Wednesday, 18 July 2018

LàGOON ~ L'AFFAIRE DES POISONS ...review


Back in the day, when this writer still had a full head of hair and aches only lasted a day, duos only came in the form of acoustic folk artists and bluesmen, then along came The White Stripes with their electric guitar and drums combination and suddenly amplified electric duos were everywhere. Nowadays it is almost as common to find a two man,/two women,/mixed sex duo strutting their stuff  on the rock scene as it is the more traditional quartets and trio's. The underground doom/stoner scene, never a place to fall behind a trend, has had its fair share of duos in recent years with Iowa's Telekinetic Yeti and Seattle's Year of the Cobra leading the way, both bands creating huge walls of sound with minimum instrumentation.
One of the latest pairings to take up the duo torch and run with it are the Portland, Oregon twosome Anthony Gaglia (guitar/vocals) and Brady Maurer (drums) who have just released their second full release "L'affaire de Poisons" under the collective name of LàGoon.


For just two people LàGoon create a hell of a lot of noise, Gaglia's thick and sticky guitar refrains thrum and growl like an overloaded power cable on the verge of tearing apart while Maurer hits everything in sight with a ferocity that is almost primal. The bands sound falls somewhere between doomic low and slow and punkish aggression, the duo jamming grooves that although are heavy do not fall into the trap of being overly brutal and are balanced out by Gaglia's sneering and snotty vocals, the guitarists tones reminiscent of those found fronting many of NewYork's aspiring new wave /punk bands in the early to mid 70's. LàGoon demonstrate with "L'affaire des Poisons" that not only do they have the necessary musical chops to please the riff lovers and groove guru's out there but also that they have the songs into which they can insert those chops. Songs with titles like "Street Freaks", "Kill The Messenger" and "Distant Enemy" fizz and pop with a punkish energy yet are underscored with a dark doomic undercurrent that makes each song swing as much as it disturbs. Imagine, if you can the Stooges stripped down to a two piece jamming Kyuss songs and you might just get a grasp of what LàGoon are all about.


LàGoon's blustering fuzz drenched rock, with its doomic underbelly and garage rock attitude, is both highly enjoyable and strangely addictive and given that this is just two men with a guitar and a drum kit it is also deceptively and suprisingly loud and heavy.
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

#Vinyl format through Norwegian Blue Records is planned for release in October 2018

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

THE GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST ~ CHAPTER II: OF EARTH ..... review


If there was an award for the hardest working band in rock music then San Diego, California riff merchants The Great Electric Quest have got to be considered as serious contenders, there doesn't seem a day goes by without hearing about them ripping up the stage at some venue somewhere or other in the USA. With their unbelievable work ethic and busy touring schedule you would think it pretty difficult for such a hard working band to actually find the time to head into the studio and record a new album, luckily for us that is exactly what they have managed to do, the results of which can be heard on "Chapter II: Of Earth".(Totem Cat Records)


Rock'n'roll should be fun, yes it should be sometimes intense, questioning and thought provoking just not all the time, for every Rush there should be a T.Rex, for every Dream Theatre a Motorhead and for every YOB a The Great Electric Quest. There is a sense of ballsy hell for leather attitude about what TGEQ do, a feeling that even if the apocalypse was predicted for tomorrow these guys would be planning for the after party. This feeling of "joie de vivre" is reflected throughout the seven songs on "Chapter II: Of Earth", it can be found in the tribal driven and WAH drenched "Seeker of the Flame", in the drum and guitar showcase that is "Of Earth: Episode 1" and even in the torch like dynamics of "Heart of the Sun". These guys have come a long way since their 2016 debut album "Chapter 1" and have matured both as songwriters and musicians, where on their debut there was a tendency for the band to overplay their hand instrumentally here the emphasis is on playing for the song instead of despite of it. Guitar god in the making Buddy Donner reins in his shredding chops on "Chapter II..." and plays more "inside" the songs on offer, the guitarist, along with his usual finger blurring solos and tasteful licks, bringing elements of both texture and colour to the table. The biggest surprise of "Chapter II..." however comes in the shape of Tyler "TSweat" Dingvell's vocals, always an impressive vocalist here Dingvell takes things to the next level, smooth and rich on less abrasive songs like "The Madness" commanding and powerful with a gritty edge on the more metallic songs like "Anubis"and "Wicked Hands" he brings an added level of gravitas to each songs lyrics on "Chapter II..." and gives his best studio performance to date. Driving these grooves of stonerized hard rock and classic rock/metal are Daniel "Muchodrums" Velasco (drums) and Jared Bliss (bass) the pair expertly supporting Donner and Dingvell's fretboard and vocal pyrotechnics with array of pulverising  metallic groove and laid back rhythmic dynamics, locking in with the vocalist and guitarist to complete what is a very tasty musical jigsaw.


TGEQ hold quite a unique place in today's underground scene the San Diego quartet are neither a fuzz drenched stoner outfit, a retro classic rock combo or a heavy metal band yet at the same time they are all of these things, the band standing at a crossroads where all these genres meet, cherrypicking what they need from each and blending them into an enthralling hybrid that is part nostalgic and part fresh and new. "Chapter II: Of Earth" is an album that shows a band moving in the right direction, maturing in both writing and arrangement yet maintaining their sense of fun by not getting overly complicated and intense,  a band still preparing for the end of the world by ordering another round of drinks
Check it out …

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 15 July 2018

MAN IN THE WOODS ~ BADLANDS: PART 1 ....... review


Almost dead centre between Northern Ireland and England, surrounded by the cold waters of the Irish Sea, lies an island, an island with a mix of both Nordic and Celtic heritage, an island the locals know as "Manx", an island we from the outside know as the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man has never been much known for its musical exports, its only claim to musical fame being that all three of the Bee Gees were born there, but that might all be about to change with the emergence of a four piece Manx quartet going by the name Man in the WoodsMarc Vincent (bass/vocals, James Oxtoby (guitar), Dave Murray (guitar) and Christian Hardman (drums),who have just released their debut EP "Badlands: Part 1".


The addition of "Part 1" to this EP's title suggests to Desert Psychlist there is a distinct possibility of a future "Part 2" and that, readers, is the first piece of good news in a review brimming over with good news. Ok we are getting a little ahead of ourselves here so lets take a moment and examine why the prospect of another release from a band who have only just released their debut is such a mouth-watering prospect.
Shimmering guitar arpeggios picked over a backdrop of thrumming bass introduce first track "Icarus Landing"  going slightly askew and dissonant as the song progresses then fading away briefly before reappearing, drums in tow, to explode into a huge sludgy desert groove overlaid with big throaty vocals. The songs aggressive, full on attack, tempered by Oxtoby and Murray's deft guitar work and driven by Vincent and Hardman's bass and drums, has a dynamic somewhere between heavy desert rock and swampy sludge and sits probably closer to the latter mainly due to Vincent's big throaty vocals, the bassist/vocalist sounding on occasions like a pissed off bear with a toothache. Next track "Speedeater" sees Man in the Woods initially jamming an up-tempo stoner/desert groove but as the song progresses this gradually makes way, mid section, for a dark doomic interlude that finds Hardman laying down an almost tribal beat over low, droning bass and guitars before the song returns full circle to it's desert root to take things to the close. "Toxicology" is up next and its cloth is cut a little slower and a little less in your face than its predecessor with Vincent telling us "I'm no good" over a low, but not slow, backdrop of grizzled bass and crashing percussion fractured with swirling dark guitar colouring, the song dropping down mid song  into a short but totally effective lysergic groove before exploding back into life for the finale. Final song "Angel of Gasoline" goes straight for the throat, the song taking "Badlands: Part 1" to its close on waves of raucous circular riffage, hard edged rhythms and screaming guitar solos all topped off by Vincent's meaty,rasping vocal tones.


There is a bridge on the Isle of Man that is known as the "Fairy Bridge" and to cross this bridge without first greeting the fairies is said to bring bad luck. Well if this legend has any grain of truth in it then Man in the Woods must have, before going into the studio to record "Badlands: Part 1", not only said hello to these magical folk but also given them an almighty hearty hug.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 14 July 2018

LOGGERHEAD ~ DEPTHS ...review


With "Ancient Squid, toothed whales and giant sharks" listed as an interest and the fact they call themselves a "nautical sludge metal band" who play "salted sludge doom" it is not hard to fathom (see what we did there) that Alabama's Loggerhead have a bit of an obsession with all things maritime, this obsession manifests itself throughout the bands debut release "Depths" so let's get to the bottom of it (sorry couldn't resist).


The reason many of us are reluctant to go swimming in the seas around out respective shorelines may have a lot to do with the subject of Loggerhead's first track on "Depths" a little atmospheric sea shanty going by the name of "Carcharodon" a song that extolls the hunting skills, patience and efficiency of that stealthiest of marine predators the humble shark. The song begins with ominous swirling effect and shimmering percussion that then segues into a chugging low, slow groove overlaid with a clean vocal that is parts narrated, parts sang. "Dark shapes wander, peacefully,shark dives under, patiently" sings the vocalist describing the act of predation on an unsuspecting herd of seals and never was an  act of nature caught so perfectly in a heavy rock/metal context. Instrumental "Spermaceti" follows it's glistening arpeggios and restrained percussion augmented by swirling synths and cellos slowly builds layer by layer and seems to be heading towards some sort of noisy crescendo but then suddenly and unexpectedly flickers out on a wave of drone. "Architeuthis" picks up where the previous track left off mirroring the tranquillity and solitude of the deep oceans with a laid back and atmospheric post-rock/metal groove, again we are greeted by those half sang, half spoken vocals this time telling a tale of the elusive Giant Squid, a "red creature without face" against a backdrop of reverberating guitar, low grizzled bass and gentle percussion that sporadically erupts into heavy sludge as each verse reaches its lyrical peak. The songs groove then takes a dramatic turn into even heavier territory to represent the appearance of a whale in the Giant's story and perfectly captures, in music, the life and death battle for survival that then ensues. The albums last two songs "The Wretched Sea" and "Feeding Frenzy" are just as cinematic as those  preceding them with the former a tale of the valour, gore, cruelty, excitement and fear of a whale hunt and the latter, an enthralling mix of intense heavy sludge and doomic prog, that tells the tale of when the hunters becoming the hunted.


Stephen Speilberg's "Jaws" was a huge hit in its day but when you look back on it now it seems dated and frankly a bit laughable, however one scene that always sticks in peoples minds is the one where the three shark hunters are sitting below deck telling tall stories and comparing scars and the talk comes around to Robert Shaw's character telling his tale of surviving the shark infested waters of the Pacific after the USS Indianapolis was sunk in 1945, it is a scene that is spine tingling, intense and leaves a long lasting impression. It is the same feeling Desert Psychlist felt after listening to Loggerheads "Depths"
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 13 July 2018

GREEN DRAGON ~ GREEN DRAGON ....... review


New Jersey's Green Dragon are not exactly what you would call a "traditional" band, the band don't play live and the music they make together does not really reflect the "hardcore" backgrounds each member comes from or explores in their own respective bands. Green Dragon, Jennifer Klein (bass), Ryan Lipynsky (guitar), Nathan Wilson (drums) and Zack Kurland (guitar/vocals), came together through a series of "happy" accidents and two members mutual appreciation of Deep Purple to just play some tunes together in a basement and occasionally release the results. This lackadaisical approach may have you thinking that Green Dragon don't take what they are doing together too seriously but after listening to their first full album "Green Dragon" you just might want to think again.


Green Dragon's whole reason for being was to get together and just play some "rock" and with their first "official" release that is exactly what they have achieved. The band list a long line of influences and inspirations that stretch the whole rock spectrum, from the Beatles and T.Rex to Agnostic Front and Bathory, but to their credit Green Dragon do not try to sound like any of their heroes, the band cleverly avoiding that whole "retro" trap by using those influences as an essence rather than a blueprint for what they do. First track "Eternal Pyre" serves as a fine example, here we have a title that screams Sabbath and although their are "sabbathian" elements to be found here the overall impression is one of heavy psych with element of shoegaze-ish colouring, an element made all the more prominent by Kurland's slightly phased and clean vocal delivery. On "Poison Finger" the band jam a groove not dissimilar to that executed by Canadian cult psychonauts Quest For Fire, in their heavier moments, but then they confuse the issue by going off on bluesy, guitar swirling hard rock tangent to take things to the close. "Dark Rider" on the other hand is as schizophrenic as it is brilliant, the song shifting back and forth between contemplative tranquillity and swaggering lysergic aggression before suddenly heading off to its finale on a proto-doomic chugging gallop. "Dead Space" closes the album and as its title suggests finds Green Dragon bringing a cosmic, spacey vibe to the table, nothing is straightforward in Green Dragon's world however and  the band cut and paste a little doomic shading just beneath its surface just to keep things interesting.


"Green Dragon" is a superb debut from a band who although only get together occasionally to jam some "rock" have, either by accident or design, stumbled upon a magical formulae for something quite exciting and special.
Check it out ….


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 12 July 2018

KINGNOMAD ~ THE GREAT NOTHING ....... review


Around five or six years ago a new sub-genre of rock/metal started to make its presence felt in and around the underground scene, a sound inspired by the dark witch/warlock lyricism and heavy psychedelic music leanings of 70's cult bands like Coven and Black Widow blended with elements of today's doom, hard/classic rock and in some cases pop . Some began calling this sound "occult rock" and some called it "spectral doom". This new(ish) sound was first spearheaded by European bands like Holland's The Devil's Blood, Germany's Blood Ceremony and England's Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats but has since rapidly spread further afield. Today it is hard, while searching the internet for new music, not to come across at least one or two bands with an occult rock flavouring especially since the emergence of Sweden's occult torchbearers Ghost.
It is in Sweden that we find the subject of this review, a four piece band going by the name of Kingnomad,  Mr Jay (guitars and vocals), Mano (drums), Marcus – (guitars and psychedelia) and Maximilian (bass and backing vocals),who have just released their new album "The Big Nothing" on Ripple Music Records and are a band whose sound contains elements and traces of all of those bands mentioned above but mixes with them something a little unique and magical of their own.

  
"The Yoga of Desolation" introduces "The Great Nothing" with a brief barbershop style vocal that segues then into "Cosmic Serpent" a diverse mix of spacey stoner rock blended with elements of 70's flavoured prog. Strangely it is the former song that sets the tone for the latter and for that matter the rest of the album as Kingnomad take you by the hand and lead you through soundscapes populated by swirling guitar solo's, thrumming bass lines ,diverse percussive patterns and occasional keyboard colourings. It is, however, Mr Jay's superb smooth and effective vocals that will stick longest in the mind after this album finishes, his tones and phrasing, whether singing alone or harmonising with Maximillian (and with his wife on track 1), take things to a whole new level. I suppose the nearest comparison Desert Psychlist could make with Kingnomad would be that of their fellow Swedish countrymen Ghost but where Papa Emeritus/Nihil and his Nameless Ghouls tend to lean towards cheesiness and gimmickry on occasions there is an integrity to Kingnomad's grooves that doesn't sound contrived or faked. Kingnomad may come across a little quirky, a little off the beaten track on first listen but when you dig deeper and really take the time to listen to songs like "The Mysterious Agreement", "Collapsing Pillars of the Earth" and title track "The Great Nothing" you come to realise these guys are the real deal and that boy these guys can play!


Proggish grooves dipped in doom and hard rock might not seem something to get too excited about but then add in Baroque tinted lead vocals and monastic harmonies plus a level of musicianship akin to that found in jazz and classical music and those little hairs on the back of the neck start to really stand to attention. Kingnomad's "The Great Nothing" might not be everyone's cup of tea but it just might be yours.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

RED SUN ATACAMA ~ LICANCABUR ..... review


Hailing from the moderate climate of France rather than the deathly heat of the Chilean desert, that their name suggests, Red Sun Atacama are nonetheless a band with a penchant for all all things sand blasted, dune shaped and peyote inspired. If you then add into that equation a touch of old school punk aggression you roughly arrive, at what Desert Psychlist likes to describe, as a sort of "urban desert rock". This intoxicating blend of desert grooviness and inner city furiosity permeates every beat and groove of Red Atacama's first "official" release "Licancabur" (More Fuzz Records) and it is something we at Desert Psychlist think is worthy of your attention.


Any band working in the field of what we sometimes call "desert rock" will undoubtedly owe a huge debt to those giants of the Palm Desert scene Kyuss, Unida and Fu Manchu and Red Sun Atacama are no exception, the band plough a similar furrow of lysergic dynamics, grainy hard rock riffage and punky angst as those desert/stoner pioneers but where these Paris based riffmeisters differ from their more famous counterparts is in the way they bring those elements together. Ignoring the rather pan pipes and acoustic guitars intro of "Atacama (Intro)" the listener is faced with a furious onslaught of punkish and aggressive refrains, fronted by equally punkish clean vocals, interspersed with moments of  swirling psych and proto-metal bluster. First track "Gold" comes at you like a rabid jaguar, claws extended and ready to rip you to pieces, its furious heavily fuzzed bass and guitar refrain, driven by tumultuous percussion, pins you to the wall with its sheer furiosity but just when you think things can't get any better, they do. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the band shift down into bluesy psychedelic territory with the drums and bass combining to lay down a funky lysergic backdrop around which searing lead guitar and whooshing keyboards soar and swoop before returning to full on stoner punk mode to take things to a close  Next song "Red Queen" rides along on a "Children of the Grave" like galloping groove over which a strong and catchy vocal melody is sang with gusto and passion. As with "Gold" the band shift things around and suddenly the listener finds his/her self, after a brief doomic interlude, propelled into proto-metallic maelstrom of screaming guitar solo's, pummelling percussion and growling bass. "Cupid's Arrow" follows, a short sharp jab of raucous stoner punkiness  that is as brief as it is in your face followed by  "Drawers" a crunching romp on a wave of raging riffage offset by an addictive pop punk vocal melody. Red Sun Atacama close their account with "Empire" a sprawling and effervescent, full on desert flavoured tome that as well as rocking like a sapling in a hurricane also allows each member the opportunity to take a step into the spotlight and show us their undeniably skilful and accomplished musical chops.



A French band playing South American themed songs in a style born in North America may seem a bit weird when written down but there is nothing weird or odd about Red Sun Atacama's "Licancabur", in fact nothing has ever sounded so natural.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 9 July 2018

GAUPA ~ GAUPA ...... review


Music that is off the wall and a little left of field has always been bit of a draw for Desert Psychlist, it's not that we search out the strange and weird it is just that when something comes across our desk that is a touch quirky and a little odder than normal we tend to gravitate towards it like bees to a flower. Sadly there are not too many releases that meet this criteria but one that does is a self titled EP that comes from a combo out of Falun, Sweden going by the name Gaupa. Gaupa, Emma Näslund (vocals), David Rosberg (guitars), Daniel Nygren (guitar), Erik Jerka Sävström (bass) and Jimmy Hurtig (drums), released their debut EP "Gaupa" earlier this month and already it has got people talking.


"Gaupa" has already been described as like "Bjork fronting a rock band" and although Desert Psychlist can see where that description is coming from there is far more to Gaupa than an unusual and unique voice placed in front of a rock'n'roll backdrop. First thing one notices about Gaupa (the band) are the levels of musicianship on display here, solid, tight percussion combined with deep growling bass lines are the backbone around which Gaupa's two guitarists lay down diverse washes of delightful  and dynamic six-string colouring, the pair not so much going head to head as complimenting each other with a mixture of eastern motifs, shimmering arpeggios, crunching heavy powerchords and scorching psychedelic lead work, however it is the vocal acrobatics of  Emma Näslund that many will leave this EP remembering long after the last note of "Gaupa" fades into silence. Näslund  has a unique tone and delivery and it is easy to see why those comparisons with Iceland's elfish chanteuse have been made as both singers have that same distinctive vocal elasticity in their armoury, however where Bjork's voice sometimes wanders into shrillness there is a smoother more fluid timbre to Näslund's vocals that is, for Desert Psychlist, far more pleasing and easier on the ear. 


Comparisons aside "Gaupa" is stunning debut full of twists and turns that maintain the listeners interest, keeping him/her on their toes never knowing where songs like "The Drunk Autopussy Wants To Fight You", "Gryt" and "Bergatroll" might lead them next. Quirky, left of field and off the wall never sounded so good.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 8 July 2018

ALABAMA CHURCH FIRE ~ FOREVER HOMELY AND HIGH ..... review


One of the most pleasing things about reviewing music is when an album/EP, from a band you've never heard of, comes hurtling out of the big nowhere and proceeds to blow you away. This recently happened with an EP, released out of the blue, by a band going by the name Alabama Church Fire, a band from Chattanooga, Tennessee who really ticked all Desert Psychlist's boxes with three tracks of  swaggering southern metal and alt.country doom flying under the collective banner of "Forever Homely and High".


A sample of lay preacher like narrative opens first track "Mountain View" underscored by pounding percussion, grumbling bass and glistening guitar arpeggios before suddenly erupting into heavy and atmospheric, slow but not sedate southern metal groove. Given the heavy nature of the preceding grooves the listener may be fooled into expecting the obligatory growled and throat shredding vocals that are often the norm these days when listening to anything southern and metallic, however Alabama Church Fire are not a band wanting to follow trends and so we are treated to the clean, superbly weary and slightly cracked tones of one W.F. Lamb his voice and phrasing giving the song an almost alt.country vibe not unlike that executed by Drive By Truckers on their earlier albums. "Smokevision" follows with drummer Eric Waller beating out an insistent tattoo while the guitars of Lamb, Jake Kinard and Jeff Chastain lay down a grinding maelstrom of crunching riffage and harmonised refrains with bassist Bryce Simpson anchoring the groove with deep, growling bottom end. Once again Lamb gives a superb vocal performance, the fragility of his vocals against the tsunami of metallic mayhem behind them is a contrast that shouldn't work but ultimately just does. Alabama Church Fire leave the best to last though with the sprawling "East Valley Ramble" an epic thirteen minutes plus tome brimming over with mood and atmosphere that sees Lamb swapping his vocal weariness for vitriol, frustration and anger, his vocals superbly backed up by the rest of the band with each member contributing to the whole yet each bringing something of their own to the table.


If there is one criticism Desert Psychlist could level at "Forever Homely and High" it is that there are only three tracks, music this good, this vital, this interesting needs to grace a full album and SOON!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 6 July 2018

DRUG CULT ~ DRUG CULT ........ review


Mullumbimby, Australia  is a little known town in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales with a population of roughly only 3,596 people, four of those townsfolk go by the names Aasha, Govinda, Maggie and Dale and together they have formed a rather interesting little musical combo with a sound quite unlike any other, a sound that is dark, dank and a little disturbing yet at the same time exciting and hugely enjoyable, a sound that can be heard first hand when giving their self titled debut album "Drug Cult" a spin.


If  a band populate their debut album with songs that have titles like "Serpent Therapy", "Mind Crypt", "Bloodstone" and "Acid Eye" it is a fairly safe bet that the sound created by that band is going to be leaning towards the darker edges of the musical spectrum and not be too heavy on hearts and flowers or puppy dogs and kittens. There maybe exceptions, where an albums song titles are not a reflection of the music they contain, (Desert Psychlist does not know of too many) but Drug Cult's debut is most certainly an album edged with dank menace and swathed in a halo of darkness. Doom is the musical currency Drug Cult deal in but let us not fool you into thinking  that that these Australian doomanauts are going to assail us with some generic plodding lowness and slowness as there is so much more going on here. Experimental is the first word that pops into Desert Psychlist's mind as the first strains of "Serpent Therapy" wend their way out of the speakers.  Govinda Paunovic's ,slightly discordant, guitar droning and feeding back over Maggie Schreiber's growling, grizzled bass and Dale Walker's tumultuous percussion is superbly topped off by Aasha Tozer's vocals, her strong powerful voice, closer to a banshee-like maniacal howl than an ethereal  ghostish wail, bringing an added level of menace and  sinisterness to the grooves she is singing over. Although there is a crushingly heavy element to all the songs on "Drug Cult" the band alleviate the cloying atmosphere's they create by cleverly shifting the dynamics within each song to accommodate lighter shades and textures, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, this works especially well on the schizophrenic "Slaylude" and album closer "Spell", the band taking off on tangents and shifting through the gears without once ever losing focus on either songs initial groove.


"Drug Cult" is an album that although containing all the attributes we look for in doom is not defined by those attributes, an album that has the cloying dankness of "doom" yet the swing and raunch of the more accessible "occult rock" muddying the waters between the two while at the same time retaining its own identity and originality
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 29 June 2018

JOLLYMON ~ VOIDWALKER ...... review


It is confession time for Desert Psychlist in that we have to ashamedly admit to never hearing, or for that fact, even knowing of Vancouver, Washington stonernaut trio's Jollymon's existence, it seems however, after doing a little investigative research, that there was/is a lot of love out there for Jollymon.
That love can now be reignited (or in Desert Psychlist's case, ignited) as the band, Mark Blackburn (drums) , John Colgate (guitar, vocals) and Carey Rich (bass/vocals), return this year, after an eighteen year absence, with a brand new album " Voidwalker"


Coming to Jollymon for the first time, with "Voidwalker", and having no knowledge of the bands sound prior to this release means Desert Psychlist can approach the bands new album with fresh ears, unhindered by comparisons to past glories and with no preconceptions of what a Jollymon album should actually sound like. Well if. like us, you are a Jollymon virgin then your first reaction, as songs like "Tsunami", "Slice of Life" and "Missile Commander" assail your senses, will be (should be) one of awe and wonder, the albums mix of crunching riffage, progressive textures and world wide melodies, is an absolute delightful introduction to a band who not only ticks all those boxes marked stoner and hard rock but also those marked progressive, pop, funk and reggae and often all in the same song. To be able to pull off such a feat you need strong, confident and skilful musicianship and Jollymon have this in spades, Colgate's guitar soars, swoops  and hovers over, in and around the superbly executed array of rhythmic grooves Rich's bass and Blackburn's drums provide for him, the guitarist as comfortable chopping out roots style reggae chords as he is searing bluesy solos and complex progressive arpeggios. Add into this mix Colgate and Rich's blend of lead and vocal harmonies on songs like "Be Nice" and "Forecast" and you arrive at sound and groove that will not only have you smiling like a cat that's found the cream but will also have you searching record stores and music web sites wanting/needing to check out all their previous work..


Desert Psychlist does not (at this present time) know if "Voidwalker" is a return to form, and this is how damn good Jollymon have always been from day one, or if this is a new and invigorated Jollymon at the total peak of their  musical powers and firing on all cylinders like never before, either way we at the Psychlist wholly recommend you …
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 24 June 2018

DELTANAUT ~ PART 1 ..... review


Followers/fans of Sheffield, UK's hard rocking groovsters Regulus might want to take a moment to check out guitarist Luke Jennings other combo Deltanaut, a mainly instrumental trio, formed with Santiago Kings bassist Niall Kingdom and fellow Regulus drummer Joe Milburn whose sound is, in Jennings words, "very much on the psychedelic end of stoner rock". The band are about released their debut album "Part 1" on an unsuspecting world (June 29 2018) so let's see how psychedelic their end of stoner rock actually gets..


"Bells of the Skychurch" kicks things of in fine lysergic style with Jennings heavily effected guitar, sounding very much like a Jew's Harp, reverberating over a deliciously seductive Kingdom bass line superbly backed by Milburn's solid and effective drumming. Laid back and dreamy seems to be the initial vibe here but Deltanaut don't want their listeners to getting too comfortable and so into the mix they throw elements of stoner raunch, bluesy bluster and metallic crunch and it is this blend of  hard rocking grit and lysergic gentleness that makes this song and the other four songs on "Part 1" such an enthralling and satisfying listen. Deltanaut are not a band who put up signposts indicating the directions their songs will take, there is an unpredictable element to Deltanaut's  grooves that surprises and amazes at every turn. Take "Horror Vacul" for instance, its crashing hard rock beginnings leading the listener into believing  that he/she will be taken on a raucous ride of crunching riffage and punishing rhythms to a noisy final crescendo only find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly confronted, mid song, by ambient shards of chordal colouring, liquid bass and jazzy percussion with no prior indication beforehand that this would be the case. The band repeat this trick on "Jam ∞", "Deltanaut" and "Sorceress" to great effect, pulling the listener in one direction then suddenly yanking them in another the next and in doing so maintaining the listeners interest and underlining the fact that with this band you cannot take anything for granted.


Beautiful, brittle, bruising and brilliant are all descriptions you could throw at "Part 1" and each one has its place somewhere on this sprawling and quite wonderful release. Deltanaut's end of stoner rock is, on the evidence here, very psychedelic indeed.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 23 June 2018

ATOMIC VULTURE ~ STONE OF THE FIFTH SUN .... review


Music delivered within the confines of the desert/psych/doom scene is often judged on the power of its riffs, how many times have we heard someone mention "the power of the riff" or post "all hail the riff" on social media? Strangely when an album comes along brimming over with said riffage, minus any vocal contributions, many of those same people bemoan the lack of a vocalist, we live in strange times people. However, for those who like their riffage occasionally unadorned by vocal pyrotechnics or guttural growling there are a few really good bands out there whose whole reason for existence is to bring those riffs to the fore and truly celebrate their power.
Brugge trio Atomic Vulture, Pascal David (guitar), Kris Hoornaert (bass) and Jens Van Hollebeke (drums), are one such band and having already wowed and amazed us with their stunning instrumental debut "Into Orbit" they are now about to blow us away once again with their second release "Stone of the Fifth Sun".



To be fair to Atomic Vulture the sound they create together is an not unending stream of bass and guitar refrains piled one on top of the other, there is much more depth and complexity to be found here amidst the crunching chords, growling bass and pummelling percussion that inhabits much of "Stone of the Fifth Sun". First track "Jaguar" is a prime example of the blend of crunch and complexity that is Atomic Vulture's modus operandi, and sees guitarist David firing off a stream circular refrains and swirling lead work over,in and around a virtual tsunami of groove expertly provided by Hollebeke's powerful, insistent percussion and Hoornaert's grizzled, growling fuzz drenched bass. "Wind" then follows and the lysergic aspects and elements touched on in the previous track are expanded a little further, this time underpinned by touch of desert flavoured grooviness and melancholic bluesiness, Did we mention Atomic Vulture bill themselves as an instrumental band? Well next track "Rain" blows that statement out of the water with a stonkin' desert/hard rock groove coated in clean, strong and superbly executed VOCALS! "Water" finds the band back in instrumental mode jamming a slightly eastern tinted groove replete with exotic scales and motifs before Hoornaert's deliciously effective bass line leads them off on a tangent into heavy psych territory. "Earthquake" then closes things with the band hitting a groove that is part Kyuss, part Earthless and part Colour Haze yet despite this is totally and wholly ALL Atomic Vulture.


Put away your reservations concerning instrumental rock music and give this excellent new release your full and undivided attention,"Stone of the Fifth Sun" is an album that delivers on all levels and that is reason enough to go
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 22 June 2018

STONE DJOSER ~ STONE DJOSER ...... review


Australia has given birth to some of the dirtiest, raunchiest rock music known to man, whether this is due to its diverse climates and geology or the fact that everything found living in its vast array of deserts, bushes, streams and seas seems intent on killing you, Desert Psychlist doesn't know, but there is a certain grittiness and raunch to the music coming out of that country that is unlike any found anywhere else.
Stone DjoserCamo (drums), Jesse Rat (bass guitar), Vik Torr (vocals) and Josh Rat (guitar), are not, by any means an exception to this rule the quartet having the raunch factor of, fellow Aussie hard rockers, Electric Mary and the gritty bluster of cult proto-metallists Buffalo, all sprinkled with a little stoner fuzz and desert distortion, just check out the bands debut album "Stone Djoser" for confirmation.


Deep, thought provoking grooves, with meaningful lyrics that have you gazing at your navel and considering your place in the scheme of things, are all well and good but music needs to celebrate as much as it does to contemplate and Stone Djoser provide the perfect soundtrack for doing just that. Rock'n'roll is, these days, seen as a bit of an outdated term to describe music but rock'n'roll is exactly what these Bendigo bruisers bring to the table, the band delivering old school hard rock grooves ladled with a little new school aggression and attitude. From the first droning note of "Pay For Free" to the final drum beat of "Better Off Dead" Stoner Djoser treat the listener to an almost non-stop onslaught of raucousness and gritty groove, stopping only briefly to allow you to catch your breath with the power ballad(ish) "Leave It All Alone", and even then the band cannot help but throw in some good old fashioned raunch to pepper things up. Strong powerful, throaty vocals roared over big crunching riffs and crashing percussion are the order of the day throughout "Stone Djoser", it is a day filled with fun, fuzz and furiosity and sometimes those days are all you really need.



So put away your Socrates and Nietzsche, grab a beer and something to smoke and just enjoy the tsunami of raucous groove the band provide with "Stone Djoser", these guys are not here to change your world, they are here to ROCK it!
Check 'em out ….

© 2018 Frazer ones

Friday, 15 June 2018

ALMS ~ ACT ONE ...... review


Any band who mentions UK doom/NWOBHM band Pagan Altar in their list of influences is going to draw Desert Psychlist's attention and the fact that the band doing the mentioning also cite Wishbone Ash and 70's era Scorpions as influences also does nothing but further peak our interest.
The band in question,a quintet from Baltimore, Maryland going by the name Alms, consisting of  Andrew Harris (bass), Bob Sweeney (guitar, vocals), Derrick Hans (drums), Jess Kamen (keyboard, vocals) and Danny McDonald (guitar), recently convened at Developing Nations Studio to record their debut album the results of which are now available via Shadow Kingdom Records and Bandcamp.


Keyboards used correctly in rock music can transform a bands sound dramatically, giving the grooves, delivered by the usual couplings of vocals,drums, bass and guitar, an extra dimension and depth. Alms use keyboards on "Act One" to great effect, their vocalist/keys player Jess Kamen comping behind a riff one minute, swirling in and out of the groove with swathes of textured keyboard colouring the next, however it would be wrong and a little misleading to call Alms a keyboard driven band as there is so much more going on here. The first thing you notice when giving "Act One" a spin is that these guys have SONGS. Alms are not just another run of the mill riff machine, although there are plenty riffs here to enjoy, these guys have melodies, harmonies and arrangements to spare and are unafraid to use them. Opening track "Dead Water" is a perfect example of Alms manifesto of musical substance over riff based content, its doomic/occult,almost cinematic keyboard heavy, groove is counterbalanced by Sweeney and Kamen's superb dual harmonies over a pop like, swinging melody, creating an overall groove that is as dank as it is deliciously delightful. This intoxicating blend of bright swinging vocal melodies and dank, dark groove is repeated throughout "Act One" and sees Hans and Harris supplying a diverse array of rhythmic platforms for McDonald and Sweeney to decorate with swirling lead work and crunching doomic refrains, Kamen's keyboards, swirling in around the grooves, the icing on what is a very tasty and totally moreish musical cake.


If doom is your thing but you sometimes feel the need to escape from the more cloying elements of intensity and darkness, the genre is known for, then you can't go far wrong by giving Alms "Act One" a spin, Desert Psychlist guarantees you won't be disappointed.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

FIRE DOWN BELOW ~ HYMN OF THE COSMIC MAN ..... review


Belgium's Fire Down Below refer to themselves as "amp-hugging, hard-hitting, fuzz-loving, ear-splitting, riff-worshipping rock 'n rollers", it is a bold claim but one the band, Sam Nuytens (drums)Jeroen Van Troyen (rhythm guitar and vocals), Kevin Gernaey (lead guitar) and Bert Wynsberghe (bass guitar), can more than back up, as can be witnessed by giving their latest release "Hymn of the Cosmic Man" (Ripple Music) a spin.


The word "cosmic" is well used in this albums title as the album has very much a space related theme running through its songs, titles like "Red Giant", "Ignition/Space Cruiser", "The Cosmic Pilgrim", "Nebula" and "Adrift in a Sea of Stars" are scattered liberally over the album length and even those songs with no reference to the vast Cosmos in their titles, " Saviour of Man" and "Ascension", are lyrically concerned with the great unknown and our place within it. What we all come to an album for however is the music and even if you have the most mind blowing concept for your album if the music does not match the integrity of your themes/concepts then you are more or less sunk before you have begun. Thankfully Fire Down Below's grooves are more than a match for their lofty conceptual aspirations and deliver both musically and lyrically within their spacial structures, the band rocking and vibrant on "Ignition/Space Cruiser", tranquil and trippy on "Nebula" and even a little prog(ish) and Tool like on the superb "Ascension".


Overall "Hymn of the Cosmic Man" is a superb follow up to the bands excellent debut "Viper Vixen Goddess Saint" and is an album that shows Fire Down Below are a band who are slowly evolving into something very special indeed.
Check 'em out ……

© 2018 Frazer Jones