Wednesday, 29 March 2023


When you think about British metal bands still out there doing their thing then you probably think along the lines of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. Saxon and Orange Goblin but there is a tier of bands existing just below that upper echelon who have been beavering away making killer albums and touring far and wide for years now without the advantages and benefits of a major label behind them. One of those bands is Desert Storm, an Oxford based combo with six well received albums already under their belts and who have been wowing audiences all over the UK and Europe with their unique blend of stoner, groove metal, sludge and prog almost from day one. The current line up of the band, Matthew Ryan (vocals); Ryan Cole (guitars); Chris White (guitars,/keyboards/backing vocals); Elliot Cole (drums/percussion) and Matthew Dennett (bass) have just released their seventh album "Death Rattle" (APF Records) and time does not seem to have blunted their edge one iota.

"Master of None" confirms that all is still well in the world of Desert Storm, the song boasting ear-catching twin guitar motifs and crunching riffs driven by a superb rhythm section over which singer Ryan delivers a superbly pitched vocal that oozes husky gravitas. The song seems to lean towards an almost Viking Metal dynamic in places, whether this is intentional or not Desert Psychlist does not know but it works. "Cheyne Stoking" is next, a song inspired by graffiti seen sprayed on a wall in Shane Meadow's excellent British revenge movie "Dead Man's Shoes", much like the movie the song is a blend of simpering menace and extreme violence which in the songs case takes the form of pastoral folkish prog progressing into chord crunching, drum skin pounding heaviness with its vocals following a similar progression. There is a touch of, fellow Oxfordites, Radiohead's "Street Spirit" about next track "Bad Trip" in its arpeggiated intro but that comparison soon gets dispelled when a third of the way in Desert Storm erupt into a heavy stoner/sludge groove that would make Thom York's damaged eyelid flutter like a butterfly. For "Melatone" Desert Storm take a leaf out of Green Lung's book by mixing their sludge and stoner grooves with touches of retro flavoured occult rock to create a sound that is at times achingly beautiful at others blustering and brutal. Gently picked acoustic guitar introduces "Salt of the Earth" accompanied by a mournful thick and gravelled vocal, the songs occasional eruptions into gnarled heaviness tempered by bluesy solo's, languid acoustic noodling and flourishes of lysergic keyboard textures. The next three songs "Druid's Heath", "Insomniac" and " Self Depreciation" finds Desert Storm sandwiching proggish textures and psychedelic colours between various degrees of  heavy metallic stoner grittiness while final track "New Dawn" sees the band bringing things to a close with an uncharacteristic but quite delightful bright and airy instrumental. 

Whether Desert Storm will ever smash through that glass ceiling and break into metals upper echelon is doubtful, not because they don't have the chops or the songs but simply because that upper tier was formed in a time when such things could still happen. The music business has changed a lot since bands like Maiden and Priest could play the pub and club circuit with real hope of making a career out of music, now the best most new bands can hope for is to get their music on Spotify, Amazon or Bandcamp, sell some merch and maybe get a few local gigs or get on a small European tour that includes a few festival spots. Given those facts it is testament to Desert Storm's commitment and belief in their music that they are still here, seven albums down the line, still making albums of the relevance and quality of "Death Rattle".
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday, 27 March 2023


If ever a band deserved to be called legends then it is California's Acid King, a band with a similar play loud. play hard and leave 'em screaming for more ethic to Lemmy's Motorhead. Long time fans of doom, stoner and psych will already be familiar with Acid King's music, their albums, EP's and splits so listing them all here sems a bit pointless. What we will do however is bring to your attention that mainstay guitarist/vocalist Lori S. has surrounded herself with some new musicians for Acid King's latest release "Beyond Vision" (Blues Funeral Recordings) and has expanded the band to a quartet with Jason Willer on drums, Bryce Shelton on bass/synths and Black Cobra’s Jason Landrian contributing extra guitar as well as sharing song writing credits with Lori.

Apparently new album "Beyond Vision" was not actually intended to be a new Acid King album and was originally conceived as a one off project, a chance for Lori S to work with some musicians she had wanted to collaborate with for some time, the project only really becoming an Acid King album as things developed, which makes sense when listening to the new album as "Beyond Vision" is unlike any Acid King album that has proceeded it, Previous albums were heavy, gnarly affairs built on a foundation of  heavily distorted riffs and thunderous rhythms, there were of course elements of subtlety and hazy experimentation to be found on albums like "Busse Woods" and "III" but on the whole the music was downtuned, doomic and dank. Now we are not here to tell you that Lori S has suddenly taken a 360 degree turn, swapped her leather jacket for a tie-dye kaftan and put flowers in her hair because that just would not be true, the dankness and doom are all still very much in evidence on the new album its just there are levels of cosmic experimentation at play here that have never been heard on an Acid King album previously. From opening instrumental "One Light Second Away", with its ominous, pulsating intro right through to final song "Color Trails" with its slowly building intensity there is not a second you will want to miss, skip or be distracted from and you will not be allowed to either as each track seamlessly segues into the next. If you had told Desert Psychlist, prior to hearing "Beyond Vision", that we would one day be comparing Acid King with bands like Colour Haze and Ufomammut we would have probably laughed in your face but here we are today doing just that, there is an out there factor and a headiness to tunes like "90 Seconds" and title track "Beyond Vision" that have only ever been hinted at before and it has given the band a whole new palette of colours to paint their musical soundscapes with. Of course Lori S being Lori S she is not going allow us to get away entirely riff free and so there are still plenty of crunching chord progressions, growling bass lines and pummelling drum patterns to get our teeth into, as well as her distinctive vocal tones, but overall this is an album where space texture and colour are king and the journey is everything.

Credit: Kevork Demirjian

"Beyond Vision" is probably the best comeback album never intended to be a comeback album ever recorded in the history of rock music, and possibly the only one. The musicianship throughout "Beyond Vision" is off the scale as is its concept of allowing each song to bleed into the next to make it feel more like a complete journey from start to finish. Acid King are back, they might not have meant to be, but you have to agree the world is a far, far better place with them in it.
Check 'em out..... 
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday, 24 March 2023


If a band cites among its influences such luminaries as Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Sleep and High on Fire then you are probably expecting said band to have a somewhat similar sound, well you might unless that band hails from Scotland and goes by the surprisingly un-doom-like name of The Rhubarb. The Rhubarb, Hannah White (vocals/bass); Seán Maguire (vocals); Michael McConville (guitar) and Jack Donnelly (drums), may share some of the qualities of those bands they cite as influences but sounding like them is not one of them, this is a band who approach their doom from a whole different angle as you may come to realise when giving their latest release "Symptom of Failure" a listen.

Everything we said about The Rhubarb not sounding like the bands that have influenced them might sound like absolute tosh when hearing the opening bars to first track "Mist", its dark riffs and thunderous rhythms are most definitely Sleep-ish, maybe even Sabbathian, in texture and colour, but then in comes the dual vocal attack of White and Maguire and suddenly those textures and colours take on a whole new hue. White's voice, ethereal and haunting combines with Maguire's low clean baritone to give the bands music a unique and different vibe and feel to that of any of their contemporaries in the field of doom, in fact Desert Psychlist would go as far as saying that there is not a band out there, at the present time, that sound anything like The Rhubarb. There are times throughout "Symptom of Failure" where you are left wondering if you are listening to some studio created mash-up whereby some tech savvy producer has layered the vocal tracks of one band over the metallic grooves of another, but then there are also moments when those grooves and the vocals weave together in such perfect unison that you have to concede that this is the work of just one band, and a very good one at that. The musicianship, on songs like the sinister "Awful Breed", the mournful and heavy  "I Wanna Play a Game", the schizophrenic "I Can't Roll" and the epic "Mother's Ruin", is nothing short of outstanding, White's bass lines growl and purr, Donnelly's drums are thunderous and articulate while McConville's guitar work is a mixture of dark crunchy chord progressions and searing fiery lead, factor into the equation White and Maguire's astonishing vocal interplay and its not hard to understand why The Rhubarb are attracting the attention of those both inside and outside of their Scottish homeland.

A high level of musicianship combined with sweet and sour harmonies and tonally opposed vocal trade offs is what makes "Symptom of Failure" stand out from the crowd, it is not a conventional doom album by any means yet it is still very much a doom album. Purists might bemoan the fact that its vocals are not typical of the genre but then The Rhubarb are not your typical doom band. 
Check 'em out ....  
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 23 March 2023


Majestica, Therion-live. ex-Captain Crimson bassist/guitarist/vocalist Chris David had a sound in his head, a sound that merged the doom of his fellow Swedes Candlemass and Witchcraft with the polished electric blues of the USA's workaholic guitarist Joe Bonamassa. To bring this vision to life David needed to recruit musicians who shared his vision and so in came Richard Eriksson on drums, Mattias Linusson on Hammond organ and  Andreas Eriksson on guitar to record an EP of songs under the collective name of Wizdoom. Now whether this line up is set in stone or has been put together by David just for this project Desert Psychlist does not know but given the strength of the songs on the bands debut "Trolldoom"(Moving Air Music) and the way these guys bring those songs to life, we hope its the former rather than the latter.

Given David's work with Therion its not surprising that elements of polished symphonic metal creep into Wizdoom's groove from time to time but fear not you lovers of the gnarly riff, those elements are just that... elements and on the whole "Trolldoom" is all about the doom. Opening number "Doomed Fleet" is a prime example of David's vision for Wizdoom its gnarled riffs and pounding rhythms are of the sort that bands like Witchcraft and Spiritual Beggars built their reputations on while its quieter more considered moments possess the atmospheric grandeur that were once the territory of bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. David's vocal is magnificent throughout and ranges from husky and gritty to Dio-esque and operatic while managing to comfortably accommodate all stations in-between. The bluesier stoner side of Wizdoom gets an airing on next track "The Half Living Realm", a blues flecked number that builds from humble beginnings into a stomping rocker routinely punctuated by soaring tasteful lead from Andreas Eriksson. "Way of the Lost" follows, an undulating doom ballad/torch song given wings by Linusson's keyboards and taken to another level by an incredible vocal performance from David. The highlight of the album for Desert Psychlist has to be next track "Engrave" its fractured fist pumping groove, underpinned by David's growling bass and Richard Eriksson's thunderous drumming, is just joyously addictive and is further enhanced by some serious shredding from guest guitarist Tommy Johansson (Sabaton/Majestica), and of course it goes without saying how good David's vocals are here. And so we finally arrive at title track "Trolldoom" its bluesy doomic groove, boosted by whooshing Hammond organ and scorching guitar work, effectively bringing to a close what has been a highly entertaining collection of blues flavoured doominosity. 

The beauty of Wizdoom's "Trolldoom" is in the balance of its grit with its polish, the five songs to be found inhabiting this stunning debut EP have an appeal that will sit well with both those who like their doom to have a certain grandiose traditional sheen and those who like their doom a little gnarled and dirty, lets hope there is more to come.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 21 March 2023


Pick a colour then pick a mythical creature to pair it with seems to be the thinking behind many of the names bands choose to call themselves, why this is Desert Psychlist could not say but run your finger down a list of albums owned by any discerning stoner, doom or psych fan and you would be hard pushed not to find a black this or a red that. Today's review concerns one such band who have used this colour/creature combination, a Greek doom/stoner psych trio called Green Yeti, consisting of Dani Avramidis (bass); Michael Andresakis (guitar/vocals) and Giannis Koutroumpis (drums), who have just released their latest album "Necropolitan

Green Yeti kick off their new album with instrumental "Syracuse" a stunning heavy psych jam packed full of interesting little twists and turns that slides effortlessly into following track "Witch Dive" a song that is an unashamed declaration of love/lust for a woman sporting "witch eyes" and "blond hair" played out to a backdrop of old school flavoured stoner/desert groove enhanced by some seriously impressive lead guitar. With not a second to catch our breaths we are then propelled into the albums second instrumental "Jupiter 362" a stunning blend of spaced out rock and lysergic laced experimentation that seems to be going a million places all at once yet somehow never losing its way. The groove that sees the previous track leave us is also the groove that introduces us to next song "Golgotha" the band ramping up the grooves intensity until it can go no further and instead erupts into a discordant heavy stoner groove over which Andresakis roars unintelligible vocals like he was having some sort of mental breakdown, which is exactly what this track feels like musically. "Dirty Lung" finds the band getting their doom groove on with Andresakis guitar and Avramidis' bass dialled to dank and Koutroumpis' drums set to thunder mode, the songs mix of gravelled and clean vocal tones adding an extra air of doomic gravitas to a song with an already considerable doomic impact. Penultimate track "Kerosene" is a song that sits halfway between an anguished lament and an impassioned rant with a soundtrack very much in keeping with those two emotions, raucous chord progressions vying for dominance with soaring emotionally charged vocals over a platform of tight solid drumming and thick growling bottom end. The excellent "One More Bite" rounds things off its crunchy dank riffs framing another anguished and angry vocal from Andresakis, the guitarist/vocalist perfectly summing up the songs thrumming heavy dynamic with the line "feral riffs, reverse your mind".

Those of you who bought/streamed the bands previous releases "The Yeti Has Landed" and "Desert Show" will know that Green Yeti do not make bad albums, (just take a look at the endless plaudits gracing those albums on their Bandcamp page for confirmation), and "Necropolitan" is no exception, in fact it maybe their best release so far...well that is until the next one.
Check it out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 18 March 2023


 Spain is another one of those countries coming on leaps and bounds in regard to the underground rock scene, what first started out as a trickle has now turned into a flood with more and more Spanish bands seemingly appearing on the international scene daily. It should be also noted that there is an increasing trend among these bands to cease trying to cater for UK and American ears and instead write and sing in their native Spanish tongue. 
One such band are Jaén based trio Santo Rostro, consisting of  Miguel Ortega (guitars, synths, vocals); Kuki Galiano (drums) and Antonio Gámez (bass/vocals), who previous to the album we are reviewing today, have released three well received, well executed albums. The bands early releases were very much inspired by their early musical heroes Mastodon, High on Fire, The Melvins and Black Sabbath but those influences have waned somewhat over the years and slowly been replaced by a more refined dynamic, a dynamic that has seen the band putting more emphasis on texture and colour in their compositions, something their latest album "Despu​é​s No Habrá Nada" (Spinda Records/ Discos Macarras Records/ LaRubiaProducciones) will more than attest to.

A crunchy circular guitar riff coming out of one speaker announces the arrival of first song "Telarañas" and is quickly joined, in full stereo effect, by the drums and bass in a groove that although loud brash and heavy stays just shy of brutal. The powerful gritty but clean vocals decorating this song are frankly mind-blowing, as are its guitar solos which heavily draw their influence from Spain's Moorish heritage."Carcasa Digital" follows and comes out of the traps spitting blood and fire, its prog-metal like chord progressions and complex rhythmic patterns creating a somewhat angular attack that proves to be its biggest asset. "Aire" begins with acoustic finesse and ends in fuzzy electronica and betwixt the two is a fiery  mix of doom, sludge and stoner metal over which another superb gruff and powerful vocal performance is delivered. "Matriz" sees Santo Rostro once again drawing on their Moorish roots while also giving free rein to their more prog-metal side while final track, the instrumental "Despu​é​s No Habrá Nada", makes no pretence at trying to be anything other than an exhilarating and jaw dropping prog-metal jam, Ortega, Galiano and  Gámez showing that if you have the chops to play music of this complexity, depth and quality then why not just stretch out play the fuck out of it.

Santo Rostro have with "Despu​é​s No Habrá Nada" exceeded all expectations, they were always a good band, they were always good musicians and always good composers but for this their latest release we need to remove the word "good" from those statements and replace it with the word "great", or maybe even "superb". 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday, 17 March 2023


We do not usually review "live" albums on The Psychlist, not because we do not like them (we love them) but because they are a snapshot in time that are often not indicative of where a band are currently at in their musical evolution and are usually filled with crowd favourites rather than brand new compositions. For Witchrot's "Live In The Hammer" (Fuzzed and Buzzed Records) Desert Psychlist has made an an exception, first because it was not recorded in front of a paying audience but on the floor of Boxcar Sound Hamilton, Ontario and second because, for us, the quality of execution to be found on these live recordings far exceeds that of the original versions.  

 The albums first track, "Druid 1//Crypt Reaper//Burn Me Down" is a medley made up of songs from the bands self-titled debut "Witchrot" and its follow up "Hollow" tied together with threads of dank, dark groove. The medley opens to the luscious strains of violin then is joined by crashing drums and thrumming bass and reverberating guitar riffs in what can only be described as a series of industrial strength doom grooves over which vocalist Lea Reto intones vocals that alternate between seductive and ethereal that occasionally switch to anguished as and when the music dictates. "Dug Your Grave/Strega"  follows, another medley this time a combination of two of the bands single releases, and if you thought the studio versions of these two songs were something special just wait until you hear the live versions, Reto making full use of the environment she finds herself singing in, using the acoustics of the room to make her voice sound so much fuller and larger while the band use those same spaces to bring to the table a speaker shredding rawness that those original versions just didn't quite posses. Two previously unreleased  tracks follow the first of which, "Acedia", is a short but dark instrumental that twins dank droning refrains with sparse ringing arpeggios to create an otherworldly dynamic. The second is " Who Scared You" a song that finds Reto flattening out her vocals on the verses to give things a slightly off-kilter feel, a feel mirrored in the bands musical attack which has a grungy off- centeredness. That off-centredness continues into "Colder Hands", the dissonant slurriness of the original "Hollow" version is here amplified ten-fold and taken to a whole new level while final number "Million Shattered Swords" progression from lilting ballad, backed by soaring violin, to soaring, yet deeply distorted, torch song is nothing but jaw-dropping.

For "Live in the Hammer" the line up of Lea Reto (vocals), Peter Turik (guiitar), Nick Kervin (drums) and Cam Alford (bass) are joined by guitarist Daniel DeKay (Exciter) and violinist/vocalist Laura C Bates (Völur) in a celebration of doom liable to summon the gnarliest demons hell has to offer. Dark, uncompromising, sinister, ethereal, loud and brash are all adjectives that could be used to describe the music Witchrot lay before us with their new album, but none of them quite capture or fit the sound these guys make together. Here is a music rooted in Sabbathian soil but grown so far away from that root that it no longer bears even a close resemblance, its doom sure enough but a gnarled, twisted insidious doom.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones