Monday, 24 June 2019

STONEFIELD ~ BENT ..... review


Bands containing siblings tend to have a hard time of it, not only do they have to deal with all the usual issues of ego's, personality clashes and the like but they also have to contend with rivalries that may have begun as far back as the nursery. The Kinks, The Black Crowes, Oasis and Kings of Leon have all, to some degree, suffered from the effects of sibling rivalry with those effects resulting in at least three of those bands calling it a day and going their separate ways at some point. Imagine then that all your band are related by birth and having to tour thousands of miles from your native home and then forced to share buses and hotels, those sibling pressures must become tenfold!
Australia's Stonefield are a band made up of four sisters, Amy Findlay (lead vocals/drums), Hannah Findlay (guitar/backing vocals), Sarah Findlay (keys/backing vocals) and Holly Findlay (bass/backing vocals), Desert Psychlist doesn't know what coping methods the band use to combat their inevitable rivalries (all families suffer them not just musical ones) but what ever those methods are they must be working as since their inception the band have released three well received albums, supported Fleetwood Mac on a world tour and even graced the John Peel Stage at the iconic Glastonbury Festival.
Stonefield have just recently released their fourth album "Bent" (Flightless Records).


"Bent" was recorded over a five day period in a Melbourne studio, recorded almost 100% live with the help of fellow Aussies Joe Walker and Stu Mackenzie from King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. The band wrote most of the material while trekking around the USA on tour and the songs have an introspective feel, something that is borne out by drummer/vocalist Amy Findlay's statement that "Bent" "is a culmination of experiences, emotions, and stories collected over time", "a growth of honest, raw, energy that has been burning within us and waiting for its moment" All well and good you might say but what does all this inward looking amount to soundwise? Well the answer to that question is that Stonefield have, with "Bent", made their best album to date. From the opening salvo of grainy riffage that announces "Sleep" to the abrupt full stop that concludes final track "Woman" listeners are faced with an album that delivers on every level, an album that soothes and placates as much as it growls and antagonises. Amy Findlay's smooth vocal tones, backed by her sisters cool clean harmonies, waft waif-like over grooves that have an almost prog-like undercurrent thanks to Sarah Findlay's excellent keyboard flourishes and Hannah Findlay's mix of heavy and intricate guitar textures, Sarah and Hannah's wilder musical excursions only just kept in check by sister Holly's thundering on point bass lines and vocalist Amy's powerfully solid percussion. It would be hard to box Stonefield's sound in a neat little box  as there are elements to be found on "Bent" that, it could be argued, lean towards shoegaze-ish and indie and others where they sound like a hard stoner rock band with prog-ish tendencies, it is this diversity that is probably the bands biggest asset and why they are garnering such high levels of respect from both the critics and the record buying/listening public alike.


They say that the family that plays together, stays together, let's hope that is the case with Stonefield, losing a band this good, this vital because of some petty sibling quarrel would be a travesty, stay strong and stay true to each other sisters, we need you and we need your beautiful music.
Check 'em out

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 20 June 2019

DENDRITES ~ GROW ..... review


Greece, the country that never stops giving, has just delivered yet another band for us to slaver and drool over, the band in question goes by the name of Dendrites and deal in a heady mix of southern swagger and good old balls to the floor hard/stoner rock. The band, Thanasis Timplalexis (vocals, guitar), Giorgos Alexiou (guitar ), Alekos Papathanasiou (bass) and Dimitris Amvrazis (drums),have shared stages with the likes of Planet of Zeus, 1000 Mods and Nightstalker and have just released their first full length album "Grow"


Beginning your debut album with a song entitled "Get The Fuck" is going to get peoples attention but Dendrites are not the sort of band to court controversy just for the sake of novelty, this is a song that is making a statement and that statement is this is what we do if you don't like it then "get the fuck out of my way" "Get The Fuck" also namechecks a certain Mr. Dimebag Darrell in its lyrics which is quite apt considering Dendrites plough a similar southern metal furrow to that of the late guitarists band Pantera. Greece seems to have embraced the whole "southern metal" thing tighter and harder than any other country outside of the sub genres USA home base and Dendrites are no exception, there is an authenticity to the bands metallic rebel yell that if you didn't know better could have you believing you are listening to a band birthed from the swamps of Alabama or New Orleans rather than from Vólos, Greece. Southern rock/metal needs to have a certain amount of swagger to its grooves and there is plenty of swagger to be found on "Grow" as well as a fair share of bluster and crunch., Timplalexis and Alexiou's two guitar assault combining with the enormous grooves, provided by Amvrazis' drums and Papathanasiou's bass to build the perfect hook for Timplalexis to hang his gritty clean vocals on. The band also know a thing or two about how best to pace an album, balancing their more raucous attack on songs like "Throwing Rocks" and "River" with a more considered, but no less heavy, approach on songs like "Dreamhouse Pts 1 & 2" and "Snake Oil Merchant" with the latter possessing an almost grungy dynamic.


If you want to hear an album of authentic sounding swaggering southern tinted metal that wasn't birthed from below the Mason-Dixon Line and doesn't sound contrived or fake then you can't go far wrong than wrapping your ears around Dendrites debut album "Grow", if you don't then.... GET THE FUCK OUT OF THEIR WAY!
Check it out …. 

©2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 16 June 2019

DEVIL FLOWER MANTIS ~ DEVIL FLOWER MANTIS ..... review


Socrates once said "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think". Here at Desert Psychlist we have adopted a similar mantra.... "We cannot make you listen to anything, we can just point you in the right direction and hope you do". Today we are pointing you towards, Socrates homeland, Greece and an Athenian collective going by the name of Devil Flower Mantis, a quintet consisting of Nikolas Kalogirou (vocals), Dimitris Karakatsanis (drums),Verbal Kid (bass), Nikos Zairis (guitar) and Vaggelis Keramidas (guitar) who have just released their self titled debut EP "Devil Flower Mantis".

Raunch and groove are two things that define the sound of the Greek underground rock scene and Devil Flower Mantis have both commodities in abundance, as well as more than a fair amount of lysergic texturing and metallic bluster. First track "Beyond Borders" demonstrates these qualities perfectly, its crunching guitars, growling bass and punchy solid percussion are offset by the songs occasional forays into eastern tinted territories the quintet utilising subtle middle eastern themes and Arabian scales to take things to the next level. Add to this heady mix of swagger and mysticism clean, clear vocals that tell sci-fi inspired tales of "beams that rush inside my blood like streams" and having "stardust in my core " and you might understand why we at Desert Psychlist are so keen on you checking out what these guys do. One track does not make an EP however and so its good to know that the following tracks in no way drop beneath the high level set by their predecessor. "The Voidwalker" has a heavy prog-metallish vibe and tells a tale of a "half human, half android" forced to explore "solar storms and black holes" while "Back On The Hunt" hits a more heavy stoner groove with thunderous drums and growling bass the foundation on which raucous riffs and screaming solo's are traded, the vocalist telling us amid this musical mayhem that there is "NO TIME FOR GAMES". "Devil Flower Mantis" closes with "Black Fever" a raunch drenched opus decorated in grainy clean vocals that revisits the eastern themes and motifs touched on in the EP's opening track, this time however the band using those motifs and themes to drive and inform the songs groove rather than just decorate it.


"Devil Flower Mantis" is exactly what you would expect from a band plying its trade within the Greek underground rock scene, a delightfully addictive EP chock-a-block full of raucous refrains, groovalicious rhythms and ear catching melodies, an EP full of songs that manage to hit the inner ears sweet spot with unerring accuracy time after time. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 10 June 2019

THE RED WIDOWS ~ FUZZIFIXION ..... review


Desert Psychlist has seen a lot of vlogs, videos and social media posts lately, from some of the leading lights in the underground industry, telling aspiring bands how to best promote their wares to potential labels and publications but not many have mentioned artwork. If an artist/band wants to really get their grooves noticed, among the many albums and EP's that are constantly being released, then artwork is an essential tool in promoting those grooves. Now there are usually two ways to go about how to use artwork, you can go the aesthetic route whereby you choose something stunning and beautiful to the eye or you can choose to go the shock route and use something that will grab a browsers attention due to its controversial nature. There are of course degrees to be found in both approaches, you don't want to alienate your potential fanbase by using something so sickly twee that it makes them want to vomit neither do you want to portray something so gross that it freaks them out or causes offence, a balance needs to be found. London trio The Red Widows have achieved that balance with the artwork for their latest release "Fuzzifixion" (Cover artwork by David Johnson from Obscure Media), a slightly overexposed photo of a female model (Valerie Wierzbicki), dressed in blood soaked white robes, posing in a Christ like stance, a photo that catches the eye due to its ambiguous religious iconography but also, when combined with the albums title, gives the casual browser a fair idea of what to expect beneath the imagery, and what is beneath that imagery makes all the work put into that cover totally justified.

Alex Corvino (vocals/bass), Rev. MojoFuzz (guitars/backing vocals) are The Red Widows a London based collective who first came to Desert Psychlist's attention with their debut EP "Rising" a stunning three song EP that highlighted a band with one foot in the proto-metal camp and the other sinking into the dark mire of doom. Since the release of their debut EP The Red Widows have parted ways with their original drummer, the mysteriously named John Doe, and so for "Fuzzifixion" recruited sound engineer Marco Alejandro Papiz in for drumming duties. Whether due to the change in line up or because of some other unknown factor "Fuzzifixion" marks a huge evolution in both The Red Widows overall sound and direction. The first thing that comes to the listeners notice, as first track "Pendulum" assails the ear canals, is the different approach Corvino uses in her vocals, where the bassist/vocalist utilised an almost classic rock tone on "Rising" here we find her employing an almost monastic vocal style, still as powerful and dynamic as on the bands previous work but this time around there is a spiritual/religious feel to to her tones, especially when harmonised with the Rev.Mojofuzz's backing vocals. The good Reverend also has made some significant changes to his sound, his guitar tones on "Fuzzifixion" sound thicker, darker and more distorted especially on the excellent brooding "Lucifer's Maiden" where his guitar combines with Corvino's growling deep bass to create a sound that is more a rumble than a riff. Papiz may only be filling in a vacant seat at the moment but if Corvino and the Rev. have any sense they should sign him up as a full time member pretty sharpish as his contribution to "Fuzzifixion" is immense, solid tight and economical he drives each song with a powerhouse display of percussion that at times defies belief . "There Is No God", "Cursed Forever" and "His Name Is Death" proceed the two songs already mentioned and follow much the same blueprint, dark, dank low slung riffage and hazy dark guitar solos driven by pummelling percussion all decorated with those superbly executed vocal tones, a tsunami of dank heaviness and dark spiritual groove that come at you wave after glorious wave.






The Red Widows have with "Fuzzifixion" dropped the proto aspects of their "Rising" EP and embraced their doom side full on. Imagine if you can the sound of a High Priestess of some ancient religious order chanting majestically above the sound of two tectonic plates grinding against each other deep beneath the Earth's surface and you might, just might get a handle on what the Red Widows are all about.
Check 'em out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

* Vinyl soon to be available on  DHU Records

Sunday, 9 June 2019

TOOTHLESS CAGE ~ MARS ..... review


Portugal's Toothless Cage are asking you to take a once in a lifetime trip, a trip that will take you from the lapping blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea to the dusty red and lifeless bowl of the Del La Rue Ocean, in other words the Pombal trio are taking us to "Mars"


"The grass is always greener on the other side" is an old adage used to counteract those times when your situation looks on the bleak side and you start wondering if another location may serve you better. Portugal's Toothless Cage however have looked a little further than over the crest of the hill and have set their sights on a place with not even a vestige of grass and is in fact quite red. The band tell us, in the lyrics of the EP's opening title track, of their stress at "living in conspiracies, that makes us feel alive", and address this dilemma by telling us they are "going to Mars", the band delivering these lyrics in clear. clean vocal tones atop grooves of molten hard rock spliced with a healthy dose of warm grainy guitar fuzz that is driven by throbbing  deep bass and tight, solid percussion.. "Breathing" follows and here we find the band hitting a groove that mixes old school desert rock with that of a more proto-metal flavour, the band throwing a cheeky little snippet of Sabbath's riff for "Children of the Grave" in to the mix to keep things interesting. "River of God's" stays in proto territory but drops the metal for a more doomic dynamic while "END" goes for a more atmospheric grungy  approach and tells of  a world  with "Buffalos grazing on the street, Mirrors broken everywhere". "Oneironaut" closes out the EP with a huge sounding tome that pulls together all the different aspects of Toothless Cage's sound into one massive throbbing groove that is  made even bigger sounding by it clever use of dynamics and pace.


So if your life feels a little frantic and out of control and that grass on the other side of that hill looks just a tad like the grass your already standing on... then why not hop aboard the good ship Toothless Cage and give "Mars" a spin, the air may not be breathable, the weather might be a touch on the extreme side but maaaaaan the grooves are KICKING!
Check 'em out ……

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 8 June 2019

FREE RIDE ~ FREE RIDE ..... review


Have you been looking for something that will rekindle those memories of the 90's when every other week there was a party in the desert, a time before terms like stoner rock and desert rock were coined and the music being played was an untagged hybrid of punk and hard rock with a little psychedelic colouring thrown in for good measure? Well look no further for those memories will come flooding back in waves when you hear the self titled debut album from Spanish trio Free Ride.


Carlos Bedmar (drums), Victor Bedmar (bass) and Borja Fresno (guitar/vocals) are Free Ride a band who like their heroes took their grooves out into the wilderness to reach their audience the only difference being their wilderness was not an American desert but a plateau situated on the outskirts of their home city Madrid. Free Ride's sound owes a huge debt to those early generator driven American desert grooves especially those of L.A's Fu Manchu and Nebula, Free Ride taking the punky stoner rock of the former and blending it with the more spacier psychedelic forays of the latter. OK Free Ride are not reinventing the wheel with their debut release but with songs like the lysergic laced "Sativa" and the street smart "Libido Rising" who would want them to. The band do step outside of their punky desert rock comfort zone on occasions first with the excellent "Crazy Woman", a song that sees them tripping through bluesy pastures (and when we say tripping we do mean tripping), secondly with "Caravan", a hazy semi acoustic outing with low key hushed vocals and then finally with "Opium" a lysergic instrumental foray that touches on doom, heavy stoner and even a little psychedelic funk on its travels.


If your looking for music that pushes the boundaries and dips its toes into more experimental areas then "Free Ride" maybe not the album your looking for, however if your looking for grooves that take you back to the desert scenes formative years and does so without sounding contrived then this is your lucky day.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 3 June 2019

DEAD SACRAMENTS ~ CELESTIAL THRONE ..... review



We, the unwashed, bleary eyed writers of blogs and reviews who are often found semi-slumped over our keyboards trying to find a new word for the sound of drums, often use the term "huge" when we are describing music, but what does that word really mean when applied to a groove, a riff or a sound?  At Desert Psychlist we tend to use "huge" not as a description of a certain piece of music's volume or the duration of it's length but more in the context of its intensity and depth in which case Dead Sacraments "Celestial Throne" is not just "huge" it's absolutely humongous!


Dead Sacraments preface their grooves with the legend "Riffs + Dungeon Crawling", Desert Psychlist is not 100% sure what the "dungeon crawling" part actually alludes to but we are more than certain where they are coming from with the "riffs" part of that statement. "Celestial Throne" is an album with riffs to spare, the band utilising thick low slung guitar refrains, twinned with deep reverberating growling bass lines pushed by powerful thundering percussion to create a sound that is intense, dank and somewhat claustrophobic (that "dungeon crawling" is starting to make sense now). Not content with creating grooves that have a cloying, subterranean atmospheric the band then ramp up the denseness of their grooves by coating those same grooves with clean monotonic vocal harmonies that have an almost monastic/Gregorian feel and  tell of "bloodstained rites in profaned glades" ("Void Summoning") and "labs and dungeons: flooded, drowned in the blood of our dead " ("Cracking The Celestial Throne"). Lyrically and musically "Celestial Throne" is no stroll beneath sun streaked blue skies yet having said that there are times when the light penetrates through the gloom and pierces the dismal darkness with rare glimpses of sunshine, these glimpses of brightness present themselves in the albums soaring guitar solo's that swoop and swirl above the morose and monolithic refrains beneath them and in doing so take things to an altogether higher plane of aural enjoyment.


Dense, dark and utterly intense "Celestial Throne" is not an album that's going to lift your spirits and put you in the mood for dancing, it is however an album of songs that sonically mirrors that conflict of light and shade that lies somewhere deep inside each and every one of us.
Check it out. …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 27 May 2019

DOOMSTRESS ~ SLEEP AMONG THE DEAD ....review


Desert Psychlist first came across the band Doomstress via bassist and vocalist Alexis Hollada's (aka Doomstress Alexis) other musical outlet Project Armageddon, a dark doomy outfit with a penchant for salting their doom with elements of old school metal. Not long after hearing Project Armageddon's excellent  album "Cosmic Oblivion" Hollada contacted us at Stonerking Towers asking if we would be interested in reviewing a release from her other band Doomstress entitled "Supernatural Kvlt Sounds: The Second Rite", of course we jumped at the chance and found, to our surprise, a band coming from the opposite direction to Project Armageddon …. an old school heavy metal band salting their grooves with elements of doom. A lot has happened since that release with Hollada filling in on bass duties with proto legends Josefus as well as Doomstress getting signed by the prestigious Ripple Music label, the label on which the band have just released their latest opus "Sleep Among The Dead".


Bassist/vocalist Hollada is joined, in Doomstress, by Tomasz Scull (drums), Matt Taylor (guitar) and Brandon Johnson (guitar) the four musicians creating a sound that references elements from the full gamut of classic metal but then sprinkles those elements with fine dusting of doomic faery dust and occult rock nuance. Desert Psychlist described Hollada's vocals on Project Armageddon's "Cosmic Oblivion" as coming across as a little unique and quirky however on "Sleep Among The Dead" her vocals are strong, clean and in places possess an almost ethereal quality, now whether this is because "the Doomstress" has been visiting a vocal coach or it's that she now has more confidence in her vocal abilities ,Desert Psychlist doesn't know, but her vocals, throughout the albums seven tracks, are nothing short of superb. "Sleep Among The Dead" is that rarest of animals.. a complete album, from "Bitter Plea" through to title track "Sleep Among The Dead" there is not a weak track to be found, but if the push came to the shove and we were forced to pick a favourite then it would have to be "Dreaming Spider", it's achingly beautiful extended intro suddenly exploding into a throbbing proto-doomic groove with Hollada telling us, in melodic tones, of "collecting dew reflecting strings of jewels", the songs crunching main riff offset by shards of subtle guitar colouring beneath which the bass and drums keep things solid, tight and on point.


We denizens of the underground rock scene tend to balk of the thought of our heroes taking that next step up to wider audience acceptance but if there ever was a band that could take that step, and deserved to take that step, then our money would be on Doomstress and "Sleep Among The Dead" may just be the album to make that happen.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 26 May 2019

STONERROR ~ WIDOW IN BLACK .... review


Poland is a country with a strong reputation for producing bands that lean towards the darker end of the underground rock spectrum however the Eastern European country, that has given us monstrous grooves from the likes of Dopelord, Sunnata and Weird Tales, is not unknown for occasionally turning out bands of a more considered but no less intense nature. One such band is Stonerror, a four piece from Krakow, who have just released their second full length album "Widow In Black"


Stonerror. Jarosław Daniel (guitar), Jacek Malczewski (bass, vocals), Łukasz Mazur (guitar, lead vocals) and Maciej Ołownia (drums), call what they do " sexy psychedelic stonerpunk" which roughly translates to a sort of mish mash of QOTSA/Kyuss type desert quirkiness and 1000 Mods styled psychedelic grooviness that is balanced out by strong melodies and that thing the old jazzers used to call "swing". Stonerror's grooves are accessible and easy on the ear, a statement that may have you reaching for the off button expecting some sort of mainstream rock extravaganza but "Widow In Black" is far from being a radio friendly album, there is enough crunch,swirl and bite in these nine tracks to placate even the most hardened of stoners, doomers and psychonauts. "Fuzz drenched" is an often overused cliché when reviewing music of a stoner/desert bias but it is one hard to avoid when discussing Stonerror's musical attack as the grainy shades and warm tones these guys get out of their various pedals, both bass and guitars, is at times breathtaking and astounding especially when combined with the albums clean, clear vocal melodies and astonishingly insistent and effective percussion. From crunching opening track "Ships On Fire" right through to the mellow indie flavoured closer "Revelation" Stonerror make up for what they might lack in brutality with lashings of raucous addictive groove and an ear for a good melody.


Whether you buy into Stonerror's description of what they do, on "Widow In Black", as "stonerpunk" or whether you just think that what they are doing  is nothing more than a raunchier. punkier take on stoner/desert rock it is nonetheless hard to deny (or resist) the quality of the grooves they have on offer.
Check 'em out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday, 24 May 2019

VALLEY OF THE SUN ~ OLD GODS ..... review


We have all seen those statements on the rock orientated pages of "All Hail The Riff", "Praise The Riff" and the one we use on these very pages "Oh The Power Of The Riff", so what is it about the riff/refrain ,basically a repeated notes or chords strung together, that can be the difference between something meh or awesome? The best answer Desert Psychlist could find comes not from a hardened rock'n'roller but from country musician Dwight Yoakam who says "To me, the hook of the riff is what makes a great guitar recording. It's the backbone of the whole song. When you have a strong riff, it's the rocket fuel for the track."
Cincinnati's Valley of the Sun must be, given Yoakam's description, splitting their time between playing music and working part time for NASA as their latest album "Old Gods" (Fuzzorama Records) has enough of that riff related rocket fuel to circumnavigate not only the Earth but the whole damn Solar System!


Ok we have already established that Valley of the Sun have the riffs but a band needs more than a few chunky refrains if its going to make its mark in a world where chunky refrains can almost be plucked from the air. Thankfully there is more to Valley of the Sun than just the gravity of their riffage, these guys have real songs with clever structures, strong melodies and an undeniable level of groove.
Title track "Old Gods" begins with an ambient guitar motif accompanied by a pounding drum beat that slowly builds in volume and power until the rest of the band come in and the track explodes into a monstrous growling groove driven by drummer Aaron Boyer's solid incessant percussion and Chris Sweeney's growling bass lines the pair laying down a humongous strutting groove that is then taken to an altogether other level by Ryan Ferrier's and Josh Pilot's thick, dense guitar tones. Ferrier also supplies Valley of the Sun's vocals and he is a vocalist of rare quality, his mix of dulcet grunginess and rock god roar bringing an almost classic rock feel to the song. Although blessed with a deliciously heavy groove the title track does not define what the rest of the album sounds like and what resonates most while listening to "Old Gods" is its diversity, Valley of the Sun are not a band content to live off the power of their riffs no matter how thick and addictive those riffs are, they have many more irons in their fire than that.  Among those songs that are driven by crunching guitars and thrumming rhythms, such as  "Firewalker", "Dim Vision" and "Means The Same", are scattered  three brief instrumental gems, "Gaia Creates", "Shiva Destroys" and "Buddha Transcends", three tunes that have an eastern devotional feel and are the perfect foil for VotS's more hard rocking and abrasive elements. Along with these forays into more experimental and lysergic areas the band also dangle their feet into other rock styles and grooves, throwing in some desert flavoured swagger into the Fu Manchu(ish) "All We Are" and getting down and grungy with the excellent "Dreams of Sand" a song that closes "Old Gods" in a wave of Seattle flavoured groove that finds the band mixing Nirvana like quiet/loud/quiet dynamics with the blustering attack of their fellow grunge/alt.rock acolytes Soundgarden


Valley of the Sun have taken a huge gamble with "Old Gods", the band could have easily made another "The Sayings of the Sage" and it would of still turned heads and had jaws gaping, but they didn't and their brave gamble of expanding their sound into other sonic areas has paid off in spades.
Check it out ….. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 18 May 2019

BLIND MESS ~ THE GOOD,THE BAD & THE DEAD ..... review



Complexity, intricacy, concepts and themes are all well and good but sometimes the listener needs to escape from all that is clever and deep and just immerse themselves in something a little more primal and basic. Germany's Blind Mass, are the antidote you are a looking for, a band who know how to swagger and strut but also have the skills and tools to shift into cerebral territory if they have to, something their latest release "The Good, The Bad & The Dead" more than testifies to.



Blind Mess draw their influences from a variety of sources, from the sandy generator parties of the Palm Desert scene, from the angsty attitude of urban punk and of course the fist pumping, head nodding power of heavy metal. What we are trying to say is what Blind Mess offer you, with "The Good, The Bad & The Dead", is good old' fashioned ballsy heavy rock'n'roll just the way Lemmy would of liked it. In fact Blind Mess pay tribute to the great man on "The Good, The Bad & The Dead" with  "Ironing The Sky", a tune that uses Motorhead song titles for much of its lyrical content. Blind Mess are however not a Motorhead clone or tribute act, these guys have their own thing going on as the excellent "I'm In A Hole"  and the throbbing "The Enemy " demonstrate, the former boasting catchy vocal refrains growled/bellowed over heavy hard rock grooves, the latter a gritty stoner doomic tome over which the lyrics are delivered with wide eyed vocal ferocity.


Blind Mess are not going to win you over with complex arrangements and technical wizardry, nor are they trying to, what they will win you over with however is their commitment to laying down raucous, thrumming grooves of rocking heavy metal that not only kick serious ass but also remind us that despite its sometimes dark and gloomy reputation metal can also be fun.
Check 'em out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 11 May 2019

HALFAYA ~ EL PASO DE HALFAYA .... review


Let's take a trip to the bottom end of the South American continent and visit Argentina, a place that for a while now has been churning out more than its fair share of gnarly assed underground grooviness. The band we are visiting today go by the name of Halfaya, Pancho (vocals/electronics), Gonza (bass/vocals), Strips (guitar/vocals) and CJ (drums/percussion), a band who like to call what they do as "weedcore". Now, with the odd exception, Desert Psychlist tends to run a mile from anything attached to the term "core" but Halfaya's debut release "El Paso de Halfaya"(Psycho Records) proves that  the word "core" doesn't always have to rhyme with "bore".


Title track "El Paso De Halfaya", an instrumental, arrives slow and atmospheric with droning electronic effects that are accompanied by a crunching circular guitar motif that gradually builds and builds until finally settling into a juddering heavy proto-doomic/metallic refrain that is as far removed from being "core" as it could possibly get while still remaining in the hard and heavy arena."Vienen Por Vos" follows and apart from a few gnarly vocal inflections there is still no real sign of those "core" elements raising their head, instead we get a heavy stoner outing decorated in grainy fuzz and driven by thick growling bass and punchy, pounding percussion."Miserias" throws a curve ball into the mix, a short moody instrumental that although brief is quite charming and strangely soothing which is something that cannot be said about its near neighbour "Extraños" a short sharp jab of stoner doomic mayhem broken up by moments of thrash like pace, a song where those "core" elements talked about begin to make their presence felt. Next track "Asidero A La Oscuridad" explores more stoner doomic territories its low slow intro building up into a thrumming heavily fuzzed groove decorated with a strong triple vocal attack, the song increasing in pace before finally coming to an abrupt finish."Vencidos" follows and now we do enter the "core" arena with the band hitting a punky hardcore groove with the vocals following suit. "Abduction" closes the album and finds the band dropping their native tongue for English with a song that has a strong political edge, the lyrics telling of "Abduction, Disappearance, Homicide", seemingly a reference to Argentina's "Dirty War" a time when many of Argentina's citizens were rounded up by the authorities never to be seen again. Powerful and doomic with subtle twists in dynamic and pace the song closes "El Paso De Halfaya" much like the album began, slow and atmospheric.


Halfaya may call what they do "weedcore", and there are elements to be found here that most definitely come under the dreaded "core" banner,  however what we at Desert Psychlist prefer to call this is … devastatingly good , powerfully heavy ROCK!
Check it out ….. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 6 May 2019

LORD VICAR ~ THE BLACK POWDER ..... review


Hardly has the ink dried (metaphorically speaking) on Desert Psychlist's review of a band we described as raising the doom standard to impossible new heights (Troll ~ Legend Master), than along comes one of the scenes big hitters and throws that same standard way out into the stratosphere.
Finland's Lord Vicar will not be strangers to those of you who follow dooms gore splattered flag but it has to be said the band have not exactly been overly active of late in the recording stakes, their last outing of note being 2016's "Gates of Flesh", however that has all changed with the release of "The Black Powder" an album that cements Lord Vicar's place as one of dooms leading lights.


Desert Psychlist could give you a detailed breakdown of each and every one of the nine tracks that make up "The Black Powder" but you can find those easily enough on other review sites and why take the enjoyment out of you discovering these songs for yourselves, instead we'll try to give you our brief overall impression of "The Black Powder" as a whole.
"Black Powder" possess all those elements you would expect from an album that has its feet planted firmly in the decaying soil of the doomic genre, it is dank, cloying, atmospheric and in places a little creepy yet at the same time is also epic, grandiose and, despite its sometimes fatalistic lyrical content, strangely uplifting. One of the criticisms levelled at Lord Vicar's Swedish contemporaries Candlemass was that their latest album "The Door to Doom" was, in places, a touch like listening to a doom version of an Andrew Lloyd-Webber stage production, this is not so with "The Black Powder" here we have an album that reeks of doom, feels like doom and for all we know may even taste of doom. Dynamically Lord Vicar play, what we call in the UK, a blinder, it would be so easy for the band to travel down the musical paths of low slow and heavy but they evenly balance out their doomic dirges with grooves of a more upbeat, almost proto-metallic nature, for every gaping hole of depression, a shining white light of hope, for every "Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre" a "Levitation".


So there it is a brief and not overly detailed description of Lord Vicar's new album "The Black Powder", an album we, at Desert Psychlist, believe to be their best to date, an album that should be in every discerning doom fans music collection.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 5 May 2019

MAGE ~ KEY TO THE UNIVERSE ..... review


Most of the UK bands Desert Psychlist has reviewed of late have come from the western fringes of the country, today however we travel to the middle of England and the city of Leicester for a four piece who have, with the help of three well received albums, steadily been building a reputation not only in the UK but also across the pond. That band are Mage, Andy (drums). Tom (vocals), Mark (bass) and Woody (guitar), four guys who despite having to deal with some issues during their five year tenure, both personal and business wise, are still bringing it to the table loud and raucous, something their fourth album "Key To The Universe" more than bears testimony to.


From the moment first track "Zen Blues" tears through the cones of your speakers with its huge wave of heavy blustering riffage and thunderous percussion you almost instinctively know you are going to love every single moment of the next thirty plus minutes, and you will! You will marvel at the swinging vocal melodies and swaggering hard rock grooves of "You Hate Speech", you while throw fist pumps to the air as you listen to the fractured shifting refrains of "Grind", you will feel real disappointment when the swaying, swirling "Black Totem" brings things to a close with its mix of stuttering old school heavy metal and proto-doomic bluster, and you will feel utter joy and elation when you realise just pushing play means you can hear it all again.


Desert Psychlist supposes you could describe Mage's sonic assault on the senses, with "Key To The Universe", as leaning towards the more metallic end of the stoner spectrum, their sound being a little too doomic and heavy to be associated with the Kyuss's and Monster Magnet's of this world and just a little less intense and leaden for it to be mentioned in the same breaths as say a Pallbearer or a Dopelord. Mage's sound sits instead somewhere in the middle of those dynamics, a crossroads where melody and intensity meet and amicably shake hands.
Check it out ….. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday, 3 May 2019

CLOUDS TASTE SATANIC ~ EVIL EYE ..... review


Evil Eye, Wikipedia definition; The evil eye is a curse or legend believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury.
"Evil Eye", Desert Psychlist definition; "Evil Eye" is a two track album by New York instrumental post-doomanauts Clouds Taste Satanic. Many believe receiving "Evil Eye" will cause forty minutes plus of unbridled audial pleasure.


Clouds Taste Satanic are that rare thing, an instrumental doom band who constantly deliver, now doom by it's very nature can be a little limiting in that it has parameters that need to be met in order to fulfil its full doomic potential, doom needs to be heavy for one thing, it also needs to be atmospheric, have depth and in most cases be a little slower in pace. CTS more than meet all these needs with their vocal free grooves but they also add into the mix a little dynamic faery dust so as to avoid their jams becoming just plodding bore-fests. The band achieve this by weaving into their doomic grooves touches of lysergic colouring and neo-classical texturing as well as a modicum of bluesy swagger and proto-doomic bluster, something that gives their wordless tomes an epic almost grandiose feel. Title track "Evil Eye" exemplifies this perfectly, the band using all those elements mentioned to lift the music up from its monolithic, monotonic doomic core and allow it to momentarily spread it's leathered wings before then plunging back into the viscous primordial soup from which it was birthed, shifting back and forth between these two dynamics of light and shade via a constant stream of changes in pace, volume and signature. For the first part of its life second track "Pagan Worship" takes a different tack preferring to stay in its doomic mire wallowing in its own heaviness until when, a quarter of the way in, it suddenly takes off on a proto-doom groove with guitar solo's screaming overhead only then to come to a full stop shortly afterwards and then plunge into a bass heavy post -metal dirge that slowly builds with intensity until finally exploding into a full on doom groove replete with soaring blues flecked guitar solos, growling bass and Bonham-esque military style drumming, the song finally bowing out on a wave of reverberating crackling fuzz, the whole experience leaving you a little awe-struck, a little breathless and a whole lot battered and bruised 


As the last notes of "Evil Eye" fade into silence you will suddenly come to the  realisation that you have sat through forty minutes plus of heavy, complex and intense instrumental doom without once wishing for the introduction of an impassioned howl or grizzled bellow, this is the beauty of Clouds Taste Satanic they make music that transcends the need for vocals or lyrics, a band who let their instruments create the drama and emotion and then leave it to their listeners imaginations to do the rest
Check it out …. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 2 May 2019

SKUNK ~ STRANGE VIBRATION ......review


Oakland, California groovsters Skunk make no bones about where their musical roots stem from, the quintet of John McKelvy (vocals), Dmitri Mavra (guitar), Erik Pearson (guitar), Matt Knoth (bass) and Jordan Ruyle (drums) readily admit that they draw their inspirations from the golden age of seventies hard rock and in particular the music, that bridged the gap between heavy blues rock and heavy metal, we now refer to as proto-metal. Skunk first tickled the hairs of our ears with their superb debut full album "Doubleblind" a raucous mix of proto flavoured riffage and classic rock swagger and now return to damage our hearing further with their new opus "Strange Vibration" (Fuzzy Minds Records)


Title track "Strange Vibration" opens with droning electronic trickery accompanied by a low booming bass line and is then joined by the other instruments in a lysergic jam that has guitar solo's coming at you from every conceivable angle, pushed into overdrive by busy tight percussion, the mayhem gradually subsiding for the groove to drop into a plodding doomic groove with the vocalist entering stage left to tell us of  stoned gods dreaming and wise men preaching, telling these tales in vocal tones that have to be heard to be believed. John McKelvy's vocals are going to be either the deal clincher or deal breaker regarding whether you, the listener, are going to "get" Skunk, for some his Burke Shelley (Budgie) meets Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath) and shares a helium filled balloon may prove a bridge to far but for others (us included) they will be the cherry on a very tasty proto flavoured cake. Assuming you are of the latter group and dig McKelvy's unique vocal talents then what the rest of the album offers is going to rock your boat harder than a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, unashamed borrowing ("Stand In The Sun" *basically Black Sabbath's NIB with different lyrics, chorus and middle section), bluesy funkiness ("Blood Moon Rising"),swaggering hard rock ("Evil Eye Gone Blind") and doom mixed with a liberal sprinkling of glam rock ("The Cobra's Kiss") are just a few of the elements that will have you leaping around your personal space like a loon who's trod on a cactus, the rest you can discover for yourselves.


Let's try not to get bogged down with the term "retro" in regard to Skunk's new album, yes the music contained therein does have its roots in the 70's but there are also elements to be found here that would never have surfaced had it not been for today's re-emergence of rock as a force to be, once again, reckoned with. Skunk may use the halcyon days of bell bottom trousers and kaftans as their jumping off point but where they land is most certainly in the here and now.
Check it out …

© 2019 Frazer Jones