Friday 31 July 2020


Britain's shoreline defences have been breached many times over the years, first it was the Romans, then the Saxons and then the most scary of them all the Danes. Thankfully those days of marauding men brandishing steel and iron are no more and things are relatively more civilized between nations, however there are still some Danes eager to invade this sceptic isle. Those Danes come this time not with steel and iron but with riffs and grooves and they travel under the collective flag of Bogwife and the ship they ride is called "Halls of Rebirth". and this time these dynamic Danes are not just focusing on British soil they want to conquer the World!

"Halls of Rebirth" is a heavy, thundering opus but not one so heavy that it teeters on the brutal, there are elements of light and shade to be found throughout the albums five songs despite the amount of down tuned guitars and pummeling percussion on display.  The majority of the albums vocals are clean and powerful, if sometimes grizzled, and the albums guitar solos soar, swoop and scream with a clarity usually reserved for classic/hard rock albums. This classic /hard rock analogy is one to take note of as Bogwife's modus operandi is to deliver grooves that are heavy enough to please those with an ear for stoner doom's more slower. lower dynamics but also those who like their grooves a little bit more on the polished side, the band combining these two radically differing dynamics in such a way that it is almost impossible to see the joins. Songs like "Voidcruiser", "Seer" and "Abyss" groan and creak under the weight of their thunderous drum patterns and growling bass lines but are cleverly counterbalanced by an almost 70's proto-metal feel courtesy of their superb vocals and swirling lead work, the band creating a groove that takes the best of two distinctive styles of rock and blends them into a sound that might not exactly be new but is most definitely exciting.

The Danes are back but there is no need to go running for the hills this time around, instead embrace them, invite them into your hearts and revel in the gifts Bogwife bring with "Halls of Rebirth"
Check it out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Sunday 26 July 2020


Looming like a giant insect, its silhouette sinister and black against the waning moon, stands Silvåkra Mill a place shunned by both the local villagers and the regions wildlife.. The murderous owner, of this dark foreboding structure situated in Sweden's rural south, has long since passed, but legend has it that his ghost still roams both the mill and its surrounding area bringing both terror and death to those still living in it's ominous shadow.
This is not the opening lines to a Dennis Wheatley novel or the script from a cult Italian horror movie but the concept behind the debut album from a Swedish four piece from Malmö going by the name Malsten. MalstenManne Högström (vocals); Fredrik Grehn (guitars); Andreas Svensson (bass/synths) and Joen Leffler(drums), describe their sound as simply "slow and heavy doom music" but one listen to "The Haunting of Sivåkra Mill" (Interstellar Smoke Records) will tell you that there is much, much more to this band.

We used the word "ominous" in our intro to this review and try as we might it is hard for us to find a more fitting word to describe the sound Malsten create with their music and the brooding menace that hangs like a cloud around that music. "The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill" is a dark album totally befitting of its concept, there are no "happy places" to be found here, no light relief to momentarily lift the mood and give you false hope, and nor should there be because this is a horror story set to music.

"The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill" opens its account with "Torsion" a lumbering beast of a song that begins on a wave of menacing synthesized noise then settles into a slow. low ponderous doomic groove that is driven by Reffler's unhurried pounding percussion and Svensson's deeply grizzled bass over which Grehn delivers a thickly distorted guitar refrain that pulsates and swells in waves of dark doomic majesty . This is scary atmospheric stuff but things get even scarier and even more atmospheric with the arrival of Högström's vocals, the singer perfectly pitching his delivery to give the song a mournful almost solemn gravitas, his clean strong, slightly gothic, tones the perfect match for the music that surrounds them. . "Immolation" follows and here we have to doff our caps and berets to Svensson's clever use of synthesizers to add texture and aura to proceedings, his electronically generated dark waves of noise add an extra dimension of menace to the songs already quite menacing sonic impact and ramps up its atmospherics  tenfold, especially when combined with Grehn's thrumming guitar refrains. "Grinder" is up next and finds the synths, that were so prominent on the previous track, take more of a supporting role thus allowing Svensson's bass and Grehn's guitar to drive the groove, a groove that is anchored to the ground by some truly punishing and thunderous percussion from Leffler and given wings by a sombre but powerful vocal performance from Högström."Compunction" closes this little ode to the paranormal with a song that finds Malsten slightly raising the tempo from low slow and ponderous to something almost approaching mid-paced yet doing so without losing any of that depth and intensity that has informed much of their debut, the band even throwing a little monastic chanting into the mix to add an extra level of solemnity and grandeur. 

"The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill" is like listening to the musical equivalent of horror story told around the flickering flames of a campfire, a chilling tale told in grave serious tones guaranteed to send shivers down the spine and raise the hairs on the back of the neck. The fact that Malsten can do this in a musical context is testament not only to their prowess as musicians but also their skill as songwriters.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Saturday 25 July 2020


It might seem that the term "occult rock" is a fairly new one but the term has been around since the late 60's. These days the term is often coined to describe music of a doomic nature that, although has many of  the musical attributes associated with "doom", leans more towards the mystical and the magical rather than the satanic and the terrifying. Mention "occult rock" back in the sixties and the bands that came to mind were the UK's Black Widow and USA's Coven and of those two band it is probably Coven that much of what we today tag as "occult rock" can be traced back to. Coven were not a particularly heavy band but it was their satanic themed lyricism over grooves of blues flecked psychedelic rock that laid the path that bands like Blood Ceremony, The Devil's Blood and the subject of this review TMPL would later follow.

TMPL hail from Tucson, Arizona and consist of Abigail Codru (vocals); A. Kruger (guitar);Tyler Major (bass/FX) and Zachary White (drums/organ), the band jam a blend of doomic psychedelic rock, hard rock and metal that is deliciously heavy without being leaden and is taken to an altogether other level by distinctive and  powerful vocals that sit somewhere between ethereal and symphonic, all of which can be heard on their debut EP "Initiation of the Fool".

TMPL's "Initiation of the Fool" delivers only three songs but these are songs that once heard are not likely to be forgotten, this is in part due to the strength of the songwriting, arrangements and the instrumental prowess of the musicians involved but is mainly due to the astonishing tones and range of the bands vocalist Abigail Codru. Codru's voice is an instrument in its own right, her vocals waft over rather than tear through the dark, but strangely beautiful, grooves that Kruger, Major and White expertly weave around her and add an extra level of mysticism and pagan-like spiritualism to lyrics which are steeped in both. Much like the aforementioned Coven  TMPL do not find the need to batter and bruise their listeners with relentless down tuned riffage and thundering slow percussion to emphasize their doomic credentials but instead rely on more subtle means to flex their musical muscles. Having said that first track, "Secret of the Shadows"., does owe a huge debt to Kruger's revolving guitar riff combining with Major's bass and White's drums to nail down the songs groove but then this is the EP's opener so we can  excuse them for going for an immediate attention grabbing rocker to pull listeners in. Following track, "Gnostic State of the Holy Death", is the song that really shows what TMPL are capable of, its dark ringing arpeggios, low liquid bass lines and restrained percussion create the perfect platform for Codru's distinctive vocals to sweep soar and float over, her gossamer tones telling us of "horns of black" and "fires of gold" piercing through the dark atmospheric grooves they are surrounded by like shards of sunlight through black clouds. "Witch Moon" closes the EP and finds TMPL blending the rockier aspects of the EP's first track with the more ambient moods of it's second to create something hauntingly beautiful and totally mesmeric.

Dark, mystical and with just the right levels of folkish lilt TMPL have shown us with "Initiation of the Fool" just a glimpse of their true potential, let's hope that potential manifests itself in a full album very, very soon!
Check 'em out ...... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Friday 24 July 2020

VALKYRIE ~ FEAR .... review

Viginia's Valkyrie have had a bit of a revolving door policy regarding their rhythm section over the years but with all the comings and goings two members have remained a constant , founder Jake Adams (guitar/vocals) and his ex Baroness brother Pete Adams (guitar/vocals). Any line-up changes will have an effect on a bands direction and dynamic and of course that has been no different for Valkyrie but one thing that has not changed has been the brothers commitment to their musical vision and that vision has been to merge the old school American proto-metal of bands like St. Vitus. Pentagram and Spirit Caravan with the classic/hard rock of  bands like Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple while still remaining relevant in todays musical climate. This has proved successful so far but this year the band release their fourth album, "Fear"( Relapse Records), and it is an album that finds the band adding a touch of prog like texturing to their musical cannon.

Those of you out there fearing that Valkyrie bringing a more prog vibe into play for "Fear" will see them shifting away from an already well established proto/hard/classic rock sound need not worry as those elements, that have seen the band garner a growing legion of fans worldwide, are still all in place. The shift, if you need to call it that, is really more of an expansion of their sound, the band bringing those proggish elements to the table not to dazzle us with their musicianship and the complexity of their arrangements but to add texture and colour to their songs and make them sound much more richer and fuller bodied. That fullness of sound is no better exemplified than on opening track "Feeling So Low" a song that begins menacing and dark, on a wave of droning guitar noise underpinned by a growling bass line, then morphs into an off-kilter funky rock groove decorated with a clean distinctive vocal melody. Ok, you may say, not much has changed here this is what Valkyrie are known for, but re-spin the track and listen a little harder and you will discover so much going on just beneath the surface like drummer Warren Hawkins playing slightly off the beat to give the song an almost reggae(ish) percussive feel, Alan Farey bringing an element of funky groove to the table with his gloriously complex bass lines/runs and walks and that's before you get to the Adams brothers stunning array of twin guitar harmonies and trade off riffs and solos weaving over and around each other. As the album progresses through songs like the alt/blues tinted "Loveblind", the Celtic flavoured "The Choice" and the Thin Lizzy(ish) "Evil Eye" you will also begin to notice that melody is an important, if not an integral, weapon in Valkyrie's armory and it is one that they wield with dexterity and skill throughout this stunning new album, the band using those melodies to create an album full of songs that are heavy yet still accessible..

Rare is it, in a scene known for its heaviness and reliance on a riff, that you can come away from an album with it's melodies still ringing around and around in your head, long after it's last note has faded away. "Fear" however is one such rarity, an album packed with all the requisite bluster and swagger you would expect to hear from an "underground" rock band but also an album full of melodies you can actually sing, whistle or hum along to.
Check it out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Thursday 16 July 2020

TUNG ~ BLEAK ....... review

Hailing from Ventura, California TUNG is the coming together of members from two Californian bands, The Fucking Wrath and Chili Child, and consists of Craig Kasamis (guitar/vocals); David Briceno (guitar); Nick Minasian (bass) and Rob Dean (drums). The band have just recently released their debut album "Bleak", an enthralling blend of doom and sludge/stoner metal cleverly weaved together with strands of "old school" heavy metal and classic hard rock.

One of the first things you may notice, while perusing the track listing for TUNG's debut opus, is the brevity of the eight songs on offer, there are no eleven minute epics painting meandering musical vista's to be found here just a series of short, sharp sonic snapshots that hit hard and then move on. That is not to say that TUNG's songs are bereft of substance, the listener will find much to marvel on listening to songs like "Succession Hand", "Runaway" and "Split", it's just that TUNG pack more into four minutes plus than some band do in a whole side of an album. We spoke earlier of TUNG weaving elements of classic rock and metal into their sludge drenched doomic tomes and it is those elements that, for Desert Psychlist, set TUNG apart from the following herd. Take for example the excellent "Grit", a song that could be described, in some quarters, as a "sludge ballad" , it's mid paced groove has a southern undercurrent that is complimented by reverberating guitar motif's and raw but heartfelt vocals. Or alternatively you could take "Lost", yes you get the requisite sludge swamped riffs, earth rumbling rhythms and throaty vocal bellows but you also get eastern tinted rolling refrains, blues flecked guitar licks and solo's plus a vocal melody that sticks in your head and refuses to be forgotten. The truth is that wherever you look (or listen) on "Bleak" you will find grooves that don't quite conform to the usual sludge or doom blueprints, we might have come to expect from music of this nature, and are instead speckled and strewn with little nods to other rock music styles and approaches from right across the whole rock spectrum.


"Bleak" is a loud album, a raw album, an intense album but it also one with unexpected touches of lightness and finesse, an album that mixes growl and grit with melody and harmony without sounding like some sort of mad hybrid or misjudged crossover attempt.
Check it out ....

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 14 July 2020


For those that don't know a "Jumbee" is a type of mythological spirit or demon in the folklore of some Caribbean countries, it is also the name used by a Krakow based duo consisting of Piotr "Deadi" Dedel ( guitars/bass/drums) and Tobiasz Targosz (vocals) a duo whose simple description of what they do is summed up in their sage statement "we play heavy shit!", something one listen to their debut album "The Smell of Red Sunset Air" will most certainly confirm.

Jumbee may describe what they do as simply "heavy shit" but the truth is there is a lot more to this band than first meets the ear, this might not be immediately apparent as the first strains of opening track "Karma Dumplings" explodes from the speakers with a relentless barrage of djent(ish) guitar riffage, throat shredding vocals and thundering thrash-like rhythms, but then along comes "33" and the first signs of Jumbee's musical diversity starts to peek through. The shift from all out stoner metal attack to something a little more restrained is a subtle one and presents itself mainly in the songs vocals and finds Targosz  replacing the feral roars he employed for "Karma Dumpling" for a cleaner more grunge/alt-rock approach, an approach not too dissimilar to that used by Seattle's Alice In Chains, albeit in their heavier moments. The djent type rhythms and guitar techniques return for "Red Moon" but are this time accompanied by a little prog-like texturing while following tracks "Morose" and "Fragrance" find the band mixing their AIC leanings with a little Dopelord like stoner doom bluster. "Dump Swing" takes the low, slow and heavy route and finds Dedel offsetting his crunching, slightly slurred guitar refrains with an array of effects to give the song an off-kilter lysergic feel, a feel further enhanced by Targosz slightly off centered vocals. "Mud" follows and again we find the band mixing their grunge with their metal but this time swapping that Alice In Chains vibe, which has informed seventy five percent of the album so far, for a more doomic early Stone Temple Pilots feel. Title track "The Smell of Red Sunset Air" closes proceedings with a song that brings together many of the elements visited on previous tracks and then adds into the mix a little post-rock texturing.

Given the fact that Piotr "Deadi" Dedel plays all the instrumentation and Tobiasz Targosz just provides the vocals the likelihood of this duo hitting a stage anytime soon seems, for now, doubtful but that should not deter those out there, who like their stoner and doom spliced with a little grunginess, from scoping out "The Smell of Red Sunset Air". This is a fantastic debut that should be gracing the collections of any "underground" rock fan with an undying love of a heavy groove.
Check it out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Thursday 9 July 2020

10,000 YEARS ~ 10.000 YEARS

Desert Psychlist has reviewed many albums/EP's originating from Sweden over the years and given the country's penchant for turning out quality music we will probably reviewing many more in the future. Most of those album/EP's have come from the bluesier end of the Doom, Stoner and Psych spectrum but not too many have come from the harsher world of sludge and stoner metal
Vasteras trio, Erik Palm (guitars), Alex Risberg (bass/vocals) and  Espen Karlsen (drums) are known collectively as 10,000 Years and unashamedly describe their sound as "crushing stoner metal" a description you will find very hard to disagree with after hearing their self titled debut "10,000 Years"

""Albatross" Landing" kicks off 10,000 Years account and begins life with all the requisite spacey sounds before taking off on a wave of thick downturned riffage and thundering percussion, Palm's fuzzed to the max guitar and Risberg's deliciously distorted bass competing for dominance over Karlsen's insistent rhythms with Risberg's throaty, powerful vocal tones roaring over the top giving everything an added level of gritiness. 10,000 Years are not a band who believe in letting the momentum drop and as the last track ends so the next track, "Master of Oblivion", begins and finds the band exploding into a heavy circular Sabbath-ian groove over which Risberg roars of "prophecy foretold" in tones raw and feral. Tempo's get raised for next outing "Lee Van Cleef", once again the groove has a Sabbath-ian vibe but Black Sabbath, even at their most heaviest, never sounded this raw, this intense and this angry! 10,000 Years shift things around a little for "Into The Jaws Of The Green King", the song starts life with Risberg's bass and Palm's guitar combining together on a juddering, juggernaut paced refrain, pushed hard by Karlsen's industrious drumming, but then Palm suddenly throws an unexpected bluesy lick into the fray and the band shift into stoner doom mode to take things to the close. Hardly a nano-second passes before final song "From Suns Beyond" enters, a lysergic laced instrumental that slowly ascends from plodding and doomic to trash-like and maniacal before reaching a peak and reversing the process until finally fading into silence.

Space seems to be the recurring theme throughout "10,000 Years" but space has never sounded so dense, so menacing or so intense and heavy as it does here. The space 10,000 Years explore on the five songs of their debut is light years away from the space Hawkwind explored back in their seventies heyday, Hawkwind described their space as "deep", in comparison 10,000 Years space is a bottomless black pit!

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Saturday 4 July 2020


With instrumentation that, along with the usual bass, guitars and vocals, includes organ and synthesisers you might expect German quartet Hammada to jam grooves that lean towards the progressive end of the rock spectrum, however, apart from a few swirling embellishments and the occasional orchestral sounding passage Hammada are probably closer to Kyuss than they are Can, more Yawning Man than they are YES.
The Saxony four piece of Kristian Schulze (vocals/organ), Christian Döring (guitar/synths), Lenz Fiedler (bass) and Sönke Tautorus (drums) describe themselves as a "heavy psych/stoner rock quartet" who bring to the table "desert vibes and atmospheric riffs", something their debut album "Atmos" more than testifies to.

Those proggish embellishments, spoken about earlier, make their presence felt right from the off with swirling keyboard motifs, backed by throbbing bass, heralding the arrival of first track "Occasus" but as stated this is an introduction and it is not long before Hammada show their true colours and take off on a storming desert flavoured groove underscored with lysergic textures and colours that are then overlayered with strong, clean and distinctive vocal tones. "Occasus" is the perfect opener that tells you all you need to know about the band in one song, it showcases not only the bands psych credentials but also their ability to groove on a riff, a band as adept at laying out chilled and relaxed as they are nailing it down hard and heavy. We have already mentioned Yawning Man and Kyuss as markers in trying to describe Hammada's blend of psychedelic meanderings and heavy stoner crunch but as songs like "Heliokratia", "Ether", "Azimut" and the excellent "Domizil" waft over us, in waves that range from tranquil to crashing, Desert Psychlist begins to hear influences stemming more from the bands native Europe than they do America with Colour Haze(ish) and Causa Sui-like textures and colours sitting side by side with the bands more Americanized desert bluster, and it is this blend of dynamics,  merged together from two distinct and different continents, that makes listening to "Atmos" such a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

"Atmos" is not one of those albums that smacks you around the head and demands you immediately fall in love with it, it is instead an album that uses stealth to achieve its goals, an album that slowly creeps up on you, song by song, gradually breaking you down with its mix of undulating grooves and thundering riffs until it finally becomes that go to album you never want to be without.
Check it out …. 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

Thursday 2 July 2020


Huanastone first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via a friend recommending we give a listen to the bands self titled debut "Huanastone", we were immediately impressed by the bands sense of melody and the fact that they could combine that melody with crunching riffs and powerful rhythms. The following year saw the release of  "Second Stone" and it was clear to see that Huanastone were a band evolving into something quite special, a band not trying to jump on convenient bandwagons but a band who had their own visions and goals and wanted to achieve them without having to follow current musical trends or fashions. Not much was heard from the band after "Second Stone" until almost three years later when a few tracks started to appear on their Bandcamp page and reignited our interest in the band, Those tracks showed that not only had the band not disappeared into that black pit of obscurity, that many bands sadly fall into, but were still a viable operation and that there just might be the possibility of a new Huanastone album looming on the horizon. That album "Third Stone from the Sun" (Argonauta Records) did arrive and what an album it is!

Filip Larsson (bass), Tobias Gonzalez (guitar/vocals),Carl Lambertus Olofsson (guitar) and Victor Hansson (drums) are the four musicians who make up Huanastone and although they are probably never destined to become household names, as say the Lemmy's and Ozzy's of this world, they will be names remembered by those who buy into this bands stunning blend of chilled out lysergic grooviness and thrumming alternative rock. Once heard "Third Stone from the Sun" is not an album that is easily forgotten it is a collection of songs  that have an uncanny way of clinging onto the airwaves long after they have finished playing, replaying in the mind over and over until the listener is forced to hit replay and revisit them all over again. It is damn hard to explain in words the sound Huanastone create together as a band as it is a sound that doesn't quite fit into any clearly defined musical categories or genres yet at the same time it is a sound that is strangely familiar. That familiarity does comes not from Huanastone attempting to emulate the sounds and grooves of their contemporaries but from the band unintentionally wandering into territories shared by those contemporaries, elements of Elder's lysergic prog, Queens of the Stone Age's quirky desert rock and even traces of Alice In Chains like slurred grunginess and The Cure's accessible pop/goth can all be found inhabiting songs like "Viva Los Muertos", "Carnivore" and "Neverending" yet those elements are never allowed to dominate and are instead more happy accident than intentional.

Huanastone's "Third Stone from the Sun" is a little different from what we usually expect from a Swedish underground band but that's not a bad thing, we have been swamped with so much blues flecked stoner rock and doom from the likes of Graveyard and Witchcraft and other bands of that ilk that it is refreshing to hear a Swedish band who are is not following that blueprint and are focused on forging their own musical path.
Check 'em out …. 

© 2020 Frazer Jones