Sunday, 18 February 2018

THY KINGDOM SLUM ~ A HISTORY OF DISSENT .... review


I suppose many of found our ways to the seedy recesses of the stoner/doom and psych scene via a variety of different routes some may have followed along the Sabbath route signposted by "Master of Reality" others via the dusty desert trails left by Kyuss, Unida and their like. No matter how we arrived or even where those paths have led us since we can all probably agree that the one thing that brought us all here in the first place was a love of a big fat riff, drenched in fuzz and distortion and played very loud.
If the above statement resounds with and you find yourself nodding along in sage agreement then get ready to relive those days of thundering rhythms and gnarly refrains with Canadian riffmeisters Thy Kingdom Slum and their debut release " A History of Dissent".


Grab your hard hat and settle down somewhere safe from the danger of falling masonry as your world is about to be rocked, shaken and stirred by a glorious cacophony of noise dealt out by a band whose blend of kick-ass rock'n'roll and insightful social commentary is both relentless and loud . Thy Kingdom Slum, Trevor De Block (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Brandon Gourley (drums), Chris Mayville (lead guitar), Michael Edwards (vocals) and Ray Solomon (bass), kick things off with "Reign/Black Flags", a stirring diatribe against those that hold the power told in throaty maniacal vocal tones and delivered against a wall of crunching riffage and incessant rhythms. Three more highly charged, politically themed songs follow, "Master Plan","5even" and "Not Your Enemy", before the band close shop with "Presence of Mind", the band urging us to "Use your fucking minds, before we run out of time" and warning us of "the demagogue propped up by puppet strings" over a swathe of gritty stoner fuzz and blustering heavy rock rhythms, the song and EP finally coming to an end on a wave of howling sustain.


Furiously paced, grainy stoner/hard rock grooves and social commentary do not always sit comfortably together but Thy Kingdom Slum have, with "A History of Dissent", somehow managed to find a balance that provokes thought while at the same maintains a sense of fun, delivering an EP that is not only highly enjoyable but also highly intelligent.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 17 February 2018

UNCROSSING ~ UNCROSSING .... review


Women involved in the arts have had a pretty raw deal over the years as can be seen by the recent Hollywood sex scandals and the UK's TV pay parity revelations, in our own underground rock scene however women have had a somewhat easier ride (although it has to be said not always) with women musicians like Acid King's Lori S and Youngblood Supercult's Bailey Gonzales garnering in their respective fields an equal level of respect as that of their male counterparts. The biggest sea change however is in the emergence of a seemingly unending slew of bands fronted by the voices of female vocalists, less and less are we being bombarded with those statements of " I never listen to bands with female vocals" many music fans/collectors going out of their way to actively seek out these bands, appreciating the different dynamics a female voice can bring to the table. All of which brings us around nicely to discuss a new band on the block, a band from New York, fronted by sublime vocals, going by the name Uncrossing  who have just released their self-titled EP "Uncrossing".


"Uncrossing" opens its account with "Get It From Me" a sultry doom tinted opus that begins with Jared Drace picking gently swept arpeggios from his guitar before being joined by Scott Meyer's bass and Sanal Leejean's drums in a chugging fuzz drenched groove embellished by Drace's clever little guitar licks and soaring solo's. Over and around this quiet storm of crunching riffage and rock steady rhythms soars the majestic vocal tones of the bands secret weapon Kristin Flammio. Flammio's voice, clear, clean and blessed with a purity that is quite rare in underground rock circles, swoops swirls above the raucousness lying just beneath it, her almost symphonic tones, bereft of the usual grittiness associated with this genre, coming across like candy for the ears. "What I Want" follows and sees the band moving into tranquil waters with Drace's Stairway To Heaven(ish) guitar motif the base around which Flammio tells a heartfelt tale of longing for something not in her control, her story fractured by moments of intense metallic bluster, moving, atmospheric and superbly executed by all involved it is beautiful and bruising in equal measure. "IOU" closes "Uncrossing" with a song that highlights not only the bands musical prowess but one that also throws a light on where this band might be heading next, the songs intense heavy doomic riffage, Sabbath-esque shifting time signatures plus Flammio's slightly edgier vocal delivery suggesting a band moving towards a darker more occult orientated sound.


What direction Uncrossing take their sound in next is unknown, will the slightly symphonic tinted metal of "What I Want" win the day or will the intense proto-doom of "IOU" be the path they take, or will it be that mixture of both that makes "Get It To Me" so utterly enjoyable be the way forward? Desert Psychlist doesn't know but finding out is something we will be very much looking forward to.
Check 'em out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 16 February 2018

THAL ~ REACH FOR THE DRAGON'S EYE .... review


THAL (The Heathens Are Loose) started of as a one man project. the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist John "Vince Green" Walker, his idea was to get the songs that were forever forming themselves in his head recorded with a minimum of collaboration from others, playing all the instruments himself and only calling in fellow musicians for parts he felt they could better handle than himself. This solo approach resulted in 2016's "Glitter" an astounding debut that garnered a lot of well deserved attention and appreciation within the underground's rock community. No man is a mountain however and Walker soon realised for THAL to move forward a little help and collaboration from a more permanent second party would not go amiss and also take a little strain off his shoulders. Enter Walker's Wytchord bandmate Kevin Hartnell, also a multi-instrumentalist, to add his weight to both the instrumentation and songwriting for the (now a) bands new album "Reach For The Dragon's Eye" (Argonauta Records)


The first thing that hits you about "Reach For The Dragon's Eye" is the level of sheer power these two guys create between them. Sometimes with two man affairs the listener is left with a feeling there is something lacking or missing from the overall sound, an element gone astray somewhere that you can't quite put your finger on but just makes everything feel a little less than whole, this is not the case here. Walker and Hartnell fill every space available on "Reach For The Dragon's Eye" with swathes of gritty sound so much so that even the pauses between songs feel loud! Desert Psychlist could not, without a detailed breakdown, honestly tell you who plays what on each track (except that Hartnell handles all the drum parts) what we can tell you though is that every guitar solo, riff, bass line, drum beat and synth noise are delivered with the utmost expertise, without indulgence and for the song. Did we mention songs?  THAL have them in spades, gritty fuzz drenched ones like "Rebreather", southern tinted ones with an undercurrent of bluesy swagger a la "Thoughtform", angry bitter diatribes, "Punish" and intense ones with prog-ish undertones, "Reach For The Dragon's Eye". The band even get to throw in a little QOTSA-like quirkiness via "Her Gods Demand War" where they invite These Butchers Will Kill You's Sophie Steff in to help out on vocals.


All in all THAL have, with "Reach For The Dragon's Eye", created an album that had it been released before the New Year would most certainly have made Desert Psychlist's best of list for 2017, an album that will only not make our best of list for 2018 if 30 better albums are released in this coming year and that my friends is going to be a very tall order!
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 11 February 2018

HAZEMAZE ~ HAZEMAZE ..... .review


October of 2017 Desert Psychlist reviewed a live EP from a relatively new Swedish combo trading under the name of Hazemaze containing five tracks of absolutely blistering doom tinted proto-metal. That EP, "Live at Copperfields", highlighted a band influenced by the music of the 70's but not overwhelmed by it, pulling elements from the past but blending them with the more contemporary grooves of todays stoner/doom and psych scene to shape a sound that is fresh and of the present yet still doffs its cap to those that have paved the paths before them. The band, Ludvig Andersson (guitar/vocals), Nils "Ein" Eineus (drums) and Estefan Carrillo (bass) promised, on the release of their live EP, a soon to come full album and true to their word here it is... "Hazemaze" (Kozmik Artifactz Records)


A laid back and funky slow blues jam opens first track "Wall of Confusion" then gradually mutates into a low slung mid tempo proto doom refrain driven by growling bass and pounding percussion. Over this dark rumbling earthquake of sound Andersson croons lyrics telling a tale of the thin veil separating life and death in cool clean vocal tones, tones that although not overly powerful are a perfect match for the dank hazy grooves they are surrounded by. "Hazy" is the perfect word to describe Hazemaze's sonic output as there is a tangible hazy quality to all eight songs on "Hazemaze", whether this is intentional due to their name or just some happy accident Desert Psychlist doesn't know but that "haziness" is there nonetheless and it works for them. On songs with titles like "Minds Abyss" and "Beast and Prey" that "haziness" presents itself in Andersson's low pitched riffs and solos and Carrillo's even lower grumbling bass lines, the pair combining with Eineus' solid busy drumming to create a dark thrumming effect not dissimilar to the sound of an overloaded electricity cable, something  that when written down might may sound like a hindrance but in actuality enhances the albums overall effect.


If you like your grooves thrumming with raw power and growling with latent menace then "Hazemaze" might just be the album you've been searching for
Check it out .....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 10 February 2018

SUNDRIFTER ~ VISITATIONS ... review


Boston trio Sundrifter, Craig Peura (vocals/guitar), Patrick Queenan (drums) and Paul Gaughran (bass), make no bones about their almost obsessive interests in space, time and the existence of extra-terrestrial life, the band utilising these interests as the foundations on which to build their songs and theme their albums. The band first whetted our appetites for grooves astrophysical with their 2016 debut "Not Coming Back" a stunning opus packed to brimming over with spacey desert goodness that had more than a trace of Kyuss/QOTSA-like sandy swagger ingrained within its grooves, this year the band return to take us once again to the edges of our consciousness with their new release "Visitations".


"Vistations" kicks off with an absolute peach of a track in "Sons of Belial" its deeply fuzzed circular refrain, pushed by growling bass and crashing drums and coated in cool clean vocals, comes out of the traps like a greyhound in pursuit of a hare and grabs the listener by the throat and refuses to let go until the last note fades into silence. This is then followed up in quick succession by two similarly paced but dynamically different songs in "Death March" and "Lightworker", the former a quirky heavily distorted desert opus with eastern undertones, the latter a Kyuss shaped rocket flying at speed over a bedrock of insistent grainy groove, all three songs taken to another level by Peura's astonishingly clean and effective vocals. The guitarist/vocalists powerful distinctive tones, a strange hybrid of Scott Walker's (The Walker Brothers) torch-song crooning and Chris Cornell's impassioned feral howling, are startling and astonishing all at the same time especially when applied to the albums more diverse and less abrasive songs such as the swirling and lysergic "Targeted", the eastern tinted "Till You Come Down" and the gently sedate and beautiful "I Want To Leave". It is however Peura's heavily fuzzed and distorted riffage driven by Gaughran's gnarly bass and Queenan's pummelling percussion that is the meat and potatoes of Sundrifter's sonic attack and the band deliver those elements in spades with songs like "Hammerburn", "Sky Peoples Son" and the doomic "Fire In The Sky" all hitting their marks with an unerring level of consistency.


Sundrifter preface "Visitations" with a quote from astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan on their Bandcamp page so it seems fitting to close this review with another quote from the great man..
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be"
With "Visitations" that something incredible may already be here
Check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 9 February 2018

ESTUARY BLACKS ~ ESTUARY BLACKS ..... review


Swansea three piece Estuary Blacks, Dan Williams (bass), Alex Bodinger (guitars/vocals) and Tom Young (drums), describe their sonic output as "post marsh rock" a unique blend of post and progressive rock  mixed with elements of heavy stoner metal, a blend that permeates every pore of the bands debut album "Estuary Blacks".(releasing digitally 17 February 2018 and a yet to be announced vinyl release later in the year on Kozmik Artifactz Records)


If Desert Psychlist was forced to compare what Estuary Blacks bring to the table with another band then it would have to be Boston soundscapers Elder, both bands deal in huge multi-layered grooves, both have a tendency for long instrumental passages and both lean towards the progressive end of the stoner spectrum. Where Estuary Blacks differ from their American counterparts however is in the fact that the Swansea trio's progressive leanings, in places, drift towards the much more traditional end of progressive rock. This becomes immediately evident on the albums opening track "Moorings" a delightfully complex instrumental underpinned by lush liquid bass lines and intricate rhythms overlaid with a mixture of clean classical tinted arpeggios and post-rock textured guitar solos. Next track "Trawlers" follows where "Moorings" departed opening with folk flavoured clean guitar motifs played over a chiming backdrop of laid back groove that then suddenly explode into a gloriously crushing doomic refrain around which superbly pitched mellow clean vocal melodies are delivered. "Fat Jason" follows and raises the bar high with a song that oozes atmosphere and intensity, the songs epic, anthemic feel is enhanced by Bodinger's stunningly powerful vocals and  swirling guitar textures and  is compounded by Williams and Young's complex and elaborate rhythms. "Hank Carmarvin" allows the listener to take a breather and wallow in a sea of acoustic bliss before being dragged back into the real word by "Caswell Brat" an undulating instrumental groove fest that ambles through tranquil post-rock territory before slowly building to a heavy blues tinted, prog flavoured crescendo. "Puris Prass" closes proceedings by tying all the various threads and elements visited elsewhere on "Estuary Blacks" together in one song, prog-like complexity, post-rock intensity and stoner-like fuzz all weaved together in a tapestry of moving, atmospheric and at times breathtaking intelligent groove.


If while reading this review you felt a little put off by the references to "post-rock" and "progressive" then take a few seconds of your time and just click the "play" icon on the link for "Estuary Blacks" below and you might just find a piece of music that will allay your fears and open your ears to a whole new world of music
Check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 3 February 2018

THE BLACK SWAMP ~ WITCHES ... review


Let's start this review with a word from the band whose EP is its subject ...
"The Black Swamp have re-hashed a sludge sound reminiscent of 70's and 90's before heavy metal got all dicky about the genre divide". A bold statement but what does it actually mean? Well  give the bands new EP "Witches" a spin and all will be revealed


A brief screech of howling feedback and a feral scream introduces first song "Headless" and we are immediately plummeted into The Black Swamp's world of crunching heavy guitar riffage and powerful pulverising rhythms, a world where old school hard rock and southern swagger live harmoniously together with swampy sludge brutality and new age metal aggression, these diverse elements mingling together to create a tsunami of mind-blowingly powerful groove. A tsunami is always driven by a force and the "force" that drives The Black Swamp's wave comes from the relentless pummelling drums of Brendan Woodley and the grizzled growling bass of Rohan Downs the pair combining to lay down a bedrock of gnarly thunderous rhythm for the rest of the band to decorate with their own contributions. Those contributions come in the shape of the grainy fuzz drenched distorted riffs, crunching powerchords and swirling solo's provided by guitarists Grant Scott and Jesse Kenny and the bear-like vocal growls of Luke Hosking, Scott and Kenny trading off licks and refrains around Hosking's strong throaty roars framing the frontman's big beefy tones with an array of dank gnarly riffage. "Witches" is not just a vehicle for a series of blustering riffs and rhythms however, songs like the aforementioned "Headless", the superbly atmospheric "Event Horizon" and title track "Witches" also bring an element of swing and melody to the table giving the somgs an added level of gravitas and intensity as well as enhancing their overall sonic impact.


The Black Swamp's prospects were already looking pretty good with the releases of their first EP "Foulness" and the  excellent 2016 debut full length "I Am" but with "Witches" the band have refined their sound, raised the bar and stepped up to the next level, it's just a shame it wasn't a full album,
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 2 February 2018

SLEEPING VILLAGE ~ AMONG THE GODS .... review


If you name your band after a fairly well known Black Sabbath song then comparisons are bound to be made with that band and your own grooves, thankfully New Jersey's Sleeping Village, although obviously influenced by Sabbath, do not fall into the trap of trying to imitate their every move and note instead finding and creating their own sound and groove within the frameworks provided by their heroes.
The band, Rick Dal Cortivo (vocals/guitar), Tim Gray (bass) and Scott Borchert (drums), have just recently released their debut EP "Among The Gods"


There is no denying that the spirit of Tony Iommi looms large among the riffs and grooves that go to make up the four songs of "Among The Gods" but that spirit manifests itself as more of a feel than an out and out lifting of licks, riffs and solos, guitarist/vocalist Cortivo injecting his own identity and ideas onto and into each and every song. Ably supported by Gray's big sounding bass lines and Borchert's busy, solid percussion the guitarist layers thick swathes of overdriven riffage and swirling bluesy lead over a tumultuous barrage of gnarly proto-doom groove while at the same time delivering cool clean vocals that although not particularly strong are totally effective. It is these vocals, delivered in slightly weary-ish, almost indie fashion that sets Sleeping Village apart from other Sabbath inspired bands currently doing the rounds, Cortivo's un-Ozzy like tones giving songs like "The Puppet Masters", "Lucky 7's" and title track "Among The Gods" a feel more akin to the early days of Austin, Texas' The Sword rather than those of the famous Birmingham Four. Final song "The End" moves the goalposts slightly and finds the band mixing their proto-doom grooves with those of a more traditional doom flavour the song shifting through a series of differing tempos and time signatures before fading out on a wave of grainy fuzz drenched riffage.


Sleeping Village have no problem admitting to their Sabbathian leanings, guitarist Rick Dal Corvito candidly telling Desert Psychlist "We are a classic heavy metal/doom band from New Jersey trying to capture that old Sabbath groove", and Desert Psychlist as no problem in admitting to loving what they do with that groove on "Among The Gods" ... lets see if you agree with us
Check it out.....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

REALM ~ RED CLAY DEAD RIVER.... review


"Beer battered and deep fried" is a description probably more associated with the UK's, fast food of choice, fish and chips than that of a bands sonic attack but that is how Knoxville trio Realm describe the gritty riffs and incessant rhythms they bring to the table with their latest offering "Red Clay Dead River". The three Tennesseans, Jake Lonas (guitar/vox) Kurt Bell (bass/keys) and Nick Leichtweis (drums) also go on to cite their southern heritage and a love of sci-fi as major influences in shaping their sound, well let's see...


The glorious cacophony of fuzz drenched guitar, heavily distorted bass and pummelling percussion that greets the ears as first track "Infernal Machine" rears its head tells you in just a few seconds what to expect from the rest of the album. Realm deal in doom tinted grooves of sludgy stoner rock that remove the word "slow" from the usual low.slow and heavy approach, that seems to be the norm these days, and replace it with the word "pacey", retaining those low and heavy dynamics but adding to them a little mid to up tempo southern swagger. Add into this equation the inclusion of strong clean(ish) gritty vocals and you arrive at a sound that will appeal to both doomers and stoners alike as well as all those roaming the hinterlands between. Realm also add a glorious raw element to their grooves with songs like "Leh Hesh" and "Smoke and Stone" so drenched in distortion and fogged in fuzz they are almost in danger of breaking up into white noise, even on the relatively sedate and utterly superb "Gypsy Trail" the band cannot but help themselves from trowling on a thick layer of grainy fuzz only easing off the pedals when the song shifts into a campfire sing-a-long in it's final stages.


Raw and uncompromising, in both its musical execution and its production, "Red Clay Dead River" is a joy to listen to for anyone with even a passing interest in no holds barred gritty underground rock and is an album that should be played very loud and very often.
Check it out .....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 28 January 2018

ELECTRIC HULDRA ~ ROADBURNER .... review


Michigan's Electric Huldra describe what they do as simply rock'n'roll and although the Ann Arbor trio of Bobby Marks (guitar/vox), Troy Hufford (guitar/vox) and Dominic Elder (drums) cite among their influences such stonerized doom luminaries as Sleep and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats it is at the more raucous end of the stoner/desert/ hard rock spectrum that Electric Huldra's sound resides, as can be witnessed on the band's debut release "Roadburner"


First track "Stand Here" nails Electric Huldra's rawk'n'roll credentials to the mast with what we would describe here, in Desert Psychlist's UK home, as "a little belter". If the songs raucous swathes of grainy riffage, underpinned by a tsunami of crashing percussion, fragmented with deliciously addictive guitar motifs is not enough to get the juices flowing then when the strong clean and distinctive vocal melodies kick in they soon will be. Some of you eagle eyed readers out there may have noticed that there has been no mention of a bass player as of yet and you would be right and the reason is there isn't one! Hufford and Marks, through a combination of tunings and dynamics, handle the bottom end between them and unless you were born with a perfect ear you would hardly notice.
"Never Forgave", a song with a heavy doomic feel, gets around being bass-less by underpinning its groove with a low thrumming, heavily reverberated guitar refrain enhanced upon and embellished with the other guitarists slightly less abrasive, but just as effective, tone and by the sheer force of Elder's heavy pounding drums and the songs superbly executed swinging vocal melody. "Doubt In Me" and "You Own Me" both find Electric Huldra roadtripping through more desert flavoured climates, the former infectious and gritty, the latter throbbing and a little bluesy. Final track "Roadburner" sees the band adding a touch of dankness and darkness into their sound, a low circular refrain the foundation around which elements of lysergic colourings and textures are applied, the guitarists injecting touches of eastern flavouring into a groove that builds layer by glorious layer and is coated in strong powerful vocals.


Two six stringers, one drummer and no bassist might have you thinking these guys might come across a little light on "oomph" but you'd be wrong "Roadburner" is an album overflowing with "oomph" and one you should definitely check out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 26 January 2018

MERLIN ~ THE WIZARD ... review


If you are of a certain age you may remember those days, before the internet, when waiting for an album from a band/artist you admired could be almost agonising, news reports would be minimal and you just had to wait until a press announcement in the weekly music papers alerted you to a new release. Things have changed a lot since then with every little detail of a band/artists activity both outside and inside the studio being reported on social media sites but that anticipation of hearing new sounds from your favourites never goes away. That anticipation nearly reached fever pitch when a while back Jordan Knorr vocalist with Kansas City groovsters Merlin got in touch with Desert Psychlist to ask our opinion on snippets of tracks his band were working on for their forthcoming album, these snippets showed a band remaining true to their core sound yet experimenting with new instrumentation and a wider field of exciting and dynamic textures and colouring. Our appetites were whetted and after a long and agonising wait we can now finally announce the release of Merlin's new opus "The Wizard"(The Company)


"The Wizard" is a concept album but don't let that scare you as each and every track works both thematically and individually, having said that for full listening enjoyment and to fully embrace the conceptual flow of the album it is best listened to as a whole and in recorded order. Merlin are a band that confuse and delight in equal measure but are also a band capable of moments of spine chilling brilliance and there are many of those moments to be found among the seven songs that make up  "The Wizard" . The bands line up has gone through a few changes since the bands  previous album "Electric Children" with Chase Thayer replacing Joey Hamm on bass and Stu Kersting joining on saxophone and guitar, the two new recruits combining with original members Knorr (vocals/omnichord)), Carter Lewis (guitar/synth) and Caleb Wyels (drums) to create a fuller more expansive sound. The introduction of Kersting and specifically his sax contributions is a game changer and brings a whole new perspective to Merlin's overall sound , not as you might expect in a jazz orientated context but in a more groove orientated way as on opener "Abyss" where the sax combines with Lewis' guitar to both carry and accentuate the songs main refrain and on "Sage's Crystal Staff" where he brings an extra level of lysergic texturing to the proceedings. Vocalist Knorr is on fine form throughout mixing up his vocals between strong clean melodies and sneered half sang, half spoken narrative, telling his stories of sorcery and dark dealings like some crazed shaman at a tribal gathering, his stories superbly backed up  by Thayer and Wyels, the bassist and drummer effortlessly shifting between grooves to accommodate every little nuance of each songs dynamic. The album finishes its diverse and lysergic journey with "The Wizard Suite" an epic tome spanning eleven plus minutes that sees Lewis and Kersting trading off ambient guitar licks and arpeggios over a backdrop of tinkling percussion and liquid bass that slowly grows in intensity until erupting into a fuzz drenched stoner-ish groove with Lewis laying down crunching chords supported by Kersting's sax around which Knorr chants mantra-ish vocals. The song slowly builds in tempo with Lewis' guitar and Kersting's sax going head to head  over Thayer and Wyels insistent ever increasing rhythmic grooves before then coming to an abrupt and quite unexpected full stop.


Some things are worth waiting for and although Desert Psychlist was privy to snatches of "The Wizard" before its release those snatches in no way prepared us for the full picture that Merlin have unveiled to us now with this the finished article. Brilliantly written and arranged with a sound and groove unlike anything they have done before Merlin's "The Wizard" is a genuine mini-masterpiece.
Check it out .....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 22 January 2018

DIRTY PAGANS ~ VOLUME 1 ... review


Musical tags can often be misleading especially when browsing the pages of sites such as Bandcamp, Spotify,and  Deezer . You can spend ages looking for something in a certain genre only to find a band, tagged as being in that genre, are something completely different to what they are tagged as. However this is not the case with Australian groovsters Dirty Pagans new album "Volume1". The legend tucked beneath the new albums page tags the band as occult. doom metal, hard rock, heavy metal, psych and stoner rock... and they are all of them!!


"Volume 1" begins with the sound of a stylus being laid on to vinyl and that brief crackling noise we all remember hearing before our favourite tunes erupted from our speakers, and like those favourite tunes of yesteryear first song "Armour of Satan" does indeed erupt, blowing out your eardrums with gnarled proto-doom riffage that begins with a brief nod to Sabbath's "War Pigs" then moves into its own grizzled stoner doom groove before easing off the accelerator and getting down, low and slow when the vocals finally make an appearance. Here is where we come to what sets Dirty Pagans apart from others ploughing similar musical furrows, Dirty Pagans don't take the road trodden by many of their contemporaries by just coating their grooves in gritty, half growled, half roared vocal dynamics, though they do utilise this style (among many others), they also go to the other extreme with rock god like vocal pyrotechnics soaring over swathes of  crunching riffage and constantly shifting pulverising rhythms, in other words old school metal vocals applied to new school grooves. Each  of the five songs on "Volume 1", "Armour of Satan","The Man Who Killed The Gods", "Visions","Down Below" and "Love In Your Eyes", feels like a mini rock opera with the band seamlessly criss-crossing across a variety of metal genres and sub-genres, cleverly blending elements of late 70's early 80's heavy metal thunder with a myriad of modern metal and hard rock styles to create an album that in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion is utterly mindblowing.
Check it out ...


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 21 January 2018

CRYPT TRIP ~ ROOTSTOCK ...review


From the very first note of Texas trio Crypt Trip's self titled debut album "Crypt Trip" it was fairly obvious that this was a band to be reckoned with, a band with something to say, a blues based band who were going to take this weary and tired genre by the scruff of the neck and drag it into new and exciting directions yet at the same time stay true to its roots. Then along came "Mabon Songs" a three song EP that saw the band step backwards in time eschewing the stonerized and psychedelic elements of their debut for a more organic blues rock sound that had an almost dated proto-ish feel. Clearly this was a band who were going to follow their own agenda's and not be shackled by others expectations. Two years after the release of "Mabon Songs" Crypt Trip, Ryan Lee (guitar/vocals/electric piano), Cameron Martin (vocals/drums) and Sam Bryant (bass), return with their latest full album "Rootstock" let's see where they intend taking us this time.


"Heartslave" opens"Rootstock" kicking things into gear with a funky wah drenched little number coated in clean melodic vocal tones that over the course of its 5:19 length more or less covers every beat, groove and dynamic ever explored within the fields of bluesy hard rock yet managing to do this without ever sounding anything other than original  The band follow this little beauty up with "Boogie No.6" and again we find the band shape shifting their sound to accommodate another smorgasbord of various bluesy dynamics that also include those of a more psychedelic hue. Next up is "Aquarena Daydream" and those lysergic hues briefly visited earlier come in to their own in a song that boasts dreamy, far away vocal melodies, Allman-esque guitar tones and a swathe of atmospheric keyboard flourishes before finishing on a pacey blues groove that includes all those hallmarks and elements we have come to expect from blues music born in the Lone Star State. "Rio Vista" finds Crypt Trip hitting the proto/retro trail with a scintillating blues workout, underpinned by Martin and Bryant's furious bass and drum work, again swathed in swirling organ ( courtesy of guest musician Brittany Garza) over which Lee delivers a stunning array of pedal effected fretwork. The next three tracks "Natural Child", "Tears of Gaia" and "Mabon Song" all first appeared on the bands EP "Mabon Songs" and lose none of their impact nestled here among Crypt Trip's newer songs, in fact they benefit from their new surroundings, the songs slightly re-worked/re-tweaked arrangements giving them a fresher more immediate feel that fits in perfectly with dynamics found in the bands newer material. "Rootstock" finishes its impressive journey with "Soul Games" a song that boasts an absolutely phenomenal performance from Martin , the drummer driving the songs lysergic groove with an unbelievable array of tribalistic beats and shimmering percussion that are superbly backed up by Bryant's mix of growling and liquid bass lines. Over and around this whirlwind of Santana-esque flavoured acid groove and hazy vocal melodies Lee delivers scorching guitar textures, tasteful soaring solo's, funky effect soaked chords and glistening arpeggios, the guitarist filling every available space with swathe upon swathe of  exquisite blues drenched guitar colouring. The song comes to a close with Garza returning to speak heavily phased narrative over a backdrop of shimmering percussion, liquid loose bass and heavily effected guitar colouring before fading out in to silence.


The blues is at the root of all of the rock music we listen to today be it crushing black metal, classic rock, heavily fuzzed stoner or swirling psych. If you take the time to look hard enough you will find it, sometimes glaringly obvious, sometimes hidden under a tsunami of heavy riffage. but its always there. Some bands celebrate their bluesy influences others prefer to deny them and some bands like Crypt Trip take them and use them as a launchpad into newer waters, twisting the blues around and around like an old flannel wringing out their essence to add to a melting pot full of other essences to create something new and exciting that although rooted to the past is not defined by it. "Rootstock" is an album born from that melting pot.
Check it out .....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 19 January 2018

DRYAD ~ REHEARSAL TAPE .... review


A rehearsal is a time when a bands members generally get together to hone their skills for an upcoming tour or to thrash out new ideas and work those ideas in to fully fledged songs. Bands occasionally tape these rehearsals to listen to later or ,in the case of more established bands, release them as bonus cuts to re-mastered albums and box sets but in most cases these rehearsal tapes rarely ever see the light of day, buried away somewhere and forgotten about. It's quite unusual that a band should release a recording of one such rehearsal for public consumption but that is exactly what Dryad have done with their debut EP, a four song tsunami of grizzled groove descriptively entitled "Rehearsal Tape".


Dryad, Sebastian (drums),Michael (bass/vocals) and Bjorn (guitar),  a trio from Wurzburg, Germany with a love of Kyuss, Mastodon, Black Sabbath and the MC5, are not pretending to be anything other than what they are and what they are is a damn good heavy rock band. If Desert Psychlist wanted to be a little more genre specific we could probably say that Dryad's sonic attack leans more towards the more proto metal end of the spectrum but that would then be dismissing the elements of modern heavy metal, stonerized doom and bluesy hard rock that also go a long way to colour their raucous and highly addictive sound. These elements, combined with the band's adept skill at mixing monolithic heavy riffage with strong throaty vocal melodies elevates Dryad's music from out of the realms of the ordinary into the realms of the extraordinary. The four songs that make up "Rehearsal Tape",The Advent Of Dawn", "Overload", "Gaia" and "Meghalaya", cover an array of morose and thought provoking lyrical imagery so one would expect the grooves surrounding those lyrics to reflect that imagery yet this is not the case, there is an oddly uplifting feel to the music Dryad envelope their lyrics with, where you might expect drudgery there is drive, where you thought you would find depression there is a joyousness, it's a feeling the band sum up perfectly in the lyrics of "Meghalaya.", "Life's a ride, there's sometimes fog, at times light".


"Rehearsal Tape" is just that , a rehearsal tape, yet it comes across better than some bands fully formed albums. Imagine what Dryad can do if unleashed in a proper state of the art studio!
Check 'em out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

GRAJO ~ SLOWGOD II ...review


Cordoba, Spain is a place with a history of both Roman and Islamic occupation, something that can still be found influencing its architecture to this day. Cordoba is also the home of Grajo a four piece band whose diverse array of western doomic grooves mixed with elements of eastern promise reflect  the two opposing cultures that have helped shape their cities past and present. This blend of styles is something that you can hear for yourselves on the bands latest outing "Slowgod ll" (Underground Legends Records for CD/ DHU Records for Vinyl and Spinda Records for Limited Edition Cassette)


First track "Alteres" lurches out of the speakers like a B movie monster, slow deliberate and menacing, a wave of grinding riffage and pummelling percussion heralding its approach, just has the creature makes its grab for his intended victim she turns opens her mouth and the gloom and darkness are suddenly pierced by the light of sweet honeyed and ethereal vocal tones, tones that placate his bloodlust and bewitch him with their beauty . Ok that's romanticising things a little too much but if your new to Grajo's mix of thunder and sunshine and your reading this before listening then that imagery might just be the  deal breaker for you to go check them out. If and when you do make that move you might also find that the above description is not so far from the truth as you first thought.
Grajo deliver grooves that are dark, low, slow and heavy but they counterbalance those dank, dusky, refrains and thunderous rhythms with husky sweet but powerful clean vocals, vocals that are in stark contradiction to the grooves they are surrounded by yet somehow are enhanced and complimented by them. Album highlights are many on "Slowgod II" but special mentions should go out to the sprawling eastern tinted "Malmuerta", with its Moorish guitar motifs and superb vocal performance, and to the instrumental "Malestrom" with its prog-ish textures and washes of psychedelic/post-rock colouring, in actuality there is not a poor track to be found on the album and you the listener will no doubt find your own favourites.


Grajo have been slowly chipping away at that glass ceiling looming over them for a few years now, trying to reach a wider audience and break their music onto a more international market, "Slowgod II" just might be the album to do that..
Check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 15 January 2018

HAUNT ~ HAUNT .... review


Who remembers nights hiding behind a cushion watching old Italian horror movies? Ok if you watch them now they are not so scary and even pretty laughable but back in their day they were guaranteed to give you sleepless nights and have you jumping at every creak and groan of your old wooden floorboards. Haunt, a trio from Central Illinois, with influences that range from The Beatles to Voivoid, rehash those days of wide eyed panic and bedclothes pulled up high to the neck with their self recorded, self produced debut release "Haunt" a stunning mix of  60's style vocal harmonies and retro flavoured horror inspired hard/classic rock and metal,


Haunt are a band who like to play their cards close to their chests only telling us, in their own words, that they are "a lead vocalist on  guitar who also provides keyboards, a bassist who also provides backing vocals and a drummer who provides lead vocal harmonies" adding that they "hope to be thought of as a single entity (a unholy trinity)", all pretty mysterious stuff  but then that air of mystery and intrigue is also reflected in their music.
"Hymn" opens "Haunt" with beautifully executed choral harmonies and counter harmonies wordlessly sang a-cappella style that although not fully representative of the grooves to follow strangely sets the tone for the rest of the album. What does follow is "Revenant" a absolutely enthralling song that boasts among other things swathes of swirling keyboard colouring, a tolling bell and  a cool mix of vocal harmonies and vocal trade offs all superbly supported by tight, solid rhythms and topped off by a recurring guitar motif that will have listeners drooling and salivating. Next track "Planet Horror" sees Haunt move briefly into sci-fi territory with a tune that has an almost comic book quality, theremin-like whoops and whirls swish and swoop around a pacey groove underpinned by flourishes of textured keyboard that for some reason had Desert Psychlist recalling the rock opera " The Rocky Horror Show" especially in it's addictive chorus and playful mix of vocal dynamics. The 60's soaked "Build Your Wall" is up next and finds the band hitting a groove and vocal execution that would, if he was still alive, have had 60's psych rock pioneers Spirit's sadly passed guitarist Randy California beaming with pride. "Living Room" and "Thy Will Be Done" get Haunt back on the horror/occult track, the former a tongue in cheek  Lovecraftian  tale set in a domestic situation, the latter a song with a mini rock opera vibe enhanced by a mixture of early CSN&Y/Byrds like vocal harmonies. "Rise From Your Grave" closes "Haunt" with a beautifully arranged song filled to overflowing with clever little vocal hooks and instrumental catches that will pull you in deeper and deeper into Haunt's world of comic book horror and macabre sci-fi inspired intrigue and have you never wanting, or be able to, leave.


Fate brought Desert Psychlist to "Haunt", (we were searching for a band with a similar name) and if you are not a regular reader of these hallowed pages and fate has also brought you here under those very same circumstances then don't go away without listening, go with fates flow and check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones