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

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