Friday 26 February 2021



Lords of the Opium Church are relatively new band, having only been together since 2019, but you would be hard pushed to believe that given the tightness of the performances showcased on the bands self titled debut "Lords of the Opium Church". Jordo LeMoine (guitar/vocals); Rob Lawless (drums) and Terry Paholek (bass/vocals) may have only been together for a short period but boy can these guys kick out a groove!

The grooves these guys kick out are not exactly what you might expect from an album portraying a very doomic image on its cover or for that matter from a band with a name that conjures up images of strung out musicians with a haunted looks in their eyes. What you get instead is a mix of old school classic rock swing, stoner rock fuzz and proto-metal bluster all edged with occasional elements of Motorhead-like swagger. Vocals throughout the albums eight tracks are of a very high standard, clean powerful, melodious and possessing a clarity that is rare in these days of screamers and growlers. Along with the usual bass, guitar and drums, all of which are played with a dexterity and tightness that belies the brevity of their tenure together as a unit, you will also find scattered around this collection of songs some very cool sounding, but uncredited, keyboard flourishes and string arrangements all of which add an extra element of class to the proceeding and give songs like "Opium Church", "Thunderhead" and the delightfully swinging "Banshee" a fuller, richer dynamic that is heavy yet at the same time accessible. Among the most pleasing aspects of "Lords of the Opium Church" is that accessibility, the bands grooves gritty enough to appeal to the underground crowd and its melodies and classic rock leanings ensuring a listen from those who might have more mainstream tastes. all of  which adds up to a win/win situation for both band and listeners.

Canada is a huge country with a diverse geography so it does not come as a surprise that bands from that country might reflect that diversity in their music, we've already seen Canadian bands like Monster Truck, Dopethrone and Sons of Otis make their presences felt on the international scene and Desert Psychlist can see no reason why Lords of the Opium Church cannot follow in their footsteps, they've got the chops, they've got the melodies and they've got the grooves. 
Check 'em out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 24 February 2021


Grande Fox
are Nikos Berzamanis (vocals); Lefteris Zaoskoufis (guitar); Dimitris Loukas (drums) and George Chaikas (bass), four angry, frustrated young men sick of the corporate greed that forces them to struggle to survive in a money orientated world and weary of taking two steps forward only to be pushed three steps backwards every single day of their lives. This is a band who have had enough and want to tell us we don't need to take it anymore and that there is another way, "Do Not Obey! Revolutionize Your Consciousness" is the lesson they preach and their manifesto for a better life is set out for all to hear on their stunning new album "Empty Nest"

If you are a fan of Rage Against The Machine, Monster Magnet, Clutch and Planet of Zeus then Grande Fox's "Empty Nest" is your musical wet dream turned reality, a mish mash of metallic hip-hop, spaced out southern metal and good old stoner/hard rock melded together in an enthralling hybrid of groove and growl. From the opening salvo of "Backstab", with its impassioned screams of "i can't take this anymore" roared over a groove that constantly shifts back and forth between strident and rocking to liquid and lysergic, right through to the schizophrenic "Birth of an Embryo" with its loud/quiet/loud dynamics and mix of rhythmic raps and soulful croons, no quarter is given each song a mini tour through the history of rock from the blues up until the present day. Not just content to shoehorn a world of rock into their sonic attack Grande Fox also furnish their grooves with aspects of R'n'B, Hip -Hop and Funk and they manage to do this without once ever sounding like they are just paying lip service to those genres. Anger plays a huge part in the lyrical content of the eleven songs that make up "Empty Nest", some times this anger presents itself as up in your face fury sometimes it is presented subtly and leans towards the observational but whatever way it is presented that anger is always there and without it Grande Fox would not be the band they are and "Empty Nest" would not be the superb album it is!

Politics is always a sticky subject when it is coupled with music as it is inevitable that if a band/artist has certain political beliefs and ideologies and then promote those beliefs and ideologies in their music and lyrics then they are bound to limit their appeal to a mass audience, some of whom may have opposing political beliefs. However if a band /artist feels strongly enough about the political environment they find themselves living in then isn't it right that they should be able voice their opinions without fear of recrimination or censorship especially when that anger is righteously directed at the racism, discrimination and other social injustices that have so blighted any hopes we have ever had of living a harmonious existence. 
Do yourself a huge favor and give Grande Fox's "Empty Nest" a spin  it'll open up your mind, make you think and maybe just give you the impetus to start revolutionizing your own consciousness.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 22 February 2021

BALÄTE ~ EL QUEMADERO ..... review


Baläte a four piece combo from Almeria, Spain, consisting of Alba Malki (bass/vocals); Antonio Lajara (guitar/synths/backing vocals); Juanjo Ufarte (drums/synths/backing vocals) and Paco Pérez (guitar), jam a groove that weaves elements of the blues into a musical tapestry that also includes elements of doom,  stoner rock and heavy psych. Now given that information you might expect to be hearing something that might be a little leaden and dank but that is just not the case, yes there is plenty of heaviness to be found on the bands debut album "El Quemadero" (translation: "The Burner") but that heaviness resembles more a quiet storm than a raging tornado. 

This maybe Baläte's first album but these guys have been around for a few years now and have had the honour of sharing stages with such Spanish big hitters as Rosy Finch, Grajo, The Dry Mouths and Horizon so don't go expecting unrefined grooves and musical naivety, these guys are a tight well honed unit. Having said that there is an air of rawness about the grooves  Baläte bring to the table with "El Quemadero" but rest assured this is an intentional rawness brought about by the band recording the album live in order to capture an "in the moment" vibe rather than a false overproduced studio sound. That "live" vibe makes it presence felt right from the off with opening song "Botas anchas, soga al cuello", the songs intro of low droning noise, screeching feedback and shimmering percussion feeling very much like the pre-song noises you might here at a live gig before the band launch into their first song. As openers go "Botas anchas, soga al cuello" is up there with the best of 'em, a thundering riff monster driven by Malki's booming bass lines and Ufarte's solid rock steady drumming around which the two guitarists, Lajara and Pérez, churn out an enthralling mix of dark crunching powerchords and  swirling dank solos, Malki decorating this maelstrom of groove with a vocal that is clean, clear and sitting just on the right side of gritty. For the next tune, "Gettin' Old", Baläte dive headlong into the murky waters of the delta for a doom flavoured bluesy torch song. its atmospheric moodiness enhanced by some absolutely stunning guitar work. "Raccoon Verbena Horror" steps up the gears and jams a groove that blends a little desert grooviness with aspects of occult rock flavoured proto-doominess while "Procesionaria" takes the full doom route and finds Malki dropping down an octave vocally to give things a more authentic sinister feel. It's all change for next track "Gato Gordo", a brief but interesting instrumental featuring ringing guitar arpeggios and low thrumming synths before things return to some semblance of normality for the excellent " Laroya", a song that not only highlights Malik's considerable vocal talents but also shows that this is a band who are just as adept at purring as they are at growling, the song seamlessly undulating between heavy doomic bluster and lysergic laced ambience. We return to full doom mode for "Road to Loma Cabrera", albeit with a little delving into proto-territory, before the band finally wind things up with "El Zapillo Blues" a psychedelic doom outing with an experimental edginess.

Baläte's take on doom comes from a more heavy blues based angle than many of their contemporaries and because of that their music has slightly more accessible feel, they are still heavy in a doomic sense  but having the blues as a weapon in their musical armoury allows the band a little more freedom to spread their wings into other musical areas, something they do throughout this excellent debut.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday 21 February 2021


With a back catalogue behind them that has never slipped below essential listening it could be argued that Polish lords of the heavy riff Dopelord are fast becoming considered stoner doom/metal royalty. The band have, since their formation, consistently delivered quality heavy grooves without ever once compromising their sound in a vain attempt to crossover to a more mainstream audience. From their very first release, "Magick Rites", it was obvious this was a band with something special about them, a band who could be brutal when called upon but who also knew a thing or two about melody and songcraft. This year Dopelord return with  "Reality Dagger" a three song opus that cements their status as one of the world's finest exponents of stonerized doom and metal.

Dopelord are renowned for their big low slung riffs and the opening track of their new EP wastes no time in establishing this as fact by not fannying around with some intricate and clever intro and instead just jumping headlong into the songs titanic riff right from the outset. "Dark Coils" is classic Dopelord, its guitar riffs are huge, downtuned and crunching, its bass lines growl. boom and rumble and its rhythms are powerful. pounding and thunderous, if there is anything that sets it apart from the sound explored on previous Dopelord releases it is that the songs vocals are a little less buried and a little more prominent in the mix. "Your Blood" follows and begins with a short burst of percussive power then like its predecessor leaps straight into its main riff, this time however the band utilize those songcraft skills, spoke of earlier, by coupling the songs massive refrains with bluesy lead guitar and a vocal melody that swings with an almost nursery rhyme(ish) meter. Those that get off on Dopelord's more sludgier, doomier sonic assault will be pleased to hear that the band have, with title track "Reality Dagger", not abandoned that aspect of their sound, here we find the band delivering a mixture of clean and growled vocals played off against each other over a groove that cleverly blends low. slow heaviness with moments of strident stoner metal bluster while occasionally throwing into the mix the odd lysergic laced curveball to add interest, the song also sees Piotr Dobry of Weedpecker fame guesting on additional guitar.

In the unlikely event you come to this review having never heard Dopelord before then remedy that by giving "Reality Dagger" a spin and then working your way backwards to their debut, however if you are already familiar with this excellent band then you won't need us to tell you this is an essential purchase!
Check it out .......

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Thursday 18 February 2021



In a secret underground location, somewhere in Argentina during the height of a global pandemic, three musicians, Pablo Lanziani (vocals/guitars/synths); Diego Moran (bass) and Maximiliano Fradellin (drums/percussion) collectively known as Nostone, came together to make an album that they hoped would not only be appreciated on their home turf of Argentina but may just make a few waves on the international scene. Well judging by the early reactions Desert Psychlist has already read regarding the bands debut album "Road Into The Darkness" that hoped for wave is fast becoming a tsunami!

"Road Into The Darkness" opens with an intro piece appropriately entitled "Intro", an instrumental workout that begs, borrows and steals from every horror movie soundtrack that has ever been made, church organs mimicked on a synthesizer giving the song an ominous feeling of foreboding doom. "Bewitched" quickly follows and that doominess hinted at on the albums opening song is confirmed with a groove that is dark, dank and heavy yet, and here is where we may lose some of you reading thus far, that groove is counterbalanced with vocals that are clean hazy and melodic, in fact there are moments on this song, and for that matter, many of the five songs that follow where those vocals might well be described as Beatle-esque. Of course any band taking a proto-doom route are at one time or another going to be compared to Black Sabbath and it has to be said that there are times throughout this album where the band do hit a groove that has Sabbath-esque undertones but in truth those undertones are more likely to have come via Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats than direct from the original source. Much like Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Nostone combine a love of a good riff with a love of a good melody but there is also an experimental side to this band, a side they display on their treatment of the quirky and psychedelic Sam Gopal song "The Sky Is Burning", a bonus track that would not, dare we say it,  have sounded too far out of place had it appeared on one of the Beatles more acid inspired later albums.

Those readers who stayed with us and were not turned off by the Beatles references will, when they click on the link below, hear an album that truly epitomizes the term psychedelic doom, an album that is as hazy as it is heavy and as tripped out as it is titanic.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 17 February 2021


Oxford, is one of the UK's seats of learning a city known primarily for its universities but a lesser known fact is that Oxford is also a city with a reputation for churning out some of the best underground bands the UK has to offer. Not quite on a level with Portland, Oregon, that USA hub of all things doomic, Oxford has nonetheless provided us with a steady stream of top notch bands and artists for our listening pleasure over the last few years one of which is the subject of this very review.
Indica Blues, are Andrew Haines-Villalta (bass); Tom Pilsworth (guitar/vocals); John Slaymaker (guitar) and Rich Walker (drums), a collective that came together when Pilsworth approached Slaymaker about doing something together after Slaymaker's previous band Caravan of Whores had dissolved. Pilsworth and Slaymaker then recruited Haines-Villalta and Ed Glenn to the band and with this line up the band recorded their debut "Ruins On The Shore", Glenn's place on the drum stool was then taken by Rich Walker for the bands follow up "Hymns For A Dying Realm" an album that garnered plaudits from many of the scenes makers and shakers and saw Desert Psychlist ranking "Hymns For A Dying Realm" at #16 in our "Best Of  2018" end of year list. The band return this year with "We Are Doomed" (APF Records) and if you thought their last release was something special then get ready for something EXTRA-special!

Where Indica Blues previous outings traded heavily in doom "We Are Doomed" tends to lean towards a more trippy desert dynamic, still heavy, still doomic but just a little more sandblasted and lysergic. Opening track "Inhale" perfectly exemplifies this more desert based approach its a song that is big bold and riff based but there is a lot more going on here than just heavy refrains and pounding rhythms. Pilsworth's voice strong, clean clear and melodic roars above the musical maelstrom beneath him, a maelstrom that includes screaming guitar solos soaring over a groove that owes more to Kyuss than it does to any of doom's usual big hitters. Title track "We Are Doomed" opens its account with sampled narrative in the shape of a news bulletin, reporting on nuclear explosions in the Middle East , and a government warning to the populace of the possibility of impending Armageddon followed by an ominous siren effect. When the band finally make their entrance it is on a groove driven by thunderous drumming and growling bass over which a crunching low slung guitar refrain holds sway and around which a strangely synthetic, but extremely effective, sounding guitar solo screams and wails, the songs lyrics meanwhile telling of a world in turmoil. "Demagogue" finds the band jamming a mid-tempo stoner doomic groove, interspersed with ear grabbing hooks and motifs, the songs lyrics telling us we are living in a "kingdom of liars", the songs subtle underlying eastern theme adding atmosphere and gravitas to the proceedings. "Soul Embers" follows and here the band throw everything into the cauldron, low slow doomic refrains, blues drenched guitar solos, tribalistic drumming and grunge-like quiet/loud/quiet dynamics, it is quite a departure from the bands usual  more straightforward doomic blues but one that they manage to pull off successfully. "The End Is Calling" is next, a song built around a recurring circular riff and decorated in blues drenched lead guitar which is then followed by "Cosmic Nihilism" a dreamy lysergic laced instrumental opus with "Planet Caravan " ambitions that gradually morphs into a lumbering stoner doom behemoth. "Scarred For Life" brings proceedings to a close with a song that mixes its genres two parts doom and one part desert rock and creates a groove that is all parts mind blowing.

With its nihilistic themes of death and destruction it would be fair to say that "We Are Doomed" is not what you could call an upbeat album, it is though an album that reflects the times we are living in (the albums nuclear holocaust themes could easily be replaced by those of a global pandemic). it is a collection of songs that perfectly captures the confusion, anxiety and anger that comes with catastrophe regardless of whether that catastrophe is natural or of man's making. 
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 8 February 2021


A baritone guitar is one that has a larger body, longer scale length and is reinforced with strong interior bracing thus allowing it to be tuned to a lower pitch. Why are we telling you this you may ask, well because Zachary Fisher the guitarist/vocalist who provides the riffs, licks and solos for Los Angeles duo Jurassic Witch, who are the subject of this review, wields such a beast.and the tone of his baritone guitar is an intrinsic component in the bands sound.  Fisher along with drummer/percussionist Scott Urian jam a groove that is raw, heavy and drenched in so much fuzz and distortion that at times it almost becomes white noise, albeit a structured white noise,  something that can be witnessed by giving the bands very noisy and very structured debut release " Black Masses and Ashes" a spin.

Desert Psychlist is not sure why but rock duo's, consisting of just guitar and drums, always seem to gravitate towards a blues based dynamic, of course there are exceptions but on the whole blues seems very much to be the way to go when it comes to minimalist line ups. Jurassic Witch are not one of those exceptions their songs may be drenched in tone altering effects, decorated with intense vocals that border on harsh and be driven by thunderous avalanche causing rhythms but there is no getting away from the fact that deep at the core of this band beats a heart of blue. The titles of the four songs that make up "Black Masses and Ashes" are a clever mash up of occult terminology and dinosaur names,  hence Velociraptor becomes "Velocireaper", Pterodactyl becomes "Pterrordactyl", Stegosaurus becomes "Stegasorceress" and T. Rex becomes "T. Hex", each song a blend of lumbering ferality and dark doomic dankness that perfectly mirrors its playful title. Musically Jurassic Witch amalgamate their love of the blues with an equal love for the proto-doom of Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Sleep, Fisher's, low slung guitar attack paying as much tribute to Iommi, Pike and Oborn as it does to British blues boomers Page. Beck and Clapton, the guitarist doubling up his baritone six-string assaults with impassioned vocals that can sometimes border on maniacal but tend to sit on the cleaner side of harsh while Urian gives support with a drum sound so big, loud and so powerful it almost borders on Bonham-esque.

Raw, heavy and with its roots in heavy blues and proto-doom "Black Masses and Ashes" is not what you would call a subtle release, it has a garage feel and production that might not appeal to the doom purists and blues rock aficionados but what it may lack in polish and sophistication it more than makes up for in grittiness and growl. 
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday 7 February 2021



Let's begin this review with a mild but justified rant.... French may be the language of love but it is English that is generally regarded as the go-to language of music, well it is for non English speaking artists who want to reach out to a wider demographic than just those that speak their native lingo. So with this in mind why should we as fans bother to investigate bands and artists who buck that trend and perform their songs in their native tongue, the answer to that is if you don't you are in danger of missing out on a whole world of grooviness that you might of otherwise never heard. OK you might not be able to appreciate the depth and lyrical intricacies of songs written in a language not of your own but let's be honest here there are many English speaking bands, releasing albums in this thing we call the "rock underground", that are almost impossible to understand without the benefit of a lyric sheet and we still love them, yet strangely we still baulk at any album released in another language other than our own. "Vibe" is the secret to listening to vocals sang in another tongue, in cases where you are faced with an album/EP or song with the lyrics sang in a language foreign to yours then just forget the words and instead buy into the melody, the feel and the tone of those vocals and you might just find you have opened up a whole new world to your ears.

Poland's Diuna's new release "Pila do pominkòw pryzyrody" has a vocal "vibe" that sits on the ears comfortably, the bands lyrics maybe written in Polish but thanks to them being delivered in tones that are powerful and full of emotional gravitas there is no real need for non Polish speaking listeners to understand their content, of course if you do speak and understand Polish that is undoubtedly a bonus, but if you don't then just enjoy the "vibe", especially as that "vibe" comes wrapped in grooves that'll blow your mind to smithereens.

"Pila do pominkòw pryzyrody" is made up of four songs, each song has its own merits and highlights and each song boasts a variety of shifts in dynamic, both vocally and musically. Nothing is a given in a Diuna's world, a song that may start heavy and doomic can in the blink of an eye move into musical territory far removed from its point of origin, heaviness can make way for lightness of touch, loud can become quiet and traditionalism can step aside for experimentation. These transitions in dynamic, tempo and time are also mirrored in the bands vocals with gruff growled roars and impassioned howls constantly exchanging places with clear clean croons and low baritone preambles. The beauty of this album is that you can never point a finger at any one track and ascribe it a genre classification as there are elements of prog, psych, doom and even touches of the blues to be found nestling amongst each and every one of the songs that make up this enthralling collection and it is credit to the band that they do this without ever sounding like they are trying to force all their eggs into one basket.

If you are little wary of approaching albums with non-English lyrical content but nevertheless want to widen your musical horizons then "Pila do pominkòw pryzyrody" is a great place to start your journey, just remember it's not always about the words, sometimes it's the "vibe". 
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 1 February 2021



There seems a strange gulf between rock/metal's mainstream and its underground equivalent, a void where very few bands exist. On one side of the gulf there are bands like Alter Bridge and Halestorm on the other side there are your Sasquatch's, Howling Giants and Green Druid's with hardly any bands filling the space in-between. Austrian/American collective Monsters of the Ordinary may just be the band to fill that void with their latest EP "Edelschrott"

"Edelschrott" is an EP with everything you would expect to hear from a mainstream rock release, it has hooks, melodies, strong clean vocals and a crisp clean production but there is crunchier, fuzzier  more angular side to what Monsters of the Ordinary bring to the table that also places their sound in the territories of the underground. The perfect example of this melding of dynamics comes courtesy of the EP's second track "Headroom" where the band hit into a juddering strident groove decorated with fractured guitar chords and brief but effective angular solos underscored by a tight and wholly adaptable rhythm section.  Monsters of the Ordinary present us here with a groove that certainly sits within the parameters of what is constituted as "underground", however vocally the song leans towards a more mainstream metal dynamic, its easy to singalong to verses utilize a clever ear-catching trick of repeating every last word of each line, and are combined with a chorus that lingers in the mind long after the last note fades into silence. This coming together of underground grittiness and mainstream polish is repeated throughout the four tracks that make up "Edelschrott" and showcase a band who would not sound out of place either being played on corporate rock radio or on some obscure underground rock podcast.

In the short blub that accompanying the bands Bandcamp page the band describe their sound as "unpolished, straight forward and unapologetic". Desert Psychlist has to disagree with at least one part of that statement, unapologetic we will give them but there is plenty of polish to be found on "Edelschrott"  it is just that its tarnished with pleasing coating of grit.
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones