Friday, 26 May 2017
Mushrooms or "shrooms" have long been associated with spirituality, shamanism and the occult. the humble fungi used as a medium to facilitate mystical journeys of enlightenment and spiritual awareness. It is no wonder then that Swedish exponents of hazy lysergic doom Void Commander use this hallucinogenic wonder of nature as the loose theme and concept around which they have written and recorded their debut album "Shrooming Widow".
If you had to visualise doom as a season then it is more than likely that you would opt for the stark, dark coldness of a long hard winter or maybe even fall/autumn when the leaves slowly die and fall to the ground, it is less likely that you would pick summer with it's brightness, heat and feel good factor for your minds eye's musical backdrop for what is essentially a very dark orientated genre. Sweden's Void Commander however do not buy into this concept, the trio from Karlskrona, consisting of Bobby K (guitar/vocals), Linus O (bass) and Jimmy J (drums), fill their acid soaked riffs of heaviness with a hazy lysergic vibe that, although ticking all the relevant boxes of low, slow and heavy riffage and pounding rhythm, possesses a warmth and glow that sits perfectly with long hot days of summer sunshine. Songs with titles like "Acid Queen", "Tongue Whip of the Alien Mothership", "Cough Medicine" and "Need More Wine" brim over with fuzz and wah drenched guitar colouring pushed hard by grizzled bassitude and complex percussive rhythms over which laid back mellow vocal tones and occasional bluesy harmonica are delivered, these elements all combining to create a sound and groove that although has Its feet planted firmly in the dark soil of doom has it's head in the heady clouds of the psychedelic.
"Shrooming Widow" is an album you can throw horns to, headbang to or even your stroke your beard in quiet contemplation to while sitting in the confines of your darkened bedroom, it is also an album you can relax to while lounging in the sun drinking beer, drawing on a big fat one and eating from a BBQ.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Check it out.....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 5 May 2017
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
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
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
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