Sunday, 6 June 2021

MAD CHICKEN ~ CHICKEN OF THE GRAVE ..... review


Today Desert Psychlist drags its riff bruised and groove grazed body back to Brazil to introduce you to a band with a slightly daft name who have just released their third equally as daftly titled album. The band in question are Mad Chicken, Filipe Xavier (vocals); Daniel Santos (guitar, keyboards); Michel Custódio (guitar, optical theremin); André Salviano (bass) and Pedro Paim (drums), and the album they have just released goes by the name "Chicken of the Grave"


"Chicken of the Grave" is a superb album packed with all the elements you would expect a great album to possess, it has riffs it has melodies it has skillful musicianship and it has great vocals but at the same time it is also a slightly strange album. Why is this we hear you screaming, well let us tell you..... "Chicken of the Grave" begins life with "In The Pit" a song any stoner rock/metal band worth their weight in riffs would be proud to call their own, a song built around heavily distorted guitar refrains and industrious rhythms fronted by gritty angst ridden vocals. The band then follow this up with "Devil Within" a song that follows a similar path to its predecessor but this time is touched with a little proto-doomic flavoring. It is now that things get a little strange, after showing us what a great stoner rock band they are Mad Chicken then decide to go all alt-rock/grunge on us with " Lies In Your Head" a song that could have easily been written by Alice In Chains or Soundgarden, its quiet /loud//quiet dynamics augmented by slurred guitar refrains and  a vocal that is almost the polar opposite of what has gone before. Mad Chicken stay in grunge mode for next track "Self Service Dialogue" its intro of screeching feedback making way for another groove that swells and dissipates with an unerring regularity. "Fake Model Life" mixes its stoner with its grunge to create a cocktail that'll quench the thirst of fans of both musical disciplines while "Spellcaster" finds the band adding bluesy shades to their already quite colorful musical palette. The proto-metal/doom of "Devil Within" returns for "War In The City" a song that carries the cryptic line "everyone is killing but no-one's has a gun" and jams a groove so infectious it should be classed as a disease. It's back to the grunge for "Endless Storyline" a superbly executed alternative semi-ballad that to Desert Psychlist's ears carries a little Stone Temple Pilots in its musical construction. "On The Edge Of Reason", an instrumental piece with orchestral leanings follows and to be brutally honest adds nothing much to the album but is nonetheless a pleasant enough distraction. "You Better Quit" revives the Alice In Chains vibe explored on "Lies In Your Head" but twins that vibe with a vocal that is probably closer to the late Soundgarden vocalist/guitarist Chris Cornell's impassioned howls than it is to AIC's Layne Staley's melodic croons. Final track "Asteroid Belt" then sees Mad Chicken blending together elements of stoner rock and grunge and topping the resulting mix off with touches of heavy psych and space rock.


Blending alt-rock/grunge with stoner/hard rock and metal is nothing new but usually those bands working in the this field tend to mix the two into a hybrid of both musical genres, the difference between Mad Chicken and those other bands however is that Mad Chicken divide their grunge from their stoner to such a degree that at times it is almost as if you are listening to two different bands. Now this could result in a very disjointed album but strangely this is not the case with "Chicken of the Grave" in fact it is this duality that is the albums biggest selling point. 
Check it out ....  

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday, 31 May 2021

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 ... review


You may have thought that UK heavy metal/hard rock cult heroes Budgie had the monopoly on bizarre song and album titles with their tongue in cheek titled tunes like "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman" and "Napoleon Bona Parts One & Two" and albums like "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" and " We're All Living In Cuckooland" but Australia's Dr. Colossus have put the Welsh rockers in the shade with their latest release by entitling it "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", which is quite a mouthful in anyone's book. 
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.


Things begin rocking and a little erotic with opening song "Sex Cauldron" a tune that burst into existence on a relentless wave of gnarly crunching riffage and insistent rhythms and proceeds very much that way until its final note, the songs lyrics telling of a place of ill repute where you can escape all your problems, the singer stating categorically that "we are not talking about love here, we are talking about S.E.X." . If you are hearing shades of early Red Fang and maybe a little Mississippi Bones by now that is not surprising as Dr. Colossus have a similar humour to raunch ratio to both those bands and that raunchiness and humour is no better exemplified than on next track "Pickabar" a song that references an episode of The Simpsons where Homer is supposed to pick up his son Bart from soccer practice but forgets, the song jamming an infectious chugging groove that boasts an equally infectious chorus. "Lard Lad" follows and here we find Dr. Colossus , blending a little proto-doom with Deep Purple(ish) heavy rock, swathes of Jon Lord flavoured keyboard textures whooshing majestically over a strident groove that is made even more enjoyable by it's great lyrics and vocal. "So Long Stinktown" references Homer moving his family away from Springfield to the promised land of Cypress Creek and here we find the band slamming into a groove that bites harder than Santa's Little Helper and begins with the band gruffly harmonizing on a vocal that has the feel of something country rocker Steve Earl might have come up with (that's if Steve Earl was a Simpson's fan of course)."Get Mendoza" is up next and finds the good Dr. mixing things up with a rather impressive array of exotic motifs, neo classical flavoured shredding and dank doomic refrains, the song is also another good example of why it is not always necessary to buy into the bands Simpson themed lyrical content because if you don't always get the sometimes subtle sometimes glaringly obvious references to the shows past episodes you still have the option to rock out to the bands always excellently delivered grooves, and this song has a monster GROOVE! Despite its exotic sounding title "Hummingbird of Bengal" is a song with a southern tinted rock vibe that contains another one of those infectious choruses that will stay with you long after the songs last note has faded into the ether, and how could you not fall in love with a song that uses the lyric "i'm a vegan not a vegetarian". For their last song on "I'm A Stupid Moron ..... " Dr. Colossus go epic with a ten minute plus extravaganza called "Space Coyote" a song that blends the bands penchant for the occasional dank dark heavy refrain with a more restrained dynamic that is no less dank or dark just a touch more melancholic and reflective, the band pulling off this balance with perfect aplomb while still managing to retain that tongue in cheek blackened humour in their lyrics that has run through each and every one of the albums songs.


Do not make the mistake of reading the albums unusual title and looking at the cartoonish take on a classic stoner rock album cover and then dismissing this as some novelty record, Dr. Colossus are the real deal and with "I'm A Stupid Moron ..... " they deliver some of the hottest and raunchiest hard rock you are likely to encounter this year. 
Check it out ......  

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 23 May 2021

DREADNOUGHT IN THE POND ~ 0=1 .... review


Being totally honest we at Desert Psychlist had never heard of the subject of this review before we chanced upon this the bands latest, and first, full length studio release but we are damn sure we will never forget them now! The band in question go by the name Dreadnought In The PondRemco Tzukerman (guitar/vocals); Dmytro Pishko (bass/vocals) and Roma Kuz (drums), and hail from Ternopil, Ukraine and to describe what they bring to the table musically is probably one of the hardest tasks Desert Psychlist has ever undertaken. There are no convenient little genre labelled boxes to place Dreadnought In The Pond's music into and even if there were there are aspects of the bands sound that would still remain laying outside of that box in an unclassifiable heap. The band do try to help us out by describing themselves as a "prog band" but the music they play on their new opus "0=1" is unlike that played by any prog band we have heard before or may even  hear again.


 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, the nearest comparisons anyone could probably make to the bands sound would be that of The Mars Volta or possibly Tool but even then your arrows of comparison would be falling wide of their mark. DITP squeeze into their dissonant ditties elements of everything from punk to krautrock, their songs are sometimes loud and jarring, sometimes smooth and free-flowing, their vocals range from angsty screams through to clipped gothic croons and their grooves incorporate an astounding array of weird and wonderful instrumental tricks and effects, all of these elements combining together to create something that is totally unique and exciting if sometimes a little eclectic. What about the songs we hear you ask, well as we said in our opening piece DITP's sound is not something that lends itself to easy description and that goes for their songs too so we will just pick out what for us are a few highlights to be found on "0=1" like the wonderfully mind-blowing "Like Butterflies" with its grungy industrial groove and recurring guitar motifs and the epic centerpiece "When You Pass Away" with its ever shifting dynamics and dissonant lead work, but in all honesty there is not one song on "0=1" that you will wish to skip or scan over, each is a masterpiece in its own right even though each teeters precariously on the edge of falling into a glorious chaos.


Dreadnought In The Pond are not going to be everybody's cup of tea, there will be many out there for whom the bands schizophrenic musical attack will be a step too far out of their comfort zones, but for those who do get what this band are trying to achieve with their music then "0=1" will be like a gift from the Gods. 
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 22 May 2021

HIPPIE DEATH CULT ~ CIRCLE OF DAYS ..... review


Portland, Oregon's Hippie Death Cult first burst onto the scene with a trio of tantalizing singles drip fed to the public via their Bandcamp page, they then followed this up with their debut full length album "111" which quickly become one of the "must own" underground albums for many of the scenes devotees, it also garnered its fair share of praise from many of the scenes movers and shakers featuring not only at #6 on Desert Psychlist's "Best of 2019" end of year list but also ranking high on the lists of many others. This year the band return with their second album "Circle of Days" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records) and on just one listen we predict this will not only match the success of "111" it will eclipse that success.


"Circle of Days" opens in grand style with "Red Meat Tricks" a quasi-doomic opus with a grungy undercurrent that is superbly anchored to earth by Laura Phillips deep rumbling bass and Ryan Moore's busy dexterous drumming and then made to fly by guitarist Eddie Brnabic's crunching chords and swirling feel drenched solos. Now those familiar with the band will already know that HDC have in their possession a singer of rare depth, power and quality but those coming to the band anew will be blown away when they first witness the vocals of Ben Jackson, his voice, an instrument in it's own right, is able to go from a clipped gothic croon to a graveled rock god howl and everything in between with seamless ease., he also plays a mean keyboard. "Hornet Party" follows, the songs up and down dynamic sees ringing arpeggios and fractured chord voicings trading places with furious neo-classical shredding against a rhythmic backdrop that shifts up and down the gears between laid back and mid-tempo and  fiery and thrash-like with Jackson following suit with a suitably schizophrenic vocal. Those that invested in HDC's first release will already have noticed a more mature sound on this their latest outing and that maturity really makes its presence felt on next song "Walk Within" an achingly beautiful ballad//torch song that highlights the more subtle and melancholic side of Brnabic's guitar playing and also throws a well deserved spotlight on not only the versatility of Jackson's vocals but also his skills on the keyboards, Phillips minimalistic bass lines and sublime dual vocal combined with Moore's shimmering percussion adding that extra touch of class to the occasion. Title track "Circle of Days" is a sublime mid-tempo number that mixes the grunginess of the albums opener with a little stoner/hard rock and heavy psych over which wonderful wafting harmonies and melodic lead vocals are executed to perfection, the band keeping the groove tight but with just the right levels of looseness so as not sound over-compacted or overly compressed. For the albums last song "Eye In The Sky" HDC put all their eggs in one basket, cleverly combing the musical elements of hard rock blues and psych that have informed sections of all the albums previous songs and combining them together in one mind-blowing finale, scintillating stuff!


With their debut album "111" Hippie Death Cult wanted to make a statement of intent, to announce their arrival with grooves that would grab the listener by the throat and say "this is who we are ,this is what we do" and there was an exuberant rawness about the songs on "111" that did just that. On "Circle of Days" Hippie Death Cult retain that exuberance 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.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday, 21 May 2021

MIST TOWER ~ OBSESSION .... review

 


Ukraine's Mist Tower, Artyom Matiienko (vocals); Alexandr Hodosevych (guitar); Andrew "djentle.man" (guitar); Yaroslav Starovich (drums) and Simon Buzzkeeper (bass) describe themselves as a band who gathered together to "smoke and play music", well we are not close enough to the band to comment on their smoking claim (although we suspect its true) but given that Desert Psychlist has just given the bands debut EP "Obsession" a very satisfying and enjoyable spin we can verify that the playing music part of that statement definitely holds water.

"4th of July" kicks things off with big swirling riffs interspersed with cleverly placed spaced out guitar textures and is decorated with a sneering vocal that for split second had Desert Psychlist wondering if Brit-rock stalwarts Oasis' front man Liam Gallagher had changed his name and moved to the Ukraine, such is the similarity in tone. There is nothing Oasis like about the music behind that voice though as Mist Tower are probably closer on this song to an early Elder than they are the Manchester Brit-rockers albeit with a little more doomic spatial awareness. "Pandemic" follows and poses a bit of a question as here we find Mist Tower ramping up the doom quotient as well as the heavy psych but twinning those elements with a vocal totally different in tone and execution to the albums other tracks which beggars the question was this song recorded separately from the rest of the album and added as an after thought or had the singer just not smoked enough prior to laying down his vocals, either way its a damn good song. Those slightly  sneered vocal tones return for "Devil's Knife" and are combined with a groove that is a little less intense than what has gone before, still heavy but just not as dark while "Vibrations" finds the band bringing a little lysergic haziness into play and building up the atmospherics, the two different and heavily effected guitar tones playing off against each other just before the close of this song is mind-blowing. The EP closes with "Kolodyaz" a scintillating instrumental that builds its part up slowly layer by glorious layer until reaching a peak of psychedelic doomic splendor and then slowly making its way down again.


More a mini album than an EP "Obsession" is a collection of five songs that blends elements of heavy psych and stoner metal together with doom but does so without getting overly dark or dense, the band achieving this by allowing plenty of space within the compositions for them to breathe, still keeping things heavy but not over compacting everything so it all becomes a relentless dirge.
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 20 May 2021

A BETTER TOMORROW ~ SPIRITUAL CROSSING ...... review


Desert Psychlist likes grooves that come at you from unexpected angles and the album up for review today certainly delivers on that level. "Spiritual Crossing" by French quartet A Better Tomorrow is an album that will probably divide opinion, there will be those that can't get their heads around its soulful undercurrents, there will be others that will be confused by its frequent forays into jazz and there will be some who will find it leaning a little too close for comfort to a mainstream sound. We at Desert Psychlist understand (to some extent) all those concerns but there is also plenty of metal to be found here, crunching riffs and thundering rhythms that sit comfortably beside those other musical dynamics in perfect, if unexpected, harmony and if you suspend your misgivings for a while you might just find (like us) these grooves starting to hit your sweet spot.


"A Better Tomorrow", the song that gives the band their name, opens proceedings with guest musician 
Lionel Martin blowing a sweet unaccompanied saxophone solo that is slowly joined by dark droning feedback before suddenly exploding into a strident metal groove drenched in fuzz and distortion and pushed by insistent percussion. Sound good so far? well it gets even better when Vanessa Ghisolfi joins the fray with a vocal that is powerful without being overly ballsy and sweet without being saccharine, her vocals a perfectly balanced display of vocal dexterity. Things get downright delicious with next track "Spread" its ascending/descending dynamic constantly shifts between a full on metal assault and a laid back jazzy soulful stroll in the clouds and is routinely interrupted by the sort of instrumental prowess usually only the reserve of  fleet fingered proggers or jazz-rock fusioneers and that's all without mentioning the superbly pitched vocals that waft  serenely overhead. Lovers of jazz-rock will fall head over heels in love with next track "Blow By Blow" a song that begins with a Thomas Jullien liquid bass motif and finishes with guitarist Benjamin Lousky doing his best Grant Green (respected 60's jazz guitarist) impersonation the band filling the spaces in-between these two performances with a mix of swaggering hard rock and modal jazz that finds drummer Grégory Ogier showing us that not only can he pound the living daylights out of his kit he also has that swing thing going on too, the song also once again highlights Ghisolfi's vocal range, the singer roaring like a Viking shield maiden one minute scatting like a modern day Flora Purim ( legendary Brazilian jazz chanteuse) the next. "Black Cats" follows and begins with a riff that has a Led Zeppelin/Budgie vibe but then settles down into a chugging hard rock/metal groove with Ghisolfi telling us her tale of dark felines in powerful emotional tones thick with soulful gravitas. Proceedings are brought to a close with "Ghosts of Remembrance" a proggish torch song that gives free reign for each member to show the best of themselves and end what has been a breathtaking musical journey on a massive high.


Those of you out there who might be a little scared by the references to jazz and jazz legends we have included in this review don't be, there is enough metal and hard rock here to fill a small canyon and despite the A Better Tomorrow's constant forays into soul and jazz territories that heavier side of the bands sound is very, very pleasingly HEAVY! For those that do not need to be convinced to listen to something with jazz and soul overtones and whose minds are already open to other forms of music then "Spiritual Crossing" will be manna from heaven, this is an album that fuses soul and jazz together with metal without getting overcomplicated or convoluted and may, if you let it, open a gateway to whole new world of music for you. 
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

MOON COVEN ~ SLUMBER WOOD ..... review

 

If you like your doom stonerized and with a ritualistic spiritual vibe then you can't go far wrong by tapping into the grooves brought to sacrificial altar by Malmo based Swedish doomsters Moon Coven. The band will be no strangers to those of you out there with your fingers on the pulse of the underground scene as the band have impressed us before, first with their three song EP, "Amanita Kingdom" and then again with their full length self-titled debut "Moon Coven". Its been a while since "Moon Coven" was released but good things are worth waiting for and the bands new release "Slumber Wood" (Ripple Music) is definitely something you would class as a "good thing"


Opening track "Further" harks back to an earlier period in Moon Coven's development in that it employs those classic stoner doom dynamics of slow low and heavy bass and guitar refrains bolstered by pummeling, pounding percussion and monotonic, but nevertheless melodic, vocals that have become Moon Coven's trademark.  It is second song "Ceremony" that first starts to show us a glimpses of why those six years of hard work have not been wasted. The song does not deviate too far from the bands usual stoner doom blueprint, those riffs are still a dominant force and those drums still pound and pummel, but there is a more melodic and harmonious feel to everything going on here, a feel that is further enhanced by the totally unexpected blues drenched guitar solo that erupts out of the heaviness at around the songs half way mark. "Potbelly Hill" is up next and again it is a song driven by big resounding riffs but again Moon Coven don't let things become a relentless dirge the band cleverly injecting little snippets of post rock texturing and psych like colorings into the proceedings to lighten things up. "Eye of the Night" is probably the nearest Moon Coven will ever get to writing an all out hard rock song while "A Tower of Silence" shows the bands more experimental side. "Bahgsu Nag" follows and is somewhat of a departure for the band in that it has a more indie/alternative feel, it is also a song that forces Desert Psychlist into confessing that there have been times, up to and including this song, where we have been hearing shades of "Faith" and "Seventeen Seconds" era The Cure in both the albums vocal tones and  musical execution, ok the delivery is a lot more intense and heavier but we still hear it all the same. Confession over we move on to next track "Seagull" a song that finds Moon Coven taking the bare bones of stoner doom and hanging on those bones bright musical trinkets that glisten and sparkle amidst the gloom. Things are then brought to close with "My Melting Mind" a song that once again harks back to Moon Coven's past endeavors of big doomic riffs and big thunderous rhythms, however the bands new found musicality is never far away and has now become part of the bands DNA and so its not long before a series of ringing arpeggios and circular guitar motifs make their presence felt to bring a touch of much called for respite to the songs low heavy and relentless sonic attack.


The band tell us that "Slumber Wood" is an album that took six years in the making, now before you start thinking the band were suffering from some sort of TOOL or Axl Rose syndrome let us remember that Moon Coven are an underground band with none of the resources of those other two and in order to survive to play their music they have to have day jobs and in turn have lives that need living. However those six years of writing, rehearsing and playing live has had its compensations, the band sound tighter than ever on "Slumber Wood" and the relentless riffage that informed their previous releases has been enhanced by a musicality that can only have come from endless hours of practice and rehearsal .
Check it out...

© 2021 Frazer Jones