Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Don't you just love it when a band seemingly comes out of nowhere slaps you around the face and demands you give them attention. This is what happened when Desert Psychlist heard Black Eagle's debut full length album "Iconoclasm".
Black Eagle are, Daniel Mikey Butruk (lead vocals), Zane Fraley (lead guitar), Elliot Diggs (rhythm guitar), Dillon Sting Rey (bass) and Tyler Miles (drums), five musicians from Arizona who in their own words say "We're gonna make it big, no matter what".

Throwing convention to the wind Black Eagle start "Iconoclasm" by throwing the listener something of a curveball in the shape of "Valhalla", a delicious and wonderfully addictive acoustic guitars workout that reminded Desert Psychlist of  gypsy jazz guitarist Bireli Lagrene's rockier moments (fans of acoustic guitar should really check him out).
Things get back to some semblance of hard rocking normality with the next track "Journey Through Black Mountain" a storming six minutes of fuzz heavy Wolfmother-like groove coated in clean but slightly maniacal vocals.
"Wilting Fixtures" is up next and has a more alt-rock feel with a mix of grunge crooned and stoner roared vocals around a Nirvana-esque quiet/loud/quiet structure.
Black Eagle opt for a more stoner/hard rock feel for their next track "Bad Trip" a song that had this been the seventies would of most certainly have been the choice for an assault on the music charts. The song rides a fuzz drenched metal groove infused with  totally addictive vocal melodies and boasts a stunning earth scorching guitar solo.
"W├╗rmwood" begins with sirens wailing then suddenly explodes into an uptempo thrash-like metallic groove coated in throaty slightly hardcore vocals, and heralds the albums shift into a harder edged sound.
"The Elite" uses a neo-classical guitar passage as its intro before segueing into a sludge drenched groove replete with heavy distorted guitar riffage and harsh gutteral vocal tones, a groove and feel that crosses over into the next track.
"Anubis" takes the sludge-lite attack of the previous track and removes the "lite" completely, replacing it with  Baroness/Mastadon  like groove and intensity as well as adding a slight NWOBHM undercurrent to make things even more interesting.
"Mageslayer" is a pacey stoner metal riff-fest overlaid with a variety of differing vocal tones that swings back and forth between heavy fuzzed riffage and gentle acoustic arpeggios.
"Raygun" sees the band hitting a heavy thrash groove with the bass and drums leading from the front and the guitars sitting further back in the mix the resulting groove coming across like an inverted Slayer.
Black Eagle drop things down a few gears for next track "Cosmic Waltz" a slow burning anthemic tome that  mixes elements of grunge and stoner around clean male and female vocals.
The band close with a delightful instrumental, "Joyce" jams a sort of Colour Haze meets Pink Floyd vibe that builds layer by layer and finishes on a stunning feel drenched guitar solo.
Usually I finish a review with a brief paragraph summing up the album but I think I should once again let the band have their say... "We are an ambitious band, we are a powerful band, we are Black Eagle"
Check 'em out ....

Sunday, 23 October 2016


Californian trio Doors To No Where have been together as a band since 2011 but the three musicians had been crossing paths long before this via their involvements in other bands and projects.
In 2015 the band, Marc Lewis (guitar/vocals), Sean Sanford (bass/vocals) and Pete Testoff (drums) came into Desert Psychlist's orbit via their second album "Lucky You" an addictive mixture of stoner/desert and classic rock sprinkled with touches of southern flavouring. On October 28th (2016) Doors to No Where will be releasing their third full length album "The Haunting" via ITunes and Bandcamp as well as their own website .

"The Haunting" follows much in the footsteps of its predecessor "Lucky You" jamming grooves of riff heavy stoner rock around superb clean throaty vocals, except this time around the band have ramped up the bluesy southern swagger and added to it  touches of off-kilter Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age desert quirkiness. "Devil's Backbone", "Burn" and "Who Died And Made You King" are soaked in Josh Homme-like choppy guitar colouring and stuttering rhythmic patterns with the latter employing QOTSA type abrupt shifts in dynamics,time and tempo. The band are not adverse to hitting a more straightforward groove either as on the slightly post-punkish title track "The Haunting" and the stoner/hard rocking "The Policy". On "Sinking" and "Wires" the band even throw in a little grunge/alt-rock structuring with the former boasting a titanic drum display from Testoff.

Third albums are notoriously "difficult" affairs with expectations high for signs of growth and progression but Doors To No Where have with "The Haunting" leapt easily over that hurdle by releasing their best effort to date...Desert Psychlist now waits with baited breath for that "almost impossible" fourth album.
Check 'em out....

Friday, 21 October 2016

ELCAM ~ CHUNK .... review

French instrumental stoner rock duo ElCam are no strangers to the pages of Desert Psychlist, the drum and guitar combo's EP "Shaft" was reviewed here back in June last year (2015). Since the release of "Shaft" the band have been busy honing their chops on the French live circuit and writing and recording songs for a brand new EP entitled "Chunk" due for release November 15th 2016.

"Chunk" sees ElCam continue the path taken on 2015's "Shaft", of Karma To Burn-like heavy fuzzed riffage and pounding rhythmic percussion, but this time adding into that mix touches of post-rock structuring and prog-like complexity. The first four tracks "Claw", "Knife", "Occult" and "Fork" more or less tread a path of pedal heavy effected guitar riffs and occasional solo's furiously layered over backdrops of thunderous percussion, with the two musicians shifting gears through a myriad of differing dynamics never allowing the grooves to stagnate or become repetitious. It is however on the, loosely conceptual, last three songs "Chunk Pts 1,2 & 3" that ElCam really get to show their ever growing maturity , with Mathieu Leignel (drums) and Jey Feviet (guitar) stretching out their ideas by weaving into their fuzz elements of space and psychedelic ambiance as well as soundbytes of spoken narrative, with "Pt.1" and "Pt.3" more or less working as an intro and outro to the more complex and beautifully atmospheric "Pt.2".

ElCam have come along way from the heavy fuzz'n'roll of their first EP "Orchard" but it has been a journey that has seen the duo grow both as songwriters and as musicians a growth and maturity that is mirrored in the seven tracks that make up "Chunk".
Check out a preview here....

Thursday, 20 October 2016


Amy Tung and Jon Barrysmith are Year Of The Cobra, a two piece heavy stoner/hard rock duo comprising of bass, drums and vocals, a duo who shook the rafters of the underground scene when, only a year ago, they released their three song debut EP "Black Sun". With the praise and plaudits of the underground press ringing in their ears YOTC hit the road hard over 2016, splitting their time between family and the road but still managing to fit in time for recording songs for a new album.
So with a hectic but very productive year behind them and with the talents of legendary producer/engineer and mixing desk maestro Billy Anderson at helm the duo are about to release their first full length album  "In The Shadows Below" on STB Records (29th October).

First track "Lion and The Unicorn"  begins with Amy Tung's bass feeding back over Jon Barrysmith's slow tribal backbeat before erupting like a volcano into a whirlwind groove of gnarly bass riffage and pounding percussion. At just over the halfway mark the mood changes and the tempo shifts into a slow and heavy doom groove, over which Tung's ghost-like vocal pours like cool water over jagged rocks, before falling back into the songs original refrain to take things to the close.
"The Siege" follows and has a slightly more "occult rock" vibe than that of the previous song. Tung lays down a juddering bass line around which she weaves a clear sweet toned vocal that is driven from beneath by Barrysmith's busy drum work, the man on the stool filling every space with both intricate and thunderous percussion.
"Vision of Three" is an atmospheric piece driven by Barrysmith's Bonham-esque pounding drum patterns and dominated by Tung's heavily distorted Rickenbacker bass. Tung employs over this onslaught of rhythm a fragile almost simpering tone, her vocals airy and ethereal in total contrast to the titanic grooves erupting around them.
"Spider and the Fly" finds Tung toning down the distortion a notch or two and opting for a cleaner bass tone and a slightly more swinging vocal approach that is underpinned by some stunning percussion work from Barrysmith.
"Persephone" begins with a delicious Tung bassline that then morphs into an uptempo punk(ish) refrain only to shift gears once again and move into an occult drenched stoner groove. Tung's stuttering bassline and smooth honeyed vocals are superbly backed up by Barrysmith's drums and sees the two musicians perfectly complimenting each other throughout.
"White Wizard", the only track to have also appeared on "Black Sun", is here deeper sounding with more focus on atmosphere, Barrysmith's simplistic beat, a little flat on the original, here echo's around Tung's vocal and low bass, setting the pace with almost metronomic intensity. Tung switches her vocal between sweet willowy and strong melodic while at the same time laying down dark swathes of liquid bass.
"Temple of Apollo" sees YOTC coming at the listener from a slightly more commercial sounding angle with Tung and Barrysmith jamming an almost punk/pop groove around a verse/chorus/verse pattern that to Desert Psychlist's riff ravaged ears has echo's of New York art-punks Blondie in their rockier moments.
"Electric Warrior" closes proceedings with an occult/doom-lite groove built around a massive Tung bassline and thundering Barrysmith drum pattern. Tung ups the ante vocally, her voice, still melodic and creamy but edged with a touch of dark grittiness, sits regally above the swirling heavy slow to mid-tempo grooves beneath it.

"In The Shadows Below" is probably one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2016 (quite a feat for a relatively new band) and one that delivers on all levels
Check it out .....

Sunday, 16 October 2016


Delaware/Maryland  rock'n'roller's Wasted Theory cut a band sized swathe through the undergrowth of the stoner/hard rock scene with their 2014 release "Death and Taxes", a stunning collection of southern tinged riff heavy rock'n'roll perfect for listening to with a beer in one hand and something exotic and herbal in the other.

Two years have passed since "Death and Taxes" but the members of Wasted Theory, Larry
  Jackson Jr.- lead guitar/vocals, Brendan Burns - drums, Dave McMahon - rhythm guitar and Rob Michael - bass, have not been idling their time on drink, drugs and women (although I suspect there may have been time for that too) they have been working hard gigging their asses off and writing new songs some of which have made their way on to the bands brand new album "Defenders of the Riff" due for release on October 30th (2016).

Break out that old pasting table, throw an old sheet over it and fill the table with beer, whiskey and food 'cos were going to have a party!
From the opening bars of first track "Get Loud or Get Fucked" it's pretty obvious this is not an album for those looking for introspection or answers to the meaning of life, no, this is an album for having a good time, cracking a few cans and having a laugh with good friends. Songs like "Black Witch Blues", "Atomic Bikiniwax" and "Under The Hoof" are infused with elements of AC/DC-ish bluesy hard rock sprinkled with healthy doses of southern rock swagger, stoner attitude and most importantly.. fun. Nowhere is that feeling of fun more evident than on the wonderfully titled "Belly Fulla Whiskey" where the band mix this element of playfulness with a groove and spirit reminiscent of southern rock legends Black Oak Arkansas a groove that sees guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson Jr. channelling the spirit of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum through his low throaty vocal. Even when Wasted Theory do step outside the southern hard rock stoner box as on the excellent doom-lite closer "Odyssey of the Electric Warlock" it is done with their tongues placed firmly in their cheeks, when Jackson Jr. sings "the time has come to sacrifice" you can almost imagine him dressed in a monks cowl with a beer hidden up his sleeve and a pair of battered sports shoes peeking beneath the hem.
"Defenders of the Riff" is an excellent album that further enhances Wasted Theory's reputation as a growing musical force in the underground rock scene and does so with a wink and a knowing smile. It is the perfect follow up to the bands first album "Death and Taxes" its just a pity we've had to wait two years for it.
Check it out .....

"Defenders of the Riff "is expected be released April 2017 on vinyl courtesy of  No Slip Records

Sunday, 9 October 2016


Canada is slowly creeping up the league table of go-to countries producing quality stoner and hard rock with bands like Monster Truck and Black Mountain leading the charge and starting to knock at the door of rock mainstream acceptance.
WhiteNails are not yet in the same position as those two bands but if the Quebec five piece's debut release "First Trip" is anything to go by then it might not be to long before they are.

"First Trip" shows a band firing on all cylinders, a band hitting a groove deeper than the Mariana Trench and just as dangerous. Songs like "Damn Judas", "In My Blood" and "Silver Linings" are packed with lashings of warmly fizzed riffage, thunderous rhythm and clean strong vocals with occasional forays into the lysergic. On "Dead In Time" and "Brazen Bull" the band even get a few friends in to help out, the former sees fellow Canadian Gab Shonk swirling her rather impressive tones over and around main man Darcy's powerful vocal delivery and the latter employs Sandveiss guitarist/vocalist Luc Bourgeois throwing his hat into the ring both vocally and instrumentally.
WhiteNails have with "First Trip" traversed the gap between the heavy underground and the commercial mainstream, filling their first EP with enough grit and dirt to please the denizens of the stoner rock scene but doing so with a slightly more classic rock feel.
Check it out .....

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Three years ago a hard rocking Swedish band with a rather fishy name grabbed the attention of the underground rock scenes record buying, digital downloading public with a five song self-titled EP of 70's retro feeling hard rock,the band's name was Haddock.

After their three year recording break Haddock return with another five song EP on Ozium Records going by the intriguing title "Captain Wolfe's Journey To The Center of The Sea" due for release October 25th.

Bursting at the seams with heavily fuzzed riffage and hard driving rhythmic bluster "Captain Wolfe's Journey To The Center Of The Sea" sees Haddock expanding on the promise shown on their first EP by putting a larger emphasis on songwriting and arrangement within a loose conceptual structure. Songs like opener " Captain Wolfe's Journey" and "Henry The Regicide" are more akin to lyrical vignettes' than songs, each telling a story around soundscapes of crunching power chords, big liquid bass lines and solid percussion coated in clean powerful vocals. "Dance Macabre pt.1", "Dance Macabre pt.2" and the track that sits between them "Reverend Reefer" take a more outside looking in perspective and are infused with elements of prog-ish complexity and doomy atmospherics yet remain firmly rooted in the bands core mixture of 70's hard rock and 80's stoner.
So there you have it.. an EP that ticks all the hard/stoner boxes and has that quintessential Swedish retro groove we have all come to love so much, you just could not ask for more.
Check it out .....