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

Wednesday 26 September 2018


Øresund Space Collective have been making albums and touring their improvised space rock/ heavy psych grooves since 2006, the band an ever changing collection of musicians from across Europe and the United States have to date released twenty nine albums. Strangely, given Desert Psychlist's love for lysergic tinted grooves of a more out there nature and the fact that we own or have heard a good few of those albums, this in the moment  recording, "Live In Berlin 2018", is the first of their releases we have reviewed.

Those familiar with ØSC will already know to expect music that could go in any direction at anytime, a music with a liquid like structure that, like the water running down Jeff Goldblum;s hand when trying to explain Chaos Theory in the first Jurassic Park movie, finds its own path regardless of its original source or expected outcome. Those coming to ØSC for the first time may find the prospect of improvised music that is reliant on the whims and moods of the musicians involved a little daunting and overwhelming but fear not you ØSC virgins as although this collective regularly reach out and touch the outer edges of musical form and structure they never linger there long, dragged back as much by their need to lock into a groove as their need to explore and experiment.

If your already a fan of ØSC then "Live In Berlin 2018" will reaffirm your reasons for loving what these guys do, if your a newbie to the band then this is as good an album as any to start your love affair.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 25 September 2018


The name Siberia, to those brought up on cold war stories and historic novels, conjures up images of extreme cold and long hard winters so music from a band hailing from that province might be expected to reflect a certain iciness in their music, wrong! WitchcultElena Cherepanova (vocals), Stanislav 'Brudywr' Ambartsumov (guitars), Anton Ryazantsev (bass) and Alexander Dvornikov (drums), hail from Inkutsk, Russia ,on the more temperate edges of Siberia, and their music although imbued with a certain doomic dankness also contains a warmth and charm that belies its place of origins chilly reputation, something their debut album "Bewitched Forest" is more than testament to.

That Witchcult arrive with a list of influences that not only includes the obligatory Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard but also that of the more psychedelic Allah Las and Holy Wave sort of tells its own story. Witchcult are a band whose grooves are as heady as they are heavy, an amalgamation of lysergic trippiness and bluesy swagger blended with a crunching dank core that sonically sits on the more doomic side of what we now call occult rock/metal. That dank core, provided by Ambartsumov's mix of crunching riffage and bluesy Iommic solo's, Ryazantsev's grizzled bass lines and Dvornikov's solid, tight percussion, is the heartbeat driving songs with titles like "Too Dead", "Witch's Potion" and "Amphibian Dawn", a heartbeat offset by Cherepanova's distinctive low key but effective vocals, the singer eschewing the usual ethereal tones associated with music of a doom/occult nature for a deeper, huskier delivery that is part singing, part intoned narrative.

Witchcult, with "Bewitched Forest" straddle the fence dividing doom from its more occult cousin, feet dangling tantalising either side, not quite one or the other yet a little of both.
Check 'em out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday 24 September 2018

OXEN ~ LOW ..... review

Heavy progressive metal music is not always an easy thing to pull off convincingly and when, as in Massachusetts power trio OXEN'S case, you add in to that mix  elements of sludgy brutality and dank doominess well then things get even harder. Thankfully OXEN have no difficulties in marrying these elements, and many more, together as the band prove to great effect on their brand new album "Low".

With a massive 16 tracks dwelling beneath it's cover " Low" delivers plenty of rock for your buck and in these days when cash doesn't go as far as we would like it to, that has got to be a bonus. "Low" starts on high note with "Phantom Limb", a huge sounding opus utilising a mix of clean mellow and gruff growled vocals over a backdrop of gigantic crunching riffage and complex rhythms, and doesn't stop delivering until "Shadow of Substance" fades noisily into silence. Comparisons could be made with both Georgia's Baroness and Florida's Torche but those comparisons would only be due to the fact that both bands toy with the same elements of melody and sludgy brutality that Oxen use to define their grooves, the truth is Oxen are very much their own creation. Scattered amongst their strong powerful harsh and melodic vocalised songs Oxen also manage to sneak in four instrumentals, entitled "I", "II", "III" and "IIII", each has it's own grainy psychedelic charm and heavy stonerized elegance and all four go a long way in showing that this talented trio are not just a one trick riff roaring pony. It is however those songs utilising the differing tonal vocals of each member that really seals the deal on "Low" with the already mentioned "Phantom Limb", the emotive "Strive" and the excellent "Rise of the Apprentice" being among Desert Psychlist's particular favourites.

Oxen are a band who, in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion, deserve to be mentioned in the same respectful breaths as their contemporaries Kylesa, Baroness, Black Tusk, Torche and even The Melvins, "Low" may just be the album to make that happen.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday 23 September 2018

SLUG 13 ~ CUT ..... review

Slug 13, a guitar and drum duo from the leafy backwaters of Surrey, England, have had a checkered history, the duo began life in the 90's as trio calling themselves Slug. Slug garnered praise from many quarters and shared stages with some of the period's prime movers and shakers before finally calling it a day in 1993. The band reconvened in 2013 but after losing two bassists in quick succession decided to forge ahead as a duo. Slug 13, Richard (drums) and Nick (guitar/vocals), are an angry band who voice their frustrations and fury through their music, a frustration and fury that is mirrored throughout the six tracks of their latest release "Cut",

Originally born out of the grunge/noise/alt.rock scene of the 90's Slug 13's more recent sonic experiments has seen the band leaning towards a more harder stonerized aesthetic a fact borne out by  the duo sharing stages with many of the stoner/hard rock and metal scenes established and up and coming bands. This is not to say that Slug 13 have gone through some sort of drastic musical change or altered their direction in any way, just that they have subtly tailored their sound so as to remain on top of their game and still be relevant. Anger fuelled much of Slug 13's original sonic attack and that anger remains a huge part of their sound today with the band going for the throat from the very first note of "Cut" to the very last. From the nihilistic jarring, jerking, riff heavy "Exit Stategy" to the fuzz drenched guitar noise and tribal beats of "Twenty Three" Slug 13's ethos seems to be one of attack before being attacked, the band assailing the senses with raging rap/rant metered type vocals served up over an unrelenting wall of furious distortion and fuzz driven hard by pummelling, powerful percussion.

Nihilistic, pessimistic and angry just about sums up the lyrical content of Slug 13's "Cut" yet despite this "Cut" is a highly enjoyable collection of songs that although might have you reaching for the ant-depressants will also have you hitting the repeat button.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday 17 September 2018

SHOGUN - INFINITET ..... review

When, in 2016, Wisconsin quartet Shogun released their self titled EP "Shogun EP" Desert Psychlist went a little overboard with, rightly deserved, praise for a release that at the time blew us away and is still doing so to this day, telling the world, via these pages, that their debut release was "something a little special". The band, Max Muenchow (bass guitar and synth), Alvin Vega (drums), Sam Wallman (guitars and synth) and Joe Widen (vocals), return to this year with a new release "Infinitet" so let's see if they can improve on "special"

As the droning intro, decorated with minimal acoustic guitars, synthesised bird calls and thunder, of first track "Ex Nihilo (Genesis)", makes way for an onslaught of filthily fuzzed bass and guitar, driven by thunderous percussion, the omen's for whether Shogun can take things to the next level look and sound very promising indeed. The first thing that becomes apparent, when listening to the four songs that make up "Infinitet", is that the bluesy proto-metal (ish) attack of the debut EP has not so much been replaced but has been given a more grittier and aggressive edge, an edge that is a little more metallic and doomic yet still retains an air of bluesy bluster and proto swagger at its core. Production-wise "Infinitet" is huge with Muenchow's big booming, grizzled bass lines and Wallman's filthy toned guitar riffs and scorching solo's coming out of the speakers like a hurricane especially when pushed by Vega's pounding, punishing percussion. It would take a strong vocalist to compete with the levels of sound Wallman, Muenchow and Vega emanate from their respective instruments and in Joe Widen they have a vocalist who is more than up to the task. Widen's phrasing, tone and emotive vocals sit atop Wallman, Muenchow and Vega's backdrops of grainy groove like cream on a razor blade, the frontman's distinctive tones having a gritty smoothness that belies their power and gives songs like "Rosebud", "Aurora","Metatron" and the afomentioned "Ex Nihilo (Genesis)" a soulful gravitas you might not usually expect from music pitched towards the heavier end of the rock spectrum.

So has "Infintet" delivered on the promise of Shogun's debut EP or has the band taken a backward step with the more aggressive and doomic dynamics of their new album? Well after repeated spins and living with "Infintet" for a while now Desert Psychlist can categorically state that where we described "Shogun EP" as a "little special", "Infinitet" is HUGELY special!
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday 16 September 2018


Back in the late 70's there was a division building up between those that loved their rock bluesy and hard and those that leant towards a more radio friendly commerciality in their grooves. but although battle lines were starting to be drawn up and barricades were slowly being erected one band seemed to galvanise opinion, that band was Bad Company, a group of musicians who successfully bridged the gap between the bluesy bluster of Led Zeppelin and Free and the more easy on the ear AOR meanderings of Journey and Foreigner  . So why ,when writing a piece on a fairly recent band, should we be mentioning one of the UK's finest exponents of mid paced radio acceptable rock?
Well the answer is Portland, OR's Ape Machine are very much a band from that old school of rock where the strength of your songs,melodies and arrangements are just as vitally important as the riffs and rhythms you use to decorate them, something that becomes glaringly obvious when listening to the bands fifth studio album "Darker Seas" (Ripple Music)

"Damned, Their Bones" opens "Darker Seas" account with oodles of bluesy swagger and classic rock bluster, vocalist Caleb Heinze telling us, in tones that sit somewhere between those of Free/Bad Co's Paul Rodgers and that of late Wild Turkey/Rick Wakeman Band frontman Gary Pickford-Hopkins, a cinematic tale of flight and fury over a backdrop of prog tinted swirling guitar (Ian Watts), booming liquid bass (Brian True) and solid punchy percussion (Steve Hanford). Ape Machine, however, are not content to just play the classic/hard rock card and bring into play elements of progressive texturing throughout "Darker Seas", fleshing out their grooves with these elements yet managing to do so without falling into the trap of technical overkill and overcomplication, creating more of a subtle prog colouring than a full blown technical wash. What makes "Darker Seas" really work though is that no song is overworked or overly long the band keeping songs like "Into The Shredder", "The Contract" and the excellent "Bend The Knee" all under the five minute mark with only "Watch What You Say" just creeping over by a second. This brevity of song length works twofold in that the listeners mind remains focused on each song without boredom or distraction getting in the way and that the band themselves are forced into to making their songs more immediate and impactful, something they do to startling effect throughout "Darker Seas" eleven tracks.

Why, you might be asking, are Desert Psychlist reviewing an album from a band whose music leans towards the more mainstream end rock when we could be telling you about the crushing riffs of say the new YOB or Conan opus? The reason dear readers is that good music is good music whether it is dressed in satin and tat or in cargo shorts and sweaty tee's and "Darker Seas" is damn good music!
Check it out …

© 2018 Frazer jones

Monday 10 September 2018


Back in 2015 Desert Psychlist wrote, during the course of reviewing a debut album by Athens, Ohio trio Druid, "We really hope this band manage to climb all the hurdles that road weariness, ego’s, music business politics etc. will inevitably throw in front of them, and that they will stick together, we would love to see how this band progresses", Words ,some might say, that had the potential to come back and bite us on the ass but thankfully Druid did stick together and did progress and that progression can be heard in every guitar chord, every bass note and every drum beat of the bands latest release "The Seven Scrolls".

The eight songs that make up "The Seven Scrolls" are broken down into chapters numbering one to seven with a brief and delightful instrumental acoustic interlude inserted between chapters six and seven entitled "Interlude (St. Patrick's Dance)". Lysergic and psychedelic are two words that come to mind while listening to "The Seven Scrolls", however that psychedelic vibe comes not from the modern school of psych, that is the current territory of bands like Earthless, Comet Control and to some extent Sergeant Thunderhoof and Merlin, but from the more pop-psych and progressive experimentations of the late 60's and early 70's, Druid hitting into a groove that sits somewhere between the folk/pop musings of pre-Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman UK proggers YES and the heady guitar fuelled lysergic outings of the USA's Quicksilver Messenger Service and Spirit. To Druid melody is just as an important factor as bite and there is plenty of both to be found among the "chapters" of this enthralling and spellbinding album, the melody coming courtesy of its wonderfully mellow vocal harmonies and transcendental grooves, the bite raising its head in the shape of its occasional, and sometimes sudden, shifts into heavier proto-metal territories.

Imagine taking some of the finest musicians from the psychedelic/prog crossover days of the sixties and seventies and placing them in a modern studio, with all its bells and whistles at their disposal, and telling them to make an album, the results, just might, arrive somewhere close to the sound Druid have achieved with their latest album "The Seven Scrolls"
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday 8 September 2018

GRUSOM ~ II ...... review

Denmark's GrusomNicolaj Hoffmann Jul (vocals), Jakob Kaae (drums), Dennis Warburg (guitar), Thomas Ulrik (guitar), Søren Olesen (bass) and Peter Pørtner (keys), have a sound that once heard is never forgotten, the band hit a groove that is part early 70's classic rock and part progressive folk and part bluesy bluster, a groove that is undeniably retro yet is still very much contemporary and current. The band have released a steady stream of EP's and tracks as well as a well received debut album "Grusom" and have just released their second full length album  "II" (Kozmik Artifactz)

Grusom have been described as sounding like a hybrid between Swedish hard rock bluesters Graveyard and North American 60's legends The Doors and although it is easy to see why those comparisons have been made Grusom are a band who have many more strings to their collective bows. Grusom are a band with a heavy and distinctive  keyboard presence and sooner or later any band with that presence will get lumped in with either The Doors or Deep Purple, the spirits of both Jon Lord and Ray Manzarek do hover around the edges of many of the tunes on Grusom's latest release but there is a far more doomic feel to the way Portner uses his ivories. Portner's keys swell and swoon beneath Ulrick and Warberg's crunching riffs and bluesy solo's an give songs like "Skeletons" and "Embers" a truly "classic rock" feel yet one that is very much informed by the stoner/hard rock and doom of today thanks, in part, to the huge rhythmic platforms provided by Oleson and Kaae, the bassist and drummer laying down huge and diverse rhythmic foundations for Ulrick, Warberg and Portner to decorate with their respective instrumental colourings and textures. When faced with grooves that carry even a hint of "classic rock" in their arsenal you need a vocalist who can match those grooves with clarity and power and in Hoffmann Jul Grusom have a vocalist of true calibre. Hoffman Jul is a vocalist who may not possess the bluesy holler of a Robert Plant, the soulful howl of a Steve Marriott or the smooth bluesy gravitas of a Paul Rogers but what he lacks in those departments he more than makes up for with his gravelly phrasing and forceful, at times almost folkish, delivery and tone.

"II" is a stunning return from a band who had already converted many to their cause with their 2015 debut "Grusom", and if you dug that release then your going to go batshit for this one
Check it out ….. © 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday 6 September 2018

CRUA-CHAN ~ CRUA-CHAN ... review

From the outside it may look like Desert Psychlist is entering September on some sort of South/Central American mission, this is not by design just the result of a series of stunning releases simultaneously hitting our desks from that part of the world.
The latest Latin American tome to present itself at StonerKing Towers comes from an Argentinian three piece going by the name Crua-Chan, the Buenos Aries based band, consisting of Christian Garis (drums), Jorge Patiño (bass/vocals) and David Dos (guitar/vocals), take their influences from a wide spectrum of rocks elite and the underground's cult heroes, influences that range from Alice In Chains and Los Natas to Mastodon and Megadeth, however despite those influences the band have settled on a sound that is very much their own as can be heard on the bands self-titled debut "Crua-Chan".

As a non Spanish speaking reviewer Desert Psychlist has no knowledge of what themes or subject matter Crua-Chan cover on the seven tracks presented here, but that no way detracts from their impact. Let's be honest, half the time we who frequent the musical recesses of rock's underground can't understand many of the lyrics we come across even when they are in English so the fact that Crua-Chan's lyrics are sang in their native tongue should not be a problem, at the end of the day all that matters is the tone and the vibe. Those tones are perfectly executed throughout "Crua-Chan" and are delivered with throaty gusto against a backdrop of heavy blackened stoner metal that has a huge emphasis on rhythm. Christian Garis drives Crua-Chan's grooves with an incredible display of percussive might, ably supported by Jorge Patiño's grizzled, growling bass lines, David Dos layering the combined results with a mixture of dark doomic power chords, searing psychedelic solo's and complex neo-classical shredding.

"Crua-Chan" is a dark forceful collection of songs and grooves that, whether you speak Spanish or not, have a drive and sonic impact that is hard to ignore. The bands sound, although sitting on the stoner side of the metal spectrum, has a blackened edge that could well appeal to those with harsher, more extreme tastes.
Check it out …..
© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 4 September 2018


"Music,beer and fine herbs" is the mantra Mexican doomsters The Tronautas march to and we are fairly confident in guessing that those "fine herbs" are not likely to be parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme. Hailing from Matamoros, on the southern banks of the Rio Grande, The Tronautas are a trio comprising of Raco: (guitar and vocals), Mr.SelfDestruct: (drums) and Radiobot: (bass and synths) who have just released their debut EP "Olovorgo", a four song collection dealing with subjects that include the hypocrisy and piousness of organized religion and the effects and causes of loss and depression.

With tags, gracing the bottom edges of their Bandcamp page, ranging from doom metal through to post-hardcore you would expect The Tronautas debut to be somewhat of a full on noisy affair with vocals to match, and musically/instumentally to some extent that is exactly what you get, however vocally "Olovorgo" is somewhat of a melodic outing. When we say melodic we are not talking ethereal or sweet however, Raco retains an element of gruffness in his clean tones but they are delivered perfectly pitched and with a clarity not usually associated with this genre of music. Raco tells us of "the last days of the fading sun" ("Last Days"), laments that "salvation comes but for a price" ("My God") and tells us life is "crushing my soul apart" ("Eternal Gloom") against a backdrop of diverse and powerful rhythms, expertly provided by Radiobot's thrumming bass and Mr. SelfDestruct's thunderous percussion. over which the vocalist/guitarist adds crunching dark toned riffage and scorching lead work. The Tronautas save the best for last however in the shape of "To Destroy A Beautiful Thing", a prog flecked tome with a heartfelt lyric that perfectly highlights each members instrumental contribution both individually and as a unit.

Complex and intense grooves wrapped around dark themes layered with warm melodic edges makes The Tronautas' "Olovorgo" not only a highly enjoyable listen but one that also makes you think.
Check it out...

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday 2 September 2018

SATTA CAVEIRA ~ MMI ..... review

"Recorded live in the home studio with no clicks, additions or overdubs" reads the legend on Satta Caveira's Bandcamp page and given the intensity and musical impact of the bands latest release "MMI" maybe more bands should give this approach a whirl.

Gonzalo Void (drums), Jonatan Emilio (bass) and Cristian Villagra (guitar) are Satta Caveira, a trio from San Miguel, Argentina with a penchant for jamming grooves of a heavy psychedelic nature, something they have been doing to great effect from their formation back in 2014. Now lysergic flavoured instrumental heavy rock coming out of the bowels of the South American continent will come as no surprise to those who follow that continents underground scene, there seems to be a plethora of South American bands who just seem to have that knack of making non-vocalised music come alive and feel more vibrant and vital. Satta Caveira sit high on that list of Latin America's exponents of the instrumental jam, the bands mix of heavy downer rock and lysergic experimentation, blended with elements of jazz fusion and downtuned spacy funk, coming over as heady and loose as it does gnarly and tight. Over the course of the eight songs, that make up "MMI", Satta Caveira take their listeners on a rollercoaster ride through a plethora of moods and  emotions, cleverly using elements of light and shade to accentuate those feelings and in doing so give their listeners a wholly satisfying and truly rewarding experience.

Sprawling and experimental yet at the same time solid, heavy and gnarly Satta Caveira's "MMI" blends Floydian lysergic texturing with Karma To Burn like instrumental stoner oomph and arrives at a sound that sits somewhere between the two yet at the same time is wholly original and fresh.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones