Sunday, 19 August 2018

CIRCLE OF THE SUN ~ JAMS OF INNER PERCEPTION .... review


All hail the electric guitar! Who back in the day would of thought that a piece of wood with various sized metal cables strung over a minimum of electrical components could make a sound that runs the spectrum of emotive and beautiful through to ugly and brutal. In the right hands an electric guitar can pull at the heartstrings or fuel passions like anger and frustration and Cosmic Fall's drummer Daniel Sax has those hands and shows on his first solo album "Jams of Inner Perception" that not only can he beat a mean skin he can also shred like an axe god.


Daniel Sax is a talented man, not only does he deliver all of the technicolour six-string colouring throughout "Jams of Inner Perception" he also plays all the bass and drum parts and does this under the nom de plume of Circle of the Sun. One man projects can sometimes be hit and miss affairs with the protagonists often overcompensating on one instrument for the skills they lack on others, thankfully that is not the case here with Sax as adept on both four strings and six strings as he is at playing the drums he is known for with his main band . I guess it would be fair to say that the six instrumental pieces that make up "Jams...." could be described as falling into the realms of heavy psych but that doesn't mean to say that there isn't a whole lot more going on here, Sax incorporates into his jams elements from a wide range of influences, genres and styles with jazzy chord progressions, exotic eastern motifs and scorching bluesy forays into the stratosphere all finding a home to call their own in Sax's diverse and delightful compositions. The fact that he does this without falling into the trap of over indulgent technical noodling and manages to keep a firm grip on that all important feel factor says not only a lot about Sax as a musician but also the strengths of his skills as both a composer and arranger.


If the guitar heavy instrumental experiments of bands like the USA's Earthless, Australia's Comacozer and of course Sax's other band Cosmic Fall are what rocks your particular instrumental boat then you are going to adore Circle of the Sun's "Jams of Inner Perception"
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 16 August 2018

SUPERSEED ~ SUPERSEED ....review


Today Desert Psychlist takes a slight detour from those well trodden paths of stoner/desert, doom and psych we have slowly been building our reputation on and wander into territories that are not so familiar, territories that are sometimes known as post punk or melodic pop rock. Ove the years a lot of damage has been done in these two areas of music,bands like Blink 182, Green Day and The Offspring may have begun their careers with all the best intentions but with their success in building bridges between raucous punk and melodic pop they also unwittingly paved the way for whole slew of bandwagon jumpers hoping to get their zany videos on MTV. However there is still hope left for those that like their mayhem married to melody and that hope comes in the shape of a quintet from Bristol, UK going by the name of Superseed, a band who aim to restore the status quo with the release of their self titled debut "Superseed",


If you want sing along pop orientated punk Superseed can supply it but there is so much more to this band than just that, there is a stonerish desert undercurrent running through each and every song on this album, it is not a glaringly obvious one but one that is there nonetheless. The band are also not averse to harking back to earlier times either utilising aspects of 60's psych and garage rock to flesh out their fuzz fuelled forays and they coat those forays in a mixture of Beatle-esque harmonies and Monkee-ish pop melodies, the band coming over at times  like a modern day Spirit (Late 60's, early 70's cult psych pop/rock band led by the late Randy California).


Before you, the regular perusers of Desert Psychlist's pages, start angrily throwing your battle jackets and band badges in our direction for deigning to a review an album with pop punk connotations, take a moment to listen through the seventeen short sharp jabs of punchy fuzz driven pop and rock on offer and if you fail to find something to hang your hat on well then, and only then, let the throwing commence.
Check it out ….. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

DEMONAUTA ~ TEMAUKEL, THE SPIRIT BEFORE TIME .... review


As discussed on these pages many times before Chile is a country cranking out some of the finest doom, stoner and psych in the Southern Hemisphere with bands like Kayros, Sotano and Pies de Plomo making a splash not only in their own backyard but also internationally. However there is one Chilean band that, for Desert Psychlist, stands head and shoulders above the rest and that band is Santiago's Demonauta. DemonautaDavid Véliz (guitar/vox,) Miguel Quezada (bass) and Ale Sanhueza (drums/percussion), have that something extra, that little bit special and magical within their sound that just seems to hit that all important sweet spot and in doing so renders it almost impossible to listen to them without feeling a shudder of delight run through your body. The band return, this year, to once again bring tremors to your spinal columns with their latest offering "Temaukel, The Spirit Before Time" (Kozmic Artifactz)


It is hard to explain in words the sonic impact of of Demonauta's grooves on "Temaukel, The Spirit Before Time" except to say that this is an album that will live in the memory long after the last note has faded into the ether, Desert Psychlist could just tell you to skip this review and just go straight to the link and revel in the albums majestic blend of heavy psych, doomic darkness and stoner fuzz but that would be too much of a cop out and so we will try to impart, in words, why you should invite this stunning collection into your lives and why Demonauta are about to become your favourite band.
Balance is the key to Demonauta's unique and highly addictive sound, the band cleverly utilising aspects from a wide range of metal genres and rock styles but without ever leaning too heavily on any one ,weaving elements of the blues, hard rock and good old heavy metal into a tapestry sown together with fuzz and distortion that shifts through dynamics like a racing driver shifts through gears. Moments of lysergic tranquillity and space like ambience, offset by monolithic riffage and pummelling rhythms, are the order of the day throughout "Temaukel's" seven songs with no one song ever standing still long enough to ever become staid or stale, the band taking off into stratospheric cosmic heights one minute diving into deep doomic depths the next.


It would be pointless writing a rundown of each and every one of "Temaukel's" seven tracks here as there is not a song or instrumental on the album that, in Desert Psychlist's opinion ,falls beneath stunning. To say we love this release would be an understatement but see what you think.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 13 August 2018

HAAN ~ BY THE GRACE OF BLOOD AND GUTS ...review




"New York, New York so good they named it twice" go the words of the song, well if that's the case the collective of  Chuck Berrett (vocals), Jordan Melkin (guitar), Dave Maffei (bass/percussion) and Chris Enriquez (drums/percussion ) should maybe of called themselves HAAN, HAAN!
HAAN are quartet from Brooklyn, NY who were birthed in the winter of 2012 and describe what they do as "guitars, drums, the whole bit" and the band execute that "whole bit" to great effect on their debut album "By the Grace of Blood and Guts"


It has been stated elsewhere by a few of our esteemed blogging and journalistic colleagues that there are elements of both Clutch and The Melvins about how HAAN go about their noisy business and Desert Psychlist has to concede that there are moments on "By the Grace of Blood and Guts" where Chuck Berrett's vocal tones do wander into Neil Fallon-like lay preacher territory and that there are moments where the band fleetingly hit a groove not unlike that of King Buzzo's raucous combo, on the whole though it has to be said that HAAN are strictly their own kind of animal. HAAN emerged from the remnants of post-punk outfit No Way and this fact alone goes a long way to explaining the bands current sound, HAAN have retained the undercurrent of aggression that informed No Way's sound but have added to it a modicum of doomic dynamics, a smattering of sludge metal swampy crunch and a large helping of quirky noise rock. What makes "By the Grace of Blood and Guts" stand head and shoulders above many of this years albums however is the fact that no two songs on their latest opus share any common ground other than they are performed by the same band, each song having its own unique identity and groove. From the full on metal attack of "Thy Tongues" through the jerky, twitching "It Smells Like Gas", the intense and furious "Hangdog" to the schizophrenic alt.metal/post rock of final track "Funeral Song" not a quaver or clef is wasted, every note and drumbeat on every song having its reason for being there and integral to the impact of each individual song.


Intense, powerful with a quirky sometimes off-kilter attack "By the Grace of Blood and Guts" is a album that delivers in all areas and one that Desert Psychlist would not be surprised to see hitting many of those end of year best of lists we are all so fond of.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 12 August 2018

PIES DE PLOMO ~ CRIATURA INFERNAL ....... review



First things first, Desert Psychlist would like to give our thanks to fellow Doom Charts contributor and Red House/La Habitación 235 master of ceremonies Roberto Fuentes for pointing us in the direction of Pies De Plomo, the Chilean promoter and podcaster has been instrumental in bringing to the attention of the wider world not only artists from his homeland of Chile but also those from the whole of the South and Central American continents, we salute you sir.
Pies De Plomo are MP (guitar/fx), Peter (vox,/drums/fx) and Charly (bass/vox/fx), three guys from Santiago, Chile with a wide spectrum of musical influences stretching from psych through to dub. The band have (unbeknown to Desert Psychlist) been releasing a slow but steady stream of singles and EP's since their 2014 formation the latest of which is "Criatura de Plomo"


Sadly Desert Psychlist does not speak or read Spanish but thanks to the magic of the interweb we can tell you that Pies de Plomo sing and perform songs telling tales of confusion, loneliness and frustration against backdrops painted in a mixture of slow/low and mid tempo growling fuzz that is pushed and driven by an array of diverse and delightful rhythmic pulses. Despite Desert Psychlist's lack of linguistic skills it is Pies de Plomo's vocals that really clinched the deal with "Criatura Infernal",  the vocal leads and harmonies that feature on songs like "Rey de Copas", "Nada Mas Que Perder" and title track "Criatura Infernal" are an enthralling blend of clean melodies, punkish aggression and stoner growl that sit easy on the ear no matter their language or dynamic. The band are not averse to taking off into stratospheric flights of fancy either as they prove on the nerve tingling and infectious three part "Suite de Plomo" a superb trilogy of lysergic instrumental experimentation and grizzled heavy psych songcraft that sits centre place, glistening like a diamond in the sunlight, on what is a stunning jewel of an EP.


Mesmerising and metallic in equal measure "Criatura Infernal" is an EP that dazzles and delights on every level, whether you speak Spanish or not you should make the effort to give this superb collection of songs a listen, Desert Psychlist promises you that the word disappointment is something that will not enter on your feelings radar,
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 9 August 2018

RIVERS OF GORE ~ RIVERS OF GORE ....review


So what do you get when you combine three Mexican musicians with a CV that includes Vinum Sabbathi, Bloodwitch and Powertrip? Well the answer is some white hot stonerized grooves, that along the way take in aspects of doom, hard rock, psych and proto-metal , all squeezed and compacted into three tracks of searing heavy rock music delivered under the banner of "Rivers of Gore" by a band with the same name.


Rivers of Gore are Samuel López (drums), Daniel García (bass) and Rolo Riemer (guitar/vocals), three guys, with a wealth of experience between them, who came together just to jam and lay down some riffs and soon discovered they had tapped into something a little special. The band call "Rivers of Gore" "an album full of fantasy and perfect to listen to while you violently cut your enemies into little pieces with a heavy rotten axe". Now that might suggest to the casual reader that this is some death metal tome full of harsh demonic vocals or even some swords and sorcery type power metal but the truth is this a collection of truly memorable stoner flavoured heavy rock with its roots sucking up nutrients from the pools of both doom and psych. Swirling guitar solo's , growling bass and punishing percussion permeate each of the three songs that make up "Rivers of Gore", with all three songs coated in low pitched and throaty vocal tones that tell evocative tales of anger, violence and bloodshed. The band utilise everything from lysergic acid laced proto-metal to doomic low and slow dynamics to decorate their grooves yet, by either luck or good judgement, manage to avoid falling into any one genre classification, the band routinely shifting up and down through the gears to keep things fresh, focused and on point.



Only three songs but "River of Gore" will take you on an uncompromising, unswerving and unapologetic journey through the darker recesses of a world that we all try to deny is there but all have to deal with on a day to day basis.
Check it out.....

© 2018 Frazer jones

Monday, 6 August 2018

HOUND ~ SETTLE YOUR SCORES .... review


The Hammond Organ has graced albums from a diverse array of musical genres, from gospel all the way through to death metal but it is its use in 70's classic rock that it will probably be remembered for the most. Back in the golden age of rock the not so humble Hammond was utilised by some of that decades biggest hitters to fill out their grooves and in some of those bands was actually on an even par with, that most rock of instruments, the electric guitar. Most notable of the Hammond/guitar combinations was that of Deep Purple's Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore but there has also been many others who have reaped rewards form this combination of frets and keys like Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley and Mick Box, and of course, Blind Faith's short lived pairing of Steve Windwood and Eric Clapton.
Germany's Hound, Wanja Neite (vocals), Nando Grujic (guitar), Jonas Gehlen (organ), Yannick Aderb (bass) and John Senft (drums), are a band who well understand the importance of keys in capturing that authentic 70's sound as can be witnessed on their Hammond soaked new album "Settle Your Scores".


Hound (not be confused with the Philadelphian hard rockers of the same name) make no bones about the fact that their sound is rooted in the classic rock of the early to mid seventies, to tell these guys that they have a similar sound to any of the bands mentioned above would no doubt elicit broad grins and much mutual backslapping and it is this honesty, in what they do, that actually works for them. Hound are not a retro band in the sense that they are trying to recreate a sound that came from a bygone age (although that is what is happening), what Hound are doing here is more about celebrating that sound and reinvigorating it for a new audience while at the same time putting their own spin on things. There is a real  feeling of satisfaction and joy running through each and every song on "Settle Your Scores" it almost feels at times as if these guys cannot believe that they are actually pulling this whole classic rock thing off and doing it with such ease and aplomb. Grujic's scorching lead work and crunching chords are more than matched by Gehelen's swirling,parping Hammond and with Aderb's. liquid/growling bass and Senft's powerful percussion driving them on the pair make the most of the freedoms their rhythm section affords them by trading off and duelling around Niete's vocals, sometimes in tandem, sometimes in opposition. Niete's authentic classic rock tones are the crowning glory of Hound's overall groove his voice ,a mixture of fragility and power ,soars over the swirling backdrops behind them, an easy on the ear mixture of Jon Anderson (Yes) like soprano sweetness and Burke Shelley (Budgie) like countertenor gruffness, combining with the pulsating classic rock beneath them to create a sound and groove that although is unashamedly rooted in the past has a vitality very much of today.

If the sound of a Hammond Organ swirling through a rotating Leslie speaker, trading off licks and solos with a screaming guitar, is your worst nightmare then "Settle Your Scores" is not the album for you, if however the keys and strings forays of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Atomic Rooster are what makes you get out of bed in the morning then hold on to your hat, your going to love this.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 4 August 2018

ASTRAL WITCH ~ ASTRAL WITCH ..... review



Canada's Astral Witch describe themselves as "a 3-piece doom rock band from Hamilton,  inspired by crystal magic and fuelled by beer" and if that statement does not peak your interest then maybe the fact that the trio are influenced by Sabbath and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will. The band, Alyssa Axeworthy (guitar/vox), Jon Tiberious (bass/vox) and Jen Brewer (drums/vox), have just released their debut album " Astral Witch".

Tiberious' deep booming bass motif introduces first track "Rune" and is then joined by Axeworthy's guitar and Brewer's drums in a heavily fuzzed and distorted doomic groove that sits just a couple of notches above low and slow. Vocals for this track, and for that matter much of the album, are a shared affair with Axeworthy and Tiberious trading off lead duties as well as combining on harmonies, the pairs strong slightly cracked and gritty tones are sometimes at odds but yet compliment each other and in doing so bring a whole set of different dynamics to the table. Lyrically Astral Witch tell us the usual tales of devils, angels  and death but also of anger and love and the conflict between the two, Axeworthy telling us on "Embodied" that she'll "wipe your tears away", on "Love" that "they’ll tell you what you want, to get between your thighs", emotional statements and tirades told against a superb backdrop of growling bass, dark crunching chords and thunderous percussion.


Astral Witch come at you from a slightly different angle from many of todays occult and doom bands, they make all the right doomic noises but there is an undercurrent of garage attitude running through their grooves that sets them apart from the following herd and that alone is reason enough to check 'em out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 2 August 2018

TEMPELHEKS ~ MIDNIGHT MIRROR ...... review


So what is the difference between the music some describe as "occult" and that which we know as "doom"? Well that is a question that has played on Desert Psychlist's mind for a while now and to be honest we have no definitive answer for you, both are tied up in one way or another with mystic lyrisicm, dark atmospherics and growling low end but why one is one and the other is the other is still somewhat of a mystery. Maybe Oslo's Tempelheks can clear up this riddle, the Norwegian quartet, Martin Horn Sørlie (vocal & guitar), Sindre Øhman (guitar),Magnus Bjørnstad (bass & backing vocals) and Håkon Bergh (drums & percussion), bill themselves as a psychedelic and occult heavy rock experience so maybe their latest release "Midnight Mirror" (released on Cursed Tongue Records 03/08/2018) will shed some light on the matter.

Well the question of what is doom and what is occult gets even more convoluted and confused as the opening notes of first track "Gates of Python" assails the ears, here we have a song that has a dark crunching doomic core yet throws into that core bluesy guitar colouring and elements of epic metal grandiosity then totally throws a spanner in the works with a vocal that would not sound out of place coming from the stage of a 60's folk club. Maybe things will become a little clearer on next track "Bury Your Children" but that thought is stopped in its tracks by a 70's hard rock groove accompanied by a vocal that brings with it visions of bearded men, wearing Aran sweaters, fingers placed in ears, singing salty sea shanties. And so it goes on right through all ten tracks, of Tempelheks "Midnight Mirror", the band mixing up delicious and delightful cocktails of doomic dankness and hard rock bluster sprinkled with superbly effective folk-rock vocal colourings that, on first listen, may seem a little quaint and slightly odd but if persevered with soon reveal their true rural occult beauty and majestic doomic power.


Ok the question posed at the start of this review of what is doom and what is occult, has not really been answered here but who cares, just enjoy "Midnight Mirror" for what it is, damn good music that is a little off the beaten track and all the better for it.
Check it out ….
© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 29 July 2018

JERKY DIRT ~ THE TALE OF TIMPSON SQUIRE ..... review


Jerky Dirt are a band from Nottingham, UK and have just released their debut album "The Tale of Timpson Squire",other than that Desert Psychlist has no other information to impart to you dear reader except to tell you that this a band with an album that, in our opinion, needs to be investigated.


"Quirky" is word often associated with Queens of the Stone Age, and other Josh Homme side projects, mainly due to their use of off kilter rhythms and diverse themes and motifs, quirky in Jerky Dirt's case however is a whole different ball game. There is a certain Englishness to what these Nottingham psychonauts do that although has a similar desert footing to Homme's work also has touch of the whimsical and the eccentric to its sonic attack, a sound that has more in common with UK psych/folk proggers Wolf People than it has with QOTSA. Jerky Dirt combine early Floydian psych with its modern underground stonerized equivalent then salt the resulting mix with elements of lysergic folk and experimental pop tinted shoegaze to create a sound that has a totally unique and highly enjoyable groove. Songs like "New Wave", "Magic Roundabout" and "Kill The Idols" pop and fizz with distortion and fuzz and are overlaid with cool clean, clipped and very English sounding harmonies and lead vocals but it is the way the band offset their more stonier endeavours with those of a more organic earthier feel that really impresses. to quote the lyrics from "Eternal Youth" these guys really "kick that old guitar into overdrive"
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 27 July 2018

FORMING THE VOID ~ RIFT ...... review



It only seems like five minutes since Forming The Void's guitarist/vocalist, James Marshall got in touch with Desert Psychlist to point us in the direction of his bands debut release "Skywards", that was in 2015 and since that time the band have released a second album, "Relic", plus a split with Houston outfit Pyreship, all of which has culminated in positive reviews from publications as influential as Classic Rock, Metal Sucks and CVLT Nation. After wowing audiences across the USA with their brand of huge sounding prog tinted sludgy doom and stoner metal the band returned to the studio this year with a new drummer and a pocketful full of new ideas to record their third album "Rift" on Kozmic Artifactz (due to be released on August 17 2018).



Losing a member of your band can sometimes result in a complete and utter change of dynamic in said bands sound and style so when Forming The Void parted ways with their drummer, Jelly Boyd, prior to recording their new album, it was with a modicum of trepidation that Desert Psychlist approached their latest release "Rift". Thankfully we needn't have worried ,the addition of White Light Cemetery's Thomas Colley as a replacement drummer may have brought differences to Forming The Void's sound but those differences are subtle and totally in keeping with the musical vision original members, James Marshall (guitar/vocals), Shadi Omar Al-Khansa (guitar),and Luke Baker (bass), explored on previous releases. If you have followed Forming The Void's career since their inception you will know to expect huge swathes of growling stonerized prog and sludge metal offset by moments of lysergic tranquillity and swirling ambience, "Rift" does not disappoint in any of those departments, in fact it would not be wrong to say that there is probably far more growl and far more tranquillity going on here than they have ever delivered before. Marshall's trademark monotone bellow, always a highlight of any Forming The Void release, on "Rift", sounds bigger, rounder and a little more cultured on this latest outing, Marshall croons, growls and bellows over the huge walls of crunching riffage, scorching complex solo's and glistening motifs that he and fellow axe-slinger Al-Khansa bring to the table, his voice competing ,and just about winning, against an onslaught of pulverising fretboard wizardry that is at times breathtaking. Beneath this whirlwind of low slung guitar pyrotechnics and monolithic vocal gymnastics Colley and Baker provide the heartbeat that drives each of "Rift's" seven songs, the pairing steering Forming The Void's grooves through a myriad of differing dynamics and tempos, creating an array of complex and diverse rhythmic platforms for Marshall and Al-Khansa to build upon with a plethora of six-string texturing and colour.


Massive sounding doomic grooves shaded in psychedelic hues and coated in a sheen of metallic prog intricacy make "Rift" not only one of the most anticipated albums of the year but also one of the most enjoyable.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

MILK WHITE THROAT ~ HOUSE OF FIRE .... review


Brighton, UK holds a special place in Desert Psychlist's heart as it was the scene of one of the Psychlist's most drunken and debauched weekends on this planet, but that aside it is also the home of an exciting band going by the name Milk White Throat, a trio consisting of Guillaume Croizon (drums), Tom Humphrey (guitars, vocals) and Brian Thomas (vocals, bass) who are just about to release, onto an unsuspecting public, their latest EP "House of Fire".(3/8/2018).


Skill and quality are not commodities you can easily fake and Milk White Throat demonstrate, over the course of the three songs that make up "House on Fire", that they have both in abundance. As the first, chiming and heavily effected opening notes of "Future History" ring out the listener is left in no doubt of which direction this band are coming from, the songs complex but articulate guitar work, played over a background of liquid deep bass and intricate percussion and coated in clean impassioned vocals, marks this out,if not straightforwardly so, as prog metal or at the very least prog(ish) metal. Now there will be some who will, seeing the word "prog", immediately stop reading and go looking for something a touch more primal, well those that are maybe thinking along those lines should hold their horses for a second or two and delve a little deeper into Milk White Throat's sonic palette. Yes there are a huge prog(ish) elements to be found here, when you have three musicians of this calibre those elements are bound to float to the top, however there is also enough metal to overload a magnet and enough stoner grit to lay a path with. This mix of complexity and metallic growl is perfectly showcased on the EP's second track "House of Fire" a sprawling and undulating sonic journey that gently lifts you up into tranquil blue skies one minute then plummets you into the pits of a metallic hell the next. "Nearly Alive" follows and closes the EP with a hell for leather prog/sludge/heavy metal romp that is as complex as it is brutal, the band ramping up their metallic side to overload and taking off on all sorts of weird and wonderful musical tangents before slowly fading things into silence.


Desert Psychlist's tale, eluded to in this pieces intro, comes under the heading "what happens in Brighton stays in Brighton" Milk White Throat's story on the other hand, and if there is any justice in this world, says "Today Brighton, tomorrow the World"
Check 'em out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 21 July 2018

BLACK ELEPHANT ~ COSMIC BLUES .... review


"The Blues" gets a little maligned outside of its own genre, many believing it is a style of music that has seen its best days and should retire to the Sunnyside Home for Old Music (that doesn't actually exist by the way). Wrong, wrong. WRONG, the blues has never been more alive, more vital and more exciting than it is today with bands like All Them Witches, Youngblood Supercult and Blues Pills, among many others, taking the form twisting it and turning it to suit their own purposes and then presenting it as something fresh and new.
Add to this list Black Elephant, Alessio Caravalli (guitar/vocals), Max Giacosa (guitar), Simone Brunzu (drums) and Marcello De Stefanis (bass), a quartet from Savona, Italy in whose hands the blues have found a safe and loving home and who have just released their latest collection of songs "Cosmic Blues" (Small Stone Records).


The blues, in a rock context, just doesn't seem to work without a fiery guitarist left of stage throwing shapes and scorching the air with fret burning solos,licks and riffs and Black Elephant are no exception, only this band have two of them! On songs like "Cosmic Soul", "Walking Dead" and "Baby Eroina" this pairing of almost opposing guitar tones pays huge dividends with Caravelli and Giacosa not so much trading off or syncing their tones as weaving them in and around each other. Of course this would not be possible without a red hot rhythm section creating the grooves for them to decorate and in Brunzu and De Stefanis Black Elephant have a rhythm section able to switch from subtle and complimentary to full on and driving in a heartbeat, the bassist and drummer the glue holding everything together. As well as holding down guitar duties Caravelli also handles the vocals on five of "Cosmic Blues" seven songs ( "Chase Me" and the excellent "Cosmic Blues for Solitary Moose" both being instrumentals), his gruff, clean voice booms with raw power above the gritty stonerized delta grooves beneath them and although are far from what one would call traditional nevertheless bring an air of bluesy authenticity to everything they touch.


Black Elephant's "Cosmic Blues" is a stunningly superb album, delivered by a band totally at the top of their game and is one that reinvigorates a genre that has had some bad press of late. And so it's time we retracted those obituaries and refilled the grave hole with earth because the blues 'aint dead, or smelling funny, its alive and well and on holiday in Italy.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

LàGOON ~ L'AFFAIRE DES POISONS ...review


Back in the day, when this writer still had a full head of hair and aches only lasted a day, duos only came in the form of acoustic folk artists and bluesmen, then along came The White Stripes with their electric guitar and drums combination and suddenly amplified electric duos were everywhere. Nowadays it is almost as common to find a two man,/two women,/mixed sex duo strutting their stuff  on the rock scene as it is the more traditional quartets and trio's. The underground doom/stoner scene, never a place to fall behind a trend, has had its fair share of duos in recent years with Iowa's Telekinetic Yeti and Seattle's Year of the Cobra leading the way, both bands creating huge walls of sound with minimum instrumentation.
One of the latest pairings to take up the duo torch and run with it are the Portland, Oregon twosome Anthony Gaglia (guitar/vocals) and Brady Maurer (drums) who have just released their second full release "L'affaire de Poisons" under the collective name of LàGoon.


For just two people LàGoon create a hell of a lot of noise, Gaglia's thick and sticky guitar refrains thrum and growl like an overloaded power cable on the verge of tearing apart while Maurer hits everything in sight with a ferocity that is almost primal. The bands sound falls somewhere between doomic low and slow and punkish aggression, the duo jamming grooves that although are heavy do not fall into the trap of being overly brutal and are balanced out by Gaglia's sneering and snotty vocals, the guitarists tones reminiscent of those found fronting many of NewYork's aspiring new wave /punk bands in the early to mid 70's. LàGoon demonstrate with "L'affaire des Poisons" that not only do they have the necessary musical chops to please the riff lovers and groove guru's out there but also that they have the songs into which they can insert those chops. Songs with titles like "Street Freaks", "Kill The Messenger" and "Distant Enemy" fizz and pop with a punkish energy yet are underscored with a dark doomic undercurrent that makes each song swing as much as it disturbs. Imagine, if you can the Stooges stripped down to a two piece jamming Kyuss songs and you might just get a grasp of what LàGoon are all about.


LàGoon's blustering fuzz drenched rock, with its doomic underbelly and garage rock attitude, is both highly enjoyable and strangely addictive and given that this is just two men with a guitar and a drum kit it is also deceptively and suprisingly loud and heavy.
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

#Vinyl format through Norwegian Blue Records is planned for release in October 2018

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

THE GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST ~ CHAPTER II: OF EARTH ..... review


If there was an award for the hardest working band in rock music then San Diego, California riff merchants The Great Electric Quest have got to be considered as serious contenders, there doesn't seem a day goes by without hearing about them ripping up the stage at some venue somewhere or other in the USA. With their unbelievable work ethic and busy touring schedule you would think it pretty difficult for such a hard working band to actually find the time to head into the studio and record a new album, luckily for us that is exactly what they have managed to do, the results of which can be heard on "Chapter II: Of Earth".(Totem Cat Records)


Rock'n'roll should be fun, yes it should be sometimes intense, questioning and thought provoking just not all the time, for every Rush there should be a T.Rex, for every Dream Theatre a Motorhead and for every YOB a The Great Electric Quest. There is a sense of ballsy hell for leather attitude about what TGEQ do, a feeling that even if the apocalypse was predicted for tomorrow these guys would be planning for the after party. This feeling of "joie de vivre" is reflected throughout the seven songs on "Chapter II: Of Earth", it can be found in the tribal driven and WAH drenched "Seeker of the Flame", in the drum and guitar showcase that is "Of Earth: Episode 1" and even in the torch like dynamics of "Heart of the Sun". These guys have come a long way since their 2016 debut album "Chapter 1" and have matured both as songwriters and musicians, where on their debut there was a tendency for the band to overplay their hand instrumentally here the emphasis is on playing for the song instead of despite of it. Guitar god in the making Buddy Donner reins in his shredding chops on "Chapter II..." and plays more "inside" the songs on offer, the guitarist, along with his usual finger blurring solos and tasteful licks, bringing elements of both texture and colour to the table. The biggest surprise of "Chapter II..." however comes in the shape of Tyler "TSweat" Dingvell's vocals, always an impressive vocalist here Dingvell takes things to the next level, smooth and rich on less abrasive songs like "The Madness" commanding and powerful with a gritty edge on the more metallic songs like "Anubis"and "Wicked Hands" he brings an added level of gravitas to each songs lyrics on "Chapter II..." and gives his best studio performance to date. Driving these grooves of stonerized hard rock and classic rock/metal are Daniel "Muchodrums" Velasco (drums) and Jared Bliss (bass) the pair expertly supporting Donner and Dingvell's fretboard and vocal pyrotechnics with array of pulverising  metallic groove and laid back rhythmic dynamics, locking in with the vocalist and guitarist to complete what is a very tasty musical jigsaw.


TGEQ hold quite a unique place in today's underground scene the San Diego quartet are neither a fuzz drenched stoner outfit, a retro classic rock combo or a heavy metal band yet at the same time they are all of these things, the band standing at a crossroads where all these genres meet, cherrypicking what they need from each and blending them into an enthralling hybrid that is part nostalgic and part fresh and new. "Chapter II: Of Earth" is an album that shows a band moving in the right direction, maturing in both writing and arrangement yet maintaining their sense of fun by not getting overly complicated and intense,  a band still preparing for the end of the world by ordering another round of drinks
Check it out …

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 15 July 2018

MAN IN THE WOODS ~ BADLANDS: PART 1 ....... review


Almost dead centre between Northern Ireland and England, surrounded by the cold waters of the Irish Sea, lies an island, an island with a mix of both Nordic and Celtic heritage, an island the locals know as "Manx", an island we from the outside know as the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man has never been much known for its musical exports, its only claim to musical fame being that all three of the Bee Gees were born there, but that might all be about to change with the emergence of a four piece Manx quartet going by the name Man in the WoodsMarc Vincent (bass/vocals, James Oxtoby (guitar), Dave Murray (guitar) and Christian Hardman (drums),who have just released their debut EP "Badlands: Part 1".


The addition of "Part 1" to this EP's title suggests to Desert Psychlist there is a distinct possibility of a future "Part 2" and that, readers, is the first piece of good news in a review brimming over with good news. Ok we are getting a little ahead of ourselves here so lets take a moment and examine why the prospect of another release from a band who have only just released their debut is such a mouth-watering prospect.
Shimmering guitar arpeggios picked over a backdrop of thrumming bass introduce first track "Icarus Landing"  going slightly askew and dissonant as the song progresses then fading away briefly before reappearing, drums in tow, to explode into a huge sludgy desert groove overlaid with big throaty vocals. The songs aggressive, full on attack, tempered by Oxtoby and Murray's deft guitar work and driven by Vincent and Hardman's bass and drums, has a dynamic somewhere between heavy desert rock and swampy sludge and sits probably closer to the latter mainly due to Vincent's big throaty vocals, the bassist/vocalist sounding on occasions like a pissed off bear with a toothache. Next track "Speedeater" sees Man in the Woods initially jamming an up-tempo stoner/desert groove but as the song progresses this gradually makes way, mid section, for a dark doomic interlude that finds Hardman laying down an almost tribal beat over low, droning bass and guitars before the song returns full circle to it's desert root to take things to the close. "Toxicology" is up next and its cloth is cut a little slower and a little less in your face than its predecessor with Vincent telling us "I'm no good" over a low, but not slow, backdrop of grizzled bass and crashing percussion fractured with swirling dark guitar colouring, the song dropping down mid song  into a short but totally effective lysergic groove before exploding back into life for the finale. Final song "Angel of Gasoline" goes straight for the throat, the song taking "Badlands: Part 1" to its close on waves of raucous circular riffage, hard edged rhythms and screaming guitar solos all topped off by Vincent's meaty,rasping vocal tones.


There is a bridge on the Isle of Man that is known as the "Fairy Bridge" and to cross this bridge without first greeting the fairies is said to bring bad luck. Well if this legend has any grain of truth in it then Man in the Woods must have, before going into the studio to record "Badlands: Part 1", not only said hello to these magical folk but also given them an almighty hearty hug.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 14 July 2018

LOGGERHEAD ~ DEPTHS ...review


With "Ancient Squid, toothed whales and giant sharks" listed as an interest and the fact they call themselves a "nautical sludge metal band" who play "salted sludge doom" it is not hard to fathom (see what we did there) that Alabama's Loggerhead have a bit of an obsession with all things maritime, this obsession manifests itself throughout the bands debut release "Depths" so let's get to the bottom of it (sorry couldn't resist).


The reason many of us are reluctant to go swimming in the seas around out respective shorelines may have a lot to do with the subject of Loggerhead's first track on "Depths" a little atmospheric sea shanty going by the name of "Carcharodon" a song that extolls the hunting skills, patience and efficiency of that stealthiest of marine predators the humble shark. The song begins with ominous swirling effect and shimmering percussion that then segues into a chugging low, slow groove overlaid with a clean vocal that is parts narrated, parts sang. "Dark shapes wander, peacefully,shark dives under, patiently" sings the vocalist describing the act of predation on an unsuspecting herd of seals and never was an  act of nature caught so perfectly in a heavy rock/metal context. Instrumental "Spermaceti" follows it's glistening arpeggios and restrained percussion augmented by swirling synths and cellos slowly builds layer by layer and seems to be heading towards some sort of noisy crescendo but then suddenly and unexpectedly flickers out on a wave of drone. "Architeuthis" picks up where the previous track left off mirroring the tranquillity and solitude of the deep oceans with a laid back and atmospheric post-rock/metal groove, again we are greeted by those half sang, half spoken vocals this time telling a tale of the elusive Giant Squid, a "red creature without face" against a backdrop of reverberating guitar, low grizzled bass and gentle percussion that sporadically erupts into heavy sludge as each verse reaches its lyrical peak. The songs groove then takes a dramatic turn into even heavier territory to represent the appearance of a whale in the Giant's story and perfectly captures, in music, the life and death battle for survival that then ensues. The albums last two songs "The Wretched Sea" and "Feeding Frenzy" are just as cinematic as those  preceding them with the former a tale of the valour, gore, cruelty, excitement and fear of a whale hunt and the latter, an enthralling mix of intense heavy sludge and doomic prog, that tells the tale of when the hunters becoming the hunted.


Stephen Speilberg's "Jaws" was a huge hit in its day but when you look back on it now it seems dated and frankly a bit laughable, however one scene that always sticks in peoples minds is the one where the three shark hunters are sitting below deck telling tall stories and comparing scars and the talk comes around to Robert Shaw's character telling his tale of surviving the shark infested waters of the Pacific after the USS Indianapolis was sunk in 1945, it is a scene that is spine tingling, intense and leaves a long lasting impression. It is the same feeling Desert Psychlist felt after listening to Loggerheads "Depths"
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones