Wednesday, 25 March 2020
When you find that the cool name you picked for your band is also being used by numerous other bands it's time to make a change. This was the case with Columbus, Ohio's Druid, the band had released a mightily impressive stream of EP's and albums under the collective banner of "Druid" but were constantly being confused with several bands of the same name (or similar) and so the decision was made to become The Burning Brain Band. This name change has had a two-fold effect in that not only is there no more confusion as to which "Druid" you are listening to but has also allowed the band a certain amount of freedom to alter their musical approach without being accused of deserting their core sound... as the bands latest (or should we say debut), "The Burning Brain Band", more than testifies to.
Things begin spacey, lysergic and instrumental with the appropriately titled "Launch Sequence" a track that begins with a NASA like countdown then takes off in a million and one directions all at once, utilising Hawkwind-esque swoops and swirls and guitar tones not too dissimilar to those once emanating from the fingers of Quicksilver Messenger Service's John Cipollina."Brain Food" follows the song opening its account with a Byrds-like guitar intro before slipping into a psychedelic tinted classic rock groove that is taken to another level by its easy on the ear vocal melodies and harmonies. The title of next track, "Bolero/Floating Away", suggests two songs stitched together and that's exactly what you get, the "Bolero" part a Latinesque instrumental with neo-classical guitar textures, the "Floating Away" section a semi folk(ish) lament backed with shimmering percussion and lysergic guitar colouring. The band dabble with elements of electronica and krautrock for next track "Interlude (Still Running)" then do a ninety degree turn back into traditional territory for the delightful "The Dreamer" a wonderful blend of Americana and English folk rock. The band close things out with a superb rendition of the old blues staple "Parchman Farm", proving that under all their psychedelic experimentation and back to nature folksiness they are still at heart a bunch of hairy assed rockers.
New name, new album, new songs and new approach but with the same levels of musicianship, attention to detail and focus, that made their previous efforts as Druid such a joy to listen to, makes "The Burning Brain Band" one of the best not really a debut debuts your likely to hear this year.
Check it out …..
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Monday, 23 March 2020
Desert Psychlist once described Portland, Oregon's LàGoon's musical attack, to a friend, as sounding something akin to The Stooges being fronted by a sneerier, snottier Alice Cooper , a unique blend of punk and garage rock salted with a large pinch of stoner fuzz. We are pleased announce that with the release of the duo's second full length album " Maa Kali Trip" ( Forbidden Place Records [US], Interstellar Smoke Records [EU] ) that description still holds water, in fact the band may sound even sneerier, snottier and fuzzier than ever before!
It has to be stated that it is Anthony Gaglia's heavily distorted fuzz drenched guitar and unique vocal tones that dominates much of "Maa Kali Trip" but those riffs, solos and vocal tones would not have the same sonic impact if it were not for Brad Maurer's array of beats, fills and cymbal crashes ,the percussionist does not only drive LàGoon's grooves with an unrelenting barrage of percussive might he fills all the spaces in-between too. Duo's can often sound a little lightweight without the help of a bassist locking in with the drummer to add a bit of boom to the overall sound, LàGoon however throw so much into any one song that the lack of any bottom end is hardly, if at all, noticeable. "Maa Kali Trip" also finds the band adding a much more lysergic edge to their grooves than on previous outings, the raucous garage rock, that has always been a staple ingredient of their sound, is still evident on songs like "Addiction", Smoke & Flesh" and "Criminal" but on tunes like "Warning", with it's weird slowed down vocals, and "The Peak", with its off-kilter circular guitar motif and sermonised narrative, it seems the band have opted for a slightly more experimental approach and its one that works.
Garage style rock has gone down somewhat of a rabbit hole over recent years with bands trying to recreate the vintage sounds of bands like The Stooges and The MC5 rather than taking the music forward. LàGoon have thankfully not allowed themselves to fall into that trap and with "Maa Kali Trip" they have pushed the genre further than it's been pushed for decades.
Check it out ....
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
Seems a little like deja vu, Desert Psychlist raving about the release of an album by a Swedish band, but when you hear the mind-blowingly awesome and authentic sounding self-titled debut full length album from Kristianstad's Sleepwulf (Cursed Tongue Records) we think you will be raving also.
Much like their fellow countrymen, Witchcraft, Sleepwulf take their musical lead not from the usual source of Sabbath-esque proto-doom but from those bands that danced around the edges of the seventies hard rock and metal scene. What you will be hearing while taking in the nine tracks that make up "Sleepwulf" are the musical essences of such cult legends as Warhorse, May Blitz, Leaf Hound and many other bands that didn't quite make the premiere league of 70's rock but are now thought of as underground icons. Now that statement might lead you into believing that Sleepwulf are some sort of revivalist combo, and in part this is kind of true, but although Sleepwulf's sound owes a huge debt to grooves born of another time it's attack and execution is very much of today. In keeping with the traditions of those bands whose sound Sleepwulf pay homage to the majority of songs on "Sleepwulf" are kept short, sharp and to the point, with only "Standing Stones" and "One Eyed Jailor" pushing past the five minutes mark, there are no meandering twenty minute guitar solo's to be found here, no overly complex arrangements that confuse and confound nor are there an endless array of constantly shifting time signatures to deal with, instead we get a dazzling collection of superbly crafted rock songs built around that age old blueprint of intro, middle and outro, simple, basic and wholly effective.
Sleepwulf's "Sleepwulf" is an album made in the 2020's that sounds like an album made in the 1970's, an authentic sounding opus that will bring back memories to those who lived through that period but also one that will appeal to those that didn't and wished they had.
Check it out..
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 15 March 2020
If your looking for gnarly, heavy intense stoner doom then Poland is a good place to start your search, the country is awash with some of the gnarliest and heaviest stoner doom bands you could possibly ever hope to hear, the gnarliest and probably the heaviest being a foursome from Warsaw going by the name Dopelord. Dopelord, Grzegorz Pawłowski (guitar); Piotr Zin (bass/vocals); Paweł Mioduchowski (guitar/vocals) and Piotr Ochociński (drums), have hardly put a foot wrong since their formation in 2010, the band releasing a series of albums that have seen a steady progression in both the bands musical ability and their songcraft. That progression continues unabated with the release of their fourth album "Sign of the Devil", an album that finds the band experimenting with a slightly broader musical palette while still maintaining their signature heaviness.
Piotr Zin introduces first track "The Witching Hour Bell" with a low rumbling bass line before Piotr Ochociński's drum crescendo announces the arrival of the rest of the band, the song suddenly exploding into a low slung proto-doom groove decorated in throbbing down tuned riffage, courtesy of Paweł Mioduchowski and Grzegorz Pawłowski's guitars, and embellished with clean, slightly sneered, monotone vocals. As an opener this song sets the bar high but that bar is about to go up a few more notches before you reach the end of the album as the suitably blackened sludge monster "Hail Satan" testifies to, its mix of harsh and clean vocals roared over a backdrop of throbbing doomic refrains is imbued with scorching guitar solos and swirling synth-like sound effects that take it to a whole new level of intense. "Heathen" follows next its thundering groove and spiraling guitar motifs the backdrop for some surprisingly lilting, if a little gravelled, vocal harmonies. The lysergic and ambient opening bars of, the wonderfully titled, "Doom Bastards" is somewhat of a respite from all the heaviness that has gone before it but this is Dopelord so its not too long before the band start ramping up the both the atmospherics and the dynamics and we find ourselves enveloped in a wall of doomic majesty few bands working in this genre could hope to match. "World beneath Us" boasts probably the cleanest vocal of the album laid over the dirtiest, gnarliest groove of that same album, a groove decorated in majestic blues flecked guitar solos' played over a backdrop thundering percussion and growling grizzled bass. Dopelord bring things to a noisy conclusion with "Headless Decapitator" a short but striking nod to the bands punk roots played at breakneck speed and packed with angsty shouted vocals and crunching chords., it's a song that sits slightly at odds with the rest of the album but is nevertheless a fun way to close what is an otherwise intense and heavy stoner doom album.
Very few bands can boast a catalogue of albums that are all intrinsically different but still posses an unmistakable signature sound, Dopelord however are one such band who can make this boast. From the very first note of "Sign of the Devil" the listener will know they are listening to Dopelord what they won't know however is where this band will be taking them next.
Check 'em out ….
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 10 March 2020
Hyde, much like those doomed gangsters from Quentin Tarentino's Reservoir Dogs movie, prefer to keep their identities under wraps and so instead of Mister Pink, Blue and Green we have Mister S. Mister P. and Mister J., three musicians from Paris, France who describe themselves as a "power stoner trio". The band first came to Desert Psychlist's attention with the release of a three song demo released via their Bandcamp page, a release we described as "killer". It has been a while since Hyde's 2016 demo but the wait has been worthwhile as the bands elf titled debut release, "Hyde", is every bit as vital and "killer" as the demo that preceded it
Those unfamiliar with Hyde's 2016 demo need not fear they have missed out, now that the release is no longer available, as all three tracks appear on the new album, a little more polished yet at the same time losing none of the gritty rawness that made them such a delight to hear in their original incarnations. "Hunters Run" comes across a little more darker and atmospheric than it did in its demo form, its mixture of crooned narrative and guttural vocalising sounding a lot more macabre and unnerving while the stoner doomic attack of both "Tsunami" and "The Barber of Pitlochry" sound so much bigger and bolder thanks to the albums thicker, denser production. Hyde's newer songs are just as dynamically striking as their older counterparts "The Victim", "Black Phillip" and "D.W.A.G.B." all jam Hyde's signature sound of doomic desert groove salted with a quirky, but quite brilliant, array of vocal stylings but it is the song that the band take their name from that really shines like a beacon in the darkness. "Hyde" is an epic opus that creeps, crawls, struts and swaggers over an eleven minute plus duration and is a song that will appeal to both fans of traditional doom and its stoner doomic cousin, vocally magnificent and musically intense the song is the highpoint of an album packed with highpoints.
If your a fan of atmospheric stoner doom tinted with a sludgy blackened edge then "Hyde" is the album for you, the band call what they do "power stoner with groove inside", a statement hard to disagree with.
Check it out …..
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Friday, 6 March 2020
Birthed in Cyprus (2015), and now based in London,UK since 2018, Stonus are Kyriacos Frangoulis (vocals); Pavlos Demetriou (lead guitar); Nicky Ray (rhythm guitar); Andreas Aristides (bass) and Kotsios Demetriades (drums), a collective of like-minded musicians who share an ear for a good groove and need for those grooves to be heard, something they will have no trouble achieving judging by the reaction Desert Psychlist is already hearing to their debut release "Aphasia" (Electric Valley Records).
After a short intro , called strangely enough "Intro", that sounds very much like a large vehicle's reverse warning alarm, we get into "Awake" a strident opus driven by solid insistent percussion and a heavily effected chugging guitar riff over which vocals are delivered with a jerky almost punk-like bravado. Now this would make a quite acceptable opening track if it were to end there but Stonus are not the type of band to just hit a groove and stay there, they want to experiment, to see how far they can take things and so the song takes a turn into lysergic territory with guitars dialled to swirling and phased and the vocals following a similar hazy path. This is Stonus' modus operandi, hit the listener with something warm fuzzy and vaguely familiar then while they are wallowing in the warmth of the groove ease them towards territories they may be unfamiliar with but know they are going to love. It's a trick that works too, songs like "Mania", "Nadir" and "Dead End" are all started from a place of familiarity but then will go suddenly off piste, the band injecting little unexpected twists and turns into the mix that add an element of surprise to the proceedings . One slight exception to this rule however is the initially haunting and quietly brilliant "Ghost Town" a slow burning tome that although cannot be described as doomic does have atmospheric qualities oft associated with doom. Even her though Stonus cannot resist the urge to take the song to places its initial beginnings didn't hint at and so we find the band upping the tempo and falling into a stoner(ish) hard rock romp to take the song over the finish line.
Unconventional, slightly untamed and most definitely quirky "Aphasia" is nonetheless a stunning release from a band who are unafraid to buck trends and do things their own way, and if it works as it ultimately does, who's to say that's the wrong way.
Check it out ….
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Lunar Swamp are Mark Wolf (vocals/harmonica/Fx); Machen: (high and low guitars) and S.M. Ghoul (drums) a trio hailing from Catanzaro, Italy who describe their sound as slow, stonerized blues a description hard to disagree with after hearing the bands latest opus "UnderMudBlues"
Slow heavy blues is not a new phenomenon, almost every band that came out of the 60's British blues boom had a slow blues tune hidden in their back pocket as a counter to their more strident songs. A whole album of slowed down blues is however a whole different thing and when you add into that equation unbelievable levels of fuzz and distortion and a vocalist who sounds like he's singing from the bowels of the earth while taking hits from an industrial sized bong well you are talking about something quite different. This is the sound of a band who found their mojo then tried to smoke it, a band who met the devil at the infamous "crossroads" and sold him a bag of exotic herbs. From the delta drenched doomic blues of "Shamanic Owl" to the squeaking finger slides of acoustic closer "Creeping Snakes" Lunar Swamp never try to hide the fact that they are a band steeped in the traditions of a music older than they are. What, however, sets Lunar Swamp apart, from bands travelling along similar blues flecked highways, is that despite all their fuzz and distortion, and that they underpin all their songs with a strong doomic undercurrent, is the fact that these guys have a true understanding and affinity with the music they choose to play.
"UnderMudBlues" is essentially a blues album, maybe not the type of blues album you may be accustomed to, due to it's heavily stoned demeanor, but a blues album nonetheless. A very good one too!
Check it out ....
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Monday, 2 March 2020
Been a while since Desert Psychlist journeyed down to the southern end of the America's and what better excuse can we have for taking that trip than reviewing an album from a band we first brought to your attention on these pages, back in 2017, when we covered their debut EP "EP1".
Aridonia, an Argentinian collective from JuJuy (now based in Buenos Aires), delivered with "EP1" a stunning collection desert flavoured stoner rock grooves tinted with elements of Color Haze (ish) textures and jazz-fusion flourishes but then seemingly disappeared into the ether. Thankfully there was no parting of the ways and three years after the release of "EP1" Aridonia have returned from the void with a full blown self-titled debut album, "Ardonia", an album that picks up the journey into the cosmos Aridonia started, with "EP1", and takes things that little bit further.
"Abismos" opens up "Aridonia" in genteel fashion with Fernando Echenique (guitar/vocals) waxing lyrical (in Spanish) over a backdrop of economically picked guitar arpeggios, Echenique and fellow guitarist Benjamin Yecora's differing tones complimenting each other perfectly. The tranquility and serenity of this opening exchange is however shattered when Matias Paiva (drums/percussion) and Tomas Longombardo (bass) enter the fray and suddenly things start to get a little heavier and a whole lot more interesting, the quartet exploding into prog-like metallic groove driven by Paiva's intricate drum patterns and Logombardo's jazzy bass lines.
It would seem that during the three year period between "EP1" and "Aridonia" the band have been honing up on their prog chops as much of "Aridonia" is informed by complex arrangements and angular shifts in time. The band do not wholly abandon their more "stoner" leanings however and you will be glad to hear that there is still plenty of grit and grime to be found in Aridonia's sonic assault, as they demonstrate on the excellent "Fantasmagoria" and the chugging blues tinted "La Serpiente y la Manzana", but it is Aridonia's more intricate and convoluted tomes, like the shape-shifting "Panacea" and the semi-doomic "Leviatan", that will really catch the ear, fire the imagination and have you reaching for that repeat/replay button again and again.
If your a fan of metal, psych, stoner or hard rock played with a high degree of technical flare and feel then there is plenty to salivate over on "Aridonia", let's just hope it's not another three years before we get to hear the next album.
Check it out …..
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 1 March 2020
Delving into a countries music scene is a bit like poking a stick into a rivers bed and stirring up the silt, you start finding things you didn't expect to find. This was the case when Desert Psychlist recently spent a little time researching the Dutch underground rock scene for a review we were putting together for "Baardvader", an album by a Dutch band of the same name, the waters we disturbed revealing a quite unique sounding take on doom from a band, (who incidentally hail from the same neck of the woods as Baardvader), going by the name I Saw The Deep.
I Saw The Deep, Domenico San Giorgi (drums); Niels Budel (bass/vocals) and Darrell Laclé (vocals/guitars & theremin), jam grooves that are most definitely doomic in nature but that don't really fall under the umbrella of doom as we usually perceive the genre, to understand that last statement you really need to hear the bands latest EP "Vimana".
The lines "strange sounds in the air, tell me now, where do we stand? Don't you know what's coming next?" are lyrics from the EP's sci-fi themed title track "Vimana" but they could also just as well serve as a description of the EP's uncompromising and unorthodox approach to doom. I Saw The Deep are not a band who lay out their music like a map for listeners to follow this is a band who insert surprises and elements of the unexpected into their grooves in order to make their listeners journey not just an interesting one but also an exciting one. We have mentioned doom quite a bit up until this point but there are also elements lifted from other musical territories explored over the five cuts that make up "Vimana", a certain "grunginess" is evident throughout the EP as well as a fair share of post-rock texturing and it is this cross-pollination of genres and sub-genres that sets I Saw The Deep apart from the herd and makes "Vimana" such a rewarding listening experience.
If you are looking for something a little more cerebral and intellectual than your usual doomic low, slow and heavy fare then wrap your ears around "Vimana", it will change your mind about what you think doom is now and show you a snapshot of what it could be in the future.
Check it out ...