Wednesday, 17 October 2018

THE HAZYTONES ~ THE HAZYTONES II: MONARCHS OF OBLIVION ..... review


Oh what a difference a little time can make, Montreal's The Hazytones entered our lives with their debut album "The Hazytones" just over a year ago and in that time they have snagged a deal with Ripple Music, toured both North America and Europe, had a line up change and found a whole new darker, danker sound, on top of which they have just released their second album "The Hazytones II: Monarchs of Oblivion" (Ripple Music).


With only guitarist/vocalist Mick Martel remaining from the line up that recorded the highly acclaimed "The Hazytones" it is not too surprising that there is a slight shift in attack and dynamics to be found on the bands latest release "II", however that shift is very subtle and the eight songs that make up "II" still retain that recognisable "Hazytones" sound and groove. Darker would be the best way to describe the songs on "II", there is a danker more doomic feel to many (not all) of the new songs that grace this new opus and although the first album was one of Desert Psychlist's favourite releases of 2016 we have to admit this new darker dynamic seems to suit them much better. The bluesy stoner rock sound that had many referring to the band as the Canadian Graveyard still remains intact, something especially evident on songs like "The Great Illusion" and "Spit You Out", but there is a heavier, denser feel to songs like "Empty Space", the two part "Monarchs of Oblivion" and final track "The Hands That Feed" that reflects what they did previously but at the same time takes things to a whole new dynamic level.


The current line up of Mick Martel (vocals/guitar), Victor Tremblay-Desrosiers (drums/percussion) and Adam Gilbert (bass) have not deviated too far from The Hazytones blueprint with their new album "The Hazytones II: Monarchs of Oblivion" just tweaked it slightly and made it a little more grimier.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

SHAYK ~ 313 ...... review


Anyone who has tuned into music podcast "Shaykcast" will probably already be familiar with Shayk, the band formed by the guys who host the show,(if you have not visited the show then Desert Psychlist suggests you remedy that by checking out the link hidden in the name and go savour one of the most relaxed, funny and informative music podcasts currently being broadcast). Shayk, Scotty Cox (guitar/vocals), Vid Arney (drums/percussion) and Larry Limon Patrick (bass), hail from the South Side of Detroit and channel through their music their cities deep and varied musical heritage of pop, soul, rock and metal,combining all these elements together with a little hot saucy pizzazz to create a sound that has strong urban, inner city vibe, a vibe you can check out for yourselves on their latest release "313"


"The Chase" opens "313's" account, a song that is as immediate as it is attention grabbing, a song that sets the tone for the rest of the album and ensures that anyone stumbling on to this album by accident will stick around until the albums last note fades into silence. Soulful, sexy with a funky inner city undercurrent "The Chase" boasts ear catching guitar motifs, chunky funky rhythms and a vocal that's part Barry White, part Clutch's Neil Fallon and part Hughie from Fun Loving Criminals. Title track "313" follows and it would be hard to find a tune more seductive and sexy, its slow to mid tempo groove crawls all over you whispering its message in your ear in sultry gravel edged tones buoyed by searing hot bluesy guitar solo's  And so it goes on with Shayk delivering song after song of soulful stonerized groove delivered with a swaggering street savvy strut and a knowing twinkle in the eye, a band playing sweet funky rock'n'soul for jam kicking mutherfuckers.


Sexy is not a word we get to use much within the realms of underground rock music so Desert Psychlist apologises if we have tended to overstate the warm seductive elements to be found within Shayk's "313" but damn if there ever was an album to light up a smoke to after then this is it!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 15 October 2018

MOAB ~ TROUGH........ review


The sudden death of a band member can go one of three ways, the band can go the AC/DC route and carry on almost seamlessly, they can dissolve into some sort of semi retirement like Queen and Led Zeppelin or they can take some time out to lick their wounds, contemplate their loss and consider their future. The third option was the one of choice for LA's Moab when faced with the death of their drummer and founding member Erik Herzog midway through the recording of their third album. Such was their shock and sadness that the band did consider calling it a day but were talked out of it by family and friends who didn't want the late drummers hard work to disappear into the ether, preferring instead for the album to be finished, not only as a tribute to his memory but also as celebration of his life. Remaining members Andrew Giacumakis (guitar/vocals) and Joe Fuentes (bass) agreed and that third  album " Trough" will now finally see the light of day (Falling Dome Records, October 19, 2018).


Given the circumstances leading up to its release listeners may be fooled in to thinking an air of sadness and melancholy might be lingering over and around the grooves that make up "Trough" but that is far from the case as although possessing a darkness and dankness, the meat and potatoes of any music pitched at the heavier end of rock music, there is a brightness and upbeat feel to much of the music explored on these ten cuts. From the Beatle-esque intro of "Skeptics Lament" through to the furiously strident " Fend For Dawn" that closes the album there is a vibe of freshness and vitality running through each and every song, an addictive joyousness of three musicians doing exactly what they love to do and enjoying every second of it. Musically "Trough" is tight with every riff and solo nailed on, every bass line booming, every drum beat and cymbal crash hitting its mark, this and the superbly pitched, slightly nasal and Ozzy-ish vocal tones, that coat every song on the album, all combines to make "Trough" one of the surprise highpoints of this year already quite impressive roster of 2018 underground albums.


Herzog's passing is a bitter pill to swallow but let's not dwell on what might or might not have been let's just concentrate on the incredible legacy left behind by a talented musician who musically was right on top of his game, in that context Moab's "Trough" is a fine and fitting epitaph.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

# Remaining band members Andrew Giacumakis and Joe Fuentes, joined by Brad Davis (Fu Manchu) filling the void on drums, are set to play select shows in support of the album's release.

Friday, 12 October 2018

UNDER ~ STOP BEING NAIVE ....... review


Under describe themselves as an "acid nightmare from Stockport" and there is no getting away from the fact that the UK bands music does have both lysergic and nightmarish qualities, however it is those qualities combined with a heavy dissonant, off-kilter groove that make Under's sonic attack such a joy to immerse oneself in. The band are about to release their second full length album "Stop Being Naïve" (APF Records 26/10 2018) so let's dive in.


If your expecting an easy listen then Desert Psychlist suggests you look elsewhere, what Under bring to the table is a sound and groove that borders on the edge of, and sometimes spills into, the extremist end of heavy rock music. Earlier, in this reviews intro, we mentioned the word lysergic and that might suggest some sort of trippy, flowery Floydian scenario, the lysergic of "Stop Being Naïve" however is a whole different kettle of fish, here you will find a more angular, dissonant lysergic with jagged edges and rough textures, the sound of a trip getting out of control and turning bad very quickly. It has to be said at this point that the harsher end of rock and metal is not a place where Desert Psychlist spends much of our time, it is no secret that our preference is for melody over mutilation but there is strange disarming beauty to "Stop Being Naïve", its harsh atonality and jarring discordance , in both its grooves and vocal attack, is very hard to ignore and has opened our eyes to a whole new musical territory we have not really explored before and one we are very much impressed by. From the juddering and jagged "Malcontents" through the schizophrenic "Big Joke" to the off-kilter closer "Circadian Driftwood" Under take you on a journey through a series of nightmarish scenarios that will leave you shaken and stirred, never to be the same again.


At times cacophonous and chaotic Under's "Stop Being Naïve" is nonetheless well worth putting in a little effort with, sometimes you need the nightmares to appreciate the dreams.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 11 October 2018

THE NECROMANCERS ~ OF BLOOD AND WINE ....review


The NecromancersTom Cornière (Vocals, Guitar), Robin Genais (Lead Guitar), Simon Evariste (Bass Guitar) and Benjamin Rousseau (Drums), loomed out of the ether last year and blew everyone's minds with their debut release "Servants of the Salem Girl" last year, the band and album garnering high praise from all the right quarters as well as just narrowly missing the number one spot in our own "Desert Psychlist's Best of 2017" end of year list. The band return this year with a new album, "Of Blood and Wine"(Ripple Music), hoping to not only to repeat the success of last year's album but to maybe surpass it.


The trouble with having a critically acclaimed debut album is that your next album is going to be put under the microscope and heavily scrutinised by all and sundry looking for weaknesses and failings, was the first album a lucky fluke, will the new material match the high expectations of both the critics and the fans? The answer to those questions is a resounding yes and no, yes they can match those expectations and no the first album was NOT a fluke, the question of whether "Of Blood and Wine" surpasses "Servants of the Salem Girl" however is a difficult one as its a little too early to compare one over the other and only living with an album for a period of time can really decide that question. On first impressions , and at this present time, Desert Psychlist can say that "Of Blood and Wine" is most definitely , if nothing else, on an even par with its predecessor, those post-rock textures and psychedelic/prog undercurrents that made "Servants of the Salem Girl" such a joyous and satisfying  listen are all in still in place and as with their previous release their is a genuine high level of songcraft to be found amid all the growling riffs and incessant rhythms. If there is one thing that sets the new album apart from the old one it is in  the amount of "swing" present on "Of Blood and Wine",  the band, maybe buoyed by the success of their previous outing, seem to have loosened up their sound and found a greater freedom to express themselves, a freedom that although evident on "Servants of the Salem Girl" here is taken to a whole newer level. This looseness and freedom is never better exemplified than on the albums standout track "Erzebeth" a sprawling twelve minute plus opus with a thundering groove that gallops and gambols along on an addictive chugging riff interspersed with Celtic tinted guitar decorated by a mixture of warm crooned and grittily roared vocals, the song taking off into a mind blowing instrumental mid-section before returning to its original groove and coming to its close. The band are not afraid to tread more tranquil waters either as the brief but atmospheric title track " Of Blood and Wine" testifies to, however it is those tracks of a more sludge tinted, prog orientated nature that really win the day here and will ensure listeners coming back to this fine album again and again not only now but also years into the future.


The Necromancers may have suddenly appeared on our radars seemingly out of nowhere but if they keep writing songs as good as those found on "Of Blood and Wine" then these guys are going to be with us for a long time to come.
Check it out …..
© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 7 October 2018

LA CADENA PSYCH JAMBAND ~ HOPE? ...... review


Seville (Spanish: Sevilla) may be the home of the famous bitter oranges that bare the provinces name but there is nothing bitter about the music Sevillian sons La Cadena Psych Jamband deliver with their latest release "Hope?"  Thought you had heard everything that prog and psych could throw in your general direction, well prepare to be amazed by an album that raises the bar even higher.


Prog often gets a lot of bad press, overcomplicated, over technical and over complex are just a few things that get banded around whenever the word prog is mentioned but although a high level of musicianship is required to even be considered as a progressive band that doesn't mean you have to forgo things like feel and swing to play it with conviction. Spain's La Cadena Psych Jamband understand this and incorporate both those things, along with all the necessary musical chops to do so, within their spacy, lysergic grooves. From the Floydian soundscapes of "Going Home?", with its warm Gilmour like guitar tones and oriental flavoured backbeat, through the cosmos exploring rocker "Beyond The Shades", the excellent " Children", with its Gregorian like vocal harmonies and addictive pulsating groove, to the equally Floydian closer "Home" there is not a moment, minute or second where you can second guess where these guys are liable to take you and their music next.


Stunningly beautiful at times, rocking and raucous at others "Hope?" is an album that delivers on its title, giving "hope" to those that believe good, well played intelligent music will always rise to the top and be noticed not only for its technical prowess but also for its emotional impact.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 6 October 2018

BURN RITUAL ~ BLOOD OF THE RAVEN .... review


What was once one is now four, Burn Ritual began life as a one man project of vocalist, guitarist and keyboard operative Jake Lewis and it was as a one man project that Burn Ritual's debut EP " Like Suffering" was recorded and released. Such was the reception to "Like Suffering" that Lewis soon realised if he wanted to see his music breathe outside of a recording studio he better get himself a band together and so in came Brent Standifer (drums), Richard Perez (guitars) and Chris Trezona (bass), the one had become four. The quartet soon started working on new songs Lewis had written and it wasn't long before they had enough material to fill an album, that album is now out in the world and flying under the banner of "Blood of the Raven" (Cursed Monk Records)


A jet black raven, depicted against an alien skyscape, riding thermal updrafts over the Great Pyramids graces the cover of "Blood of the Raven" and is a good indication of the sounds contained within. The album's Sabbathesque desert tinted stoner/hard rock grooves, over which spiritual themes are lyrically explored in mantra like tones, is not exactly new but damn it's effective.. Burn Ritual jam a groove not unlike that of cult Welsh weed worshipers Dope Smoker except for the fact that Burn Ritual are lyrically more wordy and a little less repetitive preferring to pepper their songs with a touch more dynamics and musicality. All of "Blood of the Raven's" seven songs are a masterclass in how to make a lot of very little, the band deviate very little from the main riff of songs like "The Mirror", "Repent" and "Cast Away" but its the way they lift and lower each songs dynamic by throwing in little fills,licks and vocal inflections that maintains the listeners interest and ensures everything sounds fresh and focused. Only once do they step off the groove path and that is with "The Creature Inside of You" a trippy "Planet Caravan" type outing with heavily phased vocals sang over reverberating keyboards and subtle hand percussion.



Burn Ritual's ability to create mesmerising, hypnotic songs that worm their way into the deepest recesses of your psyche is one that works to great effect throughout "Blood of the Raven", the band jamming trippy, trance like heavy psychedelic dirges that capture, captivate and enchant in equal measure 
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 1 October 2018

CAVALLI ~ HUGANTIC .... review


British underground rock is in a very good place indeed ,what with bands like Desert Storm, Sergeant Thunderhoof and Boss Keloid (among many others) all getting noticed, not only here in the UK but also further afield, it feels almost like another "British Invasion", similar to that of the early 70's, could be beginning to build momentum . Hoping to join the party are Cavalli, a politically aware trio from London's East End dealing in raucous punk tinted stoner/hard rock and metal, a band who have been releasing EP's and turning heads with their live shows since their formation. The band's latest release "Hugantic" is an EP that not only has the grooves to raise their profile in the UK, it also has the songs that could see them joining the ranks of those mentioned earlier in spearheading this new resurgence in British underground rock music both at home and internationally.


"Hugantic" kicks off with "Stronger" a raucous riff fuelled romp that takes no prisoners, its aggressive punkish vocals, roared and growled over a backdrop of unrelenting furiosity, hits the listener with the force of hurricane, a whirlwind of noise that sets the tone for the rest of the EP and tells you in just over three minutes more about this band than Desert Psychlist could tell you in three paragraphs. "Super Anal Man" follows, a song that rails against the abuse of privilege and boasts the immortal lines "You wasted all your life thinking that you were Superman, everything sorted out by mum, spending daddy´s cash on drugs" sang over a groove that nods towards both the 90s desert rock scene of California's Palm Desert and the British punk scene of the mid to late 70's. Next up is "Holy Communion" , a furious  lyrical tirade against religion accompanied by a deliciously addictive guitar motif, reminiscent of something you might find on an early Cult album, driven by growling bass and insistent, solid drumming. Next track "No Borders" voices a thinly veiled ant-Brexit message around a groove that is a little  heavier, sludgier and more metallic than what has passed previously while "Flat Earth" pokes a stick at the narrow minded and blinkered over a furiously paced sonic onslaught flecked with bluesy guitar colourings.


Social commentary pitched against a soundtrack of punkish ferocity and dank metallic sludginess in a scene known for its songs about weed, wizards and witchcraft might be a bridge too far for some but for those of you with an open mind and a social consciousness Cavalli might just be the band you have been searching for
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 30 September 2018

KAPITAN BONGO ~ ODMȨT ........ review


If Desert Psychlist were to throw you the words "sludgy, prog tinted and metallic" and then ask you a country where you might expect these elements to be found then Poland would possibly come high on your list of suggestions. Poland is fast becoming the go to country for those looking for music of a grainier, grittier and heavier nature and Warszawa four piece Kapitan Bongo's latest release "Odmȩt" is a prime example of why music from  Poland's underground rock scene is currently being held in such high esteem.


With a line up that, along with the usual vocals, guitar, bass and drums, includes the use of synths and West African percussion you might expect Kapitan Bongo's sound to be a little experimental and "out there" and although there are moments when things get a little post-rock and ambient the main body of Kapitan Bongo's groove resides very much at the heavier, sludgier end of progressive metal. Those elements of ambience and post-rock texturing although integral to Kapitan Bongo's overall sound are not always obvious or immediately evident, however. First track "Od mȩt" begins with screeching feedback and synthesised squeaks and swirls before erupting into a grinding heavy mid tempo groove driven by crashing percussion and growling bass around which the guitar lays a mixture of complex chord structures and crunching riffage that, combined with the songs slightly screamo vocal, comes over as technically dazzling yet at the same time vocally disarming. Those screamo vocals are tamped down a notch or two for next track "Klątwa mamuta" and replaced with easier on the ear gruff growling dual harmonies sang over a backdrop of undulating yet still heavy groove that brutalises and soothes in equal measure. "Bezdech" follows and finds Kapitan Bongo in more laid back, considerate mood, clean, mellow yet gritty vocals vying for space with blues tinted guitar motifs and swirling synth/keyboard effects over a foundation of liquid bass lines and shimmering percussion. "Bagno" sees the band mixing post metal textures with those of a more dank doomic nature in a song that never sits still long enough to pin a tag on before finally bringing things to a close with the excellent riff heavy "Czas" a song with a groove so gloriously deep and deliciously dense it almost defies description.



Crushing and complex, considerate and crunching "Odmȩt" delivers everything you could possibly need from a modern underground rock/metal album and more
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE ~ LIVE IN BERLIN 2018 ....review


Øresund Space Collective have been making albums and touring their improvised space rock/ heavy psych grooves since 2006, the band an ever changing collection of musicians from across Europe and the United States have to date released twenty nine albums. Strangely, given Desert Psychlist's love for lysergic tinted grooves of a more out there nature and the fact that we own or have heard a good few of those albums, this in the moment  recording, "Live In Berlin 2018", is the first of their releases we have reviewed.


Those familiar with ØSC will already know to expect music that could go in any direction at anytime, a music with a liquid like structure that, like the water running down Jeff Goldblum;s hand when trying to explain Chaos Theory in the first Jurassic Park movie, finds its own path regardless of its original source or expected outcome. Those coming to ØSC for the first time may find the prospect of improvised music that is reliant on the whims and moods of the musicians involved a little daunting and overwhelming but fear not you ØSC virgins as although this collective regularly reach out and touch the outer edges of musical form and structure they never linger there long, dragged back as much by their need to lock into a groove as their need to explore and experiment.


If your already a fan of ØSC then "Live In Berlin 2018" will reaffirm your reasons for loving what these guys do, if your a newbie to the band then this is as good an album as any to start your love affair.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

WITCHCULT ~ BEWITCHED FOREST ..... review


The name Siberia, to those brought up on cold war stories and historic novels, conjures up images of extreme cold and long hard winters so music from a band hailing from that province might be expected to reflect a certain iciness in their music, wrong! WitchcultElena Cherepanova (vocals), Stanislav 'Brudywr' Ambartsumov (guitars), Anton Ryazantsev (bass) and Alexander Dvornikov (drums), hail from Inkutsk, Russia ,on the more temperate edges of Siberia, and their music although imbued with a certain doomic dankness also contains a warmth and charm that belies its place of origins chilly reputation, something their debut album "Bewitched Forest" is more than testament to.



That Witchcult arrive with a list of influences that not only includes the obligatory Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard but also that of the more psychedelic Allah Las and Holy Wave sort of tells its own story. Witchcult are a band whose grooves are as heady as they are heavy, an amalgamation of lysergic trippiness and bluesy swagger blended with a crunching dank core that sonically sits on the more doomic side of what we now call occult rock/metal. That dank core, provided by Ambartsumov's mix of crunching riffage and bluesy Iommic solo's, Ryazantsev's grizzled bass lines and Dvornikov's solid, tight percussion, is the heartbeat driving songs with titles like "Too Dead", "Witch's Potion" and "Amphibian Dawn", a heartbeat offset by Cherepanova's distinctive low key but effective vocals, the singer eschewing the usual ethereal tones associated with music of a doom/occult nature for a deeper, huskier delivery that is part singing, part intoned narrative.


Witchcult, with "Bewitched Forest" straddle the fence dividing doom from its more occult cousin, feet dangling tantalising either side, not quite one or the other yet a little of both.
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 24 September 2018

OXEN ~ LOW ..... review


Heavy progressive metal music is not always an easy thing to pull off convincingly and when, as in Massachusetts power trio OXEN'S case, you add in to that mix  elements of sludgy brutality and dank doominess well then things get even harder. Thankfully OXEN have no difficulties in marrying these elements, and many more, together as the band prove to great effect on their brand new album "Low".


With a massive 16 tracks dwelling beneath it's cover " Low" delivers plenty of rock for your buck and in these days when cash doesn't go as far as we would like it to, that has got to be a bonus. "Low" starts on high note with "Phantom Limb", a huge sounding opus utilising a mix of clean mellow and gruff growled vocals over a backdrop of gigantic crunching riffage and complex rhythms, and doesn't stop delivering until "Shadow of Substance" fades noisily into silence. Comparisons could be made with both Georgia's Baroness and Florida's Torche but those comparisons would only be due to the fact that both bands toy with the same elements of melody and sludgy brutality that Oxen use to define their grooves, the truth is Oxen are very much their own creation. Scattered amongst their strong powerful harsh and melodic vocalised songs Oxen also manage to sneak in four instrumentals, entitled "I", "II", "III" and "IIII", each has it's own grainy psychedelic charm and heavy stonerized elegance and all four go a long way in showing that this talented trio are not just a one trick riff roaring pony. It is however those songs utilising the differing tonal vocals of each member that really seals the deal on "Low" with the already mentioned "Phantom Limb", the emotive "Strive" and the excellent "Rise of the Apprentice" being among Desert Psychlist's particular favourites.


Oxen are a band who, in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion, deserve to be mentioned in the same respectful breaths as their contemporaries Kylesa, Baroness, Black Tusk, Torche and even The Melvins, "Low" may just be the album to make that happen.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 23 September 2018

SLUG 13 ~ CUT ..... review


Slug 13, a guitar and drum duo from the leafy backwaters of Surrey, England, have had a checkered history, the duo began life in the 90's as trio calling themselves Slug. Slug garnered praise from many quarters and shared stages with some of the period's prime movers and shakers before finally calling it a day in 1993. The band reconvened in 2013 but after losing two bassists in quick succession decided to forge ahead as a duo. Slug 13, Richard (drums) and Nick (guitar/vocals), are an angry band who voice their frustrations and fury through their music, a frustration and fury that is mirrored throughout the six tracks of their latest release "Cut",


Originally born out of the grunge/noise/alt.rock scene of the 90's Slug 13's more recent sonic experiments has seen the band leaning towards a more harder stonerized aesthetic a fact borne out by  the duo sharing stages with many of the stoner/hard rock and metal scenes established and up and coming bands. This is not to say that Slug 13 have gone through some sort of drastic musical change or altered their direction in any way, just that they have subtly tailored their sound so as to remain on top of their game and still be relevant. Anger fuelled much of Slug 13's original sonic attack and that anger remains a huge part of their sound today with the band going for the throat from the very first note of "Cut" to the very last. From the nihilistic jarring, jerking, riff heavy "Exit Stategy" to the fuzz drenched guitar noise and tribal beats of "Twenty Three" Slug 13's ethos seems to be one of attack before being attacked, the band assailing the senses with raging rap/rant metered type vocals served up over an unrelenting wall of furious distortion and fuzz driven hard by pummelling, powerful percussion.


Nihilistic, pessimistic and angry just about sums up the lyrical content of Slug 13's "Cut" yet despite this "Cut" is a highly enjoyable collection of songs that although might have you reaching for the ant-depressants will also have you hitting the repeat button.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 17 September 2018

SHOGUN - INFINITET ..... review

When, in 2016, Wisconsin quartet Shogun released their self titled EP "Shogun EP" Desert Psychlist went a little overboard with, rightly deserved, praise for a release that at the time blew us away and is still doing so to this day, telling the world, via these pages, that their debut release was "something a little special". The band, Max Muenchow (bass guitar and synth), Alvin Vega (drums), Sam Wallman (guitars and synth) and Joe Widen (vocals), return to this year with a new release "Infinitet" so let's see if they can improve on "special"

As the droning intro, decorated with minimal acoustic guitars, synthesised bird calls and thunder, of first track "Ex Nihilo (Genesis)", makes way for an onslaught of filthily fuzzed bass and guitar, driven by thunderous percussion, the omen's for whether Shogun can take things to the next level look and sound very promising indeed. The first thing that becomes apparent, when listening to the four songs that make up "Infinitet", is that the bluesy proto-metal (ish) attack of the debut EP has not so much been replaced but has been given a more grittier and aggressive edge, an edge that is a little more metallic and doomic yet still retains an air of bluesy bluster and proto swagger at its core. Production-wise "Infinitet" is huge with Muenchow's big booming, grizzled bass lines and Wallman's filthy toned guitar riffs and scorching solo's coming out of the speakers like a hurricane especially when pushed by Vega's pounding, punishing percussion. It would take a strong vocalist to compete with the levels of sound Wallman, Muenchow and Vega emanate from their respective instruments and in Joe Widen they have a vocalist who is more than up to the task. Widen's phrasing, tone and emotive vocals sit atop Wallman, Muenchow and Vega's backdrops of grainy groove like cream on a razor blade, the frontman's distinctive tones having a gritty smoothness that belies their power and gives songs like "Rosebud", "Aurora","Metatron" and the afomentioned "Ex Nihilo (Genesis)" a soulful gravitas you might not usually expect from music pitched towards the heavier end of the rock spectrum.


So has "Infintet" delivered on the promise of Shogun's debut EP or has the band taken a backward step with the more aggressive and doomic dynamics of their new album? Well after repeated spins and living with "Infintet" for a while now Desert Psychlist can categorically state that where we described "Shogun EP" as a "little special", "Infinitet" is HUGELY special!
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 16 September 2018

APE MACHINE ~ DARKER SEAS ..... review


Back in the late 70's there was a division building up between those that loved their rock bluesy and hard and those that leant towards a more radio friendly commerciality in their grooves. but although battle lines were starting to be drawn up and barricades were slowly being erected one band seemed to galvanise opinion, that band was Bad Company, a group of musicians who successfully bridged the gap between the bluesy bluster of Led Zeppelin and Free and the more easy on the ear AOR meanderings of Journey and Foreigner  . So why ,when writing a piece on a fairly recent band, should we be mentioning one of the UK's finest exponents of mid paced radio acceptable rock?
Well the answer is Portland, OR's Ape Machine are very much a band from that old school of rock where the strength of your songs,melodies and arrangements are just as vitally important as the riffs and rhythms you use to decorate them, something that becomes glaringly obvious when listening to the bands fifth studio album "Darker Seas" (Ripple Music)


"Damned, Their Bones" opens "Darker Seas" account with oodles of bluesy swagger and classic rock bluster, vocalist Caleb Heinze telling us, in tones that sit somewhere between those of Free/Bad Co's Paul Rodgers and that of late Wild Turkey/Rick Wakeman Band frontman Gary Pickford-Hopkins, a cinematic tale of flight and fury over a backdrop of prog tinted swirling guitar (Ian Watts), booming liquid bass (Brian True) and solid punchy percussion (Steve Hanford). Ape Machine, however, are not content to just play the classic/hard rock card and bring into play elements of progressive texturing throughout "Darker Seas", fleshing out their grooves with these elements yet managing to do so without falling into the trap of technical overkill and overcomplication, creating more of a subtle prog colouring than a full blown technical wash. What makes "Darker Seas" really work though is that no song is overworked or overly long the band keeping songs like "Into The Shredder", "The Contract" and the excellent "Bend The Knee" all under the five minute mark with only "Watch What You Say" just creeping over by a second. This brevity of song length works twofold in that the listeners mind remains focused on each song without boredom or distraction getting in the way and that the band themselves are forced into to making their songs more immediate and impactful, something they do to startling effect throughout "Darker Seas" eleven tracks.


Why, you might be asking, are Desert Psychlist reviewing an album from a band whose music leans towards the more mainstream end rock when we could be telling you about the crushing riffs of say the new YOB or Conan opus? The reason dear readers is that good music is good music whether it is dressed in satin and tat or in cargo shorts and sweaty tee's and "Darker Seas" is damn good music!
Check it out …

© 2018 Frazer jones

Monday, 10 September 2018

DRUID ~ THE SEVEN SCROLLS ..... review



Back in 2015 Desert Psychlist wrote, during the course of reviewing a debut album by Athens, Ohio trio Druid, "We really hope this band manage to climb all the hurdles that road weariness, ego’s, music business politics etc. will inevitably throw in front of them, and that they will stick together, we would love to see how this band progresses", Words ,some might say, that had the potential to come back and bite us on the ass but thankfully Druid did stick together and did progress and that progression can be heard in every guitar chord, every bass note and every drum beat of the bands latest release "The Seven Scrolls".


The eight songs that make up "The Seven Scrolls" are broken down into chapters numbering one to seven with a brief and delightful instrumental acoustic interlude inserted between chapters six and seven entitled "Interlude (St. Patrick's Dance)". Lysergic and psychedelic are two words that come to mind while listening to "The Seven Scrolls", however that psychedelic vibe comes not from the modern school of psych, that is the current territory of bands like Earthless, Comet Control and to some extent Sergeant Thunderhoof and Merlin, but from the more pop-psych and progressive experimentations of the late 60's and early 70's, Druid hitting into a groove that sits somewhere between the folk/pop musings of pre-Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman UK proggers YES and the heady guitar fuelled lysergic outings of the USA's Quicksilver Messenger Service and Spirit. To Druid melody is just as an important factor as bite and there is plenty of both to be found among the "chapters" of this enthralling and spellbinding album, the melody coming courtesy of its wonderfully mellow vocal harmonies and transcendental grooves, the bite raising its head in the shape of its occasional, and sometimes sudden, shifts into heavier proto-metal territories.


Imagine taking some of the finest musicians from the psychedelic/prog crossover days of the sixties and seventies and placing them in a modern studio, with all its bells and whistles at their disposal, and telling them to make an album, the results, just might, arrive somewhere close to the sound Druid have achieved with their latest album "The Seven Scrolls"
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 8 September 2018

GRUSOM ~ II ...... review


Denmark's GrusomNicolaj Hoffmann Jul (vocals), Jakob Kaae (drums), Dennis Warburg (guitar), Thomas Ulrik (guitar), Søren Olesen (bass) and Peter Pørtner (keys), have a sound that once heard is never forgotten, the band hit a groove that is part early 70's classic rock and part progressive folk and part bluesy bluster, a groove that is undeniably retro yet is still very much contemporary and current. The band have released a steady stream of EP's and tracks as well as a well received debut album "Grusom" and have just released their second full length album  "II" (Kozmik Artifactz)



Grusom have been described as sounding like a hybrid between Swedish hard rock bluesters Graveyard and North American 60's legends The Doors and although it is easy to see why those comparisons have been made Grusom are a band who have many more strings to their collective bows. Grusom are a band with a heavy and distinctive  keyboard presence and sooner or later any band with that presence will get lumped in with either The Doors or Deep Purple, the spirits of both Jon Lord and Ray Manzarek do hover around the edges of many of the tunes on Grusom's latest release but there is a far more doomic feel to the way Portner uses his ivories. Portner's keys swell and swoon beneath Ulrick and Warberg's crunching riffs and bluesy solo's an give songs like "Skeletons" and "Embers" a truly "classic rock" feel yet one that is very much informed by the stoner/hard rock and doom of today thanks, in part, to the huge rhythmic platforms provided by Oleson and Kaae, the bassist and drummer laying down huge and diverse rhythmic foundations for Ulrick, Warberg and Portner to decorate with their respective instrumental colourings and textures. When faced with grooves that carry even a hint of "classic rock" in their arsenal you need a vocalist who can match those grooves with clarity and power and in Hoffmann Jul Grusom have a vocalist of true calibre. Hoffman Jul is a vocalist who may not possess the bluesy holler of a Robert Plant, the soulful howl of a Steve Marriott or the smooth bluesy gravitas of a Paul Rogers but what he lacks in those departments he more than makes up for with his gravelly phrasing and forceful, at times almost folkish, delivery and tone.


"II" is a stunning return from a band who had already converted many to their cause with their 2015 debut "Grusom", and if you dug that release then your going to go batshit for this one
Check it out ….. © 2018 Frazer Jones