Tuesday, 23 May 2017

THE WICKED ONES ~ THE WICKED ONES .... review


USA President Donald Trump wanted to build a wall between the USA and Mexico, some say it was to stop the influx of drugs and illegal workers entering the country, but Desert Psychlist suggests it may well have been to stop Mexico's The Wicked Ones from corrupting the minds and ears of North America's youth with their ultra-cool retro grooves
The Wicked Ones hail from Mexico City and jam a groove that although owing a big debt to the hard rock and proto-metal of  the seventies is very much born of the stoner/psych/doom of today as can be heard on their self-titled EP "The Wicked Ones"


First track "Rising Sun" begins proto-doom style, a Sabbath-esque riff, pushed by deep thrumming bass and heavy pounding percussion, rents the very air asunder heralding the arrival of strong distinctive vocals that sit somewhere between heavy metal powerhouse and classic rock soulful, balancing the two tones on a song that encapsulates both the heavy and at its conclusion, the gentle.
"From Lust Till Dawn" finds The Wicked Ones diving headlong into proto-metal waters, utilising bluesy guitar solo's, torch-like vocals enveloped in a groove that would not have sounded out of place on a best of the 70's compilation.
"Somebody To Love" follows and these Mexican stonernauts do a great job of covering Jefferson Airplane's iconic opus while at the same time adding a little spin and flourish of their own here and there.
"Hypnotised" opens with prog flavoured vocals sang over gently sweeping arpeggios slowly building in intensity and atmosphere before exploding into the gnarly heavy rock groove that takes it to its close.
"Morning Star" announces its arrival with a brief bass flourish then erupts into a hard/classic rock refrain enhanced by powerful soaring vocals, fuzz drenched guitar solo's and a groove that could make the dead dance.

This is not cutting edge or boundary pushing music, it's not going to change the world or make you politically aware, what it will do though, as the last note fades into the ether, is leave you with a big shit eating grin on your face.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 20 May 2017

THE SONIC DAWN ~ INTO THE LONG NIGHT ...... review


America's West Coast scene was the place to be in the hippy, trippy days of the 60's, kaftans, beads and bell bottomed trousers were the uniform of the day worn by a youth movement revelling in a new found freedom that was further fuelled by freely available hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, mescaline and psilocin. The 60's also saw a major sea change in popular music with bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and The Electric Prunes all experimenting with sound, exploring new ground, mirroring those drug fuelled journey's through the windmills of their minds with a music that was devoid of boundaries a music that was full of possibilities.
Denmark's The Sonic Dawn were not around in the 60's and not even from the USA's West Coast but somehow or other these Danish psychonauts have absorbed those 60's ideals of musical freedom and experimentation and tweaked them for a 00's audience resulting in a sound that is informed by the past but targeted for the present, a sound that listeners can experience for themselves on the band's second album "Into The Long Night".


After a brief 33 second intro, interestingly entitled "Intro", featuring backward guitars, disembodied vocals and shimmering noise, we arrive at "Emily Lemmon" a stunningly beautiful mix of acid folk and psych rock enhanced by reverb soaked guitar colouring layered over a backdrop of sympathetic bass and drum rhythms around which Emil Bureau (vocals, guitar, sitar, recorder) wraps warm clean mellow vocals. The songs groove climbs and dips on a glorious rollercoaster of psychedelic dynamics that in places recalls John Cipollina's Quicksiver Messanger Service in others Roger McGuinn's The Byrds. "On The Shore" continues in much the same vein but this time around those Byrds vibes are pushed further to the fore. Jonas Waaben (drums, assorted percussion, backing vocals) lays down a funky jazz like backbeat perfectly supported by Niels 'Bird' Fuglede's warm liquid bass lines over which Bureau delivers a mixture of wah drenched and chiming guitar colouring as well as providing another warmly effective vocal.  "As Of Lately" raises the tempo and sees Bureau getting a little grittier vocally as he channels the spirit of Dick Dale through his guitar, reverb drenched notes hanging in the air, dripping with echo over Waaben and Fuglede's insistent rhythmic foundation. "Six Seven" and "Numbers Blue" finds The Sonic Dawn finding their "mojo" and injecting a little bluesy swagger into their trippy acid grooves with the former a slow blues enhanced by subtle keyboard colouring (courtesy of Eric "Errka" Petersson) and the latter a psych drenched, acid tinted country blues taken to another level by a guitar solo not dissimilar to that of Roger McGuinn's on The Byrds iconic "Eight Miles High". Next tracks "Lights Left On" and "l'Espion" finds the band mixing introspective Lennon and McCartney type vocal melodies over mellow psychedelic grooves touched by elements of jazz-like fusion. "Summer Voyage" raises the mood and jams a groove that takes in influences from both eastern and western  musical culture, the song taking off on psychedelic voyages of discovery with Bureau singing achingly beautiful melodies while swapping between sitar and traditional guitar, his stringed forays superbly backed up by Waaben and Fuglede's intricate rhythmic accompaniment.


Heady, trippy with a big 60's vibe The Sonic Dawn's "Into The Long Night" references that early "West Coast Sound" so loved by many but is not defined by it, the band add a 00's twist to those lysergic grooves of old and bring them up to date for a new generation,
Check 'em out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jomes

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

SUMMONER ~ BEYOND THE REALM OF LIGHT .... review


Boston's Summoner seemed to tap into something when they decided to change their name from Riff Cannon to its current title, why this is no one knows but it appeared to spur the band on to greater heights and saw them releasing two stunningly good albums in 2012's "Phoenix" and 2013's "Atlantian" both of which were warmly embraced by the underground press and fans alike
.The band are now back to entertain and amaze with their third album "Beyond The Realm Of Light" (Magnetic Eye Records).


So what do you get for your money this time around? Well nothing much as changed, Summoner are still slaying all before them with their addictive grooves of molten metallic stoner, still blending heavily fuzzed and distorted riffage with intense vocal melodies and still managing to sound fresh and vital. If there is something new to be found in Summoner's sonic attack it is that there is a little more focus, a touch more musicality and a stronger emphasis on arrangement to be found in their highly addictive sound. Songs like. the gloriously rifftastic. "The Huntress", the melancholy and prog-ish. "The Emptiness" and the epic and atmospheric closing track "Into Oblivion", although still retaining the intensity and drive of  previous work are imbued with a newly found sense of adventure and experimentation, the band unafraid to go out on a limb on occasions, flexing their musical muscles, going off on a tangent here and there but never losing sight of the groove.
If you enjoyed "Phoenix" and "Atlantian" then your gonna love "Beyond The Realm Of Light", it's like someone buying you your favourite pizza opening the box and finding its got extra topping.
Check it out ....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 11 May 2017

SAVANAH ~ THE HEALER .... review


Austria's Savanah blew everyone's minds when in 2015 they released their debut album "Deep Shades" a stunning collection of grooves that garnered plaudits from bloggers, journalists and music fans from across the globe. Well two years after that iconic album Savanah are back ready to re-blow those minds and a few more besides with their second album "The Healer" (StoneFree Records).


"Intro" a short  51 second piece consisting of howling feedback and droning effects is used as a gateway into the next track
"Mind"  is a stunning mixture of riff heavy stoner bluster and laid back psych all coated in warm clean vocal melodies, the band switching back and forth between the two dynamics and along the way visiting a plethora of differing grooves, tempos and time signatures.
"The Healer" follows, it's initial stoner doom groove of heavy crunching riffage and monotonic vocal tones is broken up by sudden bursts of feral energy with banshee-like guitar wailing,  growling bass tones and ferocious drums all creating a raucous heavily psyched groove before the band dive headlong back into the murky doom to start the whole process all over again.
"Pillars of Creation" an instrumental, sees Savanah jamming a hazy desert/psych groove that builds layer by glorious layer until exploding into a heavy psychedelic freak out replete with soaring guitar solo's and dusty desert rhythmic splendour, it goes to prove those nights sharing stages with the likes of Colour Haze and Seven That Spells didn't go to waste.
"Black Widow" initially follows a similar sandy path to the previous track but then takes a sudden left into harder, darker territory with the refrains and rhythms getting a little menacing and  the vocals taking on a darker more mournful edge. Leaning close to doom in places the song is pulled back from the edge of the pit by the band going off on delicious tangents into desert, psych and even a little lysergic funkiness.
"Panoramic View Of Stormy Weather" closes the album and finds Savanah fully embracing those Colour Haze influences touched on earlier with twisty liquid bass lines and intricate percussion laying a foundation for the guitarist to paint lysergic portraits with his six-string palette. This is not Colour Haze though, this is Savanah and its not long before they wrench the warmly fuzzed groove back and move it into darker, doomier regions, the band hitting into a crunching, stuttering  doom riff overlaid with powerful gritty vocals  enhanced by soaring guitar solo's over a foundation of grizzled bass and powerhouse drumming. Just as your getting down and dirty, nodding your head and throwing horns to the dark, dank doom Savanah once again pull the rug from under you and the listener is transported from the dank doomy darkness back into a multi-coloured world of  lysergic splendour, the band taking the song to its conclusion on wave of intense psychedelic groove that sits somewhere between Earthless and Elder but still retains a sound that is wholly Savanah.


I could finish this review with a whole paragraph of reasons why you should  buy/hear "The Healer" and none of them would do justice to the molten grooves of doom, desert and psych the band deliver on these six gloriously schizophrenic songs, so your just gonna have to hit the link below and check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 8 May 2017

BETWEEN THE LINES ~ BETWEEN THE LINES ....review


Ireland's Between The Lines description of themselves as "a diverse rock and heavy band from Galway exploring light and darkness", is one that is hard not to agree with, the bands blend of alt/grunge and heavy psych/stoner dynamics textured with post-rock complexity is a groove that most certainly has one foot in the shadows and the other in the sunlight, as can be witnessed on the bands self-tiled album "Between The Lines".


First track "Rumour" begins sparse and atmospheric with shimmering percussion, liquid bass and guitar arpeggios gently supporting a wordless choral melody before a circular fuzzed refrain appears slowly growing in volume until the rest of the band join in and the song takes off into a gritty hard rocking stoner groove that shifts up and down through a series differing riff fuelled dynamics coated in strong clean and effective vocals.
"All Free" is next up and jams a rolling guitar refrain backed by a massive drum and bass backdrop enhanced with clever touches of lead guitar colouring that erupts from the speakers with feral furiosity that only lets up when the vocalist finally bringing things to a close on the poignant and unaccompanied vocal line "You will"
"Sands of Time" sees Between The Lines embracing their prog-ish ,post-rock side while at the same time sprinkling elements of doom and space into the proceedings. Startling and atmospheric it's a fine example of a band who are not prepared to just live and die by the ferocity of their riffage but one who want/need to stretch out into other areas and are unafraid to do so.
"For Your Sanity" finds the band blending into their heavily fuzzed post-rock grooves a touch of alt/grunge dynamics, weaving them around truly stunning vocal melodies and harmonies underpinned by thunderous rhythmic backdrops and taken to another level by swirling guitar motifs and crunching riffage.
"Southern Steel" follows, it's crunching chords and swirling guitar motif's, delivered over a foundation of grizzled low bass and tribalistic percussion, are drenched in  a swathe of gnarly eastern promise into which a mix of gritty and smooth vocal tones and harmonies are expertly woven.
"Shellshock" sees Between The Lines changing tack slightly and heading in a  more stoner/hard rock direction albeit one informed by a darker more post-rock approach..
Lastly comes "Sleep" a song that sees Between The Lines once again dipping their toes into the waters of eastern mysticism. The song builds layer by layer with gently swept arpeggios, sitar-like guitar effects and intricate bass and drum rhythms supporting a smooth mellow clean vocal, the song gradually building momentum bothy musically and vocally until exploding into gnarled heavy psych groove in the last quarter and then fading out in the same sparse and atmospheric fashion the band used to open the album.
Melodic, metallic and marvellous "Between The Lines" is an album that deserves to be heard outside of the niche sometimes "insular" market of the rock underground, this is music and sound that has the potential to appeal to much wider audience, whether that will happen or not only time will tell.
Check it out ......


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 7 May 2017

BALEFUL CREED ~ SEISMIC SHIFTER ..... review


Northern Ireland's Baleful Creed have been strutting their brand of gritty stonerized hard rock and bluesy metal around the halls and clubs of  Belfast since their formation in 2009 going on to release three well received EP's "Killing Time" (2011), "Buried Underneath"(2012) and "III"(2013) as well as one full album (consisting of remixed, re -mastered  song from the two later EP's) simply titled "Baleful Creed".
The band, Fin Finlay (vocals / guitar), John Allen (guitar), Davy Greer (bass / vocals) and Dave Jeffers (drums) are about to release their second full length album "Seismic Shifter".


Baleful Creed state their influences as Danzig, Fireball Ministry and Black Sabbath and although elements of all three of those bands can be heard throughout "Seismic Shifter" the thing that hits you most is the bluesy undercurrent that flows beneath each and every one of the albums ten songs. From the southern rock tinted swagger of opener "Devil's Side" ,via the lascivious sexual innuendo  of  "Grind" and the groove laden bluster of "Memento Mori", with it's big grizzly bass line, to the epic closer " The Wolf", Baleful Creed coat everything in a swathe of bluesy hues.
Although "Seismic Shifter" is informed by the blues it would be wrong to call it a "blues album" nor could you class it as "blues rock" or even "heavy rock", a term that would imply there were brutish elements to be found, no what Baleful Creed bring to the table is good old fashioned "hard rock" with a strong leaning towards its stoner cousin, a sound bathed in fuzz and drenched in groove.
At the core of Baleful Creed's sound is the twin guitar attack of Finlay and Allen, the six-string duo lay down a barrage of crunching fuzz drenched riffage and soaring solo's, with the former's gritty rasp adding an extra level of stoner rock authenticity to the mix ,the pair pushed hard from beneath by Greer's luscious bass noodling's and Jeffers powerful mix of intricate and powerful percussion, the four musicians combining to create furiously addictive grooves that are not only highly enjoyable but rock so hard they could be registered on a Richter scale.


Over the years there's been some great music coming out of Northern Ireland, Gary Moore, Them, Therapy? and The Answer are just a few who have made considerable waves outside of their homeland base and if Baleful Creed play their cards right and all the planets align there's a chance they could do the same
Check 'em out ....

Saturday, 6 May 2017

BENEATH THE DIVINE ~ WICKED RESURRECTION ... review


From Chepstow, a little town in Monmouthshire,Wales, known more for it's racecourse than it's music, come a band who in their own words "Enjoying making noise and keeping life stress free", four guys who collectively fly under the banner Beneath The Divine,  four guys who have just released their first full length album "Wicked Resurrection".


It's hard to name a style or genre of heavy metal that does not, somewhere or other, raise it's elaborately horned head into view over the duration of "Wicked Resurrection's" eight gnarled and grizzled songs. Doom; stoner, traditional and epic mix together with metal; old school, power and proto and are fused together with elements of swampy sludge, hard rock and even a little ferocious thrash, these elements appearing sometimes all in the same song, sometimes separately,  Songs with titles like "Odin's Law", "Swamp King and "Phoenix Rising" are infused with a variety of differing dynamics, tempo's time signatures and tones ensuring that although some of the song's theme's of mythology, witchcraft and the occult, may seem a little generic they never ever sound stale or boring. Guitarist Kev Stait brings a plethora of fuzzed and distorted tones to the table, crunching out saw toothed riffage one minute, the next peeling scorching note perfect solo's from his fretboard, beneath him Tim Evans holds down the bottom end with big grizzly booming bass lines locking in perfectly with drummer Barney Haskey's mix of intricate and brutal percussion. Frontman Jason Hamilton Davies' vocals puts the icing on the cake , the singer deliberately avoids the usual growling, demonic approach that seems to be the norm these days instead opting for clarity over possession, his powerful clean, clear tones soaring and swooping over the perfectly executed grooves laid beneath him, voice and music combining in a heady mix of glorious heavy rock bluster and scintillating metallic groove.


"Wicked Resurrection" is a superb debut from a band who's manifesto  of delivering  familiar themes over diverse metallic grooves has definitely got Desert Psychlist's vote and hopefully will have yours too
Check it out.....



© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 5 May 2017

BLACKBIRD HILL ~ MIDDAY MOONLIGHT ..... review


Alexis Dartiguelongue (guitar/vocals) and Maxime Conan (drums/vocals) are Blackbird Hill, a duo from Bordeaux, France with a love of Delta blues, Americana and good old rock'n'roll. The pair blend these elements together in a heady mix on their new release "Midday Moonlight" that although at times sits a little left of Desert Psychlist's usual remit of stoner/doom & psych nonetheless has a sound that the Psychlist believes is worthy of your attention.


"Trigger Law" kicks things off and dives headfirst into the blues with an initial burst of heavily fuzzed guitar and thunderous percussion that then makes way for a slower laid back country blues groove that sees Conan's tubthumping percussion supporting Dartiguelongue's clean, clear  vocal and gently picked guitar, slowly building, via a section of old school rock'n'roll with the guitarist/vocalist tailoring his tones accordingly, into a massive heavy blues finale.
"Horseback Sight" sees Blackbird Hill laying out on a slow wistful blues fractured by moments of heavy riffage that sees Dartiguelongue delivering emotive vocals over a mixture of sparse and heavy guitar colouring around a backdrop of sympathetic and tight drum work.
"Run Like Mad" jams a skiffle-like groove over which Conan and Dartiguelongue sing clean but gritty harmonies, the upbeat tempo pushed by Conan's insistant percussion recalling the crepe shoed refrains of  defunct New York rockers The Stray Cats.
"Stories From The Road" finds Blackbird Hill delving into  Americana territory and sees Dartiguelongue delivering beautifully clear and clean vocals over gently picked arpeggios, superbly backed up by Conan's shimmering percussion and occasional vocal harmonies.
"Hold Your Fire" has Blackbird Hill cranking up the fuzz and diving headlong into a more stonerized blues groove, albeit more blues than stoner.
Title track "Midday Moonlight" jams a heavier Zeppelin-esque groove with Dartiguelongue's vocals taking on a harsher,grittier tone beneath which he delivers thick distorted chords of fuzz drenched guitar enhanced by fiery licks and fills pushed hard by Conan's thunderous and precise drumming.
Blackbird Hill's "Midday Moonlight" is at it's core a blues album but a blues album informed by a variety of differing influences and genres and is an album that, whether your a stoner, a doomer or a metalhead, should be enjoyed for what it is ...damn fine music.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 4 May 2017

CYBERNETIC WITCH CULT ~ TROGLODITHIC TRIP ......review


First things first... Cybernetic Witch Cult's "Troglodithic Trip" is not exactly a brand new album,containing as it does songs previously released on the bands iconic demo "Morelock Rock" plus two brand new recordings. The band have re-worked re-imagined and re-recorded four of "Morlock Rock's" strongest cuts  and in doing so have re-invigorated them both sonically and dynamically for a new audience.
 

"Troglodithic Trip" kicks off with the first of it's two new songs "Sagittarius A*" a scorching missive rolled out on a wave of fuzz and wah drenched bass and guitar riffage driven hard by "new boy" Lewis May's furious percussion. Alex Wylde (guitar/vocals) pours over these thrumming tomes of spacey heaviness throaty clean vocals telling tales of space travel and cosmic exploration, his slightly sneered tones a perfect fit to the cosmic ferocity of the songs addictive groove. If your not already familiar with what Cybernetic Witch Cult do then this song is the perfect introduction to their space tinted rock'n'roll or as the band so eloquently state in the songs lyrics "Sagittarius A* will make you feel alright".
Second song "Astrogalactic Sprites" in it's previous incarnation came across a little confused and unfocused, it was still a great song but suffered from not being sure if it was Guns'n'Roses or Hawkwind, here though it stands polished and gleaming it's previously mellow vocal harmonies swapped for a grittier, more stoner orientated vocal attack, it's muddied chugging groove now a swathe of crunching chainsaw fuzz underpinned by Kale Dean's (now) throbbing bass lines and May's sharp(er) percussion.
"Cult of the Druid" is the second of the two new songs  and begins with Dean laying out a grizzly heavily distorted bass motif that is then joined by Wylde's warmly fuzzed guitar and May's drums.
After a little bass/riff interplay the trio move into a stuttering heavy stoner groove coated in gritty, gruff vocal tones and enhanced with touches of wah pedal colouring before taking things to a close with Wylde's guitar screaming over a backdrop of deep thrumming bass and stunningly executed and almost robotic percussion.
"Forbidden Fruit", "Human" and " Tyrannosaurus Hex" follow, all refugees from the bands 2015 demo, washed up on the shores of "Troglodithic Trip" to find themselves fuller sounding, fuller focused with a heavier aggressive feel and a darker grittier edge both vocally and musically. All three benefit from the albums crisper production but it's not just the production that has re-invigorated these "older" tunes there is a tightness but also a swing to these grooves that can only come from constant practice and the honing of chops in a live environment, three musicians coming together as a working unit rather than individually skilled technicians occupying the same space.
If you come to "Troglodithic Trip" having already fallen in love with "Morlock Rock" and thinking "why should I invest my time and money in an album that I already own most of and with only two new songs"? Well the answer is in your own ears, compare those demo recordings with those here and you will find the only reason to go back and listen to "Morlock Rock" is for those songs that did not get a makeover. However if you are new to the band  "Troglodithic Trip" will have you wondering why you arrived so late to the party
Check it out ....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

SMOKE MOUNTAIN ~ SMOKE MOUNTAIN EP .... review


Slow. low and heavy is the manifesto on which  Floridian doomsters Smoke Mountain base their claim for world domination,  the Tallahassee trio comprised of Sarah Pitt (vocals), Lee Pitt (guitar) and Brian Pitt (drums) have just released their self-titled debut EP "Smoke Mountain", three cloudy grooves of fuzz drenched doom from America's Sunshine State.


"Demon" opens with a short sound byte, its narrative telling of witches and witchcraft in today's society before slowly fading and making way for a chugging, insistent proto-doom groove furnished with twisty, dark, fuzz drenched licks and motif's driven by pulverising powerful percussion. Over this wall of  stoner doom heaviness Sarah Pitt delivers strong, slightly monotone vocal melodies telling slightly tongue in cheek tales of  an "evil demon" and having "no mercy for the broken bitch" her voice resolute and strong, soaring with dark, almost ethereal, tones over the maelstrom of riffs and rhythms surrounding them.
"Violent Night" puts the brakes on a touch and sees Smoke Mountain hitting a heavier Sleep like groove with fuzz pedals dialled down to devastation levels beneath which are deployed a barrage of heavy pounding percussion. S.Pitt's vocal mirrors the songs heavier vibe by dropping down into a slightly lower register her dark sultry tones taking on an air of mournfulness as she soars over the sombre doom grooves reverberating all around her.
Heralded by a wall of howling feedback before moving into a slow, low heavy doom refrain  final track "Smoke Mountain" once again sees Smoke Mountain employing Sleep-like refrains of slowed down sabbathian groove. Backed by  Brian Pitt's tumultuous drumming and Lee Pitt's crunching, heavily fuzzed guitar riffage Sarah Pitt shows just why the female voice is currently experiencing such a resurgence in underground rock music circles, her powerful monochrome tinted tones echo over and around the layers of cloyingly intense doom served up by her namesakes, and give the songs almost nursery rhymes-ish melodies an ethereal, ghostly feel that many male singer would struggle to replicate.


A little raw in places but with enough promise to have you drooling and salivating for the release of a full album "Stoner Mountain" is an EP you really need to check out .....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 1 May 2017

BLACK HAZE ~ BLACK HAZE ...review


Playing what they describe as "a mixture of fluffy doom and groove laden rock" Germany's Black Haze have, with their mixture of alt/grunge and good old fashioned hard rock and stonerized doom , caused a small ripple of appreciation to reverberate across the murky waters of the doom/stoner & psych scene. The band who were formed in Rostock, Germany in 2014 have just recently released their debut album "Black Haze" via Bandcamp and for a relatively new band its surprisingly good, if not a little bit brilliant!


"Senor Major Mustache" opens Black Haze's account with a juicy up-tempo rocker fuelled by crunching guitar riffage  and pushed by an engine room of big throbbing bass and solid, tight powerful drums. Over this tornado of gritty hard rock bluster and stoner groove are then delivered vocals of equal size and magnitude by front man and occasional second guitarist Danny Borealis whose voice, an instrument in its own right, is richer and deeper than you would usually expect within this genre but has a grittiness of tone and timbre that sits perfectly within the grooves the rest of the band so expertly supply around it.
"Devil's High" enters astride a wall of fuzz then segues into jagged but atmospheric doom tinted stoner groove with the vocalist alternating between smooth low crooning and deep, full on, gritty roaring against a backdrop of intricate rhythmic might and soaring guitar work.
"A King Is Born" sees Black Haze jamming a slightly lysergic groove enhanced by heavily effected guitar colouring over a foundation of subtly shifting rhythmic dynamics mirrored by Borealis' massive vocals.
"Sun" finds the band in a more reflective  mood with Borealis telling of "green deserts" and "praying to Heaven on my knees"  while at the same time supplying an acoustic guitar foundation around which main guitarist Tommy (second name unknown) injects little touches of electric six-string colouring and texture, perfectly backed up by Felix Wagner's liquid bass lines and Benni Koch's intricate and precise percussion. The song slowly builds in tempo and atmosphere reaching a crescendo around the three quarter mark then gently falling away to finish as it started.
"Sixty Lies" comes straight outta the blocks with the guitars laying down a circular hard rock refrain that then shifts into a fractured and slightly sparse groove overlaid with a strong vocals and is underpinned by a superb gnarled Wagner bass line and Koch's slightly Teutonic percussion before gradually moving through the gears and finishing with Borealis'  roared vocal taking it to the close.
"Dreamseller" and "The Dirt" follow, the first a massive hard rocker replete with big vocals, big riffs and bigger rhythms, the second a more laid back. torch-like song enhanced by shifting musical dynamics and elements of  both psych and prog texturing.
"Catch The Ride" closes the album and begins with Tommy laying down a U2-like guitar motif over which the vocalist wordlessly croons before moving into more alt/grunge territory on a low key, almost mainstream rock groove. with the frontmen singing of "promises I don't wanna break". Although not as heavy or as downright nasty as the previous tracks it nevertheless shows a band who are not just a riff machine but one that if they ever decided to go down a more commercial route have the chops and songwriting skills to do so.
Check them out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

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.
"Enteƶgeno", 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