Monday 30 September 2019


"Proud Mary", "Bad Moon Rising", Up Around The Bend" and "Run Through the Jungle" bring to mind one band and that band are California's Creedence Clearwater Revival. a quartet who despite their West Coast origins jammed grooves of a more southern persuasion, songs that referenced swamps, bayous and catfish rather than the sun, sand and sea of their home. Why, you may ask, are we mentioning this? Well the answer to that comes from the mouth of Southbound Snake Charmers vocalist/guitarist Topher Denman who when notifying Desert Psychlist of the imminent arrival of his bands new EP "To The Bone" added to his message " I feel we went really Creedence with this one", a bold statement you may say, so time to find out if they did.

Denman along with Nat Sutphin (bass) and Brooke Maloney (drums) do not only capture the sound of CCR on "To The Bone" they damn near become them, ok that maybe a bit of an overstatement but if you played a CCR greatest hits album and then followed it with "Through The Smoke" and "Playin' With Fire", the first two tracks of this nifty slice of swampy blues grooviness, you would be hard pushed to tell where one band started and the other finished. Everything from guitar tones to rhythmic execution has that authentic late 60's early 70's analogue feel something that deserves a big thumbs up to the team at Ash Ravens Music who produced, mixed and mastered "To The Bone" It's not all CCR worship however there is a strong Hendrix vibe to the excellent "No Land" with its wah drenched guitar motifs and powerful bass and drum accompaniment and "My Crazy" could easily be mistaken for an outtake from Quicksilver Messenger Service's legendary "Happy Trails" album. The EP is filled out by two new remastered versions of tracks that appeared on previous releases, "Ride On" (originally released on Voodoo Chicken Shack) and Don't Speak To Soon (originally released on Rythmn'n'Rust) both get the same retro production treatment that the newer songs get and sound all the better for that.

Desert Psychlist has mentioned three bands that may or may not have inspired the sound and direction of "To The Bone" but don't be fooled in to thinking that this is some sort of tribute to those artists. Soutbound Snake Charmer put their own personal stamp over each and every one of these songs on offer, putting their own twist on things and making certain their own identity shines through on songs that although may have a certain familiarity are nonetheless new, fresh and exciting.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 29 September 2019


When asked about their influences desert/stoner rock pioneers Kyuss once replied that they were more inspired by Black Flag than they were Black Sabbath, this is not surprising as stoner rock, in its early stages, had a lot more in common with punk rock than probably any other genre, both stoner/desert rock and punk were born from a dissatisfaction with the musical climates surrounding them and both rock sub-genres started their lives at a grass root level.
Texas quartet Mortales, Lucas Indrikovs (lead vocals/rhythm guitar); Michael Munoz (lead guitar/vocals); Luis Roa (bass); Brett Hanrahan (drums), don't call themselves a punk band neither do they say they are a stoner rock band but you would have to be severely hearing impaired to not pick up on the elements of both within their grooves. The band skirt around the issue of genre classification by describing their mix of punk, stoner metal and hard rock as "gnarcore", and the spirit behind their grooves as something they like to call "The Gnar". If you want to find out what "gnarcore" sounds like and to see if "The Gnar" grows strong in you too then we suggest you give the bands second album "Death Rattle Valley" a spin.

"Warhead" kicks off "Death Rattle Valley" and totally justifies Desert Psychlist's intro to this review by hurtling out of the speakers in an explosion of punkish venom, raucous chugging powerchords and in your face rhythms coated in gritty, almost shouted, vocal tones, the fact that it has a middle section that jams a more stoner(ish) psych vibe adding even more credence to our original observations. The band initially bring things down a notch or two for next track "Hostility of a Bomb" by relying on a slow. low heavily fuzzed groove to build up an air of a brooding atmosphere, restraint however is not one of Mortales greatest assets and its not long before things take a more raucous turn and the band take off on a throbbing fuzz drenched hard rock groove decorated in a mix of gravel throated lead and harmonised vocals  the song switching back and forth between these two dynamics before finally checking out on a wave of fizzing, popping electronic noise. "Psilocyborg" finds Mortales donning  their psychedelic robes and matching them with dark doomic headwear while "Bring All Your Fire" has them decking themselves out in attire more appropriate for a party in the desert. "Bricks" follows and here the vocals take on a smoother less abrasive tone that perfectly matches the songs heady blend of doomic stoner metal and galloping hard rock. Next up is "Golem" a song that can't quite make its mind up if its a punk, stoner or surf rock and ends up a little bit of all of them. Finally we arrive at the last track of the album and, for Desert Psychlist, the best of the bunch, "Nazareth" is a bluesy, doomic and atmospheric tome with an epic feel, if you have had trouble finding that element the band like to call "The Gnar" on this albums previous songs you should have no problem finding it here, as Star Wars Jedi Yoda might say "Strong is The Gnar in this"

"Death Rattle Valley" is an uncompromising, unclassifiable and  unbelievably good album from a band who are unafraid to forge their own musical path regardless of where that path may take them. Mortales might call what they do "gnarcore" you might want to call it something else, Desert Psychlist calls it essential listening.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday 27 September 2019


Nashville's Howling Giant, Tom Polzine (guitar/vocals); Zach Wheeler (drums/vocals) and Sebastian Baltes (bass/vocals), should be no strangers to those with their fingers pressed firmly on the pulse of underground rock, the band having released a mightily impressive series of EP's that have dazzled and delighted fans from right across the rock spectrum. This year the band decided to go that extra mile and release a full album and not content to just deliver a normal album they have made it a concept album! Welcome to "The Space Between Worlds".(Blues Funeral Recordings)

It is best to allow Howling Giant to explain the concept behind "The Space between Worlds".... "The Space Between Worlds is a concept album that follows the story of a huntress who travels the infinite metaphysical worlds brought into being by the dreams of humankind. In these realms, she encounters a dream eater which threatens to unravel the fabric of reality by devouring dreamers and destroying the dimensional gateways". Now Desert Psychlist could try to explain how each song interconnects with the next but that would be taking half the fun out of things for you the listener, instead we are going to talk about the overall effect of the album as a musical piece. Concept or not there is no getting away from the fact that "The Space Between Worlds" is a stunning album executed by musicians of the highest calibre, an audial feast for the ears that although leans towards the progressive end of the rock spectrum is saved from the usual over complex and over technical pitfalls of that genre by also having an element of swing and melody. Songs with titles like "Comet Rider", "The River Guide" and "The Orb" are not bereft of complexity and instrumental intricacy, far from it, it is just that they are balanced out with old fashioned crunch and swagger as well as a fair modicum of lighter elements such as three part vocal harmonies and lilting acoustic passages. Howling Giant also keep a tight rein on duration times, only the emotive and undulating "Everlight" comes close to the eight minute mark, thus ensuring that no one song ever overstays its welcome and becomes overblown and indulgent.

Bands like Elder, All Them Witches and Merlin have all been successful, on differing levels, in getting their music out there and heard by people who might not have ever listened to a supposedly underground band before, due partly to their musicality but also due to their courage in not playing it safe. On the evidence of "The Space Between Worlds" Desert Psychlist sees no reason why Howling Giant should not be included on that list.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 22 September 2019


Proto -metal, the sub-genre that once bridged the gap between the heavy blues of the mid to late 60's and the steadily growing metallic heaviness of the 70's was, and still is, considered mainly the territory of American and British bands however in recent years proto-flavoured metal has seen somewhat of a resurgence in popularity and with that resurgence the emergence of bands from as far afield as Malaysia and Peru. Russia may not be considered as exotic as those two just mentioned but the proto bug is endemic there too and runs feverishly hot through the veins of a little band going by the name of Scarecrow, a proto doomic combo from  the Russian province of Perm who have just released their self-titled debut "Scarecrow" via Bandcamp.

Scarecrow grew up listening to a soundtrack of 70's British heavy rock but are also quick to cite classical, folk and psychedelic music as major influences in shaping their sound, this heady mixture of musical styles combined with a penchant for throwing in sampled sound bytes of tolling bells and animal noises does tend to steer the bands sound towards the Sabbathesque but let's be honest when has that ever been a problem. Having said this first track "Scarecrow Overture", a haunting orchestral piece that would not sound out of place as the soundtrack to a horror movie, is as probably as far away from Sabbathesque as it is possible to get. Cello's and violins stand aside for more traditional rock instrumentation for next track "The Journey" and here we get the full "proto" treatment with Scarecrow nailing down, replete with searing guitar solos and parping harmonica, a groove that could easily be mistaken for being an outtake from Sabbath's first album if it were not for the vocalists high wailing, Burke Shelley (Budgie) meets Geddy Lee (Rush), vocal stylings. "The Final Problem" follows and although has a tint of proto doom about it leans more towards the blues, albeit a very dark and heavy blues. Next up is "When The Powers Of Evil Are Exalted" and here is where Scarecrow begin to show us their psychedelic side with lilting flute weaving and wending its magic around lysergic textured guitar colouring, huge booming bass and a mixture of busy and laid back percussion. "Worms Of Anger" finds Scarecrow jamming a more old school hard rock groove that recalls  distant memories of listening to UK's so called "second division" bands May Blitz and Stray. Things take a turn for the tranquil with "Autumn Wood" a beautiful laid back and chilled semi-ballad with a mix of folk and jazz undertones. Things return to some semblance of normality with "Madman" a mid tempo tome around which orchestral flourishes trade off with low slung doomic riffs and rhythms, the singer telling a harrowing tale of getting "lost in hallucination" and being "caught in a tragic situation". Title track "Scarecrow" closes proceedings and once again utilises orchestral elements to enhance its sonic impact, the song beginning with haunting lone piano then slowly building in layers until finally exploding into a fully fledged, traditional flavored, doom monster decorated in swirling guitar solo's and soaring vocal colouring, the song a fitting finale to a superbly crafted album.

"Scarecrow" is an outstanding debut that not only nods its head towards the giants of the rock age, like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but also those lesser giants that nipped constantly at the bigger giants ankles, acts like Iron Claw, May Blitz, Budgie and Warhorse, To do this yet at the same retain your own identity and sound fresh, vital and of today is a feat well worth applauding.
Check 'em out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Friday 20 September 2019


"Dig that groove", Get your groove on" are sentences we have all read somewhere or even said ourselves but what is "groove", well the dictionary definition for groove in music describes it as "a particular rhythm in popular or jazz music". but it is in truth  much more than that. Groove is that undefinable quality in music that moves you both physically and emotionally and that speaks to something deep inside of you, it may make you want to dance, it may make you want nod sagely in unison with its rhythms it may make you want throw your fists in the air and in some cases it even may make you want to do something a little more sexual. Groove is a many headed beast and French trio Moozoonsii have it in abundance, check out their self-tiled debut  EP "Moozoonsii" if you don't believe us..

Let's begin with a might want to adjust the volume on your favourite mode of listening when spinning "Moozoonsii" as this is one powerful EP, both in impact and in volume. Right warning over let's get down to the nitty gritty of why you should purchase, or at the very least give a listen to, this seven track instrumental noise fest. The first reason is the technical mastery of its participants, Basile Chiariello (Guitar), Raphaël S-drafo (bass) and Matthieu Bellemere (drums) are consummate musicians with an almost telepathic understanding of each others parts in the whole, Chiariello's guitar work, a mix of crunching chord progressions and complex convoluted solo's, is the first thing listeners will pick up on and it is his contributions that shapes the majority of the EP's seven songs, let's however not take nothing away from his band mates contributions as S-drafo and Bellemere's input is just as strong and just as vital to Moozoonsii's sound. When S-drafo is not shadowing Chiariello's complex and intricate guitar forays with his own just as complex bass work he is locking in with Bellemere's percussion, the drummer also playing his part by driving his colleagues on with a Herculean, must be heard to be believed, display of rhythmic power, From opener "Tarantula Hawk" to closing track "Earthquake" Moozoonsii give no quarter nor take any prisoners, like an unstoppable force of nature the band lay waste to all before them with the intensity of their musical attack, a musical tsunami of technical complexity and feral aggression blended together in perfect harmony

If your looking for moments of gentle reflection and calm passages of musical serenity then "Moozoonsii" is probably not going to be your first port of call however if you want to feel like your plummeting down from the highest point of a rollercoaster ride over and over again then this is the EP for you,
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday 16 September 2019


Regular perusers of Desert Psychlist's pages will already know we have a soft spot for instrumental heavy psych and those same readers will also know that Puerto Rico's Iglesia Atomica are one of our favourite exponents of that particular sub-genre. Given that information you can understand why we were super stoked to receive a message recently from Iglesia Atomica's bassist/keyboardist Agustin Criollo informing us of the release of an album of unreleased outtakes recorded live in the studio and released under the auspicious banner  "The Jim Jones Kool-Aid Acid Test, Vol.1"

When approaching any music labelled as "outtakes" one cannot help but be suspicious, we have probably all shelled out for a deluxe version of a classic album purporting to contain essential outtakes and unreleased tracks only to find out that the reason they never made the album in the first place was because they were essentially crap! No need to worry on that score with "...Vol 1" as although songs like "Ritual", "Nube de Oort" and "Astral Variations" are labelled as "outtakes" the albums five tracks are more like improvised jams, songs that may have had some semblance of formal structure at one time in their lives but are here stretched, twisted, deconstructed and then reconstructed into entities in their own right. There is also a rawness here you don't usually associate with Iglesia Atomica, gone is the gloss and sheen that is usually associated with their releases and it is replaced by a more organic, a more feral in the moment feel, Agustin Criollo's bass sounding grittier and growlier, Martin Latimer's guitar work harsher slightly deeper toned and Herb Pérez's percussion unrestrained and wild. Being mostly a live in the studio recording you would expect mistakes to be made and to Iglesia Atomica's credit they don't try to hide these mistakes, misplaced notes, exuberant shouts, accidental rimshots the occasional electronic buzz and unintentional feedback all make an appearance here and there but somehow that adds to the albums overall appeal rather than detracts from it.

Whether intended to document their improvisational skills as musicians or just a way of getting out there some tunes they believed in but could not find a place for on an "official" album "The Jim Jones Kool-Aid Test, Vol.1" is a stunning, if somewhat raw, collection of heavily improvised psych and experimental space rock that is easily one of the best "outtake" releases you are likely to hear this year, or for that matter any year.
Check it out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 15 September 2019

SATURNA ~ ATLANTIS ..... review

Saturna, hail from Barcelona, Spain and have been steadily making a name for themselves in underground circles by releasing a steady stream of high quality and extremely listenable albums since forming in 2010. Over the years the bands line up has changed but the bands commitment for creating strong melodic heavy rock has not, something that can be discovered by giving their latest album "Atlantis" a spin.

If you like your music gritty, a little stonerized but still hanker for old school elements like groove and melody then you may well have stumbled onto your new favourite band. Saturna are not a doom band neither are they what you could consider a stoner rock band, although they do harness aspects from both genres in their sound, Saturna are a "rock band" in the old tradition of the term, a band who can crunch out raucous riffs and pummeling rhythms with the best of 'em but can at the same time tug at your heart strings with the soulfulness and emotional gravitas of their compositions. From the chugging hard rock of opening track "Black Purple" to the heavy blues drenched closer "Distant Shores" there is not note wasted, a vocal thrown away or a beat misplaced as the band take you back to a time when trouser bottoms were a little wider and rock ruled the musical world. The fact that Saturna  do this without falling into the trap of sounding "retro" or nostalgic is down to the freshness and vitality they bring to the table, the band serving up classic recipes laid out on a brand new tablecloth.

There are surprisingly very few albums that can truly be considered "all killer no filler", most releases will contain at least one or two songs that do not quite reach the mark of the other songs they are surrounded by but when one of these rare albums does appear, where every track is on a level playing field with its neighbours, then it is something to be savoured and lauded. Saturna's latest opus "Atlantis" is one such album, the Spanish four piece combo have excelled themselves and created one of the "must have" releases of 2019.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 8 September 2019


Something evil approaches ….
Mark Grillo (guitar/vocals); Michael Livathinopoulos (drums) and Julian Agneta (bass/keyboards) are that something evil and they approach us under the collective banner of Iron Rider. They come, with barely concealed sardonic grins and dark glints in eyes, from Brooklyn, New York and try to fool us, in convincing tones, that they are "an old fashioned bluesy doom band", don't be hoodwinked by their claims, one listen to their horror themed debut "Wondering If You're In Hell By Now" will convince you they are not!

Of course given their claim to be at heart an old fashioned blues band Iron Rider need to keep up the pretence by presenting to the listener something that does retain, at least, a semblance of bluesy delta flavouring and they do this with "I'll Find You" a dark, low slung instrumental that although has its roots in the blues is unlike any blues you might hear coming from a Saturday night roadhouse bar band. This is a twisted, gnarled version of the blues played by a band who sound as if they are auditioning for a residency as the house band in Hades. The mask begins to slip on next track "Drifter" the trio jamming a heavy doomic groove underpinned by deep boneshaking bass and thunderous percussion over which low strung guitar adds dark textures and colours. Vocals rear their head for the first time and here is where any bluesy illusions still remaining are blown clear out of the water, Mark Grillo does not roar like Howling Wolf, he sounds like a howling wolf or at least some hellish, demonic version of one, his vocal not quite a guttural growl nor quite a spectral screech but sitting somewhere in between, clean yet at the same time harsh. Things calm down a little with "An Old Low" the band settling into a hazy low, slow doom groove around which lysergic six-string texturing is lovingly applied, the songs vocals this time taking on a more maniacal tone. "Bonfire" follows almost immediately and by now the blues that were at the root of the albums first track are almost a distant memory and we find the band hitting into a thundering instrumental that throbs and pulses with latent menace. Funky WAH drenched guitar introduces "Beg" and suddenly we are briefly plummeted into something that resembles blues territory but Iron Rider being Iron Rider it is not long before they are banging up sludge shaped fencing around the landscape and turning the place into a vision of hell. "Justice" closes out "Wondering If You're In Hell By Now", the band finishing things off nicely with a dark dank stoner doomic instrumental with subtle Sabbathesque undertones.

"Wondering If You're In Hell By Now" is the question, the answer is yes you are, now unpack your bags and make yourself at home.
Check it out … 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday 2 September 2019


"Warlock Rock" is not a genre you maybe familiar with but if Lafayette based Louisiana four piece Ole English have their way it will be one you will be actively seeking out in the future. The band, Lynden Segura (vocals/guitar); Nick Harvey (vocals/guitar); Magnolia June (bass) and Austin Wood (drums), describe what they do as "preserving the lineage forged by dynasties such as Black Sabbath, Kyuss, The Sword and Soundgarden", its a bold statement to make and one that could well backfire if it doesn't hold water, let's see if it does.

"Hooks... write them and they will come" could well be the thinking behind the first track to be presented on "Ole English" for here is a song with more "hooks" than a high school cloakroom, curly little guitar licks tagged on to the end of crunching riffs that immediately grab your attention and pull you further into the songs raucous groove and when you ally those hooks with the strong throaty vocals and pulsating rhythms that they decorate well who could blame you for sticking around. "Old Man" is the next track to raise its head and what a wonderfully gnarly head it is full of chugging metallic swagger and bluesy bluster and blessed with a clean powerful voice. "Heel" follows and has a groove pitched at the punkier end of the stoner rock spectrum both vocally and musically, however its not long before Ole English's blues rock credentials begin to show and the band close the song with a high energy stonerized heavy blues jam. Those blues credentials surface again on "Visions of Ghana" a song built around a "Dazed and Confused" type bass line that, much like the Led Zeppelin song, builds and builds until it takes on a life all of  its own and morphs into something completely different from what it started out as, in this case a heavily atmospheric doomic tome. "Holy Roller" closes out "Ole English" with a gritty rocker driven by booming bass and tight, solid percussion around which a mixture of crunching refrains and soaring off kilter solos are lavishly delivered, however that is not the whole story as things take an unexpected turn mid -song, the band taking things to a close on a plodding low slow doomic groove decorated in guitar textures that would not sound out of place gracing a 1960's spaghetti western.

"Ole English" is a great album but one that is slightly schizophrenic, an album where listeners are bombarded with grooves that run the whole gamut of underground rock, one minute you are nodding along to a Sasquatch type proto-metallic groove the next your being blitzed by some heavy blues with stoner doomic undertones, this however is not a criticism but a testimony to the diversity on display here, Ole English do not push boundaries they smash them to pieces.
Check 'em out ....

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 1 September 2019


Desert Psychlist could probably write a short novel on the various line-ups that have made up California's Albatross Overdrive since their formation in 2004 (they were just Albatross back then), so in order not to send you fast to sleep we will just say there have been a few. The present line up of Art Campos (vocals); Rodney Peralta (drums); Andrew Luddy (guitar); Derek Phillips (guitar) and Mark Abshire (bass) have been fairly stable since 2017 (but with this bands record that could all change before you reach the end of this review) and have just released their third album "Ascendant"

First tracks are an important part of any album, grab your listeners attention with something that is immediate and powerful and you more or less guarantee that he/she will be sticking around for the duration of your opus. Albatross Override begin "Ascendant" with a beauty called "On The Ledge" a full on no holds barred hard rocker with a feel not dissimilar to that of later period Thin Lizzy, albeit flecked with a little southern stonerized grittiness. Of course "On The Ledge" is not the best track on "Ascendant", it would be foolish to send in your elite troops first, but it does show that this is a band who intend to win the battle. "The Sleeper" follows next and dials up the intensity by initially going in harder and heavier but then confuses things by falling back into a hazy, almost lysergic, heavy blues with swirling guitar solo's and soulful grainy vocals underpinned by an intense and thunderous rhythmic groove. Title track "Ascendant" fizzes with vigour and energy and jams a groove that blends the bands already mentioned Thin Lizzy vibe with that of one more akin to that of Australian hard rock merchants Electric Mary which by anyone's book is no bad thing. Earlier we were talking best tracks and for Desert Psychlist "Come Get Some" is the cherry on the cake, the diamond in the rough, a song that is emotional and powerful, a song that in its early stages has a strong Bad Company vibe but then morphs into a humongous guitar screaming hard rock monster as it nears its conclusion. Up next "Live, Love, Laughter" boasts a spluttering heavily fuzzed groove around which vocals tell us to "live for tomorrow" and "love every day" while "Undecided" finds the band hitting a groove that listeners will be inadvertently humming long after the album has finished. "Pity Pie" closes "Ascendant" not, as might be expected, with an all guns blazing sweaty rocker but with a more restrained soulful lament, an emotion racked torch song with a swaggering bluesy undercurrent.

More classic rock than it is stoner, more Bad Company than it is Kyuss "Ascendant" is an album that sits somewhere between mainstream rock and its heavier underground cousin, an album that will appeal to fans of both but also to those whose allegiances may lie further afield..
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones