Tuesday 30 March 2021

ALEPH א ~ KAIROS ...... review

Jakób Ciszyn (vocals/guitars); Art Salsa (guitars/samples/vocals); Maciej Janus (bass/vocals) and Kuba Grzywacz (drums/percussion/vocals) are Aleph א a band from Sopot, Poland who describe themselves as "a gang of Pomeranian pirates", which given their penchant for swashbuckling grooves that plunder every metallic style know to man seems, to Desert Psychlist anyway, to be a pretty good description. Don't take our word for it though explore the bands diversity for yourselves via their latest release "Kairos"

"Kairos" opens with "Intro" 55 seconds of  crazy dial twiddling weirdness that paves the way for "Invert" a schizophrenic opus with a constantly shifting dynamic, the songs initial attack of chugging refrains overlaid with ear catching guitar motifs driven by growling bass and complex rhythmic drum patterns suddenly dissipates into a lysergic post rock meander that also sees the vocals following a similar trajectory, forceful lead vocals twinned with gritty harmonies decorating its first quarter and shifting to an almost jazzy meter for its remainder. "Doubt" follows, its circular guitar motifs and ringing arpeggios are backed by tight economic percussion over which a variety of vocal tones and styles are deployed, the song stuttering stop/start dynamic giving everything a quirky off-center vibe. "A Swarm of Dead Insects" sees Aleph א playing their gnarly card, once again nothing follows a defined path, the songs rhythms are in a constant state of flux, guitars explode into grizzled downtuned riffs then casually drop into post-rock/prog noodling and the vocals swap between clean harmonies and harsh roars, but despite this the song sticks fairly rigidly to its heavy sludge blueprint and because of this is probably the most straightforward track on the album. "Erode" is up next and has an almost grungy jazz fusion feel to it while "Resistance" brings a little funkiness to the table as well showcasing some of the albums best guitar work, both six-string and five (bass). Things come to a close with "Whale part II" a diverse and delightfully erratic tome that changes direction so many times it leaves you constantly checking the track listing to make sure your still listening to the same song.

Complex and intricate in places blustering and brutal in others Aleph א's "Kairos" is an album that brings together so many elements from so many different musical sources it is sometimes hard to take it all in. The musicianship throughout the seven songs that make up this album is exceptional and given the complexity and the diversity of the arrangements it has to be. Is it prog?, is it post-rock,? is it sludge?, the answer is yes to all of those questions but also so much more.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 24 March 2021


If you are a regular visitor to Desert Psychlist you will already know that music from the Greek underground is something that gets featured fairly frequently on these pages, the reason for that is not because we are on some sort of financial retainer from the Greek Arts Council but just simply because there is so much great music emanating from that country. There doesn't seem to be a month passes by without something from a new or an established Greek based combo landing on our cluttered desk demanding to be heard with the best part of that being that very rarely do any those submissions disappoint. Disappointment is not an emotion you will feel when listening to BLACK JUJU's latest release, the band who hail from Larissa, Thessaly first turned our heads with their 2012 debut "Letters From My Brother Cain" an ass-kicking collection of Sabbath-esque proto-doom and Orange Goblin-ish heavy/stoner metal, this year the band return with their second full length album "Purple Flower, Garden Black" (Sleaszy Rider Records) and we are glad to announce it's business as usual. 

Opening song "Jaguar Paw", an instrumental, establishes BLACK JUJU's Sabbathian credentials by grooving Iommi inspired refrains over a proto-doomic groove that embodies all the usual time and tempo changes you would expect from something with this type of flavoring. Not a band wanting to thought of as just another bunch of Sabbath clones BLACK JUJU change things up for next track "Hiawatha", the songs tribal rhythms ,overlaid with dark chugging guitar tones is further enhanced by a wordless vocal that assimilates Native American chanting, an idea that when written down on paper might sound kind of crazy but is one that sonically strangely works. "V.F.T." erupts out of the speakers with delightful furiosity on a wave of squealing pinched harmonics and crunching powerchords, courtesy of guitarist Dimitris 'Omiros' Tsimbonis, driven hard by Kostas Gagalis' deep growling bass and Vagios Alexopoulos' thundering percussion. This is also the first time on "Purple Flower, Garden Black" that we get to hear vocalist Panos Dimitriou stretching his vocal chords in a more traditional singing style, his voice a clean gritty mix of southern flecked roars and croons tinted with just a hint of twinkle eyed mischievousness and tongue in cheek malice. "Soulstealer" begins with the sound of someone gargling then immediately jumps into a sleazy heavy stoner groove that is probably more Monster Magnet than it is Sabbath, a groove that finds Dimitriou hamming it up in almost Alice Cooper like fashion in the role of the songs principle character. "Burn Me (When I Die)" has the feel of one those torch songs so beloved of Southern Rock bands, a sort of  condensed "Freebird" or "Green Grass and High Tides" for the stoner generation while "Black Hearted River" finds the band dipping their toes into more traditional doom waters with very pleasing results. For next track "Acid King" Tsimbonis digs out his wah pedal and Zakk Wylde book of guitar harmonics for a song that spits and snarls with dark doomic menace, a shapeshifting groove fest that you will not want to end. "(A Song For) Sorrow" utilizes ringing arpeggios and phase heavy guitar tones over a laid back groove of liquid bass and restrained percussion, a combination of sounds that provides the perfect setting for Dimitriou to tell, in grizzled southern tones, his melancholic tale of woe. "Flesh And Blood" mixes up its doom with touches of strident stoner metal bluster to create a sound that will resonate with fans of both genres while closing track "Gloomy Sunday" stays mainly within doom territory but brings a little theatrical vocal dramatics into play to give things an almost operatic feel.

Absolutely guaranteed enjoyment from its first note to its last "Purple Flower, Garden Black" is an album that ticks all the right boxes, an album that blends aspects of 70's southern rock and proto-metal, 80's heavy metal and 90's stoner rock together with elements of present day doom and psych to create a sound that is timeless, grooves that will stand the test of time and be just as enjoyable in 3021 as they are in 2021.

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 23 March 2021


After the release of their well received debut EP "Demon Dance" North Carolina's Cosmic Reaper, Garrett Garlington (bass); Dillon Prentice (guitar); Thad Collis (guitar/vocals) and Jeremy Grobsmith (drums), concentrated much of their time honing their chops on their local live circuit but with the arrival of Covid -19 and the subsequent closing of venues the band had to rethink their plans. Suddenly finding themselves with unexpected time on their hands the band soon started tossing a few ideas around which soon shaped themselves into a whole new batch of songs, those songs were then taken into the studio and recorded for a new self-titled full length debut, "Cosmic Reaper" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records), as Benjamin Franklin once said "out of adversity comes opportunity"

With "Demon Dance" Cosmic Reaper toyed with grooves that were of a slightly proto-doom/Sabbathian flavor, the sound of those songs was most certainly "stoner doomic" in execution but with the emphasis more on the "stoner" side of that equation, with "Cosmic Reaper" however the balance has shifted more towards the "doom". The songs that make up the bands new opus are darker, danker and more intense than those that graced the bands previous outing, there is a heavier reliance on atmosphere and mood to be found here, where the guitars crunched and growled on "Demon Dance" here the guitars thrum and drone, where before the drums beat out a steady tattoo here they pound and crash with dark ferocity. Vocals throughout "Cosmic Reaper" are incanted in clean monotonic tones, their slightly Gregorian delivery adding an extra layer of mysticism and occult like ritualism to the proceedings. If you were expecting an album with moments of light relief, say some acoustic noodling or maybe some sort of doomic ballad then maybe you should start looking elsewhere as songs like "Hellion", "Stellar Death" and "Planet Death" are dark intense affairs that although occasionally do take off on tangents into lysergic territories are on the whole dank and relentless riff monsters perfectly suited for those times when you feel the need to sacrifice something on an altar.

Deliciously dark, ominously atmospheric and heavier than a sack full of lead "Cosmic Reaper" is an album made in the USA but with an intensity usually only associated with bands from the Polish underground, and if you are familiar with that scene you will also know how high a compliment that is. 
Check it out ......

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday 19 March 2021

DVNE ~ ETEMEN ÆNKA .... review

Sometimes compared to the likes of ISIS, Mastodon, and Baroness UK quintet DVNE are, as you might expect, a band with reputation for heaviness and it is a reputation more than justified, however heaviness is not the only weapon in DVNE's armory. DVNE are a band who can roar, rage and rumble but they are also a band who can whisper, soothe and placate, they are a band who put as much emphasis on melody as they do muscle, a balance they demonstrate to great effect on their latest release "Etemen Ænka"(Metal Blade Records)

Victor Vicart (guitar/vocals/keys); Daniel Barter (guitar/vocals); Greg Armstrong (bass); Dudley Tait (drums) and Evelyn May (keys) should be rightly proud of what they have achieved with "Etemen Ænka" as this is an album that sees them not only equaling the achievements of their more well established contemporaries but, in Desert Psychlist's opinion, sees DVNE overtaking those same contemporaries and leaving them floundering in their wake. "Etemen Ænka" is an album packed to the gills with top draw performances from all concerned, the guitars crunch, swirl and chime, bass lines growl, boom, rumble and thrum, drums thunder and shimmer, and the vocals are a  mixture of clean melodic croons, throat ripping roars and bear-like bellows all of which are underscored by huge swathes of textured keyboard coloring.  Songs with titles like "Court of the Matriarch", "Adræden", "Mleccha" and "Satuya" are awash with elements of post-rock, doom, sludge, prog metal and even classic rock, these elements blended together and delivered in undulating waves of sound that seamlessly shift between ambient and ferocious, touching all points in-between, to create a sound that is as beautiful in places as it is brutal in others. 

Expectations were high for this band after the release of the excellent "Asheran" but with "Etemen Ænka" DVNE have gone way beyond excellent and pushed their music into territories of heavy music that we haven't even invented words for yet.  
Check 'em out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Thursday 18 March 2021


Desert Psychlist realises that the legend, gracing the top of this blog, bears the words "music from the underbelly of the mainstream" but the subject of this review was once considered so "underground" that he was almost subterranean, so indulge us this once and let us wax lyrical on one of our musical heroes.
We are talking Alice Cooper here, that golf playing, mascara wearing, snake wrestling rock legend who has become so much part of the establishment these days that it would not surprise anyone if he decided to run for a government position and then won it. Once upon a time though Alice Cooper was not a man but a band, a band  consisting of Vincent Furnier (vocals); Glen Buxton (guitar); Dennis Dunaway (bass/backing vocals); Michael Bruce (guitar) and Neal Smith (drums) , back then Alice Cooper was just an invented character, portrayed on stage by Furnier, on which the band could hang their songs about serial killing, torture and sex. During their time together the band released a series of absolutely essential albums, albums that blended the late 60's garage rock of the MC5's,The Stooges and The Nazz with the harder edged heavy rock of the mid 70's while at the same time throwing in unexpected nods to Hollywood musicals and Broadway stage shows. Sadly drink, drugs and punishing tour schedules took their toll on the band and with their front man becoming more Alice than he was Furnier the band finally went their separate ways. Furnier (reportedly) legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and has continued to make albums, some brilliant and some not so, right up to the present day but for many (Desert Psychlist included) he has never quite managed to capture that raw, untamed Detroit sound he had with that classic Alice Cooper line up.,,, well up until "Detroit Stories" that is.

"Detroit Stories" is a mixture of covers and Alice originals recorded with three of the original Alice Cooper Band and a cast that includes long time producer and co-writer Bob Ezrin, MC5 legend Wayne Kramer, Grand Funk Railroad's Mark Farner, U2's Larry Mullen Jr. and blues shredder Joe Bonamassa along with a roster of session musicians, and family members. Now given this huge cast of contributors you might expect Alice's new album to maybe come over a little disjointed and maybe a little sterile but that is just not the case. Much like Rick Rubin did with Black Sabbath, when recording "13", Bob Ezrin has made Cooper look back at his career and has encouraged him to try to re-capture that elusive spark that made those early Alice albums so iconic and magical. On the most part Alice does manage this feat, songs like "$1000 High Heel Shoes", "Drunk And In Love", "Wonderful World" and "Independence Dave" would have easily found a place to call their own on classic albums like "Killer" and "School's Out" their sonic attack and lyrical content replicating that perfect balance of  tongue in cheek humour and smirking garage sleaziness that made those albums such staples in every rock fans record collections. . Of course an album made up of fifteen songs is going to have a few tunes that don't quite hit the mark, "I Hate You" and "Shut Up And Rock" try a little too hard for our liking and the poppy Outrageous Cherry cover "Our Love Will Change The World" sounds a little out of place when placed up against all the sleazy garage rock that populates the rest of the album but of course that's just our opinion, others will no doubt disagree. On the whole though "Detroit City" is a superb album, not Alice's greatest by a long way but certainly up their with some of his best work, which is not bad for a 73 year old  man in makeup who was once accused of  inciting infanticide by a British politician  and whose live shows were described as a "relentless tide of menacing rock music".

Alice is quoted as saying "There was a certain amount of R&B in the way [the band] played, I didn’t really notice it until I started listening back. If it were [done] in California, it would have been a different sound. But Detroit, I think that’s in the DNA.” Our answer to that is if you have any more albums in you Alice, please. please make them in Detroit!
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 17 March 2021


Curico, Chile, the home of Eutanasia (the subject of this review), is a city that has had it's fair share of disasters over the years, the city had to be rebuilt almost from scratch when in 1928 it was more or less wiped out by an earthquake and in 2010 disaster struck yet again when another earthquake badly damaged huge swathes of the city and caused widespread damage, death and injury. Now you might think a band living in a city that is under constant threat from seismic activity might compose songs that reflect that threat but EutanasiaPanch Diaz (lead guitar /vocals); Gera Arriagada (guitar); Victor Saavedra (bass) and J. García (drums/percussion), prefer to look further afield for their inspirations, while others in Curico might be looking warily at the earth beneath their feet, Eutanasia, with their debut "Cosmonauta" are looking to the stars.

"Vacío Eterno" (translation: Eternal Void) kicks things off with a song built around a strident stoner/desert groove that although nods its head towards Kyuss probably leans more towards Sweden's Truckfighters, the songs fuzz drenched buzzing guitar tones, booming bass lines and tight, solid drumming the backdrop to a vocal (in Spanish) that is strong, clean and ever so slightly aggressive. Title track "Cosmonauta" follows and here we get the first real glimpse of  Eutanasia's more lysergic side the band using the songs desert rooted groove to launch off on tangents into heavy psych territory, scorching guitar solos' weaving in and out of each other while the rhythm section keeps everything anchored to the ground. "Camino Errante" (translation; Wandering Road) is up next, a strident very busy rocker with amps and effect pedals all dialed to eleven, to say the fuzz is strong in this one would be an understatement. To mark passing the albums halfway point Eutanasia offer up "Psiconauta" an enthralling instrumental that rises and falls like waves on an ocean, all crashing drums and raucous riffs one minute, the next ringing arpeggios and shimmering cymbals. "Viajero del Tiempo" (translation; Time Traveler) once again dials up the fuzz and distortion to almost breaking point and boasts not only the albums best vocal but also its craziest guitar solo. Things are brought to an unwanted close (believe us when we say you won't want this album to end) with "Sin Retorno" (translation; No Return) a thundering groove monster spliced with sudden and unexpected plunges into proto-doomic waters, it's impassioned howl as it fades into silence the perfect reminder to re-press play and relive the whole experience over again.

Eutanasia are just one in a long line of superb bands emerging from the South American continent , bands from Chile, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and many more are all constantly churning out quality heavy music, not just in the fields of stoner rock and psych but in all the metal and rock fields. So if you are perusing the pages of Bandcamp or some similar music streaming site and see an interesting looking album cover don't be put off if that album title is in a language that's not yours, give it a listen you might just find a musical gem as smile inducing and as mind-blowingly good as "Cosmonauta"
Check it out .... 
© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 16 March 2021

HÄXMÄSTAREN ~ SOL I EXIL ....... review

Häxmästaren hail from Gothenburg, Sweden and jam a groove that walks a thin line between blackened sludge and traditional heavy metal, a sound that often threatens to wander towards the extremities of the metallic spectrum but is always dragged back in to line by its reliance on old school values of melody and groove and its refusal to be pigeonholed. The band openly cite death metal as an influence on their sound and there is no denying that aspects of that sub-genre do play their part in Häxmästaren's overall sonic attack but over Desert Psychlist's many years of listening to all forms of metal we have never heard anyone ever describe death metal as "swinging"  and the songs on the bands second album, "Sol I Exil",  swing harder than a hanged man in a hurricane.

A quote from the bible came to mind while listening to the seven songs that make up  "Sol I Exil", "My name is Legion, for we are many.", this quote was the  response to Jesus Christ questioning the many demonic entities possessing the body of a man he was attempting to exorcise. Why did this quote come to mind you might ask, well given the plethora of vocal tones and singing styles employed throughout this album it would not be hard to be fooled into thinking that Legion and his fellow demons had moved to Sweden and formed a band. Growls, bellows, screeches, roars and even a little lay preacher-like sermonizing populate the songs on "Sol I Exil" as well as a fair share of clean singing, these vocals styles bombarding the listener from every conceivable angle, so much so that it at times it feels like you are listening to some extreme form of opera rather than an underground rock album. Musically Häxmästaren utilize a variety of ferocious guitar tones, low slung rumbling bass lines and thundering percussion with which to decorate their songs and it has to be said that this combination does, on songs like "Millennium Phenomenon", "Wavelurker" and "Growing Horns" lend itself more to the blackened extremities of metal than it does to the traditional , but then as you begin to listen closer your ear starts to pick up little vagaries that indicate that Häxmästaren are a band who do not only draw their inspirations from the darker edges of metal but are a band with a much wider palette of influences, a palette that includes doom, stoner, old school metal and hard rock and it is this melding together of musical styles combined with the albums clever variety of vocal interplay that makes "Sol I Exil" such a unique and rewarding listening experience.

Unique, original sounding metal with its roots in many soils is what Häxmästaren deliver with "Sol I Exil" a type of musical Frankenstein stitched together from the memories of all that has gone before and the promises of what might come in the future 
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday 14 March 2021


Sludgy doomic southern stoner psych metal with its roots in the blues is probably the best way to describe the music of Thunder Horse as the Texas quartet, of Stephen Bishop (vocals/guitar); Todd “The Bird” Connally (guitar/programming); Jason “Shakes” West (drums) and Dave Crow (bass/vocals), are as likely to jam something swampy and bluesy as they are to crunch out dank grooves of dark Sabbathian doominosity and that's all before mentioning all the elements of psych, southern and classic rock the band bring in to play. As you may have realised by now Thunder Horse are not a band to be easily pinned down to one specific genre as their latest release "Chosen One" (Ripple Music) will bear testament to.

Thick crunching guitar tones and growling bass lines sitting in front of a wall of thundering and industrious drumming is a good way to announce your arrival and as arrivals go they don't come much better than "Let Them Bleed", a song that in the space of just over six minutes tells you everything you need to know about Thunder Horse and their approach to music. "Let Them Bleed" is loud, heavy and dank but weaved into all its loudness, heaviness and dankness are threads of southern rock swagger, classic rock finesse, lysergic otherworldliness and old school hard rock bluster, these threads adding an unexpected "swing" to a groove that is one essentially rooted in stoner doom. The musical approach adopted on "Let Them Bleed" is the blueprint for much of what follows, songs like "Among The Dead", "Rise Of the Heathens", "Song For The Ferryman" and "Halfway To Hell" all have, to some extent,  a doomic undercurrent running through them but all are infused with elements gleaned from a variety of rock music sources, sometimes leaning more towards one sometimes heavier towards another. Vocals throughout "Chosen One" are a mixture of bear-like bellows, powerfully roared harmonies and, on the stark but excellent "Texas", clean melodic crooning, these vocals in what ever guise they present themselves add gravitas to each songs lyrical content especially when twinned with the huge riffs and rhythms they are backed with. 
"Chosen One" closes its account with two bonus tracks an extended version of "Texas" and a cover of Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy", the former not so different from its shorter version apart from some added effects, the latter an absolutely stonkin' rendition of a rock classic that stays fairly true to the original but ramps things up by giving the song a grittier, dirtier metallic edge.

Thunderously doomic yet with a swing you would usually associate with 70's classic rock "Chosen One" is an album that could be argued is a "crossover" album, not crossover in the usual musical sense of the word, where a band is striving for a more commercial sound, but "crossover " in the sense  that it crosses across so many musical styles and forms yet still manages to stay true to its dark doomic roots.
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer jones

Thursday 11 March 2021

INHALE ~ INHALE ..... review


Russian stoner/doom bands are a little like London buses, you wait ages for one and then two come along together, or at least that's how it feels after just recently finishing a review of Murom based trio Swamplord's new album "Tombstone" only to then turn around and find an album from Tomsk quartet Inhale pop up on my Bandcamp feed. Not that we are complaining though because the bands self-titled debut. "Inhale", is a little dark gem.

Inhale's sound incorporates much of what we have come to expect from music that comes under the canon of stoner, doom or occult rock, downtuned guitar and bass riffs, thunderous drumming, a mixture of graveled and harsh vocal tones and lead breaks that scorch and burn with a dark fiery magnitude. What you might not expect however is that despite all its the down tuning, thundering and scorching "Inhale" is an album edged in a brightness and sheen not always associated with music of this nature. So what do we mean by that last statement given that doom has a tradition for dourness and dankness, well musically "Inhale" is as dour. dank and atmospheric as you could ever hope for, the four songs that make up Inhale's debut, "Under The Floor"; "C.O.S.C."; "Her Voice" and "The Blackest Eyes" contain all the requisite ingredients we look for in doom but what sets "Inhale" apart from releases in a similar vein is its production, the team behind bringing Inhale's songs to life, Vagiz Bikulov (mixing/recording) and Marshall Fishwick (mastering), have eschewed the usual route of trying to add atmospherics by keeping everything low and murky and have instead opted for a brighter, almost classic rock sound that sees the guitar riffs sound crisper and crunchier while still maintaining that all important low end thrum supplied by the rhythm section. Of course its no good employing the best in the business to sprinkle their magic on your tunes if you don't have those tunes in the first place and thankfully Inhale have those tunes. Inhale's sound probably leans more towards the occult rock end of the doomic spectrum, it's a sound that draws from three of its doomic relatives, stoner proto and traditional, but relies a little more heavily on melody and elements of the blues, hard rock and good old heavy metal to make its impact, and believe us when we say ... its a pretty big impact.

"Inhale" is an impressive debut from a band with a real grasp of what makes for a good "doom" album, the four songs that make up this album are weighty, heavy tomes but are imbued with a "swing" and a "sparkle" unusual for the genre.
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 9 March 2021


Desert Psychlist always approaches demos/promos sent our way from Russia with a little trepidation as the majority of requests we get receive from Russian bands are usually so heavy, so blackened and so harsh that it is physically dangerous to listen to them. It was for this reason that after seeing a post on social media extolling the virtues of a Russian combo going by the name of Swamplord, we approached their new release with a level of cautiousness only usually reserved for checking for monsters hiding under the bed. Thankfully we needn't have worried as Swamplord's second album "Tombstone" is so far up Desert Psychlist's street we've invited it to move in.

Swamplord are Ilya Mitin (vocals); Konstantin Igonin (bass) and Sergey Chizhov (guitar/effects), the band make no mention of who handles the bands drum parts on this release but we can confirm that they are there and are of a thunderous and pulverizing nature. Line ups aside what you get for your money with "Tombstone" is a release that borders on the doomic but probably leans more towards a more heavy stoner/hard rock dynamic, albeit laced with an element of proto-doomic rawness. 
The sound of radio being tuned into a music station introduces first track "Capricorn" before erupting  into a Sabbathian groove overlayered with a vocal that is clean, strong yet dialed far back enough in the mix to give it an effect of remoteness and haziness. The songs groove is built around a repetitive circular riff, occasionally broken up by slight deviations in tempo and dynamic, and is decorated with solo's that are not quite Iommic but come close. Title track "Tombstone" follows a similar path to "Capricorn" but this time dials in a little more doomic darkness to the equation, its riffs coming over danker, murkier and heavier than its predecessor, something that also translates over to the songs vocals which are delivered with a sinister slur for the songs verses but are then swapped for clean harmonies for the chorus, the song finally signing out on a heavily effected bass guitar motif. " Highway" raises the heat and the tempo with a chugging riff fest that is pure stoner rock in both its construction and execution while "Acid Litany" mixes its downers and its hallucinogens together to create a tripped out psychedelic doom anthem that tells of "naked virgins on the floor" and an "acid ceremony" that lasts "until dawn". "Sleepfinder" takes all that has gone before then enhances it by adding some fiery bluesy guitar into the mix as well as a very strong vocal that is both powerful and melodic. "Surburban Weed" replaces the laid back melodies of the previous track with a grittier more forceful vocal display and a groove to match those vocals before instrumental "Well, I'm A Bongmaster" signs things off in gnarly assed heavy stoner style.

It seems pretty clear from the outset that Swamplord take much of their inspiration from the low, slow, heavy grooves of stoner legends Sleep, much like Sleep did from Black Sabbath, which would also explain some of this albums drug references and otherworldly lyrical content, however this is not a Sleep tribute or worship album, Swamplord may take their influences from the Californian trio but there's enough on "Tombstone" to show these guys have their own thing going on.
The legend written beneath the bands Bandcamp page states that "Swamplord will take your souls" ..... they've taken ours now their coming for yours!
Check 'em out ..... 
© 2021 Frazer Jones

Saturday 6 March 2021


"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things" sang Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music and although those things are not exactly what rocks Desert Psychlist's boat we kind of get where she was coming from. All of us have certain things that will put a smile on our faces and lift our spirits, for Julie it was roses and kittens for us it's the sound of  warmly fuzzed guitar riffs, the low thrum of bass guitar motifs and the steady beat of sticks hitting skins and metal. It seems that Oregon three piece Elk Witch also knows what pushes our buttons because they've included all of our "favourite things" and more on their debut EP "The Mountain".

Elk Witch are Deven Andersen (guitar/vocals); Darren Wostenberg (bass) and Joe Coitus (drums), three guys from Medford, Oregon who call themselves "a progressive rock band with hints of doom and grunge". Now that statement , especially the "progressive" part, may lead you into expecting music that leans towards the complex and the complicated but what you actually get is a very competent heavy rock band who can comfortably trade off crunching riffs and thunderous rhythms but are also not afraid to occasionally step outside of themselves and take a few chances. Having said that "The Mountain" opens its account with " The Woodsmen" a song that does not pretend to be anything other than what it is and what it is is a damn fine rock song driven by a solid thundering rhythm section and drenched in the kind vintage wah, fuzz and distortion you only usually hear on albums by obscure 70's proto-metal bands. Vocals throughout "The Mountain" are handled by guitarist Andersen and although not particularly powerful they are melodic, effective and perfectly pitched to fit the early 70's vibe that (to our ears) is the core of the bands overall sonic attack. Of the three following songs, "Greybeard Arsenal", "Coyote and the Wind's Daughter" and "Llao's Island" it is probably the last one that best exemplifies Elk Witch's flair for going off on tangents into more adventurous waters. Wostenberg introduces the song with a deliciously liquid bass line which is then joined by Andersen and Coitus, the guitarist laying down an ear catching phased out circular guitar motif beneath which the drummer adds complimentary intricate percussive touches. As the song slowly progresses things begin to get gradually a little more intense and a little more heavier before suddenly, and without warning, the hammer goes down and the band explode into a gnarly proto-metallic groove with Andersen telling us, in distinctive tones, a tale steeped in Native American mythology,  his impassioned vocal backed by a musical backdrop that thrums and fizzes with a raw and raucous energy.

When we think of progressive in musical terms we tend to think of the convoluted, complex and sometimes over technical music of Yes, ELP and Genesis but progressive also means moving forward, a gradual shift towards something better, in that sense it can be argued that Elk Witch are a progressive band. "The Mountain" is without a doubt a good solid release full of all the things that we love in rock music but it's not a GREAT release, that GREAT release will come later when this band have "progressed" a little further down the road
Check it out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday 5 March 2021


I think most of us can agree that Acid Mammoth's "Under Acid Hoof" was one of the highlights of 2020, an album that blended dooms proto and stoner together with a little psych to create an album that had its own unique identity and for once didn't have to rely on rearranging old Sabbath riffs. 2020 also saw the band finding time to collaborate with Italian doomsters 1782 on a wonderfully dank and dark split "Doom Sessions Vol.2Acid Mammoth return this year full of a new found confidence, a confidence afforded them by featuring in so many of the scenes end of year lists, with a new album, "Caravan" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records), and if you thought "Under Acid Hoof" was good wait 'til you hear this little beauty!

A short burst of maniacal laughter introduces opening track "Berserker" then its straight into the songs slow to mid-tempo groove with the guitars of Chris Babalis Jr. and Chris Babalis Sr. combining to lay down a thrumming dank refrain superbly supported by Dimosthenis Varikos' growling bass and  Marios Louvaris' solid ,almost tribal, drumming, Babalis Jr. providing the songs vocals which are delivered with clean, melodic clarity. "Psychedelic Wasteland" follows, a song that lumbers and lurches under the weight of its low. slow and heavy riffs, the song sits a little more towards the stoner end of the doom spectrum than it's predecessor but is saved from just becoming an excuse for a riff fest by Babalis Jr.'s excellently pitched, almost mantra-like, vocals and the swirling proto-flavoured guitar solo's that constantly weave their way in and and out of the dark miasma of groove that is being laid down around them. "Ivory Towers" treads a similar stoner doom path but this time with a little added haziness while title track "Caravan" seems to borrow a little of that dark stifling relentlessness from their Italian label mates 1782 in that here we find the Acid Mammoth keeping things low slow and murky (in a good way) with just the briefest pushes towards the light. The band round things off perfectly with "Black Dust" an intriguing doomic tome that would border on traditional doom if it were not for Babalis Jr.'s hazy, mellow but powerful vocals and the utter lumbering gait of the rest of the bands musical attack.

If instead of  Athens, Greece Acid Mammoth had hailed from that epicenter of doom Portland, USA Desert Psychlist is firmly of the belief that this band would be on the lips of every doom fan on the planet, as it is they just have to work a little bit harder to get that same level of recognition, they are however, with "Caravan" most certainly on the right track.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 3 March 2021


Sweden's Spelljammer are not the most prolific of bands, since their formation in 2007 to the present day the band have only managed to release two EP's and two full albums, however such is their reputation and such is the power of their music that when Spelljammer release something new the world immediately sits up and listens. On the day Desert Psychlist wrote this piece Spelljammer's long awaited new album "Abyssal Trip" had just reached the #1 spot on the Doom Charts and as a contributor to that hallowed barometer of monthly good taste Desert Psychlist can tell you it didn't get there just on the bands reputation it earned its place because it kicks ass on every level.

Droning guitar and low thrumming bass, played at a pace so slow it could be mistaken for rumbling thunder, introduces first track "Bellwether" and is then slowly joined by pulverizing percussion all of which creates an ominous and foreboding atmosphere, an atmosphere made even more ominous and foreboding by bassist Niklas Olsson's graveled half roared/half shouted vocals which sit perfectly part buried in the mix thus allowing the bands music to take the lion's share of the listeners attention. The screaming feedback and white noise that marks the close of "Bellwether" also announces the arrival of "Lake" a song that explodes out of the traps via some utterly incredible drumming from Jonatan Rimsbo, the percussionist utilizing every inch of his battered set up in a dazzling display of rhythmic dexterity. Guitarist Robert Sörling really steps up to the mark here, his chords are crunching and raucous, his solo's scorch and scream and when the song shifts mid-song into a lysergic laced heavy psych workout it is his use of  bluesy licks combined with fractured chord voicings and feedback that really grabs the listeners ear. "Among The Holy" again begins on a wave of feedback and droning effects before transforming itself into a low slow doomic riff monster with Sabbath-esque undertones and a few occasional whirling swirling nods to Hawkwind,  the song also finds Olsson tailoring his voice to deliver his haziest vocal on the album while also supplying some devastatingly heavy bass work. "Among The Holy" really comes into its own though when the proto(ic) doom of the songs first half makes way for a sprawling and truly mind-blowing lysergic jam, something that really has to be heard first hand to truly appreciate its magnitude. Title track "Abyssal Trip" opens its account with a sound clip lifted from an old movie then erupts into a groove that will have fans of doom, both traditional and stoner, dribbling at the mouth as this is a song that utilizes the atmospherics of the former while staying true to the dankness and darkness of the latter, pulling the two sub-genres of metal together to create a hybrid that will resonate with fans of both. It is easy to see why the band chose to name the album after this song as everyone is on their "A" game here, Olsson delivers his best vocal on the album while laying down a bass sound that is just short of titanic, Sörling's guitar work, both rhythmic and lead is in a league of its own while Rimsbo's drumming borders on the Bonham-esque. "Peregrine" follows and allows the listener to catch his/her breath with a brief but delightful acoustic number before the huge lumbering behemoth "Silent Rift" crawls from the undergrowth to close the album on a groove that could make mountains shake and cause tall buildings to topple just on the strength of its dark doomic intensity.

Spelljammer are back, for how long nobody knows, it is quite possible that it could be another five years before they descend from whatever dimension/planet/universe they hide themselves away in and  present us with another album as essential and genre defining as  "Abyssal Trip", but just knowing they are out there somewhere composing their titanic grooves is enough to keep our hopes alive for the future of intelligent heavy music. 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 2 March 2021



Desert Psychlist once described Polish psychedelic doomsters Sunnata's music as "sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, sometimes challenging, sometimes simple but at all times totally intriguing and immersive", so we are glad to report that nothing has changed and that the bands latest album "Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth" is all of those things again and MORE!

There is not a band on this earth who sound, or for that matter come anywhere near sounding, as unique and as different as Sunnata, the bands music defies all the usual categorizations of genre and style and follows no rules other than its own. Take "Crows", the opening track to "Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth", a song that begins with an insistent bass motif accompanied by liquid sounding guitar arpeggios over which smoothly delivered vocals are crooned in an 80's Goth rock style. Now if this was how the song carried on to its finale it would still be a fine, if one dimensional , little ditty but this being Sunnata, a band who just do not do one dimensional, things soon start to get a touch complicated and twisted. Those smooth croons gradually start being replaced by guttural roars, those reverberating arpeggios begin to make way for brutal chord progressions and the gentle accompaniment of the bass and drums, provided in the songs initial stages, suddenly turns into a tsunami of growling bottom end and thundering percussion. This, however, is only momentary and those croons , arpeggios and intricate rhythms once again return, this time with added harmonies, but again this only a brief reprieve before everything takes off again and we are plunged back into a world of relentless heaviness. "God Emperor of Dune" follows and here we find Sunnata living up to their "shamanic doom metal" tag with a song drenched in eastern flavorings. Lyrically the song references Frank Herbert's series of "Dune" novels while musically there are sections of this song that are not too far removed from what you might expect to hear on an album from Tuareg desert rockers Tinariwen, albeit with a little added intensity and complexity. Up next is "A Million Minds" an unexpected strident rocker with a The Cult meets Hawkwind vibe which is followed by the excellent "Black Serpent" a song with a hazy/heavy /hazy dynamic enhanced by some wonderfully executed vocal harmonies. Penultimate track "Volva (The Seeress)" sounds like it was recorded secretly in a cathedral in the dark of night by cowled monks paying homage to a deposed goddess, its Gregorian style vocals, intoned monophonically over a backdrop of sparse but effective instrumentation, adds to the songs atmospheric feel as does its sudden eruptions into sporadic post-rock heaviness. "Way Out" brings things to a close and is a song that exemplifies all that is good about Sunnata's music, a song that weaves together threads of doom, post-rock, grunge and psych to create a sonic tapestry that although may have its roots in those genres mentioned, somehow manages to sound totally unique and original.

Innovative, intelligent and at times challenging "Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth" is a stunning release, its themed concept of religious fanaticism and the effects of that fanaticism on humanity as a whole is perfectly backed by grooves that glean inspiration from a wide range of world musics and cultures but remain unbeholden to any of them. 
Check it out ...... 

   © 2021 Frazer Jones