Monday, 12 April 2021

KYNING ~ ĀN ..... review

Hold on to something solid and attached to solid ground because what you are about to hear, after reading this review and following the link to this bands new album, is going to blow you away. The band in question are a German combo from Leipzig called Kyning, consisting of Nils (drums); Johannes (vocals/guitar); Matthias (guitar) and Otto (bass), a band whose sound is an enthralling blend of stoner metal, grunge, indie rock and prog that breaks all the known rules of what can be put together in a musical context but does it anyway, the results of which can be found on their latest release "Ān".

Blending together elements from different genres of rock is not an exactly new concept but Kyning are not a band claiming to reinvent the wheel they are just trying to use it differently. By differently we mean Kyning do not separate those elements, gleaned from a wide spectrum of sources, into musical sections but cram those elements together in such a way that they are almost unrecognizable but are nonetheless still there. Nothing is straightforward about what Kyning bring to the table with "Ān", riffs fizz and pop but they also crunch and crackle, rhythm patterns shift and change with an unnerving regularity and the vocals can range from a clean impassioned howl to guttural roar in a nano-second. Fellow music junkie and Doom Charts contributor Steve Rodger commented on the bands Bandcamp page "I’m not entirely sure what the fuck is going on here, possibly some kind of twisted proggy grunge perhaps, but I am pretty sure it’s great..." and he is 100% correct, from opening track "Bury Me Closer" to the closing number "Preacher" the listener is not so much led by the hand through Kyning's mythical world of melancholy, mistrust and malcontent as dragged through it screaming, made to look at leafless trees and sombre lonely mountains against a musical soundtrack that is continuously soaring and plummeting, a relentless ride that is as mind-blowing as it is breathtaking.


Those that thought that prog metal had steered its way into a cul-de-sac and had nowhere else left to go should wrap their ears around Kyning's "Ān", by blending into their proggish overtures elements of alt-rock, stoner rock, doom and metal Kyning have shown that prog still has destinations not yet explored.
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday, 9 April 2021

WHEEL ~ PRESERVED IN TIME ...... review


Black Sabbath did not really invent doom metal, they certainly inspired the genre with their thick heavy riffs and slower thundering rhythms, but doom as a recognized genre really only came into fruition with the emergence of bands like Witchfinder General, Candlemass, Pentagram, Trouble and Solitude Aeturnus. Using Sabbath's iconic B-movie inspired self titled song "Black Sabbath" as their blueprint these bands tuned their guitars down low, slowed down their rhythmic patterns and in doing so added to their sound a cloying atmospheric that is still the norm in doom music to this day. Vocally and lyrically however things have changed quite dramatically since dooms early days, where once powerful clean vocals, often sang in semi operatic tones, were the norm now doom is often the territory of demonic screechers, gutteral growlers and rabid roarers, where lyrics once had a Mary Shelley. Bram Stoker Gothic novel type vibe now they are inspired by movies like Hellraiser and Event Horizon. Germany's Wheel, Ben Homberger (guitar); Arkadius Kurek (vocals); Marcus Grabowski (bass) and Carsten Jercke (drums), do not buy into this new doom model their doom could well be described as "epic", "traditional" or "old school", a type of doom that is getting increasingly rare but is just as relevant and enjoyable today as it ever was, something you can discover for yourselves by giving their latest release "Preserved In Time" (Cruz Del Sur Music) a spin.

You could not want for a better opening track than "At Night They Came Upon Us" its eastern guitar motifs interspersing a series of chugging doomic refrains is decorated in a vocal that is pure "old school" in tone and execution, Kurek's melodic slightly operatic voice is pitched to perfection and sits perfectly in that "Goldilocks Zone" where it compliments the grooves surrounding it rather than overpowering them. "When The Shadow Takes You Over" follows and has a melancholic vibe, more a torch song than a ballad it boasts an incredible vocal from Kurek as well as some stunning brief but effective soloing from Homberger. "After All" is what could be described as a list song that finds Kurek lamenting, in mournful tones, a loss against a backdrop of mind-blowing atmospheric doom driven by Jercke's thundering and industrious drumming, anchored by Grabowski's rumbling deep bass and given wings by Homberger's crunching reverberating riffs and swirling solos. "She Left In Silence" thunders along on one of those dank, dark and powerful grooves that reminds us all why we fell in love with doom in the first place while "Aeon Of Darkness" contains all the necessary ingredients to underline the reasons why we are in love with the genre still. "Hero Of The Weak" ramps up the doom both atmospherically and dynamically and adds a little theatrical vocal dramatics to the equation, Kurek adopting a darker grittier tone to his voice and even trading off vocal licks with some "new doom" style guttural intonations. Final song "Daedalus" revives the eastern themes visited on the albums opening track but this time we find the band blending those themes with a more undulating musical attack the songs groove ebbing and flowing between full on and  thunderous and restrained and melancholic, huge dark crunching powerchords regularly making way for reverberating arpeggios and swirling solos, pounding pummeling drum patterns replaced by shimmering an intricate percussion, growling bass riffs that rumble and roar suddenly becoming liquid, languid and fluid while the vocals range from a humble croon to an impassioned aria, it's mind-blowing stuff!

If you were brought up on the post-Sabbath doom of Candlemass, Trouble and their ilk and have a hankering for those days when vocals soared and swooned with a power and clarity only usually associated with music of a more classical leaning then Wheel's "Preserved In Time" is perfect for you, if on the other hand you were too young to have witnessed those early days of doom and are wondering what all the fuss was about then this is a great place to start and then work your way backwards.
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday, 5 April 2021

POLYMERASE ~ UNOSTENTATIOUS ..... review

 

Desert Psychlist has quite a few male friends living in Britain of Philippine descent nearly all of them are rock music fans but to a man their tastes favor the more mainstream end of the rock and metal spectrum. Not one of my Filipino friends has ever shown an interest in the more underground aspects of the rock scene and so it came as somewhat of a surprise to be directed towards an album from a Filipino combo who not only understand underground rock they also play the shit out of it! Polymerase are VN Jose (vocals), Vincent Jose (guitars/bass) and Francis Ilagan (drums), VN and Vincent originally put down a few grooves on tape back in 2014 but due to a technical error the files storing those recordings disappeared into the black hole of cyberspace, nothing much happened for a while but when Covid hit in 2020 VN persuaded Vincent that they should try again and so with the help of drummer friend Francis that is exactly what they did, the results of which is the trio's debut release "Unostentatious"

Desert Psychlist is somewhat confused about VN's role in Polymerase as he is credited as the bands vocalist but his only contribution (on this release) is a raw, harsh vocal on final track "Green Is The Color Of Evil", most of the instrumental work on "Unostentatious" seems to fall to his brother Vincent and drummer Francis, maybe this will change on future recordings but either way this does not alter the fact that "Unostentatious" is a stunning collection of psych tinted stoner rock worthy of a place in every underground rock fans music collection. There is a touch of  Earthless, a smidgeon of Colour Haze and a salting of My Brother the Wind about much of the songs on this mind-blowing release but dosed with added elements of  heavy doominosity and lysergic haziness that keeps things earthy and anchored and this is despite the bands constant attempts to take off into the cosmos on instrumentals, "The Traveler", "A Night With A Succubus" and "Lightbringer/Lightgiver".We come back to "Green Is The Color of Evil" for the final song and it is here where we find Polymerase slightly changing tact and heading into darker, danker waters, the songs low slow refrain lumbers and lurches beneath the weight of its own fuzz and is decorated with a vocal that is partly a murmured mumble, partly a demonic roar. The song sticks out a little like a sore thumb from the spaced out heavy psych that populates the rest of this release but it does show that Polymerase have more than one string to their bow and that they are unafraid to fire their musical arrows in any direction that takes their fancy.


Lysergic heaviness and spaced out otherworldliness is the order of things for most of  Polymerase's "Unostentatious" but as the last track of this stunning release goes to prove these guys are no one trick ponies, Desert Psychlist expects more surprises to come from these guys on future releases.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday, 2 April 2021

PEIXES VOADORES ~ ALTERED STATES ...... review

 

It seems like an age since we featured a Brazilian band on these pages so lets put that right by introducing you to Peixes Voadores a combo from Rio Grande do Sul with a nice line in raucous catchy riffs and boisterous head-banging rhythms who have just released their debut album "Altered States".


 Describing a song as "catchy" will often send the underground purists running to their bunkers desperate to cleanse themselves with something harsh and extreme but would those dank grooves even exist if it were not for the Sabbath's, Zeppelin's and Purples of this world whose grooves were built on the constructs of hooks and melodies. Mentioning Deep Purple in that trio of examples is no accident on our behalf as Peixes Voadores share many similarities with all of Purple's various lineups as on songs like "High On The Road", "Flying High", "Stranger Within" and "Virtual Minds" the band, much like Purple did (and still do), keep things fairly simple but effective behind the vocals, which are strong clean and powerful, but then take off into the stratosphere between them, the only thing missing being some parping John Lord style keyboard flourishes. Of course this is not the 70's or the 80's so Peixes Voadores bring their grooves up to date by adding an undercurrent of doominess to proceedings, nothing too dark or dank but just enough to take their tunes out of the realms of sounding overly bright and polished and giving them a pleasing underground edginess.


Although Peixes Voadores describe what they do as "stoner rock" we at Desert Psychlist find the bands sonic attack leaning a little more towards an 80's hard rock/metal sound, a sound that relies on ear catching melodies and cleverly placed instrumental hooks with which to ensnare its audience. As mentioned previously there will be those reading this that will immediately balk at the mention of  words like ear-catching and melody, people who may be concerned that hearing something melodic might expose them to something that might be deemed commercial or mainstream, fear not though because there is enough gnarliness and gritiness on "Altered States" to fill a small canyon.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

ALEPH א ~ KAIROS ...... review





Jakób Ciszyn (vocals/guitars); Art Salsa (guitars/samples/vocals); Maciej Janus (bass/vocals) and Kuba Grzywacz (drums/percussion/vocals) are Aleph א a band from Sopot, Poland who describe themselves as "a gang of Pomeranian pirates", which given their penchant for swashbuckling grooves that plunder every metallic style know to man seems, to Desert Psychlist anyway, to be a pretty good description. Don't take our word for it though explore the bands diversity for yourselves via their latest release "Kairos"


"Kairos" opens with "Intro" 55 seconds of  crazy dial twiddling weirdness that paves the way for "Invert" a schizophrenic opus with a constantly shifting dynamic, the songs initial attack of chugging refrains overlaid with ear catching guitar motifs driven by growling bass and complex rhythmic drum patterns suddenly dissipates into a lysergic post rock meander that also sees the vocals following a similar trajectory, forceful lead vocals twinned with gritty harmonies decorating its first quarter and shifting to an almost jazzy meter for its remainder. "Doubt" follows, its circular guitar motifs and ringing arpeggios are backed by tight economic percussion over which a variety of vocal tones and styles are deployed, the song stuttering stop/start dynamic giving everything a quirky off-center vibe. "A Swarm of Dead Insects" sees Aleph א playing their gnarly card, once again nothing follows a defined path, the songs rhythms are in a constant state of flux, guitars explode into grizzled downtuned riffs then casually drop into post-rock/prog noodling and the vocals swap between clean harmonies and harsh roars, but despite this the song sticks fairly rigidly to its heavy sludge blueprint and because of this is probably the most straightforward track on the album. "Erode" is up next and has an almost grungy jazz fusion feel to it while "Resistance" brings a little funkiness to the table as well showcasing some of the albums best guitar work, both six-string and five (bass). Things come to a close with "Whale part II" a diverse and delightfully erratic tome that changes direction so many times it leaves you constantly checking the track listing to make sure your still listening to the same song.


Complex and intricate in places blustering and brutal in others Aleph א's "Kairos" is an album that brings together so many elements from so many different musical sources it is sometimes hard to take it all in. The musicianship throughout the seven songs that make up this album is exceptional and given the complexity and the diversity of the arrangements it has to be. Is it prog?, is it post-rock,? is it sludge?, the answer is yes to all of those questions but also so much more.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones



Wednesday, 24 March 2021

BLACK JUJU ~ PURPLE FLOWER. GARDEN BLACK ..... review

If you are a regular visitor to Desert Psychlist you will already know that music from the Greek underground is something that gets featured fairly frequently on these pages, the reason for that is not because we are on some sort of financial retainer from the Greek Arts Council but just simply because there is so much great music emanating from that country. There doesn't seem to be a month passes by without something from a new or an established Greek based combo landing on our cluttered desk demanding to be heard with the best part of that being that very rarely do any those submissions disappoint. Disappointment is not an emotion you will feel when listening to BLACK JUJU's latest release, the band who hail from Larissa, Thessaly first turned our heads with their 2012 debut "Letters From My Brother Cain" an ass-kicking collection of Sabbath-esque proto-doom and Orange Goblin-ish heavy/stoner metal, this year the band return with their second full length album "Purple Flower, Garden Black" (Sleaszy Rider Records) and we are glad to announce it's business as usual. 

Opening song "Jaguar Paw", an instrumental, establishes BLACK JUJU's Sabbathian credentials by grooving Iommi inspired refrains over a proto-doomic groove that embodies all the usual time and tempo changes you would expect from something with this type of flavoring. Not a band wanting to thought of as just another bunch of Sabbath clones BLACK JUJU change things up for next track "Hiawatha", the songs tribal rhythms ,overlaid with dark chugging guitar tones is further enhanced by a wordless vocal that assimilates Native American chanting, an idea that when written down on paper might sound kind of crazy but is one that sonically strangely works. "V.F.T." erupts out of the speakers with delightful furiosity on a wave of squealing pinched harmonics and crunching powerchords, courtesy of guitarist Dimitris 'Omiros' Tsimbonis, driven hard by Kostas Gagalis' deep growling bass and Vagios Alexopoulos' thundering percussion. This is also the first time on "Purple Flower, Garden Black" that we get to hear vocalist Panos Dimitriou stretching his vocal chords in a more traditional singing style, his voice a clean gritty mix of southern flecked roars and croons tinted with just a hint of twinkle eyed mischievousness and tongue in cheek malice. "Soulstealer" begins with the sound of someone gargling then immediately jumps into a sleazy heavy stoner groove that is probably more Monster Magnet than it is Sabbath, a groove that finds Dimitriou hamming it up in almost Alice Cooper like fashion in the role of the songs principle character. "Burn Me (When I Die)" has the feel of one those torch songs so beloved of Southern Rock bands, a sort of  condensed "Freebird" or "Green Grass and High Tides" for the stoner generation while "Black Hearted River" finds the band dipping their toes into more traditional doom waters with very pleasing results. For next track "Acid King" Tsimbonis digs out his wah pedal and Zakk Wylde book of guitar harmonics for a song that spits and snarls with dark doomic menace, a shapeshifting groove fest that you will not want to end. "(A Song For) Sorrow" utilizes ringing arpeggios and phase heavy guitar tones over a laid back groove of liquid bass and restrained percussion, a combination of sounds that provides the perfect setting for Dimitriou to tell, in grizzled southern tones, his melancholic tale of woe. "Flesh And Blood" mixes up its doom with touches of strident stoner metal bluster to create a sound that will resonate with fans of both genres while closing track "Gloomy Sunday" stays mainly within doom territory but brings a little theatrical vocal dramatics into play to give things an almost operatic feel.


Absolutely guaranteed enjoyment from its first note to its last "Purple Flower, Garden Black" is an album that ticks all the right boxes, an album that blends aspects of 70's southern rock and proto-metal, 80's heavy metal and 90's stoner rock together with elements of present day doom and psych to create a sound that is timeless, grooves that will stand the test of time and be just as enjoyable in 3021 as they are in 2021.

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

COSMIC REAPER ~ COSMIC REAPER ....... review


After the release of their well received debut EP "Demon Dance" North Carolina's Cosmic Reaper, Garrett Garlington (bass); Dillon Prentice (guitar); Thad Collis (guitar/vocals) and Jeremy Grobsmith (drums), concentrated much of their time honing their chops on their local live circuit but with the arrival of Covid -19 and the subsequent closing of venues the band had to rethink their plans. Suddenly finding themselves with unexpected time on their hands the band soon started tossing a few ideas around which soon shaped themselves into a whole new batch of songs, those songs were then taken into the studio and recorded for a new self-titled full length debut, "Cosmic Reaper" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records), as Benjamin Franklin once said "out of adversity comes opportunity"


With "Demon Dance" Cosmic Reaper toyed with grooves that were of a slightly proto-doom/Sabbathian flavor, the sound of those songs was most certainly "stoner doomic" in execution but with the emphasis more on the "stoner" side of that equation, with "Cosmic Reaper" however the balance has shifted more towards the "doom". The songs that make up the bands new opus are darker, danker and more intense than those that graced the bands previous outing, there is a heavier reliance on atmosphere and mood to be found here, where the guitars crunched and growled on "Demon Dance" here the guitars thrum and drone, where before the drums beat out a steady tattoo here they pound and crash with dark ferocity. Vocals throughout "Cosmic Reaper" are incanted in clean monotonic tones, their slightly Gregorian delivery adding an extra layer of mysticism and occult like ritualism to the proceedings. If you were expecting an album with moments of light relief, say some acoustic noodling or maybe some sort of doomic ballad then maybe you should start looking elsewhere as songs like "Hellion", "Stellar Death" and "Planet Death" are dark intense affairs that although occasionally do take off on tangents into lysergic territories are on the whole dank and relentless riff monsters perfectly suited for those times when you feel the need to sacrifice something on an altar.


Deliciously dark, ominously atmospheric and heavier than a sack full of lead "Cosmic Reaper" is an album made in the USA but with an intensity usually only associated with bands from the Polish underground, and if you are familiar with that scene you will also know how high a compliment that is. 
Check it out ......

© 2021 Frazer Jones