Wednesday, 20 March 2019

GREEN LUNG ~ WOODLAND RITES .... review


South London's Green Lung return this year with not only a revised line-up but also a more expansive and spacious sound. After the release of the excellent "Free The Witch" EP the band, Tom Templar (vocals), Scott Black (guitar), Andrew Cave (bass) and Matt Wiseman (drums), realised in order to fully realise the sounds within their heads an extra component needed to be added to the mix and so the band invited organist John Wright in to add extra weight to their compositions, the results of which can be heard all over the bands latest release "Woodland Rites" (Kozmik Artifactz)


The sound of chirping birds and gently plucked acoustic guitars suddenly exploding into a maelstrom of heavy stonerized instrumental groove is the best way to describe opening track "Initiation", its swirling guitars, growling bass and pummelling drums concluding in a wall of screaming feedback while a short narrative tells us that "witchraft is dead and discredited", Almost immediately we are thrown into next track "Woodland Rites" a song that blends chugging proto-metallic riffage with strong vocal melodies, Templar's voice a perfect blend of sneering grittiness and melodic cleanliness. Next up is "Let The Devil In" and if you thought the title track was something special then this one is going to blow your socks clean into another dimension,. Beginning with a medieval tinted acoustic refrain and another short piece of sampled narrative the song suddenly explodes into a heavy but measured groove that utilises neo-classical and folk motifs to add an extra level of atmospheric occultism to proceedings, add into this equation a superbly executed vocal melody and you start to wonder can this album get any better. Well the answer to that is, it does, and "The Ritual Tree" proves it, a song that balances its heavy doomic bluster with sublime lysergic tenderness courtesy of Black's screaming, wailing  guitar solo's and Wright's swirling textured keys. "Templar Dawn" sees Green Lung exploring stoner doom territory with the vocals taking on a slightly more sinister tone over a thundering backdrop of grizzled bass and powerful percussion, expertly provided by Cave and Wiseman. "Call of the Coven" raises the tempo as well as the temperature while "May Queen" takes the dynamics in the opposite direction having an almost ballad-esque vibe and is blessed by some sterling lead work from Black. "Into The Wild" closes the album, a song that undulates between hazy psychedelics and smouldering occult rock, the song bringing to an end a very impressive debut from a very impressive band.


The term "occult rock" is one that causes a bit of confusion, at Desert Psychlist we tend to think of something tagged as "occult rock" as being grooves that although "doomic" are not what you could call full on "doom", grooves that share many of doom's characteristics but lean towards the more melodic and accessible end of the spectrum. Now you may not agree with our definition but whether you do or not does not take away the fact that "Woodland Rites" is a superb album that is both melodic AND accessible.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 17 March 2019

CRYPT TRIP ~ HAZE COUNTY ....... review


For Desert Psychlist the hard/classic rock of bands like KISS, Van Halen and Aerosmith, although very good, always came across as a little bit like an American attempt to emulate the British heavy rock grooves of the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. For us, here at Stonerking Towers much more interesting was when American bands like The Allman Brothers,The Outlaws and The Grateful Dead strived to add a little of their own country's culture to the mix, blending their hard rock grooves with elements of soul, jazz, bluegrass and country to leave the listener in no doubt of the music's North American origin. So why are we telling you this, well the answer is that, despite the doomic dynamics of their self titled debut, Texas trio Crypt Trip, Ryan Lee (guitar/vocals), Cameron Martin (drums) and Sam Bryant (bass), have been steadily moving, release by release, towards this more organic and honest American sound, a sound that is born from the musical diversity of its populace, a diversity reflected and celebrated on each and every song of the bands latest album "Haze County" (Heavy Psych Sounds).


The mushrooms, armadillo's and motorcycles that adorn the cover of Crypt Trip's latest opus, perfectly capture both the mood and vibe of the music therein. Crypt Trip have come a long way from their early proto-doomic beginnings, in fact if you didn't know any better you could well be fooled into believing there were two Crypt Trip's, one a hard rocking combo with stoner leanings , the other a country/southern rock band in the mould of The Allman Brothers and The Marshall Tucker Band.
"Haze County" kicks off with "Forward", a twang drenched instrumental chock-a-block full of catchy guitar hooks and motifs and sounds not too dissimilar to something the great Dicky Betts might of penned in his days as an Allman, "Hard Times" follows, a song that goes through more changes than a supermodel at a fashion show, the band seamlessly shifting between tempos, time signatures and dynamics with an ease that defies description, Lee's smooth vocal tones the one constant holding it all together. "To Be Whole" goes for a more straightforward classic rock groove, securely nailed down by Martin's industrious percussion and Bryant's busy solid bass, with Lee's vocals and superb guitar work the icing on the cake. "Death After Life" finds the band hitting into balmy psychedelic territory while "Free Rain" mixes up the psychedelics with some good old rock'n'roll swagger. Next up is "Wordshot" a country tinted medium paced rocker that is followed by "16 Ounce Blues" a song that, to these ears, channels a touch of early Eagles Californian sunshine in its execution.. "Pastures" is a finger-picking acoustic delight, enhanced by some achingly beautiful pedal steel from guest contributor Geoff Queen, that paves the way for closing song "Gotta Get Away" a track that adds to Crypt Trip's already cram packed resume an element of Spirit type late 60's pop/psych sensibility.


Crypt Trip have with "Haze County" finally shook off the stoner/hard rock tag, that had many mentioning them in the same breaths as Sweden's Graveyard and Witchcraft , and have embraced the roots of their own countries musical history. The fact that the band have shifted towards this new direction gradually and without some sudden sea-change means that we as fans have been privileged to take that journey with them, a journey that may have started with a thick distorted crunch but has slowly evolved into a hearty southern fried twang.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 11 March 2019

DUN RINGILL ~ WELCOME ..... review



Finding themselves at a loose end, after their main band The Order of Israfel decided to take an hiatus, Patrik Andersson Winberg (bass) and Hans Lilja (drums) teamed up with Winberg's old Doomdogs bandmate Tomas Eriksson (Intoxicate) on vocals to start a new project. The trio soon recruited guitarists Tommy Stegemann (Silverhorse), Jens Floren (Lommi) on and Patric Grammann (SFT/Neon Leon) to their cause and Dun Ringill was born.
The band have just released their debut album "Welcome" on Argonauta Records.


"Welcome" comes hot on the heels of new albums releases from Swedish doom veterans Candlemass and up and coming Swedes on the block Ordos and, either by design or happy coincidence, Dun Ringill's new album sits comfortably between the two and forms an unlikely bridge between the formers traditional doom and the latter's blackened stoner take on the genre. "Welcome" kicks off with "Welcome To The Fun Fair Horror Time Machine" and to say that this song does not share common ground with Ordos' song "House of the Dead" would be akin to saying David Bowie's "Gene Genie" bears no resemblance to The Sweet's "Blockbuster", Eriksson shifting through a similar spectrum of vocal styles to that of Ordos' Emil Johansson and, like the Upsala bands frontman, bringing an almost vaudeville/opera vibe to proceeding, Eriksson effectively playing all the parts. Musically, throughout "Welcome", Dun Ringill are bang on the money, the band laying beneath Eriksson's unique tones doomic grooves that sway between the traditional and modern, grooves driven by Winberg and Lilja's almost telepathic rhythmic understanding and further enhanced by Stegemann, Floren and Grammann's three pronged axe attack. A slew of guest musicians are drafted in to add texture and extra colour to proceedings with Swedish keyboard legend Per Wiberg (ex Opeth,/Spiritual Beggars/Kamchatka, ) adding his weight and Hammond to "The Demon Within".(which also features Matilda Winberg's vocals on the intro) while Emil Rolof (Bult/Lugnoro) supplies quirky piano to "Welcome To The Fun Fair Horror Time Machine" (also featuring Bjorn Johansson on flute) as well as mellotron to "Black Eyed Kids".


"Welcome" is an apt title for Dun Ringill's debut album because once you enter you will not want to leave, content to revel in their unique and original blend of new and old doomic styles until one day they finally make an album entitled "Goodbye".
Check 'em out ….

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© 2019 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

PESTA ~ FAITH BATHED IN BLOOD .... REVIEW


It has been three years since Pesta assailed our auditory senses with "Bring Out Your Dead" and in that time the only sign of life, for those of us living outside of their Brazilian homeland, was the release of "Nightmare" a cover song first recorded by their fellow countrymen Sarcófago. Well the wait is finally over and Pesta, Thiago Cruz (vocals), Marcos Resende (rhythm/lead guitars), Daniel Rocha (rhythm guitar), Anderson Vaca (bass) and Flávio Freitas (drums), are back with a brand new album, "Faith Bathed In Blood", and its a beauty!


Having had no dialogue with the band or read any press releases prior to this new release Desert Psychlist cannot confirm, or for that matter deny, if "Faith Bathed In Blood" is based around some form of concept but given its title and its intelligent and well written lyrical references to cultism, religious fervour and paganist rituals it would very much seem that there is a common theme, if not a concept, linking each song to the next.
Musically "Faith Bathed In Blood" comes from the more "proto" end of the doom spectrum but before we start bandying around clichés like"Sabbath-esque" and Iommi worship" lets just say that songs like "Witches' Sabbath" (featuring guitar solo from guest musician Gustavo Bracher),"Hand of God" and "The Prayer" (also featuring Gustavo Bracher on slide) probably come from a place a little closer to the territories of Pentagram, Buffalo and Iron Claw than that of Black Sabbath. Cruz's strong clean and impassioned vocals are also far removed from sounding anywhere near Ozzy-ish and possess a clarity and tone, that in these days of growled bellows and demonic wailing, comes as a pleasant and welcome change. Cruz's impressive voice is framed by some equally impressive guitar work from Rocha and Resende, the pair laying down a blend of thick riffage and searing lead work that is forcefully backed up by Vaca's earthy growling bass and Freitas' solid but fluid percussion, the four instrumentalists combining to create a sound that although a little shy of crushing is nonetheless damn heavy


Desert Psychlist has no idea what Pesta were up to for that three year period spent between albums but if Pesta used that time to write, record and fine tune the eight songs that make up "Faith Bathed In Blood" then that was three years very well spent and worth the lengthy wait.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD ~ YN OL I ANNWN ....review


"Yn Ol I Annwn" is the third and final phase of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard's intergalactic themed three album trilogy and translates from Welsh into English as "Return to the Underworld". The Underworld should then be laying out the blood red carpet and welcoming these sons and daughters of Wrexham with open arms as "Yn Ol I Annwn" (New Heavy Sounds) is not only the conclusion to what has been an amazing trilogy of releases it is also their best album to date. 


MWWB's previous two releases were, on the whole, well received but there were some (there always are) who criticised the band for hanging around too long on one groove and using relentless repetition and dirge like monotony as tools with which to frame their songs. Well those same people are probably not going to have their minds changed much by "Yn Ol I Annwn" as dirge like grooves and repetitious riffs are still to be found throughout the albums eight songs, however what might draw some of those doubters over to the MWWB camp is the emphasis the band have put on the dynamics of their songs, this time around adding subtle prog-like textures and post-rock colourings to their sonic arsenal. Moog synthesisers are not the most organic of instruments and on past releases MWWB have been a little guilty of giving them a walk on part rather than a lead role, here though they are pushed further to the front and are as much an integral part of each songs make up as the vocals, drums and guitars. The synths, with the occasional help of cello, weave in and out of the gnarly growling riffs and earth shaking rhythms to add an air of cosmic depth and spatial gravitas to proceedings and make for a much more immersive listening experience. Another subtle but effective change comes in the albums vocal execution, Jessica Ball's vocals still work as a counterbalance to the spaced out doomic grooves that surround them but her voice seems a little more confident and a little less fragile and delicate than on the bands previous recordings, her vocals soaring through the maelstrom of doom the band lay beneath her rather than floating above it.


"Yn Ol I Annwn" is a major step in Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard's evolution, an album from a band who are not only growing in musical confidence and stature but one who are also unafraid to push the boundaries of their chosen musical field just that little further.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 4 March 2019

THE DRUIDS ~ TOTEM ..... review


The Druids, a four piece hard/psych/space rock band from White Oak, Maryland are Eli "Stone Druid" Watson (guitar/vocals). Danny "Spacehawk" Alger (guitar/vocals), Jeremy "Weed Warlock" Dinges (bass) and Gary "Iceman" Isom (drums/percussion) and should not be mixed up with any of the countless similar named bands currently in operation, such as The Druids (UK, hard rock/glam) or Druid (Ohio, psych/blues).This version of The Druids, although sharing certain musical characteristics with those mentioned, is a different animal altogether, something their new release "Totem" more than testifies too.



UK space rock pioneers Hawkwind played a huge part in shaping Desert Psychlist's appreciation of underground rock and it seems that the West London based cosmonauts have had the same effect on The Druids. It's not that Hawkwind's swirling space rock grooves are uppermost in The Druids overall sound it is just that, although not glaringly obvious, those grooves are nevertheless there sitting just below the surface and occasionally bubbling to top in the form of a vocal inflection or swirling spacey effect. The fact that the band include a song aptly entitled "Hawkwind" just compounds our theory.
First track "Cruising Astral Skies" does somewhat debunk the above statement by settling into a mid tempo hard rock groove that leans towards a more proto-metal sound but then "Atlantean" comes along and although somewhat doomier than anything Dave Brock & co may have come up with it does have a swirling space undercurrent and low-key vocal melody that just screams Hawklords. The aforementioned "Hawkwind" follows, an instrumental that leaves the listener in no doubt about its influences while "Moonshine Witch" brings a touch of bluesy bluster to the table and a hint of 60's psychedelia. "Sorcerers" places The Druids love of psych, space and 90's stoner rock together in one neat package and is followed by the excellent "Turtles Dream" a song that finds the band channelling a little Allman Brothers like swagger into their heady mix. Those Hawkwind vibes are never far away and resurface again on "High Society", the band lyrically referencing their lysergic cosmic leanings with lines like "lunar ships", "hidden realms" and "mushroom brews". "Totem" closes its account with "Sky Submarine" a song whose initial riff, if listened to closely, is a twisted, heavily psyched take on Black Sabbath's "Hand of Doom".


The Druids "Totem" is like a musical collage made up of the musical remnants that have influenced and shaped the bands sound, the band cleverly arranging those remnants so that they sound fresh, original and truly their own.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 3 March 2019

LàGOON ~ THE UNWELCOME ..... review.


Portland Oregon's LàGoon wormed their way into Desert Psychlist's affections via their second full album release "L'affaire de Poisons", a stunning blend of garage rock attitude and punky aggression, an album that demanded attention from its very first note to its last. The band return this spring with a new collection of songs, collated under the banner of "Unwelcome", and it looks as if it's business as usual for this dynamic duo.


"Sneering" would be the best way to describe Anthony Gaglia's vocal styling, the singer/guitarist has a distinctive tone that although not quite on the same level of sneeriness as that of (Sex Pistols/PIL frontman) John Lydon it does however possess a similar level of punkish arrogance and new wave snotyness. Having said this LaGoon's overall sonic impact probably has more in common with the primitive proto-punk/garage rock of Michigan's The Stooges than it does that of London's Sex Pistols, Gaglia's crunching, heavily distorted  guitar tones, pushed hard by Brady Maurer's tight punchy percussion, very much recalling the biting refrains of, the now sadly departed, Stooges six-stringer Ron Asheton. The band claim their influences to be "many different genres of heavy music, and the culture that surrounds skateboarding", Desert Psychlist has very little first hand knowledge of what makes up  "skateboarding culture" but on the evidence of songs like "The Thirst", "Alligator (In Your Head)" and "Live Through Death" maybe it's time we found out.


Raw and primal yet balanced with clever subtle hues and textures "The Unwelcome" is an uncompromising, radically different but wholly enjoyable blend of stoner fuzz and garage grit that is well worth taking the time to.....
Check out....

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 24 February 2019

GYPSY CHIEF GOLIATH ~ MASTERS OF SPACE AND TIME ..... review



There seems to be a subtle shift towards a more "classic rock" sound within some quarters of the rock underground of late. Whether this is a natural shift brought about by the instrumental and technical evolution of some of the scenes musicians or whether the bands in question are responding to a growing demographic that are now looking for a little more to their music than just a fuzz drenched riff and songs about weed and wizards, Desert Psychlist doesn't know. What we do know though is that over the last month or so Desert Psychlist has seen a growing number of albums and EP's passing across our desk that jam grooves of a more refined musical dynamic.
One of those bands currently approaching their music from a more "classic rock" direction are Gypsy Chief Goliath, Al Yeti Bones (vocals, guitars), Adam Saitti (drums), Darren Brush (bass), Dustin Black (guitars), John Serio (guitars) and Mark Calcott (keyboards) , a sextet from Windsor, Ontario who have just released their fourth album "Masters Of Space And Time" (Kozmik Artifactz)


Gypsy Chief Goliath's previous work ,although showing hints of moving towards a more classic rock sound, has been somewhat heavier and a touch more sludgier than what can be found gracing their latest effort. Those of you familiar with Gypsy Chief Goliath's previous work should however not be dismayed as "Masters Of Space And Time" still retains those more raucous elements of their sound, its just here they are a little more polished and refined. Bones, whose gruff big bear tones were a dominant force on past recordings, must have also been putting a little of that polish on his vocal chords as here we find him mixing up his gruff throaty bellows with vocals of a more restrained and melodic nature, and dare we say it, even coming over a little soulful in places, his mix of harsh and dulcet tones bringing a whole new dimension to GCG's sound. Bones, Serio and Black's three guitar attack, incorporating crunching riffage, swaying dual harmonies and scorching leads, is underpinned throughout "Masters Of Space And Time" by some industrious rhythmic power courtesy of Saitti's solid tight percussion and Brush's earthy bass tones. These grooves are ably bolstered and enhanced by Calcott's  keyboards, the ivory ticklers parping fills and swirling textures combining with the contributions from his fellow band members to add an extra degree of classic rock authenticity and depth to proceedings and take "Masters Of Time And Space" to a whole new level of enjoyment.


Gypsy Chief Goliath were heading towards a more "classic" sound with their excellent 2016 release "Citizens of Nowhere" (Pitch Black Records) but with "Masters of Space And Time" the band have not only arrived at their destination, they are beginning to make it their home.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 23 February 2019

LOTEK CRUISER ~ LOTEK CRUISER ..... review


"Sludge", stoner rock's delinquent cousin, is a genre that causes much confusion and debate among those who regularly write about underground rock and metal. Is sludge defined by its thick swampy grooves? Well not really, Desert Psychlist has come across many a band described as "stoner" or "desert" rock with grooves just as dense and swampy. So is it big meaty bear like bellowed vocals that decide what is and what is not "sludge"? Once again we hit a brick wall here as for every band described as working in the field of sludge metal there are least one or two with vocalists who sing in clean clear tones. "Sludge" it seems is in the ear of the beholder.
Canadian groove meisters Lotek Cruiser, a five piece collection of ragamuffins from Ontario, play grooves that are dense and swampy, the band also coat their grooves in meaty powerful vocal tones that they also mix with occasional cleaner tones. So are they "sludge"? Well Desert Psychlist is going to leave that to you decide by giving their self-titled debut "Lotek Cruiser" a spin.


Whether you come to the conclusion that what Lotek Cruiser bring to the table is sludge, or some form of stonerized metal, there is no denying that what these Canadians do is big. loud, heavy and, on the evidence presented here, mightily impressive. Lotek Cruiser's modus operandi is one of attack, you won't find much ambience or serenity among the ten songs on display here but what you will find, weaved into the fabrics of raucous riffage, pummelling percussion and full on gnarly vocal, power, is subtlety. Now using the word subtlety in the same sentence as raucous and pummelling might come as a surprise to some but when you delve deeper into Lotek Cruiser's grooves you come across those subtle shades everywhere. Prog-like solo's and chord progressions, little snippets of funky bass and tribalistic percussion, although not immediately obvious, raise their heads above the parapets of intensity every now and then and when combined with the powerful mix of harsh and clean vocals give songs, with titles like, "Buried Under The Morning Sun", "Surrender" and "Scars" a fresher more interesting dynamic and a wholly jaw dropping impact


Sludgey, stonerized , doomic and metallic, "Lotek Cruiser" is all these things and more, a highly enjoyable album that deserves to be at the head of any discerning heavy underground rock fans playlist for the duration of 2019 and beyond.

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday, 22 February 2019

ORDOS ~THE END ....... review



Back in 2013 an album called "Ordos", by a Swedish band of the same name, landed on Desert Psychlist's desk, a highly enjoyable collection of blackened doom and heavy stoner metal songs that although still a little raw and naïve in places promised much for the future. That promise came to fruition with the bands next release "House of the Dead", a truly remarkable album that took everyone by surprise and culminated in Desert Psychlist voting it our best album of 2017.
This year Ordos return with "The End" (Moving Air Music) and although the band has seen a few minor line up changes since "House of the Dead" the bands dank doomic drive and edgy blackened attack still remains intact and undiminished.


Ordos sound like no other underground band out there at the moment, ok there maybe some bands who can match their intensity and drive but when it comes to writing and arranging songs that can harness that intensity and drive into something that is not just a heavy noise then Ordos are the Grand Meisters. Ordos are without doubt "heavy" but that heaviness is tempered by something the old jazzers used to call "swing" and an almost (but not quite) operatic approach to their vocals, take for example the song "The Hunter of Hades" yes it has brutal groove, yes its vocal is full on and just light of demonic in places but then when you listen to the mix of neo-classical and bluesy guitar motifs that tear through the deep growling bass and complex but strident percussion you begin to realise that there is far more to this band than what first hits the ears. This is what makes Ordos such a great, and for that matter important band, these guys throw into their doomic grooves everything from swaggering bluesy bluster through to extreme grinding black metal but they do not do so haphazardly, the band seem to instinctively know exactly where best to throw in those elements so as to maximise their impact and enhance their overall dynamic . From first track "Exordium" to final track "Omega" expect everything from being brutally bludgeoned to being gently caressed, the band shifting through and between these extremes of dynamic with an unbelievable level of musical skill and vocal prowess that, at all times, is truly breath-taking!


The levels of sonic intensity and musical depth Ordos achieved with "House of the Dead" raised the bar for heavy doomic underground rock, with "The End" Ordos have not only maintained those levels but they may have actually pushed that bar up another notch.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

WILLOW ASH ~ A BANQUET IN THE GRAVE ..... review


Desert Psychlist has always had a leaning towards grooves that don't conform to the norm and are a little off the beaten track, imagine our delight then when we pressed play on Vermont based Willow Ash's  "A Banquet In The Grave" and discovered an  EP that takes the whole stoner/doom thing and turns it completely on its head.


The pentagram and occult inspired font announcing the band's name, depicted on the EP's cover artwork, may suggest, to some, music of a blackened metallic nature, however Willow Ash's grooves, although containing blackish elements, slide more into the arena of stonerized doom. Now the whole stoner doom thing has its detractors but the angle with which  Willow Ash approach the sub-genre is quite unique and refreshing, the band eschewing the low, slow brutal dirges they have utilised on previous releases for a more intellectual, slightly more considered feel that finds them decorating their songs with guitar tones that lean towards the more indie/post-rock end of the spectrum and grooves that although heavy are just shy of crushing. Vocals, on the EP's three non-instrumental songs "Beyond Where The Trees Turn Black","Banquet In The Grave" and "god (Reason Above All Else" are also non-conformist and are cleverly pitched a little back in the mix and consist of a blend of clean lead and remote, almost dissonant, harmonies with the occasional slide into harshness adding an extra element of dank atmospherics to proceedings. Fourth track, "Back Patio", however muddies the waters by throwing listeners a curveball, the band jamming a jazzy lounge bar instrumental  that although at odds with all that has gone before comes as a nice but totally unexpected surprise.


Heavy without being leaden, doomic without being overly dank, progressive without being prog "A Banquet In The Grave" is also unsettling, disturbing and in places downright weird but then that's the beauty of this little gem of an EP, it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is and what it is....is different and utterly brilliant.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 18 February 2019

DR. AWKWARD & THE SCREWS ~ GETTIN' OUT OF STYLE .... review


With "Greek Rock Revolution", a documentary highlighting Greece's burgeoning underground rock scene, looming on the horizon Desert Psychlist expects to see a huge peak in interest in Greek flavoured grooves. Never wanting to be late to the party we at Desert Psychlist thought we'd get the ball rolling by pointing you in the direction of Dr. Awkward & The Screws, a heavy blues quartet from Athens who have just released their first full length album "Gettin' Out Of Style"


Dr. Awkward & The Screws may not have made the cut for "Greek Rock Revolution"( the documentary features Naxatras, Planet of Zeus, Puta Volcano, 1000 Mods, Nightstalker, Villagers of Ioannina City and Tuber)  but on the evidence of "Gettin' Out Of Style" they more than deserve to have been included.
Dr. Awkward & The Screws are primarily a blues based combo with stoner(ish) tendencies, a combo with chops to spare and one that among its talented musicians possess a vocalist of distinctive quality and tone. First track "Take Me Down" explodes from the speakers with Pylarinos (Kostas)Kwnstadinos and John Amariotakis chopping out an enticing blend of clean and crunching guitar tones underpinned by solid tight percussion courtesy of drummer Thoukydidis Karpodinis.  Vocalist Grigoris (Greg) Konstantaras delivers, over this raucous wave of stuttering bluesy hard rock, a vocal that sits somewhere between Dave Sherman (Earthride) and Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) as well as supplying some very tasty bottom end via his earthy bass tones. This is the way it rolls for the duration of "Gettin' Out Of Style", the good Dr and his cohorts laying down thick fuzz drenched delta influenced blues grooves enhanced by an unconventional but highly enjoyable left of field approach, an approach that pays huge dividends throughout.


Instead of trying to round this review up with one of our usual why you should buy this outros we thought we'd just quote one of the blues genre's greatest songwriters/performers Mr Willie Dixon, "The blues are the roots and the other music's are the fruits. It's better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on". Don't worry Mr Dixon Dr Awkward & The Screws are still keeping those fruits alive, a little darker and fuzzier around the edges, but still alive!
Check 'em out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 16 February 2019

SILVER DEVIL ~ PARALYZED ...... review


It seems to have been quite a while since Desert Psychlist found themselves back in the Worlds capital of stonerized fuzz and distortion, Sweden and there seems to have been somewhat of a lull in Swedish underground rock of in that time( it wasn't that long ago that every underground release of any note seemed to have its roots planted in the frost hardened soil of this little Scandinavian country) however that lull has been gloriously shattered by the arrival of "Paralyzed" (Ozium Records) a new album from Gävle five piece combo Silver Devil.


Silver Devil's "Paralyzed" takes you back to a time when cargo shorts, Black Flag tees and suitably distressed footwear were the uniform of choice, a time when beards were still stubble and the most important weapons in any bands arsenal were their fuzz pedals, We are talking  authentic "stoner rock/metal" here and although there has been a recent backlash against anything remotely associated with the term "stoner" Desert Psychlist defies even the most conservative of the "Tru-Metal" brigade not to garner some level of enjoyment from the grooves Silver Devil lay before them here.
 Desert Psychlist can already hear the screams of "retro" and "old school" being readied in the throats of those who see any form of looking backwards as a sign of weakness and lack of originality, well hold those cries for a moment and lets examine what we have here. "Paralyzed" fizzes and pops with a vitality and vigour that although may have its roots planted in another era is nevertheless very much of today, in fact if it were not for the slightly faster tempo's, 90's flavoured riffs and swirling 70's style guitar solo's, on songs like "Howl", "Octopus" and "Hypersleep", you would be hard pushed not to think you were listening to some new album by a young and upcoming band hailing from Poland's burgeoning sludge/doom scene.. Thick heavily distorted riffs interspersed with scorching guitar solo's compete to be heard over backdrops of deep growling bass and thunderous, insistent percussion and are adorned with vocals that ,although slightly monotonic in nature, are the perfect fit for the sonic maelstrom of groove they decorate, the whole coming together as one big wall of unrelenting fuzziness that is totally addictive and hard to ignore.


 Silver Devil are not trying to re-invent the wheel with "Paralyzed", granted, but neither are they living in the past, if Silver Devil are doing anything its is they are refurbishing that wheel, adding some shiny new spokes and surrounding it in fresh thick black rubber so as to ensure that it will keep on rolling, if not forever then at least, for a few years to come.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday, 15 February 2019

WARLUNG ~ IMMORTAL PORTAL ..... review


Over the years of writing little blurbs on Bandcamp pages and since starting this very site Desert Psychlist has built some strong lasting relationships, not only with fellow writers, musicians and labels but also people who, like us, are just fans of good music. You learn to trust these people's judgement and when one of those people, in this case fellow Bandcamp junkie Steve Rodger, states he has bought an album un-listened to just on the strength of a bands previous work, well you just got to check that album out. Add to this the fact that almost immediately after reading Steve's missive Desert Psychlist gets a message from a representative of the band in question sending us a promo and stating that a mutual friend, from another Texas band, has suggested that we should check said band out, well then you've got to start believing in things like fate and planets aligning.
The band we are talking about is Warlung and the album is "Immortal Portal"




.The venerable Mr. Rodger also states that there may be just a whiff of Blue Oyster Cult about the grooves Warlung explore on "Immortal Portal" and once again I have to bow to Mr. Rodger's vast musical knowledge and nod in sage agreement. However it is just a whiff and however accomplished and talented BOC's rhythm section were back in the day they would be hard pushed to match the levels of four string growl and percussive thunder Chris and Ethan Tamez lay beneath the guitars and vocals of George Baba and Phillip Bennett. BOC, at times, teetered on a razor's blade edge between hard rock and its more radio friendly cousin AOR and there is a sense that Warlung are performing a similar function with their melodic approach to underground rock. Warlung's lighter more melodic and considered touch may prove to be a bridge too far for those with a hankering for the more abrasive extremes of rock and metal however for those of us brought up suckling on the breast of 70's classic rock Warlung's mellower take on heaviness is manna from heaven. Dual harmonies and clean lead vocals tell doomic tales and apocalyptic stories over backdrops of heavy but measured groove, and here is it is we find yet another parallel with BOC, for although there is element of lyrical darkness to songs like "Palm Reader", "Between The Dark And The Light" and "Coal Minor's" the music they are enveloped in has a contrasting brighter melodic, almost commercial rock feel, a feel that is both refreshing and somewhat warming in these times of brutal crunching riffage and growling demonic vocals


Warlung's "Immortal Portal" is an album that goes a long way in proving that dark lyrical content does not always need to be surrounded by grooves that reflect that darkness and that you can say as much with a good melody as you can with a satanic growl. After all don't they say when faced with danger you should hum a happy tune.
Go check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

THE GHOST NEXT DOOR ~ A FEAST FOR THE SIXTH SENSE .... review


It is nice to see that Todd Severin and the gang at Ripple Music, a label that has built its reputation on releasing music of a more hard rock/stoner bias, are still sending feelers out into more diverse and angular territories. Ripple Music first stepped out of their comfort zone when they released "Human Collapse" by postapocolyptic French rockers Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel and have since dipped their toes into the doomic arena with Sweden's Vokonis, sludgy stonerized prog with France's The Necromancers and Mediterranean flavoured psychedelia with Cyprus's Arcadian Child. Ripple's dalliance with rock of a more alternative nature continues with their latest signings The Ghost Next Door, Gary Wendt: (guitars/vocals), Aaron Asghari: (guitars), Sebastien Castelain: (drums) and Noah Whitfield: (bass), a quartet from Berkeley, California who describe what they do as "a desire to marry the dark melancholy of 80s and 90s alternative with the aggression and drive of Bay Area metal". Let's see if their new album "A Feast For the Sixth Sense" lives up to that statement.


It is hard to pin down, just by listening, what influences have shaped The Ghost Next Door's sonic output as there is just so much going on here, both as a whole and as individual tracks, on paper the band list among their influences everything from Rush to The Cure so we are talking a broad musical spectrum here. What is evident, when listening to the bands debut, is that TGND are not a band who are bound by the rules of genre, grunge/alt. metal aesthetics, doomic density, prog complexity and sludgy stoner fuzziness either get a walk on part or lead the cast throughout the albums eight songs (ten if you buy CD or digital) and keep the listener on tenterhooks as to where any song may go at any given moment. Making comparisons to other bands in order to gain a reference point on TGND's sound is almost next to useless as no sooner are you convinced a song  has a touch of Alice In Chains type slurry grunginess in its groove than it suddenly takes off on some prog(ish) excursion or drops down into sludgy doomic dankness. Vocally things are no less diverse with Wendt changing tones like some people change moods, crooning clear, clean and mellow one minute bellowing bearlike and bellicose the next, never giving less than 100% in either mode
Exciting, innovative music should not be defined by a label or tag and there has not been either invented yet that could even come close to describing the grooves The Ghost Next Door bring to the table with "A Feast For The Sixth Sense", the best Desert Psychlist can come up with is STUNNING!


 "A Feast For The Sixth Sense" is a fine addition to Ripple Music's increasingly varied catalogue and one by a band for whom  the word "varied" is probably the most fitting and apt.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 11 February 2019

NEGATIVE WALL ~ GAMMAGELU ... review


When three musicians get together who have worked together on various musical projects you kind of expect a certain level of telepathy to be present and that's exactly what you get with Georgia trio Negative Wall. Negative Wall are Tommy Stewart  (bass, vocals, Hammond bass organ, Theremin), Dennis Reid (drums, percussion, keyboard, didgeridoo) and Don Cole (guitar) three guys who have crossed paths previously in bands such as Hallows Eve, Bludy Gyres and Tommy Stewart's Dyerwolf and have come together to take listeners on "A sci-fi doom voyage through 70's inspired stoner music scapes and blues riffs" with their new offering "Gammagelu".(Black Doomba Records)


Negative Wall's claim that "Gammagelu is "70's inspired" could be seen as a tenuous one as although there are musical aspects that hark back to the golden days of rock to be found throughout "Gammagelu" the overall vibe is one of grooves that are more of the here and now, grooves that it could be argued owe a bigger debt to the likes of Elder and Monolord than they do say Sabbath or Hawkwind. "Gammagelu" comes across a little less doomic and a lot more prog(ish), spacy and lysergic than much of the music the members of Negative Wall have been associated with previously and is all the better for that fact. The initial reaction ,as first track "Imperii Exsules (Galactic Viatores)" assails the ears, is one of astonishment, astonishment that just three musicians can create a sound this big, this deep and this encompassing, Big fat distorted  riffs, swirling blues infused guitar solo's and growling bass combine with strong clean vocals, howling theremin, keyboards and even a digeridoo to create a huge wall of sound that comes at you in waves and give the albums sci-fi themed songs a vastness and depth that defies their three man execution.


Doomic, heavy music can sometimes be a little icy and distant but there is a warmth to each of "Gammagelu's" four songs that wraps around the listener like a blanket, a thick, dense warm blanket weaved of blues flecked fabric sewn with a shiny sharp doomic metal needle.

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 9 February 2019

DEATH DENIED ~ A PRAYER TO THE CARRION KIND ...... a belated review


Let Desert Psychlist take you by the hand and lead you back through the mists of time, well actually just to this time last year (we just wanted to sound poetic). 2018 was a busy time for the Polish underground rock scene with major players Dopethrone and Sunnata both releasing significantly important albums as well as the sudden emergence, on the global scene, of the likes of Weird Tales and Shine. It should come as no surprise then that some albums coming out of Poland managed to slip under the radar, one such album was "A Prayer To The Carrion Kind" an ass-kicking collection of southern tinted fuzz heavy stonerized metal from Łódź based combo Death Denied. Now we realise a year has passed since its release but we at Desert Psychlist thought it was high time this overlooked little gem got the attention it deserved.


Now one of the reasons "A Prayer To The Carrion Kind" may have been overlooked/missed on its release may well have been its refusal to conform to the heavy, intense brutality and doomic density we have come to expect from Polish underground bands. Death Denied are, despite having a name that suggest sludgy dankness and doomic darkness, more of a traditional metal band who fill their grooves with old school values like melody and swing, this is not to say they don't possess the necessary tools to lay it down low, slow and thick  just that they prefer to temper those elements of their sound with a modicum of finesse. Verses, choruses, bridges and middle eights all find a place to call their own over the course of the albums eleven tracks and all benefit greatly from these tried and tested musical structures. In other words what you get from Death Denied with songs like "Black Orchid", "Atlas", "Funeral Pyre" and "Gods of the Abyss" is just that SONGS!


A wholly entertaining album from start to finish with superbly executed clean vocals sang and roared over backdrops of equally well executed groove "A Prayer To The Carrion Kind" is an album that deserved better on its release, maybe this belated review will help get it the attention it deserves and redress that.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones