Sunday, 30 October 2016
Fuzz Evil, Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar), Joseph Rudell (vocals/bass) and Marlin Tuttle (drums), a three piece band of riff obsessed stonernauts from Sierra Vista, Arizona have been teasing us with little snippets of groove since their formation, a split 7" single Fuzz Evil/Chiefs was released in 2014 and in 2015 "Born Of Iron", a free to download single track, was released on Bandcamp, both releases showcased a band heavily influenced by late 60's, early 70's hard rock but also a band intent on fusing those influences into a more modern stoner/ desert rock, 00's setting.
This year (2016) the band have released their first full length album "Fuzz Evil" via Bandcamp and Battleground Records.
"Fuzz Evil" is a hot steaming gumbo of warm fuzz and hard driving rhythms coated with clear, clean and soulful vocal tones and a truckload of sandy desert groove. Like a football/soccer match "Fuzz Evil" is a game of two halves with the first half being a riff heavy desert road trip with songs like "Good Medicine", "My Fuzz" and "Killing The Sun" all drenched in Kyuss/Unida- like desert fuzz and sandy rhythmic patterns. The second half of the album sees the band looking over the dunes and staring at the stars with elements of psychedelic experimentation and moody lysergic induced introspection creeping into the grooves. "Bring Them Through" jams an almost commercial groove, a groove reinforced by it's sing-along chorus and vocal melodies that although surrounded by a hard driving stoner riffage has a touch of 60's legends The Turtles about it. "Odin Has Fallen" hits an altogether more hard rock groove and is built around a chugging guitar refrain underpinned by big bass lines and pounding percussion over which powerful clean vocals are laid. The song takes off into the stratosphere in the last quarter with Wayne Ruddell laying down a scorching solo over Joseph Rudell and Marlin Tuttles' huge wall of rhythm. "Black Dread" sees Fuzz Evil going full out on an acid rock workout that sees the band throwing into their sandy grooves elements of Earthless/Wo Fat type psychedelic guitar colouring and structure that is further enhanced by the addition of keyboards (superbly played by the bands sound engineer Brian Gold). Moody, bluesy with the keyboards adding a touch of Deep Purple-ish funkiness to the proceedings it is a fitting end to a truly spectacular debut from a truly impressive band.
Check it out....
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Something of a "supergroup" The Freeks are the brainchild of Ruben Romano (founding member of both Fu Manchu and Nebula). The Freeks first raised their heads into the light back in 2007 when Romano called in favours from such musical luminaries as Jack Endino, Scott Reeder (Kyuss), John McBain (Monster Magnet), Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless), Lorenzo Woodrose (Baby Woodrose) and the legendary Bernie Worell (Parliament, Funkadelic) to create The Freeks first self-titled album. Three years later Romano once again raised The Freeks banner this time calling on help from Bob Lee on drums (Claw Hammer, Backbiter), Tom Davies on bass (Nebula), Esteban Chavez on keys, and Jonathan Hall on guitar (Angry Samoans, Backbiter) With Romano front and centre, supplying guitar and vocals, the band recorded "Full On" a storming set of garage and stoner grooves that recalled the fire and passion of Detroit's MC5 and The Stooges and mixed it with the stoner punk of Romano's former bands Nebula and Fu Manchu.
It's now 2016 and Romano has once again raised The Freeks flag, managing to pull together the same guys who made "Full On", the band are just about to release a new album "Shattered" on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.
"Tiny Pieces" kicks things off, its fiery garage riff and punk sneered vocals recalling a time before the posturing pantomime menace of Guns'n'Roses, a time when rock was actually dangerous and it is that feeling of danger that permeates throughout the albums thirteen tracks. Like second album "Full On", "Shattered" take its lead from the raw edged garage rock of the late 60's but blends into those grooves elements of 80's stoner and 00's psych and rounds them off with late 70's punk attitude and attack. Romano's vocals shift from punk-ish scream/shout to throaty stoner roar, tailoring his delivery to the grooves being played around him. Romano also combines with Hall to lay down swathes of vintage fuzzed riffage and solo's over a pulverising backdrop of rhythm, superbly provided by Lee and Davis, with Chavez adding extra substance with his excellent keyboard incursions. MC5 and The Stooges influences abound through many of the songs on "Shattered" especially on tracks like "Strange Mind" and " I'm A Mess" but touches of New York Dolls tongue in cheek arrogance ("Irvana") and Dictators-like rock-punk melody (" Fast Forward") can also be found nestling away here too.
The best compliment you could give "Shattered" is that it is an album that could as easily live in those heady days of the late 60's as it can in the heavy stoner underground of today.
Now "Kick out the Jams Motherf^*kers!" and go and check it out......
Thursday, 27 October 2016
UK desert rock warriors Duskwood started their musical life as Maverick, the band from Yeovil, Somerset even released an EP "Cavete Ursus" under this banner (now being sold under the name Duskwood) to positive reviews. Now with a new name and a slightly harder edged sound the band are getting ready to release their first full length album "Desert Queen".
It seems along with the new name Duskwood have also found a new sound, where previous release "Cavete Ursus" had a slightly commercial stoner/hard rock vibe "Desert Queen" hits an altogether heavier groove. From the mighty fuzz dripping opener "Obelisk" through to the gnarly stoner rock gallop of closer "Stoner Cat (Coming To)" "Desert Queen" is an album full of little surprises and moments of jaw dropping brilliance. The band cite Kyuss and QOTSA among their influences and although there are elements of both those iconic bands to be heard within Duskwood's fuzzy desert grooves it is to the more classic and hard rock end of the stoner spectrum that their sound lies. Songs such as "Titan", "Chariot" and the bluesy metal "Hazy Eye" are loaded with a mix of melody and might that although is very much of today has, at the very least, one foot firmly planted in the hard rock of the seventies.
Check 'em out .....
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Don't you just love it when a band seemingly comes out of nowhere slaps you around the face and demands you give them attention. This is what happened when Desert Psychlist heard Black Eagle's debut full length album "Iconoclasm".
Black Eagle are, Daniel Mikey Butruk (lead vocals), Zane Fraley (lead guitar), Elliot Diggs (rhythm guitar), Dillon Sting Rey (bass) and Tyler Miles (drums), five musicians from Arizona who in their own words say "We're gonna make it big, no matter what".
Throwing convention to the wind Black Eagle start "Iconoclasm" by throwing the listener something of a curveball in the shape of "Valhalla", a delicious and wonderfully addictive acoustic guitars workout that reminded Desert Psychlist of gypsy jazz guitarist Bireli Lagrene's rockier moments (fans of acoustic guitar should really check him out).
Things get back to some semblance of hard rocking normality with the next track "Journey Through Black Mountain" a storming six minutes of fuzz heavy Wolfmother-like groove coated in clean but slightly maniacal vocals.
"Wilting Fixtures" is up next and has a more alt-rock feel with a mix of grunge crooned and stoner roared vocals around a Nirvana-esque quiet/loud/quiet structure.
Black Eagle opt for a more stoner/hard rock feel for their next track "Bad Trip" a song that had this been the seventies would of most certainly have been the choice for an assault on the music charts. The song rides a fuzz drenched metal groove infused with totally addictive vocal melodies and boasts a stunning earth scorching guitar solo.
"Wûrmwood" begins with sirens wailing then suddenly explodes into an uptempo thrash-like metallic groove coated in throaty slightly hardcore vocals, and heralds the albums shift into a harder edged sound.
"The Elite" uses a neo-classical guitar passage as its intro before segueing into a sludge drenched groove replete with heavy distorted guitar riffage and harsh gutteral vocal tones, a groove and feel that crosses over into the next track.
"Anubis" takes the sludge-lite attack of the previous track and removes the "lite" completely, replacing it with Baroness/Mastadon like groove and intensity as well as adding a slight NWOBHM undercurrent to make things even more interesting.
"Mageslayer" is a pacey stoner metal riff-fest overlaid with a variety of differing vocal tones that swings back and forth between heavy fuzzed riffage and gentle acoustic arpeggios.
"Raygun" sees the band hitting a heavy thrash groove with the bass and drums leading from the front and the guitars sitting further back in the mix the resulting groove coming across like an inverted Slayer.
Black Eagle drop things down a few gears for next track "Cosmic Waltz" a slow burning anthemic tome that mixes elements of grunge and stoner around clean male and female vocals.
The band close with a delightful instrumental, "Joyce" jams a sort of Colour Haze meets Pink Floyd vibe that builds layer by layer and finishes on a stunning feel drenched guitar solo.
Usually I finish a review with a brief paragraph summing up the album but I think I should once again let the band have their say... "We are an ambitious band, we are a powerful band, we are Black Eagle"
Check 'em out ....
Sunday, 23 October 2016
Californian trio Doors To No Where have been together as a band since 2011 but the three musicians had been crossing paths long before this via their involvements in other bands and projects.
In 2015 the band, Marc Lewis (guitar/vocals), Sean Sanford (bass/vocals) and Pete Testoff (drums) came into Desert Psychlist's orbit via their second album "Lucky You" an addictive mixture of stoner/desert and classic rock sprinkled with touches of southern flavouring. On October 28th (2016) Doors to No Where will be releasing their third full length album "The Haunting" via ITunes and Bandcamp as well as their own website .
"The Haunting" follows much in the footsteps of its predecessor "Lucky You" jamming grooves of riff heavy stoner rock around superb clean throaty vocals, except this time around the band have ramped up the bluesy southern swagger and added to it touches of off-kilter Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age desert quirkiness. "Devil's Backbone", "Burn" and "Who Died And Made You King" are soaked in Josh Homme-like choppy guitar colouring and stuttering rhythmic patterns with the latter employing QOTSA type abrupt shifts in dynamics,time and tempo. The band are not adverse to hitting a more straightforward groove either as on the slightly post-punkish title track "The Haunting" and the stoner/hard rocking "The Policy". On "Sinking" and "Wires" the band even throw in a little grunge/alt-rock structuring with the former boasting a titanic drum display from Testoff.
Third albums are notoriously "difficult" affairs with expectations high for signs of growth and progression but Doors To No Where have with "The Haunting" leapt easily over that hurdle by releasing their best effort to date...Desert Psychlist now waits with baited breath for that "almost impossible" fourth album.
Check 'em out....
Friday, 21 October 2016
French instrumental stoner rock duo ElCam are no strangers to the pages of Desert Psychlist, the drum and guitar combo's EP "Shaft" was reviewed here back in June last year (2015). Since the release of "Shaft" the band have been busy honing their chops on the French live circuit and writing and recording songs for a brand new EP entitled "Chunk" due for release November 15th 2016.
"Chunk" sees ElCam continue the path taken on 2015's "Shaft", of Karma To Burn-like heavy fuzzed riffage and pounding rhythmic percussion, but this time adding into that mix touches of post-rock structuring and prog-like complexity. The first four tracks "Claw", "Knife", "Occult" and "Fork" more or less tread a path of pedal heavy effected guitar riffs and occasional solo's furiously layered over backdrops of thunderous percussion, with the two musicians shifting gears through a myriad of differing dynamics never allowing the grooves to stagnate or become repetitious. It is however on the, loosely conceptual, last three songs "Chunk Pts 1,2 & 3" that ElCam really get to show their ever growing maturity , with Mathieu Leignel (drums) and Jey Feviet (guitar) stretching out their ideas by weaving into their fuzz elements of space and psychedelic ambiance as well as soundbytes of spoken narrative, with "Pt.1" and "Pt.3" more or less working as an intro and outro to the more complex and beautifully atmospheric "Pt.2".
ElCam have come along way from the heavy fuzz'n'roll of their first EP "Orchard" but it has been a journey that has seen the duo grow both as songwriters and as musicians a growth and maturity that is mirrored in the seven tracks that make up "Chunk".
Check out a preview here....
Thursday, 20 October 2016
So with a hectic but very productive year behind them and with the talents of legendary producer/engineer and mixing desk maestro Billy Anderson at helm the duo are about to release their first full length album "In The Shadows Below" on STB Records (29th October).
First track "Lion and The Unicorn" begins with Amy Tung's bass feeding back over Jon Barrysmith's slow tribal backbeat before erupting like a volcano into a whirlwind groove of gnarly bass riffage and pounding percussion. At just over the halfway mark the mood changes and the tempo shifts into a slow and heavy doom groove, over which Tung's ghost-like vocal pours like cool water over jagged rocks, before falling back into the songs original refrain to take things to the close.
"The Siege" follows and has a slightly more "occult rock" vibe than that of the previous song. Tung lays down a juddering bass line around which she weaves a clear sweet toned vocal that is driven from beneath by Barrysmith's busy drum work, the man on the stool filling every space with both intricate and thunderous percussion.
"Vision of Three" is an atmospheric piece driven by Barrysmith's Bonham-esque pounding drum patterns and dominated by Tung's heavily distorted Rickenbacker bass. Tung employs over this onslaught of rhythm a fragile almost simpering tone, her vocals airy and ethereal in total contrast to the titanic grooves erupting around them.
"Spider and the Fly" finds Tung toning down the distortion a notch or two and opting for a cleaner bass tone and a slightly more swinging vocal approach that is underpinned by some stunning percussion work from Barrysmith.
"Persephone" begins with a delicious Tung bassline that then morphs into an uptempo punk(ish) refrain only to shift gears once again and move into an occult drenched stoner groove. Tung's stuttering bassline and smooth honeyed vocals are superbly backed up by Barrysmith's drums and sees the two musicians perfectly complimenting each other throughout.
"White Wizard", the only track to have also appeared on "Black Sun", is here deeper sounding with more focus on atmosphere, Barrysmith's simplistic beat, a little flat on the original, here echo's around Tung's vocal and low bass, setting the pace with almost metronomic intensity. Tung switches her vocal between sweet willowy and strong melodic while at the same time laying down dark swathes of liquid bass.
"Temple of Apollo" sees YOTC coming at the listener from a slightly more commercial sounding angle with Tung and Barrysmith jamming an almost punk/pop groove around a verse/chorus/verse pattern that to Desert Psychlist's riff ravaged ears has echo's of New York art-punks Blondie in their rockier moments.
"Electric Warrior" closes proceedings with an occult/doom-lite groove built around a massive Tung bassline and thundering Barrysmith drum pattern. Tung ups the ante vocally, her voice, still melodic and creamy but edged with a touch of dark grittiness, sits regally above the swirling heavy slow to mid-tempo grooves beneath it.
"In The Shadows Below" is probably one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2016 (quite a feat for a relatively new band) and one that delivers on all levels
Check it out .....
Sunday, 16 October 2016
Delaware/Maryland rock'n'roller's Wasted Theory cut a band sized swathe through the undergrowth of the stoner/hard rock scene with their 2014 release "Death and Taxes", a stunning collection of southern tinged riff heavy rock'n'roll perfect for listening to with a beer in one hand and something exotic and herbal in the other.
Two years have passed since "Death and Taxes" but the members of Wasted Theory, Larry
Jackson Jr.- lead guitar/vocals, Brendan Burns - drums, Dave McMahon - rhythm guitar and Rob Michael - bass, have not been idling their time on drink, drugs and women (although I suspect there may have been time for that too) they have been working hard gigging their asses off and writing new songs some of which have made their way on to the bands brand new album "Defenders of the Riff" due for release on October 30th (2016).
Break out that old pasting table, throw an old sheet over it and fill the table with beer, whiskey and food 'cos were going to have a party!
From the opening bars of first track "Get Loud or Get Fucked" it's pretty obvious this is not an album for those looking for introspection or answers to the meaning of life, no, this is an album for having a good time, cracking a few cans and having a laugh with good friends. Songs like "Black Witch Blues", "Atomic Bikiniwax" and "Under The Hoof" are infused with elements of AC/DC-ish bluesy hard rock sprinkled with healthy doses of southern rock swagger, stoner attitude and most importantly.. fun. Nowhere is that feeling of fun more evident than on the wonderfully titled "Belly Fulla Whiskey" where the band mix this element of playfulness with a groove and spirit reminiscent of southern rock legends Black Oak Arkansas a groove that sees guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson Jr. channelling the spirit of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum through his low throaty vocal. Even when Wasted Theory do step outside the southern hard rock stoner box as on the excellent doom-lite closer "Odyssey of the Electric Warlock" it is done with their tongues placed firmly in their cheeks, when Jackson Jr. sings "the time has come to sacrifice" you can almost imagine him dressed in a monks cowl with a beer hidden up his sleeve and a pair of battered sports shoes peeking beneath the hem.
"Defenders of the Riff" is an excellent album that further enhances Wasted Theory's reputation as a growing musical force in the underground rock scene and does so with a wink and a knowing smile. It is the perfect follow up to the bands first album "Death and Taxes" its just a pity we've had to wait two years for it.
Check it out .....
"Defenders of the Riff "is expected be released April 2017 on vinyl courtesy of No Slip Records
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Canada is slowly creeping up the league table of go-to countries producing quality stoner and hard rock with bands like Monster Truck and Black Mountain leading the charge and starting to knock at the door of rock mainstream acceptance.
WhiteNails are not yet in the same position as those two bands but if the Quebec five piece's debut release "First Trip" is anything to go by then it might not be to long before they are.
"First Trip" shows a band firing on all cylinders, a band hitting a groove deeper than the Mariana Trench and just as dangerous. Songs like "Damn Judas", "In My Blood" and "Silver Linings" are packed with lashings of warmly fizzed riffage, thunderous rhythm and clean strong vocals with occasional forays into the lysergic. On "Dead In Time" and "Brazen Bull" the band even get a few friends in to help out, the former sees fellow Canadian Gab Shonk swirling her rather impressive tones over and around main man Darcy's powerful vocal delivery and the latter employs Sandveiss guitarist/vocalist Luc Bourgeois throwing his hat into the ring both vocally and instrumentally.
WhiteNails have with "First Trip" traversed the gap between the heavy underground and the commercial mainstream, filling their first EP with enough grit and dirt to please the denizens of the stoner rock scene but doing so with a slightly more classic rock feel.
Check it out .....
Thursday, 6 October 2016
Three years ago a hard rocking Swedish band with a rather fishy name grabbed the attention of the underground rock scenes record buying, digital downloading public with a five song self-titled EP of 70's retro feeling hard rock,the band's name was Haddock.
After their three year recording break Haddock return with another five song EP on Ozium Records going by the intriguing title "Captain Wolfe's Journey To The Center of The Sea" due for release October 25th.
Bursting at the seams with heavily fuzzed riffage and hard driving rhythmic bluster "Captain Wolfe's Journey To The Center Of The Sea" sees Haddock expanding on the promise shown on their first EP by putting a larger emphasis on songwriting and arrangement within a loose conceptual structure. Songs like opener " Captain Wolfe's Journey" and "Henry The Regicide" are more akin to lyrical vignettes' than songs, each telling a story around soundscapes of crunching power chords, big liquid bass lines and solid percussion coated in clean powerful vocals. "Dance Macabre pt.1", "Dance Macabre pt.2" and the track that sits between them "Reverend Reefer" take a more outside looking in perspective and are infused with elements of prog-ish complexity and doomy atmospherics yet remain firmly rooted in the bands core mixture of 70's hard rock and 80's stoner.
So there you have it.. an EP that ticks all the hard/stoner boxes and has that quintessential Swedish retro groove we have all come to love so much, you just could not ask for more.
Check it out .....
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
UK's 70's progressive blues rockers Wishbone Ash's mix of folk, blues and hard rock, coloured by the twin harmonies of guitarists Andy Powell and Ted Turner, was a totally unique sound and groove that to this day has not come close to being replicated so when a band cite Wishbone Ash's name among the usual influences of Sabbath, Pentagram and Judas Priest then that band are going to invite Desert Psychlist's interest.
Lord Mountain, Jesse Swanson-guitars/vocals, Sean Serrano-guitars, Andy Chism-bass and Pat Moore-drums, are not, by any stretch of the imagination, Wishbone Ash sound-a-likes but do utilise a similar twin guitar harmonic attack that sees six-stringers Swanson and Serrano trading harmonic runs and solo's over a backdrop of proto tinted doom rhythms all of which can be heard on the bands debut EP "Lord Mountain"
First track "Fenrir", is an ode to a monstrous wolf of Norse legend and begins with a galloping NWOBHM groove before shifting into a mid-paced dark Sabbathian riff over which Swanson's rich clean vocal tones are laid. Swanson and Serrano overlay Chism and Moore's solid and tight rhythmic thunder with a mix of differing guitar colouring that sees Iommi like vibrato and bluesy pentatonics going head to head around the songs slightly proto-doom core.
"Dying World" opens with Andy Chism laying down a deliciously gnarly bass line that is then joined by drums and controlled guitar feedback before falling into an atmospheric doomy blues groove coated in a superb Swanson vocal. Lyrically a tale of conflict and strife based around a loose anti-religious theme the song touches base in many places with Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" and could almost be considered a "sister" song to that iconic tome, differing only in that it's theme of control and manipulation is taken from a viewpoint of religious control as opposed to political.
"Under The Mountain" has an almost Lord of The Rings lyrical quality with the songs main vocal refrain "the hammer strikes the stone" conjuring an image of Tolkien's dwarves forging armoury in a deep stone mountain mine. The songs chugging proto/stoner doom groove is further enhanced by a scorching bluesy guitar solo that takes it to the fade.
"Tomb Of The Eagle" closes the EP and is an instrumental piece that sees Swanson and Serrano once again trading off solo's, harmonies, motifs and riffs over a slightly more upbeat rhythmic proto-metal groove, the two guitarists channelling, through their fret boards, not only the spirit of the aforementioned Wishbone Ash but also the Celtic tinted harmonies of Thin Lizzy's Robertson and Gorham.
"Lord Mountain" is a stunning debut EP crammed full to the rafters with all the things fans of the stoner, doom and psych scene would happily sell their souls for.
Check it out .....
Saturday, 1 October 2016
Kingsnake, Bill Jenkins- vo
Let's make no bones about this "Resonance" is first and foremost a blues rock album with every one of the albums nine tracks soaked in various shades of that particular melancholy hue. So what do Kingsnake bring to the table that sets them apart from the myriad of other bands ploughing a similar furrow? Swagger is the answer, songs like "Diary Of A Bad Man", "Preacher Of Prophecy" and "Miss Sorceress" strut with Clutch-like arrogance with Bill Jenkins big voice roaring like a mad eyed lay-preacher over a back drop of heavily fuzzed riffage and intense rhythmic bluster. Clutch comparisons are hard to avoid when listening to "Resonance" and Kingsnake, themselves readily acknowledge this influence, both bands employ choppy, stuttering guitar riffs backed by solid bluesy backbeats fronted by big distinctive vocals but where Kingsnake differ from their Germantown, MD counterparts is in the way their groove leans heavier towards the late 60's early 70's electric blues grooves of Cream and early Led Zeppelin. These leanings are never more evident than when the band bring the groove down a notch or two ,as on the swinging " Skeletons", which sees Merritt's tasteful guitar licks dipping in and out of the groove like little curls of wispy smoke escaping from a smouldering campfire before catching aflame, or on the heavy hard rock bluster of final track "Phoenix" where the band mix elements of Cream and Mountain's classic blues rock attack with those Clutch -like grooves mentioned earlier.
It would be too easy to write Kingsnake off as just a bunch of Clutch sound-a-likes trying to follow in the footsteps of their heroes, that would be doing these Philly bluesters a disservice. It cannot be denied that there are similarities between the two bands but there are also marked differences and in this "underground" scene dominated by Sabbath worship a band influenced by Neil Fallon and Co is not a bad thing.
Check 'em out .......