Any band who mentions UK doom/NWOBHM band Pagan Altar in their list of influences is going to draw Desert Psychlist's attention and the fact that the band doing the mentioning also cite Wishbone Ash and 70's era Scorpions as influences also does nothing but further peak our interest.
The band in question,a quintet from Baltimore, Maryland going by the name Alms, consisting of Andrew Harris (bass), Bob Sweeney (guitar, vocals), Derrick Hans (drums), Jess Kamen (keyboard, vocals) and Danny McDonald (guitar), recently convened at Developing Nations Studio to record their debut album the results of which are now available via Shadow Kingdom Records and Bandcamp.
Keyboards used correctly in rock music can transform a bands sound dramatically, giving the grooves, delivered by the usual couplings of vocals,drums, bass and guitar, an extra dimension and depth. Alms use keyboards on "Act One" to great effect, their vocalist/keys player Jess Kamen comping behind a riff one minute, swirling in and out of the groove with swathes of textured keyboard colouring the next, however it would be wrong and a little misleading to call Alms a keyboard driven band as there is so much more going on here. The first thing you notice when giving "Act One" a spin is that these guys have SONGS. Alms are not just another run of the mill riff machine, although there are plenty riffs here to enjoy, these guys have melodies, harmonies and arrangements to spare and are unafraid to use them. Opening track "Dead Water" is a perfect example of Alms manifesto of musical substance over riff based content, its doomic/occult,almost cinematic keyboard heavy, groove is counterbalanced by Sweeney and Kamen's superb dual harmonies over a pop like, swinging melody, creating an overall groove that is as dank as it is deliciously delightful. This intoxicating blend of bright swinging vocal melodies and dank, dark groove is repeated throughout "Act One" and sees Hans and Harris supplying a diverse array of rhythmic platforms for McDonald and Sweeney to decorate with swirling lead work and crunching doomic refrains, Kamen's keyboards, swirling in around the grooves, the icing on what is a very tasty and totally moreish musical cake.
If doom is your thing but you sometimes feel the need to escape from the more cloying elements of intensity and darkness, the genre is known for, then you can't go far wrong by giving Alms "Act One" a spin, Desert Psychlist guarantees you won't be disappointed.
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© 2018 Frazer Jones