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 ….

<

© 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