Wednesday, 30 September 2015

DEMON INCARNATE ~ debut album

The occult/doom scene boasts a whole host of bands fronted by female vocalists so it came as no surprise when another one popped up out of the blue via my Bandcamp feed. What did come as surprise though was how ass kickingly good this band were and how deliciously dark was the voice of their vocalist.

Demon Incarnate are a German based band made up of a mix of German, French and American members and have been around since 2010 in one form or another. The current line up of Lisa Healy (vocals, Jan Paul (guitar), Phil Gandner (bass) and Tobias Schmidt (drums) have just released their self-titled debut album "Demon Incarnate" on FDA Rekotz.

"Grinder" opens the album, rushing out of the speakers, a whirlwind of metallic riffery, doomy rhythms and deliciously dark vocals. Paul, Gandner and Schmidt lay down a furious barrage of metal and doom grooves building a huge sonic platform for Healy to add her considerable vocal skills to. It's a superb opener and a good indicator for what to expect from the rest of the album.
 Healy's voice dominates "Demon Incarnate" (the album) and it does seem that the band, not surprisingly, have built their sound around it. Sitting at the lower end of the vocal spectrum, Healy's voice possesses a wonderfully smooth tone that she uses to great effect throughout the albums seven tracks. On songs like "Embers Glow" and " Lifeless Eyes" she brings a certain gravitas to the table, a gravitas that might well have been lost if sang by someone of the more pyrotechnic persuasion, her low tuneful tones adding a certain mournful despair to proceedings.  Lets not forget though that there are three others in this band and the contributions they make are essential to the bands overall sound. Jan Paul is my kind of guitarist, never overplaying his hand, picking his moments to lay down a scintillating solo one moment then stepping back in the shadows to groove on a riff the next, always playing for the song.
Gandner and Schmidt meanwhile are so locked together they are almost one, tight and solid they create a tornado of sound for Paul and Healy to work over, pushing the sound in a flurry of sticks and thick strings.
Darkly delicious and with a harder, more metallic edge than a lot of their peers, Demonic Incarnate's sound leans more towards the dark themes of The Devil's Blood than the occult-lite commerciality of Jex Thoth. If the occult genre is something that rocks your musical boat and you like your female vocals smooth, dark and slightly gothic then Demon Incarnate are the band for you.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

WUCAN ~ SOW THE WIND

November 2014 and I notice a new EP appear on my Bandcamp feed from a band i'd never heard of, the artwork seemed quite interesting but what made me check things out further was the short review accompanying the artwork from Grip Of Delusion contributor and fellow Hard Rock Revolution member Steve Woodier. His review was short, sharp and to the point and mentioned two things that caught my attention...the 70's and Jethro Tull. The band was called Wucan and the EP "Vikarma" and on hearing its glorious mix of stoner grooves blended with flute heavy folk/prog rock I immediately hit the buy button!

September 2015 and once again Wucan appears on my BC feed with a new album only this time I don't even stop to listen, I buy it straight away. The album goes by the name of "Sow The Wind".

Wucan hail from Dresden, Germany and are made up of three core members, Francis (vocals, flute,guitar and theremin), Tim (guitar) and Patrik (bass), the drum stool seems to be on a rotating basis at the time of writing but for the album Wucan utilised the skills of live drummer Leo Vaessen ( the only one who seems to have a surname).

Opening track "Father Storm" busts out of the traps like an express train, guitar and flute riffing in unison over a backdrop of solid drum and bass and bringing to mind memories of Jethro Tull classic "Locomotive's Breath" well that is until you hear the sublime bluesy tones of Francis on vocals. Powerful and blessed with a tone somewhere between Blues Pills Elin Larsson and Royal Thunder's Miny Parsonz, she infuses the song with a bluesy grit that shatters any further Tull comparisons that may be made.
"Owls Eyes" follows, its slightly stoner groove enhanced by Tim and Francis' guitars shifting from fuzz heavy riffage to sublime bluesy solo's at the drop of a hat At the 3:00 min mark the song drops into a glorious maelstrom of feedback and white noise only to be led out of it by Leo (he of the last name) laying down a strident drum beat that is joined in turn by Patrik's deep bass and Tim's guitar, the latter laying down a burning Allman-esque guitar solo. Over this Francis' voice swoops in and out of the groove, her bluesy rasp coating everything in its deliciously gritty tone.
Things get a little funky on "Looking In The Past" but no before Francis seduces the listener with some stupendously fragile flute work. Choppy guitar then enters backed up by Patrik's funky bass line and driven by Leo's percussive stick work, the band jamming on a groove before Francis' vocal comes in. The song comes to a glorious conclusion with the band jamming to the fade, voice, theremin, guitars, bass and drums all thrown into the mix to create a cacophony of noise.
"Face In The Kraut" and "King Korea" both take the foot off the pedal somewhat, the former a mid-tempo song with a more commercial sound that midway through features a stunning, effect laden, solo and the latter a mix of shifting time signatures and differing dynamics, both are great vehicles for Francis' stunning vocals and both allow the band to flex their considerable musical muscles.
"Wandersmann" ends the album with 15:45 minutes of scintillating prog/psych, Francis reverting to her native tongue, giving the whole thing a krautrock groove and adding whoops and squeals from her theremin as well as her flute. Tim, Patrik and Leo lay down a series of differing grooves for Francis to wrap her lungs around and  together they create a smorgasbord of deft percussive touches, soaring solos and fluid bass lines. Its completely different from anything else on the album but earns its place by showing that the band are more than willing to step a little outside the box and also have the chops to do so.
Where "Vikarma" dabbled in folk and more traditional blues "Sow The Wind"  finds Wucan stepping into uncharted territory, experimenting with elements of psych and krautrock and adding them to their already impressive musical cannon. More mature and a lot more focused than before I have high hopes for Wucan.





Monday, 28 September 2015

SOLAIRE ~ MAGIC WITCH BOMB ....album review

Solaire hail from Clemson, South Carolina and although, on the evidence of their photos, seem hardly old enough to drink have just released their first full length album "Magic Witch Bomb".

Mixing heavy down tuned riffage with sweet melodies and vocal harmonies "Magic Witch Bomb" is never gonna be considered your stereotypical "stoner" album, but don't let that put you off giving this little gem a listen as there is enough gnarly fuzz and distortion to keep even the most grizzled stoner fan happy.

"First Day With The Hook" starts the ball running with a slow deeply doom soaked chugging riff before morphing into an infectious desert groove, just as your getting ready for those raw edged, throaty stoner vocals to kick in Solaire throws you their first curveball. Neither whisky ravaged or demon possessed the voices of guitarist Austin Marcengill and bassist Weston Link are more akin to that of The Monkees than Monster Magnet, blending together an amalgamation of  clean harmonised melody and slightly sweet indie tones that are in total opposition to the fuzz drenched storm the boys rip from their instruments. A storm that is backed up with the exemplary percussive skills of drummer Truston Carter .
On third track "Jet Cat" the band throw in their second curveball. Overtly commercial in sound the track sees the band step momentarily away from their stoner grooves and head into a more pop punk direction, something they repeat again on later track "Johnny Get's Paid". Both  tracks are hi- octane performances that are enjoyable and fun but it's tracks like "Necroequine" and "The Man In The Lighthouse" that are the real meat and potatoes of this album. Those two tunes combined with the excellent closer "Coloradoing" and the already mentioned "First Day With A Hook" are what drew me to this band and in turn inspired me to write this review. For me, Solaire are at their best when combining the dirty desert grooves of Kyuss with the sweet harmonies of Wishbone Ash, but that is only my opinion.
Whichever direction Solaire decide to go down in the future is entirely down to them but if they do decide to veer to the darker edges of their sound their next album could be very, very interesting.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

PONAMERO SUNDOWN ~ VEDDESTA album review

A while ago I contributed a band bio to the band threads of the now (sadly) defunct Hard Rock Revolution Forum concerning Sweden's Ponamero Sundown, on that bio I made a mistake that was picked up on by the bands guitarist Anders  who was perusing the site a couple of days later. Anders, to his, credit then stuck around answering questions from the forum members and over the next year or so kept us up with progress reports on the bands developments and even going as far as giving us access to song demos and jam tracks. So it gives me great pleasure to today review the bands, long awaited, new album "Veddesta"

"Bottom Of The River" kicks things off nicely, a single percussive beat leading to a grinding guitar motif that is punctuated with short sharp chordal stabs before settling into the main riff. Robert Triches (bass) and Peter Eklund (drums), Ponamero's engine room, drive the song along at breakneck pace with Anders Martinsgârd's guitar laying down deliciously dark riffs and solos over the top. Vocals are provided by Nicke Engwell, strong, powerful and having just the right balance of classic rock clean and stoner rock grit he delivers lines like "At the bottom of the river,Too dark to see - too numb to feel" with real conviction and powerful emotion.
"Hangman's Trail" is next to assail your senses, a heavy mid-.paced rocker that leans more to hard rock than stoner. The song, a tale of wanted men and prison cells is another fine showcase for the rhythmic skills of Eklund and Triches, the former thrashing his kit to smithereens and the latter's four strings booming with deep fluidity. To this Martinsgârd adds, along with his customary fuzz drenched riffage, a wonderful eastern tinged guitar motif that is also incorporated into his solo. Over all this mayhem Engwell roars and croons, telling the story as if he's living it!
"Restart My Heart" stays in the 70's hard rock arena, it's infectious chorus pulling you in until before you know it your singing along. Catchy and with enough hooks to hang a sky on this would of made a great single back in the days of flared trousers and denim jackets, when singles mattered.
"The Fortune Teller" opens with a rolling guitar riff that then drops away for Engwell to deliver the verse then picks up again for the chorus, the song reaches its conclusion with Martinsgârd tearing a burning solo from his fretboard, bluesy notes dripping from his strings.
"Rhinostodon" sees things getting a little psychedelic with Martinsgârd coaxing sitar like effects from his guitar and Engwell's vocals delivered slightly synthesised and distant. The song shifts through a series of dynamics getting a little doomy in places and a little progressive in others but never getting disjointed or losing its way. It's a slight departure from Ponamero Sundown's usual hard/stoner groove but one I would like to hear more of.
It's back to business as usual with next track "Broken Trust" an all out more rockier track that sees the band leaning back on the more stoner aspects of their sound  Engwell delivers the songs lyrics with a throaty roar over a backdrop of booming bass lines, crashing drums and dark chainsaw riffage that is occasionaly broken up by ambient psychedelics only to go full tilt rock monster moments later.
Final track "Dead And Gone" closes the album with the four band members firing on all cylinders, part bluesy torch song, part rock monster the song shows a maturity of songwriting, arrangement and musical skill that although was not lacking on past releases, has on "Veddesta" reached a peak!

Friday, 25 September 2015

GENTLEMEN BASTARDS ~ BASTARD'S BREW ...album review

Arrived a bit late for the party concerning The Gentlemen Bastards new opus "Bastard's Brew" but with a little nudge from guitarist Bill Barry I've rectified this oversight.

"Bastard's Brew" is an album that finds itself sheltering quite comfortably under the umbrella of stoner rock and with its large doses of fuzzed out riffage and hard driving rhythms it is understandable that this would be the case but there is a lot more to The Gentlemen Bastards than fuzz pedals and powerful percussion.
From opening track "Mad" through to album closer "Bastard's Boogie" The Gentlemen Bastards never give less than 100%, Dave Stanley (drums) and Böðvar Böðvarsson (bass) summoning up between them a storm of rhythmic power, rocking and swinging with exceptional timing and precision. Over and around and this tower of sound Bill Barry adds a superb mix of choppy fuzz soaked riffage, clean scintillating solos and catchy hooks and licks, all infused with bluesy tones and textures. It is these tones and textures that really form The Gentlemen's sound, placing the band more in the hard rock/blues arena than the stoner moshpit. This is further evidenced in the vocals, admirably delivered by Will Quinn his clean slightly rugged tone owing more to the blues influenced classic rock of the 70's than the throaty growling that is common in 00's stoner rock. This is not to say The Gentlemen Bastards don't get down and dirty when they want to, check out "Umbra" if you want something to bang your head to but also check out "Skuggi" if you want to hear them get a little deep and mellow.
"Bastard Brew" is a superb collection of stoner/hard rock with an element of the blues running through its fuuzy veins, well written, produced and performed this is a great album for fans of both fuzz and feeling.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

SHINE ~ WEEDNIGHT EP

When a band states its interests as beer, weed, tits and Sabbath..well you've got to take them seriously.

Shine are a three piece from Poland consisting of Kamil Baran (guitar/vocals), Damian Olearczyk (bass/vocals) and Marcel Łękawa (drums) who like to play their music hard, heavy and soaked in fuzz, as can be heard on their debut release "Weednight"

.
First track "The Curse" explodes from the speakers in a crescendo of downtuned noise, guitar and bass riffing on a groove, drums crashing and thundering beneath. Aggressive and laced with punk-like angst the vocals punctuate the fuzz, each verse ending with an Ozzy-like "Oh Yeah" as if in homage to the Birmingham four.
Title track "Weednight" adds an element of doomy atmospherics to the mix, Olearczyk's bass leading the way with a superb bass motif into which Baran's guitar injects little touches of psychedelic colour, Łękawa meanwhile keeping it all together with a light percussive touch. The dynamic shifts when the effect laden vocal comes in, getting a little loud and gnarly only to drop down again at the end of the verse. The song winds to its conclusion in a superb heavy jam with Baran delivering a scintillating solo that burns through the rhythmic haze like a headlight in the fog.
Shine go for full on heavy psych for the EP's finale "Hare Grave", its thick heavy sludge like riff thundering on repeatedly, building in intensity until at the 6 minute mark morphing into a glorious space/psych jam. Olearczyk and Łękawa come into their own here laying down a barrage of heavy rhythmic pulses, Łękawa utilising every inch of his kit with Bonham-esque power and Olearczyk plucking Thor-like thunder from his bass. Baran's guitar, meanwhile, weaves in around this wall of noise with stabs of thick sustained chords, drone-like effects and heavily distorted licks and solos and finishing with his guitar feeding back as Lekawa's shimmering cymbals take the song to its fade.
Bending its knee at the altars of fuzz and distortion "Weednight" is a delicious celebration of all the things us stoners, doomers and psychonauts love about the "underground" scene and its music.
All hail the fuzz!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

DISENCHANTER ~ STRANGE CREATIONS....album review.

Disenchanter first blew my mind (and my speakers) when, following a recommendation from a friend, I heard 2013 EP "Back To Earth". It was a wonderful debut full to the brim with strong vocals, song writing and powerful musicianship, not content to rest on their laurels they repeated this feat again a few months later with 2014's "On Through Portals". Both EP's were, and still are, stunning examples of stoner/alternative rock shot through with elements of doom and psych, full of hooks and catches that had appeal to both stoners and more traditional metal listeners.
Since the release of "On Through Portals" the band have been  tirelessly honing their chops on the live circuit and, when time permitted, writing new songs all of which has culminated in the release of this their first full length album "Strange Creations"

The opening drum and  guitar intro that opens first track "792" sets things up nicely for the entrance of Sabine Stangenberg's vocal, powerful, dark and pitched with a slightly epic tone and delivery she weaves a magical spell over the listener as she sings of foreign lands and blackened souls. Stangenberg is no slouch on guitar either, ripping exquisite solos from her fretboard here, soaring majestically over the  maelstrom created beneath her by Joey DeMartini (bass) and Jay Erbe (drums).
"On Strength Of Steel" continues the blood and battle theme and has a slightly Grand Magus groove that sees DeMartini and Erbe laying down some solid metal rhythm work over which Strangenberg lays an infectious riff and vocal.
Title track "Strange Creations" is up next and begins with Strangenberg doing her best Dave Gilmour impression with a beautiful and tasteful solo in the intro before going into the main riff. Slightly more commercial in sound than the rest of the album "Strange Creations", in the old days, would of had managers, record execs screaming "That's the single!"
"Green Queen" finds Disenchanter in stoner territory, the band grooving on a delightful fuzz soaked riff with Stangenberg lifting her voice into the upper register of her range. De Martini and Erbe are tight and solid throughout delivering a thunderous display of four string and percussive power to  proceedings that is matched superbly with Strangenberg's choice of guitar licks, notes and solo's.
"Sorceries" heads into more doomier waters beginning slow and funereal, the track slowly building layer by layer until exploding into a mind blowing fusion of bluesy doom and heavy psych with Strangenberg's guitar and vocal wailing against a wall of dark distorted noise. Dark doomy and emotive it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the tracks on "Strange Creations" and for me is the highlight of the album.
Staying in the bluesy doom arena "A Thousand Times" adds atmospherics to Disenchanter's already impressive cannon .It is a dark foreboding lullaby and with lyrics like "Salt the bones and build the pyre, Bring forth cold and lightless fire" you can be pretty sure this not a song about bunny rabbits and flowers...unless of course your burying your bunny rabbit.
"Snakes Of The Earth" closes the album in grand style with an intriguing mix of doom and psych overlaid with a mantra-ish slightly monotone vocal and infused with touches of middle eastern promise, a sort of "Kashmir" for the stoners.
Disenchanter have created an album that crosses back and forth between the various sub-genres of rock with ease, part stoner, part heavy metal, part classic rock and knocking on the doors of doom and psych "Strange Creations" is diverse and magnificent!

Friday, 18 September 2015

BLACK WITCH ~ AWARE EP

Maybe I should change the name of this blog from Desert Psychlist to Rainforest Psychlist as it seems that everything I listen to lately comes from Brazil!
Black Witch are a four piece band from, Brazil's second most populated city, Mossoró and their debut EP "Aware" has just been made available for download at Bandcamp.

"Aware" starts, all guns blazing, with opener "First Ritual" a fuzz drenched monster of a track, its chainsaw riffs and solid rhythms, courtesy of Rafaum Costa (guitar), Fred Nunes (drums) and Jorge Luiz (bass), lay a glorious stoner/occult foundation over which Lorena Rocha adds her vocal colouring. Rocha's tone and delivery is where things may get a little sticky for some listeners, slightly monotone and straying off key on occasions her voice may be an acquired taste for some. Personally I find her untamed voice a refreshing change to the more cultured vocals of other female singers  currently plying their trade in this field especially when it is set against the backdrop of down tuned riffage laid down from Costa's guitar. Costa's guitar tone perfectly compliments Rocha's vocals by employing a tone similar to that which Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell used on "Check My Brain"  dissonant, atonal but totally effective, his solos and licks possessing a delicious dark slur.
A fine example of this can be found on second track "Necromancer" its straight stoner rhythms broken up by a repeating "slurred"  guitar motif  that just slays, Rocha lays down a wonderful vocal here but it is when it comes to the guitar solo that things get really interesting. Using the magic of overdubbing Costa goes toe to toe with himself, his slurred guitar tone facing off with with a more traditional tone in the other channel, its a wonderful moment in what for me is the strongest track on "Aware"
"Eyes Inside", "Salem" and "Samsara" continue in much the same vein with "Salem" being the pick of the bunch, Rocha's vocal oozing banshee like over a solid rhythmic stoner pulse, laid down by Nunes and Luiz, and further enhanced by Costa's caustic guitar riffs.
Black Witch's slightly off-kilter take on the stoner/occult sound  may not be everyone's cup of tea but for those out there who like a bit of dissonance in their sonic grooves "Aware" is one to check out.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

BIRNAM WOOD ~ WARLORD EP

Question; What do you get if you mix the blues based heavy metal of Black Sabbath with the grooving on a riff stoner doom of Sleep?
Answer; Birnam Wood.

Birnam Wood are a four guys from Boston, Massachusetts who in 2014 released a killer, self titled, album packed full of heavy riff based stoner metal tinged with elements of both trad metal and psych. If it had not been for the albums late December release Birnam Wood (the album) would of almost certainly have made many peoples Best Of.. lists for that year. Well, bloggers, journalists and fans get those pens ready for this years lists because Birnam Wood (the band) have just released a new EP "Warlord".

"Warlord" continues Birnam Wood's story with four songs of absolutely essential stoner doom sprinkled with traces of psych, hard rock and good old metal. Heavily down tuned riffage combined with thick solid thunderous rhythms form a bedrock of deliciously addictive doom into which intricate and scintillating solos and licks are woven and over which are laid clean throaty vocals.
The bands sound has been described as the missing link between Sleep and Sabbath and no more is this evident than on the EP's longest track "Wizards Bleed" its dark eerie psych intro building until exploding into a series of differing time signatures and riffs, traditional metal grooves sitting side by side with those of a more stoner dynamic its vocals swinging between clean melodic and throaty bellow.
A good EP is not defined by one song though and "Two Ravens", "The Forge" and title track "Warlord" all show the same levels of quality song writing and musicianship making this EP essential listening for anyone who likes their stoner/doom grooves dark intense but not overly brutal.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

PASTOR ~ EVOKE..... Heavy Austrian Rock!

Those of us of a certain age will remember when, in the late 60's, things started to get HEAVY! Musicians started pushing their sound through bigger and louder amps, experimenting with different effects and in doing so paved a way for the rock music we listen to today.
Austrian band Pastor are not of that certain age but on the evidence of their latest album "Evoke" it would seem they spent a lot of time listening to their parents album collections.

"Evoke" is an album that takes the heavy blues and hard rock of the late 60's and early70's and "stonerizes" them by adding elements of the doom, stoner and psych of today's underground scene.
The album begins by channelling the spirits of Cream and Mountain on opener "Voodoo", its riff/lick/riff motif overlaid with clean powerful vocals and underpinned by strong solid rhythm work.
"Drowning Thoughts" continues in the same vein, bluesy proto-metal grooves interspersed with scorching guitar solos, great vocals and driven by powerful drum and bass rhythms.
"Wolf Vein" sees a slight shift in musical direction by once again referencing Cream but throwing a curveball into proceedings by blatantly ripping off Black Sabbath's "Hand Of Doom" riff and melody, mid song, and adding their own lyrics. It's a blatant case of grand theft audio but works a treat.
"Wicked Whisper" finds the band in early doom territory, this time though they move into the realm of  Britain's nwobhm doomsters Pagan Altar.
The next three songs "Moving On", "Devils Reef" and "Evoke" all beg borrow and steal from Pastor's influences but are all equally well written and performed. Once again though Pastor stamp their own identity throughout.

If any of you young stoners, doomers reading this want to hear what rock sounded like in the early years of metal and can't be asked to trawl through endless videos on youtube then check out Pastor's "Evoke" because it's all here!



Tuesday, 8 September 2015

88 MILE TRIP ~ THROUGH THE THICKEST HAZE.....album review

Vancouver's 88 Mile Trip first came to my notice about a year and a half ago when I chanced upon their self titled EP, over at Bandcamp, and was blown away by their catchy stoner /desert grooves and intrigued by the unique quirky bellow of their vocalist. It's been two years since that EP was released and apart from releasing a live EP " Live In The DTES" nothing much has been heard from the band. Well that all changed this month with the release of the bands first full length album "Through The Thickest Haze"

"Through The Thickest Haze" continues the 88 Mile Trip story with an album full to the brim with fuzzy catchy riffs, hard driving angular rhythms and of course those superb slightly off-kilter vocals.
Within the nine songs of "Through The Thickest Haze" the listener will find elements of stoner, classic hard rock, psych, punk and good old rock'n'roll, all blended together under a glorious blanket of fuzz and distortion. As the band said in an interview with MetalTitans.com "We aren’t here to reinvent the wheel because the wheel works just fine".
88 Mile Trip play foot to the floor stoner/desert rock of the kind made famous by Kyuss and Fu Manchu, albeit with  slightly less orthodox vocals, it's not gonna change the world and why should we want it to, let's just enjoy the fun of it.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

OLD STOVE ~ #1 ....Heavy stoner grooves from Brazil

Back in Brazil again for some heavy desert/stoner grooves from Aracaju natives Old Stove and their butt-kicking new release "#1".

"#1" is a heavy album in more respects than one. Putting aside the immense wall of stoner/desert fuzzed riffage and heavy rhythmic pulses that are present throughout the six songs that make up "#1" there is also a dark heavy intensity running through the albums dark grooves.
"Place Pigalle" kicks things off in grand style,  Marcela Dias (bass) and Vinicius Macedo-(drums) laying down a solid storm of percussive thunder and four string majesty over which João Gabriel lays guitar and vocals, his guitar tone thick and fuzz drenched, his voice clean, warm and darkly smooth, delivering lines like "Beware the bright red light at night, just stay on the roof, keep calm" with effortless power and phrasing.
It is Gabriel's warm velvet tones, set against a dark musical maelstrom of fuzz and distortion, that sets Old Stove apart from other bands in the stoner/desert genre. More grunge than stoner, with an ever so slight Kurt Cobain rasp, Gabriel's voice adds a certain gravitas to the cryptic lyrics of "#1", injecting a worldly weariness into songs like "This Side Of Paradise" and the excellent "Gloria" that might have been lost had they been delivered in a more roared throaty stoner rock style.
"#1" is a stunning album that is well written, superbly performed and one that i will fully expect to be seeing on a few best of lists at the end of the year.



Friday, 4 September 2015

SAHARA SURFERS...new album HIGH LANDS


Austria may be known for their delicious desserts but the country is not really known for its deserts. This little fact has not, however, stopped Austria's Sahara Surfers from releasing a series of albums containing some of the best desert grooves not to come out of a desert! If you need proof of this check out the bands latest album "High Lands".

Sahara Surfers will not be unknown to a lot of the seasoned stoners who frequent the scenes numerous blogs, forums etc. as their two previous releases "Spaceship On a Paper Plane" (2010) and "Sonar Pilot"(2011) were both received with warm reviews from both stoner rock fans and the underground music press. "High Lands" continues where those two albums left off by mixing elements of alt.rock, metal and psych and nailing them to deliciously sandy desert grooves that are then embellished with smooth, super cool female vocals.
"Traces" gets the ball rolling with a Colour Haze type vibe, Hans-Peter Ganner's bass and Michael Steingress' drums creating a warm groovy bedrock for Andreas Knapp to add little touches of six-sting colour and texture one minute and full on stoner fuzz the next. Over this mixture of krautrock vibes and stoner psych funkiness Julia Überbacher delivers a vocal that is clean, rich and has a warm melodic power, her voice wrapping around you rather than bludgeoning you to death.
Second track "Feels Like Riding" starts off a little funky before kicking into a dirty Kyuss-like riff  over which Überbacher sings "What did he say? Did the ground stand up, You gotta starve your pain, I hear you" a line that written down does not mean much but I guarantee you, that line will be going round and round in your head all day.
"Grey Spring" sees Sahara Surfers mix it up with deeply distorted riffs and rhythms set against a highly infectious verse/chorus/verse. The band even inject a little stoner doom to proceedings when at the 02:03 mark KnappGanner and Steingress hit on a chugging metal groove before going back into the songs main riff, its only a moment but it's a stroke of genius.
"Charma"is up next, the songs shifting dynamics lending themselves to a more progressive/psych rock feel than previous tracks and sees Ganner and Steingress stepping up to the plate with some excellent rhythm work. "Charma" also showcases Knapp's guitar chops, his tastefully picked arpeggios sitting next to throat ripping riffage and burning solos, filling in the gaps between Überbacher's sublime vocals with stunning fretwork.
"Ghost" is a monster track that once again sees the band stepping out of their desert rock comfort zone into more prog/psych areas. Kicking off with an exquisite bass and drum intro the track slowly builds before collapsing down again when the the verse is introduced.only to build again for the chorus. As in "Traces" there are elements of Colour Haze's krautrock psych but this time married to the bombastic stoner  groove of Rhode Island's Elder, at 10:31 it's the album longest track and its best.
Final track "The Thief" drops things down a little, gentle and mellow, Überbacher's vocal is backed by gently picked acoustic guitars and occasional vocal harmonies It is in complete contrast to the fuzz and psych of the rest of "High Lands" but sits nicely on the end as a reminder that there is more to this band than first meets the eye, or ear in this case.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

YETI ~RITUAL... Album Review

Finland not only shares a border with Sweden it also shares a knack for turning out good music, especially when it comes to bands from the alternative and underground scene.
Yeti hail from Yemi, Finland and play a heady mix of stoner and doom sprinkled with folk melodies creating a sound and vibe that is quite unique as evidenced by their brand new album Ritual.

Ritual is an album that falls into that grey area between the stoner and doom genres that we now refer to as "occult" and like a lot of bands populating this niche (Purson, Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony) Yeti are fronted by female vocals. Antti Miettunen (guitar), Mikko Rintala (bass) and Joonas Jäntti (drums) create a deliciously dense fuzz drenched barrage of noise over which the sensuous and slightly folkish tones of vocalist Kaisa Kari float and flow. Kari's voice, pitched somewhere between Blood Ceremony's Alia O'Brien and Curved Air's 70's acid/prog goddess Sonja Kristina, adds a fragile edge to Yeti's doom laden grooves that is both delightful and refreshing.

Yeti are no one trick ponies though and over the course of the six songs that make up Ritual the band cover all bases, "Fools Hope", "Inferno", "Forsaken" and "Soloman" lay down the doom with varying degrees of dynamics and pace, dirty riffs, scorching solos and dark edgy rhythms all topped with Kari's creamy vocal tones. "She" brings in a whole new vibe to the proceedings, mellow  and with an almost medieval folk groove its gentle use of acoustics and what sounds like a fairground barrel organ combined with Kari's sometimes sung, sometimes spoken vocal creates a groove that is as sinister as it is beautiful. The final song, and the one that gives the album its name "Ritual" is nine minutes and twenty seven seconds of glorious OTT psych doom in which Kari wails her vocal banshee like over a dark swirling circular riff that only lets up when Miettunen  rips into his guitar to produce an absolute face melting solo. Brillantly executed, menacingly dark, the song ends the album on a wonderfully high note and shows why you, the reader should check these guys out!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

MOCHO DIABLO ~ MONOCHROME...second album from Brazil's grungy stoners.

I've been featuring a few bands from Brazil lately, not because I have gone out of my way to seek bands from that country, no,its been more of a case of them finding me really! The latest band from the land of carnivals and rainforests to assail my riff battered ears goes by the name of Mocho Diablo and they have just released their second album Monochrome.

Gui Klaussner (vocals/ theremin); Murilo Silva (bass/backing vocals); Mauricio Peruche(guitar) and Thiago Pinho (drums) are the four guys who make up Mocho Diablo and together they have created an album that blends grungy dynamics with stoner/hard rock grooves dusted with a little South American flamboyance.
 
Monochrome begins with "Intro", a gentle, laid back eclectic mix of acoustic guitar, theremin and latin percussions, it's both charming and beautiful but in no way prepares you for the thunderstorm that is about to explode from your speakers when ,second track, "Sink The Black Swan" kicks in.  Klaussner dominates "Sink The black Swan" his clean slightly throaty vocals roaring and sermonising over a backdrop of fast, full on riffage and percussive fury. Lyrics such as "You can jump into a bucket of mice and climb back like a dizzy cockroach" might not win a Pulitzer Prize but when sang with Klaussner's gusto and passion and delivered atop a wall of delicious stoner fuzz,. well.... they just seem to work.
"My Enemy" and " Silent Mass" follow, the former an out and out rock'n'roll romp that delights with its thrashy attack and the latter a deep groove laden riff vehicle with a slight Monster Magnet vibe.
"Me And The Devil Walking Side By Side" sees Mocho Diablo discovering their mojo, bluesy (in a sort of White Stripes way) and big sounding ,it boasts a chorus that will be going around in your head a week after the song ends.
"19 Maniacs" is next to spin, with Silva and Pinho laying down excellent drum and bass work over which Peruche delivers  inspired riffs,solos and licks. Klaussner's vocal here is a masterclass of controlled aggression and power, you can almost feel the spittle hitting you as he sings about "Rusty machetes in captivity"
The best is left to last with the excellent "Hispaniola". Silva comes in to his own here, his slinky funky bass line locking in with Pinho's heavy percussive onslaught giving the tune a slight Indian raga feel over which  Klaussner's voice and theremin go toe to toe with Peruche's furious fretwork.
It's a glorious track and great way to close an album that proves not only can grunge and stoner live side by side but they can also live quite happily together.