Monday, 17 January 2022

SWAMP LANTERN ~ THE LORD IS WITH US ..... review


Washington's Swamp Lantern, Jeff Kastelic (guitar/vocals); Jonny McIntyre (guitar,/vocals); Stu Hodge (bass/vocals) and Easton Sartor (drums), are a hard band to pin a label on, the Bellingham quartet jam a groove that blends stonerized doom with metals heavy and blackened that is then flavoured with elements of post-rock and psych, it is a sound that is sometimes brutal, sometimes laid back and sometimes challenging but is one that is at all times highly enjoyable. The band return this year with "The Lord Is With Us" the highly anticipated follow up to their well received 2000 debut "Phantasms".

If there was a criticism to be levelled at "Phantasms" it would be that it lacked a little "oomph" in places, this had nothing to do with the bands songcraft or musical abilities but was more due to its production and mix which applied a little too much polish to proceedings and tended to round off the bands natural raw edginess, however for new album, "The Lord Is With Us",  a balance has been found that allows the bands more quieter reflective moments to glisten and shine but then brings in the rawness and growl for when the dynamics get a little brutal and heavy.  First song "Blood Oath (On Pebble Beach)" is a prime example of this balance, the song opens up with crunching heavily distorted guitars jamming a riff pushed by rumbling bass and thunderous drumming, then suddenly subsides into a gentle post-rock meander that sees liquid arpeggios replacing reverberating power chords and shimmering percussion taking the place of pounded drum skins before gradually building in intensity and ending in a blaze of blackened metal bluster. Vocally this song has an almost operatic feel that mixes wordless choral singing (courtesy of  guest vocalist Aimee Wright) with mournful sounding harmonies and also includes the occasional smatterings of raucous vocal harshness, in other words there is something for everyone to be found here. Next song "Still Life" boasts the type of reverberating liquid guitar tones, that would not sound out of place on a Chris Issak or Roy Orbison album, twinned with a languid gothic tinted vocal, Swamp Lantern being Swamp Lantern though it does not come as a surprise when the groove slowly increases in heaviness and takes on a more doomic dynamic replete with ear catching guitar motifs and cryptic lyrics that blend drug references with a thinly veiled green message. "Graven Tide" follows and is a song that never stays in one place long enough to to be pinned down to one style, post-rock textures, Celtic tinged guitar harmonies and demonic vocals all combine to create a weird but exhilarating mish mash of styles driven by a strident blackened bass and drum groove. Title track "The Lord Is With Us", an instrumental, is a song that has a film soundtrack vibe due to its folkish/Americana dynamic that rightly or wrongly had Desert Psychlist visualising a running scene not unlike the one that opens Michael Mann's blockbuster movie  "The Last Of The Mohicans". Final song " The Halo of Eternal Night" is a beautifully constructed opus that builds layer by layer, the song swinging neatly from a mournful ballad to an emotive torch song before erupting into a crescendo of blackened doomic splendour over which guest guitarist Bobby Savage unleashes a screaming shredded solo, the song finally closing its account the way it started gentle and placid.


"The Lord Is With Us" is an album full of contradictions, an album that brutalizes the ear drums one minute then gently soothes them the next, an album that dips its toes in waters situated at the harsher end of the metal spectrum as well as those at its more ambient opposite. Where Swamp Lantern take their music next is anyone's guess, could they take the Opeth route and move towards a more prog orientated sound (they certainly have the chops) or they could go the other way and just get heavier, more brutal and more intense, only time will tell. 
Check 'em out .....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday, 10 January 2022

VOID ODYSSEY ~ VOID ODYSSEY .... review


Slovakian trio Void Odyssey play psych tinted instrumental doom spliced together with sampled narrative begged borrowed or stolen from various old horror movies, radio broadcasts and documentaries. Nothing new there i can hear you say, this has become common practice for bands in this genre, and we would have to agree with you but there is something about the way those samples are integrated into Void Odyssey's relentless sonic attack on their self-titled debut EP that takes things to a whole new level of enjoyment and negates the need of any vocals.

Before we get down to the task of dissecting every power chord , bass line or drum beat of the three songs that make up "Void Odyssey" let us give a shout out to  Mont Doom the artist whose amp worshipping illustration graces the cover of this face melting tome. The painting of three cowled figures standing in  reverence before a huge Laney stack, surrounded by gnarled smoking trees and shrooms, not only captures perfectly the lysergic elements of Void Odyssey's sound but also pays a thinly veiled tribute to Black Sabbath the band at the root of everything we deem doomic.

Title track "Void Odyssey" opens with a sample of what we can only assume is two law enforcement officers discussing something apocalyptic, "are they slow moving chief?" asks one voice, "yeah they're dead, they're all messed up" is the reply, a statement followed by a low rumbling heavily distorted bass motif that is then joined by the guitar and drums in an equally rumbling doomic groove. We mentioned the word "relentless" in the opening piece of this review and although describing something in those terms can sometimes be seen as derogatory this is not the case here, in fact it is the "relentlessness" of this piece that is its biggest asset, yes it does sit very much on one groove but it is a groove that is constantly building and one that incorporates into its attack subtle psychedelic elements as it builds, elements enhanced by swirling eastern flavoured guitar textures and those occasional well placed samples. "Aberration" follows and begins with a hazy guitar riff played over a tribalistic drum pattern that combined with its sinister sampled narrative, telling of being born to serve Satan, gives the songs initial stages a Colour Haze meets OM type meditative feel but then in comes the bass and suddenly the songs dynamic descends into a low slow heavy doomic groove with crunching guitar riffs and thundering percussion, accompanied by yet another well chosen sample, taking it to its conclusion. "Reefer Rites" brings things to a close with a song that, like its predecessor, starts hazy and languid, an echo drenched guitar arpeggio holding sway until another well placed sample heralds in the inclusion of the bass and drums and the eruption of the song into heavier territory. Once the bass and drums hit into this doomic groove they rarely deviate from it but with the addition of some really cleverly inserted samples and an ear catching circular guitar motif the repetitiveness of the songs main refrain does not ever become an issue and instead works for the song rather than against it.


There are some within our scene who find instrumental music a bridge too far to cross and that the lack of lyrics and a singer somehow detracts from a bands overall appeal, Void Odyssey understand this to some extent and so embellish their jams on their debut EP with sampled narrative gleaned from a variety of sources, these samples are not chosen at random however but are specifically picked to fit in with the mood and feel of each musical piece and by doing this they add a dynamic to their instrumental jams that might not have been there otherwise.
Check 'em out ...... 
 
© 2021 frazer Jones

Thursday, 30 December 2021

MOONSTONE ~ 1904 ...... review

Desert Psychlist has discussed in detail on these pages of the high regard we have for the music coming, in what seems a constant flow, from bands that populate the Polish heavy scene, well here's another one to add to your list.

Moonstone are Wiktor Kozak (bass); Kacper Kubień (drums); Jan Maniewski (guitars/vocals) and Volodymyr Lyashenko (guitars), the band first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via their excellent 2019 self-titled debut "Moonstone", a collection of five songs residing very much within the canon of stoner doom, unfortunately a lot has gone down in the world since then and its been almost two years since we have had anything physical from the band to wrap our ears around but earlier this month that wait came to an end with the release of "1904", a release consisting of two lengthy tomes that'll blow your mind.


First track out of the bag "Magma" opens with a delicious and dirty bass motif over which sampled narrative and piercing guitar feedback screams before the drums come in and take us into the songs first strident riff, however this being doom of the stoner variety its not long before the songs initial riff is replaced by something slower. lower and heavier. This sudden change in dynamic also heralds in the songs vocals which are delivered in clean monastic tones and give this section of the song an almost ritualistic/religious feel. The track then goes back into a variation of its initial riff before once again slowing down for the vocals to come in again. To be totally honest Desert Psychlist would have been quite satisfied if the song had ended there but there is more to this band than just a few riffs and a monotonic vocal and so suddenly we are presented with a period of laid back and languid post-rock ambience where glistening arpeggios and sharded chords rub shoulders with liquid bass lines and restrained percussion, this section of the song slowly building in momentum before exploding into an almost thrash-like groove, enhanced by swirling guitar textures, to take it to a close. Second track, "Spores",  plays its cards a little differently to its companion by beginning its journey in ambient post-rock territory and only then progressing towards a heavier dynamic, when the track does finally explode it does so accompanied by a much more forceful and less monastic vocal. But hold on we are not quite finished yet as the track then takes another turn and this time we find ourselves hurtling towards the Sun on a spaced out groove that owes as much to Hawkwind as it does to Black Sabbath, Sleep or Electric Wizard, with growling bass and thunderous drumming the engines driving the groove from which scorching guitar solos fire off in all directions like  "C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser gate" (quote from Blade Runner)


"1904" marks somewhat of  an evolution in Moonstone's sonic development, the heavy reverberating riffs, thunderous rhythms and monotonic vocals of their debut are all still very much in place but the band have also added to their musical palette elements drawn from post-rock and psych and in doing so have given their grooves a much more expansive and at the same time immersive feel.
Check 'em out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

DEMONIO ~ ELECTRIC VOODOO ...... review


There seems to be a new sub-genre in town and it is one that appears to be predominantly Italian and the name of this sub-genre emanates not from the bands playing the music but from those listening to it. The word many are using to describe this music is "scuzzy" a word fans are using to describe a sound that is drenched in filthy fuzz and distortion, tinted with lysergic elements and sporting vocals that often sound like they've been phoned in rather than laid down in a studio. First of these bands to attract Desert Psychlist's attention were the spaced out Sonic Demon then trailing not far behind came the doomic Black Spell and now, as if to complete some sort of "scuzzy" triumvirate, Demonio, the subject of this review,  have arrived with their scuzzy garage rock meets heavy psych meets fuzzed out doom opus "Electric Voodoo".


We at Desert Psychlist have a sneaking suspicion that Demonio, Sonic Demon and Black Spell may all be the work of the same small band of musicians, all three bands are Italian, all three utilise a mixture of filthy fuzzed out doom, gnarly stoner/hard rock and trippy heavy psych to fill out their grooves and all three grace their respective social media pages with poster artwork borrowed from 60/70's horror and porn movies, of course we cannot prove a connection but these similarities have definitely got our spider senses tingling. Demonio are probably the more "garage" sounding of the three bands with the grooves the band explore on their album "Electric Voodoo" having a slightly more raw and feral dynamic. Throughout the albums eight songs, which include such doomic titles as "Lust for the Dark", "Mistress of Death" and "Satan's Eyes", heavily distorted bass and guitar tones constantly teeter on the edge of breaking up into just noise but are tempered by occasional left turns into more lysergic waters where crunching fuzz laden power-chords make way for liquid sounding arpeggios and thunderous drumming is replaced by shimmering percussion. Vocals on each song are delivered clean yet gritty and are placed deep in the mix, a trick that gives them a distant almost remote feel yet at the same time adds a sinister edge to the bands grooves and  ramps up their "scuzziness" to an altogether other level.


The dictionary's definition of "scuzzy" is something that is filthy or dirty and given the fuzzy filthiness and distorted dirtiness of Demonio's raw and uncompromising sonic attack on "Electric Voodoo" we think a better description would be hard to find, All hail the SCUZZ!
Check 'em out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

DESERT PSYCHLIST'S BEST OF 2021


Another year of misery and mayhem goes by with the human race still arguing between themselves over race, sexism, politics and global warming while all the time trying to avoid the ever mutating viral cloud that continues  to hover menacingly over and around us, Music, in all its forms, has proved to be our saviour through these sad/bad times and has, for many of us, been our safe houses, our comforters and our own personal vaccines during this period of uncertainty and fear. Here is a list of thirty albums and EP's released in 2021 that have saved Desert Psychlist from losing the plot and running screaming to the hills, we could have easily chosen more but unfortunately time and space dictates that we keep things to a minimum., your list of choices will probably be radically different but that's OK, as John Lennon so rightly sang "Whatever gets you through your life, It's alright, it's alright"


30;  Afghan Haze ~ Nihilistic Stoner Hymns

Visceral and brutal are words often used to describe music of the nature Afghan Haze present us with on "Nihilistic Stoner Hymns" and often music described as such tends to lose a little of its musicality due to its harshness and ferality. Although there are moments when those two words could well be brought in to play when describing Afghan Haze's sonic attack the truth is those moments are few and far between and instead we are presented with a music that is certainty loud, certainly gritty but at the same time, and despite its blackened approach, is at all times musical.


,

29;  Dreadnought In The Pond ~ 0=1

WOW! WTF! and Jeezus H Christ, this is an off the scale collection of eclectic and diverse heaviness. The best way to describe DITP's sound is to say it is a constructed noise, a complex noise, a sometimes unsettling noise, an often confused noise but for all that .. a beautiful noise



28;  The Holy Corrupt ~ The Holy Corrupt

"The Holy Corrupt" is everything doom, as a music, should be, it is a dark dank atmospheric opus that lumbers and lurches along at tempos just short of crawling, it is an album tinted in psychedelic colours and textures but an album not overpowered by them, it is, as the band have already stated, an album to get stoned to. 



27;  Borracho ~ Pound Of Flesh

"Pound of Flesh" is not a radical departure for the band nor is it a carbon copy of what has gone before, Borracho's new album is what we all want it to be and that is a stonkin' collection of raucous rock'n'roll songs played loud proud and fuzzy! 



26;  The Age of Truth ~ Resolute

This band bring to the table not only the crunching refrains and thunderous rhythms of the underground rock scene, in all its various guises, but also the sort of dynamics that many might consider to be of a "classic rock" flavour, combining these elements behind a vocal that in its upper register has a howling rock god type timbre and at its lower end has a touching weary soulfulness.



25;  Godhead Lizard ~ V838

Intelligent cryptic lyrics delivered by a vocalist of rare quality over grooves of powerful loud hard rock are what Godhead Lizard deliver with their latest album and although the band warn us, via the albums theme, that all our chasing of dreams will eventually see us getting closer to the bottom than nearer to the top, the band seem to have climbed somewhat nearer to their peak with "V838".



24;  1782 ~ From The Graveyard

Sedately paced occult/doom with a cloying claustrophobic atmospheric, 1782 make music to be buried alive to.



23;  Blind Tendril ~ α

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!!!!
Greek musicians residing in the UK make stunning album of heavy music with an international flavour


 

 22;  Taxi Caveman ~ Taxi Caveman

Taxi Caveman are not a doom band, a sludge band or a punk band but at the same time they are all those things, they are a rock band who can turn their hands to all of rocks various forms and styles and do so while still managing to sound fresh and original. Taxi Caveman have great musical chops and on this their debut album they display those chops to great effect across a wide spectrum of styles, where these guys take their music next is going to be very interesting indeed.


 

21;  Paralyzed ~ Paralyzed

Forget those Led Zeppelin wannabees Greta Van Fleet, and any of those other pale imitations that have routinely popped up over the years because Paralyzed are the real deal, an authentic sounding heavy blues outfit with genuine belief in what they do.



20;  Kabbalah ~ The Omen

Heavy psych with the psych part of that equation leaning towards the sixties while the heavy part has its roots in the here and now.



19;  DVNEEtemen Ænka

Expectations were high for this band after the release of the excellent "Asheran" but with "Etemen Ænka" DVNE have gone way beyond excellent and pushed their music into territories of heavy music that we haven't even invented words for yet.



18;  Heavy Temple ~ Lupi Amoris

Absolutely banging return from Philadelphia's Heavy Temple, everything good about today's doom/stoner scene condensed into five essential cuts



17;  Maw ~ maw

If your a fan of the type of psychedelic tinted stoner/desert rock that gave us the likes of Yawning Man, My Brother The Wind, Naxatras and Sungrazer and you like those grooves with a similar low key vocal dynamic to that of Colour Haze then you cannot fail to enjoy what Maw bring to the table with their self titled debut "maw"



16;  Smoke Rites ~ The Rite of the Smoke

An enthralling blend of blackened doom, sludge and occult rock decorated in an intriguing mixture of vocal tones.



15;  The Crow's Eye ~ The Crow's Eye

Twisted off kilter doom that has a touch of pleasing sleaziness about it.



14;  Dr. Colossus ~ I'm A Stupid Moron With An Ugly Face And A Big Butt And My Butt Smells And I Like To Kiss My Own Butt

Now if you are not familiar with Dr. Colossus you could be fooled into thinking that, given it's humorous title and it's Simpson themed artwork (which pastiches the Weedians of Sleep's "Dopesmoker" album), "I'm A Stupid Moron....." might be some sort of comedic venture but you would be very wrong as this is some serious hard rocking shit that'll have you jumping out of your seat throwing devil's horns at all and sundry.



13;  Plaindrifter ~ Echo Therapy

Stunning album from start to finish,  Plaindrifter have gone above and beyond with this release and have raised the bar to a level they may struggle to ever reach again.



12;  Low Orbit ~ Crater Creator

You want grooves, Low Orbit have GROOVES, you want riffs Low Orbit have RIFFS! This is killer from start to finish.




11;  Scarecrow ~ II

If you loved Scarecrow's debut then prepare yourself for more of the same only heavier crunchier and more groovesome!




10;  Cripta Blue ~ Cripta Blue

Old school, and proud of it, heavy rock with riffs to spare and laid back (but effective) vocals.



09;  Dopelord ~ Reality Dagger

Dopelord delivering delightfully doomic devastation but then again haven't they always!



08;  Cavern Deep ~ Cavern Deep

A sinister tale of exploration delivered via the medium of DOOM.
Excellent!



07;  Thunder Horse ~ Chosen One

Sludgy doomic southern stoner psych metal with its roots in the blues.



06;  Maragda ~ Maragda

There are touches of early YES and Rush about some of the grooves on this excellent release as well as elements of Howling Giant and Elder so expect to be blown away!



05;  Confusion Master ~ Haunted

We often hear the phrase "beyond good" when describing something that reaches far above our expectations and if ever there was a better example of something that meets that criteria then we have yet to hear it. Fantastic release!!!!!



04; Spelljammer ~ Abyssal Trip

Spelljammer are back, for how long nobody knows, it is quite possible that it could be another five years before they descend from whatever dimension/planet/universe they hide themselves away in and present us with another album as essential and genre defining as "Abyssal Trip", but just knowing they are out there somewhere composing their titanic grooves is enough to keep our hopes alive for the future of intelligent heavy music.



03;  Restless Spirit ~ Blood of the Old Gods

Restless Spirit have been compared with Mastodon in some quarters but we have to disagree, Restless Spirit have their own thing going on and its a thing you need to hear!




02;  Hippie Death Cult ~ Circle of Days

On "Circle of Days" Hippie Death Cult retain the exuberance they demonstrated on their first album but this time around they combine it with a more mature approach to the music, this is not an album that needs to grab your attention with one full on attack after another as they had already achieved that with "111", with "Circle of Days" the band want to show you what else they've have in the locker, and that locker is full to brimming over with deliciousness.



01; Green Lung ~ Black Harvest

If you are a fan of the organ heavy classic rock of bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, have a hankering for the folk-tinted doom of Pagan Altar but also get off on the 00's occult rock of Blood Ceremony and The Devil's Blood then Green Lung's "Black Harvest" is an album sure to tick all your relevant boxes and will also explain why one of Britain's major newspapers, The Guardian, called Green Lung "'Britain’s finest folk horror-indebted heavy metallers'


                                    

Well that it folks for another year, hope you dug our little end of year compilation of what rocked our collective boats in 2021, there will probably be the usual gnashing of teeth and irate shaking of fists for not including this or that album but that just comes with the territory, either way we hope that 2022 brings you all that you want and need in your lives, stay safe stay healthy.

Desert Psychlist would like to thank the following for all their help and support over this challenging year ..... 
Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun), Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect), Reek of STOOM (Howls From the Hollows), Joop Konrad (Stoner Hive) and all the many other contributors at The Doom Charts, everyone involved with Retro Rockets and Hard Rock Revolution, all the PR and record company's for their endless promo's and news shots, The High Priestess Alice Mudgarden/Trey for putting us on the path we now follow, and lastly but most importantly Michele, Billy. Vikki, Sian, Ethan, Austin, Amber and Rowan for just being them.



© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday, 20 December 2021

PLASTIC WOODS ~ DRAGONFRUIT .... review

 

Music that is a little off-kilter, quirky and off the wall is something that has always interested Desert Psychlist, we like grooves that tend to go a little off-piste and wander into unexpected territories so imagine our delight when we were presented with  an album from Plastic Woods, a Spanish trio, whose new album "Dragonfruit" (Discos Macarras) ticks all those boxes and many, many more. 


Plastic Woods are Javier Rubio Arrabal ( drums,/percussion); Antonio Pérez Muriel (bass guitar/multiple arrangements) and Jesús de la Torre Sánchez (guitars/vocals/transverse flute), these three are the core musicians and brains behind Plastic Woods but music this left of field, complex and convoluted needs a little help to achieve its full potential and so for "Dragonfruit" the band recruited in Antonio Campos del Pino (Flamenco guitar, palmas, jaleos); Irene Veredas (violin); Miguel Ángel Robles Urquiza (trumpet); Carlos Mesa García (sax) and Isaac Pascual Godoy (piano, synth), the contributions of these musicians adding textures and colours to the bands songs that take them out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.
Title track "Dragonfruit" opens up proceedings and is a song so angular and sharp you could probably cut yourself on it, the songs proggish attack reminded Desert Psychlist of "Relayer" period Yes in places but with a much heavier overall dynamic, a dynamic that on its journey encompasses elements of not only prog but also fusions of  jazz, psych and hard rock all blended together beneath a vocal that on occasions strays into System of a Down territories. "The Calling" eases things down a notch or two and finds the band blending the traditional music of their Spanish homeland with grooves that have filtered across from more western sources, this fusion of eastern and western dynamics delivered beneath a beautifully executed and pitch perfect vocal. The eclectic "Dreamland" follows and has the feel of something that might have not quite made the cut of  a big budget musical while "Storm" takes its lead from Americana and British folk music, its luscious violins and gently picked acoustic guitars giving it a soothing feeling of gentleness and melancholy. For their next song "Close to the Void" Plastic Woods go in  completely the opposite direction by mixing up punkish aggression with a little quirky QOTSA type desert rock with the vocalist adopting an equally aggressive vocal meter to add an extra element of bite to the proceedings. For final song, "Sulayr", Plastic Woods throw all their respective eggs in one basket, the prog-like complexities of  title track "Dragonfruit", the traditional Moorish elements of  "The Calling", and the Broadway show vibe of "Dreamland"  are all combined in a diverse and delightful amalgamation of musical styles that creates a groove very, very different from what we may be used to hearing in this scene and one that quite frankly tears up the rule book. 


Some might read terms like Americana, Moorish, Broadway and folk and run screaming to the safety of their doom, sludge and stoner collections but if those same people dug a little deeper they would, on "Dragonfruit", find all the heaviness they could possibly hope to hear but garnished and blended with elements drawn from a much wider musical spectrum than they might ordinarily be used to,
Check it out...... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 12 December 2021

RESTLESS SPIRIT ~ BLOOD OF THE OLD GODS ...... review


Restless Spirit hail from New York and consist of Paul Aloisio (guitar/vocals); Jon Gusman (drums) and Marc Morello (bass), the trio have gone through a number of personnel changes as well as a couple of name changes (Witchtripper and Death Metal Pope) before arriving at their current line up and present band name. The band have just released their second full length album "Blood of the Old Gods" (Lifesblood Records) under the moniker of Restless Spirit and its a game changer on every level.


First things first let's give a big shout out to Evan Perino at Shellshock Audio for the recording and Azimuth for the mastering of this release, the production is immense and the clarity is off the scale good. No production values, however, are going to save your ass if the grooves you are presenting with that production are lacking that same level of quality, thankfully the quality of the production on "Blood of the Old Gods" is matched by the quality of the music it showcases. 
"Blood of the Old Gods" is a "concept" album themed around the non-acceptance of the status quo and the pitfalls and consequences of having to follow the "safe path", whether this works lyrically and musically in this albums overall context we will leave for you to decide but for the purposes of this review we will concentrate on the songs as separate entities.
"The Betrayer" opens proceedings with clean acoustic guitars gently picked over a backdrop of slowly increasing grainy FX which then gradually fades to make way for the explosion of groove that is the albums next track "Judgement and Exile" finds Restless Spirit blending into their usual forceful mix of sludge doom and prog elements of old school hard rock and heavy metal, ear catching guitar hooks and motifs abound here and give the song a pleasing catchiness not often associated with music of this genre, especially when that catchiness is combined with a vocal that is as clean, powerful and as melodic as this one is. "Crooked Timber of Humanity" , is a metallic tour-de-force packed to the rafters with full on vocals, crunching guitar refrains, growling bass lines and thunderous drumming yet despite all of its bombastic bluster there is an underlying proggishness to be found in its arrangements, beneath those bruising riffs and rhythms there are subtle complexities at play that may not be immediately evident on a first listen but soon make their presence felt after a couple of spins. After the sonic onslaught of the two previous tracks you might need a moment to catch your breath and "The Reclaimer" provides that with a very brief but interesting foray into experimental territory. The hammer goes down again with "Cascade Immolator" a song that kind of reminded Desert Psychlist of early era The Sword but with a little more complexity, a little less Sabbath worship and a lot stronger vocal. Title track "Blood of the Old Gods" is a piece of pure ass-kicking heavy stoner metal heaven that boasts a superbly catchy vocal melody as well as virtuoso performances from each and every member of the band before, quite unexpectedly, throwing an acoustic curveball into the mix to take things to the close. The band round things off with "Haunted" an enthralling finale that finds the band fully embracing the more proggier aspects of their sound while at the same time still maintaining their grip on the heavy, squealing pinched harmonics, ringing arpeggios, brutal fuzz drenched bass riffs and a mix of pounding and intricate rhythms, as well as the occasional lapses into ambience all feature here and thus bring to a close what we guess, despite its mid-December release, will be a shoe in for many peoples 2021 "best of" lists.


With "Blood of the Old Gods" Restless Spirit have found their sound, gone are the rougher growlier vocals that graced sections of their previous work, the sludgier aspects of their music are still in place but have been tempered with with a little more restraint and finesse and there seems to be a much bigger emphasis on melody, something that works well both for the band and the listener alike.
Check it out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones