Monday 22 June 2020

EYES FLY ~ EYES FLY .... review

Desert Psychlist , when reviewing Bristol, UK Eyes Fly's debut EP "The Long Return", wrote "the EP proves that intricacy and complexity can live quite comfortably hand in hand with brute force and power without the need to compromise to either". Well just over year after that statement was published the band have returned with a full album, "Eyes Fly" so lets find out if those words still hold water.

Things get rolling with first track "Supernova Building" it's thundering drum intro paving the way for a crescendo of fuzz drenched guitar and bass riffage overlaid with strong clean and melodic vocals, things are never one dimensional in Eyes Fly's world however and it is not long before riffs change direction, dynamics shift and vocals get gnarly and growled. This is Eyes Fly's modus operandi throughout their debut album, they are a band with an intriguing knack of allowing you to think they are taking you one place then suddenly taking off in a completely other direction and the fact that they do this with such seamless ease and without losing sight of where they want a particular groove to go is something that makes their latest release such an interesting and exciting ride. Of course to be able to do this over an albums length you need to have not only the songs but also the musical chops to pull off those seamless musical twists and turns and these guys have both in abundance. Songs with titles like "The Wanderer", "Hero Dies" and "Coerce, Control" are awash with lush melodies, prog-like complexities and intricacies but are just as likely to suddenly take a left turn into harshness and brutality, a glistening arpeggio turning into a crunching power chord in less time than it takes to blink, a gentle brushstroke making way for a thunderous triplet in a heartbeat and bass guitar chords that growl, boom and reverberate suddenly exchanged for liquid runs and lightly trodden walks, and that's without mentioning the diverse range of tones deployed by the bands very accomplished and talentedvocalist.

If you were one of those lucky few who, by accident or design, landed your ears on the bands debut EP "The Long Return" then you'll know to expect stunning musicianship and songs that combine prog metal intensity with stoner/hard rock swagger. If, however, you are coming to this band anew then just expect "Eyes Fly" to blow you away!

© 2020 Frazer jones

Tuesday 16 June 2020


Curse the Son hail from Hamden, Connecticut and have, since their formation, built themselves quite a respectable reputation for producing superb riff heavy rock music tinted with elements of doom, grunge and old school metal. The band have over their time released some excellent albums and EP's to cement that reputation but have not really come up with that career defining album that could propel them into the next league, (although they came damn close with 2017's "Isolator"), until now.
In Desert Psychlist's humble opinion the bands latest release, the first with new drummer Robert Ives, is their best to date and is the one that could break this band to a much wider international audience, so strap yourselves in and move away from anything breakable because here comes "Excruciation" (Ripple Music).

Whether the arrival of Robert Ives on percussion duties has been the catalyst which has driven Ron Vanacore (vocals/guitars) and Brendan Keefe (bass, guitars) to up their game,both as musicians  and writers, is something you will have to ask them but it seems, to Desert Psychlist's riff battered ears, that "Excruciation" possess a lot more musicality, depth and diversity than the bands previous outings. Having said that "Excruciation" is not an album bereft of those crunching guitar riffs and thunderous grooves we have all come to expect from a Curse the Son release it is just that here they are a lot more measured and balanced out and not always the dominant force behind each song. Of course if you want your existing fans to get on board with your new album it makes sense to kick it off with something that retains an essence of what brought them to your flag in the first place and the excellently titled "Suicide by Drummer" does that perfectly, its strident groove, Sabbath-esque riffs and vocal similarities ensuring that anyone with even the remotest interest in the band are going to stick around until the album closes. What might not be picked up on immediately, but is sure to be later, are the subtle shades and nuances the band bring into play in and around songs two main refrains with spacey swirls, monastic backing harmonies and droning effects all playing their part in taking the song to an altogether other level of good. "Disaster in Denial" is next and is built around a series of rotating riffs that constantly circles around each other while Vanacore tells us in tones clean and strong of queens impossible to please and an air filled with toxic words. With the old fans happy that Curse the Son have not lost any of their doomic "mojo" the band make their move to convert those same fans to their newer more expansive sound with "Novembre" a song that begins with Keefe laying down a warm, deeply seductive, bass motif over which reverberating arpeggios and shimmering percussion build a dark brooding mood made even more atmospheric thanks to the songs semi narrated, semi sang vocal and its hazy backing melodies (producer Eric Lichter helps out on vocals throughout the album as well as supplying additional instrumentation). The temperature is  raised a few notches with next track "Worry Garden" a song that finds CtS bringing a little alt-rock/grunginess to the table while title track "Excruciation" brings things way down and sees the band mixing that grunginess with a little melancholic doominess and dramatic post-rock texturing before closing out on a militaristic drum tattoo. "Infinite Regression" follows, a brief riff heavy, mid tempo stoner doomic romp complete with a pleasing Alice In Chains(ish) slurred refrain that is pushed hard by Ives solid, busy percussion and Keefe's growling bass. Next track up is "Black Box Warning" a song that begins with a vocal hard not to compare with that of the sadly departed Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), a vocal racked with emotional gravitas perfectly framed by the dank, dark grooves it is surrounded by, a sort of torch song for the depressed and disconnected among us.  The band look to the delta tor the albums final two musical forays, the first a down home country blues holler backed by some exquisite slide guitar, the second a blues rock workout with rock god vocals and an old school classic rock undercurrent.

"Klonopain", "Psychache" and "Isolator" are three very heavy, very good and highly regarded albums that have all played their part in getting Curse the Son to where they are today, yet despite the esteem the band are held in that "killer" album, able to propel them into the undergrounds upper echelon, has eluded them. With "Excruciation" Curse the Son have finally found their "Led Zeppelin IV", their "Master of Reality" they have created an album that defines not only their place in alternative rock history today but one that, hopefully, also cements their place in its future.
Check it out …

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Monday 15 June 2020


Let us introduce you to Dr.Witch (bass/vocals), Mr.Void (drums/vocals) and Sgt.Doom (guitars), three bearded Belgians who in their own words "Unleash a fury of pure desolate, nightmarish Doom Metal, mixed with ferocious Sludge, atmospheric Post-Rock and experimental Drone", and do this under the collective name of Voidian.

Now the term "post-rock" does have a reputation for sending prospective listeners running for the hills fearing that they are going to be subjected to periods of introspective navel gazing while listening to long passages of ambient noodling, well much of that apprehension can be allayed as although there is plenty of instrumental noodling to be found on  the bands debut release "Through Eyes of the Flame"(Polderrecords) 97.9% of it is far from being ambient! There is no getting away from the fact that Voidian are a band who like to texturize their grooves with elements of calming ambience and unstructured dissonance but they are also a band who like to crunch out a thick reverberating powerchord over a swampy doomic groove, something the band do with pleasing regularity. Add to this mix of post-rock textures and sludgy refrains vocals that range from growled and harsh to clean and throaty and the listener soon comes to the realisation that Voidian are a band who approach "heavy" from a whole different angle from many of their contemporaries. Tangents, those things that lead music away from its root into different areas, abound throughout the five songs that make up "Through Eyes of the Flame" and find Voidian heading off on musical journeys far removed from their point of origin, crunching riffs making way for glistening arpeggios, pummeled drum skins replaced by shimmering cymbals, the band never content to just sit on a groove and stay there, preferring instead to constantly shift their focus onto new horizons and test waters previously uncharted.

Brutal and heavy enough to put a smile on the faces of the sludgers and doomers while complex and intricate enough to please the proggers and post-rockers "Through Eyes of the Flame" is a triumphant debut from a band who, if they remain on this trajectory, are going to evolve into something very special indeed.
Check 'em out …..  

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Friday 12 June 2020


Bands performing old school doom, like that performed by Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and bands of that ilk, are becoming rarer than hens teeth these days. Ok you could argue that there are a million and one Sabbath-like bands out there all vying for our attention but that argument could be countered by saying that those bands are following a more "proto" doomic blueprint. 
Russian Federation trio Grave Disgrace's latest  release "Rest In Peace", although having elements that could be described as "proto(ic)", has a more "traditional" doom feel, the band utilising huge dark reverberating refrains and powerful thunderous rhythms, combined with strong vocals tinted with a pleasing gothic melancholy, to create a dank atmospheric sound that conjures up visions of dark imposing spires peaking over a cold mist laden graveyard, in other words "doom" in its most authentic and "traditional" form.

Things begin suitably doomic with the excellent "End Of This WorldKonstantin Belousova's pounding drums introducing a song that brings in to play all the elements that you could possibly hope to hear in a song pitched at the "traditional" end of the doom spectrum. Slow, but not pedestrian, guitar refrains pulse and swell over tight and steady percussion while bassist/vocalist, Aleksei Uvarov, tells us of "scary dreams" and "eternal searches" in a voice steeped in weary resignation. As the song progresses into it's final quarter the band begins to show a glimpse of those "proto" elements mentioned earlier with guitarist Sergei Saprantsev's face melting bluesy solo the marker by which the band raise both the songs temperature and tempo. Next song "Time After Time", a dark foreboding tale of man's relentless march to destruction set against a thrumming backdrop of grainy fuzz drenched groove, may share a title with Cyndi Lauper's hit pop ditty but that's about all the two songs have in common. "Dancing On My Grave" follows and here we find Grave Disgrace brandishing their "trad" doom credentials for all to see, plodding and monstrous the song crawls and creeps along at an almost funereal pace in its early stages but then slowly picks up pace until exploding into a Sabbath-esque romp as it reaches its nadir. "Day of the Dead" finds Uvarov effecting a slightly Ozzy-ish nasal tone over a groove that is relentless thanks in part to Belousova's thunderous on point drumming, the drummer locking in tight with Uvarov's growling bass to create the perfect springboard for Saprantsev to launch his screaming guitar solo's from. Title track "Rest In Peace" is probably the most Sabbath-esque song of the album thanks mainly to its slowed down Iommi-like riffs and solos and its shifting time signatures. "Hellbound Express", a short fuzz drenched blues played solely on guitar, closes the album, it is brief, a bit of a strange choice for a finale but one that strangely works.

Traditional, proto, true, epic whatever you care to call it "Rest In Peace" is an album that celebrates doom at its most authentic and real, an album that although nods its head to all the sub-divisions of doom still retains its own identity.
Check it out …..

 © 2020 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 10 June 2020

SORGE ~ SORGE ..... review

If there is one particular music that gets our mouths drooling at Desert Psychlist it is heavy psychedelic grooves edged with a good helping of doomic dankness and Washington, DC quintet Sorge provide just that with their self-titled debut opus "Sorge". The band, Christian (bass); Joshua (guitar/vocals); Mike (drums); Logan (lead guitar) and Jake (synths), call their sound "psychedelic stoner sludge & experimental fuzz doom metal from outer space" and it's not hard to see why they do.

Dark droning effects twinned with howling guitar and slow deliberate drumming introduces first track "Faith of a Heretic", accompanied by strong, clean impassioned vocals delivered in tones that teeter on the edge of gothic. As the song progresses it becomes obvious that Sorge are not your run of the mill doom band toying with lysergic textures but a band who are testing the borders of the doomic box they find themselves in and are busy looking for weaknesses in that box where they can stretch out and explore newer avenues. Swirling synths angular, often dissonant, guitar solo's that soar over shapeshifting doomic refrains colour each of the four songs that make up "Sorge", the band routinely taking off on unexpected musical tangents that are some times brutal and uncomfortable, sometimes uplifting and beautiful but nevertheless always interesting, Stoner doom can be a very limiting musical sub-genre in that it is often governed by expectations that it should be played low, slow and extremely heavy but Sorge don't adhere to those rules and are as just as likely to hit a groove that is up-tempo and thrash like as one that is agonisingly sedate and pondering, often in the same song. 

Dank, dark heavy and atmospheric yet packed with a myriad of unexpected twists and turns along the way "Sorge" is an album that doesn't so much break all the rules as bends them into more interesting shapes.
Check it out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 9 June 2020


Thurmont. Maryland's Faith In Jane are a band who have consistently delivered the goods, the trio have not put a foot wrong since their 2009 formation and have released one killer album after another yet for some reason or another they still seem to get overlooked. When reviewing the bands last album "Countryside" Desert Psychlist wrote " just maybe, this is the one that introduces them to a wider audience", that audience did increase but not to the degree that a band this good and this dynamic deserve. Maybe we got it wrong and it is the bands latest release "Mother To Earth" that will be the one to convert the unbelievers.

Those who are already devotees of Faith In Jane's sonic onslaught will be raising their arms to the heavens in thankful reverence as the first strains of opening track "The Circle" erupts into life, while those who have taken a rain check on the bands previous outing will be rending their clothes to rags and pulling out their hair in the realisation that they've missed out on some truly life affirming grooviness. Faith in Jane are the real deal, a band who can blend proto-metallic elements with those of  hard/stoner rock and still find room for a little Allman's-like bluesy swagger and melancholic soulfulness, a band who have grown both in confidence and stature as musicians. This confidence and increased musical prowess has allowed the band the opportunity to wander into musical territories they might not of thought they were capable of visiting in their formative years ,as the spaced out and heavily psyched instrumental "Weight of a Dream" and the authentic country blues of "Lonesome" demonstrates, but the band who mixed rock and reggae on their debut EP "Call of the Wolf" are a different band these days and are more than capable of taking off on unexpected tangents. Musically everyone brings their "A" game to the ballpark, Dan Mize's guitar solo's soar and scream, his chords and riffs crunch and crackle while his vocals are rich, powerful and have a grizzled soulful quality, Brendan Winston's bass thrums, growls and booms like a volcano threatening to erupt while Alex Llewellyn's drumming is a masterclass in solidness and fluidity, the three together creating a sound that is so far beyond good they haven't invented a word for it yet!

Do yourself a favour and buy, beg borrow or steal yourself a copy of "Mother To Earth", then share it with everyone you know, let's nip this this apathy, towards one of the scenes finest bands, in the bud. Let us all have a little Faith In Jane!
Check 'em out …..

Saturday 6 June 2020

DOPE SMOKER ~ ZEROIN ...... review

Just hearing a few chords of an AC/DC song and without looking at the artwork or sleeve notes you know it's them, the same is true of Santana, Led Zeppelin and The Who as well as many others. It is what many call a signature sound, a sound that others can try to replicate but can never quite nail. Welsh trio Dope Smoker are also possessors of such a signature sound, theirs is slightly more grizzled and distortion drenched than those bands mentioned but it is theirs and no-one else sounds quite like them, just spin their latest album "Zeroin" to see what we mean.

Repetitive, crackling, fuzz soaked guitar chords, booming bass lines and steady rock solid drumming are the hallmarks of any Dope Smoker recording, add into that equation minimal lyrical content, sang in clean mantra-like fashion, and the occasional slightly dissonant swirling guitar solo and that is this review pretty much written. However those few lines do not tell you everything you need to know, for a start they don't tell you that despite the repetitive nature of Dope Smoker's songs there is a lot more going on than first hits the ear. Much like the surfers, who frequent their south western corner of Wales, Dope Smoker ride their riffs on waves and swells, take for instance the song "Bush Woods", it may be built around one refrain repeated infinitum but that refrain swells and dissipates both in intensity and volume throughout and when combined with those vocal mantra's and psychotic swirling guitar solo's, we mentioned earlier, the song becomes so much more than just a one riff wonder, it becomes something almost spiritual. Having said that the new album does find Dope Smoker stepping out of their comfort zone far more than they have done on previous recordings, the band adding subtle shades and colours into songs, like the excellent title track "Zeroin" and the swirling "Severn", that they may not have even considered attempting a few years ago, the band even going so far as to get a little weird and arty on the aptly titled "Stoned Nirvana"

Dope Smoker have delivered what we all wanted with "Zeroin", an album that doesn't stray too far from the blueprint the band drew up with their first release "Dope Smoker" yet one that shows they are nonetheless evolving, if somewhat slowly and with subtlety.
Check it out .....

© 2020 Frazer jones