Monday, 25 September 2017
Absinthe. a strong alcoholic beverage often the favourite tipple of 19th century France's many resident artists and novelists, was also believed (wrongly) to be a hallucinogenic able to inspire high levels of focus and creativity within its drinkers. Now whether this little piece of modern mythology/folklore was the inspiration for Maryland trio Mountainwolf to name their latest opus "Absinthe Moon"(Tiny Horns Records) you will have to ask them but there is an undeniable lysergic quality to be found within its diverse grooves as well as an equally high level of focus and creativity.
"Release me from this prison that you have created for me" screams vocalist/guitarist Tyler Vaillant on opener "TWST" his clean slightly manic roar, bookended by dissonant crunching chords. booming bass lines (Chris Gipple) and shimmering percussion (Tom Coster), a feral plea to be released from the restraints of an existence not of his choosing. The song and indeed the lyric serve as the perfect opener for an album that breaks as many rules as it creates new ones, an album that flits across genres and musical styles like a bee collecting nectar, unaware that along the way it maybe creating whole new species with its accidental cross pollination. Alt/Grunge dynamics, stoner/hard rock fuzz, psychedelic funkiness and exotic eastern textures are all mixed, blended and used to great effect throughout "Absinthe Moon" giving the album an at times experimental feel yet one that never strays too far out into the stratosphere, it's swirling heady forays into the unknown anchored to earth by its complex and unrelenting heavy rock rhythms, the resulting sound almost as breath-taking in its diversity as it is in its execution.
Check it out ......
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 24 September 2017
Such is the significance of Sweden's contribution and influence on the underground rock scene that the mere mention of the words "Moon Mother are a band from Sweden" will no doubt guarantee a whole throng of doomers and stoners pricking up their ears in anticipation.
Moon Mother, Sara Trollpacka (vocals), Pat Ahlstrom (guitar), Jesper Wallin (drums) and Thomas V Jäger (bass) first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via their excellent two song demo "Moon Mother" the demo making such an impact that Hard Rock Revolution (Facebook music forum) were compelled to include the song "Sleeping Society" on their compilation "Vol. III", now, just over a year later, the band are back with four new songs flying under the very descriptive title of "Riffcraft"
"Vast Blues" opens "Riffcraft" with a song that although being infused with an essence of the blues is not quite the delta musing of say Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson. A gnarled, slowly evolving, Ahlstrom guitar motif, underpinned by Jäger's grizzled bass and Wallin's solid economic drums, is overlaid with Trollpacka's distinctive vocal tones, her sweet but grainy voice possessing a slight folkish lilt giving the song an almost Celtic feel.
"Black Hole Demons" initially veers closer to a traditional blues with Ahlstrom's palm muted guitar motif the foundation around which Trollpacka sings of "Black Hole Demons walking on the Earth". The song then picks up pace and moves into proto-doom territory with Wallin and Jager laying down a solid drum and bass platform for Trollpacka and Ahlstrom to colour with their vocal and six-string colouring before taking things to a close on a wave of slow, low doom-lite groove.
"Mountain of Lies" sees Moon Mother eschewing the blues orientated grooves visited in the two previous songs and opting for a more doom/occult rock feel with Trollpacka pleading "don't drag me down" against a backdrop of crunching fuzz and strident but nicely restrained rhythmic bluster.
"The Wizards of Earth" begins with Ahlstrom comping out jazzy guitar chords over an exquisite Jager bass line, expertly supported by Wallin's understated percussion,.with Trollpacka moodily crooning overhead, her voice, pitched in the lower register, taking on an almost sinister aspect. The song then takes a series of twists and turns, with Trollpacka following suite vocally, moving through moments of fuzzy stoner swagger and low doomy atmospherics before closing in a swathe of lysergic bluesy ambience.
Moon Mother state that their intention is to heal through music and it has to be said that after listening to the soaring lo-fi doom and occult-ish blues grooves of "Riffcraft" Desert Psychlist did feel a little more refreshed and touch more at one with the world.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 23 September 2017
Seems quite a time since Desert Psychlist has had the pleasure of featuring a Polish band on its hallowed pages so it is doubly enjoyable that when that country does returns onto our radar it is with a band so damn good it would be remiss of us not to shout it to the world.
Dogzilla are a trio hailing from Tamöw, Poland and consist of the mysteriously named KW (guitar, vocal), JS (bass) and NZ (drums), and are a band who deal in heavy assed sludge/doom grooves tempered with elements of swirling space and heavy psych, all of which can be heard on their soon to be released debut album "Astral Worship" (30th September).
Monster guitar riffage roiling down on you like boulders from a mountain, thunderous bass lines that rumble and groan like distant thunder and pulverising percussion that shakes the very earth beneath your feet are the basis around which a mixture of throaty clean and bear like bellowed vocals tell tales of distant stars, cosmic travel and arid planets. Now from that description you would hazard a guess that Dogzilla are all about brutality and bluster and just another in a long line of heavy stoner bands more intent on riffs than songs but you would be wrong. It is true there are plenty of riffs and refrains to be found throughout the five songs that make up "Astral Worship" but they are ingrained with subtle touches of lysergic colouring and spacey cosmic texturing, the band, at times coming, across like a sludge metal version of Hawkwind especially on the latter half of album closer "Andromeda". The band never let the riffs dictate the songs however and move seamlessly through a gamut of different dynamics, tempos and time signatures to keep the listener both interested and on their toes, never sure where the band might take them next. Eastern motifs, moments of ambient space, bluesy guitar solo's, lashings of grinding fuzz and a barrage of pounding rhythmic groove are all thrown into the melting pot to make this not only one of the most interesting albums of its genre but also one of the most satisfying.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 22 September 2017
If you take some bluesy hard rock add a pinch of proto-metal and season with a touch of doom and then coat the resulting groove in Glenn Danzig -like vocal tones then your likely to arrive at a sound not unlike that of Ohio's Crowtalker. Crowtalker, Ryan (drums), Jesse (vocals), Kyle (guitar) and Wig (bass) hail from Columbus, Ohio and are a relatively new band who having only played their first live show in May of this year are trying to keep the momentum going by now releasing their first EP "Crowtalker".
First track "Them Crows" moves from a fizzing drone intro into a bluesy doom refrain that leans more towards the Zeppelin-esque than it does that of the more Sabbath orientated grooves that are the norm today, a groove ingrained with a dark metallic edginess that even Page & Co., at their most satanic, would probably struggle to replicate. Over this tornado of metallic delta groove are delivered powerful deep baritone vocals that have, as already mentioned, a distinct Danzig like feel giving the song an added dimension of gothic rock splendour.
"Sleeper" starts off life as a stonerized hard rocker driven by booming bass lines and pounding drums furnished off nicely by an addictive fuzz drenched guitar motif before shifting gear into a pulverising slow, low doom groove with those uber-strong vocal tones roaring manfully over the top.
"Wither" raises the tempo and sees the band jamming a galloping hook laden groove, replete with clever little musical twists and turns, around a slightly more strident vocal performance.
"The Well/Train Wreck" is, at a guess, two songs cleverly cobbled together to make one epic statement with the first part having an almost outlaw country feel, both musically and vocally, and the second being a storming atmospheric doomy blues foray enhanced by crunching riffs and searing guitar solos all underpinned by a pummelling, pulverising combination of bass and drums.
Swagger is often a word bandied around when describing music that has a bluesy core but what does that mean? Well the English Dictionary defines swagger as " to walk or behave in a very confident and arrogant or self-important way" and if you transpose this to musical terms then we are talking about grooves that have a certain strutting quality that say "this is us and this is what we do, deal with it" and "Crowtalker" is an EP that swaggers like a peacock in full display from start to finish.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 18 September 2017
Whether its the economics of touring with just two members that has been the catalyst for the current glut of rock duo's to assail our ears Desert Psychlist does not know, but bands, stretching right across the many genres and sub-genres of the underground rock scene, from Year of the Cobra to Telekinetic Yeti, seem to be finding an audience eager to lap up their stripped down grooves.
Montana's Swamp Ritual, Dustin Fugere (bass, vocals) and Sid LaTray (drums, vocals), put their own twist on this two members, two instrument phenomenon and it's a twist listeners can witness for themselves on Swamp Ritual's brand new opus "Sunchaser".
The bass guitar is a lot more than just a prop to anchor a groove and in the right hands it can be a weapon of mass destruction with a vast array of sonic possibilities. Swamp Rituals's Dustin Fugere understands this and uses every inch of his fretboard in an attempt show the instrument in a new light, employing his four stringed guitar as both a lead instrument and as a means to drive the groove, combining with Sid LaTray's pulverising percussion to fill every song on "Sunchaser" with a mixture of deep rumbling undertones and dark swirling dynamics. LaTrey meanwhile, on drums, seems destined for, at the very least, a spell in some sort of recovery unit such is the force and power he brings to the table with his percussive contributions.. Fugere and LaTray also share vocal duties throughout the albums five songs and hereby lies the twist spoke of in this reviews intro. the pair do not approach dual vocals in a "traditional" sense as in say lead vocal/backing vocals and not even in a twin harmonies sense but more of a two men roaring at you in unison style, the resulting effect, at times, coming across like the raucous voices found singing on the terraces of a British football/soccer match, something that works especially well on the slightly throwaway party song "Lawnmower" with it's "I mow the lawn when I'm high, Take some shrooms, put on some doom" lyric. It is, however, when Swamp Ritual get down and seriously doomy that they really come into their own and shine as on the epic instrumental "The Bearded Dragon"with its mixture of low slow dynamics and moments of manic furiosity, and the moody psychedelic tinted closer "Malacastria" a place "Where dead walk ghouls have their home" and "Spectres sneer and the phantoms moan", sang/shouted over a backdrop of growling stoner doom groove.
Swamp Ritual describe themselves as "a couple of scuzzballs who needed to play something loud" and with a need to create a sound that "can always be felt as well as heard". Well with "Sunchaser" it seems those needs have been well and truly met..
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 17 September 2017
When the stoner/desert scene exploded into being in the early 1990's it was pretty much split into two camps, one camp, which included Kyuss. Fu Manchu and Unida, came from a more hard rock/punk background the other which was championed by the likes of Yawning Man, RotoR and Colour Haze took a more experimental approach to the music, often taking off into long extended jams with minimal vocals (if any at all).
Germany's Mother Engine hail from the second of those two camps and have to date released two well received albums "Muttermashcine" (2012) and "Absturz" (2015), the trio, Cornelius Grünert (drums), Chris Trautenbach (guitar) and Christian Dressel (bass) are just about to release their third album "Hangar" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records).
The album continues the bands loose theme of cosmic journeying that informed the bands first two albums with four songs split into movements that flow seamlessly into each other and sees the band shifting gears through a smorgasbord of differing dynamics, tempos and dramatics using not only melody as the basis for their grooves but also dissonance and atonality, moving from harmonious and pleasant to discordant and ugly in a heartbeat. Funky in places, hard rocking and raucous in others the music shifts back and forth between serene ambience one minute, fuzz drenched riffage the next, never sitting still long enough for someone to lay a musical tag or label on, the band even throwing in a little modal jazz colouring on "Tokamak".
"Hangar" is an immense album which was two years in the making and the time and patience put into this project has well and truly paid off. Instrumental music can be a little one dimensional in the wrong hands, sometimes just a vehicle for one member (often the guitarist) to show off his or her musical prowess, not so with Mother Engine, each member brings to the table not only a high level of individual skill but also an ability to play off of each other with no one musician dominating proceedings, the trio playing as an ensemble and creating a sound that is the sum of its whole as well as a sum of its parts..
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 15 September 2017
Intricate, complex music is all well and good when your in the mood for some deep thought and reflection but there are times when you just want to kick over a few tables and throw a chair or two around and for that you need some good ol' in your face, aggressive grooves. Well if that describes your current state of mind and musical need then look no further than Starburner's self titled debut EP "Starburner".
Anger is often a short lived emotion bursting forth suddenly from somewhere within and then dissipating almost as soon as it has been released, much like the four songs that make up "Starburner", Starburner (the band) deal in short sharp blasts of molten stoner metal that hit you hard and hit you heavy, blasts laced with elements of doom and hard rock fronted by raucous larynx tearing vocals. Songs like "Palms", with it's addictive chorus, powerful drumming and wah drenched solo's, "GTI", with its pacey hard driving groove and "Slow Obsession", with its swinging vocal line are delivered with a feral ferocity that at times is overwhelming but are balanced out with little subtle touches of bluesy/hard rock guitar colouring. Even when the band ease up on the ferocity, as on the relatively slow, low and doom drenched penultimate title track "Starburner", such is the undercurrent of simmering malevolence boiling just beneath its surface that the listener is left with a feeling that this song could at any minute explode into another onslaught of anger and aggression.
Powerful, short and to the point and heavy without being overly brutal "Starburner" is an EP that smacks the listener hard round the face, leaving an imprint that'll take a long time to fade and will leave a lasting memory.
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 14 September 2017
Imagine waking up in an operating theatre to find yourself surrounded not by white suited surgeons trying to save your life but by three hairy stoners trying to slay you with their raucous fuzz drenched grooves, frightened and alone you then scream for a doctor only to see all three turn as one and utter the words...."Yes!". Sound like a scene from "The Simpsons"? Well you could be closer than you think!
Dr. Jon (guitar/vocals), Dr. Love (bass/vocals) and Dr. Johnston (drums) are Dr. Colossus a trio hailing from Melbourne, Australia who use America's yellow tinted dysfunctional cartoon family "The Simpsons" as the inspiration for their brand of fuzz drenched riff'n'roll, something that on paper sounds a little ridiculous but in reality strangely works. The band have just recently released their latest album (or should that be episode) "The Dank"(Death Mountain Records).
"Thrillho" opens things with a slow throbbing doom riff over which reflective, woe is me type lyrics are sung from the viewpoint of Bart Simpson's long suffering best friend Milhouse. Dr, Jon's clean, strong vocals ooze with a knowing resignation of goals unattainable as he sings "My best friends sis, wanna kiss her sexy lips" against a backdrop of (Jacques) Brel-like vaudevillian melancholy and fuzz drenched stoner swagger.
"Future Bart" struts straight out of the starting blocks on a swirling circular guitar refrain supported by Dr. Love's spine-crumbling bass and Dr. Johnston's pulverising percussion. The song's doom desert groove and vocal refrain of "I wash myself with a rag on a stick" harks back to a Simpson's episode where Bart is shown his future and finds sister Lisa has become President of America and Bart is a failed musician forced to eek a living playing gigs at a beach bar.
"It's Still Good" echoes the mantra Homer voices as he chases a pig he was cooking all over Springfield on a mobile barbecue after vegetarian Lisa has pushed it downhill. The song sees Dr.Jon and Dr, Love trading off vocals over a crunching stoner groove and has an almost "pop" feel to it owing to its addictive chorus and fresh bright dynamics.
"Dr. Colossus" follows and sees the band veering towards darker territory telling the story of Springfield's very own mad scientist over a soundtrack of menacing low slow grinding riffage and pulverising rhythms coated in a mixture of low,sinister and clean, roared vocals.
"Excellent" is an ode to the Simpson's resident all round not so nice guy "Mr.Burns"set to a backdrop of crunching desert groove taken to an epic close on a swathe of discordant guitar riffage.
"Holy Driver" utilises a throbbing, heavily distorted bass line as the anchor for a growling stoner riff fest that along the way references the great Ronnie James Dio in snatches of melody and phrasing.
"Lemonade" with it's "Eat my shorts" vocal refrain and totally addictive groove is one of the highlights of the album, Built around a rumbling bass and guitar refrain perfectly supported by Dr. Johnston's tight economic percussion the song rolls along with an understated menace yet retains that tongue in cheek humour that colours all the bands work both on this album and their previous work.
"Dr. Tongue" closes the album with a doom flecked ode to lust, loss and infatuation edged with a bluesy swagger and contains the immortal lines "I don't believe it but now my pants are chaffing me" .....pure poetry.
Some might see Dr. Colossus's Simpson's themes as being a tad gimmicky but with so many bands writing songs about a cloven hoofed man with horns and a forked tail, who also only appears in books and on screen, then that argument falls a little flat. Desert Psychlist's advice is to just listen with an open mind and enjoy.
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 10 September 2017
Portuguese fuzz'n'rollers The Black Wizards will be no strangers to those who prefer their grooves a touch psychedelic, a touch fuzzy and a whole lot bluesy. The quartet of Joana Brito (vocals, guitar), Paulo Ferreira (guitar), João Mendes (bass, acoustic guitar) and Helena Peixoto (drums, congas, backing vocals) have previously released one very impressive EP, "Fuzzadelic" and one equally impressive album "Lake of Fire" both of which were very well received by critics and fans alike. The band are now hoping for a similar reaction for their second and latest album "What The Fuzz!" (Raging Planet).
The incredibly short and noisy "Side by Side" is the intro by which you enter into The Black Wizards world of bluesy torch songs, raucous riff fuelled rockers and fuzz drenched jams and it's a world you will want to dwell in for some time. From the achingly beautiful "Freaks and Geeks" where Brito's majestic vocals soar and swoop over a backdrop of searing slow blues groove. through to the country edged gospel feel of "Everything Is Good Until Trouble Comes" the listener is treated to a masterclass in fuzz edged delta groove and bluesy vocal pyrotechnics. Brito's vocals throughout "What The Fuzz!" are revelation, the guitarist/ vocalist's natural vibrato adding a unique edge to her powerful tones, the singer using it as a tool to add extra layers of texture to each songs lyrics coming across at times like a female version of (British 70's rock band) Family's vocalist Roger Chapman but a whole lot easier on the ear. The Black Wizards are not all about one members vocal gymnastics however and beneath that voice the listener will find a band of musicians who are wholly on top of their game. Ferreira compliments Brito's vocals and crunching powerchords with scorching lead work, his solo's and riffs filled with emotion and feel taking off soaring flights of fancy one minute laying out with intricate fills and licks the next. Every band needs a good rhythm section to drive its grooves and The Black Wizards have a superb one in Mendes and Peixoto, Mendes holding down the bottom end with a mixture of bone shaking distorted riffs and liquid clean lines and motifs while Peixoto brings a natural Latin swing to both her drumming and assorted percussion, the pair together laying solid foundations for Brito and Ferreira to build upon.
"What The Fuzz!" is a fine album delivered with a high level of musicianship and packed with a range of blues rooted songs that run from the stonerized to the countrified, paying homage to the genres history while at the same time giving it well needed shot in the arm.
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 9 September 2017
Slow, low and heavy is the dynamic that many of us associate with the genres of sludge metal and doom, these more sedate tempos and lower tunings somehow amplifying the music's intensity and depth in a way that standard tuning and brighter dynamics would struggle to emulate.
France's Owl Coven know a thing or two about dynamics, the Nantes quartet use them to create huge monstrous rumbling grooves of sludge tinted doom flecked with pinches of psychedelic colouring and occult texturing, two examples of which can be heard on the band s debut EP "Cosmic Void"
"Wanderer of the Cosmic Void" opens with the obligatory narrative soundbyte lifted from some classic horror movie, something that seems to be mandatory these days, beneath which a reverberating guitar arpeggio is gently and slowly picked. As the song slowly evolves the guitar is joined by sporadic bursts from bass and drums embellished with Gregorian-like vocal chanting before guitar, bass and drums all come together and the songs drifts into a low, slow heavy doom groove with the vocals shifting from monk like to demonic. Now there are those that rail against harsh vocals but here mixed low down amidst a tsunami of swirling, psychedelic morosity they work perfectly and give the song a feeling of epic magnitude.
"Dying Mammoth" begins with swirling wind like effects then segues into a sludge heavy desert groove over which glistening shards of chordal guitar colouring sporadically erupt like lightning illuminating a black sky. Buried within this maelstrom of sound rasping, chanted vocals tell of "Mountains made of concrete" and "Modern altars built to ancient demons", a damning verdict ,set to a soundtrack of unrelenting heaviness, bemoaning mans unstoppable quest to destroy his only habitat. The song then takes flight into an extended jam with bluesy guitar solo's swooping and swaying over a foundation of earth-shaking bass and pummelling percussion before finishing with another soundbyte, this one very apt and simply stating "One day, sooner or later, you will remember my words"
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.
Check it out....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 8 September 2017
Sydney, Australia's Comacozer raised the bar high with their 2016 release "Astra Planeta" an instrumental album brimming over with eastern tinted mystic vibes and swirling heavy psych grooviness, the albums scorching guitar fuelled grooves scoring a minor triumph for non-vocalised rock music. The problem with releasing an album with such a strong sonic impact is that its always going to beg the question "how are we going to follow this?" Well with the release of their latest album "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" we are about to find out.
The first thing the listener will notice when giving "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" a spin is there is an undeniable heaviness to the proceedings, a heaviness that although present on previous outing "Astra Planeta" here seems to be magnified. Whether the band have been listening to a steady diet of Ufomammut and other bands in that vein, Desert Psychlist knows not, but there is definitely a grittier, more intense feeling to be found amongst the four epic sized grooves that make up this new album. This heavier feel is most evident on the albums opening track "Axix Mundi" a hypnotising doom tinted slow burner, briefly broken by a deliciously lysergic mid section ,that gradually grows in depth and intensity, adding little subtle layers, as it wends its way to its noisy fuzz drenched climax. Ambience and tranquillity, however, are never far behind in the world of Comacozer and these two elements are used to great effect on the superbly eclectic "Enuma Elish" a track that sees guitarist Rick Burke laying down a swathe of psychedelic textured six-string colouring around Frank Attard's swirling array of synthesised keyboard effects ably supported by Rich Elliot's deep booming bass lines and Andrew "Pana" Panagopoulos's complex drum patterns that then erupts into gnarly fuzz drenched refrain that the listener will not want to end.
Between these two tracks of essential heavy psych reside "Nystagmus" and "Hylonomus", the former a moody eastern flavoured piece that finds Burke gently picking effect pedalled arpeggios over Pana's intricate jazzy percussive patterns that are perfectly underscored by Elliot's thrumming bass motif and Attard's swooping synthesised effects, the latter a lysergic romp through the cosmos that suddenly takes off into a stratospheric space/psych jam that in places recalls the more rockier moments of British psych/prog/rave exponents Ozric Tentacles
The Eastern/North African themes Comacozer explored on "Astra Planeta" are still in evidence on "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" but this time around the band have edged them with an element of gritty darkness, the band finding a balance between the exotic and the brutal that is both intoxicating and exhilarating.
Check it out....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 3 September 2017
Norway has always been a source of the slightly left of centre, the quirky and the unusual when it comes to music something that becomes glaringly evident when you delve into the nations diverse and varied rock scene. Whether its because of the strange array of midnight sun and short daylight hours, that is the countries norm, or that there are still strands of Viking Bezerker running through the peoples DNA Desert Psychlist is not sure but there is something about Norwegian rock that is just that little bit different.
Red Mountains, Simen Mathiassen (Drums), Sverre Dalen (Bass), Jostein Wigenstad (Guitar) and Magnus Riise (Guitar / Vocal) , from Trondheim are no exception to that particular rule, the quartet bringing to the table a blend of lysergic grooviness and desert swagger, overlaid with clean, clear vocal melodies, that although easy on the ear has an element of dissonance and disharmony bubbling just beneath its surface, the band creating a strange and exhilarating mixture of the sweet and sour that can be both soothing and jarring in equal measure, as can be witnessed on the bands latest opus "Slow Wander"
"Slow Wander" is a very apt title for an album that does exactly what it says on the tin, songs like opener "Home" with it's superb lilting vocal delivery underpinned by solid thundering percussion, the atmospheric "Acid Wedding" with it's slow plodding doom-ish undercurrent and "Endless Ocean" with it's prog meets indie psych groove and lysergic guitar textures, are paced not at a stoner gallop but at a more sedate gait allowing listeners the time to fully appreciate and absorb the subtle shifts in tempo and time, colour and texture the songs take on their respective journey's. Mathiassen's mix of intricate and brutal percussion and Dalen's thrumming bass lines are the foundation around which Wigenstad and Riise lay a plethora of six-string colouring, the guitarists using a variety of tricks and effects to fill the spaces the rhythm section leave for them. It is this guitar pairing that is the secret to Red Mountains sound, the two guitarists unafraid to use atonality and disharmony as tools with which to colour their riffs and solo's, mixing them in equal measure with melody and harmony to create a sound that is slightly off kilter and wrong but at the same time is melodic and right. Add into this slightly off/on musical equation Riise's perfectly pitched clean vocal tones and the whole thing all comes together perfectly.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 1 September 2017
Toronto's Olde, the brainchild of guitarist/producer Greg Dawson, came into existence not as a bunch of friends who decided forming a band would be a good way of getting women and drugs and not either as like-minded musicians who bumped into each other on a regular basis and decided to do something together, the truth is these guys had never even set eyes on each other before, not even when recording their parts for the bands debut "I", the musicians coming separately to the studio to add their contributions on the strength of the demos Dawson had sent out to each and every one of them. The prospective members, Ryan Aubin (drums), Chris Hughes (guitars), Cory McCallum (bass) and Doug McLarty (vocals) eventually met on guitarist Dawson's driveway and thankfully hit it off, and so Olde, as a proper living breathing collective, were born. The band followed up "I" with "Shallow Graves" a four song EP that cemented them in peoples minds as a band on a mission and a band with something to say and have recently recorded and released their second full length album "Temple" (STB Records).
Olde describe what they did on "I" and "Shallow Graves" as "an exercise in force and restraint" and in the most part this stands true of "Temple" as well but that's not to say there are not elements of subtle progression and musical muscle flexing to be found amongst the seven songs that make up "Temple". The bands modus operandi of short sharp bursts of hardcore tinted doom are stretched a little further here with Aubin and McCallum laying down swathes of pulverising bass and drum driven groove over which Dawson and Hughes adorn with dark crunching downtuned riffage and searing non-indulgent guitar solo's ,all topped off with McLarty's gruff, larynx shredding vocals. From the in your face, pacey aggression of "Subterfuge" to the slow ,low and grindingly menacing refrains of "Castaway" there is hardly a moment for the listener to take a breath as the band lurch from one gnarled refrain to another managing never to repeat themselves while maintaining a level of intensity that at times can feel exhausting yet at the same time exhilarating. The band do step out of their safety zone on occasions as on "Now I See You" with it's proto-doom/metal-like groove and addictive vocal meter and on the excellent "Maelstrom" which uses clever touches of bluesy guitar colouring to make its presence felt, on the whole though its the full on, foot to the pedal, fuzz drenched stoner metal and intense sludge tinted doom played with intensity and passion that makes listening to "Temple" such a worthwhile audial experience.
.Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 31 August 2017
Touring can be an expensive business, you often have to speculate to accumulate and the returns for that speculation are not always immediately forthcoming, it may be a while before you recoup on your investments with those returns often coming in the shape of album and merchandise sales something that cannot be usually gauged until the tour is over. With the slow demise of the "traditional" record companies it is now often the band/artist who has to find the means to fund, not only, the initial layout for touring but also for recording and releasing their material.
Fresno's Beastmaker are planning to tour Europe and in order to help fund this excursion the band are, with a little help from Rise Above Records and Branca Studio, releasing an EP of tunes that for one reason or another didn't quite make the cut for their "Lusus Naturae" album (2016). The EP "Coven Born" will only be available digitally and only for a short period of time.
The first thing that hits the listener about the four songs that make up "Coven Born" is the quality of both the songwriting and their sonic impact, these are not songs left off an album because they were not good enough these are strong, powerful tunes that may have missed the cut only for the fact other songs that did were, at the time, deemed just that bit stronger.
Title track "Coven Born" opens with keyboards playing an eerie horror film inspired motif before Trevor William Church announces his arrival with a similarly eerie guitar refrain backed by John Tucker's huge grizzled bass and Andres Alejandro Saldate's punchy drums. Church, who also provides vocals, is right up front in the mix his clean, slightly gothic tinted, tones combining with his undeniably deft guitar skills to give the song an epic doom feel that leans more towards the altar and grave outpourings of Candlemass than the usual Sabbath comparisons that are often thrown the band's way.
"Killing Spree" follows a similar path to Sabbath's iconic song "Black Sabbath" in that the songs narrator is visited by an apparition while lying in his bed only this time the perpetrator of this visitation is a female with intentions a little more gruesome than just pointing a finger. Nicely paced with a chugging groove interspersed with clever little hooks it is hard to understand why this has never saw the light of day before now.
Tolling bells herald the next track "Amongst The Buried" the song again utilising a bedrock of gnarly distorted bass and pulverising percussion for Church to decorate with his distinctive vocal tones and fret melting guitar pyrotechnics.
"Whitewood" closes the EP and finds Beastmaker still working within their chosen field of horror inspired grooviness but shaking those grooves up with little touches of lysergic colourings and textures as well as throwing in a few well chosen soundbytes lifted from classic horror movies Church also lays down some truly incendiary neo-classical shredding expertly backed up by Tucker and Saldate.
Beastmaker have stated that as soon as their proposed European tour is over "Coven Born" will no longer be available to the general public so do yourself a huge favour and snag it now before its too late, you will not regret it!
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Wednesday, 30 August 2017
The Stone Eye, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, certainly know how to make a tuneful and very powerful noise ,especially when you consider there are just two guys in the band. Jeremiah Bertin (drums) and Stephen Burdick (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard) are The Stone Eye two guys who take their rock influences from a broad spectrum that stretches from Dinosaur Jr. through to Ghost.
The band are about to release their third full length album "The Meadow" ( September 02) and its one that sits very nicely on the ears.
The Stone Eye throw all their influences and inspirations into one big melting pot, alt/grunge, stoner and hard rock can all be found juicily bubbling next to elements of psych and post-rock in one big gumbo of groove made even more palatable by Burdick's slightly slurred, slightly gothic tinted vocal tones. Burdick's warm clean voice, tinged with world weariness, dominates the twelve songs that make up The Stone Eye's new opus "The Meadow". the vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist conveying a myriad of emotions and moods in his delivery without having the need to go overboard into vocal pyrotechnics, his voice and his instrumental prowess both pushed hard and benefiting from Bertin's sympathetic and, at times startlingly intricate and complex rhythmic patterns.
The alt/grunge tag mentioned earlier is probably the one closest to describing what The Stone Eye bring to the table musically but that is not to say that there is not more to be found here if you bother to dig a little deeper and "The Meadow" is an album well worth digging into, from the stoner-ish hard/classic rock of "Farewell Lady" through to the wah drenched loud/quiet/loud aesthetics of "The Heathen" listeners will find more than enough hooks to hang their respective tags/labels/descriptions on. Desert Psychlist's advice however would be to be stick "The Meadow" on a sound system of your choice and just bathe in the brilliance of it's strong songwriting and addictive catchy hooks and grooves.
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 25 August 2017
This is a first for Desert Psychlist, reviewing two simultaneously released EP's from the same band on the same page! The band in question are a vocal (Kat), drum (David) and guitar (Brad) trio from Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia going by name of Night Goat, the EP's in question released under the cryptic titles "Chicken" and "Egg" (Lint Music) and as the band say on their Bandcamp page " it is up to you to decide which one came first"
Let's start with "Chicken"..
"Romanes Eunt Domus" opens "Chicken" with shimmering guitar arpeggios swept over solid and intricate drum patterns gradually growing in intensity until finally exploding into a heavy doom hued groove with those arpeggios making way for thick downtuned riffs and the drums taking on a heavier pounding approach. This sudden wave of heaviness then subsides to make way for the vocals and we, the listeners, get our first taste of what makes Night Goat tick and sets them apart from the usual doom drenched suspects. In a genre dominated by guttural howls and demonic harshness Kat's vocals come as a revelation, her warm smoky tones with mellow jazz colourings ooze and soar over Brad's dark doomic guitar tones and David's diverse rhythmic patterns floating majestically above them like dark glistening oil sitting on a stormy blue sea.
"16 Ounce World" ramps up the jazziness with Kat crooning heartfelt lyrics of pain and despair over a backdrop of gently picked guitar complimented by sympathetic and understated percussion. Intense, emotional and achingly beautiful it's only fault is in the brevity of its length.
"Norwegian Blues" begins with Brad chopping out a lone and darkly distorted blues tinted guitar refrain before being joined by David's drums, the pair taking off into a thrumming heavy blues groove that although having its roots in the delta has, courtesy of Kat's mellow dark vocals,Brad's low menacing guitar tones and David's powerful percussion, at least some of it's branches dangling menacingly over the cemetery gates of doom.
"Egg" is next...
"Egg" leans a little heavier towards the blues than "Chicken" with Brad and David bringing an element of swagger and strut to proceedings, albeit an element tinged with a large quantity of doomic darkness. This is most evident on opening song "How To Make Soap" where David opts for a guitar tone and delivery more akin to that of Led Zep's Jimmy Page in his darker moments than the Iommi-isms that are usually the norm when dealing with doom flavoured music. This bluesier approach pays off nicely when combined with David's Bonham-esque drumming, the pair coming together to lay a huge swathe of riffage and rhythm for Kat to counterbalance and decorate with her smoky jazz tinted vocal tones.
"Nebuchadnezzar Blues" continues the delta toned theme but this time approaches from a more "traditional" heavy blues direction and sees Kat briefly dropping her jazzy vocal inflections for a more straight ahead vocal styling. The song takes a turn towards the more metallic as it approaches its nadir with the Brad and David hitting a chugging stoner/doom groove to take things to a close.
"Have I Joined a Cult?" moves slightly away from the crossroads of Robert Johnson and finishes the EP with an atmospheric and moody jaunt that takes in elements of shimmering psych and moody doom all coated in Kat's warm emotive vocals, the song bringing "Egg" to a close with style and finesse, leaving the listener with the unwavering feeling he/she has just heard something utterly unique and special.
Two EP's, three people, one great groove
Check 'em out.....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 24 August 2017
The Arataca Stoned Farmers met by happy accident and from that accident a friendship formed, not content with just being friends the four guys took their friendship one step further by forming a band! Angelo Bracht (guitar), Fernando Schmitz (vocals), Arthur Luciano Gunther (bass) and Gustavo Hansen (drums) hail from Joinville, Brazil a metropolitan region where many of the population are descended from European stock.
The band, who have previously released a couple of two track affairs titled "Tales from Arataca" and "Tales From Arataca - Chapt. 2" respectively, have this time gone to the previously unprecedented lengths of releasing an EP with a whopping three tracks on it, an EP that flies under the, not so surprising, banner of "Tales from Arataca - Chapt. 03"
Those European roots mentioned earlier raise their heads at the start of "Melting Paintings" the song introduced by what sounds to be a soundbyte lifted from a German movie (Desert Psychlist is no linguist so this could well be another language) before exploding into crunching, fuzz drenched stoner groove replete with grumbling bass and pounding percussion over which are roared gritty clean vocals. Vocalist, Schmitz, although not the most powerful you'll ever hear, compensates for his lack of rock-god vocal pyrotechnics by delivering good clean tones phrased with a throaty grittiness that sit nicely within the songs mix managing to make their presence felt without the need for vocal showboating. Bracht's dark downtuned guitar tones and palm muted refrains give the song an almost proto-doom feel, the guitarist utilising touches of Iommi-esque colouring in his solo's, neatly pulling them off yet managing to avoid the pitfall of dragging the song into the realms of Sabbath worship by adding his own twist on them..
"The Harvest" follows, a gnarly assed short sharp hard rock/stoner outing laced with metallic undertones pushed hard by Hansens' insistent percussion and Gunther's grizzled bass lines. "Mother Nature was my giver" sings Schmitz against a backdrop of crunching riffage and pounding rhythms before manfully roaring "It's harvest time" the songs addictive call and response chorus.
"Bullfrog" closes "Tales From Arataca -Chapt.03" with a fuzz soaked desert/stoner groove played at almost thrash-like tempo with Gunther's bass booming and growling beneath Bracht's swirling bluesy guitar riffs, licks and solo's expertly supported by Hansen's titanic drums. Schmitz pitches his vocals a little higher to match the songs furious pace the singer telling his tale of the humble bullfrog with clean clear but grit tinted conviction.
It seems The Arataca Stoned Farmers idea of releasing their music in short sharp short, sharp jabs that hit their listeners fast and hard is one that works well for them, leaving their listeners battered , bruised and breathless, not sure what as just happened to them but desperate for the next chapter.
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Progressive rock exploded into life in the 1970's, the genre utilising influences from a broad spectrum of musical styles that included classical music, psychedelic rock, folk and hard rock, blending these styles into complex musical arrangements that had an almost orchestrated feel about them. Musicians who played this music were mostly highly skilled technicians who were masters of their chosen instruments and although this resulted in some of the most exciting music of its time it was also the downfall of the genre. By the late 70's and early 80's prog had become a bit of a joke, the complex arrangements had become overblown and overindulgent, with prog bands releasing confusing "concept" albums that often had no basis in any sort of reality, and with musicians who were often more interested in displaying their technical prowess than playing for the song. The genre was slowly losing it's audience and by the time punk exploded in 1976 it was almost all over for prog!
Not quite though, there will always be musicians who strive for more in their playing, and so a new breed of musicians evolved, musicians who wanted to stretch themselves musically but at the same time keep at least one foot in the mosh pit, finding a balance between complexity and groove without compromising their ideals.
One such band to walk the line between hard rocking swagger and cerebral musicality are Texas quartet Blues Funeral, Jan Kimmel (guitar, Nord, vocals), Maurice Eggenschwiler (guitar, vocals), Cory Cousins (drums) and Gabriel Katz (bass), four guys with a penchant for complexity and metallic bluster who, last year (2016) caused a small tsunami of appreciation to ebb their way with the release of their debut album "The Search". a wonderful blend of prog, hard rock and stonerized blues rock, This year (2017) the band follow up that album, striking while the iron is still hot, with a new opus "The Awakening"
From the opening bars of first track "Shadow of the Snake" it's fairly obvious that Blues Funeral take their muse from a time far removed from the harshness of today's doom and stoner scene, the songs classic rock groove. driven by Cousins and Katz's sterling drums and bass work. is wrapped in swathes of swirling Deep Purple-esque keyboard colouring, courtesy of Kimmel, and enhanced by Eggenschwiler's crunching riffage, soaring solo's, Kimmel and Eggenschwiler sharing vocal duties, both distinctive and powerful. This one song, on it's own, tells you everything you need to know about what Blues Funeral bring to the table, the band injecting a freshness and vitality into a genre of music, that those of us old enough to remember, thought had lost its lustre.
A mythical tale told in a mix of lone and harmonized vocals, title track "Awakening" sees Kimmel and Eggenschwiler trading off solo's and riffs around a crunching hard rock groove with Kimmel providing occasional tasteful keyboard flourishes while Katz and Cousins keep things tight and solid beneath.
"Illusion of Reality" finds Blues Funeral adding a touch of pop sensibility and hard rock swing into their groove. Easy on the ear and boasting killer guitar solos and an absolutely infectious singalong chorus the song shows this band are as quite capable of reaching a more mainstream audience as they are of pleasing those of a more discerning underground bias.
"Firedrake" heads back into classic/prog rock territory with Kimmel's keyboards pushed to the fore touching on classical themes and motifs along the way. There is an underlying doom-ish feel to the proceedings here, not in a modern brutal way but in a more traditional prog orientated direction, a feeling made even more prevalent by its lyrical content... "Do you envy the dead? Gods cry when even Death feels sorrow".
"Casimir" sees the band exploring eastern themes and motifs over an ever shifting rhythmic backdrop, excellently provided by Katz and Cousins, with Kimmel and Eggenschwiler trading melodies and harmonies both on guitar and vocals.
"Gathering Dust" ramps up the bands prog factor to eleven and sees the band switching seamlessly between differing time signatures and dynamics while at the same time retaining those doomish-hues hinted at in previous track "Firedrake". Atmospheric and emotive it is a fitting finale to a fine collection of songs.
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"
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones