Sunday, 15 May 2022

DEEPSHADE ~ GLOAMING ..... review

 


Wigan, Greater Manchester is probably better known for its Rugby League than its contributions to music but it did give us the short lived The Verve and Limahl, member of pop group Kajagoogoo and singer of "Never Ending Story", so that's gotta count for something hasn't it?  Hoping to add their names to Wigan's not so extensive list of  celebrities are Deepshade a trio of hairy Wiganites consisting of  David Rybka (guitar/vocals/keys), Tom Doherty (bass) and Adam Owens (drums), the band have been knocking around in one form or another since 2015 and in that time have released two full albums and are about to unleash onto the world a new EP entitled "Gloaming", a release that heralds in a whole new approach to their art.


There is a touch of Spinal Tap about the way Deepshade go through drummers, the bands current drummer Adam Owens is the latest in a long line who have sat behind the traps, Owens has so far managed to avoid spontaneous combustion, bizarre gardening accidents or chocking on vomit from an unknown source but who knows what the future may hold for him. Owens plays on only two of the tracks on "Gloaming" with previous (hopefully still surviving) drummer Paul Barlow providing the beats on the other three. 
"Eat My Dust" kicks things in fine style, its crunching hard rock/stoner groove is buoyed by a guest contribution from saxophonist Christian Berg whose various  honks, trills and screams bring an almost soulful quality to proceedings. Rybka's vocals are not quite as soulful but have a clean grittiness totally in keeping with the equally gritty fuzz drenched riffs emanating from his guitar. "Mountain" follows and finds the band mixing the Seattle-like grunginess of their previous albums with some exotic eastern flavoured heavy psych  Although "Mountain" shows traces of  Deepshade's newer musical direction it is on "Life Is Beauty (Explicit)" that you really get to experience how much this band have moved on musically, the songs psychotic mix of jangly lysergic headiness and thrumming heavy metal riffage has an almost West Coast of America flavour in places. Its back to the riff'n'roll for "The Wolf" a hard driven rock song that boasts one of those vocal melodies that once heard is damn hard to forget. Deepshade sign off their new EP with title track "Gloaming" an enthralling and delicious Doors flavoured opus made even more Doors-like and delicious by Rybka's spot-on Lizard King vocal, Doherty's deep liquid bass, Owens mix of tight and loose drumming and the contributions of Francis Lydiatt on keyboards and Christian Berg on sax.


When  fellow Doom Charts contributor Marc-Eric Gagnon reached out to Desert Psychlist and suggested we check out Deepshade's new EP, with a view to giving it a write up, we were a little bit dubious as up until hearing "Gloaming" we had regarded Deepshade as more of an alt-rock combo with Nirvana-esque leanings, however on hearing the bands latest offering that opinion has drastically altered. "Gloaming" is a stunning opus packed full of interesting twists and turns, the band have found their own identity with this release, granted those grungy textures still exist in their music, and probably always will, but now they are blending those textures with elements gleaned from a broader musical palette and its a move that perfectly suits them.
Check 'em out ..... 

 © 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday, 9 May 2022

SNAKE HEALER ~ OBLATIO ...... review


Snake Healer
, a doom/sludge collective from Miami, Florida are a band shrouded in mystery, they are a band who like to keep their identities a guarded secret, refer to themselves as "Monks of the Serpentis Dominus"(Serpent Lord) and list among their hobbies exorcism, rituals, worship and prayer. Some reading that last sentence might well make the assumption that Snake Healer are some Ghost-like combo, playing with a similar occult themed formulae in order to give themselves an edge, whether this is the case or not Desert Psychlist can't say but what we can tell you is that Ghost even at their most satanic never sounded as dark, dank and as convincing as these guys do on their debut EP "Oblatio"


Things begin suitably dank and devotional with "Serpentis Dominus" a ritualistic affair which finds the band chanting their lord's name in monastic mantras over a backdrop of varied and sparse percussion around which a miasma of low dark droning keyboard effects add an extra level of creepiness. By now you are probably wishing you hadn't pushed play with the lights off and that situation is not going to improve by much when next track "Evocation" erupts out of your speakers in an explosion of crunching old school doom riffage and thunderous drumming accompanied by a vocal that lyrically borders on the edges of religious fanaticism. For next track, "In His Name", Snake Healer not only summon up the spirit of their lord but also that of  those LA thrashers Metallica cleverly hijacking part of the chorus and melody of "Master of Puppets" and swapping the word "Obey" for "Embrace". Musically however this could could not be further removed from thrash, the band jamming a low slow heavy groove decorated in a weirdly hypnotic mix of clean clear lead and harmonised vocal tones. Things start to get a little weird now (if they weren't weird enough already) with a piece of narrative entitled "Record Entry February 22 1922", this is a piece supposedly narrated to a recording device (reel to reel?) documenting one Robert E Brown's first contact with the Lord of Serpents and his observations. Things return to some semblance of normality with "Call On Me" an intriguing doomic number that lyrically intones the Lord of Serpents words to Mr. Brown inviting him to "take my hand, I'll show you the way" in pristine clear vocal tones backed by a groove that is "old school" in nature yet carries an air of dissonance in its execution. This is followed by "Record Entry November 22 2021" another spoken to tape piece this time documenting the handing over of power from one Coven leader (Speaker) to another by way of sacrifice which leads nicely to "Oblatio", a song chronicling this handing over of power from the perspective of the new "Speaker" that is played out to a soundtrack of dank and delicious doom over which Gregorian style mantras support a clean and suitably devout vocal.


Whether you buy into Snake Healer's tales of coven life, sacrifice and devotion to scaly skinned deities or believe this is all a cleverly constructed gimmick in order to give them an edge over their peers is nether here nor there, although it would be quite worrying if it were not, what really matters is do they DOOM and on the evidence of "Oblatio" they most certainly DO!
Check 'em out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday, 2 May 2022

GNOME ~ KING ........ review

Music does not need to be po-faced and deadly serious all the time, there will be times in all our lives when the continual tide of introspection, social commentary and general navel gazing begins to feel a little overwhelming and starts to have an impact on our mental wellbeing. It is in times like these that we need music that will lift us out of ourselves and replenish our chakra's, of course you don't want this music delivered to you by by some novelty act who mask their lack of instrumental ability with a little comedy, what you want is a band who can play the shit out of their instruments but are not adverse to bringing a little light relief to the table. Enter Gnome, three guys from Belgium with a penchant for wearing pointy red hats on their heads, who jam a groove that is heavy, sometimes complex and sometimes brutal but is at all times imbued with a tongue in cheek sense of the ridiculous, something their second album "King"(Polderrecords) will more than attest to.

Gnome are first and foremost musicians, they may wear slightly odd headgear and fill their songs with references to fantastical beasts and dubious royalty but these guys can PLAY! First track "Ambrosius" is both evidence of Gnome's musical prowess and their sense of fun, it is a song built around just a couple of riffs and limited lyrical content but has a groove that will stay spinning around in your head for days and days, its infectious guitar motifs thunderous bottom end and solid busy and tight percussion are twinned with a sparse but anthemic style vocal that transitions into a sludgy harmonised roar as the songs dynamic slows to a doomic finale. "Your Empire" follows and finds Vintage Caravan's Oskar Logi helping out on vocals, the songs dynamic is a little more stoner(ish) and strident than its predecessor and is slightly more wordy and melodic in the vocal department.. Up next is "Bulls of Bravik" a joyous slice of strident stonerized heavy prog that shows that as well as laying down the heavy these guys are no slouches when it comes to laying down something a little more complex either, the song also boasts Desert Psychlist's favourite lyric of the album, "here come the Bulls of Bravik, you better run away, they smell your fear and magic, they come to eat your face". Instrumental "Antibeast" takes those complexities hinted at on the previous track and raises them to another level, the songs constant shifts in tempo, dynamic and groove will leave you wondering if the song that just ended was really the same one you pushed play on three minutes earlier. It's back to the fun and frolics for next track "Wencleslas" an infectious up tempo stoner/sludge rocker chronicling our heroes displeasure with a certain monarch that features some clever little twists and turns along the way. Desert Psychlist recommends you check out the bands intentionally kitsch video for this song (here) so you have the necessary dance moves down if you ever get to see them live. Two instrumentals follow, "Kraken Wanker" and "Stinth Thy Clep", both are a mixture of dark doomic bluster and playful stoner swagger with the former boasting Celtic flavourings and the latter prog-metal textures. Gnome close "King" out with the ambitious "Platypus Patrol" an eleven minute plus epic that finds the band tempering their penchant for playfulness with a little dankness and darkness as well as a brief and unexpected foray into more lysergic waters. 


Gnome with "King" have managed to find a balance between their need to be taken seriously as musicians with their need NOT to take themselves TOO seriously, they are a band with the musical chops to compete at the highest levels but a band that can't help but inject their own sense of the off kilter, the weird and the ridiculous into what they do. "King" is heavy and brutal in places and complex and intelligent in others but it is also playful, light -hearted and fun and in these hard times that is a commodity we should not turn up our noses at. 
Check 'em out ....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

"King" releases May 6th 2022 on Polderrecords

Saturday, 30 April 2022

MOOZOONSII ~ INWARD ..... review

 


Prog-rock/prog-metal lyrics can often be a little too clever for their own good with bands waxing lyrical on subjects that have no real relevance to the everyday lives of their listeners, ok we all love a little escapism from time to time but what in god's name IS an "Octavarium" (Dream Theater)) and WHY were Yes so "Close To The Edge"? Musically prog is up there with jazz and classical music, complex intricate arrangements and grooves played by musicians at the absolute apex of their game and it is the music, and those high levels of musicianship associated with prog, that were the catalyst for many of us to initially get into the genre. French trio Moozoonsii,  Basile Chiariello (guitar); Fabien Hervé (bass) and Matthieu Bellemere (drums/percussion), are not going to regale you with tales of purple wizards and floating islands in the sky the Nantes based unit are all about the music and their latest release "Inward" is some of the best instrumental heavy prog you are likely to hear this year, next year or any damn year.

Ok, this is prog so we do not totally escape the whole "concept" thing, "Inward" does have a theme around which the albums six instrumentals are based but then Desert Psychlist suspects that having an idea to structure your musical ideas around gives a musician something to work towards. and as concepts go Moozoonsii's for "Inward" is pretty straightforward, a journey through the mangroves and encounters both good and bad with its residents therein. It makes sense then that first song out of the bag is one entitled "Mangrove" and for first time listeners to Moozoonsii what an introduction to their music this is! "Mangrove" opens with sampled bird calls and Latin flavoured percussion accompanied by deep booming bass but then the guitar comes in and everything goes absolutely (in an extremely good way) mental! There is nothing straightforward about Chiariello's approach to playing his guitar, his style is an unconventional one that sees him attacking his strings in sporadic bursts rather than the usual up/down patterns, his chord and lead work has an unstructured structure throughout "Inward" that on first listen sounds a little dissonant and untamed but soon becomes evident that these elements of dissonance and rawness are not arrived at because of a lack of technique but because that is exactly the sound he is aiming for. Chiariello's co-conspirators Hervé and Bellemere are no slouches either Hervé more than matches his guitarist for instrumental prowess his bass a mixture of boom and growl adds a depth to songs like "Wudùm", "Titanoboa" and "Venom" that many bassists would struggle to emulate and Bellemere is, on the evidence of this album alone, one of finest drummers currently inhabiting the underground rock scene, a drummer able to shift through the gears with consummate ease his polyrhythmic patterns, fills and salvo's a masterclass in prog drumming. 


Moozoonsii with "Inward" take you on a journey from mangroves to jungle with no need of lyrical content, this is a trip chronicled by music not words and although it does help to know the thinking behind the music to this journey, so as to allow you to paint your own pictures in your minds eye,  it is no way essential. There are those that think instrumental music is an acquired taste, if that is so then we suggest those people acquire some taste and lay some well deserved love on this instrumental masterpiece.
Check it out ...... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

OUT OF THE EARTH ~ II ...... review

 


One of Desert Psychlist's favourite Bandcamp discoveries was Out Of The Earth's 2015 self-titled debut "Out Of The Earth", a mix of crunching classic rock and fuzzy stoner rock underscored with a bluesy grunginess. The release of "Out Of This Earth" promised much for the future but unfortunately life doesn't always follow the paths we have mapped out in our heads and so thanks to a pandemic and the relocation to another country of the bands main songwriter and lyricist Out Of The Earth's plans for world domination came a little off the rails. Music, much like life, will always finds a way and this year Out Of The Earth return with a new album, "II", the bands line-up might be pared down to just two members now but the music they create is just as exciting and just as vital.

For this release Out Of The Earth consist of  Thanos Vlachos (vocals/guitar/bass/FX) who also handles the music and lyrics and Marios Papapavlou (drums and percussion) who does the arrangements. Now there will be those worrying that a pared down version of OOTE might not quite reach the same standards as the original line up, Desert Psychlist's answer to that is that those people should  file their concerns under "U" for "unwarranted" as "II" is as every bit as good if not better than the album that proceeded it. "Fucking Sick" kicks things off and whether this is reference to recent bout of Covid or a lyric inspired by particularly bad hangover Desert Psychlist doesn't know what we can tell you however is that this is two minutes forty seven seconds of the purest hard'n'heavy rock you could possibly wish for, Vlachos' soulful lived in vocal berating his ill luck over a galloping groove replete with screaming guitar solos and punchy rhythms.. In a recent conversation with Desert Psychlist Vlachos  informed us that moving to England had seen his music taking on a gloomier, fuzzier aspect but we disagree and think that for "gloomier" he should maybe substitute the word "bluesier" as it is the blues that sits at the root of many of the songs that inhabit "II". That bluesiness is never more evident than on the albums next track. "Addiction Blues" a heartfelt lament boasting tasteful lead guitar breaks and wearied emotion drenched vocal tones that also includes a brief but quite beautiful lysergic flavoured middle-section. We stay in blues territory for following track "Oh Devil" only this time the dynamic is a little more laid back and moody and sees Papapavlou laying down some very clever and very tasty percussion beneath a very low key but perfectly pitched vocal enhanced by some beautifully constructed guitar solos. "Explode" is up next and here we find OOTE upping the tempo, still jamming a bluesy dynamic but this time with a little more swagger in their step. "Walls" is one of those songs that just hits every mark it is possible for a blues song to hit, an emotion wracked torch song that inhabits the same spine tingling territories that songs like Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" and The Allman Brother's "Worried Down With the Blues" once called their home, stunning is too small a word for this bluesy tour-de-force. "II" closes its account with the aptly titled "Beast" a heavy slightly experimental instrumental that incorporates a mixture of monastic vocalisations and droning effects in its intro then bursts into a heavy psych workout that sees Papapavlou beating out an impressive array of percussive tattoo's and salvos around which Vlachos delivers a myriad of thrumming riffs, swirling solos and off grid pedal effects., its impressive stuff if a little unexpected given the bluesy furrow the band had ploughed previously.


Given that Thanos Vlachos now lives in England and Marios Papapavlou still resides in his homeland of Greece putting together this latest instalment of Out Of The Earth's story has not been the easiest of tasks but it has been one worthy of the effort. "II" is a stunning collection of songs, a heady mixture of  classic rock crunch, soulful bluesy swagger and hard rock bluster from a band many thought had disappeared never to be heard from again. 
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 24 April 2022

COMA HOLE ~ COMA HOLE ....... review


By now we have come quite accustomed to the rock duo, the emergence of bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys caused many to step to back in amazement slightly bewildered by the fact that just two people could make so much noise, but these days duo's have become common place both within the mainstream and the underground. Having said that their is nothing common place about the sound Rhode Island's Coma Hole create with just a voice, a bass guitar and a set of drums, in fact it's something quite special!


"Go big or go home" is an exhortation to go all-out, to show your intent from the beginning, to present the best of yourself from the out-set and Coma Hole open their self-titled debut EP by going HUMONGOUS!. Opening track ,"The Familiar", is an eleven minute plus statement of intent that'll leave you breathless and wondering what has just hit you. its atmospheric droning intro, accompanied by shimmering percussion, builds expectation then delivers on that expectation with a groove that'll blow you not just out of your seat but your house, your street and your country. Eryka Fir's bass tone is one of the wonders of the world a powerful deep resonating, almost tangible, sound that reaches down in to the core of its listener and touches something there that no other sounds will have managed to reach before, a sound she backs up with a vocal that is clean powerful and melodic with just a hint of pleasing grittiness in its upper register. Not to be outdone drummer Steve Anderson does not just lay down a beat he lays down a virtual barrage, his drumming has a Bonham-esque quality throughout this stunning EP and is an integral component in the duo's overall sonic impact. You will not find a track on "Coma Hole" that you will not like, the aforementioned "The Familiar", the galloping and strident "Old Climb", the torch-like "Wind and Bone" and the epic "Sinking", with its proto-doom/heavy psych sign off, are all essential listening worthy of gracing any discerning rock fans music collection.


It is hard to believe, while listening to "Coma Hole", that the sounds you are hearing are being created by just two people, such is the power and force of the music on offer, but a quick scan of the duo's Bandcamp page will confirm this fact and further prove that to make a BIG sound you do not always have to be a BIG band.
Check 'em out ....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday, 18 April 2022

Overlooked Gems Series ..... VANITY ROSE ~ ROTTEN LITTLE THOUGHT .......



Feelings of anger, angst, frustration and fury may be seen as negative emotions but it is emotions like these that have fuelled some of the best music released on this planet, rock'n'roll, punk and grunge were just some of the music's born from frustrated, bored and angry disfranchised youth railing against the establishment and those poisoned chalices handed down to them by their parents and governments and in the future there will be other music's that will serve the same purpose. They do say that anger is not good for the soul but anger can sometimes be a release valve, a way of letting off steam and venting your fury in a positive way and this especially true in music.

Mallorcan quartet Vanity Rose,  Ana Herrero (vocals); Pablo B. De Haro (guitar/vocals); Xisco Rosselló (bass) and Andrea Trujillo (drums), are one such band channelling their frustrations through their music, the bands sound is a raucous blend of 90's grunge and late 70's punk rock spliced with a little stoner(ish) fuzz and distortion and has, to Desert Psychlist's ears, a Nirvana meets Garbage meets Riot-Girl vibe. That is of course our opinion and after giving their album "Rotten Little Thought" (Discos Macarras Records) a spin your opinion might be completely different, either way it's a cracking little listen!

There will be those reading the first part of this review and thinking "do I really need some angsty musicians venting their spleens at me for the entirety of a whole album?" Well those people might be surprised to find that despite containing song titles like "Obsession", "Hill of Lost Desires", "The Eyes of My Jailers" and "Bad Choices" and boasting lyrical references to depression, sorrow pain and rejection "Rotten Little Thought" is actually quite an upbeat and highly entertaining little opus. Grunge/alt-rock like many sub-cultures begat a slew of bandwagon jumpers, for every Nirvana there appeared a Staind, for every Soundgarden there popped up a Puddle of Mud, these "second wave" bands did not quite understand that grunge was also a celebration of youth and instead used it for an excuse to wallow in self-loathing and depression. It has to be said that Vanity Rose do their fair share of wallowing on "Rotten Little Thought" but they also know when to throw those cloaks of despair off and kick their legs up in the air, as their cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walking" will attest to. Musically Vanity Rose are totally on point Rosselló's booming earthy bass and Trujillo's tight, solid rhythms provide De Haro the perfect platform to either support his crunching chord work or launch his swirling solos from while in Herrero the band have a vocalist of rare quality, her ever so slightly accented voice, in turns sweet, soulful, raw and feral, is a powerful tool able to convey all the  emotions we have come to expect of music in this ilk..


Grunge/alt-rock began to get some bad press after the deaths of Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley and the fairly recent passing of Chris Cornell, the sub-culture became embroiled in tales of drug-abuse, depression and suicide but lets remember that things didn't start off that way and that in its beginnings it was a celebration of youth, yes its lyrical content was sometimes dark and inward looking but if you went to a gig during this time you would have seen both bands and fans thoroughly living for the moment. Vanity Rose, with "Rotten Little Thought"  have the balance just right, yes they are angry but that's not going to stop them having a good time.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones