Monday 30 December 2019

KRÖWNN ~ BLÜEDEEP .... review

Having only released one EP and two full albums since their formation in 2012 it is pretty safe to say that Italy's Kröwnn cannot be called the most prolific of bands, however quantity doesn't always mean quality and Kröwnn's output, though sparse, has always been of the very highest calibre. The bands third release "Bluedeep" may have been a long time in the making (its been 5 years since the band released "Magmafrost") but the wait has been well worth the while. as hopefully you will soon discover for yourselves..

Michele el Lello Carnielli (vocals, guitar) Nicola el Borda Bordignon (guitar) Silvia Selvaggia Rossato (bass) and Elena Fiorenzano (drums) are Kröwnn and together they make a noise that, although initially inspired by the likes of Black Sabbath, Sleep and Electric Wizard, has evolved over time into something much, much  more. Kröwnn, unlike those bands mentioned, take their lyrical inspirations and themes not from war, weed and wizardry but from literature, video games, TV and film, the bands lyrics just as likely to reference George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones as they are Lovecraft or Wheatley. Musically Kröwnn jam grooves that are dark, atmospheric and heavy however when Desert Psychlist says "heavy" we don't mean a continuous onslaught of bludgeoning distortion and fuzz (although there is plenty of that to enjoy) what we mean is in the levels of intensity and density that the band bring to the altar table. Amidst the powerful clean vocals, huge rhythms and crunching refrains,that permeate every pore of songs such as "Drowning", Draquaariis" and "Shore Hag" can also be found underlying elements of subtlety and finesse, these elements, although not glaringly obvious, work as a counter-balance to all the intense heaviness Kröwnn bring to the fore and result in "Bluedeep"  being a much more rounded and richly rewarding listening experience, albeit still a very heavy and intense one. 

We may have had to wait five years for Kröwnn to finally deliver something new to our ears but Desert Psychlist would happily wait another five years if the bands next album is anywhere near as sonically mind blowing and jaw-droppingly magnificent as "Bluedeep" is.
Check it out …. 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Thursday 26 December 2019

BUZZURD ~ JOIN THE WAKE ..... review

From the Lone Star State comes a sound almost as big as region it was birthed, a sound  that is doomic dank and dark and deals lyrically with issues we sometimes might not want to face up to, issues of the mind, both mental and physical. The orchestrators of this sound are a four piece combo,
Richard Loew (vocals); Daniel Anderson (guitar); Ryan James (bass) and Colin Drake (drums), who call themselves Buzzurd, three of whom are Texans and one an Englishman born in Bow, East London. The quartet jam a groove that blends elements of stoner rock's heavy fuzziness with elements of traditional doom's bleak dank atmospherics and in doing so create a sound that is as raucous as it is expansive, a sound that can be experienced first hand by spinning their latest EP "Join The Wake"

Desert Psychlist has had some experience dealing with the subject of  Buzzurd's first track on "Join The Wake", "Dementia" so the lyrics, seemingly taken from the perspective of a sufferer, somewhat resonate with us. "Within myself imprisoned" sings Loew in rich clean tones over a backdrop dominated by James thundering bass and anchored by Drake's drums, the percussionists clever use of cymbals giving the song an underlying shimmer not usually associated with music of a more doomic nature. Anderson's guitar initially takes somewhat of a backseat on this track, the guitarist mostly content to support the bass with crunching chordal work but on the rare occasions he does step into the spotlight, letting rip with a searing solo or a swirling motif, he takes things to a whole new level of doomic delight. "Eyes of Madness" follows and deals with that more visceral, violent side of mental instability, here we find  Anderson's guitar taking a much more prominent role, the guitarist breaking through James and Drake's huge wall of rhythmic groove to compliment Loew's impassioned vocal with searing lead breaks and tasteful chordal colouring. "The Hunt" turns up the heat a notch or two and finds Loew adding a little gnarly grittiness to his tone while Drake, James and Anderson counter this by laying down a groove that alternates between heavy old school doom and classic heavy metal albeit with an element of alt/metal twitchiness thrown in for good measure. "Babylon River" closes proceedings and finds the band hitting into a groove that if it wasn't for brief episodes of doomic dankness could easily be confused as being pure stoner rock.

Buzzurd are a band treading fine lines, a fine line between traditional doom and old school metal, a fine line between stoner rock and its metallic stonerized cousin and a fine line between being bright and raucous and being dark and atmospheric. It is this dichotomy of dynamics that actually works in Buzzurd's favour, they are not one thing or the other but all of those things together, an amalgamation of metallic old school swagger and new school gnarliness all fused together in one gloriously schitzophrenic but totally enjoyable whole.
Check 'em out …..

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday 23 December 2019


Well here we are again another year over and once again the underground rock scene has outdone itself, a seemingly endless array of old favourites and sparkling new kids on the block have been releasing albums and EP's over the last year, so many so that at times its been hard to keep up and that's despite the efforts of the scenes movers and shakers, PR's firms, record labels and the bands themselves doing their best to inform of us of anything worthy of note. With the end of another year also comes the expectation of those end of year lists we all love to peruse and pour over, now last year (2018) Desert Psychlist was pilloried for including a couple of releases that landed late from the previous year (2017), albums that narrowly missed our cut off point, we will not be making that mistake again and this years list of 25 albums will be picked solely from those released in 2019!
These picks are Desert Psychlist's favourites from 2019, they may not be your favourites but hey that's the name of the game, anyway here we go....

25. InterAltar ~ III
Inner Altar have ,with "Vol, III", taken traditional doom into territories it may not have previously visited, this is not a bad thing, genre's need to be challenged so as to evolve and Inner Altar are a band evolving at an alarming rate.

24. Skunk ~ Strange Vibration
Proto-metallic grooves with a underlying air of funkiness, vocals might be an acquired taste for some, John McKelvy's voice has a unique helium toking quality, but once you get acclimatised to them they actually work rather well.

23. Kook ~ III
Kook take the best from all your favourite genres throw it all in the air and use what lands to make one unholy delightful noise!

22. Sabba ~ Pentacle
Superb atmospheric dark dank doomic/occult grooves overlaid with ethereal vocal tones

21. Noise Factor ~ The Raven EP
Imagine Pagan Altar jamming with USA cult melodic 70's rockers Ashbury and you might just get a handle on what Noise Factor are all about.

20. Crypt Trip ~ Haze County
Crypt Trip have with "Haze County" finally shook off the stoner/hard rock tag, that had many mentioning them in the same breaths as Sweden's Graveyard and Witchcraft , and have embraced the roots of their own countries musical history

19. The Red Widows ~ Fuzzifixion
The Red Widows evolution from a damn good proto-metal/doom band to an ass kicking dank,dark stoner doom outfit is complete, here is the proof.


18. Lord Vicar ~ The Black Powder
If ever you should feel the mantle of doom is being snatched from the grasp of the scenes elders by the genres growlers and screamers then put this doomic diamond on and know that real doom still exists and is doing very nicely 

17. Book of Wyrms ~ Remythologizer
Elements of heavy metal, psych, doom and stoner rock weaved together in a spellbinding tapestry of sci-fi/fantasy themed genre-defying majesty.

16. Planet of Zeus ~ Faith In Physics
PoZ's last album "Loyal To The Pack" was somewhat of a transitional affair in that it was seemingly tailored to meet the needs of a more mainstream audience, this time around PoZ put a little more of their legendary bite back into the mix and sound all the better for it!

15. Paralyzed ~ Hidden Sun
Excellent collection of proto flavoured heavy blues grooves packed to the gills with soaring guitar solo's and crunching rhythms, think Buffalo meets JPT Scare Band

14. Saturna ~ Atlantis
Classic rock given a whole new lease of life by an utterly superb Spanish quartet. This is so good it'll give your goosebumps goosebumps!

13. The Black Furs ~ Stereophonic Freak Out Vol. 1
Heavy stonerized doom grooves drenched in distortion, fuzz and feedback fronted by superb clean sneery vocals that give everything an urban inner city feel 

12. Planet of the 8's ~ Tourist Season
Seriously impressive desert flavoured release from an equally impressive Australian collective. #

11. Spiral Guru ~ Void
This is fantastic! Imagine a hybrid birthed from the coupling of Howling Giant and Holy Grove fronted by a vocalist with the folk-rock chops of a Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention) or a Annie Haslam (Renaissence).

 10. Gévaudan ~ Iter
"Iter" is an album that will appeal to both the traditional doom crowd and those that like their doom a little on the blacker side, an album that leans towards prog in places yet at the same time stays true to the basics of its doomic roots, an album that's not quite a masterpiece but comes damn close.

09. Troll ~ Legend Master
"Legend Master" is that doom album you always wanted to hear but never expected to be made, an album that is intelligent as it is groovesome, an album that marries the old with the new without the need to go into extreme territories, an album you have to hear.

08. Scarecrow ~ Scarecrow
Proto flavoured metal/doom that will knock you off your feet and stamp your brains into mush, in a good way of course

 07. Clouds Taste Satanic ~ Second Sight
CTS deliver the goods yet again, this is instrumental heaviness of the highest order, WOW just doesn't cover it!

06. Hippie Death Cult ~ 111
Swaggering mix of 70's hard rock and modern stoner rock that ticks every box you could ever wish to be ticked

 05. Howling Giant ~ The Space Between Worlds
Howling Giant smash it out of the park with this their first full length album, might and melody never went together so well.

 04. Elder ~ The Gold & Silver Sessions
 Majestic mellow and mesmerising grooves from the scenes brightest hopes

03. Ordos ~The End
If the bands last effort "House of the Dead" didn't satisfy your need for quality blackened stoner doom then "The End" most certainly will.

02. Merlin ~ The Mortal
Merlin return with more boundary pushing musical wizardry, This band are a one off, a unique sounding collective with a groove like no other band on this planet. Celebrate their contrariness, wonder at their weirdness and be mesmerised by their magical music.

01. Green Lung ~ Woodland Rites
The term "occult rock" is one that causes a bit of confusion, at Desert Psychlist we tend to think of something tagged as "occult rock" as being grooves that although "doomic" are not what you could call full on "doom", grooves that share many of doom's characteristics but lean towards the more melodic and accessible end of the spectrum. Now you may not agree with our definition but whether you do or not does not take away the fact that "Woodland Rites" is a superb album that is both melodic AND accessible.


Desert Psychlist would like to thank … all the PR agencies, record labels, bands and artists who have sent promo's, both digital and physical, the Doom Charts and all its contributors for giving the underground scene a visual point of reference and Steve Howe at Outlaws of the Sun for all his help and encouragement. Special thanks to Michele Jones for her love, patience and understanding and Billy Jones, Vikki Jones and Sian Jones for grandchildren, guitars, gigs and love. Desert Psychlist would also like to thank everyone who has perused these hallowed pages over the last year , whether you came here by intention or by accident your support is appreciated 

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 22 December 2019


Brazil's Dirty Grave claim that their latest album, the band's second, is a celebration of "Satan and Old Metal" and although Desert Psychlist does not profess to know too much about Satan we do know a little about "old metal" and we can vouch for the fact that the bands new release, "Sin After Death", is drenched in the stuff.

Dirty Grave plough a well trodden musical trough through the fetid soils of what is known as proto-doom, the Orlândia quartet borrow, and in some cases steal, elements from such bastions of the proto-doom genre as Black Sabbath and Pentagram yet somehow manage to a create sound and groove that is totally unique and utterly their own. This uniqueness owes much to the distinctive vocal stylings of bassist/vocalist Mark Rainbow, Rainbow sneers, growls, screams, groans and croons his way through the eight songs that make up "Sin After Death", his varied vocal inflections bringing an air of malice and sinisterness to the table that both Ozzy (Osborne) and Bobby (Liebling) would find hard to compete with. Rainbow also plays a mean bass and his growling bottom end, combined with Henrique Lima's tight powerhouse percussion, lays the perfect foundation for guitarists Pedro Barros and Victor Berg to showcase their prowess with a stunning array of raunchy doomic refrains and scorching metallic solos, the two six-stringers playing over, around and off each other in a masterclass of how to combine schooled technical ability with raw natural feel.
A band can be accomplished musicians but if that band does not have the songs to best frame those abilities... well its game over. Thankfully Dirty Grave do not only have the musical chops they also have the songs, dark proto flavoured rockers like "In This Night" and "Turn Off All My Fears", theatrical laced doomic tomes with schizophrenic vocal melodies like "Slaughter (Human Race Is Dead)" and "Satan's Wings II (I Saw The Devil)" and blues tinted stoner metal such as "Slow Journey", in fact there is not one single song on "Sin After Death" that falls into the realms of mediocre or banal, each track an essential part of the whole.

Imagine a heady musical stew of Sabbathesque and Pentagram(ish) riffery blended with a touch of  heavy bluesy colouring, a sprinkling of old school metal swagger and a smidgeon of psychedelic texturing, then with this in mind add into this proto-doomic gumbo an onslaught of highly distinctive and at times maniacal vocal dynamics and you might, just might, arrive somewhere close to getting a handle on what Dirty Grave have achieved with "Sin After Death", we say close mind because nothing can prepare you for the reality.

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Sunday 15 December 2019


It's been a while since Desert Psychlist has had the opportunity to wax lyrical about a Swedish underground rock band something that, given the countries recent history for producing top quality blues flecked rock music, is a little surprising. Thankfully Sundsvall quartet Tidal WaveAlexander Sundqvist (vocals); Jesper Sjödin (guitar); Adam Nordin (bass) and Rasmus Sundberg (drums), shatter any illusions that the Swedish invasion is beginning to wane with an album that worships not at the altar of Satan but at one built to honour the culinary delights of that apex of the bakers skill the "Blueberry Muffin". Let's dig in and take a bite.

"Temptationem 10:13" opens Tidal Wave's debut with a sermon, describing the powerful pull and religious significance of the humble "muffin", narrated in clipped cinematic tones over droning atmospheric effects before then suddenly exploding into a raucous, groove heavy ode to the aforementioned nibble with the aptly titled "Blueberry Muffin", a song packed to the gills with crunching power-chords, bluesy solo's, powerful rhythms and incredibly strong and exceptionally effective vocals. This is what Tidal Wave are all about, here is a band with no hidden agenda's other than to play good old balls to the wall 70's influenced hard rock with a modern present day twist, something they do exceptionally well. From the aforementioned title track to the superbly groovesome closer "Dalton's Saloon" , not a trick is missed or cliché not used in creating a truly authentic hard rock sound, the fact that they do this without sounding overtly "retro" is testament not only to their skills as musicians and songwriters but also to the wicked sense of humour that runs through many of the lyrics gracing the albums seven tracks. Electric fires twinned with a theme of burning sorceresses inform the excellent "Witches" while the loss of two pieces of vital anatomy and a reference to Dylan/Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower" grace the atmospheric "Soul In Chains", and lets not forget that "Dalton's Saloon", a song based around a night spent in a drinking establishment, mentions karaoke and passing out drunk in its lyrical content, the bands playful tongue in cheek lyricism and their ear for a gnarly combining to give the songs on "Blueberry Muffin" a balance of fun and fury not often found in todays music scene.

Raucous, blues tinted heavy rock grooves infused with a generous helping of stoner fuzz and delivered with a devil may care attitude makes "Blueberry Muffin" not only an enjoyable listen but also one that promises much for future endeavors, all hail the Muffin!

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday 9 December 2019

HELA ~ VEGVISIR ..... review

Spanish combo Hela arguably made one of the best albums of 2017 with their highly acclaimed release "Death May Die" however triumph soon turned to disappointment when vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Mireira Porto announced she was departing from the band soon after its release. Fast forward to 2019 and Hela return to the sonic arena with a new vocalist, Ayla-Mae Coghlan, and a brand new album "Vegvisir" (Tormo Records) so let's see if dynamics have altered or directions have changed.

First impressions, as first song "Holy Hell" wafts from Desert Psychlist's battered speakers on a wave of dark imposing heavy doomic groove, is that not much has altered regarding Hela's sonic signature but then Ms Coughlan's vocals enter the fray and those first impressions are totally turned on their head. Coughlan brings a whole new dynamic to Hela's sound, her voice does lacks some of the gravelly edginess of her predecessors but she more than makes up for this with her smoother ethereal, almost symphonic, vocal approach. "Drowned By Myself" follows and finds the band experimenting with a little lysergic colouring and texture, Julián Velasco teasing reverberating arpeggios from his guitar over a backdrop of deep liquid bass (Tano Giménez) and solid steady percussion (Miguel Fernández) while Coughlan sings of "cold waves" and "sorrow" in haunting velvet tones. "Golden Snake" then enters and all thoughts of comparison with Hela's former vocalist are forgotten, Coughlan's smoother tones bringing a more chilled and mystic vibe to Hela's doomic tomes. Hela round up "Vegvisir" with two massive tracks the first of which, "Decaying Sky", shows off Hela's ability to create atmosphere without going overboard or reverting to tired clichés and the second, "Sleepless Nights" is a slow burning doomic lament that builds in intensity yet cleverly never quite explodes into wanton heaviness, both songs serving as a glowing testament to Hela's growing maturity as both songsmiths and musicians..

"Vegvisir" is not a heavy album neither, despite some of its lyrical content, is it an overly dark album, there is a warmth about Hela's new album, in both its musical grooves and vocal performances, that wraps around the listener like a an unexpected but very welcome embrace making it a very rewarding and totally satisfying listen
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

Monday 2 December 2019

DESERT SUNS ~ CARRY ON ..... review

Want something with more hooks than a butchers storeroom, more crunch than a head on collision and is grittier than a wet fish on sand dune well look no further Desert Psychlist has the answer to all your needs. Dave Russell (vocals), Woogie Maggard (guitar), Anthony Belluto (guitar), Gabe Fonseca (bass) and Ben McDowell (drums) are Desert Suns a five piece combo from San Diego who, much like their hometown contemporaries Red Wizard and The Great Electric Quest, jam grooves that combine elements of old school 70's rock. blues and metal with those of today's stoner/desert and psych scene. Desert Suns first came to Desert Psychlist's attention with their self titled debut "Desert Suns" but then seemed to slip off our radar until suddenly reappearing on chapter 5 of Ripple Music's "Second Coming of Heavy" EP series sharing the bill with Chiefs (now known as King Chiefs). The band return this year with a brand new album "Carry On" (Electric Valley Records) so hopefully they will remain a little longer on our radar this time around.

Title track "Carry On" kicks things into gear with a song that mashes Kyuss' generator party type desert grooviness with the proto-doomic swagger of Black Sabbath, Russell telling us of "chasing despair" and about "the voices in your head" in strong clean, slightly weary, vocal tones. The band dive deep into blues territory for following track "Sinking Like A Stone", Fonseca laying down deep booming bass lines complimented by McDowell's slightly restrained but highly effective percussion and guitarists Maggard and Belluto's mix of crunching chords and soaring solo's, the track also sees a guest appearance from Red Wizard's Travis Baucum on harmonica his wailing blues harp the perfect foil for Russell's impassioned vocal. Next up is"Slip of the Tongue" an upbeat blues rocker with an infectious vocal melody and a recurring guitar hook you could hang a coat on. "Right This Way" then finds the band easing back on the throttle and getting a little laid back, lysergic and genteel while "Wish It Away" sees the band taking the lysergic elements of the previous track and mixing them up with some old fashioned heavy blues swagger. "Judgement Day" revisits the proto-doomic elements of the albums title track both musically and lyrically before the band brings things to a close with "Feast of Flesh", a song that sees guitarists Maggard and Belluto trading licks, riffs and solo's over and around a grainy heavy doomic voodoo blues groove expertly anchored by Fonseca's thundering bass and McDowell's powerful drums, Russell singing of  the beast hidden within us with a knowing clarity and passion.

Probably a little less metallic than The Great Electric Quest and maybe a tad more blues orientated than Red Wizard, Desert Suns do however still share a common denominator with their San Diego brethren and that is their ability to make music that has its roots in the classic and hard rock of the past yet is still very much of today and new opus "Carry On" is testament to that.
Check it out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones