Friday, 28 April 2017

JUKEBOX MONKEY ~ GREY SKIES RED PLANET ... review


Kent was once known throughout the UK as the "Garden of England" due to it's vast orchards, allotments and  hop fields, sadly though those days when London's poorer families would flock down to Kent to spend their summers picking hops to supplement their meagre incomes are now long gone but fear not someone planted a fuzzy seed transported from the Palm Desert home of Kyuss and Unida into Kent's fertile soil and it's started grow!
Jukebox Monkey are Dabs (vocals and guitars), Chris Harris (guitars), Niki Jones (vocals and bass) and Pete Nightingale (drums), four guys from Gravesend, Kent with a penchant for fuzz soaked riffage flecked with desert attitude and southern grit who are now preparing for world domination with their latest album "Grey Skies, Red Planet"


Raucousness and riffery are the order of the day as Jukebox Monkey lay waste to the world with wave after wave of  fuzz pedal informed hard rock and desert groove flecked with bluesy shades and southern rock colouring. Pulverising and relentless grooves of molten hot desert metal with titles like "They're Building A Gallows", "This Septic Isle" and "Liquid Mistress" hit the listener like a freight train careering out of control, each song replete with clean throaty vocals roared over and around stuttering guitar refrains and scorching solo's bolstered from beneath by grizzled bass lines and powerhouse percussion.


Jukebox Monkey deliver, with "Grey Skies, Red Planet" an album that is totally and utterly addictive and one whose grooves leave the listener bloodied, bruised and battered but eager to hit repeat and have it happen all over again!
Check it out ......

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

SKUNK ~ DOUBLEBLIND ...... review


Classic Rock magazine, that venerable monthly tome covering all aspects of rock from surf to stoner, described Skunk's debut album "Doubleblind as "what happens if you raise your kids on Grand Funk, 8-tracks and weed smoke".so with this writer coming from a similar background a review of said album seemed like a match made in heaven.


Skunk, John McKelvy (Vocals), Dmitri Mavra (Guitar), Erik Pearson (Guitar), Matt Knoth (Bass) and Jordan Ruyle (Drums), hail from Oakland, California and jam grooves heavily influenced by the likes of Buffalo, Truth & Janey, Cactus and Sir Lord Baltimore as well as all the usual 70's suspects such as Sabbath and Zeppelin. Skunk take these influences, born from a time when the blues was gradually making a transition into something harder and heavier, and mix them in with elements of  00's stoner/psych, creating a sound that, although not exactly groundbreaking, is nonetheless highly infectious and totally enjoyable.


"Doubleblind" is an album that delivers on all levels with Skunk serving up, over the course of eight gloriously addictive songs, wave upon wave of crunching proto-metal riffage pushed into overdrive by big booming bass lines and powerful solid percussion. The band's slightly blues tinted grooves, injected with scorching solo guitar interludes and coated in unique,helium toned vocal colourings, will be  "manna from heaven" for anyone who thought listening to Grand Funk on an eight track cassette while puffing on something herbal was as good as it would ever get
Check it out.......

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

EVOKE THY LORDS ~ LIFESTORIES ......review


Rarely do you come across an album that so perfectly traverses the line between brutality and beauty in the way that  Evoke Thy Lords do with their latest opus "Lifestories". The Siberian quintet, of Alexey Koslov (bass/vocals), Sergey Vagin (guitar), Vasiliy Yuzhanin (guitar), Yaroslav Kaigorodov (drums) and Irina Mirzaeva (flute), have with their latest album managed to create something  that almost defies the usual labels and tags we use to describe musical genres and constructed a sound that although sitting within the territory of doom is not defined by that term.


As "Regressed" peels from the speakers on a wave of low,slow stonerized heavy riffage, layered over a pulverising bedrock of  pounding rhythm, it might seem that the opening paragraph of this review had given the listener a bum steer and that this was just another ten-a-penny stoner doom band experimenting with elements of psych and space to fill out there sound, well you couldn't be more wrong. Around gnarly refrains of dank dark psychedelic doom, replete with swirling solo's, low, low menacing vocals and earth shaking rhythmic grooves, comes the sweet, almost saccharine sound of a flute, it's breathy tones bringing a whole new dimension to the relentless heaviness surrounding it.
Mirzaeva's flute majestically weaving in and out of the molten doom grooves on songs like "Life Is A Trick" and the epic "Heavy Weather" is the weapon of mass destruction around which Evoke The Lords build their monolithic grooves of molten metallic doom, it could almost be argued that it is their trump card, their "raison d'etre", those gently blown tones, ringing sweetly above the dark murky doom grooves beneath them, bringing a sweetness to the sour and giving the band an edge that, combined with the psych drenched guitar colouring, tumultuous rhythms  and bear like vocal tones, creates a sound that is wholly unique and wonderfully spine-tingling.
Check it out .....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 24 April 2017

VON DETTA ~ EXIT GRAND PIANO ....review


With the sometimes overwhelming amount of music being released these days it is not uncommon to miss a few gems every now and then, as was the case with "Exit Grand Piano" a five track masterclass in fuzz drenched stoner/desert dynamics from a Belgian quintet flying under the banner of Von Detta. released in October last year (2016).


Von Detta, Tom Claus (vocals), Jeroen Vandamme (bass), lef De Deurwaerder (guitar), Jonas Verheist (guitar) and Koen De Borle (drums), are in their own words a band  who "don't fool around", a band whose incendiary riff driven grooves are fronted by a man even his own band members call a "nut house maniac", a band that are fast gaining a reputation as must see live entity.
Blending elements of punky aggression with gritty stoner/desert attitude Von Detta's "Exit Grand Piano" is an EP that will wholeheartedly appeal to those brought up on the Palm Desert grooves of bands like  Kyuss and Unida but also to those who dig the harsher more psych orientated grooves of todays underground rock scene. Songs like "Get Better (At Lying) ", "City Of Glass" and "Wrong Headed" jam riff heavy grooves salted with quirky QOTSA-like funkiness underpinned by solid, tight rhythmic bluster over which Claus croons, roars, rants and spits lyrics dripping with angst and attitude, his vocals a gentle caress one minute, a slap in the face the next. Combine these vocals with the sand blasted refrains and rhythms provided by the rest of the band and you arrive at a sound that is not only startlingly effective but one that is as exciting as it is addictive.
 
"Exit Grand Piano" is a  joyous EP that recalls, in places, that transitional period when American punk loving youths, strung out on peyote and LSD, loaded their vehicles with instruments and amps and headed into the desert and in doing so started a whole new musical scene.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 23 April 2017

MAD MONKEES ~ MAD MONKEES ... review


Finding kick-ass Brazilian grooves is becoming the norm of late with bands like Stonehouseonfire, Black Witch, Pesta and Old Stove all making inroads into the international underground market with some seriously essential sounds. Latest band to have caused the ears of the stoner/doom and psych community to stand up and take attention consist of Felipe Cazaux (guitar / vox), Capoo Polacco (guitar), Hamilton de Castro (bass) and PH Barcellos (drums), a four piece hard rock band going by the name of the Mad Monkees from Fortaleza in North-eastern Brazil, a band who have only been together since 2015 but who, with the release of their debut, self titled album "Mad Monkees" are already making waves both within their own country and outside of it.


Mad Monkees, both band and album, deliver the kind of rock once classified as "hard" but nowdays more and more is found falling under the banner of "stoner", in other words ..riff fuelled grooves powered by an underbelly of tumultuous drums and big gnarly bass lines overlaid with fuzzed/ overdriven guitars and coated in grizzled clean vocal tones. Where Mad Monkees differ from the thousand and one bands ploughing similar furrows is in the sheer joie-de vivre they bring to the table with their 70's inspired refrains and rhythms, filling songs like the hard driving "Bombman", the southern flecked "Try Harder(Again & Again) and the bluesy "Deamons and Angels" with an uplifting sense of fun and excitement, a sense that transfers perfectly to record and one that is both  highly enjoyable and infectious. The band keep things focused and tight by delivering their grooves in short sharp bursts, no meandering twenty minute opus's to be found here, only one tune of the album's ten stretching past the four minute mark, giving the album a more immediate and direct feel, but even with this feeling of immediacy the band still manage find time to invite a few guests on board with Anderson Kratsch (Marrero) helping out on vocals on "Bombman", and Emmily Barreto (Far From Alaska) vocals on "I Cannot Feel" as well as additional guitar from Estevan Sinkovitz (Marrero) on "Bombman" and Klaus Sena contributing bass on "Try Harder (Again & Again)".
Brazilian rock is growing stronger and stronger by the day but there is still a way to go before it can compete on an equal footing with those grooves regularly coming out of Europe and the USA, but if bands like Mad Monkees are an example of what Brazil has to offer then it won't stay that way for much longer.
Check 'em out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 22 April 2017

ARIDONIA ~EP1 .... review


Argentinian desert groovsters Aridonia, Tomas Longombardo (bass),  Matias Paiva (drums), Fernando Echenique (guitar/vocals) and Benjamin Yecora (guitar/vocals), are a band hailing from Argentina's Jujuy Province in the countries north-westerly extreme, a place renowned for its arid/semi-desert environment. Its no surprise then to find the bands debut EP, "EP1", is duly informed by that environment.


"Cenizas" begins its journey around a throbbing thick toned guitar refrain bolstered by massive a bass and drum groove over which clean, powerful vocal tones are delivered in the bands native tongue of Spanish. The songs initial attack of doom-ish riffage, laced with twisty desert guitar colouring, gradually shifts its focus and veers into more psychedelic country and sees Aridonia stretching out and flexing their musical muscles with Floyd-ian/ Colour Haze-ish tinted guitars soaring and screaming over jazzy, lysergic backdrops of cosmic groove dripping with spacey effects.
"Enteögeno", a homage to natures hallucinogen's, opens with a lone liquid bass line soon joined by a jazzy fusion-like guitar motif before taking off into the stratosphere on a brief wave of gnarly desert riffage, falling back into its ambient beginnings when the mellow, laid back clean vocals appear. Whether intentional or not the songs groove seems to musically mirror the lysergic rollercoaster ride of "being on a trip" with  spirituality, wonder and chemically induced awe all musically represented here as the groove wends its way back and forth between ambient periods of jazzy fusion  and crunching heavy riffage the dynamics of which periodically fall and rise until finally bowing out on a wave of  heavily psyched desert bluster.
"Larga Duna" begins gently and folk-like with sweet clean vocal harmonies sang over a foundation of gently swept guitar arpeggios and shimmering percussion interrupted by sporadic moments of gnarly heaviness. As with previous tracks the dynamics swing between gentle and heavy, the band going off on the occasional tangent but always keeping one eye on the groove, mixing elements of heavy psych texturing with those of hard rock and fusion-like jazz in an exciting blend that is both unique and familiar at the same time.
If you like your grooves a little experimental yet with a heavy stonerized core then Aridonia's "EP1" is an EP you should check out .....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 17 April 2017

CAVE SUNS ~ CANNED HOWL EP .... review


There are those that think "the blues" has no place in today's music scene seeing it as a genre that has passed well by its sell by date, a genre that peaked in the 70's, a time when British musicians re-packaged the blues, channelling those melancholy grooves through stacks of Marshall amps and basically selling the results back to the place of its birth. "The blues" though is a resilient old bird and she won't let go without a fight, her leathery, calloused fingertips clawing their way into all aspects of music from pop to black metal, she refuses to just curl up and die.
The latest band to be seduced by her tear stained visage and mournful embrace are Newcastle-on-Tyne trio Cave Suns, three guys who coat delta inspired grooves with elements of psych and stoner creating a sound that sits somewhere between the Doors and All Them Witches, a sound that can be witnessed on their two track EP "Canned Howl".


First track "Canning A Howl" sees Cave Suns flaunting their blues credentials in a song that references every form of the blues known to man and then some. Kit Endean (Guitar / Vocals), Mike Hill (Bass / Vocals) and Ewan McLaughlin (Drums / Vocals) effortlessly shift between bar room shuffles, heavy blues bluster and out-there psychedelic flights of fancy, taking the music on cosmic journey's to places it never knew existed until it arrived there.. Hill and McLaughlin hold down the percussion and bottom end perfectly, tight and solid on the more rockier moments, loose and fluid when the dynamic gets a little lysergic, the pair perfectly complimenting each other allowing Endean's guitar the freedom to roam. Endean  lays down  a swathe of  six-string colouring, soaring over Hill and McLaughlin's rhythmic pulses, his guitar screaming banshee-like one minute, laid back and dripping with reverb the next, his immense tones recalling those of blues rock icon Robin Trower in places. The guitarist also supplies the majority of vocals , his Geordie twang bringing a bluesy grittiness to the table, a grittiness that enhances those blues credentials and gives the listener a feeling that your listening to something rooted in the past but very much of the now.
"Black North Sea Coast" begins moody and sullen, coloured with a hint of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" in it's intro, slowly building layer on atmospheric layer via choir-like vocal harmonies, laid back percussion, liquid bass lines and dark chordal colouring. Like a plant shoot filmed on a time lapse camera the song gradually branches out growing darker, heavier and more atmospheric with each passing minute finally coming into bloom when Endear's warm vocal appears at around the halfway mark.  Cryptic lyrics, telling of "A heart made of wood, only mahogany would dry and splinter like waves", are sung majestically over a backdrop echoing guitar textures superbly backed by McLaughlin and Hill's sympathetic and diverse array of rhythmic pulses. As the vocals fade into the ether the songs groove shifts into freefall with the band hitting a Zeppelin -esque heavy blues groove around which Endean peels off scorching solo's and jazzy chords before finally bowing out on wave of electronic noise, stunning!
Heavy (in the old sense) and way out there, Cave Suns reinvigorate the blues with their sonic excursions, bringing it up to date and once again relevant. There's an old lady out there somewhere with calloused hands and rheumy eyes smiling.
Check it out .....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 16 April 2017

MAGE ~ GREEN .... review


Leicestershire's Mage will not be a new name to those familiar with the UK's stoner/doom underground scene, the East Midland groovmeisters have been a constant force on the scene since their inception in 2010 releasing two well received albums "Black Sands"(2012) and "Last Orders"(2014). as well as gaining a reputation for being a fierce live draw. Things took a sharp downward curve last year after the loss of their guitarist Ben Aucott but after a period of  mourning and reflection the band recently reconvened in the studio as quartet to record their latest album "Green" (available here.)


"No Where To Nothing" kicks things off with the Mage jamming a Sabbathian proto-doom groove replete with Iommi-esque guitar colouring pushed hard by a backdrop of storming bass and drums over which clean throaty strong vocal tones are delivered. At just over the halfway mark the song takes a slightly left of field turn, moving from mid tempo proto to low,slow and heavy with the vocals taking on a hazy psychedelic hue underpinned and taken to the close on a wave of heavily fuzzed guitar, throbbing bass and pulverising percussion.
"Heroic Elergy" sees Mage taking the lower, slower aspects of the previous tracks finale and expanding on them while at the same time adding to them element of swirling psych and space. It's hard not to believe that the songs dark lyrics of battle and loss, bolstered by the recurring mantra of "fallen brothers, we'll see you on the other side", is not something informed by the band recent loss, if this is indeed the case then this acts as a fitting tribute to their own "fallen brother".
"Primitive Drive" begins with tribal-like drum beats before being joined by a thunderous rolling guitar riff broken momentarily by crunching doom laden  powerchords, the groove tantalisingly swinging back and forth between the two dynamics before proceeding ahead on the latter. Vocally darker than previous tracks, with a mix of clean and semi-harsh tones, the song veers close to the extreme in places but is pulled back from the abyss by it's clever arrangements, effectively blending melody and menace together in a mouth watering blend of both.
"Green" is next up, it's circular stoner doom groove underpinning a lyric that pays homage to the beauty of nature's open spaces sang around a wah drenched guitar motif under which a thunderous foundation of booming bass and pounding percussion is laid.
"Eclipse King" utilises swirling dark guitar colouring over a slow to mid tempo doom groove creating an atmospheric feel that borders on traditional doom but has its roots in Sabbath-esque stoner territory.
"The Wheel" picks up the pace a notch or two and sees the vocalist roaring clean impassioned lyrics bemoaning the circle of life over a galloping heavy stoner groove that employs a chugging guitar refrain embellished with twisty little fills and hooks. Broken briefly, mid song, by some nasty slow/low doom with thick fuzz drenched chords reverberating over pulverising rhythmic thunder, it then swings back into the main riff and is taken to the close.
"Vultures Mass" closes the album and starts innocently enough with dark guitar arpeggios gently picked over an almost jazzy backdrop of brushed skins and low throbbing bass before erupting into a volcano of heavily fuzzed and distortion soaked doom, subsiding briefly back into tranquillity before the hammer goes down again and the listener is pummelled and awash in a sea of heavy riffage. The singer tells of being "laid bare to my bone, sunburnt, ragged and raw" over a soundtrack thick with musical malice made darker by an emotive, soaring guitar solo and the addition of demonic tones mirroring those of the singers giving the songs already blackened groove an extra malevolent and menacing dimension.
Mage are back, a little bit battered and bruised, still grieving for their fallen brother but channelling those feelings into an album that's as strong if not stronger than anything they've done before.
Check it out ......


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 13 April 2017

KITCHEN WITCH ~ KITCHEN WITCH .... review


Kitchen Witch, Georgie Cosson (vocals), Simon Elliott (bass), Conor Kinsella (guitar) and John Russo (drums) hail from Adelaide, South Australia jamming a groove that mixes the psychedelic blues of The Big Brother and the Holding Company with the stoner/desert grooves of Kyuss fronted by big Joplin-esque vocals and underpinned by big thundering rhythms and thick fuzzy refrains.
The band who in their own words state they are "Too Bluesy for Metal, Too Heavy for Blues"are now releasing  their first full length ,self-titled, album "Kitchen Witch"(Kozmik Atifactz) a compendium of tracks gleaned from their two previously released EP's "Trouble"(2015) and "Back To The Mud"(2016)


From the moment the needle drops on "Kitchen Witch"'s first track and the listener is assailed by the heavily fuzzed riffage of "Slipstream" it becomes glaringly obvious that Kitchen Witch are not one of those archetypical stoner blues bands that are currently the vogue these days, Kitchen Witch are a force to be seriously reckoned with. Blessed with a vocalist of truly immense power and tone whose vocals walk a line between those of the legendary Janis Joplin and those of not so legendary, but just as impressive, Stone The Crows chanteuse Maggie Bell, Georgie Cosson is a woman who can hit a note and hold it in a way some can only dream of, her mix of raw bluesy power and smooth velvet croon a masterclass in vocal gymnastics. Behind a good voice you need a good band and in Elliott, Kinsella and Russo the vocalist has found the perfect match, Kinsella's dark and sometimes doom-ish, guitar work backed by Elliott's grizzled bass lines and Russo's pulverising and solid percussion at times wrestle the spotlight away from Cosson's impassioned and emotive vocals, taking things to another level on songs like the rocking "Delusion", the emotional and eclectic "Like Blood" and the highly psychedelic and hazy "Smoking",  band and vocalist combining musicality and passion in equal abundance.


If you already own the bands previous EP's then your already familiar with the songs on "Kitchen Witch" and the quality of both the performances and songs herein, still its nice to have them all in one place. If though your coming to Kitchen Witch anew then be prepared to have your mind well and truly blown.
Check 'em out ......


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 10 April 2017

BLOOD RAVEN ~ JOTUNN ...review


It's hard when mentioning Maryland, USA not to immediately think of the areas affiliation with the doom metal genre, like fish with chips and lamb with mint sauce, the two just seem to be tied together. The Obsessed, Pentagram, Place of Skulls and Earthride are just some of the bands to come out of what is affectionately called the "Doom Capitol" ( D.C.).
Blood Raven, Dana Helmuth (guitar and vocals),Chris Andersen (guitar) Scott Golley (drums) and Gabe Solomon (bass), are the latest Maryland band to chance their arm in the international doom market. The four guys, who have plied their respective trades in bands like Motherload, Corpse Grinder, Chaos Emblem and Lifetime, have come together, under the Blood Raven banner, to stake a claim for a place on the pedestal of Maryland doom heroes with the release of their debut album "Jotunn".


"Hour Of The Dragon" kicks into life on a rolling hard rock riff, one you will swear you've heard before but can't put your finger on where, the song is enhanced by colourful fills and licks and pushed hard by Solomon's gnarly bass and Golley's pulverising percussion causing it to seep deep into the listeners psyche pulling him/her deeper into the songs gloriously enslaving groove. Helmuth as well as, with Anderson, delivering thick slabs of grizzled riffage and scorching solo's also handles vocals, his grizzled, slightly sneered clean tones a perfect fit for the dark menacing grooves surrounding them, vocals and music combining to create a whole as great as it parts.
"Smoke Is Rising" sees Helmuth's vocals getting a little grizzlier and sludge-like, his darker bellowed tones roared over a groove informed by doom but with one foot tantalising dipped in the waters of the blues. This bluesy influence might not be immediately evident in it's initial heavily plodding doom refrain but is something that becomes glaringly obvious as the song reaches its gloriously soaring finale when,with Anderson laying down thick crunching riffage ,Helmuth pulls off searing bluesy minor pentatonic solo's over a backdrop of thunderous rhythm.
"Blood Will Flow" is up next and finds Anderson and Helmuth locking into a high- tempo proto-doom refrain, the two guitarist filling out the songs groove with little curly fills and licks over Golley and Solomon's incredibly tight rhythm work.
"Black Moon" slows down the dynamic slightly and sees Blood Raven getting down and dirty on a song that falls heavily into stoner doom territory but one that still retains, mainly because of Helmuth's searing guitar work, an element of heavy bluesy swagger at it core. The vocalist/guitarist, superbly supported by Anderson's grizzly fuzz drenched guitar, Solomon's booming bass and Golley's tumultuous percussion, roars like a wounded bear while peeling of one scintillating solo after another.
"Four Directions" sees elements of dark swirling space and psych creeping into Blood Ravens dark stoner doom attack with Helmuth's, slightly phased, hazy, but still bear-like, tones roaring over a dark pounding heavy backdrop of pulverising low/slow doom taken to another level by Golley's Bonham-esque percussion and Solomon's bone crumbling bass lines.
"Shadows Of The Western Moon" brings "Jotunn" to a close with an epic display of atmospheric stonerized doom and bluesy sludge. Anderson and Helmuth lay down a swathe of heavily phased guitar colouring over which Helmuth bellows and roars dark lyrics asking to be "set free". It might be Desert Psychlist's imagination, and maybe in part as a result of Golley's pounding drum work, but there is an element of Led Zeppelin's arrangement of "When The Levee Breaks" nestling beneath this tome that gives the song an epic and grandiose feel.


Heavy, atmospheric and with real quality to both the songwriting and arrangements, Blood Raven's "Jotunn" is a statement to the world that Maryland remains now and always the Doom Capital of the World!
Check it out .....


© 10/04/2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 9 April 2017

GRAND DELUSION ~ SUPREME MACHINE ... review


A recent debate took place within one of the many "underground" rock groups on Facebook concerning what constitutes "stoner rock" and what is "stoner metal", opinions were thrown back and forth with many confusing matters by assigning some bands in both categories. The general consensus, however, was that "stoner rock" took it's lead from the hard rock bands of the 70's while it's metallic cousin referenced the later metal of the early 80's.
With this in mind  it would seem that Sweden's Grand Delusion, a four piece from Umea consisting of  Per Clevfors (lead guitars, backing vocals), Mikael Olsson (bass guitars, keyboards), Magnus Rehnman (drums, backing vocals) and Björn Wahlberg (lead & backing vocals, guitars), who play heavily fuzzed grooves with an 80's metal bias fall very much under the "stoner metal" banner, but make your own minds up by giving the bands latest release "Supreme Machine" a listen.


"Just Revolution" gets the ball rolling, its slowly throbbing, slightly doom-ish intro segueing into an anthemic stonerized heavy metal groove that recalls both musically and vocally early era Grand Magus and sees Whalberg playing call and response with  Clevfors and Rehnman's powerful backing vocals over a foundation of pounding rhythm and thunderous metallic riffage.
"Mangrove Blues" sees Grand Delusion adding a little bluesy, albeit heavily metallic,swagger to their arsenal, utilising a gloriously addictive guitar motif around which the band lay down a plethora of differing time signatures and tempo's anchored to the earth by Olsson and Rehnman's thunderous bass and drums and coated in superb strong clean vocal melodies.
"Trail Of The Seven Scorpions" begins its life all complex and  prog-like  before gradually shifting gears and segueing  into a slightly traditional doom groove with  Maiden-esque undertones overlaid with a strident vocal melody. Around about the halfway mark the song takes a left turn into ambient territory with Olsson laying down a swathe of textured keyboard colouring, paving the way for Clevfors and Wahlberg to take the song to its conclusion on a wave of  Floydian guitar interplay.
"Imperator" follows and finds Grand Delusion once again blending traditional doom atmospherics with grooves of a more "stoner metal" nature. The song swings tantalisingly between both musical dynamics with Wahlberg roaring his lyrics of glory and death against a backdrop of pounding percussion and heavy metallic riffage, superbly backed up on the chorus by Clevfors and Rehnman's Nordic/gothic backing vocals, that are further enhanced by some sterling fretwork from both guitarists.
Swirling keyboards and low gnarly bass herald the coming of next track "Infinite", the song then taking on a slightly (MK II) Deep Purple-ish hue before shifting into epic, but nonetheless stonerized , metal territory. Wahlberg's vocals take on a slightly more aggressive tone here, his throatier and ever so slightly blackened roar hovering menacingly over a backdrop of pulsating grandiose metal groove that is taken to another level by it's flourishes of swirling space like keyboard texturing.
"Ghost of the Widow McCain" closes the album and sees Grand Delusion walking down the stoner side of the street with fuzz drenched riffage graced by touches of southern rock swagger informing the songs groove. Gritty, deliciously addictive, with a hard not to love southern flavoured vocal melody and a scorching neo-classical guitar finale, it recalls the more metallic southern grooves of Jacksonville's Molly Hatchet in places.
Whether "Supreme Machine" falls into the categories of "stoner metal" or just good old fashioned "heavy metal" does not really matter, what matters is whether it ROCKS or NOT.... and this does!
Check it out .....

Saturday, 8 April 2017

RUFF MAJIK ~ THE SWAN .... review


South Africa is a first for this blog, Desert Psychlist has been totally, and it has to be said, ashamedly ignorant of the underground rock delights that may be found at the southern tip of  Africa's vast continent, and so it was with interest and not a little apprehensive intrigue that the Psychlist approached Pretoria's Ruff Majik's latest opus "The Swan".


Ruff Majik are Johni Holiday (guitar, vocals, organ), Jimi Glass (bass) and Benni Manchino (drums, percussion, narrative) three guys who in their own words "bring earthquakes with them".
The first thing that hits you while listening to Ruff Majik is the force of their sonic attack, powerful percussion is pushed up front and centre circled by big throbbing distorted bass lines and swirling guitar solo's and riffs, the next thing to make an impact is Johni Holiday's unique and  quite original vocal tones. Holiday's voice on first hearing may come as a bit of a shock, sounding like the love child of  G'N'R's Axl Rose and White Stripes Jack White, it does takes a second or two for your ears get accustomed to.. but once you have acclimatised it soon becomes apparent that no other voice could possibly do justice to these molten grooves of heavily psyched stoner rock, those startling tones combining with his stunning guitar work, and the unrelenting rhythmic bass and drum power of Glass and Manchino ,  to create a sound that is stunningly fresh and new.
 Designed to be listened to from start to finish with no breaks "The Swan" is an ambitious album that was recorded live in the studio , in one take,with all three members playing in the same room so has not to lose that "in the moment" feel and to retain the energy of the performance. Song titles like " Horse Drawn Wrath Spawn (Godspeed) ", Canabasis" and "Scalp Chisler" are linked  together by a mixture of animal sounds, sustain and narrative giving the effect of continuous flow but at the same time marking each song as a separate entity, giving the album an almost conceptual feel.


Musically a mixture of  psych drenched 70's hard rock, heavy stoner fuzz and grizzled late 60's garage attitude "The Swan" is an album that both excites and delights in equal measure.
Check it out ,,,,,,,


© 08/04/2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 7 April 2017

CLOSET DISCO QUEEN ~ SEXY AUDIO DEVIANCE FOR PUNK BUMS ...review


Luc Hess and Jona Nido are Closet Disco Queen a two piece instrumental pairing from Switzerland who like to play heavy grooves of stoner/hard rock built on a foundation of pounding rhythms soaked in swathes of fuzz drenched guitar riffage, all of which can be heard on the bands new EP "Sexy Audio Deviance For Punk Bums" (Hummus Records).



"Ninjaune" is the first of three songs and begins with orchestral like effects swooping back and forth across the speakers that are then joined by an almost military drum pattern, this carries on for a few bars before seguing into a slightly heavy Colour Haze-ish groove sporadically fractured by stuttering guitar riffage and pushed by tumultuous percussion.
"El Moustachito" is up next and begins by laying down an insistent repeating guitar motif that when joined by the drums slowly builds layer by layer until exploding into a gritty stoner groove replete with warmly fuzzed out guitar licks and scorching solo's.
"Dèlicieux" closes the EP with Closet Disco Queen mixing it up by layering reverb drenched guitar colouring over solid percussion then slowly increasing the tempo and dynamic, gradually dragging the songs direction into complex prog-ish areas while at the same time adding a little fuzzy funkiness into the mix.
The band cite Russian Circles as an influence and there are elements of that Chicago trio's grooves scattered around here but the overall impression while listening to this EP is that of a slightly more sophisticated Karma To Burn, classy moments but with a big emphasis on groove, check it out .....

Friday, 31 March 2017

VORTICAL MINDS ~ THE ORANGE BOX ....review


Italy, is a country that trades heavily on all things "retro",  Italian movies, fashion, art, motorbikes and cars are all delivered with an eye for the future but with a foot planted firmly in the past, so it comes as no surprise that this trend for making "old" the new "new" extends into the Italian underground music scene too.
Vortical Minds, a trio from Rome consisting of Vule Rodic (bass & vocals),  Gianluca Paladino  (guitar/backing vocals) and Gianluca Ortu (drums/backing vocals),take their lead from the proto-metal/ hard rock of the likes of Grand Funk Railroad, Beck, Bogart &Appice and Cactus and bring it up to date with the addition of a little 90's fuzz and 00's psych colouring, creating a groove that is both old and new in equal measure, something that becomes glaring obvious when listening to the trio's debut EP "The Orange Box"


"Maybe But Not Today" opens with what can only be described as a "vintage" guitar sound Paladino evoking, through his choice of notes, feel and effects, memories of  such six string luminaries as Free's Paul Kossoff and early era Jeff Beck as well as a smattering of those of  leser known mortals Buffalo's John Baxter and Blue Cheer's Leigh Stephens. Ortu and Rodic underpin this tsunami of warmly fuzzed riffage with a masterclass in pummelling rhythm, Ortu's thunderous drums dictating the beat while Rodic handles the low end with big booming bass runs and fills as well as providing cool, perfectly delivered vocals.
"I Bought Myself" follows and takes a detour into psychedelic blues country with Paladino chopping out crunching stoner blues refrains then laying out on reverb soaked guitar arpeggios that shimmer and shake over and around Ortu and Rodic's sympathetic jazz tinted psych grooves, the resulting sound recalling, at times, "Hogwash" era Groundhogs. Rodic pours over this heady mix of acid drenched groove a vocal that includes the line "I think I'll buy myself a gun, I think i'll shoot you just for fun" delivering his lyrics in a wonderful mix of whispered, falsetto and cleanly growled vocal tones.
"My Game" sees Vortical Minds going full tilt lysergic with Rodic telling of "walking in the sun, looking for some fun" over a backdrop of liquid bassitude and pounding percussion taken to another level by Paladino's off-kilter slide guitar and clever use of effects.
Final track "Ticking Time" begins with a gnarly Rodic bass motif that is then joined by Ortu's solid pounding drums while in the background Paladino's guitar howls with feral feedback all three then coming together on a grizzly stoner/hard rock groove with Rodic telling us he's "gotta find a doctor, gonna find a cure". before the whole mood shifts and the band take the song to it's conclusion on a wave of gloriously hazy psychedelic instrumental groove.
Hazy, crazy and dripping with lysergic induced imagery "The Orange Box" is full of delights... open it now and check it out....

Thursday, 30 March 2017

MOUNTAINS ~ DUST IN THE GLARE ...review


Mountains, David Jupp (guitar/vocals), Chris Randall (bass) and  Josh Hussey (drums) are a trio from London, UK dealing in riff heavy psych salted with elements borrowed from both the prog metal and stoner ends of the underground rock spectrum.
 The band, formed in 2014, have just released their first full length album "Dust In The Glare"


The first thing you notice while perusing "Dust In The Glare's" eight song track listing is the brevity of each track, with only one song exceeding the four minute mark, this however does not detract from the albums overall impact in fact it adds to it. From the heavily fuzzed first bars of opening song "Everglades" to the gloriously schizophrenic title track "Dust In The Glare" that closes proceedings there is a flow to this debut, both lyrically and musically, that some, more seasoned bands, struggle to achieve after numerous releases. Jupp's voice dominates the album his tone clean, smooth and very "English" as he sings of " a harvest that withers in the shade" (Lonely Cities) and" the weight that tips the crooked mask" (Fortress) and  he even mixes it up with a little throaty sludge roaring on the aforementioned title track. Randell and Hussey support Jupp's vocal outpourings and mix of gentle guitar arpeggios, scorching solo's and fuzz soaked riffs with a wonderful array of  rhythmic dynamics laying out with liquid low end and shimmering percussion when the song calls for it, going hell for leather when the tempo dictates, a musical unity that is never better exemplified than on the albums two instrumentals "Towards The Woods" and "Ithaca".
"Dust In The Glare" is not your archetypical "underground" rock album it crosses back and forth between genres touching base with prog, stoner, metal and even a little grunge in places but it is this diversity of styles that makes this album stand out from the crowd and makes this an album you should definitely check out ....

Monday, 27 March 2017

ATTALLA ~ GLACIAL RULE .... review


Oshkosh, Wisconsin riffmeisters Attala's self titled debut album holds a special place in Desert Psychlist's heart, its big sounding metallic grooves were an almost constant soundtrack to daily life when it was released in 2014 and although its been over two years since it surfaced "Attalla" still remains a go-to when wanting something to blow away the dust of a hard day.
Attalla have not been idling in those two years, the quartet of Cody Stieg (lead guitar/vocal)
Brian Hinckley (rhythm guitar), Bryan Kunde (bass) and James Slater (drums), have been honing their chops on the live circuit as well as writing new material for their new album "Glacial Rules" which releases today (March 24, 2017).


"Butte Des Mortes" kicks off  "Glacial Rule" with slow, low crushing guitar riffage supported by crashing pounding drums and crashing cymbals, with the occasional squealing lick thrown in before shifting into a choppy Sabbath-esque refrain over which strong clean vocals are roared with bellowed  passion. If your planning to make an album you need something to grab the listeners attention straight away dragging them into your musical vision, making them want more, and "Butte Des Mortes" ticks all the boxes in that department.
"Ice Harvest" is up next and jams a tar thick stoner doom groove laid down over a barrage of tumultuous percussion into which are injected pyrotechnic, swirling guitar solo's, licks and fills. It is almost three minutes before the songs vocals appear, clean and powerful, and only two minutes before they disappear again, the song taken to it's conclusion on a wave of glorious instrumental heaviness with guitars screaming and howling over a bedrock of thrumming riffage and pulverising rhythm.
"Valdaran" opens with a distortion drenched two guitar motif before the drums and bass bring the hammer down and the band merge into the main riff together. There is a deep underlying blues feel to the songs groove, it's not a glaringly obvious one but there is a certain feel to how the song is structured both vocally, dynamically and atmospherically  that combined with its scorching guitar solo's gives it a doomy delta presence.
"Black Wolf Ritual"  takes the  riff from the  famous Birmingham fours "Black Sabbath" slightly alters it and extends it a couple of bars before shifting into a throbbing, but nonetheless Sabbath-esque, proto-doom groove replete with screaming Iommi inspired solo's over which lyrics telling of "sacrificial rites" and "dying embers" are sung. It's heavy, gloriously atmospheric and has a groove that will stay with you long after you've finished listening
"Devil's Lake" comes at the listener from a slightly different angle from the albums previous tracks by muddying up the waters with a touch of heavy sludge colouring and heavier more visceral vocal attack albeit tinted with elements of old school hard rock and heavy metal, especially in it's searing hot guitar solo's. It's a little different in its approach but still damn good nevertheless.
"Glacial Rule" closes the album with the band jamming on a low, slow doom groove that though still leaning heavily on the bands love of everything Sabbathian (the band cannot resist throwing in a few Iommi-eaque fills and licks) nods its head to the more grizzled stonerized doom of Goya and Spelljammer.


It is hard to describe what Attalla do without mentioning Black Sabbath and I apologise to both the band and to their fans (Desert Psychlist is one) for the many references to that band in this review but the influence Sabbath has had on this band, though not as obvious as on some, is there nonetheless,, not in a worshipful, tribute sort of way but as an underlying influence that although informs their sound does not define it.
Check 'em out .....

Friday, 24 March 2017

KUJARA ~ THREE DAYS EP ...review


London, UK, this humble reviewers birthplace and home of legendary stoner/doom and psych event Desertfest is, when compared to places like Portland, USA, Malmo, Sweden and Athens, Greece, not the hotbed of "underground" rock some might think it should be. There are plenty of bands from around the UK's capital ploughing a stonerized furrow through the scenes fuzz soaked fields but not that many claiming to be an actual "London" band so it's with a gladdened heart that Desert Psychlist introduces you to London'Kujara, Joe Flaherty (bass & vocals), Will Milne (guitars) and Steve Wood (drums), and their brand new EP "Three Days".


"Three Days" begins with "Intro" a brief montage of string hits, pedal effects and shimmering percussion that builds to a noisy crescendo before segueing into the next track..
"Dead Behind The Eyes" opens with Flaherty laying down a deliciously distorted bass motif that is then joined by Wood's insistent drums and Milne's heavily fuzzed guitar. The songs shifting mix of heavy staccato riffs and stuttering rhythms are perfectly augmented by Milne's blend of palm muted and openly chopped chords, the guitarists warmly fuzzed tones combining with Wood's titanic percussion, Flaherty's grizzled bass and clean slightly alt/grunge vocals to create a groove that is both delicious and highly addictive.
"Tryptych" starts life all "Pablo Honey/The Bends" era Radiohead before shifting into a groove sitting somewhere between the alt/grunge of Stone Temple Pilots and the desert fuelled stoner/psych of Kyuss. managing to find a sound that incorporates elements of each into their groove yet still managing to create something fresh, exciting and totally their own.
"Pitfall" sees Kujara blending into their heavily psyched stoner refrains touches of Alice In Chains-like alt- rock atmospherics and vocal melodies, the band mixing it up between passages of dark moody grunge and raucous stonerized hard rock, utilizing quiet/loud/quiet aesthetics both vocally and musically to ramp up the songs dark seductiveness.
Title track "Three Days" closes the EP and finds Milne laying down sparse gently sweeping licks and arpeggios over Wood's lightly brushed percussion and Flaherty's low booming bass. The tempo slowly increases with the trio locking into a slightly lysergic groove before the bassist/vocalist enters. his smooth clean voice, mellow and relaxed at first, becoming louder.stronger and more strident as the groove develops. Suddenly, without any warning, we are thrown into a riff heavy doom tinted stoner jam with Milne and Flaherty chopping out  their now familiar stuttering riffs superbly supported by Wood's thunderous drumming, the three musicians taking things to a gloriously noisy and fuzzed out conclusion!


Kujara have, with "Three Days", made an EP that will not only please those of us from their grey concrete hometown of London but one that will be appreciated internationally too.
Check it out .....

Monday, 20 March 2017

ALASTOR ~ BLACK MAGIC .... review



If your a fan of gritty underground rock music then no matter where your searches take you, be it the rainforests of Brazil or the neon lit streets of the USA,  there is a high probability that your search for a gnarly groove will eventually bring you to Sweden. Whether it's dark dismal doom, raucous stoner, hard driving blues, swirling psych/space or growling black/death metal Sweden has a band that can deliver it.
Swedish doomsters Alastor cherrypick from these various underground genres and sub-genres, taking what they can use and discarding what they can't, blending what they've accumulated in a swirling assemblage of grizzly riffage and acid-laced groove that is wholly their own, as can be experienced on the bands debut EP "Black Magic" (Twin Earth Records).


"Enemy" is the first of the three songs that make up "Black Magic" and creeps menacingly out of the speakers on slow low wave of heavily distorted riffage supported by pulverising pounding percussion interspersed with occasional squealing guitar licks. The track slowly builds until the hazy, slightly distant and ethereal vocals appear, their haunting tones bringing an air of mysticism to the proceedings. The songs dark monolithic groove hardly deviates from it's meandering slow doom path throughout its eleven minutes (plus) span but this works to its advantage giving the song a feeling of impending danger and growing terror, akin to being chased in some 50's horror movie by a dishevelled monster, a leaden leg dragging behind it, that no matter how fast you try to run is still there lumbering malevolently just behind you.
"Nothing To Fear" lightens the atmosphere a shade and sees the band jamming a gnarly proto-doom groove replete with wah drenched guitar pyrotechnics and reverb soaked vocals. Those feeling of menace and foreboding experienced on the first track still remains but are ever so slightly diluted by the faster tempos and lightened but still effective sonic attack.
"Black Magic", a massive doom drenched opus stretched over fourteen minutes, blends elements of the two previous tracks and adds into those elements touches of swirling acid colouring. Basically a song of two halves "Black Magic" begins on a deliciously grizzled, mid-tempo, proto-doom groove over which hazy clean vocals are delivered, the singer smoothly stretching his vocal register to hit the songs higher notes, then segues, via a slow psych drenched passage of growling low bass and intricate percussion, into a pounding doom refrain with dark shards of guitar colouring reverberating with sustain around a repeated vocal mantra before finishing on a wave of screaming guitar and thunderous rhythm.
Heavy, hazy and humongous "Black Magic" is a stunning debut that will leave listeners hungrily begging for more.
Check it out ....

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