Wednesday, 12 August 2020

THE CROOKED WHISPERS ~ SATANIC MELODIES ..... review

The Crooked Whispers are a combo put together from members of such notable bands as LáGoon, Hour of 13, Luciferica, and Fulanno. The band, Anthony Gaglia. (vocals), Chad Davis (guitars) and Ignacio De Tommaso (bass) are joined, for the release of their new album "Satanic Melodies",(Electric Valley Records) by Nicolás Taranto on drums and together they make what can only be described as an unholy racket!

There could be a credible argument for including some form of warning with "Satanic Melodies" as the grooves emanating from this collection of dark, diabolical hymns of debauchery are likely to not go down too well with those of a more traditional religious nature. "Satanic Melodies" has already, one day after its release, prompted one irate soul to write on a social media site "I guess there are many sick and twisted people out there who thrive on stuff like this"! The reason why "Satanic Melodies" can elicit such vitriol is not only because its lyrics explore themes of evil wickedness and the black arts but also because those themes are reflected in both its music and the vocals that accompany that music. Droning feedback, raked strings and  menacing sound effects, over an ominous one note bass line, announce the arrival of the appropriately titled "Intro", its sinister dark atmospherics setting the tone for the rest of the album. The only word that could describe Chad Davis' guitar tone, on tracks like "Sacrifice", "Profane Pleasure" and the albums title track, is filthy.. a tone so drenched in distortion so overdriven with fuzz that it sounds like he's plugged into an amplifier built especially for him by the horned one himself,  De Tommaso's growling bass is no less impressive and gives the impression that he has eschewed the use of  traditional bass strings and opted for the stretched sinews of some hellish monstrosity, meanwhile Taranto plays his role as the anchorman to perfection by keeping everything tight, solid and economical thus allowing Davis and De Tommaso's guitar and bass to dictate rather than decorate the albums grooves. It is Gaglia's vocals however that really  put the "satanic" into the six "melodies" that make up this caustic collection.  Gaglia is probably better known for utilizing a distinctive garage/punk style sneer with his own band LáGoon however with The Crooked Whispers it would appear that he has undergone some form of demonic possession, not so much singing lines like "to die is your reward" and "I am the slave of Lucifer His darkness lives in me" as rasping them in tones both malevolent and sinister.


"Satanic Melodies" is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, there are times throughout the album where some listeners may feel that a little more melody and a little less Satan would not have gone amiss, but that aside The Crooked Whispers have fulfilled their bargain with the Lord of the Flies and given him some of his best tunes in years!

Check 'em out..... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Monday, 10 August 2020

SEER OF THE VOID ~ REVENANT ..... review

 

A "Mephistophelean trio from Athens, Greece" is how occult rock/doom trio Seer of the Void describe themselves and its not hard to understand why after hearing their debut release "Revenant" (Made Of Stone Recordings), The bands music, an enthralling blend of raucous guitar refrains and thundering rhythms, sits at the proto end of the doom spectrum but due to its vocals, which are positioned at the cleaner end of harsh, has a pleasing blackened edge perfectly suited to its dark occulti(sh) themes.

Things begin very promising indeed with first track "Prodigal Son", John Amariotakis' guitar and Greg "Maddog" Konstantaras' bass combining with Ilias Samartzis' drums to create a thunderous traditional doom groove over which Konstantaras roars lyrics telling us he's "the great deceiver", "the prodigal son" in tones grizzled and maniacal, the trio dropping into a Sabbath-esque flavoured gallop between verses to add balance and variety. "Venom Black" follows and finds the band putting the brakes on and delivering a groove that although not quite low and slow, in a Sleep/ Monolord sense, is definitely in that territory, the song also boasts an absolutely stunning neo-classical flavored solo from  Amariotakis that is as haunting as it is beautiful. Next up is "Sign of the Wolf" and here we find the band mixing up their traditional with their proto, the trio switching between these two dynamics with consummate ease thanks in main to Samartzis' incredible skill behind the traps. "Dullahan" rears its gnarly head next and sees the band jamming a groove that stutters and stammers beneath a superbly feral vocal from  Konstantaras, as well as some not too shoddy growling bass work, his slightly demonic rasps and roars adding a hellish edge to the proceeding yet, thanks to their clarity, avoid sounding forced or, as can sometimes be the case in vocals of this nature, coming over as slightly farcical.."Lysergus Mons" might suggest something psychedelic but actually what you get is a mix of galloping Sabbath-like swing and Electric Wizard type intensity twinned with powerful gnarled vocals and swirling blues flecked guitar solos. "Evil Orchid" and its follow up "Hellhound" are two deliriously devilish heavy tomes that should tick the boxes of any doom aficionado with a love of a dank, dark riff while closing track "Conform and Strive" confirms in its lyrics that "god hates us all" and shows in its music that Satan has all the best tunes.

Seer of the Void have with "Revenant" created an album that sits on the precipice between the traditional and proto dooms of yesteryear and the more harsher, blackened dooms of today and they have done so without leaning to far either way resulting in an impressive debut that should appeal to fans of both.

Check it out ..... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 9 August 2020

THE DRAWBACKS ~ LOST IN TIME ..... review


Crunching power chords, thrusting rhythms  and strong throaty vocals all underscored with a hint of southern rock swagger can only mean one thing and that is Greece! Yes we are back in the birthplace of Western civilization again, the country that in the past gave us the foundations of philosophy, mathematics, literature and art but more recently has given us, with bands like Nightstalker, Routes and Planet of Zeus, raucous riffs and thunderous rhythms. 
Today we turn our attention towards the country's capital Athens and a little combo going by the name The DrawbacksAndreas (vocals); Manos (guitar); Vagelis (drums) and Giannis (bass), a band formed in 2016 and who with their debut full album "Lost In Time" are proving that Greece, despite all its recent economic woes, is still a force to be reckoned with.


If your a fan of the proto flavoured space rock of  USA's Monster Magnet and also have a penchant for the raucous grooves of Greece's Planet of Zeus then The Drawbacks might just be the band for you. These two comparisons are no better exemplified than on the debut albums opening track "Taxi Driver" a song that begins with crunching guitar motifs circling around growling bass and tight solid percussion over which throaty vocals venomously rasp and roar, al a Planet of Zeus,  then drops into a spaced out lysergic doomic groove, that is pure Monster Magnet, fleshed out with appropriately flavoured vocal tones. Now of course there is more to The Drawbacks musical canon than just an amalgamation of the styles of two fairly well respected stoner(ish) bands, The Drawbacks also draw heavily on the blues, classic rock and southern tinted hard rock for their inspiration. These elements make their presence felt  throughout "Lost In Time",  and especially on songs like "Brother", "Metaphor" and "Rising Sun", but even then it's hard not hear aspects of POZ and Monster Magnet's distinctive grooves rising to the top. This is due, in part, to the bands front man having a comparable larynx shredding roar to POZ's Babis Papanikolaou, at the top end of his range and  an uncannily similar tone to Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf at the lower end of his register, but is also due to the fact that the grooves the rest of the band surround those vocals with have elements of both these iconic bands in their makeup.


It is probably a little unfair to fill a review with comparisons to two other bands but the fact is that once heard those comparisons are extremely hard to unhear To their credit The Drawbacks manage to merge these two distinctive styles together on "Lost In Time" seamlessly while still managing to put their own signature on things, which is something that should be applauded and another good reason why "Lost In Time" is such a great listen and one you should most definitely check out.....


© 2020 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 8 August 2020

TEMPLE ~ FUNERAL PLANET ...... review


Temple are a sort of loose "supergroup" project created by members of two of Sweden's finest exponents of riff based heavy rock, Surfing In Hell and Silver Devil. Now given their bands of origin it would be expected that Temple's line-up would be one that has a sound that leans towards the dark and doomic, and that expectation would be bang on the money, however Temple go that little bit further by managing to sound so much more doomic and darker on their debut release "Funeral Planet" (Ozium Records) than either of the bands that birthed them. 

Atmosphere is a intrinsic ingredient in any music of a doomic nature and "Funeral Planet" is an album drenched in the stuff, it is an album that has a cloying, almost claustrophobic, quality that gives the listener the feeling they being enveloped in a shroud of impenetrable darkness and debilitating despair.. Despite this murky air of melancholy and misery, evoked by the bands low slung downturned refrains, pounding rhythms and clean powerful monotonic vocal melodies , there are moments when the darkness lifts and an occasional shard of light is allowed to penetrate the gloom. It has to be said that these moments are rare and present themselves not as sudden descents into navel gazing post-rock ambience or upward flights into lysergic laced experimentation but as more of a stepping off of the intensity pedal and allowing a little light relief to permeate the dank miasma of depression and despair the band create with their lumbering grooves. Although few and far between it is these brief moments of respite that give balance to songs like "Sea of Grief", "Magma" and "Ashes" and stops them become an overwhelming onslaught of anguish and despondency, allowing the listener a chance to catch a breath of much needed fresh air before being dragged back into Temple's deliciously dark and deliriously dank swirling whirlpool of abject misery and despair.

If your a fan of bands like Windhand, Haunted (Italy) and Electric Wizard then Temple's "Funeral Planet" is an album that will tick all of your relevant boxes, it is an album that trades on treacle thick doomic riffage and ponderous thundering rhythms but also one that has a few unexpected surprises concealed within its black clad sleeves.
Check it out ..... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 6 August 2020

BURN RITUAL ~ THE VOID ...... review


Q; When is a band no longer a band? A; When it's just one man! Ok Desert Psychlist supposes that deserves some sort of explanation, well here goes..... 
Burn Ritual was originally the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jake Lewis who realized he'd stumbled onto something good when interest in his debut EP , "Like Suffering"  surpassed all of his expectations. For Burn Ritual's next album "Blood of the Raven" Lewis put together a band and once again was delighted with the response the album garnered from all quarters. Lewis, a man who always likes to keep busy, then went on to explore other musical avenues with his project Gypsybyrd, again to critical acclaim. Unfortunately by the time it came for Lewis to revive Burn Ritual for a new album Covid-19 had wreaked its havoc on the world and getting a band back together was no longer a viable proposition, so with Lewis being somewhat of a workaholic  the only option left was to bite the bullet and go back to doing everything himself., the results of which can be heard on Burn Ritual/Lewis' latest release " The Void" (vinyl; Kozmik Atifactz , CD/cassette Forbidden Place Records).


"The Void" opens its account with "Lust For The Dead" a number that begins with  Night Gallery/ Twilight Zone type sampled narrative, telling of voodoo and black magic, then segues into a proto-doomic groove driven by strong insistent rhythms and decorated with dark circular guitar refrains over which Lewis layers, ever so slightly sneered, vocals drenched in tones of wicked mischievousness. For title track "The Void" Lewis dials in his vocals distant, hazy and mantra(ish) over a plodding bass heavy doom groove interspersed with dank thrumming guitar textures resulting in a groove, not dissimilar to something Welsh weed rockers Dope Smoker might attempt, only with a slower thicker dynamic. "They Crawl" follows and here Lewis raises the tempo to rocking with a chugging riff that is probably more Budgie than it is Sabbath over which he injects an ear catching vocal hook and melody. Lewis goes back to the low, slow and heavy for "Bringer of Evil", a song that borders on the edges of stoner doom, while for "Mark of the Witch" he goes into full Sabbath mode with Ozzy(ish) nasal tones to the fore and Iommi-like riffage locked and loaded. Heavily distorted guitar introduces "Tranquilized" and again highlights Lewis' knack for combining might with melody, the songs thick recurring guitar refrain offset by Lewis'  vocal telling us in hazy clean tones to "look into my eyes, I'll tranquilize" . Next up is "The Conqueror" a brief but highly enjoyable lysergic laced instrumental built around a dark reverberating guitar motif, Proceedings are then brought to a close with "Evil Lie" a dark moody doomic tome made even more atmospheric by Lewis' use of  keyboards to add texture and depth to the songs already quite sinister aura.


Jake Lewis is a self confessed worshipper at the altar of Black Sabbath so it come as no surprise that much of what informs "The Void" has a strong Sabbathesque quality. Lewis, however, sets his grooves apart from others bands and artists, with similar Sabbath leanings, by not not going down the route of tying together a constant and shifting array of riffs to create one song but instead strips things back to just one or two to achieve an Indian drone like effect that when combined with his hazy vocals and lysergic laced guitar textures gives everything a very pleasing hypnotic feel, and results in eight songs that could easily be described as mystical mantra's for metalheads 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

QUEEN MARSA ~ QUEEN MARSA .....review


Step aboard Desert Psychlist's time machine and let us take you back to an age when women were often referred to as "chicks" and men were either a "dude" or a "brother". Yes we are taking you back to the seventies, that era of wide bottomed trousers and other questionable attire and the decade when rock music got serious. What, you may ask, will be fueling this trip back in time and the answer to that is grooves, those grooves are supplied by a quintet, hailing from the Balearic island of Majorca, Spain going by the name of Queen Marsa. Queen Marsa are Manuel Pintos (vocals).; Xavi Cárceles (guitar), Jaume Rado (guitar);Toni Coronado (bass) and Juan Bonet (drums), five musicians with a love of 70's hard rock who have just recently release their debut EP "Queen Marsa" (Discos Macarras Records)



If you are a Brit of certain age you will remember walking around cities and towns in the early 70's and seeing fly posters advertising gigs by bands with names like Rusty Butler, Strider, Warhorse and Stray as well as many that have now achieved cult status with fans of today's stoner, doom and psych scene like Budgie, Wild Turkey and May Blitz. If you were around at that time and do remember these bands or have fallen in love with their grooves after being introduced to their music by an older family member then Majorca's Queen Marsa are going to blow your mind! Many new bands toy with recreating a 70's sound but very few successfully nail the era's vibe, this is not the case with Queen MarsaQueen Marsa capture the feel and groove of the golden age of rock music, on songs like "Cyclops", "Ashes of Pompey" and "Bite My Soul", with such legitimacy and validity that it is often easy to forget you are listening to a band who were probably not even born when those bands mentioned earlier were in their prime. This stunning EP screams vintage rather than retro, its warmly fuzzed guitar tones possess no hints of overdriven harshness, it's lead breaks soar and scorch rather than scream, its bass lines are delivered deep and creamy and its percussion swings rather than pummels, in other words this is "classic" hard rock with a capital C. So what of the vocals you ask, often the clincher when listening to grooves of a more "classic" nature, well the vocals surpass all expectations and are the cherry on what is already a particularly tasty cake. Pintos voice is like a cross between Budgie's Burke Shelley and Wild Turkey's Gary Pickford-Hopkins, with a little Bon Scott, thrown in for good measure, his vocals contain just the right balance of gritty bluesiness and soulful power to do justice to the classic flavored grooves circling around them and take everything they touch to an altogether other level of awesomeness.


There are plenty of bands out there jamming grooves inspired by music from the 70's but there are only a very few who truly understand and have a feel for that music, Queen Marsa have that feel and that understanding plus an unshakable belief that there is still a place for good honest rock in today's overcrowded genre pool... and after one listen to "Queen Marsa" we think you'll be agreeing with them.
Check it out ....


© 2020 Frazer Jones

Friday, 31 July 2020

BOGWIFE ~ HALLS OF REBIRTH ..... review


Britain's shoreline defences have been breached many times over the years, first it was the Romans, then the Saxons and then the most scary of them all the Danes. Thankfully those days of marauding men brandishing steel and iron are no more and things are relatively more civilized between nations, however there are still some Danes eager to invade this sceptic isle. Those Danes come this time not with steel and iron but with riffs and grooves and they travel under the collective flag of Bogwife and the ship they ride is called "Halls of Rebirth". and this time these dynamic Danes are not just focusing on British soil they want to conquer the World!


"Halls of Rebirth" is a heavy, thundering opus but not one so heavy that it teeters on the brutal, there are elements of light and shade to be found throughout the albums five songs despite the amount of down tuned guitars and pummeling percussion on display.  The majority of the albums vocals are clean and powerful, if sometimes grizzled, and the albums guitar solos soar, swoop and scream with a clarity usually reserved for classic/hard rock albums. This classic /hard rock analogy is one to take note of as Bogwife's modus operandi is to deliver grooves that are heavy enough to please those with an ear for stoner doom's more slower. lower dynamics but also those who like their grooves a little bit more on the polished side, the band combining these two radically differing dynamics in such a way that it is almost impossible to see the joins. Songs like "Voidcruiser", "Seer" and "Abyss" groan and creak under the weight of their thunderous drum patterns and growling bass lines but are cleverly counterbalanced by an almost 70's proto-metal feel courtesy of their superb vocals and swirling lead work, the band creating a groove that takes the best of two distinctive styles of rock and blends them into a sound that might not exactly be new but is most definitely exciting.


The Danes are back but there is no need to go running for the hills this time around, instead embrace them, invite them into your hearts and revel in the gifts Bogwife bring with "Halls of Rebirth"
Check it out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones