Monday 31 August 2020
Sunday 30 August 2020
Those who have seen the documentaries "Slow Southern Steel" and "NOLA Underground Music Documentary" will already know that underground bands hailing from "The South" have a reputation for jamming grooves that are heavy, intense and LOUD, levels of intensity and heaviness matched only by some of the more extreme bands hailing from the equivalent scenes of Scandinavia and Poland. Why this is the case is addressed in part by the interviews featured in "Slow Southern Steel" but we at Desert Psychlist like to believe that there is just a certain "dark magic" flowing in the skies and waters of the Southern States that lends itself to music of a heavier intense nature.
New kids on the NOLA block Leafdrinker, E. Cole (bass): L.Condes (drums) and J. Romagosa (guitar/vocals), have managed to tap into that "dark magic", their dark doomic grooves containing all the requisite levels of swampiness and dankness you would come to expect from a metallic band hailing from "the south" but at the same time also cleverly putting their own unique spin on things. The bands new album "Nausea", their second, does not only draw from the deep well of their southern heritage but also cherry-picks from further afield, the band blending a little Seattle flavoured grunge and European psychedelic doom into the mix to keep things fresh and interesting... and if that's not enough to grab your attention then the fact that they have also tied these musical threads together into a "concept" should!
"Landsickness" kicks things off and already that "European" element of Leafdrinker's sound makes its presence felt with the band dropping into a low(ish), slow(ish) doomic groove overlaid with monastic toned vocals that has similarities to those sludgy dynamic onslaughts brought to bear by Poland's Dopelord and Denmark's Center of the World, thick glutenous guitar tones, pummeling percussion and a bass sound that rumbles rather than growls. "Father Inire's Mirrors" follows and is a short instrumental built around a recurring bass and guitar riff that among other things highlights Condes drumming skills. Almost immediately we are hurled into "Scylla" a thundering mid-tempo song that despite its obvious heaviness carries a little Alice In Chains slurred grunginess in its attack and finds Romagosa pitching his vocals a little more melodic and cleaner. "Bad Faith" opens with Coles bass rumbling and Romagosa picking and strumming the strings above the nut of his fretboard before Condes slams down the percussive hammer and the song erupts into a crunching stoner metal groove fractured with post rock textures and lysergic colourings."1,000 Plateaus" is another of those instrumental interludes and serves as an intro into "Weirding Way" a song that really throws the spotlight on Leafdrinker's grungy/alt-rock leanings, the band experimenting with loud/quiet/loud dynamics while Romagosa wails of "compelled countenance"and a "life disavowed" in weary but powerful tones. If Desert Psychlist had to pick our favourite track on "Nausea" then it would have to be the next track "Charybdis", it is the longest track on "Nausea" and it justifies its length by throwing all the bands influences and inspirations into a mix that sees slurred grungy guitar motifs vying with pounding industrial drumming and crunching doomic refrains making way for spaced out ambience and sampled narrative, it is all slightly schizophrenic, slightly unsettling but wholly brilliant! "Mereology" finds Leafdrinker going full grunge, its Nivana-esque squealing guitar motifs off set by a harsh, almost hardcore, vocal while "Endless, Nameless, Formless" could almost be considered straight heavy psych if it were not for its dank doomic undercurrent, a special mention should go here to bassist Cole his eastern tinted bass line sitting beneath Romagosa's thrumming guitar chords, at just over the three quarter mark, is just delicious . "Phage" brings things to a conclusion, the song taking those loud/quiet/loud dynamics, toyed with on "Weirding Way", to whole other level while also throwing in some good old foot to floor galloping hard rock and a generous helping of swirling heavy psychedelic guitar shredding.
Check 'em out ....
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Friday 28 August 2020
Norway's Slomosa may hail from a country lacking in sand, cactus and sun bleached bones but that hasn't stopped them cranking out one of the best examples of desert flavoured rock since the mighty Kyuss folded. Slomosa's sound owes a huge musical debt to the aforementioned Kyuss, as well as to bands like Truckfighters, Dozer and Queens of the Stone Age, but they have cleverly put their own spin on that sound, the band creating a groove that may have its roots embedded in sandy substrates but has its upper branches dusted in pristine white Norwegian snow, as will become evident when giving their self-titled debut "Slomosa" a spin.
There is something joyous and uplifting to the grooves Slomosa lay down on their debut album that just leaves you smiling, its very hard to describe in words why this is, given that the majority of the albums eight songs employ crunching quasi-heavy guitar and bass riffs driven by strident percussion, so maybe its easier to say... it just does. Musically Slomosa are closer in sound to Sweden's Truckfighters than they are to USA desert giants QOTSA or Kyuss mainly due to Slomosa's songs having a more direct foot to the floor dynamic, the bands grooves lacking a little of the "quirkiness" of QOTSA and only a modicum of the psych/doom aspects of Kyuss but they make up for this with a similar riff driven sense of fun and enjoyment that was once the hallmark of their Scandinavian cousins. Vocally however Slomosa employ more "Nordic" tones with which to decorate their songs, the vocals having a slightly more clipped monochrome European leaning than any of those bands already mentioned and it is this that puts an interesting twist on Slomosa's desert attack, shifting them away from being seen as just another bunch of desert rock wannabees and giving them a well deserved identity all of their own.
A little naïve and unpolished in places "Slomosa" is nonetheless an impressive debut from a band with bags of potential, anyway in these uncertain times who doesn't need a few feel good grooves with the the ability to put a smile on your face regardless of how raw and untamed they might be.
Check 'em out .....© 2020 Frazer jones
Sunday 23 August 2020
Some of you who regularly peruse the pages of Desert Psychlist may well remember us reviewing a quite mesmerizing retro flavoured release, from a Californian combo called Skunk, entitled "Strange Vibration". Well sadly we have nothing to report on the Skunk front as of yet but we can tell you of a, made in lockdown, solo release from one it's members.
"Mind Palace of the Mushroom God" (Fuzzy Mind Records) is the conceptual brainchild of guitarist Dmitri Mavra who finding himself a little challenged by the tedium of a global lockdown decided to get busy and use his time to create something, under the banner of Dungeon Weed, a little different from the 70's inspired grooves he usually explores with Skunk.Mind Palace of the Mushroom God" was created by Marva while in isolation, the multi-instrumentalist not only writing and arranging all the albums music but also supplying the bulk of its instrumentation and its vocals, however enforced quarantine did not stop him calling on a little help from a couple of friends to lend a hand and help flesh things out. Marva enlisted Chris McGrew (mixer/producer at Hyde Street Studios) to handle all the albums percussion (Marva sent over backing tracks for the drummer to add his "thunder" to), and on Thia Moonbrook to lend her soaring tones to the vocals thereby creating a nice counterbalance with Marva's more gritty Captain Beefheart-like growls, other than that though "Mind Palace of the Mushroom God" is all Marva. The album's concept of a sorcerer caught in a web of his own making, in an attempt to cheat death, gives the green light for Marva's imagination to run riot and allows him the freedom to go into musical territories he might not have considered with either Skunk or his other band Slow Phase. There is gnarly rawness to the songs that populate "Mind Palace of the Mushroom God" that is probably closer in dynamic to sludge or stoner doom than it is to the 70's influenced grooves of Marva's other projects, having said that songs like "Beholder Gonna Fuck You Up", " Black Pudding" and "Mind Palace" share a fair share of old school screaming guitar solos and crunching hard rock refrains but are drowned in so much filthy fuzz and devastating distortion it is sometimes easy to miss them. This is not a criticism as it is the filthiness and the sheer gnarliness of both the albums production and its musical execution that is its biggest asset and makes this album such a delight to listen to.
Saturday 22 August 2020
If you mistakenly came to this page looking for an electrical device that might save you time with your culinary endeavors then we are afraid you are going to be disappointed, the "kitchen witch" we are discussing here is not something that will help you fluff up your soufflés or put a crispy edge on your bacon but is the name of an Australian band whose music has one foot in the clear waters of the blues and the other in the murky depths of stoner/hard rock and doom. Kitchen Witch hail from Adelaide, Australia and consist of Georgie Cosson (vocals); Conor Kinsella (guitars); Simon Elliott (bass) and John Russo (drums,/percussion), and have just released their second full length album "Earth and Ether" (Kozmik Artifactz Records)
If you've had the pleasure of hearing Kitchen Witch's self titled debut album "Kitchen Witch" you will already be aware that these Adelaide groovesters have a penchant for blues based stonerized rock laced with an undercurrent of doomic bluster, you will also know that as well as containing three very skilled musicians, in Kinsella, Elliott and Russo, they also boast an exceptional vocalist in Cosson. What you might not know yet, unless you have played the album prior to reading this review, is how much this band have matured both as musicians and songwriters since their last release. In Desert Psychlist's review of their debut we described the bands sound as "jamming a groove that mixes the psychedelic blues of The Big Brother and the Holding Company with the stoner/desert grooves of Kyuss", and in some respects that statement still holds water but after listening to "Earth and Ether", we have started to hear a little more darkness and depth creep into Kitchen Witch's sonic attack. The blues is still, and we expect will always be, at the root of much of what Kitchen Witch bring to the table but those darker aspects of their sound, which were only hinted at on their debut, are on "Earth and Ether" pushed a little further to the fore. The band can still lay down a ripping fuzzed out blues groove, as they do to great effect on songs like "Cave of Mischief ", the excellent title track "Earth and Ether" and the desert flavoured "Many Moons", but it is on songs, like "Lost", the exceptionally atmospheric "Sunrise" and the swirling "The Frontal Lobe" that it really becomes clear how far this band have progressed. Kitchen Witch on these songs explore a darker musical territory, territory usually the reserve of their more established and somewhat similar sounding contemporaries Holy Grove, the band dragging the blues kicking and screaming into domains the genre might not feel comfortable in but actually fits it quite well.Earth and Ether" a spin.
Check it out ...
. © 2020 Frazer Jones
Friday 21 August 2020
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire doesn't quite have the same ring to it as say Sky Valley, California but the northern town, which was once a central component in Britain's Industrial Revolution, is the home to one of the UK's, growing roster, of must hear underground rock bands, the perfectly named Sound of Origin.
Sound of Origin, Joel Bulsara (vocals), Joe 'Zeph' Wilczynski (guitar), Jax Townend (bass) and Chris 'Foz' Foster (drums), have not had the easiest of rides since the release of their debut EP " Seeds of the Past", first they parted company with their original vocalist John Bussey and had to go through the rigmarole of advertising for, auditioning and breaking in a new vocalist and then, when everything seemed to be coming together, things had to be put on hold when drummer Chris "Foz" Foster was involved in a serious car crash. Thankfully "Foz" escaped with minor (but painful) injuries and new vocalist Joel Bulsara proved to be the perfect fit for Sound of Origin's particular brand of riff heavy grooves, grooves that can now be heard on the bands debut full album "The All Seeing Eye" (APF Records)
The departure of an original member and the subsequent introduction of a new member to an established line up is inevitably going to have some effect on a bands dynamic, these comings and goings can sometimes have a detrimental effect but on the whole they tend to reinvigorate a band, refreshing not only their sound but also their whole approach to music. This is the case with Huddersfields's Sound of Origin, the bands debut EP " Seeds of the Past" was very much a release pitched towards the desert/stoner end of the underground rock spectrum however with "The All Seeing Eye" the band have added a darker, harder edge to their sound, new man Bulsara's more extensive vocal range giving the band a more sludgier, hardcore dynamic. Those huge walls of fuzzed out bass and guitar riffs, that were a major factor on "Seeds of the Past", are still in place but on "The All Seeing Eye" Wilczynski and Townend execute them with a little more crunch and growl which when combined with Foster's solid and industrious percussion gives everything a darker, danker and at times doomier vibe. It is, however, in the vocal department that fans will notice the biggest differences, Bulsara cannot only croon, wail and howl like a rock god of old he can also scream, screech and growl like a man in the throws of demonic possession, his blend of clean and harsh tones bringing a venomous edge to songs like "Dim Carcosa", "Morning Bird" and "Stoned Messiah Blues" that was a little lacking on the band previous outing, an edge that may alienate some fans of the old line up but will no doubt delight many, many more.
It's been a long an arduous journey for Sound of Origin to reach this point in their career but one well worth it if "The All Seeing Eye" is the marker they wish to be judged by. Heavy without being overtly brutal and drenched in enough fuzz to drown a small whale "The All Seeing Eye" is proof that no matter the pitfalls that may befall you on your journey if you work hard and believe in what you do you will triumph in the end.
Check it out ….
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Sunday 16 August 2020
Space, after the black arts, is probably one of the most common themes visited by those who ply their trade on the underside of rock's mainstream, there is something about space's mystery, its solitude and its vastness that has inspired musicians, from Holst to Howling Giant, to explore its seemingly endless possibilities.
Spain's Mindust, Mrzl (bass); Vicenç (guitar); Kiru (vocals) and Jordi (drums), are no strangers to space themed rock, the bands 2013 release "Taking Off" (available as a free download on Bandcamp) explored themes of a cosmic nature both in its music and its lyrics, however on "Taking Off" their approach came from a more traditional direction and saw the band trading off raucous choppy hard rock guitar riffs with elements of Colour Haze(ish) sonic experimentation. Seven years have now passed since the release of "Taking Off" and Mindust's approach has undergone some drastic changes, the band have retained their penchant for experimentation but have jettisoned those crunching riffs for a more lower, slower and heavier stoner doomic dynamic as can be witnessed on the bands latest EP "Lost Transmissions".
"Lost Transmissions" is made up of only two songs, "Mayday" and "Adrift", the former just over three minutes in length, the latter extending to half way past the nine minute mark. Now that might seem a paltry offering, especially given there has been seven years between releases, but beggars can't be choosers and considering that we are living in uncertain time (Covid -19) the fact that bands are still able to release any form of music is something that should be applauded. Despite the brevity of content on "Lost Transmissions" there is no doubting its quality, Mindust's doomier, danker approach is one that suits their space orientated themes far better than the rockier riff'n'roll of their previous outing, the lower slower dynamic giving added depth to their more "out there" experimentations and the shift to a more monastic vocal delivery adding an air of mournful gravitas to the proceedings. First track "Mayday" builds its part up from humble beginnings with an atmospheric bass heavy Colour Haze-like groove, albeit slightly more doomic, around which swirling guitar solos swoop and soar and over which wafts a mournful vocal melody sang/chanted in almost Gregorian fashion, the songs groove slowly getting heavier and its vocals more forceful as it reaches its final destination. "Adrift" follows a similar pattern to its predecessor but here we find Mindust stretching out and sprinkling a little eastern promise over their spaced out doomic endeavors with Vicenç's exotic sounding guitar solos swooping and soaring over Mrzl's deep, bone shaking bass riffs and Jordi's tight, intricate yet fluid percussion to create enthralling dark hued spacescapes for Kiru to decorate with a superbly pitched low melancholic vocal.
The blurb accompanying this EP, on the bands Bandcamp page, describes "Lost Transmissions" as "a reinterpretation of never before released Mindust songs, recorded live with proper safety measures, as demanded in the apocalyptic 2020" which suggests that the bands long hiatus from the recording studio has come to an end and there maybe, just maybe, a chance of something more coming from these guys in the future. On the evidence of these two mind-blowing tracks of swirling psychedelic tinted space doom let's hope so!
Check 'em out ...© 2020 Frazer Jones
Friday 14 August 2020
Don't you just love it when something appears on your radar that blows your mind so much that you immediately have to share your discovery with others and then find out that those others you shared it with dig it as much as you do! This was the case with "Coronation" the debut EP from UK combo Clujit. The quartet, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire jam a mixture of hard rock, psych and prog grooves that are melodic and accessible yet at the same time contain just the right amount of grittiness, heaviness and complexity to appeal to even those hardened extremophiles amongst our little underground rock fraternity.
Putting out an EP as a debut release serves a multitude of purposes, it's cheaper than a full album, it can sometimes be the first draft of songs that will later reappear on your debut album rearranged and remastered, it can also be used much like a demo to give labels a taste of what you are all about but most importantly it can test the ground to see if all that hard work of composing and arranging something you truly believe in will actually find an audience that appreciates what you've done. Whether "Coronation" works for the Clujit in any of these scenarios is too early to say but what can be said is that this EP is a highly impressive collection of songs that may not quite set the world alight but will at least start it smoldering. Of the songs on offer on "Coronation" probably the most impressive is it's opener "Cold, Alone and Wondering" , a song that begins on a wave of swirling effects, shimmering percussion and sparse reverberating guitar textures then gradually builds up into a riff heavy behemoth interspersed with elements of Porcupine Tree - like proggish complexity and psychedelic ambience over which a clean clear vocal melody tells what is basically a love story. For their next track, "Basement Tragedy", Clujit delve into their seventies bag and pull out a chugging Hawkwind(ish) shuffle replete with swirling effects and vintage sounding fuzzed guitar tones all coated in a suitably monotonic vocal melody. "Coronation" closes its account with "Infliction" a song split into two movements, "(part I)" a laid back instrumental anchored by liquid deep bass and restrained percussion over which gently strummed/swept chords and arpeggios ring and reverberate, "(part 2)" a heavy psych workout that finds the band throwing off any shackles and really cutting loose, John Gosling's bass and Craig Jones' drums laying down a thundering array of shifting dynamics for guitarist David Court to decorate with crunching powerchords and screaming wah drenched solos while vocalist Peter Baldock-Williams tells us in clean slightly weary tones that he's gonna "laugh hysterically and dance upon your grave".
It is early days for Clujit, as we all know new bands can suddenly appear and then just as quickly disappear, but it would be a shame not to see this band expand on the ideas they have briefly explored on "Coronation" and get to see where they might take their music next. Clujit are not quite the finished article yet and "Coronation" is an EP that is a little naïve in places, a little raw in others but it is also one full of promise for the future.
Check it out ....© 2020 Frazer Jones
Wednesday 12 August 2020
The Crooked Whispers are a combo put together from members of such notable bands as LáGoon, Hour of 13, Luciferica, and Fulanno. The band, Anthony Gaglia. (vocals), Chad Davis (guitars) and Ignacio De Tommaso (bass) are joined, for the release of their new album "Satanic Melodies",(Electric Valley Records) by Nicolás Taranto on drums and together they make what can only be described as an unholy racket!
There could be a credible argument for including some form of warning with "Satanic Melodies" as the grooves emanating from this collection of dark, diabolical hymns of debauchery are likely to not go down too well with those of a more traditional religious nature. "Satanic Melodies" has already, one day after its release, prompted one irate soul to write on a social media site "I guess there are many sick and twisted people out there who thrive on stuff like this"! The reason why "Satanic Melodies" can elicit such vitriol is not only because its lyrics explore themes of evil wickedness and the black arts but also because those themes are reflected in both its music and the vocals that accompany that music. Droning feedback, raked strings and menacing sound effects, over an ominous one note bass line, announce the arrival of the appropriately titled "Intro", its sinister dark atmospherics setting the tone for the rest of the album. The only word that could describe Chad Davis' guitar tone, on tracks like "Sacrifice", "Profane Pleasure" and the albums title track, is filthy.. a tone so drenched in distortion so overdriven with fuzz that it sounds like he's plugged into an amplifier built especially for him by the horned one himself, De Tommaso's growling bass is no less impressive and gives the impression that he has eschewed the use of traditional bass strings and opted for the stretched sinews of some hellish monstrosity, meanwhile Taranto plays his role as the anchorman to perfection by keeping everything tight, solid and economical thus allowing Davis and De Tommaso's guitar and bass to dictate rather than decorate the albums grooves. It is Gaglia's vocals however that really put the "satanic" into the six "melodies" that make up this caustic collection. Gaglia is probably better known for utilizing a distinctive garage/punk style sneer with his own band LáGoon however with The Crooked Whispers it would appear that he has undergone some form of demonic possession, not so much singing lines like "to die is your reward" and "I am the slave of Lucifer His darkness lives in me" as rasping them in tones both malevolent and sinister.
"Satanic Melodies" is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, there are times throughout the album where some listeners may feel that a little more melody and a little less Satan would not have gone amiss, but that aside The Crooked Whispers have fulfilled their bargain with the Lord of the Flies and given him some of his best tunes in years!
Check 'em out.....© 2020 Frazer Jones
Monday 10 August 2020
A "Mephistophelean trio from Athens, Greece" is how occult rock/doom trio Seer of the Void describe themselves and its not hard to understand why after hearing their debut release "Revenant" (Made Of Stone Recordings), The bands music, an enthralling blend of raucous guitar refrains and thundering rhythms, sits at the proto end of the doom spectrum but due to its vocals, which are positioned at the cleaner end of harsh, has a pleasing blackened edge perfectly suited to its dark occulti(sh) themes.
Things begin very promising indeed with first track "Prodigal Son", John Amariotakis' guitar and Greg "Maddog" Konstantaras' bass combining with Ilias Samartzis' drums to create a thunderous traditional doom groove over which Konstantaras roars lyrics telling us he's "the great deceiver", "the prodigal son" in tones grizzled and maniacal, the trio dropping into a Sabbath-esque flavoured gallop between verses to add balance and variety. "Venom Black" follows and finds the band putting the brakes on and delivering a groove that although not quite low and slow, in a Sleep/ Monolord sense, is definitely in that territory, the song also boasts an absolutely stunning neo-classical flavored solo from Amariotakis that is as haunting as it is beautiful. Next up is "Sign of the Wolf" and here we find the band mixing up their traditional with their proto, the trio switching between these two dynamics with consummate ease thanks in main to Samartzis' incredible skill behind the traps. "Dullahan" rears its gnarly head next and sees the band jamming a groove that stutters and stammers beneath a superbly feral vocal from Konstantaras, as well as some not too shoddy growling bass work, his slightly demonic rasps and roars adding a hellish edge to the proceeding yet, thanks to their clarity, avoid sounding forced or, as can sometimes be the case in vocals of this nature, coming over as slightly farcical.."Lysergus Mons" might suggest something psychedelic but actually what you get is a mix of galloping Sabbath-like swing and Electric Wizard type intensity twinned with powerful gnarled vocals and swirling blues flecked guitar solos. "Evil Orchid" and its follow up "Hellhound" are two deliriously devilish heavy tomes that should tick the boxes of any doom aficionado with a love of a dank, dark riff while closing track "Conform and Strive" confirms in its lyrics that "god hates us all" and shows in its music that Satan has all the best tunes.
Seer of the Void have with "Revenant" created an album that sits on the precipice between the traditional and proto dooms of yesteryear and the more harsher, blackened dooms of today and they have done so without leaning to far either way resulting in an impressive debut that should appeal to fans of both.
Check it out .....
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Sunday 9 August 2020
Saturday 8 August 2020
Thursday 6 August 2020
Tuesday 4 August 2020
If you are a Brit of certain age you will remember walking around cities and towns in the early 70's and seeing fly posters advertising gigs by bands with names like Rusty Butler, Strider, Warhorse and Stray as well as many that have now achieved cult status with fans of today's stoner, doom and psych scene like Budgie, Wild Turkey and May Blitz. If you were around at that time and do remember these bands or have fallen in love with their grooves after being introduced to their music by an older family member then Majorca's Queen Marsa are going to blow your mind! Many new bands toy with recreating a 70's sound but very few successfully nail the era's vibe, this is not the case with Queen Marsa. Queen Marsa capture the feel and groove of the golden age of rock music, on songs like "Cyclops", "Ashes of Pompey" and "Bite My Soul", with such legitimacy and validity that it is often easy to forget you are listening to a band who were probably not even born when those bands mentioned earlier were in their prime. This stunning EP screams vintage rather than retro, its warmly fuzzed guitar tones possess no hints of overdriven harshness, it's lead breaks soar and scorch rather than scream, its bass lines are delivered deep and creamy and its percussion swings rather than pummels, in other words this is "classic" hard rock with a capital C. So what of the vocals you ask, often the clincher when listening to grooves of a more "classic" nature, well the vocals surpass all expectations and are the cherry on what is already a particularly tasty cake. Pintos voice is like a cross between Budgie's Burke Shelley and Wild Turkey's Gary Pickford-Hopkins, with a little Bon Scott, thrown in for good measure, his vocals contain just the right balance of gritty bluesiness and soulful power to do justice to the classic flavored grooves circling around them and take everything they touch to an altogether other level of awesomeness.
Check it out ....