Monday, 19 November 2018

ARCADIAN CHILD ~ SUPERFONICA ... review


When Cypriot psychonauts Arcadian Child quietly released their debut album "Afterglow" in 2017 they were not expecting the levels of appreciation and praise about to be heaped upon them by the movers and shakers of the underground press, it seemed that everyone and their dog was digging what these sons of Limassol were attempting with their diverse blend of psych, prog and hard rock. Now all this appreciation and praise does cause a problem for a band, a level of expectation now arises and those that hailed your last release are expecting, if not something more magnificent, then at least something on an equal par. Well that time has come around and Arcadian Child are about to release their second album "Superfonica" (23 November 2018) so let's see what they've got....


"Bain Marie" kicks off "Superfonica", its initial retro sounding guitar intro heralding a pulsating, throbbing psychedelic groove interspersed with swirling guitar motifs over which effortless clean mellow and smooth vocals, not so much soar, but float majestically. "Twist Your Spirit" follows and already Desert Psychlist is warming to the direction this latest album is taking especially when the songs strident hard rock groove suddenly morphs into heady laid back ambience with its violining guitar effects giving proceedings a sweeping orchestral feel. "Brothers", "Constellations" and "Painting" all follow much the same heady lysergic paths with the latter boasting an absolutely stunning vocal, "She Flows" steers a little too close to Coldplay territory at times but that is only a minor quibble and the band more than make up for that with the albums next two tracks "Before We Die" and "The March", the former an atmospheric slow grower delivered in hushed vocal tones over swirling guitars and an insistent rhythmic beat, the latter taking things to a close on an Eastern tinted groove underpinned by liquid bass, tribal percussion and Arabian flavoured guitar colouring all coated in an uber delicious vocal.


"Afterglow" was always going to be a hard act to follow but Arcadian Child have stepped up to the plate with "Superfonica" and knocked the ball way out of the park, stunning stuff!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 18 November 2018

HOLY GROVE ~ II ...... review


The fact that it took four years before Portland, OR's Holy Grove got around to releasing their self titled debut "Holy Grove" says a lot about this bands commitment. Not prepared to rush into anything they might regret later, the band gigged around their native Portland earning a reputation as a must see live band while all the time working hard on writing songs that not only meant something to them but also translated to their growing audience. "Holy Grove" was released to much anticipation and that anticipation was rewarded with an absolutely mind blowing album, a tour-de-force of bluesy swagger and doomic stoner splendour that garnered praise in all the right quarters. Two years later, with a new drummer behind the traps Holy Grove, are back with a new opus "Holy Grove II" (Ripple Music) so lets see how far they've raised the bar with this one.


The fact that Holy Grove managed to recruit legendary producer/engineer Billy Anderson to oversee the recording of "Holy Grove II" says a lot about how well regarded this band are within the underground rock scene, Anderson's CV includes such notables as The Melvins, Sleep and Agolloch and here he puts his mark on things by giving "II" an organic, almost live feel, a feel totally in keeping with the bands reputation as a potent live force. Anderson's engineering/production skills aside what makes "II" tick is the strength of its songs, from the titanic and turbulent "Blade Born" through the shapeshifting grooves of "Solaris" to the sprawling epic doomic splendour of "Cosmos" not a musical note or vocal inflection is wasted  Andrea Vidal's soaring, impassioned vocals are a revelation throughout "II" the vocalist effortlessly switching from a powerful bluesy holler to a sultry whisper in a instant, her voice as much a well tuned instrument as it is a force of nature. Beneath this tour-de-force of vocal gymnastics Gregg Emley (bass) and Eben Travis (drums) shift up and down through the gears laying down a diverse array of rhythmic grooves that sway between complex and primal allowing Trent Jacobs room to fill in the spaces with a mixture of dark chordal colouring and sweeping blues infused guitar solo's, the three complimenting Vidal's superb powerhouse vocals with a series of intense and equally powerful musical backdrops.

Photo by James Rexroad.

There are those that might think that for a band that has been around since 2012 two full albums in six years is not such a great return! Those people would be wrong, some things in life are worth waiting for especially when those things turn out to be as spine tingling wonderful and as essential as "Holy Grove II"!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

SPACELORD ~ INDECIPHER ...... review



Chris Cappiello (bass), Kevin Flynn (drums), Ed Grabianowski (vocals) and Richard Root (guitar) are Spacelord a four piece force of nature hailing from Buffalo, New York who describe themselves as "four beings of pure cosmic energy who came to Earth and chose, out of all the possibilities, to take the forms of four dudes with shitty beards". Now in the beards Desert Psychlist cannot comment on but that "cosmic energy" is something that can certainly be felt running right through each of the eight songs that make up the bands third release and second full length album "Indecipher"


A deliciously booming bass line surrounded by screaming feedback heralds the arrival of "Indecipher's" first track "For The Loved Ones" then the drums kick in and the vocals enter and its lift off to both a song and an album that references classic/hard rock as much as it does it's more weed blasted hard rocking stoner cousin. Space themed songs fill "Indecipher" from start to finish, however the sound Spacelord create is sonically closer to the hard rock of Montrose's "Space Station #5" than it is to the "Space Is Deep" meanderings of those cosmonauts of space-rock Hawkwind. The band utilise everything from the blues through to desert rock to fill out their grooves and boast a vocalist in Grabianowski who could easily hold his own with not only the aforementioned Montrose's Sammy Hagar but also those with names like Plant, Rodgers and Dio! The rest of the band are no slouches either with Root crunching out gritty hard rock chords, Zeppelin-esque bluesy voicings and earth scorching solo's, while underneath Cappiello and Flynn keep things solid and steady with growling deep bass and pounding Bonham-esque drumming, the whole coming together to deliver one quality song after another.


Top notch grooves from beginning to end without even a whiff of filler, "Indecipher" is Spacelord's best release to date and promises much for the future.
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 11 November 2018

ARTESANO DE PIEDRA ~ PATERNA NUNTIUS ....... review


Strange how the mind works while preparing an intro for a review, for example Desert Psychlist started wondering, during the course of this review, if the late radio engineer Glenn Snoddy knew exactly what he was unleashing when he created the very first fuzz/distortion pedal? Did he have any idea how that little box of tricks was going to change the sound of popular music and go on to become the go-to pedal for so many guitarists within, not only rock, but also many other forms of music. Why do we mention this now, you maybe thinking, well no reason really except for the fact that it got us thinking that without Mr. Snoddy's little invention, and its various versions, albums like Mexican groovesters Artesano De Piedra's, excellent three part musical suite, "Paterna Nuntius"and many others would be very different sonic animals altogether.


Simplicity is an often overlooked commodity within music but it is a fact that some of the most enduring tunes recorded during the last fifty years have been those based around a catchy hook or riff, songs with recurring motifs that worm their way under the skin and stay there. Artesano De Piedra, Jose Maldonado (guitars, fuzz, bass, drums and vocals) and Aldape - (bass), understand this concept and although the sixteen minute plus opus that makes up "Paterna Nuntius" in no way can be described as simple it does have a basicness to its grooves that grabs you and keeps you grabbed. Now you the reader may be thinking all this talk of simplicity and basicness is a little derogatory and a veiled criticism but far from it, Artesano De Piedra use these elements to their advantage layering their ear grabbing riff's one on top of the other, moving from one to the other, and keeping the listeners interest, with a mixture of subtle and drastic time signatures and clever use of dynamics in volume, something that is particularly effective on "Levelling Stones" the instrumental movement that opens "Paterna Nuntius" . On the albums second movement, "Ancestral Message", the band add into this equation clean mellow, yet totally effective, vocals sandwiched between huge swathes of swollen dark riffage while movement three, "The Traveller", finds the duo utilising an array of guitar effects, over a backdrop of thundering percussion, to fill out the groove and frame the songs well pitched and executed vocals.

There are times while listening to "Paterna Nuntius" that Desert Psychlist was reminded of both Sleep and Black Sabbath, Sleep due to the Mexican duo's same ability to jam endlessly on a single riff, Sabbath because of the album's sudden shifts in time and use of volume as a dynamic. You, the listener, might hear something completely different but hey that's the beauty of music, no two people hear the same thing, Whatever you hear there is no denying that the fuzz is strong in this one, wonder what Glenn Snoddy would have made of it all?
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 2 November 2018

BLACK ATLAS ~ WEIGHT OF THE WORLD .... ...review


Bedfordshire, England is probably not the most rock'n'roll place in the world, in fact a quick scan of well known Bedfordshire born musicians on the internet only revealed one minor boy band member and the original Jethro Tull guitarist (Mick Abrahams) as its musical representatives. Bedfordshire, or more accurately Bedford, however is the home of the subject of this review Black Atlas, a four piece combo with influences ranging from Black Sabbath through Corrosion of Conformity to Fu Manchu. Black AtlasMikey Ward (Vocals/Guitar), Peter Hunt (Guitar), Simon Wilson (Bass) and James Lane (Drums), come from a variety musical backgrounds but bonded on a love of good old fashioned fuzz heavy hard rock something that fills every nook and cranny of their debut album "Weight of the World".

Things start very positively with "I'm Not Dead", a wind effect accompanied by a voice asking for people to "bring out your dead" introduces the song before the hammer goes down and a flurry of drums heralds in the guitars and the song takes off on a stuttering heavily fuzzed groove. Vocals then enter, telling us in clean, slightly ragged tones of "a long dirty road" and "bridges burning down" over a backdrop of crunching chords, WHA pedal drenched solos and thundering rhythms. With hardly time to catch our breaths we are almost immediately thrown into next track "Paralyser" a song with a sludgier, denser, dirtier dynamic than its predecessor, a song that growls and snarls like a feral dog backed into a corner. This is how it rolls for much of the album with only the tranquil instrumental "Low Tides" and the bluesy classic rock of "Deadweight"and "Preacher" bringing relief from the heavy onslaught of deliciously distorted riffage and punishing, pounding rhythms that makes up the rest of the album.


As we mentioned in our intro piece Bedfordshire may not be the most rock'n'roll place on earth but, as Black Atlas' "Weight of the World" testifies to, when Bedfordshire does rock oh man IT ROCKS!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 29 October 2018

ALASTOR ~ SLAVE TO THE GRAVE ....review


When Desert Psychlist reviewed Swedish doomanauts Alastor's debut EP "Black Magic" we described the band as "cherry pickers" a band "taking what they can use" from various sources and "discarding what they can't". Although their are still elements of this "cherry picking" to be found on the bands latest release, "Slave To The Grave"(RidingEasy Records) there is strong sense of a band striving to find their own groove and create their very own signature sound.


"Slave To The Grave" starts life with "I döden är vi alla lika" (English Translation: In Death We Are all Equal) a short introduction piece with a strangely stilted narrative, spoken in Swedish, over a background of tolling bells and rolling thunder that cleverly segues into "Your Lives Are Worthless". The roiling thunder of the intro here is replaced by equally thunderous percussion overlaid with deep growling bass and a low slung grinding guitar riff around which the vocals are sang. It is in the vocal department that Alastor play their ace card and deviate from the usual doomic path of guttural growling and demonic screeching, the band instead pitching their vocals at the cleaner more melodic end of the spectrum. "Drawn To The Abyss" follows and boasts a wonderfully addictive vocal melody offset with hugely effective backing harmonies over a strident but no less grinding groove that finishes in a scorching bluesy jam with searing guitar solos facing off with swirling, textured keyboards. Next up is "N.W. 588" a song that in the pre-digital days would have had "single" written large all over it, its WAH drenched guitar motifs and driving groove resonating in the mind long after the song has reached its gloriously psychedelic conclusion. "Gone" allows the listener to catch his breath with a gently strummed acoustic number that incorporates crooned vocal harmonies and, believe it or not, whistling. Things return to some semblance of doomic normality with title track "Slave To The Grave" its shifting time signatures and searing guitar solos only just kept in check by a monstrous bass and drum groove. "Spider Of My Love" closes proceedings, its slightly hazy, reverberating vocals are underpinned by deep dark keyboard textures and wall shaking rhythms and is taken to another level by eventually exploding into a doomic heavy psych groove with screaming, swirling lysergic laced guitar gradually making way for the same rolling thunder that introduced the albums opening track.


"Slave To The Grave" sees Alastor evolving as a band, finding their place in the world and laying down a marker that says this is us, this is what we do and this our sound. A mighty fine sound it is too!
Check it out …

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 22 October 2018

A STORM OF LIGHT ~ ANTHROSCENE ... review


Desert Psychlist was reminded of these lyrics while listening to the subject of this review, "News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in, News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying, Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying". These lyrics may have been lifted from David Bowie's song "Five Years" but in the context of New York's A Storm of Light's new album "Anthroscene" they do have a tenuous poignancy, not only is the bands latest release a conceptual collection of songs dealing in the same scenario of Earth's population slowly falling towards an inevitable mass extinction but it is also five years since A Storm of Light released their last album. 


"Anthroscene" begins its journey with "Prime Time" a song that begins life seemingly serene and tranquil with gentle keyboard colouring and effects intermittently fractured by crunching, fuzz drenched, palm muted guitars. Slowly the song builds in momentum with the drums and bass laying down a solid foundation of groove decorated with lyrics telling of "suits counting their money" and a country with "no stars to wave" Powerful, angry, truthful and atmospheric "Prime Time" is the perfect opener for an album that never once pulls its punches. Throughout "Anthroscene" A Storm of Light never allow the intensity of their message or their music to waver as they hurtle through songs with titles like "Blackout", "Life Will Be Violent" and "Slow Motion Apocalypse", the furiosity and frustration conveyed in each songs subject matter coming across as an almost tangible commodity that you can hear, feel and even touch. This is exactly what A Storm of Light set out with "Anthroscene" to do, to show you the truth and open your eyes to what is happening in your own backyards no matter whether those backyards are in the urban streets of the USA, the temperate pastures of Europe, the war/poverty ravaged regions of the Middle East or the politically unstable countries of South America and Africa. A Storm of Light tell us of an end coming, not one led by a horned fallen angel but one led by those wearing Armani and Prada, those in shopping mall fashions and those in charity shop hand me downs, in other words all of us, blind to the fact we leading our very own parade to oblivion and extinction.


"Anthroscene" documents a planet falling into chaos and disrepair, a planet tearing itself apart with greed, social and political unrest and the life choices of the very people populating its surface. A Storm Of Light's dystopian vision is not pretty, it does not have a happy ending but by god it is powerful!
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 19 October 2018

SONIC WOLVES ~ SONIC WOLVES ..... review


Sonic Wolves, an Italian/American collective with a pedigree that includes members and past members of such noted bands as Pentagram, Rogue State, Ufomammut and The Hounds Of Hasselvander, are about to follow up their well received debut "Before The End Comes"(2016) with their second album "Sonic Wolves" (DHU Records-vinyl, due for release 31st of October, Future Noise Recordings - CD available now, Bandcamp -digital available now).


"Sonic Wolves" is an album that takes no prisoners, an album that comes out of the traps like a greyhound on amphetamines, an album focused on the finishing line and determined to get there regardless of what gets in its way, Sonic Wolves hit the listener with wave upon glorious wave of relentless bass heavy riffage driven by insistent, titanic percussion, the band hitting a groove that is doomic yet has a distinctive proto-metal, 70's hard rock undercurrent running through its gnarly veins. Bassist/vocalist Kayt Vigil decorates these dark yet strident grooves with vocals that are as distinctive as the music surrounding them , her vocals could neither be  described as ethereal or haunting but possess a charm and  elegance all of their own, on the albums more aggressive songs like "Grim Reaper" and "You'll Climb The Walls"she comes across menacing and almost crone-like while on the superbly atmospheric " Heavy Light" she opts for warm, husky and seductive, her voice combining with her deft bass lines here to take the song to an altogether different level. Vigil's dulcet tones are pushed and prodded throughout "Sonic Wolves" by some incredible drumming from Vita and are further enhanced by  Mr Diniz's crunching chords and screaming guitar solos, the three musicians coming together to create a sound that is as delicious as it is dynamic.


 It is very rare to come across an album that does not have at least one weak track propping up its stronger material but "Sonic Wolves" is an exception, there is not a single song on the bands second album that should be skipped or just sampled, each song earns its place and makes for a highly enjoyable and satisfactory whole.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Note# "Sonic Wolves" was recorded with a slightly different line up to the one that is currently treading the boards, guitar duties at the time of recording being held down by Mr Diniz (also of  Temple of Dust). The band have since recruited Jason Nealy (Bleeding Eyes/Inverted Matter) and Enrico "Ico" Aniasi as guitarists but neither play on the album.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

THE HAZYTONES ~ THE HAZYTONES II: MONARCHS OF OBLIVION ..... review


Oh what a difference a little time can make, Montreal's The Hazytones entered our lives with their debut album "The Hazytones" just over a year ago and in that time they have snagged a deal with Ripple Music, toured both North America and Europe, had a line up change and found a whole new darker, danker sound, on top of which they have just released their second album "The Hazytones II: Monarchs of Oblivion" (Ripple Music).


With only guitarist/vocalist Mick Martel remaining from the line up that recorded the highly acclaimed "The Hazytones" it is not too surprising that there is a slight shift in attack and dynamics to be found on the bands latest release "II", however that shift is very subtle and the eight songs that make up "II" still retain that recognisable "Hazytones" sound and groove. Darker would be the best way to describe the songs on "II", there is a danker more doomic feel to many (not all) of the new songs that grace this new opus and although the first album was one of Desert Psychlist's favourite releases of 2016 we have to admit this new darker dynamic seems to suit them much better. The bluesy stoner rock sound that had many referring to the band as the Canadian Graveyard still remains intact, something especially evident on songs like "The Great Illusion" and "Spit You Out", but there is a heavier, denser feel to songs like "Empty Space", the two part "Monarchs of Oblivion" and final track "The Hands That Feed" that reflects what they did previously but at the same time takes things to a whole new dynamic level.


The current line up of Mick Martel (vocals/guitar), Victor Tremblay-Desrosiers (drums/percussion) and Adam Gilbert (bass) have not deviated too far from The Hazytones blueprint with their new album "The Hazytones II: Monarchs of Oblivion" just tweaked it slightly and made it a little more grimier.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

SHAYK ~ 313 ...... review


Anyone who has tuned into music podcast "Shaykcast" will probably already be familiar with Shayk, the band formed by the guys who host the show,(if you have not visited the show then Desert Psychlist suggests you remedy that by checking out the link hidden in the name and go savour one of the most relaxed, funny and informative music podcasts currently being broadcast). Shayk, Scotty Cox (guitar/vocals), Vid Arney (drums/percussion) and Larry Limon Patrick (bass), hail from the South Side of Detroit and channel through their music their cities deep and varied musical heritage of pop, soul, rock and metal,combining all these elements together with a little hot saucy pizzazz to create a sound that has strong urban, inner city vibe, a vibe you can check out for yourselves on their latest release "313"


"The Chase" opens "313's" account, a song that is as immediate as it is attention grabbing, a song that sets the tone for the rest of the album and ensures that anyone stumbling on to this album by accident will stick around until the albums last note fades into silence. Soulful, sexy with a funky inner city undercurrent "The Chase" boasts ear catching guitar motifs, chunky funky rhythms and a vocal that's part Barry White, part Clutch's Neil Fallon and part Hughie from Fun Loving Criminals. Title track "313" follows and it would be hard to find a tune more seductive and sexy, its slow to mid tempo groove crawls all over you whispering its message in your ear in sultry gravel edged tones buoyed by searing hot bluesy guitar solo's  And so it goes on with Shayk delivering song after song of soulful stonerized groove delivered with a swaggering street savvy strut and a knowing twinkle in the eye, a band playing sweet funky rock'n'soul for jam kicking mutherfuckers.


Sexy is not a word we get to use much within the realms of underground rock music so Desert Psychlist apologises if we have tended to overstate the warm seductive elements to be found within Shayk's "313" but damn if there ever was an album to light up a smoke to after then this is it!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 15 October 2018

MOAB ~ TROUGH........ review


The sudden death of a band member can go one of three ways, the band can go the AC/DC route and carry on almost seamlessly, they can dissolve into some sort of semi retirement like Queen and Led Zeppelin or they can take some time out to lick their wounds, contemplate their loss and consider their future. The third option was the one of choice for LA's Moab when faced with the death of their drummer and founding member Erik Herzog midway through the recording of their third album. Such was their shock and sadness that the band did consider calling it a day but were talked out of it by family and friends who didn't want the late drummers hard work to disappear into the ether, preferring instead for the album to be finished, not only as a tribute to his memory but also as celebration of his life. Remaining members Andrew Giacumakis (guitar/vocals) and Joe Fuentes (bass) agreed and that third  album " Trough" will now finally see the light of day (Falling Dome Records, October 19, 2018).


Given the circumstances leading up to its release listeners may be fooled in to thinking an air of sadness and melancholy might be lingering over and around the grooves that make up "Trough" but that is far from the case as although possessing a darkness and dankness, the meat and potatoes of any music pitched at the heavier end of rock music, there is a brightness and upbeat feel to much of the music explored on these ten cuts. From the Beatle-esque intro of "Skeptics Lament" through to the furiously strident " Fend For Dawn" that closes the album there is a vibe of freshness and vitality running through each and every song, an addictive joyousness of three musicians doing exactly what they love to do and enjoying every second of it. Musically "Trough" is tight with every riff and solo nailed on, every bass line booming, every drum beat and cymbal crash hitting its mark, this and the superbly pitched, slightly nasal and Ozzy-ish vocal tones, that coat every song on the album, all combines to make "Trough" one of the surprise highpoints of this year already quite impressive roster of 2018 underground albums.


Herzog's passing is a bitter pill to swallow but let's not dwell on what might or might not have been let's just concentrate on the incredible legacy left behind by a talented musician who musically was right on top of his game, in that context Moab's "Trough" is a fine and fitting epitaph.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

# Remaining band members Andrew Giacumakis and Joe Fuentes, joined by Brad Davis (Fu Manchu) filling the void on drums, are set to play select shows in support of the album's release.

Friday, 12 October 2018

UNDER ~ STOP BEING NAIVE ....... review


Under describe themselves as an "acid nightmare from Stockport" and there is no getting away from the fact that the UK bands music does have both lysergic and nightmarish qualities, however it is those qualities combined with a heavy dissonant, off-kilter groove that make Under's sonic attack such a joy to immerse oneself in. The band are about to release their second full length album "Stop Being Naïve" (APF Records 26/10 2018) so let's dive in.


If your expecting an easy listen then Desert Psychlist suggests you look elsewhere, what Under bring to the table is a sound and groove that borders on the edge of, and sometimes spills into, the extremist end of heavy rock music. Earlier, in this reviews intro, we mentioned the word lysergic and that might suggest some sort of trippy, flowery Floydian scenario, the lysergic of "Stop Being Naïve" however is a whole different kettle of fish, here you will find a more angular, dissonant lysergic with jagged edges and rough textures, the sound of a trip getting out of control and turning bad very quickly. It has to be said at this point that the harsher end of rock and metal is not a place where Desert Psychlist spends much of our time, it is no secret that our preference is for melody over mutilation but there is strange disarming beauty to "Stop Being Naïve", its harsh atonality and jarring discordance , in both its grooves and vocal attack, is very hard to ignore and has opened our eyes to a whole new musical territory we have not really explored before and one we are very much impressed by. From the juddering and jagged "Malcontents" through the schizophrenic "Big Joke" to the off-kilter closer "Circadian Driftwood" Under take you on a journey through a series of nightmarish scenarios that will leave you shaken and stirred, never to be the same again.


At times cacophonous and chaotic Under's "Stop Being Naïve" is nonetheless well worth putting in a little effort with, sometimes you need the nightmares to appreciate the dreams.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 11 October 2018

THE NECROMANCERS ~ OF BLOOD AND WINE ....review


The NecromancersTom Cornière (Vocals, Guitar), Robin Genais (Lead Guitar), Simon Evariste (Bass Guitar) and Benjamin Rousseau (Drums), loomed out of the ether last year and blew everyone's minds with their debut release "Servants of the Salem Girl" last year, the band and album garnering high praise from all the right quarters as well as just narrowly missing the number one spot in our own "Desert Psychlist's Best of 2017" end of year list. The band return this year with a new album, "Of Blood and Wine"(Ripple Music), hoping to not only to repeat the success of last year's album but to maybe surpass it.


The trouble with having a critically acclaimed debut album is that your next album is going to be put under the microscope and heavily scrutinised by all and sundry looking for weaknesses and failings, was the first album a lucky fluke, will the new material match the high expectations of both the critics and the fans? The answer to those questions is a resounding yes and no, yes they can match those expectations and no the first album was NOT a fluke, the question of whether "Of Blood and Wine" surpasses "Servants of the Salem Girl" however is a difficult one as its a little too early to compare one over the other and only living with an album for a period of time can really decide that question. On first impressions , and at this present time, Desert Psychlist can say that "Of Blood and Wine" is most definitely , if nothing else, on an even par with its predecessor, those post-rock textures and psychedelic/prog undercurrents that made "Servants of the Salem Girl" such a joyous and satisfying  listen are all in still in place and as with their previous release their is a genuine high level of songcraft to be found amid all the growling riffs and incessant rhythms. If there is one thing that sets the new album apart from the old one it is in  the amount of "swing" present on "Of Blood and Wine",  the band, maybe buoyed by the success of their previous outing, seem to have loosened up their sound and found a greater freedom to express themselves, a freedom that although evident on "Servants of the Salem Girl" here is taken to a whole newer level. This looseness and freedom is never better exemplified than on the albums standout track "Erzebeth" a sprawling twelve minute plus opus with a thundering groove that gallops and gambols along on an addictive chugging riff interspersed with Celtic tinted guitar decorated by a mixture of warm crooned and grittily roared vocals, the song taking off into a mind blowing instrumental mid-section before returning to its original groove and coming to its close. The band are not afraid to tread more tranquil waters either as the brief but atmospheric title track " Of Blood and Wine" testifies to, however it is those tracks of a more sludge tinted, prog orientated nature that really win the day here and will ensure listeners coming back to this fine album again and again not only now but also years into the future.


The Necromancers may have suddenly appeared on our radars seemingly out of nowhere but if they keep writing songs as good as those found on "Of Blood and Wine" then these guys are going to be with us for a long time to come.
Check it out …..
© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 7 October 2018

LA CADENA PSYCH JAMBAND ~ HOPE? ...... review


Seville (Spanish: Sevilla) may be the home of the famous bitter oranges that bare the provinces name but there is nothing bitter about the music Sevillian sons La Cadena Psych Jamband deliver with their latest release "Hope?"  Thought you had heard everything that prog and psych could throw in your general direction, well prepare to be amazed by an album that raises the bar even higher.


Prog often gets a lot of bad press, overcomplicated, over technical and over complex are just a few things that get banded around whenever the word prog is mentioned but although a high level of musicianship is required to even be considered as a progressive band that doesn't mean you have to forgo things like feel and swing to play it with conviction. Spain's La Cadena Psych Jamband understand this and incorporate both those things, along with all the necessary musical chops to do so, within their spacy, lysergic grooves. From the Floydian soundscapes of "Going Home?", with its warm Gilmour like guitar tones and oriental flavoured backbeat, through the cosmos exploring rocker "Beyond The Shades", the excellent " Children", with its Gregorian like vocal harmonies and addictive pulsating groove, to the equally Floydian closer "Home" there is not a moment, minute or second where you can second guess where these guys are liable to take you and their music next.


Stunningly beautiful at times, rocking and raucous at others "Hope?" is an album that delivers on its title, giving "hope" to those that believe good, well played intelligent music will always rise to the top and be noticed not only for its technical prowess but also for its emotional impact.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 6 October 2018

BURN RITUAL ~ BLOOD OF THE RAVEN .... review


What was once one is now four, Burn Ritual began life as a one man project of vocalist, guitarist and keyboard operative Jake Lewis and it was as a one man project that Burn Ritual's debut EP " Like Suffering" was recorded and released. Such was the reception to "Like Suffering" that Lewis soon realised if he wanted to see his music breathe outside of a recording studio he better get himself a band together and so in came Brent Standifer (drums), Richard Perez (guitars) and Chris Trezona (bass), the one had become four. The quartet soon started working on new songs Lewis had written and it wasn't long before they had enough material to fill an album, that album is now out in the world and flying under the banner of "Blood of the Raven" (Cursed Monk Records)


A jet black raven, depicted against an alien skyscape, riding thermal updrafts over the Great Pyramids graces the cover of "Blood of the Raven" and is a good indication of the sounds contained within. The album's Sabbathesque desert tinted stoner/hard rock grooves, over which spiritual themes are lyrically explored in mantra like tones, is not exactly new but damn it's effective.. Burn Ritual jam a groove not unlike that of cult Welsh weed worshipers Dope Smoker except for the fact that Burn Ritual are lyrically more wordy and a little less repetitive preferring to pepper their songs with a touch more dynamics and musicality. All of "Blood of the Raven's" seven songs are a masterclass in how to make a lot of very little, the band deviate very little from the main riff of songs like "The Mirror", "Repent" and "Cast Away" but its the way they lift and lower each songs dynamic by throwing in little fills,licks and vocal inflections that maintains the listeners interest and ensures everything sounds fresh and focused. Only once do they step off the groove path and that is with "The Creature Inside of You" a trippy "Planet Caravan" type outing with heavily phased vocals sang over reverberating keyboards and subtle hand percussion.



Burn Ritual's ability to create mesmerising, hypnotic songs that worm their way into the deepest recesses of your psyche is one that works to great effect throughout "Blood of the Raven", the band jamming trippy, trance like heavy psychedelic dirges that capture, captivate and enchant in equal measure 
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 1 October 2018

CAVALLI ~ HUGANTIC .... review


British underground rock is in a very good place indeed ,what with bands like Desert Storm, Sergeant Thunderhoof and Boss Keloid (among many others) all getting noticed, not only here in the UK but also further afield, it feels almost like another "British Invasion", similar to that of the early 70's, could be beginning to build momentum . Hoping to join the party are Cavalli, a politically aware trio from London's East End dealing in raucous punk tinted stoner/hard rock and metal, a band who have been releasing EP's and turning heads with their live shows since their formation. The band's latest release "Hugantic" is an EP that not only has the grooves to raise their profile in the UK, it also has the songs that could see them joining the ranks of those mentioned earlier in spearheading this new resurgence in British underground rock music both at home and internationally.


"Hugantic" kicks off with "Stronger" a raucous riff fuelled romp that takes no prisoners, its aggressive punkish vocals, roared and growled over a backdrop of unrelenting furiosity, hits the listener with the force of hurricane, a whirlwind of noise that sets the tone for the rest of the EP and tells you in just over three minutes more about this band than Desert Psychlist could tell you in three paragraphs. "Super Anal Man" follows, a song that rails against the abuse of privilege and boasts the immortal lines "You wasted all your life thinking that you were Superman, everything sorted out by mum, spending daddy´s cash on drugs" sang over a groove that nods towards both the 90s desert rock scene of California's Palm Desert and the British punk scene of the mid to late 70's. Next up is "Holy Communion" , a furious  lyrical tirade against religion accompanied by a deliciously addictive guitar motif, reminiscent of something you might find on an early Cult album, driven by growling bass and insistent, solid drumming. Next track "No Borders" voices a thinly veiled ant-Brexit message around a groove that is a little  heavier, sludgier and more metallic than what has passed previously while "Flat Earth" pokes a stick at the narrow minded and blinkered over a furiously paced sonic onslaught flecked with bluesy guitar colourings.


Social commentary pitched against a soundtrack of punkish ferocity and dank metallic sludginess in a scene known for its songs about weed, wizards and witchcraft might be a bridge too far for some but for those of you with an open mind and a social consciousness Cavalli might just be the band you have been searching for
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 30 September 2018

KAPITAN BONGO ~ ODMȨT ........ review


If Desert Psychlist were to throw you the words "sludgy, prog tinted and metallic" and then ask you a country where you might expect these elements to be found then Poland would possibly come high on your list of suggestions. Poland is fast becoming the go to country for those looking for music of a grainier, grittier and heavier nature and Warszawa four piece Kapitan Bongo's latest release "Odmȩt" is a prime example of why music from  Poland's underground rock scene is currently being held in such high esteem.


With a line up that, along with the usual vocals, guitar, bass and drums, includes the use of synths and West African percussion you might expect Kapitan Bongo's sound to be a little experimental and "out there" and although there are moments when things get a little post-rock and ambient the main body of Kapitan Bongo's groove resides very much at the heavier, sludgier end of progressive metal. Those elements of ambience and post-rock texturing although integral to Kapitan Bongo's overall sound are not always obvious or immediately evident, however. First track "Od mȩt" begins with screeching feedback and synthesised squeaks and swirls before erupting into a grinding heavy mid tempo groove driven by crashing percussion and growling bass around which the guitar lays a mixture of complex chord structures and crunching riffage that, combined with the songs slightly screamo vocal, comes over as technically dazzling yet at the same time vocally disarming. Those screamo vocals are tamped down a notch or two for next track "Klątwa mamuta" and replaced with easier on the ear gruff growling dual harmonies sang over a backdrop of undulating yet still heavy groove that brutalises and soothes in equal measure. "Bezdech" follows and finds Kapitan Bongo in more laid back, considerate mood, clean, mellow yet gritty vocals vying for space with blues tinted guitar motifs and swirling synth/keyboard effects over a foundation of liquid bass lines and shimmering percussion. "Bagno" sees the band mixing post metal textures with those of a more dank doomic nature in a song that never sits still long enough to pin a tag on before finally bringing things to a close with the excellent riff heavy "Czas" a song with a groove so gloriously deep and deliciously dense it almost defies description.



Crushing and complex, considerate and crunching "Odmȩt" delivers everything you could possibly need from a modern underground rock/metal album and more
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones