Sunday, 26 May 2019

STONERROR ~ WIDOW IN BLACK .... review


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


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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday, 24 May 2019

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


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


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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 18 May 2019

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



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



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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 11 May 2019

HALFAYA ~ EL PASO DE HALFAYA .... review


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


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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday, 6 May 2019

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


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


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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 5 May 2019

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


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


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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday, 3 May 2019

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


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


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


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

© 2019 Frazer Jones