their debut album "Welcome" on Argonauta Records.


"Welcome" comes hot on the heels of new albums releases from Swedish doom veterans Candlemass and up and coming Swedes on the block Ordos and, either by design or happy coincidence, Dun Ringill's new album sits comfortably between the two and forms an unlikely bridge between the formers traditional doom and the latter's blackened stoner take on the genre. "Welcome" kicks off with "Welcome To The Fun Fair Horror Time Machine" and to say that this song does not share common ground with Ordos' song "House of the Dead" would be akin to saying David Bowie's "Gene Genie" bears no resemblance to The Sweet's "Blockbuster", Eriksson shifting through a similar spectrum of vocal styles to that of Ordos' Emil Johansson and, like the Upsala bands frontman, bringing an almost vaudeville/opera vibe to proceeding, Eriksson effectively playing all the parts. Musically, throughout "Welcome", Dun Ringill are bang on the money, the band laying beneath Eriksson's unique tones doomic grooves that sway between the traditional and modern, grooves driven by Winberg and Lilja's almost telepathic rhythmic understanding and further enhanced by Stegemann, Floren and Grammann's three pronged axe attack. A slew of guest musicians are drafted in to add texture and extra colour to proceedings with Swedish keyboard legend Per Wiberg (ex Opeth,/Spiritual Beggars/Kamchatka, ) adding his weight and Hammond to "The Demon Within".(which also features Matilda Winberg's vocals on the intro) while Emil Rolof (Bult/Lugnoro) supplies quirky piano to "Welcome To The Fun Fair Horror Time Machine" (also featuring Bjorn Johansson on flute) as well as mellotron to "Black Eyed Kids".


"Welcome" is an apt title for Dun Ringill's debut album because once you enter you will not want to leave, content to revel in their unique and original blend of new and old doomic styles until one day they finally make an album entitled "Goodbye".
Check 'em out ….

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© 2019 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

PESTA ~ FAITH BATHED IN BLOOD .... REVIEW


It has been three years since Pesta assailed our auditory senses with "Bring Out Your Dead" and in that time the only sign of life, for those of us living outside of their Brazilian homeland, was the release of "Nightmare" a cover song first recorded by their fellow countrymen Sarcófago. Well the wait is finally over and Pesta, Thiago Cruz (vocals), Marcos Resende (rhythm/lead guitars), Daniel Rocha (rhythm guitar), Anderson Vaca (bass) and Flávio Freitas (drums), are back with a brand new album, "Faith Bathed In Blood", and its a beauty!


Having had no dialogue with the band or read any press releases prior to this new release Desert Psychlist cannot confirm, or for that matter deny, if "Faith Bathed In Blood" is based around some form of concept but given its title and its intelligent and well written lyrical references to cultism, religious fervour and paganist rituals it would very much seem that there is a common theme, if not a concept, linking each song to the next.
Musically "Faith Bathed In Blood" comes from the more "proto" end of the doom spectrum but before we start bandying around clichés like"Sabbath-esque" and Iommi worship" lets just say that songs like "Witches' Sabbath" (featuring guitar solo from guest musician Gustavo Bracher),"Hand of God" and "The Prayer" (also featuring Gustavo Bracher on slide) probably come from a place a little closer to the territories of Pentagram, Buffalo and Iron Claw than that of Black Sabbath. Cruz's strong clean and impassioned vocals are also far removed from sounding anywhere near Ozzy-ish and possess a clarity and tone, that in these days of growled bellows and demonic wailing, comes as a pleasant and welcome change. Cruz's impressive voice is framed by some equally impressive guitar work from Rocha and Resende, the pair laying down a blend of thick riffage and searing lead work that is forcefully backed up by Vaca's earthy growling bass and Freitas' solid but fluid percussion, the four instrumentalists combining to create a sound that although a little shy of crushing is nonetheless damn heavy


Desert Psychlist has no idea what Pesta were up to for that three year period spent between albums but if Pesta used that time to write, record and fine tune the eight songs that make up "Faith Bathed In Blood" then that was three years very well spent and worth the lengthy wait.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones