Sunday, 31 December 2017
"Sabbath" and "worship" are two words banded around quite a lot within the stoner/doom community, often as a criticism levelled at bands/artists whose grooves lean heavily towards those proto-doom refrains first foisted on us from those godfathers of all that is heavy Tony, Ozzy, Geezer and Bill. What do you do though when your grooves are not especially sabbathian but your vocalist has an undeniable Ozzy-ish hue to his vocal delivery that will undoubtedly draw those Sabbath comparisons? Well Norway's Black Mammoth's answer is simple.. deliver an album that stands proudly on its own merits and is so damn good that those tired comparisons become redundant, something the band have strived to achieve with their debut album "Overlord of the Pleasuredome"
An album's artwork can often be the best indicator for the music it is designed to decorate and the warm glowing valve adorning the cover of "Overlord of the Pleasuredome" is the perfect advert for the warm "organic" grooves to be found within. The word "organic" suggests a certain earthiness to the music on offer and that is exactly what Black Mammoth deliver, earthy grooves of proto-ish metal coated in clean, perfectly pitched vocals. From the deeply distorted guitar intro of "Artificial Goliath" to the groovilicious fade out of title track "Overlord of the Pleasuredome" listeners are treated to a delicious and diverse array of proto tinted doomic metal fronted by the distinctive Ozzy-ish tones and swirling solos and riffs of guitarist Glenn Thomas Solberg. Solberg's voice and guitar, a force in themselves, are superbly backed up by the powerhouse rhythms of drummer Ronny Kristiansen and the grumbling, growling bass lines of Tor Erik Hagen, the pair locking in together to create a variety of rhythmic platforms for Solberg to decorate with powerful guitar work and Lovecraftian lyrics. Black Mammoth know a thing or two about how to pace an album also, balancing out their heavier onslaughts with songs of a more considered, less abrasive dynamic, such as "Here I Am" and "Cauldron of Lies", songs that show this trio can kill and chill in equal measure and are so much more than just worshippers at the sabbathian altar.
Black Mammoth freely admit the role Black Sabbath have played in influencing their grooves but they also cite Kyuss, Thin Lizzy and The Stooges as influences in shaping their sound. To dismiss these guys as another in a long line of Sabbath sound-a-likes just because their vocalist sounds a little like a certain Mr Osbourne would not only be doing the band a disservice but also a disservice to yourselves, Do yourself a big favour before you decide on which side of the fence you stand regarding Black Mammoth and give "Overlord of the Pleasuredome " a spin, you might find there is more to these guys than first meets your ear.
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 29 December 2017
Desert Psychlist recently read a post on one of the web's social media pages bemoaning the state of today's underground music scene and the lack of innovative bands coming through, whether by coincidence or divine intervention after finishing reading said post Desert Psychlist then received an email from a Rouen based French band, Stoned Therapists, pointing us in the direction of their very innovative self-titled debut album "Stoned Therapists".
Vincent "Jeed" Eloy (guitar/vocals), Hadrianne Morisse (vocals), Quentin Delisle (drums) and Simon Debeerst (bass) are Stoned Therapists a band who describe their particular brand of riff'n'roll as "stoner art rock" a quirky blend of raucous riffage and left of centre grooves overlaid with a mix of distinctive clean lead vocals and off kilter harmonies. That word "off-kilter" is the perfect description for the grooves Stoned Therapists bring to the table as there is something wonderfully "wonky" about the eight songs that make up "Stoned Therapists", a "wonkiness" that permeates every note, drumbeat, vocal inflection and riff of the albums songs. For some unfathomable reason it is this "wonkiness", and the bands willingness not to rely on tired rock clichés, that makes songs with titles like "Inside A Victim's Head", "Sweet Maggie Pie" and "A World of Alternatives" work and make this album such a joy to listen to from start to finish.
It could be argued that off centre quirkiness mixed with a swathes of fuzzed out riffage is not something especially innovative or even new and that Josh Homme has built a career around this very concept with both QOTSA and his Desert Sessions, and that would be a very valid point. However where Homme and his cohorts, over the course of an albums length, may fire off arrows that hit their targets only occasionally Stoned Therapists on the other hand,,with "Stoned Therapists", manage to hit the bulls eye again and again and again!
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 26 December 2017
Well Christmas is all but over and the New Year is looming on the horizon but December (2017), a month notorious for its lack of releases, has delivered in spades this year with some of the scene's biggest hitters and those that are not so well known churning out some real late gems.
Weird Tales, from Warsaw Poland, are one such band to make a late charge for our attentions, the band, releasing a three song opus of gnarly riffage and lysergic heaviness flying under the collective banner of "Shiny Void".
Doom, dark and dank is the name of the game where Weird Tales are concerned but unlike their Polish counterparts Dopelord, who plough a similar doomic furrow, Weird Tales lean towards a more space/psychedelic dynamic where thick heavily phased guitars, supported by throbbing bass and pounding percussion, sporadically burst into searing lysergic solo's. Add into this equation vocals that have a haunting, ethereal quality and you begin to realise that Weird Tales are much more than your typical doom band. Take for instance first track "Easy Riding", an instrumental where the listener is presented with low.slow riffage, phaser pedal dialled to destruction, that lurches and groans under the weight of its own heaviness, the song shifting back and forth through a series of differing dynamics, time and tempos as it drags itself along. Then suddenly out of nowhere a ray of sunshine suddenly breaks through the gloom and we are briefly thrown a moment of quiet ambient solace only for the clouds to, just as suddenly, draw in and plunge us back into the abyss. "Mirage" also uses that same ambience hinted at in the previous track only this time to open it's account. Glistening arpeggios picked over a loose liquid bass line and shimmering percussion pave the way for those haunting vocals mentioned earlier, their introduction giving the song an almost gothic vibe, well that is until the hammer goes down and the band explode into a heavy doom groove with the vocal delivery following suite. Around the midway mark things start getting a little lysergic with scorching lead guitar swooping and swirling over a heavy wash of distorted bass and pounding drums that gradually increases in speed before coming to a screeching conclusion. Final number "Rise" once again begins serene and gentle then as on the previous track explodes into a sprawling doomic groove this time with the vocals ,still ethereal and gothic, taking on a more traditional doom meter. The songs groove shifts mid song into a slightly more proto-ish groove with the guitarist injecting Iommi-like guitar colouring into his solo before the band as a whole shift things back into the songs heavy doom laden refrain and then close out as they began in gentle serenity.
It has to be said that "Shiny Void" is not an album that hits you between the eyes and demands your attention from the off, this is an album that needs to be lived with for a while before its charms become glaringly apparent, burrowing into your psyche more by stealth than by direct attack, gnawing at you until you finally relent and accept it for what it is...damn fine doom with a sting in its tail!
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 23 December 2017
Just as 2016 topped 2015 for great releases within the genres and sub-genres of the underground rock/metal scene so 2017 has done the same to its predecessor 2016. Here are Desert Psychlist's picks of the year, you, the reader, will probably have your own list which will differ dramatically from ours but that's ok our #1 maybe your #25 or maybe will not appear in your list at all but as long as we are supporting the music and getting behind our favourite artists these lists don't really matter, its all a bit of fun!
30. Vokonis ~ "The Sunken Djinn"
Vokonis, have not sat idle bathing in the glory of their achievement with "Olde Ones Ascending", these hairy purveyors of the raucous and heavy have returned with an album that not only matches the intensity and heaviness of that album but one that surpasses it.
29. Void Commander ~ "Shrooming Widow"
Breath-taking fuzz heavy refrains from that home of all things heavy and fuzzy...Sweden!
28. Evoke Thy Lords ~ "Lifestories"
Awesome stoner doom from the Russian Federation's Evoke Thy Lords a band who blend their heavily fuzzed grooves with moments of startling sweetness and beauty.
27. Greenbeard ~ "Lodarodbol"
When Greenbeard first appeared on the scene it was hard not to make comparisons with Kyuss and QOTSA and although there are still similarities to be found with those two iconic Josh Homme bands, Greenbeard have, with "Lòdaròdbòl", found their own niche, their own sound and it's one you should all hear.
26. Howling Giant ~ "Black Hole Space Wizard Pt 2"
Doom, rock (both stoner and hard), psych, heavy metal and prog are all touched upon as the band take you on journeys both musical and metaphysical, telling their tales of time and space, cause and effect against a backdrop of deliriously diverse soundscapes.
25. Sumokem ~ "Guardian of Yosomite"
Imagine, if you can, a cross between the prog-ish metal of Opeth and the equally prog-ish sludge of Mastodon sprinkled with a touch of stoner swagger and a pinch of heavy metal thunder and you might just arrive at the sound of Sumokem's "The Guardian of Yosemite".
24. Destroyer of Light ~ "Chamber of Horrors"
So roll up, roll up, visit your darkest fears and nightmares in the "Chamber of Horrors" and be prepared to be afraid .....very afraid!
23. Blues Funeral ~ "Awakening"
Prog is alive and well, it maybe not as you remember it back in the days of capes and dry ice but Blues Funeral, with "Awakening", have shown that you don't have to be overblown and overwhelming to show off your musical chops and that "there is still life in the old prog yet"
22. La Iglesia Atomica ~ "La Iglesia Atomica"
After a twenty year absence this Puerto Rican band return with one of the best psych/stoner albums of the year
21. Clouds Taste Satanic ~ "The Glitter of Infinite Hell"
Thundering riffs and scorching guitar solo's all underpinned by a diverse array of pounding drums and grizzled bass. Instrumental doom never sounded so good!
20. Hela ~ "Death May Die"
Hela return to us with probably their best release to date, delivering unto the multitudes some of the damn finest grooves of prog tinted metal and atmospheric occult/doom you, the listener, are likely to hear this side of Christmas!
19. Owl Coven ~ "Cosmic Void"
Atmospheric and strangely spiritual "Cosmic Void" is a superb debut from a band who are unafraid to bring a little social commentary and self analysis to a genre of music renowned for its obsessions with the macabre and dismal, and that alone deserves our applause.
18. Cybernetic Witch Cult ~ "Troglodithic Trip"
First things first... Cybernetic Witch Cult's "Troglodithic Trip" is not exactly a brand new album,containing as it does songs previously released on the bands iconic demo "Morelock Rock" plus two brand new recordings. The band have re-worked re-imagined and re-recorded four of "Morlock Rock's" strongest cuts and in doing so have re-invigorated them both sonically and dynamically for a new audience.
17. Fall Of A Empire ~ "Croweater 2: The Last Wishes of Kings"
Fall of an Empire return with part two of their Croweater saga. If you were party to part one you'll know to expect phenomenal grooves of proggish hard rock married to stoner/desert grooves all coated in superb vocals
16. Sasquatch ~ "Maneuvers"
As good as, if not better, than anything they've recorded to date "Maneuvers" is an album that should at last see Sasquatch garner a wider audience of new fans as well as delighting those legions of fans who have been there from day one.
15. Sun Dance ~ "Manitou"
Sun Dance with "Manitou", deliver a true masterclass in how to evolve as a band, the slightly "street vibe" the band adopted on "Valley of Fears" has taken a back seat on this release and been replaced by a more forceful stoner feel, still as metallic but with a stronger focus on dynamics and texture
14. Savanah ~ "The Healer"
Molten grooves of doom, desert and psych
13. Desert Colossus ~ "Omnibeul"
Desert Colossus return with another diverse and delicious collection of pulverising desert/stoner groove.
12. Stonerror ~ "Stonerror"
Awesome Polish desert grooves salted with elements of psych and hard rock
11. Dr. Colossus ~ "The Dank"
Stonkin' stoner grooves coated in Simpson's themed lyrics, sounds gimmicky but believe me when I say these are some rad grooves.
10. Skunk ~ "Doubleblind"
Sleazy, greasy grooves of bluesy hard rock played hard and played well.
09. Forming The Void ~ "Relic"
Forming The Void have taken things to the next level with their new album “Relic” filling every nook and cranny of its eight songs with a dark, and at times mouth dropping. array of deliciously dank lysergic groove all furnished in swathes of slow, low distorted guitar riffage, brutal thrumming bass and earthshaking percussion.
08. Attalla ~ "Glacial Rule"
Move all the breakables from your place of listening because when this hits your speakers your gonna wanna jump around like wallaby on uppers!
07. Dopelord ~ "Children of the Haze"
Dopelord's third album and by far their best to date!
06. Elder ~ "Reflections of a Floating World"
Exhilirating,astounding, mesmerising and every other "ing" you could possibly care to mention
05. Nekromant ~ "Snakes & Liars"
Sabbath-esque but so much more than just Sabbath worship "Snakes & Liars" is an album that will be there or thereabouts on many of those end of year lists come December.
04. Youngblood Supercult ~ "The Great American Death Rattle"
There is no getting away from the fact that Youngblood Supercult are at heart a blues band but they are a blues band who take the genre invert it, shake it, twist it and mould it into something quite different and utterly stunning!
03. Otehi ~ "Garden of God"
The mighty Otehi return to our ear canals with six choice cuts of lysergic groove guaranteed to blow your mind to smithereens!
02. The Necromancers ~ "Servants of the Salem Girl"
Elements of NWOBHM, stoner styles both doom and metal as well as a healthy sprinkling of prog metal and post rock make this essential listening.
01. Ordos ~ "House Of The Dead"
As their Bandcamp page blurb would have us believe Ordos, Emil (vocals), André (guitar), Gustav (guitar), Martin (bass) and Max (drums), from Uppsala, Sweden, were born out of the demise of another band. If this is indeed true then the fates must take a well deserved bow as the resulting mix of heavy stoner doom, black-ish metal and brutal Swedish groove that can be heard on the bands second full length album "House of the Dead" (Moving Air Music) is truly something to savour and be thankful for.
#Special mentions for Shadow Witch's "Disciples of the Crow" and Catapult The Smoke's "Born Again" both of which were released after Desert Psychlist's self imposed deadline and both which had they been released earlier may very likely have made the list.
Right that was Desert Psychlist's "best of" list for 2017 and we will no doubt be beating ourselves up at a later date for omitting this or that album but hey that is the nature of this game. Desert Psychlist would like to thank all the bands/artists, record labels and PR firms for considering us worthy enough to promote their material/clients, my fellow bloggers, youtubers and podcasters for their unwavering support and Kyrre Bjurling for the awesome artwork he created for this blogs header. Most of all we would like to thank the readers for checking us out and going on to support those bands we have recommended ....
Friday, 22 December 2017
When a band cite their influences as Black Sabbath, Pantera, Kyuss and The Sword (among others) the listeners expectations are understandably going to be geared towards hearing a certain generic sounding proto-doom/metal groove. What a surprise then to find that the band in question, Tremør Åma (Creil, France), leans towards a grungy psych groove flecked with prog- like metal texturing, a sound that permeates every nook and cranny of their debut EP "Tremør Åma (EP 2017)".
"Another Day" kicks things off with bassist Kévin Antunes locking into a heavily effected circular riff accompanied by Maxime Lesage's sympathetic percussion before being joined by the guitars of Remi La Marne and Simon Leroy in a swirling psychedelic groove enhanced by a clever use of dynamics and subtle shifting time signatures. Over this maelstrom of groove singer Raphael Guichard delivers strong clean vocal tones, his powerful voice containing a gritty (but not overly so) edginess, a voice perfectly in synch with the deliciously diverse grooves it sits upon. The band follow much the same blueprint throughout the rest of the EP, crunching metallic grooves flecked with touches of grunge like dynamics dipped in a psychedelic wash with "Sylbaris", a stunning song that shifts back and forth between gentle ambience and crushing brutality, the highpoint.
If your looking for something a little different from the usual riff'n'roar and you like a few subtle lysergic shades thrown in with your raucous riffery then "Tremor Amma (EP 2017)" could be just what your searching for
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 17 December 2017
Well as plans go Desert Psychlist's seemed a good one, cease from any more reviews for the month and then just put out our "Best Of 2017" and take a well earned rest, but that plan was well and truly scuppered by a release that just screamed "review me" and so here we are again sitting in front of a PC, earphones on and fingers hovering over a keyboard.
The album that caused this change of mind and shattered any hope of a festive season break comes from a trio hailing from Rzesow, Poland going by the name of Sons of Nibiru, Khshemo (bass/vocals), Quoda (guitars) and Caspah (drums), who have just released their debut "Hellspirit" (Green Plague Records)
Beginning with the sounds of an Aboriginal instrument (digeridoo) backed by shards of dissonant chords and hand hit percussion ("The Signal") may not be the indicator you the listener are looking for when checking out something tagged as psychedelic stoner metal but it does point to the fact that Sons of Nibiru are not a band prepared to adhere to those rules set out by genre and expectation. "Arrival" follows a similar path to "The Signal" but this time moves into more electrified territory with Caspah moving back to his full kit and locking in with Khshemo's big growling bass, behind Quoda's exquisite guitar colourings, to drive an atmospheric instrumental that builds layer by layer, unwrapping little sonic delights as it grows. "Peachcraft" muddies up the waters by moving into a grumbling heavy stoner groove with Khshemo's bass the dominant force, his low, low bass rumbling like an earthquake ready to split the ground asunder and is superbly backed by Caspah's busy percussion and Quoda's soaring solo's and textured licks and fills. Vocals raise their heads for the first time here and are pitched slightly monotonic and Gregorian giving the song an almost monastic, spiritual feel. "Pulsar" follows and finds the band experimenting with every effect and trick in the book to create a stunning soundscape of spacial ambience. "Hellspirit" brings things back to Earth with a song that, for this reviewer, recalls the heavier "Barrel of a Gun" era of Depeche Mode but with Sons of Nibiru taking the song off on tangents that even the most drug addled Mode would baulk from travelling to. "The Journey" sees the band getting expansive and a little cinematic with Quoda leading from the front with some truly scorching lead work ably supported by Khshemo's ever present grizzly bass and Caspah's sympathetic rhythms. Sons of Nibiru finish things in grand style with their final song "Star Sailors" an epic tome that pulls all those threads explored in the albums previous songs and weaves them into one massive and awe inspiring musical tapestry.
"Hellspirit" is a stunning album that defies all the usual tags and labels we tend to lump music into thanks to its diverse nature and also thanks to the bravery of a band not prepared to compromise their musical vision and ideals.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones