Saturday, 4 July 2020

HAMMADA ~ATMOS .....review


With instrumentation that, along with the usual bass, guitars and vocals, includes organ and synthesisers you might expect German quartet Hammada to jam grooves that lean towards the progressive end of the rock spectrum, however, apart from a few swirling embellishments and the occasional orchestral sounding passage Hammada are probably closer to Kyuss than they are Can, more Yawning Man than they are YES.
The Saxony four piece of Kristian Schulze (vocals/organ), Christian Döring (guitar/synths), Lenz Fiedler (bass) and Sönke Tautorus (drums) describe themselves as a "heavy psych/stoner rock quartet" who bring to the table "desert vibes and atmospheric riffs", something their debut album "Atmos" more than testifies to.


Those proggish embellishments, spoken about earlier, make their presence felt right from the off with swirling keyboard motifs, backed by throbbing bass, heralding the arrival of first track "Occasus" but as stated this is an introduction and it is not long before Hammada show their true colours and take off on a storming desert flavoured groove underscored with lysergic textures and colours that are then overlayered with strong, clean and distinctive vocal tones. "Occasus" is the perfect opener that tells you all you need to know about the band in one song, it showcases not only the bands psych credentials but also their ability to groove on a riff, a band as adept at laying out chilled and relaxed as they are nailing it down hard and heavy. We have already mentioned Yawning Man and Kyuss as markers in trying to describe Hammada's blend of psychedelic meanderings and heavy stoner crunch but as songs like "Heliokratia", "Ether", "Azimut" and the excellent "Domizil" waft over us, in waves that range from tranquil to crashing, Desert Psychlist begins to hear influences stemming more from the bands native Europe than they do America with Colour Haze(ish) and Causa Sui-like textures and colours sitting side by side with the bands more Americanized desert bluster, and it is this blend of dynamics,  merged together from two distinct and different continents, that makes listening to "Atmos" such a rewarding and enjoyable experience.


"Atmos" is not one of those albums that smacks you around the head and demands you immediately fall in love with it, it is instead an album that uses stealth to achieve its goals, an album that slowly creeps up on you, song by song, gradually breaking you down with its mix of undulating grooves and thundering riffs until it finally becomes that go to album you never want to be without.
Check it out …. 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 2 July 2020

HUANASTONE ~ THIRD STONE FROM THE SUN ...... review


Huanastone first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via a friend recommending we give a listen to the bands self titled debut "Huanastone", we were immediately impressed by the bands sense of melody and the fact that they could combine that melody with crunching riffs and powerful rhythms. The following year saw the release of  "Second Stone" and it was clear to see that Huanastone were a band evolving into something quite special, a band not trying to jump on convenient bandwagons but a band who had their own visions and goals and wanted to achieve them without having to follow current musical trends or fashions. Not much was heard from the band after "Second Stone" until almost three years later when a few tracks started to appear on their Bandcamp page and reignited our interest in the band, Those tracks showed that not only had the band not disappeared into that black pit of obscurity, that many bands sadly fall into, but were still a viable operation and that there just might be the possibility of a new Huanastone album looming on the horizon. That album "Third Stone from the Sun" (Argonauta Records) did arrive and what an album it is!


Filip Larsson (bass), Tobias Gonzalez (guitar/vocals),Carl Lambertus Olofsson (guitar) and Victor Hansson (drums) are the four musicians who make up Huanastone and although they are probably never destined to become household names, as say the Lemmy's and Ozzy's of this world, they will be names remembered by those who buy into this bands stunning blend of chilled out lysergic grooviness and thrumming alternative rock. Once heard "Third Stone from the Sun" is not an album that is easily forgotten it is a collection of songs  that have an uncanny way of clinging onto the airwaves long after they have finished playing, replaying in the mind over and over until the listener is forced to hit replay and revisit them all over again. It is damn hard to explain in words the sound Huanastone create together as a band as it is a sound that doesn't quite fit into any clearly defined musical categories or genres yet at the same time it is a sound that is strangely familiar. That familiarity does comes not from Huanastone attempting to emulate the sounds and grooves of their contemporaries but from the band unintentionally wandering into territories shared by those contemporaries, elements of Elder's lysergic prog, Queens of the Stone Age's quirky desert rock and even traces of Alice In Chains like slurred grunginess and The Cure's accessible pop/goth can all be found inhabiting songs like "Viva Los Muertos", "Carnivore" and "Neverending" yet those elements are never allowed to dominate and are instead more happy accident than intentional.


Huanastone's "Third Stone from the Sun" is a little different from what we usually expect from a Swedish underground band but that's not a bad thing, we have been swamped with so much blues flecked stoner rock and doom from the likes of Graveyard and Witchcraft and other bands of that ilk that it is refreshing to hear a Swedish band who are is not following that blueprint and are focused on forging their own musical path.
Check 'em out …. 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Monday, 22 June 2020

EYES FLY ~ EYES FLY .... review


Desert Psychlist , when reviewing Bristol, UK Eyes Fly's debut EP "The Long Return", wrote "the EP proves that intricacy and complexity can live quite comfortably hand in hand with brute force and power without the need to compromise to either". Well just over year after that statement was published the band have returned with a full album, "Eyes Fly" so lets find out if those words still hold water.


Things get rolling with first track "Supernova Building" it's thundering drum intro paving the way for a crescendo of fuzz drenched guitar and bass riffage overlaid with strong clean and melodic vocals, things are never one dimensional in Eyes Fly's world however and it is not long before riffs change direction, dynamics shift and vocals get gnarly and growled. This is Eyes Fly's modus operandi throughout their debut album, they are a band with an intriguing knack of allowing you to think they are taking you one place then suddenly taking off in a completely other direction and the fact that they do this with such seamless ease and without losing sight of where they want a particular groove to go is something that makes their latest release such an interesting and exciting ride. Of course to be able to do this over an albums length you need to have not only the songs but also the musical chops to pull off those seamless musical twists and turns and these guys have both in abundance. Songs with titles like "The Wanderer", "Hero Dies" and "Coerce, Control" are awash with lush melodies, prog-like complexities and intricacies but are just as likely to suddenly take a left turn into harshness and brutality, a glistening arpeggio turning into a crunching power chord in less time than it takes to blink, a gentle brushstroke making way for a thunderous triplet in a heartbeat and bass guitar chords that growl, boom and reverberate suddenly exchanged for liquid runs and lightly trodden walks, and that's without mentioning the diverse range of tones deployed by the bands very accomplished and talentedvocalist.


If you were one of those lucky few who, by accident or design, landed your ears on the bands debut EP "The Long Return" then you'll know to expect stunning musicianship and songs that combine prog metal intensity with stoner/hard rock swagger. If, however, you are coming to this band anew then just expect "Eyes Fly" to blow you away!


© 2020 Frazer jones

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

CURSE THE SON ~ EXCRUCIATION ....... review


Curse the Son hail from Hamden, Connecticut and have, since their formation, built themselves quite a respectable reputation for producing superb riff heavy rock music tinted with elements of doom, grunge and old school metal. The band have over their time released some excellent albums and EP's to cement that reputation but have not really come up with that career defining album that could propel them into the next league, (although they came damn close with 2017's "Isolator"), until now.
In Desert Psychlist's humble opinion the bands latest release, the first with new drummer Robert Ives, is their best to date and is the one that could break this band to a much wider international audience, so strap yourselves in and move away from anything breakable because here comes "Excruciation" (Ripple Music).


Whether the arrival of Robert Ives on percussion duties has been the catalyst which has driven Ron Vanacore (vocals/guitars) and Brendan Keefe (bass, guitars) to up their game,both as musicians  and writers, is something you will have to ask them but it seems, to Desert Psychlist's riff battered ears, that "Excruciation" possess a lot more musicality, depth and diversity than the bands previous outings. Having said that "Excruciation" is not an album bereft of those crunching guitar riffs and thunderous grooves we have all come to expect from a Curse the Son release it is just that here they are a lot more measured and balanced out and not always the dominant force behind each song. Of course if you want your existing fans to get on board with your new album it makes sense to kick it off with something that retains an essence of what brought them to your flag in the first place and the excellently titled "Suicide by Drummer" does that perfectly, its strident groove, Sabbath-esque riffs and vocal similarities ensuring that anyone with even the remotest interest in the band are going to stick around until the album closes. What might not be picked up on immediately, but is sure to be later, are the subtle shades and nuances the band bring into play in and around songs two main refrains with spacey swirls, monastic backing harmonies and droning effects all playing their part in taking the song to an altogether other level of good. "Disaster in Denial" is next and is built around a series of rotating riffs that constantly circles around each other while Vanacore tells us in tones clean and strong of queens impossible to please and an air filled with toxic words. With the old fans happy that Curse the Son have not lost any of their doomic "mojo" the band make their move to convert those same fans to their newer more expansive sound with "Novembre" a song that begins with Keefe laying down a warm, deeply seductive, bass motif over which reverberating arpeggios and shimmering percussion build a dark brooding mood made even more atmospheric thanks to the songs semi narrated, semi sang vocal and its hazy backing melodies (producer Eric Lichter helps out on vocals throughout the album as well as supplying additional instrumentation). The temperature is  raised a few notches with next track "Worry Garden" a song that finds CtS bringing a little alt-rock/grunginess to the table while title track "Excruciation" brings things way down and sees the band mixing that grunginess with a little melancholic doominess and dramatic post-rock texturing before closing out on a militaristic drum tattoo. "Infinite Regression" follows, a brief riff heavy, mid tempo stoner doomic romp complete with a pleasing Alice In Chains(ish) slurred refrain that is pushed hard by Ives solid, busy percussion and Keefe's growling bass. Next track up is "Black Box Warning" a song that begins with a vocal hard not to compare with that of the sadly departed Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), a vocal racked with emotional gravitas perfectly framed by the dank, dark grooves it is surrounded by, a sort of torch song for the depressed and disconnected among us.  The band look to the delta tor the albums final two musical forays, the first a down home country blues holler backed by some exquisite slide guitar, the second a blues rock workout with rock god vocals and an old school classic rock undercurrent.


"Klonopain", "Psychache" and "Isolator" are three very heavy, very good and highly regarded albums that have all played their part in getting Curse the Son to where they are today, yet despite the esteem the band are held in that "killer" album, able to propel them into the undergrounds upper echelon, has eluded them. With "Excruciation" Curse the Son have finally found their "Led Zeppelin IV", their "Master of Reality" they have created an album that defines not only their place in alternative rock history today but one that, hopefully, also cements their place in its future.
Check it out …

 
© 2020 Frazer Jones

Monday, 15 June 2020

VOIDIAN ~ THROUGH EYES OF THE FLAME ...... review

                               
Let us introduce you to Dr.Witch (bass/vocals), Mr.Void (drums/vocals) and Sgt.Doom (guitars), three bearded Belgians who in their own words "Unleash a fury of pure desolate, nightmarish Doom Metal, mixed with ferocious Sludge, atmospheric Post-Rock and experimental Drone", and do this under the collective name of Voidian.


Now the term "post-rock" does have a reputation for sending prospective listeners running for the hills fearing that they are going to be subjected to periods of introspective navel gazing while listening to long passages of ambient noodling, well much of that apprehension can be allayed as although there is plenty of instrumental noodling to be found on  the bands debut release "Through Eyes of the Flame"(Polderrecords) 97.9% of it is far from being ambient! There is no getting away from the fact that Voidian are a band who like to texturize their grooves with elements of calming ambience and unstructured dissonance but they are also a band who like to crunch out a thick reverberating powerchord over a swampy doomic groove, something the band do with pleasing regularity. Add to this mix of post-rock textures and sludgy refrains vocals that range from growled and harsh to clean and throaty and the listener soon comes to the realisation that Voidian are a band who approach "heavy" from a whole different angle from many of their contemporaries. Tangents, those things that lead music away from its root into different areas, abound throughout the five songs that make up "Through Eyes of the Flame" and find Voidian heading off on musical journeys far removed from their point of origin, crunching riffs making way for glistening arpeggios, pummeled drum skins replaced by shimmering cymbals, the band never content to just sit on a groove and stay there, preferring instead to constantly shift their focus onto new horizons and test waters previously uncharted.


Brutal and heavy enough to put a smile on the faces of the sludgers and doomers while complex and intricate enough to please the proggers and post-rockers "Through Eyes of the Flame" is a triumphant debut from a band who, if they remain on this trajectory, are going to evolve into something very special indeed.
Check 'em out …..  

 
© 2020 Frazer Jones

Friday, 12 June 2020

GRAVE DISGRACE ~ REST IN PEACE ...... review


Bands performing old school doom, like that performed by Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and bands of that ilk, are becoming rarer than hens teeth these days. Ok you could argue that there are a million and one Sabbath-like bands out there all vying for our attention but that argument could be countered by saying that those bands are following a more "proto" doomic blueprint. 
Russian Federation trio Grave Disgrace's latest  release "Rest In Peace", although having elements that could be described as "proto(ic)", has a more "traditional" doom feel, the band utilising huge dark reverberating refrains and powerful thunderous rhythms, combined with strong vocals tinted with a pleasing gothic melancholy, to create a dank atmospheric sound that conjures up visions of dark imposing spires peaking over a cold mist laden graveyard, in other words "doom" in its most authentic and "traditional" form.


Things begin suitably doomic with the excellent "End Of This WorldKonstantin Belousova's pounding drums introducing a song that brings in to play all the elements that you could possibly hope to hear in a song pitched at the "traditional" end of the doom spectrum. Slow, but not pedestrian, guitar refrains pulse and swell over tight and steady percussion while bassist/vocalist, Aleksei Uvarov, tells us of "scary dreams" and "eternal searches" in a voice steeped in weary resignation. As the song progresses into it's final quarter the band begins to show a glimpse of those "proto" elements mentioned earlier with guitarist Sergei Saprantsev's face melting bluesy solo the marker by which the band raise both the songs temperature and tempo. Next song "Time After Time", a dark foreboding tale of man's relentless march to destruction set against a thrumming backdrop of grainy fuzz drenched groove, may share a title with Cyndi Lauper's hit pop ditty but that's about all the two songs have in common. "Dancing On My Grave" follows and here we find Grave Disgrace brandishing their "trad" doom credentials for all to see, plodding and monstrous the song crawls and creeps along at an almost funereal pace in its early stages but then slowly picks up pace until exploding into a Sabbath-esque romp as it reaches its nadir. "Day of the Dead" finds Uvarov effecting a slightly Ozzy-ish nasal tone over a groove that is relentless thanks in part to Belousova's thunderous on point drumming, the drummer locking in tight with Uvarov's growling bass to create the perfect springboard for Saprantsev to launch his screaming guitar solo's from. Title track "Rest In Peace" is probably the most Sabbath-esque song of the album thanks mainly to its slowed down Iommi-like riffs and solos and its shifting time signatures. "Hellbound Express", a short fuzz drenched blues played solely on guitar, closes the album, it is brief, a bit of a strange choice for a finale but one that strangely works.


Traditional, proto, true, epic whatever you care to call it "Rest In Peace" is an album that celebrates doom at its most authentic and real, an album that although nods its head to all the sub-divisions of doom still retains its own identity.
Check it out …..

 © 2020 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

SORGE ~ SORGE ..... review


If there is one particular music that gets our mouths drooling at Desert Psychlist it is heavy psychedelic grooves edged with a good helping of doomic dankness and Washington, DC quintet Sorge provide just that with their self-titled debut opus "Sorge". The band, Christian (bass); Joshua (guitar/vocals); Mike (drums); Logan (lead guitar) and Jake (synths), call their sound "psychedelic stoner sludge & experimental fuzz doom metal from outer space" and it's not hard to see why they do.


Dark droning effects twinned with howling guitar and slow deliberate drumming introduces first track "Faith of a Heretic", accompanied by strong, clean impassioned vocals delivered in tones that teeter on the edge of gothic. As the song progresses it becomes obvious that Sorge are not your run of the mill doom band toying with lysergic textures but a band who are testing the borders of the doomic box they find themselves in and are busy looking for weaknesses in that box where they can stretch out and explore newer avenues. Swirling synths angular, often dissonant, guitar solo's that soar over shapeshifting doomic refrains colour each of the four songs that make up "Sorge", the band routinely taking off on unexpected musical tangents that are some times brutal and uncomfortable, sometimes uplifting and beautiful but nevertheless always interesting, Stoner doom can be a very limiting musical sub-genre in that it is often governed by expectations that it should be played low, slow and extremely heavy but Sorge don't adhere to those rules and are as just as likely to hit a groove that is up-tempo and thrash like as one that is agonisingly sedate and pondering, often in the same song. 


Dank, dark heavy and atmospheric yet packed with a myriad of unexpected twists and turns along the way "Sorge" is an album that doesn't so much break all the rules as bends them into more interesting shapes.
Check it out .... 

 
© 2020 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

FAITH IN JANE ~ MOTHER TO EARTH ....review


Thurmont. Maryland's Faith In Jane are a band who have consistently delivered the goods, the trio have not put a foot wrong since their 2009 formation and have released one killer album after another yet for some reason or another they still seem to get overlooked. When reviewing the bands last album "Countryside" Desert Psychlist wrote " just maybe, this is the one that introduces them to a wider audience", that audience did increase but not to the degree that a band this good and this dynamic deserve. Maybe we got it wrong and it is the bands latest release "Mother To Earth" that will be the one to convert the unbelievers.


Those who are already devotees of Faith In Jane's sonic onslaught will be raising their arms to the heavens in thankful reverence as the first strains of opening track "The Circle" erupts into life, while those who have taken a rain check on the bands previous outing will be rending their clothes to rags and pulling out their hair in the realisation that they've missed out on some truly life affirming grooviness. Faith in Jane are the real deal, a band who can blend proto-metallic elements with those of  hard/stoner rock and still find room for a little Allman's-like bluesy swagger and melancholic soulfulness, a band who have grown both in confidence and stature as musicians. This confidence and increased musical prowess has allowed the band the opportunity to wander into musical territories they might not of thought they were capable of visiting in their formative years ,as the spaced out and heavily psyched instrumental "Weight of a Dream" and the authentic country blues of "Lonesome" demonstrates, but the band who mixed rock and reggae on their debut EP "Call of the Wolf" are a different band these days and are more than capable of taking off on unexpected tangents. Musically everyone brings their "A" game to the ballpark, Dan Mize's guitar solo's soar and scream, his chords and riffs crunch and crackle while his vocals are rich, powerful and have a grizzled soulful quality, Brendan Winston's bass thrums, growls and booms like a volcano threatening to erupt while Alex Llewellyn's drumming is a masterclass in solidness and fluidity, the three together creating a sound that is so far beyond good they haven't invented a word for it yet!


Do yourself a favour and buy, beg borrow or steal yourself a copy of "Mother To Earth", then share it with everyone you know, let's nip this this apathy, towards one of the scenes finest bands, in the bud. Let us all have a little Faith In Jane!
Check 'em out …..

Saturday, 6 June 2020

DOPE SMOKER ~ ZEROIN ...... review


Just hearing a few chords of an AC/DC song and without looking at the artwork or sleeve notes you know it's them, the same is true of Santana, Led Zeppelin and The Who as well as many others. It is what many call a signature sound, a sound that others can try to replicate but can never quite nail. Welsh trio Dope Smoker are also possessors of such a signature sound, theirs is slightly more grizzled and distortion drenched than those bands mentioned but it is theirs and no-one else sounds quite like them, just spin their latest album "Zeroin" to see what we mean.


Repetitive, crackling, fuzz soaked guitar chords, booming bass lines and steady rock solid drumming are the hallmarks of any Dope Smoker recording, add into that equation minimal lyrical content, sang in clean mantra-like fashion, and the occasional slightly dissonant swirling guitar solo and that is this review pretty much written. However those few lines do not tell you everything you need to know, for a start they don't tell you that despite the repetitive nature of Dope Smoker's songs there is a lot more going on than first hits the ear. Much like the surfers, who frequent their south western corner of Wales, Dope Smoker ride their riffs on waves and swells, take for instance the song "Bush Woods", it may be built around one refrain repeated infinitum but that refrain swells and dissipates both in intensity and volume throughout and when combined with those vocal mantra's and psychotic swirling guitar solo's, we mentioned earlier, the song becomes so much more than just a one riff wonder, it becomes something almost spiritual. Having said that the new album does find Dope Smoker stepping out of their comfort zone far more than they have done on previous recordings, the band adding subtle shades and colours into songs, like the excellent title track "Zeroin" and the swirling "Severn", that they may not have even considered attempting a few years ago, the band even going so far as to get a little weird and arty on the aptly titled "Stoned Nirvana"


Dope Smoker have delivered what we all wanted with "Zeroin", an album that doesn't stray too far from the blueprint the band drew up with their first release "Dope Smoker" yet one that shows they are nonetheless evolving, if somewhat slowly and with subtlety.
Check it out .....

© 2020 Frazer jones

Saturday, 30 May 2020

HIGHBERNATION ~ COMATOKES ...... review


"Reefer fueled stoner doom with a dash of sludge" is how Edmonton, Alberta's Highbernation describe their sound and after hearing their latest EP "Comatokes" its hard not to agree with them. The band, M.R (guitar/vocals); R.G (bass) and M.J (drums), jam grooves drenched in distortion and fuzz that recall the "weedian" outpourings of "Dopesmoker" era Sleep but with a touch more variety.


As we stated in our introduction piece fuzz and distortion play a huge part in Highbernation's overall sound and it these two effects, plus a generous helping of crashing cymbals and deftly beaten drum skins, that introduces "Comatokes", the first of  the EP's three songs. The songs dissonant intro slowly subsides into dark noise and is then replaced by a more "traditional" arrangement with R.G's rasping bass locking in with M.J's thunderous drums to lay down a thick glutinous platform of stoner doom groove over which M.R layers overdriven guitar parts drenched in grainy fuzz, the guitarist also providing the songs pleasingly throaty and equally grainy vocals. "The Black Sea of Trees" follows next with M.R waxing lyrical about holy men and reapers over a groove that shows why Highbernation are not your atypical stoner doom band, the trio mixing up their Sleep-like refrains with moments of angular psychedelics and spaced out sludge while never letting the dial slip beneath devastation levels. "Reverend Moon" closes out the EP all guns blazing, MJ a whrling dervish utilising every inch of her kit and R.G's bass booming and growling in unison with M.R's caustic guitar, on a groove that begins a little above mid-tempo but then descends into a low slow doomic workout with lysergic undercurrents.


With pedals dialled to corrosive, amps turned up to thirteen and beneath a virtual avalanche of percussion you might be fooled into thinking "Comatokes" is a little on the brutal side but there lies the beauty of this little three song EP because despite its undeniable heaviness and dark, dank intensity "Comatokes" is surprisingly accessible.
Check it out ….

© 2020 Frazer jones

Monday, 25 May 2020

ETHEREAL SEA ~ FORGOTTEN MEMORIES OF TOMORROW ..... review


It seems to Desert Psychlist that there is a musical shift ,within the underground scene, towards more complexity and intricacy, even in the brutal riff heavy world of sludge and stoner metal we have noticed far more musicality and a willingness to experiment. Of course this is the norm in any scene as musicians become far more adept on their instruments and their confidence in their own abilities grows but it seems that within the underground this trend has become far more noticeable and of course welcome.
Oregon's Ethereal Sea are one such band to have grasped on to this new shift in musical values the band's first album "A Universe Far From Ours", although a diverse and delightful collection of songs, relied heavily on its crunching riffs and powerhouse rhythms to make its point. Three years have passed since then and Ethereal Sea are back with a new album, "Forgotten Memories of Tomorrow" and although those riffs and rhythms are still in place listeners will notice, as one fan wrote on the bands Bandcamp page, "a leveling up of all the characters".


Desert Psychlist has often mentioned the old jazz term "swing" when reviewing music but what does that actually mean, and how does it apply to what Ethereal Sea bring to the table with their latest opus? "Swing" is not something you can define easily but it mainly relates to the accents and inflections musicians put into their music to give it impetus, flow and feel, if someone describes your grooves as "swinging" then they are basically telling you your music has an effect on them not only sonically but physically. Ethereal Sea's grooves, on "Forgotten Memories of Tomorrow", "swing" like a cradle in a wind tunnel, they can make you want to sway, dance or just jump up and down , they are soulful, warm, joyous and have that indefinable ability to make you feel damn good.
Individually each member is on top of his game, Dustin Bartee's vocals, warm soulful and smooth are matched by his tasteful and soaring guitar work while Walter Hansen adds that magic ingredient courtesy of his tinkling keys and swirling synths. Keeping the groove nailed down hard but also with a certain amount of pleasing liquidity are Richard Boone (drums) and Cole Johnson (bass), the former driving the band on with a dazzling display of dexterous drumming , the latter expertly locking down the groove with some thick syrupy bottom end, all four together a force to be reckoned with.

Swinging, soulful, a touch psychedelic and with just the merest hint of country rock edginess and blusesy swagger "Forgotten Memories of Tomorrow" is an album light years ahead of its predecessor, "A Universe Far From Ours", and marks a huge leap in Ethereal Sea's development.
Check it out …. 

© 2020 frazer Jones

Sunday, 24 May 2020

VITSKÄR SÜDEN ~ VITSKÄR SÜDEN ..... review


Something a little different, a little special landed on our desk at Desert Psychlist a few days ago, something a little less caustic and heavy from our usual fare but nevertheless something we think you should know about. That little something was an album, "Vitskär Süden", from a Californian collective going by the same name, a collective comprised of Martin Garner (bass/vocals), Julian Goldberger (guitar), Christopher Martin (drums) and TJ Webber (guitar), four musicians who with their combined musical skills have created something intensely beautiful.


It would be understandable if, just by going on the artwork, the casual record browser dismissed "Vitskär Süden" as just another metal album, the three armed figure in a full face helmet holding what could be mistaken for a weapon screams of dank doom or brutal black metal. Let us not however go judging books by covers here because as soon as opening track "War Machine Crimson" creeps seductively into your ear space you will soon realise that Vitskär Süden are more about mood than they are about malice. There is a heaviness to be found on "Vitskär Süden" but it is not to be found in endless riffs and thundering rhythms but more in its deep thought provoking subject matter, the band telling stories, in world weary tones, of mistakes made, regrets revisited and futures uncertain against backdrops of swirling moody psych built on a bedrock of soothing string arrangements, subtle piano passages, reverberating chord progressions and undulating rhythmic patterns. Subtle, nuanced and seductive yet able to bite if it has to "Vitskär Süden" is a debut well worthy spending time with.


Don't try placing Vitskär Süden into a any genre, category or neat little labelled box because they don't fit into any, they are what they are and what they are is a very talented group of musicians creating music that is moving, meditative and beautiful.
Check 'em out ……

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 23 May 2020

LACERTILIA ~ CALLING THE QUARTERS ..... review

#First off an apology,: Desert Psychlist has been a little behind the curve recently due to network problems this has resulted in a few reviews, such as this one, being a little later than expected, things are thankfully now sorted.


Cardiff riff merchants Lacertilia blew some minds when they released their debut full length album "We're Already Inside Your Head" back in 2016, the band (formed by vocalist Matt Fry after his previous band Witches Drum dissolved) hit a groove with that album that was hard to ignore, a sort of Monster Magnet meets Cybernetic Witch Cult vibe with a hint of Clutch like swagger thrown in for good measure. After dragging themselves around the UK for the past few years supporting the likes of  Mammoth Wizard Weed Bastard, Orange Goblin and many others the band returned to the studios to record their second album "Calling the Quarters".


It is interesting to note that after deciding to call their second album "Calling the Quarters" the band then go on to musically give no quarter at all. If your looking for subtlety and nuance then stop reading now because Lacertilia are taking no prisoners with their latest release, this is an album that is on the attack from its first note to its last, its raucous, occasionally raw, and essential listening because of that. From the moment "Cloaks & Daggers" tears its way out of the speakers, like a wolverine on a mission, its hang on to your hats time as one feral refrain follows another, the intensity of the bands sonic attack only broken by the occasional psychedelic episodes and even those are a tad on the wild side. With Matt Fry's strong throaty vocals sitting atop the twin guitar attack of Michael Young-Temple and Lucas Zalunski and the powerhouse rhythm section of Ed Hughes (bass) and Tom Lee (drums) working their magic beneath the band give a whol new meaning to the words "full" and "on".


Lacertilia with "Calling the Quarters" deliver a tasty dish of  punked up stonerized metal served up with a side order of spacey lysergic madness, it's loud, it's in your face and it's bloody good fun!
Check it out....

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 21 May 2020

DESERT STORM ~ OMENS ...... review


It seems like an age since Desert Storm last released "Sentinels", an album that still gets regularly spun at Stonerking Towers, so it was with gladdened heart that Desert Psychlist received the news that the band were releasing "Omens" a brand new opus crammed to the gills with their trademark mix of bombastic stoner rock , caustic sludge metal and hard heavy rock but also an album packed full of surprises.


Title track "Omens" opens proceedings, an eerie poem narrated in gravelled, almost gothic, tones over a backing track of droning effects that then slowly fade into silence. "Black Bile" follows and here we are presented with the Desert Storm we have all come to love and cherish with Matthew Ryan roaring and growling over a doomic groove interspersed with moments of proggish complexity, Chris White and Ryan Cole's guitars trading off chiming arpeggios and crunching refrains over an ever shifting rhythmic backdrop courtesy of  Elliott Cole (drums) and Chris Benoist (bass). "Vengeful Gods" and "Pain, Grief and Suffering" follow in much the same vein, both are classic Desert Storm songs full of vitriol and anger, the former a mid tempo workout touched with a degree of doomic dankness, the latter a more strident, sludgy and demonic workout.. "The Path of Most Resistance" blends the bands love of a raucous riff with their new found love of post-rock textures and subtle prog(ish) colourings while "The Machine" hits you square on the jaw with some nasty heavy sludge vocalising over a brutal fractured groove while also utilising a bit of off-kilter weirdness in its mid section to keep you on your toes. "Lockjaw" follows its angular prog metal groove, decorated in a mixture of  clean, gravelled and demonic vocal tones, hits hard, fast and heavy. The album closes its account with "Rebirth" a beautiful, if somewhat unexpected, folk song that has a strong Roy Harper(ish) vibe both musically and vocally.


If you are coming to Desert Storm's new album expecting more of the same sludgy heavy hard rock the band explored on "Sentinels" then you might be in for a rude awakening when you hear "Omens". The band have opted for a more experimental and occasionally off-centre approach to their grooves this time around and its a approach that we at Desert Psychlist think has paid off.

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 16 May 2020

SHOGUN ~ ADDENDUM ..... review


"Riffs upon riffs upon more riffs, straight from the cosmic cloud" is the legend that precedes any release from, Wisconsin groovemeisters, Shogun and the Milwaukee quartet deliver on that legend once again with their latest album "Addendum" an eight song opus chock-a-block full of crunching refrains and powerhouse rhythms all decorated in soaring clean, clear vocals.


Compartmentalizing bands into neat little boxes marked by genre is a great tool for journalist's, bloggers, podcasters etc. to give their readers/listeners a general idea of what to expect from a release, however that kind of falls down when you come across a band like Shogun who don't readily conform to those specific genre descriptions. Drop a needle anywhere on "Addendum" and you are just as likely to hit a groove that is grungy and alternative as you are one that's dank, dark and doomic and that is if you don't hit something classic rock flavoured or proto-ish and metallic. As their legend states Shogun love to jam on a riff but don't go thinking that is all they have in their armoury the band also know a thing or two about melody, pacing and dynamics something that gives their songs added substance as well as gravity. The first thing you will notice when giving "Addendum" a spin is the ferocity of Alvin Vega's drums, the man at the back is a virtual monster percussionist especially on the albums opener "Eos Archaea" where he almost plays his kit like a lead instrument. Vega is ably supported by Max Muenchow on bass duties the bassist locking down some growling bottom end and coming into his own on the grungy "Space Cleric" where he lays down the groove that holds the whole song together. For those who like their guitar solo's soaring, screeching and drenched in feel then look no further than Sam Wallman, the axe-man lays the crunch down when the crunch is needed and fills the spaces in-between with some fiery lead work, he is also no shrinking violet when it comes to playing acoustically either as the beautifully picked "Cascade" will testify to. Vocal duties fall to Joe Widden and he does not disappoint,  his vocals are strong clean, melodic and blessed with a clarity that has become a rather rare commodity these days, at the top of his register he can howl like a rock god of old, as he proves on the excellent "Dread Haze", but he also possesses a warm weariness at the other end of his vocal spectrum that is demonstrated to great effect on the lilting and folkish "Gilgamesh".


"Addendum" has come as a bit of a surprise to many of us who feverishly search the web for news of new releases, tours etc. many of  us so called movers and shakers, who write, report and host podcasts telling everyone about what's hot and what's not, didn't even know that Shogun had gone into a studio, let alone were releasing a new album. In a time when we are consistently being bombarded by so many unwanted surprises (Covid 19) it is nice to get one we do want.
Check it out …..

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Monday, 11 May 2020

EARLY MOODS ~ SPELLBOUND ..... review


Desert Psychlist spoke in a recent album review of bands whose sound is somewhat a sum of their influences, i.e. if a bands members grew up listening to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest then there is a good chance that some of that music is going to seep into their own grooves. As far as we at Stonerking Towers are concerned their is nothing wrong with this just so long as you are honest and are prepared bring something of yourselves to the party and avoid becoming a pastiche/carbon copy of the bands that influenced you and your sound. California's Early Moods do not try to hide or deny their love of early doom bands like Candlemass, Trouble, Witchfinder General and Black Sabbath but nor do they slavishly go out of their way to sound like their heroes, yes you will hear recognisable traits on their debut EP "Spellbound" that will remind you of where their influences lie but you will also here a band trying to be true to themselves and in our opinion succeeding.


Part of why "Spellbound" works is that it doesn't just draw from an endless well of Sabbath-esque doomic riffage but also dips it's toes into the realms of NWOBHM and the good old fashioned heavy metal of bands like Saxon and Motorhead. The listener will find as many galloping refrains on "Spellbound" as there are dank riffs and doomic crunch and it is this balance of metallic styles that makes "Spellbound" such a fulfilling and enjoyable listen. Title track "Spellbound" is the perfect example of this balancing act, Alberto Alcaraz (bass/vocals/synth) and Chris Flores (drums) masterfully shift the songs dynamic from a doomic plod to a strident gallop and back again without breaking sweat while Oscar Hernandez and Eddie Andrade trade off riffs, licks and solo's that range from dark and doomic to bright and bluesy, Alcaraz's strong clean and powerful vocals soaring above this mayhem with unexpected clarity proving to be the cherry on the cake. Of course one song does not make an EP and the four songs that follow, "Starless", "Isolated (feat. Alan Jones)", "Desire" and "Living Hell", all have their fair share of mouthwatering twists and turns with "Isolated" standing just that little more erect and prouder than its neighbours due to it's slightly off kilter vocal melodies and its mix of subtle and abrupt changes in both time and tempo.


Familiar without being fake, doomic yet not dank and heavy but not leaden "Spellbound" is superb debut that may not be the release that propels Early Moods to the giddy heights of their heroes but it is one that will put their collective foot on the first rung of that ladder.
Check it out …. 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 10 May 2020

HALO NOOSE ~ MAGICAL FLIGHT ...... review


With so much music out there it is inevitable that a few gems are going to pass you by from time to time, this was the case with Halo Noose's debut EP "Magical Flight" an EP released in February of this year and only coming to Desert Psychlist's attention today.
Halo Noose poses somewhat of a problem for this humble reviewer in that it is not exactly clear whether Halo Noose are a bona fide "band" (their Bandcamp page refers to them as a London band) or just the lone creation of a man called Stuart Morrish , the evidence currently at hand points to the latter and if that is the case then he is a very talented man indeed.


Not quite heavy psych but very close to it "Magical Flight" sort of occupies a middle ground between stoner rock and it's more lysergic fuelled cousin, in other words expect swirling swooping eastern themes and motif's underscored by crunching riffs and topped off by hazy vocal tones. If there is a criticism to be levelled at the seven tracks that make up " Magical Flight" it is that the overall sound is a touch trebly and lacks a thick glutinous bottom end, something that dialling in a touch extra growl and boom into its bass parts would have easily remedied. This criticism aside Halo Noose's EP is nevertheless a hugely enjoyable romp that explores aspects of both late 60's acid rock and early 70's psychedelic rock while also meeting much of the needs of today's psych listener.


Solo project or a genuine combo it doesn't really matter "Magical Flight" is, despite its flaws, a stunning debut from a man/band with a real understanding of the words "trippy" and "cosmic"
Check it out ….

© 2020 Frazer Jones