Tuesday 28 November 2023
Saturday 25 November 2023
Friday 24 November 2023
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday 15 November 2023
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.