Monday, 19 November 2018

ARCADIAN CHILD ~ SUPERFONICA ... review


When Cypriot psychonauts Arcadian Child quietly released their debut album "Afterglow" in 2017 they were not expecting the levels of appreciation and praise about to be heaped upon them by the movers and shakers of the underground press, it seemed that everyone and their dog was digging what these sons of Limassol were attempting with their diverse blend of psych, prog and hard rock. Now all this appreciation and praise does cause a problem for a band, a level of expectation now arises and those that hailed your last release are expecting, if not something more magnificent, then at least something on an equal par. Well that time has come around and Arcadian Child are about to release their second album "Superfonica" (23 November 2018) so let's see what they've got....


"Bain Marie" kicks off "Superfonica", its initial retro sounding guitar intro heralding a pulsating, throbbing psychedelic groove interspersed with swirling guitar motifs over which effortless clean mellow and smooth vocals, not so much soar, but float majestically. "Twist Your Spirit" follows and already Desert Psychlist is warming to the direction this latest album is taking especially when the songs strident hard rock groove suddenly morphs into heady laid back ambience with its violining guitar effects giving proceedings a sweeping orchestral feel. "Brothers", "Constellations" and "Painting" all follow much the same heady lysergic paths with the latter boasting an absolutely stunning vocal, "She Flows" steers a little too close to Coldplay territory at times but that is only a minor quibble and the band more than make up for that with the albums next two tracks "Before We Die" and "The March", the former an atmospheric slow grower delivered in hushed vocal tones over swirling guitars and an insistent rhythmic beat, the latter taking things to a close on an Eastern tinted groove underpinned by liquid bass, tribal percussion and Arabian flavoured guitar colouring all coated in an uber delicious vocal.


"Afterglow" was always going to be a hard act to follow but Arcadian Child have stepped up to the plate with "Superfonica" and knocked the ball way out of the park, stunning stuff!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 18 November 2018

HOLY GROVE ~ II ...... review


The fact that it took four years before Portland, OR's Holy Grove got around to releasing their self titled debut "Holy Grove" says a lot about this bands commitment. Not prepared to rush into anything they might regret later, the band gigged around their native Portland earning a reputation as a must see live band while all the time working hard on writing songs that not only meant something to them but also translated to their growing audience. "Holy Grove" was released to much anticipation and that anticipation was rewarded with an absolutely mind blowing album, a tour-de-force of bluesy swagger and doomic stoner splendour that garnered praise in all the right quarters. Two years later, with a new drummer behind the traps Holy Grove, are back with a new opus "Holy Grove II" (Ripple Music) so lets see how far they've raised the bar with this one.


The fact that Holy Grove managed to recruit legendary producer/engineer Billy Anderson to oversee the recording of "Holy Grove II" says a lot about how well regarded this band are within the underground rock scene, Anderson's CV includes such notables as The Melvins, Sleep and Agolloch and here he puts his mark on things by giving "II" an organic, almost live feel, a feel totally in keeping with the bands reputation as a potent live force. Anderson's engineering/production skills aside what makes "II" tick is the strength of its songs, from the titanic and turbulent "Blade Born" through the shapeshifting grooves of "Solaris" to the sprawling epic doomic splendour of "Cosmos" not a musical note or vocal inflection is wasted  Andrea Vidal's soaring, impassioned vocals are a revelation throughout "II" the vocalist effortlessly switching from a powerful bluesy holler to a sultry whisper in a instant, her voice as much a well tuned instrument as it is a force of nature. Beneath this tour-de-force of vocal gymnastics Gregg Emley (bass) and Eben Travis (drums) shift up and down through the gears laying down a diverse array of rhythmic grooves that sway between complex and primal allowing Trent Jacobs room to fill in the spaces with a mixture of dark chordal colouring and sweeping blues infused guitar solo's, the three complimenting Vidal's superb powerhouse vocals with a series of intense and equally powerful musical backdrops.

Photo by James Rexroad.

There are those that might think that for a band that has been around since 2012 two full albums in six years is not such a great return! Those people would be wrong, some things in life are worth waiting for especially when those things turn out to be as spine tingling wonderful and as essential as "Holy Grove II"!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

SPACELORD ~ INDECIPHER ...... review



Chris Cappiello (bass), Kevin Flynn (drums), Ed Grabianowski (vocals) and Richard Root (guitar) are Spacelord a four piece force of nature hailing from Buffalo, New York who describe themselves as "four beings of pure cosmic energy who came to Earth and chose, out of all the possibilities, to take the forms of four dudes with shitty beards". Now in the beards Desert Psychlist cannot comment on but that "cosmic energy" is something that can certainly be felt running right through each of the eight songs that make up the bands third release and second full length album "Indecipher"


A deliciously booming bass line surrounded by screaming feedback heralds the arrival of "Indecipher's" first track "For The Loved Ones" then the drums kick in and the vocals enter and its lift off to both a song and an album that references classic/hard rock as much as it does it's more weed blasted hard rocking stoner cousin. Space themed songs fill "Indecipher" from start to finish, however the sound Spacelord create is sonically closer to the hard rock of Montrose's "Space Station #5" than it is to the "Space Is Deep" meanderings of those cosmonauts of space-rock Hawkwind. The band utilise everything from the blues through to desert rock to fill out their grooves and boast a vocalist in Grabianowski who could easily hold his own with not only the aforementioned Montrose's Sammy Hagar but also those with names like Plant, Rodgers and Dio! The rest of the band are no slouches either with Root crunching out gritty hard rock chords, Zeppelin-esque bluesy voicings and earth scorching solo's, while underneath Cappiello and Flynn keep things solid and steady with growling deep bass and pounding Bonham-esque drumming, the whole coming together to deliver one quality song after another.


Top notch grooves from beginning to end without even a whiff of filler, "Indecipher" is Spacelord's best release to date and promises much for the future.
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 11 November 2018

ARTESANO DE PIEDRA ~ PATERNA NUNTIUS ....... review


Strange how the mind works while preparing an intro for a review, for example Desert Psychlist started wondering, during the course of this review, if the late radio engineer Glenn Snoddy knew exactly what he was unleashing when he created the very first fuzz/distortion pedal? Did he have any idea how that little box of tricks was going to change the sound of popular music and go on to become the go-to pedal for so many guitarists within, not only rock, but also many other forms of music. Why do we mention this now, you maybe thinking, well no reason really except for the fact that it got us thinking that without Mr. Snoddy's little invention, and its various versions, albums like Mexican groovesters Artesano De Piedra's, excellent three part musical suite, "Paterna Nuntius"and many others would be very different sonic animals altogether.


Simplicity is an often overlooked commodity within music but it is a fact that some of the most enduring tunes recorded during the last fifty years have been those based around a catchy hook or riff, songs with recurring motifs that worm their way under the skin and stay there. Artesano De Piedra, Jose Maldonado (guitars, fuzz, bass, drums and vocals) and Aldape - (bass), understand this concept and although the sixteen minute plus opus that makes up "Paterna Nuntius" in no way can be described as simple it does have a basicness to its grooves that grabs you and keeps you grabbed. Now you the reader may be thinking all this talk of simplicity and basicness is a little derogatory and a veiled criticism but far from it, Artesano De Piedra use these elements to their advantage layering their ear grabbing riff's one on top of the other, moving from one to the other, and keeping the listeners interest, with a mixture of subtle and drastic time signatures and clever use of dynamics in volume, something that is particularly effective on "Levelling Stones" the instrumental movement that opens "Paterna Nuntius" . On the albums second movement, "Ancestral Message", the band add into this equation clean mellow, yet totally effective, vocals sandwiched between huge swathes of swollen dark riffage while movement three, "The Traveller", finds the duo utilising an array of guitar effects, over a backdrop of thundering percussion, to fill out the groove and frame the songs well pitched and executed vocals.

There are times while listening to "Paterna Nuntius" that Desert Psychlist was reminded of both Sleep and Black Sabbath, Sleep due to the Mexican duo's same ability to jam endlessly on a single riff, Sabbath because of the album's sudden shifts in time and use of volume as a dynamic. You, the listener, might hear something completely different but hey that's the beauty of music, no two people hear the same thing, Whatever you hear there is no denying that the fuzz is strong in this one, wonder what Glenn Snoddy would have made of it all?
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 2 November 2018

BLACK ATLAS ~ WEIGHT OF THE WORLD .... ...review


Bedfordshire, England is probably not the most rock'n'roll place in the world, in fact a quick scan of well known Bedfordshire born musicians on the internet only revealed one minor boy band member and the original Jethro Tull guitarist (Mick Abrahams) as its musical representatives. Bedfordshire, or more accurately Bedford, however is the home of the subject of this review Black Atlas, a four piece combo with influences ranging from Black Sabbath through Corrosion of Conformity to Fu Manchu. Black AtlasMikey Ward (Vocals/Guitar), Peter Hunt (Guitar), Simon Wilson (Bass) and James Lane (Drums), come from a variety musical backgrounds but bonded on a love of good old fashioned fuzz heavy hard rock something that fills every nook and cranny of their debut album "Weight of the World".

Things start very positively with "I'm Not Dead", a wind effect accompanied by a voice asking for people to "bring out your dead" introduces the song before the hammer goes down and a flurry of drums heralds in the guitars and the song takes off on a stuttering heavily fuzzed groove. Vocals then enter, telling us in clean, slightly ragged tones of "a long dirty road" and "bridges burning down" over a backdrop of crunching chords, WHA pedal drenched solos and thundering rhythms. With hardly time to catch our breaths we are almost immediately thrown into next track "Paralyser" a song with a sludgier, denser, dirtier dynamic than its predecessor, a song that growls and snarls like a feral dog backed into a corner. This is how it rolls for much of the album with only the tranquil instrumental "Low Tides" and the bluesy classic rock of "Deadweight"and "Preacher" bringing relief from the heavy onslaught of deliciously distorted riffage and punishing, pounding rhythms that makes up the rest of the album.


As we mentioned in our intro piece Bedfordshire may not be the most rock'n'roll place on earth but, as Black Atlas' "Weight of the World" testifies to, when Bedfordshire does rock oh man IT ROCKS!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 29 October 2018

ALASTOR ~ SLAVE TO THE GRAVE ....review


When Desert Psychlist reviewed Swedish doomanauts Alastor's debut EP "Black Magic" we described the band as "cherry pickers" a band "taking what they can use" from various sources and "discarding what they can't". Although their are still elements of this "cherry picking" to be found on the bands latest release, "Slave To The Grave"(RidingEasy Records) there is strong sense of a band striving to find their own groove and create their very own signature sound.


"Slave To The Grave" starts life with "I döden är vi alla lika" (English Translation: In Death We Are all Equal) a short introduction piece with a strangely stilted narrative, spoken in Swedish, over a background of tolling bells and rolling thunder that cleverly segues into "Your Lives Are Worthless". The roiling thunder of the intro here is replaced by equally thunderous percussion overlaid with deep growling bass and a low slung grinding guitar riff around which the vocals are sang. It is in the vocal department that Alastor play their ace card and deviate from the usual doomic path of guttural growling and demonic screeching, the band instead pitching their vocals at the cleaner more melodic end of the spectrum. "Drawn To The Abyss" follows and boasts a wonderfully addictive vocal melody offset with hugely effective backing harmonies over a strident but no less grinding groove that finishes in a scorching bluesy jam with searing guitar solos facing off with swirling, textured keyboards. Next up is "N.W. 588" a song that in the pre-digital days would have had "single" written large all over it, its WAH drenched guitar motifs and driving groove resonating in the mind long after the song has reached its gloriously psychedelic conclusion. "Gone" allows the listener to catch his breath with a gently strummed acoustic number that incorporates crooned vocal harmonies and, believe it or not, whistling. Things return to some semblance of doomic normality with title track "Slave To The Grave" its shifting time signatures and searing guitar solos only just kept in check by a monstrous bass and drum groove. "Spider Of My Love" closes proceedings, its slightly hazy, reverberating vocals are underpinned by deep dark keyboard textures and wall shaking rhythms and is taken to another level by eventually exploding into a doomic heavy psych groove with screaming, swirling lysergic laced guitar gradually making way for the same rolling thunder that introduced the albums opening track.


"Slave To The Grave" sees Alastor evolving as a band, finding their place in the world and laying down a marker that says this is us, this is what we do and this our sound. A mighty fine sound it is too!
Check it out …

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 22 October 2018

A STORM OF LIGHT ~ ANTHROSCENE ... review


Desert Psychlist was reminded of these lyrics while listening to the subject of this review, "News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in, News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying, Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying". These lyrics may have been lifted from David Bowie's song "Five Years" but in the context of New York's A Storm of Light's new album "Anthroscene" they do have a tenuous poignancy, not only is the bands latest release a conceptual collection of songs dealing in the same scenario of Earth's population slowly falling towards an inevitable mass extinction but it is also five years since A Storm of Light released their last album. 


"Anthroscene" begins its journey with "Prime Time" a song that begins life seemingly serene and tranquil with gentle keyboard colouring and effects intermittently fractured by crunching, fuzz drenched, palm muted guitars. Slowly the song builds in momentum with the drums and bass laying down a solid foundation of groove decorated with lyrics telling of "suits counting their money" and a country with "no stars to wave" Powerful, angry, truthful and atmospheric "Prime Time" is the perfect opener for an album that never once pulls its punches. Throughout "Anthroscene" A Storm of Light never allow the intensity of their message or their music to waver as they hurtle through songs with titles like "Blackout", "Life Will Be Violent" and "Slow Motion Apocalypse", the furiosity and frustration conveyed in each songs subject matter coming across as an almost tangible commodity that you can hear, feel and even touch. This is exactly what A Storm of Light set out with "Anthroscene" to do, to show you the truth and open your eyes to what is happening in your own backyards no matter whether those backyards are in the urban streets of the USA, the temperate pastures of Europe, the war/poverty ravaged regions of the Middle East or the politically unstable countries of South America and Africa. A Storm of Light tell us of an end coming, not one led by a horned fallen angel but one led by those wearing Armani and Prada, those in shopping mall fashions and those in charity shop hand me downs, in other words all of us, blind to the fact we leading our very own parade to oblivion and extinction.


"Anthroscene" documents a planet falling into chaos and disrepair, a planet tearing itself apart with greed, social and political unrest and the life choices of the very people populating its surface. A Storm Of Light's dystopian vision is not pretty, it does not have a happy ending but by god it is powerful!
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones