C'mon be honest , you knew it wouldn't be long before Desert Psychlist dragged you kicking and screaming back to Greece to check out yet another of the countries ever-growing roster of kick-ass bands but as the self-appointed ministers for Greek underground culture Desert Psychlist feels it is our duty. Today we introduce you to a quartet going by the name Tencode (also known as 10 Code), the band, Petros Potamianos (vocals, guitar), Apostolos Boules (guitar), Haris Anagnostou (drums) and George Paraskevopoulos (bass), hail from Athens and jam a groove that takes a little classic/hard rock, sprinkles it with a pinch of grungy alt-rock and then tops it all off with with some nicely warmed stoner fuzz, a recipe that makes their latest release "Ride" a very tasty dish indeed.
Monday 30 November 2020
Sunday 29 November 2020
Monday 23 November 2020
Desert Psychlist has struggled before with trying to describe music to our readers that doesn't quite fit into those neat little boxes we often use to compartmentalize the music we listen to but the album we are reviewing today has been our hardest challenge to date. "Royal Rum Board Night" is an album from Sin, a power trio from Rennes, France whose only rule is to not have any rules, they are a band who don't observe boundaries or borders, a band who are fearless and unwilling to compromise, a band who are unpredictable and above all exciting!
If there was any justice in this world then Gus Paulhan (guitar/lead vocals/keys/percussions/mandolin) Célestin Herault (bass/vocals/violin/assorted noises) and Flav Gouault (drums/vocals/percussion) would be carried shoulder high through our streets, lauded as saviors of intelligent rock music, heirs apparent to the crowns of Elder and All Them Witches, unfortunately that will probably not happen. Why this will not happen is because Sin are probably a little too eclectic, too angular and too diverse for their own good, the bands penchant for skipping across genres and styles with their music being probably a stretch too far for the casual rock fan to take in all at once. However for those with a broader musical palette Sin are like manna from heaven, a band who are a sum of their influences, influences that include such opposing elements as jazz, pop, prog and math rock as well as the usual suspects of stoner rock, psych and doom. Nothing is a given with "Royal Rum Board Night" songs like "Quintessence", "What If...", "Purpose" and "Watching" may start their journey's on one path but very rarely do they stay on that path, a brutal riff can at any moment make way for a ringing arpeggio, a section of post-rock ambience may suddenly morph into a swirling heavy psych freak-out, all of which are decorated in a mix of clean lead and harmonized vocals It is this unpredictability of moods and the bands refusal to conform to a stereotypical rock blueprint that make listening to "Royal Rum Board Night" at times challenging but always exciting.
Sunday 22 November 2020
This is the first time Desert Psychlist has reviewed an album from Colombia and hopefully it will not be the last, unfortunately there is not much information to be found concerning the "underground" rock scene in Colombia so we are flying a little blind in regards to reporting on how healthy the scene is over there. We can however point you in the direction of the one Colombian band we do know of, a trio from Bogotá going by the name Surtidora de Ratas. whose instrumental jams are infused with elements of doom, punk and stoner/hard rock but could probably be better summed up as heavy psych. The band have been busy lately releasing two albums, "Siniestros, orgias y gozos en el año de la rata" and "Plegarias para embriagar las ánimas de las ratas", within days of each other, both albums are worthy of attention but for purposes of space and time we will concentrate on the latter.
Of all the instrumental bands out there it could be said that Surtidora de Ratas' sonic attack is probably closer in sound to that of Clouds Taste Satanic, than it is to say a band like Iglesia Atomica or Comacozer, in that it has a harder more darker doomic dynamic. This is not to say that the Colombian band do not take off on similar tangents into the cosmos just that when they do they tend to avoid the tourist traps and instead explore the danker murkier backstreets. Take first track "Útero lisérgico" for instance, you get a barrage of heavily distorted guitar, driven by thrumming bass and superbly delivered percussion, going around in what seems like endless circles but whereas another band might layer this all with endless screeching guitar solo's Surtidora de Ratas keep things low key and dark, those solo's are there but they are pushed a little further back in the mix so that instead of overpowering the songs groove they add texture to it. This darker dynamic runs through all ten of the tracks of "Plegarias para embriagar las ánimas de las ratas" with songs like "El valle de las prostitutas", "Reencarnación en año bisiesto" and "El fuego camina conmigo" all sharing a modicum of gritty gravitas, but Surtidora de Ratas are not a band who are content just to wade in dark waters they are also just as able to get reflective and bluesy ("Acid devil invocation party") as they are to get a little punky and lysergic ("Reencarnación en año bisiesto") both of which they do very well indeed.
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Friday 20 November 2020
The aptly titled "Intro" kicks things off with 35 seconds of sonic mayhem that then segues into "Speed Machine" a song that comes across like a stonerized desert version of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" but without the references to engines and wheels, its vocal boasting, in graveled tones, of letting "demon's tell me where to go" and "going fast like you never seen" against a backdrop of infectious gnarly assed desert groove. Title track " Into The Great Unknown" raises both the heat and tempo by bursting from the speakers in a explosion of heavily fuzzed guitar and bass refrains driven by punishing strident percussion, the songs full on punkish vocal delivery the perfect match for the songs aggressive attack. "Memoirs" follows and here we find the band stepping off the gas and displaying their psychedelic chops with gentle guitar arpeggios ringing over liquid bass lines and restrained percussion while voices tells us, in detached tones, of dark memories probably best forgotten. Next track "Slow" has a bluesy almost classic rock feel, its vocals, delivered in a weary baritone over a relaxed mid tempo groove, have a warm seductive feel only really taking off into harsher territories when the song breaks into its repeated chorus. "Good Behavior" defies its title by erupting into an in your face fest of raucous fuzzed out guitar riffage and thundering rhythms decorated in aggressive vocals while next track "Thammuz" finds the band plunging into a lysergic laced doomic instrumental replete with scorching off kilter guitar solos swooping and swirling over and around a backdrop of growling bass and pummeling percussion. "Absolution". although boasting a very doomic title, finds Thammuz heading once again back into desert rock territory, the song reviving the classic rock stance they took on "Slow" but this time swapping those bluesy elements for a more hard rock dynamic. Penultimate track "Fake It" mixes its punk with its stoner to create a cocktail of punkish swagger and hard rock bluster that wouldn't have sounded out of place if it had been accidently included on a compilation of grooves documenting an early 90's Palm Desert generator party. Thammuz finally bring things to a close with "Wizard Sleeve" an instrumental that weaves all the threads of Thammuz's styles, influences and musical preferences together in a stunning musical tapestry of deliciously eclectic groove.
Check 'em out ...
Wednesday 18 November 2020
Desert Psychlist has to confess to being a little late wrapping our ears around Drug Beard's self titled debut "Drug Beard" as it got a little buried beneath what was a virtual avalanche of quality new releases that hit our desk in the month of October. When "Drug Beard" did raise its gnarly head from that pile however we soon came to the realization that this was an album of equal quality to those it had been languishing under and there was no way we could allow this album to pass us by without penning a few well chosen words on its many merits, so here goes.....
Drug Beard are Jeff Gallagher (guitar,/bass/vocals); Johnny Busher (lead vocals/percussion) and Todd Molinaro (guitar/vocals), a trio from Pennsylvania whose take on doom is one with a heavy leaning towards the trippier end of the genre's spectrum and who are a band with a strong penchant for tongue in cheek song titles. Although there is a certain amount of humour attached to songs with titles like "Hang Gliding With Hawks", "Wall To Wall Satan" and "Hessian Gynecology" the actual songs themselves are played with a stony (or should that read stoned) straight faced seriousness in a style that suggests that the "drug" part of the bands name was not chosen at random. Drug Beard are a band who utilize a low, slow and heavy dynamic with which to frame their songs and they decorate those dynamics in hazy slightly wasted vocal tones, however unlike many of their contemporaries (Sleep for instance), who often toy with aspects of drug culture in their music and image but equally often sound like they are playing it straight in the studio, Drug Beard have a sound that intimates pharmaceuticals may well have played their part in the bands musical processes.
Tuesday 17 November 2020
If you were a fan of that first wave of desert rock bands ,who were birthed from those generator parties that gave us the likes of Kyuss, Dozer and Yawning Man, then El Rojo's raucous refrains and strident grooves are going to go down very well with you. Not many realize that it was punk rock and not the hard rock of the 70's that was the major influence on those early desert bands and that those hard rock edges only started to really creep into the scene much later on down the line. El Rojo are a band who's music mirrors that transition from a rawer punk sound to a more harder rock dynamic, their raucous buzzsaw guitar riffs have the aggressive edge you would expect from grooves that border on punkish but are tempered by the type of catchy hooks and swirling guitar solos you would more likely encounter from bands who take their influences from the 70's. Of course the appeal of an album packed with songs that are just a relentless assault of raucous fuzzed out riffs and full on rhythms is going to wear thin after a while and so El Rojo vary things up by throwing in to some of their songs a variety of curveball elements, like on the excellent "Colors" where the band get to flex their doomic muscles or like on "Ascension" where the band mix that doomic muscle with a touch of lysergic texturing. El Rojo are not adverse to bringing things down to a more retrospective level either as they prove on the reflective "Cactus Bloom" a song that begins laid back and chilled but then gradually grows in intensity until exploding into a bluesy torch song that lyrically tells a metaphoric tale of hope growing out of adversity. The band brings things to a close with "Dragonfly" and much like its predecessor it starts tranquil and relaxed with acoustic guitars strummed and liquid bass lines booming with its vocal delivered in restrained tones but then suddenly erupts into one of those heavy desert grooves, that are the bands signature throughout most of "El Diablo Rojo", with amps turned up to eleven and rhythms rolling like thunder beneath swirling guitar solos and grizzled clean vocal tones.
Friday 13 November 2020
Desert Psychlist has to admit that we approached Croatian trio Lord Drunkalot's debut "Heads & Spirits" with a certain amount of trepidation, expecting something that might be a little tongue in cheek and maybe a little generic. Given the bands name and the fact that the members go by names like Party Barbarian (Brotha Alkobuddha) on drums Ratimir Nebozemlja (Stipe) on bass and Ganjalf The Green (Leo Narkobuddha) on guitars/vocals, you couldn't really blame us for having a few doubts but as it turns out, and although there are elements of Lord Drunkalot's sound that do wander into those areas, this is an album of well played doom tinted metallic grooves that if not exactly album of the year material will undoubtedly put a smile on your face and lift your spirits, and we all need that right now!
Lord Drunkalot employ all the usual doomic clichés in their music, they unashamedly fill their songs with references to witches, warlocks, devils and dragons, as well as many of the other usual suspects, but they do so in the full knowledge that these are clichés, it is almost as if they are playing with the doom genre, seeing how far they can go with it all before it all just becomes pastiche. This is where Lord Drunkalot are clever though, they know when to pull back from that edge, these guys can play and they can write a good tune and despite their cliched lyrical content the songs on "Heads & Spirits" work because they ROCK! Songs like "2+2=3", title track "Heads & Spirits", the truly excellent "Blåkulla", with its bluesy outro and the superbly atmospheric "Witchfucker" are crammed full of everything you could possibly want from a doom album but are presented to the listener with knowing wink and a glint in the eye.
Old school metal played with new school attitude and vigour Lord Drunkalot's "Heads & Spirits" might not be an album pushing its way to the top of anyone's end of year lists but it is an album that more than deserves its place in everyone's music collection.© 2020 Frazer Jones
Thursday 12 November 2020
If there was ever a band that deserved more love than Poland's SautruS then Desert Psychlist is yet to meet them, the four piece combo have consistently released albums that push the boundaries of conventional rock to its edges but have not yet quite made that leap into that upper echelon of bands whose albums are met with rabid anticipation long before they are actually released. However, this state of affairs could all change with the release of the bands latest opus "M.A.P.", an eclectic mix of downtuned psych, complex prog, doom and stoner metal all wrapped up in a conceptual tale of a war between a Pope and a Holy Roman Emperor.
"M.A.P." opens its account with "Exkomvna" a short but strident song that sets the scene for the albums concept by depicting, in its music and lyrics, the excommunication of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Gregory IX for his refusal to carry out the church's wishes for a sixth crusade into the Holy Lands. "Baquar" then follows and finds SautruS hitting a groove that is part prog rock, part hard rock and boasts an impressive vocal that soars, much like the falcons in the songs lyrics, over and around the complex and intricate grooves that growl and crunch beneath it. "Rose" raises its head next, a song that alternates between serene balladry and crunching heavy doomic bluster. That bluster gets the upper-hand on next track "Borderlove" and finds SautruS hitting a chugging stoner groove over which they pour cryptic lyrics telling of love but with the subject of that love left to the listeners imagination. Acoustic guitars announce the arrival of "Falling" a song sang in monastic tones over a laid back and languid musical backdrop that, within the context of the albums concept, could be construed as telling a tale of a fall from grace but Desert Psychlist may be way wide of the mark with that theory. "Lady In Green" enters next its circular fuzz drenched guitar motifs underscored by some impressive understated drumming are then joined by a superbly pitched vocal that tells of a mystical savior in a green dress, as the song progresses so does the intensity of its performance the band ramping up the songs dynamics bar by bar until finally we find ourselves entrenched in a heavy doomic groove decorated with vocals of similarly darker tone. If there was ever a more schizophrenic song than "Present Times" then Desert Psychlist would like to hear it for here the listener is faced with a song that shifts and changes at such a rate that there are times you are unsure if you are still listening to the same song you just dropped the needle on. Next up is "Twitchy Witchy Girl" a quirky blend of stuttering alternative rock and brutal stoner metal that in its quieter quirkier moments boasts a vocal not unlike that employed by Robert Plant on Led Zep's "Houses of the Holy". "Deceiver" comes out of the traps strutting a crunching stoner metal groove around which wailing wordless vocals soar and swoop but then suddenly morphs into thundering heavy prog workout decorated in clean vocal harmonies before then shifting once again and taking off into heavy psych territory."1239" closes "M.A.P." with acoustic guitars strummed and picked beneath soaring monastic harmonies while a part sang, part spoken narrative (in Polish) is recited.
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Wednesday 11 November 2020
Tuesday 10 November 2020
Orbiter, Ivan A. Reigstad (bass, lead vocals); Kim Rune Johansen (guitar) and Pål Gauslaa Sivertzen (drums) are a Norwegian trio from Oslo, not to be confused with the Finnish band of the same name (who Desert Psychlist strongly suggest you check out too), this Orbiter leans a little more towards the stoner/desert rock of Sasquatch, Fu Manchu and Clutch than the more doomic outpourings of their Scandinavian neighbours, something this Orbiter's latest EP "Lead Head" will more than attest to.
"Crunch" is the heavily distorted sound that comes out of an overdriven amplifier when a guitarist hits a fat power chord with a lot of dialed in gain so it would be fair to say that the three songs, that make up Orbiter's new EP "Lead Head", are blessed with more than their fair share of that "crunchiness". "Lead Head" has a sound that harks back to the early days of the stoner/desert scene, its songs are strident, punchy with an aggressive edge yet at the same time packed with clever little musical hooks and vocal melodies to catch the ear and retain the listeners interest. All three songs, "Lead Head", "Goldenboy" and "To The Sun", possess their own individual charms, all are played with passion and skill and all have that undefinable magical ingredient that ensures repeated plays way beyond their release date.
Monday 9 November 2020
The legend beneath the words Desert Psychlist on our beautifully painted banner (courtesy of artist Kyrre Bjurling) states our intentions of covering music from the genres of "Stoner, Desert, Doom & Psych" and although we endeavor to adhere to this policy it seems that the last of those genres has gotten a little overlooked lately. Today we intend to redress that by pointing your ears in the direction of a superb little combo from Oviedo, Spain going by the name Acid Mess, Miguel Ruiz (guitars and vocals); Borja Vázquez (bass and vocals); Antonio Tamargo (drums/backing vocals) and Juan Villamil (synth and keys), whose third album "Sangre De Otros Mundos" (Spinda Records) definitely falls into the category of "psych" but also so much more.
Sunday 8 November 2020
"Occult Doom from Bendigo, Victoria" screams the blurb on Australian four piece AstroFuzz's Bandcamp page and if you are listening to the bands debut release "Necromancer" while reading this review then you will already be coming to the realization that "occult doom" is exactly what AstroFuzz deliver.
If you are a fan Sleep and/or Electric Wizard then AstroFuzz's blend of stoner and proto doomic dynamics and their hazily delivered satanic/horror themed lyrics, is going to be right up your street. Just mentioning Sleep and Electric Wizard will tell you that AstroFuzz are a band who place a huge emphasis on the power of a riff and this is a band with riffs to spare, low slow riffs, relentless riffs and galloping proto flavoured riffs all drenched in so much fuzz and distortion that there are moments when you worry that they will just descend into a grey electrical noise. To the bands credit they never allow that to happen and they achieve this by counterbalancing their heavily effected refrains, on songs with titles like "Horror From Space", "Leviathan" and "Destroy All Monsters", with deft little touches of space-like colouring, scorching blues tinted lead breaks and hazy vocals laid so far back in the mix that they act more like another instrument than an actual bona-fide vocal. There is no getting away from the fact that what AstroFuzz bring to the table is riff based heaviness of a relentless, pummeling nature but that is also their appeal. We, of this thing we call the underground, all like grooves that will stretch us and challenge us with their complexities and intricacies but we all also have a basic need for something a little more base and primal and with "Necromancer" AstroFuzz deliver that.
Wednesday 4 November 2020
Wales does not get the credit it deserves in musical terms, when someone mentions Wales in a musical context probably the first things people think of are Tom Jones and Welsh Male Voice Choirs but Wales has given us some absolutely killer rock music over the the years, psychedelic jamsters Man, proto-metallers Budgie, dub/reggae metalists Skindred, agit-rockers Manic Street Preachers and that is without mentioning current weed warriors Dope Smoker. The latest band hoping to cement their place in the annals of Welsh rock history go by the name Swamp Thief, a duo consisting of Simon Bevan (vocals/guitar/bass) and Marc Lockwood (drums), who's debut EP "I" is an enthralling blend of swampy sludge, raucous stoner rock and grizzly heavy blues.
For just two people Swamp Thief create a hell of a lot of noise, in fact.at times during "I", it is damn hard not to be fooled into thinking that you are listening to a quartet or a quintet, such is the force of sound that Swamp Thief create with just the minimum of instrumentation. First track "Mary" exemplifies this perfectly it comes out of the traps with every drum beat sounding like an explosion and guitar tones dialed to gnarly the duo hitting a groove that will tick every stoners boxes and then some they won't even know exist. The band don't opt for easy options either, it would be so simple for them decorate tunes like "Whip Hand", Maelstrom Queen" and "Tides" with harsh, gutteral vocals to match the intensity and sheer volume of their grooves but when you have a guitarist/bassist who can not only riff and solo like a man possessed but also possesses a voice strong, powerful and edged with a southern rock type grittiness ..well you got to use that voice. For all their volume, crunch and sludginess Swamp Thief also have songs, the duo may swamp those songs in lashings of thick distortion and fuzz, they may drive those songs with percussion so powerful that it could probably register on the Richter scale but they DO have those songs and for all their bluster and bombast those songs, to use an old jazz term, swing!
Don't, when approaching Swamp Thief's "I", expect to hear a stoner/sludge version of The White Stripes or The Black Keys because even those two well respected duo's, would be hard pushed to match the sheer ferocity and gnarliness that these Welsh wizards bring to the table. To say this EP kicks ass would be an understatement, "I" doesn't just kick ass it beats the crap out of ass and then drops a stack of amplifiers on it!
© 2020 Frazer Jones
Tuesday 3 November 2020
Bluesy stoner/hard rock is not something new in fact a high percentage of what is released within the underground rock scene these days has its roots set , one way or another, in the blues. What is maybe not so much new but is kind of unique is a band who blend those fuzz drenched bluesy grooves with music of a more indie nature as is the case with Scotland's Earthcaster. Earthcaster are a four piece band whose sonic attack, which they have dubbed "Druidic Rock", possess more than a touch of psychedelic jangle, a sound that informed much of the post-punk grooves that were coming out of Liverpool, UK in the late 70's, a sound that Earthcaster has rejigged, re-imagined and spiced up with some stonerized fuzz for todays audiences and released under the cryptically titled banner of "Samhain Wheel of the Year Vol.1"
That comparison to Liverpool's indie psych scene of the late 70's, made in the intro to this review, is never more evident than on this EP's first track "Samhain" it's reverberating fractured guitar motifs and slightly echoed vocal tones are reminiscent of those once employed by the likes of The Teardrop Explodes, The Mighty WAH and Echo and the Bunnymen, however the advent of a scorching blues tinted guitar solo shifts the songs whole dynamic and we find ourselves being carried to the fade on wave of tasteful bluesy hard rock. "Blood Red Sky" follows and boasts a riff that could easily be mistaken for something Bedford folk/psych rockers Wolf People might have attempted on their debut album but also carries a little proto metal bluster in its musical canon. For third track "Burn" the band mix up their indie/psych leanings with Burundi style drumming and early U2 (ish) guitar texturing to create a groove that compels you to get off your arse and just dance! For the EP's final track the band go full circle with "Samhain (Reprise)" the band eschewing the indie/psych textures and subtleties that they employed in the songs previous form and just going no holds barred, hell for leather for the finishing line.
Sunday 1 November 2020
It has always seemed to Desert Psychlist that an element of doom permeated much of Seattle grungsters Alice in Chains heavier tunes, as it did aspects of guitarist Jerry Cantrell's solo work, the bands low slung slurred riffs backed by thunderous percussion and deep growling bass could be argued were doomic in all but name. Cleveland, Ohio quintet The Plague Physicians, Dr. Pink (drums, cajon, udu); Dr. Blue (bass, backing vocals); Dr. White (rhythm/lead guitars, backing vocals); Dr. Blonde (lead/rhythm guitars, backing vocals) and Dr. Orange (lead vocals, cowbell, rhythm and acoustic guitars), have sort of tapped into that grungy doominess of AIC but have upped the doomic/occult quotient so that instead of it being, like with AIC, an element of their sound it is instead more a main component, as their latest release "In Arkham's Shadow" will testify to.