Thursday 29 April 2021

WITCHROT ~ HOLLOW ...... review

"Hex, drugs and rock'n'roll" is a pretty good twist on an old adage and one that perfectly suits the musical impact of the subject of this review. Witchrot are Lea Alyssandra Reto (vocals/organ); Peter Turik (guitar); Nick Kervin (drums) and Cam Alford (bass) and together they make a noise that is as unsettling as it is brilliant. Born out of doom but sounding unlike any other band working in that genre Witchrot are a one off, a revelation, a band who may have, with their latest release "Hollow" (DHU Records and Fuzzed and Buzzed Records), raised the musical bar for doom so impossibly high that it may have now become unreachable for anyone following in their wake.

Given the controversy surrounding the bands 2018 announcement that they were calling it a day due to infidelity and death within the band Witchrot sound in remarkably fine fettle on this their "comeback" album, in fact the whole experience seems to have rejuvinated them and inspired them to even greater musical heights. Atmosphere is one of the key elements employed on "Hollow" and nowhere is that element better employed than on opening track "Million Shattered Swords", a song that begins with Reto crooning smoky and lounge like, over a backdrop of ringing guitar arpeggios, sparse effective bass lines and shimmering percussion, then erupts into a volcano of deeply distorted bass riffs and dissonant guitar solo's driven by pounding pummeling drum patterns, the vocals following a similar upward trajectory. Angular and off kilter is the only way to describe the groove of next song "Colder Hands", to paraphrase Star Trek's good doctor McCoy, "this is doom Jim but not as we know it", everything about this song is off the scale, Turik's guitar and Alford's bass weave around each other like two fighting snakes fighting for dominance while Kervin lays down a barrage of percussion that defies description, any slack that is left (and there's not much) is picked up by Reto her dark soulful majestic vocals constantly shifting up and down between the top end of her range and that of her lower register. "Spiral of Sorrow" follows a similar path to its predecessor but this time sits a little closer to a more traditional doom sound, albeit a very twisted version of a traditional doom sound while "Fog", an instrumental that utilizes sampled soundbites, sounds like the sort of thing you might hear playing on your radio while undertaking a roadtrip through the wastelands of Hell. "Devil In Your Eyes" has a quiet/loud/quiet type dynamic that boasts a superb vocal from Reto but is also notable for its twisted bluesy guitar textures and is followed by "Burn Me Down" an up-tempo rocker with sudden descents into doom. "I Know My Enemy" is a schizophrenic mix of doom, stoner rock, punk and alt-rock that shouldn't go together but ultimately does and for the best part works. Title track "Hollow" closes Witchrot's debut much the way they began it... atmospheric, doomic and utterly spellbinding.

"Hollow" is an album that is anything but, this is an album full to brimming over with good things, where else could you find dissonance and melody sitting so comfortably next to each other, what other doom album will you hear this year that is as soulful and warm as it is dark, desolate and cold. They say opposites attract and on Witchrot's "Hollow" they do not only attract they come together as one, those opposites combining to create a music that follows no rules but its own. 
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 27 April 2021

HRAD VALLIS ~ NWOMDM ...... review


It had to happen, we send probes and robotic crafts to a remote and distant planet and they send us a whole new genre of  music in response, well not exactly but wouldn't it be cool if they did. The truth is that inspired by NASA's pictures of Mars' vast red sanded desert landscape Minneapolis, Minnesota metallists Hrad Vallis have come up with a new tag to attach to their stonerized grooves of rifftastical raucousness and thrumming rhythmical thunder, they call it the "New Wave of Martian Desert Metal" or "NWOMDM" for short. They were so pleased with their creation they even named their debut album after it, so welcome earthlings to "NWOMDM"

Obviously there is s certain element of tongue in cheek humour attached to Hrad Vallis tagging their sound as "NWOMDM", a humour compounded by the band calling themselves "the only metal band on Mars" and filling their debut with song titles like " Shitty Ass Moon Boots" and "Slam Piece Timmy", a song apparently that was originally going to be called "Slampiece Timmy & the Tater Tots" and is, in their words, about "a fictional sci-fi rock band that are all prima donna assholes". Do not however expect some sort of novelty comedy record as although their is plenty of black humour to be found in much of the albums lyrical content, Hrad Vallis take their music very seriously indeed. Cobbling together elements of prog, metal stoner/desert rock and good old heavy metal Hrad Vallis create a sound that might not actually be considered the "new wave " of anything but is nevertheless a highly enjoyable sound that crisscrosses across genres, cleverly never quite commiting to just one. Musically the band, Steve Svensson (lead guitar/vocals); Brad Mahaffey ( lead guitar/vocals); K. Dick Sando (bass/vocals) and Aaron Domeier (drums/percussion), are a tight unit able to effortlessly switch between styles and dynamics as song dictates with the albums vocals, a mixture of powerful gritty lead and gruff harmonies, perfectly suited to the equally gruff and gritty grooves that surround them. Hrad Vallis do not promise cutting edge or navel gazing complex grooves, though we are sure they are more than capable of delivering them if asked, what they do deliver is good hard rocking metal infused with a sense of the ridiculous ..... and that alone is worth the a few moments of your time.

Hrad Vallis' claim to be the only metal band on Mars might be a tall tale but with "NWOMDM" they have certainly created something not quite of this world. 
Check 'em out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 26 April 2021


Once a duo now a trio Portland's LàGoon have come a long way since the release of their debut "Grim Ripper", the band formed by guitarist/vocalist Anthony Gaglia and drummer Brady Maurer have, since their formation, consistently delivered the goods with their skateboarding culture inspired blend of garage rock, stoner fuzz and doom, how though will the addition of a new member impact on that sound? Well the answer to that question is not too much at all, the bands overall attack is still as raw and uncompromising as ever and Gaglia's caustic guitar tones and distinctive vocals are still the bands biggest selling point, however what new member Kenny Coombs (bass) does bring to the bands sound is more depth and growl and his inclusion also allows Gaglia more room to express himself through both his guitar work and his vocals, something that can be witnessed first hand by giving the bands latest release "Skullactic Visions" a listen. (Interstellar Smoke Records [Vinyl] and Forbidden Place Records [CD & Tape]).

You expect a little untamed noise when listening to a LàGoon recording and that is exactly what you get right from the off with first track "Cold Smoke" its intro of dissonant guitar noise curtailed by a sigh of relief and a shout of exasperation heralds in a groove that is part punk, part stoner and part garage rock, it is a sound you would expect to hear from this band but what you might not be expecting is the chunky bottom end Coombs bass brings to the party, "Beyond The Trees" follows and finds LàGoon donning their doom caps with a groove that is not so much plodding but is definitely in that ball park. Gaglia tailors his voice to bring a more sinister tone to the proceedings while his guitar work takes on more bluesy flavors, as the song reaches its close the band break into an up-tempo stoner/hard rock type shuffle with Maurer and Coombs expertly holding down the groove while Gaglia takes off on one of his customary guitar excursions. Title track "Skullactic Visions" has the feel of a sixties pop ballad but not one that you would likely want to sing to your partner, unless you wanted  to watch that partner running to the hills screaming. The song reminded Desert Psychlist of  Welsh surf-rockers Dope Smoker in places, having a similar mantra like vocal approach and a repetitive circular groove. Gaglia gets the chance to put down his guitar and play with his synths for next track "Buried" while "Hill Bomb" sees the band come together for a song that would not sound out of place on an early Alice Cooper album. A dark thrumming chord progression introduces "The Slow Down" a proto-doomic torch song decorated in swirling lead guitar and boasting a superb half spoken half sang vocal, atmospheric and yet at the same time trippy the song is Desert Psychlist's favourite track on "Skullactic Visions" by a country mile.  LàGoon sign off with "Final Ride" a soaring instrumental that not only shows off Gaglia's skills as a guitarist but also throws a well deserved spotlight on Maurer and CoombsMaurer's drumming is a mixture of loose abandonment and military tightness, his style unconventional but highly effective while new boy Coombs is like the glue holding everything together, his bass lines the magic ingredient that takes LàGoon's sound to a whole new level.

Without a single doubt in our minds Desert Psychlist can announce that "Skullactic Visions" is LáGoon's best release to date and that's saying something especially when you consider how good their previous releases have all been. 
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Saturday 24 April 2021

1968 ~ SALVATION IF YOU NEED ...... review

might seem a strange choice of name for a band formed in the mid 00's but not so strange when you consider that 1968 are a band whose heavy and hard sonic attack owes a huge debt to what many consider the golden age of rock music and that it was in the year 1968 and onwards that things started to progress towards the heavier sounds we still listen to today. James Coppack (vocals); Sam Orr (guitar); Bear (bass) and Dan Amati (drums), the guys who make up 1968, do not attempt to hide their worship of all things hard and classic in fact they openly revel in the retro aspects of their sound and that love of rock, in all its various guises, is something celebrated not only on new album "Salvation If You Need"  (vinyl released through Non Profit Records) but right through the bands back catalogue.

As if to push their point 1968 open "Salvation If You Need" with "Rail Road Boogie" a song that blatantly uses every 70's cliché in the book, its funky percussive intro accompanied by a chunky staccato chord progression, will remind older readers of Isaac Hayes "Theme From Shaft" while the songs main body is like a game of spot the influence, we at Desert Psychlist found a little Mountain style riffing going on as well as a some Montrose-like hard rock swagger nestling in the mix but we are sure others will have their own opinions. Next track "Trail of Dogs" finds 1968 mixing up their classic/hard rock with a some alt-rock dynamics, James Coppack's double tracked vocals on the songs verses reminding this writer of the multi harmonies of 90's British alternative bluesers Gomez in places. "Black Wing" has one of those grooves that compels head nodding and satisfied smiling and boasts a blistering lead brake courtesy of Sam Orr while "Here It Lies" is the perfect showcase for the percussive skills of Amati and the growling bass work of the appropriately named Bear as well as highlighting what an incredibly adapt vocalist the band have in Coppack, his smoky rasp a revelation throughout. We at Desert Psychlist are huge Budgie fans so we were looking forward to hearing how 1968's cover of the bands song "Guts" would stand up to muster, to say they nailed it would be an understatement. "Expressway" follows and starts with a solo bass motif then ends in screaming feedback and in-between rocks like a motherfucker while "Eastern Wind" will just blow you away. "Small Victories" is one of those songs that back in the day you would know to expect on any rock album of note, a slow growing ballad/torch song that gradually builds in momentum until finally bowing out on a wave of soaring guitar. "Rise of the Night Hornets" is a schizophrenic blend of alt-rock, stoner rock and Stone Roses type indie rock that maybe a little to clever for its own good, its probably our least favourite track on what is a very good album but its hard to explain why so we won't try. "God Bless" brings things to a close and is the perfect vehicle for Sam Orr to demonstrate his prowess on six strings, his bluesy lead breaks, screeching over and around Coppack's surprisingly laid back vocal, are the perfect example of why "feel" will always win out over mindless shredding.

If you are already a fan of 1968 you won't need us to tell you why you should be spending your hard earned cash on "Salvation If You Need" but if you are new to these guys then you are in for a rare treat, 1968 was a great time for rock music and 1968 prove it still is!
Check 'em out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 19 April 2021

DUNERIDER ~ RUINS ...... review

The best description of an album Desert Psychlist has ever read on any Bandcamp page was written by fellow Doom Charts contributor Adam Walsh who posted these immortal words ... "Played with ample volume, it's guaranteed to loosen stools". The album he was referring to, in his colorful prose, was "Ruins", the debut release of French riffmeisters Dunerider, and to be fair he was not far wrong!

Heavy is a term often attributed to music that's a little louder, a little more grittier and impactful than what is considered the norm, quite often though "heavy" is used as a catch-all term applied to grooves that in reality are not all that weighty but don't fit into any conveniently labeled musical boxes. This is not the case with Dunerider's "Ruins", as Adam Walsh so eloquently put it the grooves to be found on this release are so heavy they put the listener in danger of losing control of their bodily functions. Dunerider's sound is one built on Kyuss' desert rock blueprint of repetitious fuzzed out riffs and  thunderous rhythms decorated with clean minimalistic vocals but where Kyuss would have dialed their pedals and amps to an acceptably heavy seven or eight Dunerider dial theirs to an earthshattering, ear-damaging eleven to create a sound that you can not only hear from several lightyears away but you can also feel in every fibre of your being. Dunerider's riffs on songs like "sandwalker", "death touch wizard" and "last surrender" do not just crunch and crackle they thrum and rumble with a palpable resonance, the band creating a sound that is so heavy it is almost tangible. 

Dunerider introduce us to a sludgy form of desert rock with their debut album "Ruins" but not a desert rock inspired by the remote beauty of deserts but one that reflects the dangers, perils and brutality of those same deserts, the deadly Scorpion hiding beneath the rock, the slow moving venomous Gila Monster hunting at night, the Sidewinder basking in the shade awaiting prey, it's an album that's deliciously dark, damn heavy and according to Adam Walsh dangerous to your health
Check it out .....  

© 2021 Frazer jones

Sunday 18 April 2021


Every year an album will appear that blows everything else released that year into a cocked hat, an album that just ticks every box you could possibly want ticking and then some. This year of our lord 2021 has already seen a few contenders appearing with the potential for that album of the year status, some from established big hitters and some from new kids on the block. We are of course not even halfway through this year so it would be a bit premature to nominate an album for that prestigious honour quite yet but "Curses And Spells "(Road Hell Records) , the new album from Switzerland's Mystic Sons is definitely one for consideration.

Mystic Sons describe their sound as "random rock'n'roll" and we at Desert Psychlist can totally buy into that description, the band may have found themselves unwittingly tagged with a stoner rock tag, due to their big riffs and robust rhythms, but there is a lot more to Mystic Sons than just fuzz pedals and Orange amps. Mystic Sons sound is probably closer to an old school hard rock dynamic than that of many of their contemporaries and this is because they don't just go for the throat with waves upon waves of aggression but stagger their attacks with subtle feints and parries. Listening to "Curses And Spells" Desert Psychlist was very much reminded of Australian road warriors Electric Mary whose musical attack is very similar to Mystic Sons both bands lean heavily towards a musical blueprint first drawn up in the mid 70's and both bands possess vocalists with tones of soulful smoky rawness. Where Mystic Sons differ from their Australian counterparts is in the level of doominess these Swiss bring to the table, now we are not talking Sabbath or Candlemass type doom here but more a vibe or an undercurrent of dankness that hovers just beneath the surface of songs like "Fortune and Fame" and "Great Horse" and gives them a dark edginess. Despite this undertow of doominess there is no getting away from the fact that much of what you will hear on "Curses And Spells" is informed by the heavy blues of the 70's, especially the albums soaring lead breaks which are probably more Page than they are Iommi, but then all the best things usually are.

Not quite stoner rock not quite doom yet containing elements of both "Curses And Spells" is a stonkin' blend of the old and the new that should appeal to a wide spectrum of rock fans. If your are already putting together a list of 2021's best albums we at Desert Psychlist recommend you put this on it! 
Check it out ....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 12 April 2021

KYNING ~ ĀN ..... review

Hold on to something solid and attached to solid ground because what you are about to hear, after reading this review and following the link to this bands new album, is going to blow you away. The band in question are a German combo from Leipzig called Kyning, consisting of Nils (drums); Johannes (vocals/guitar); Matthias (guitar) and Otto (bass), a band whose sound is an enthralling blend of stoner metal, grunge, indie rock and prog that breaks all the known rules of what can be put together in a musical context but does it anyway, the results of which can be found on their latest release "Ān".

Blending together elements from different genres of rock is not an exactly new concept but Kyning are not a band claiming to reinvent the wheel they are just trying to use it differently. By differently we mean Kyning do not separate those elements, gleaned from a wide spectrum of sources, into musical sections but cram those elements together in such a way that they are almost unrecognizable but are nonetheless still there. Nothing is straightforward about what Kyning bring to the table with "Ān", riffs fizz and pop but they also crunch and crackle, rhythm patterns shift and change with an unnerving regularity and the vocals can range from a clean impassioned howl to guttural roar in a nano-second. Fellow music junkie and Doom Charts contributor Steve Rodger commented on the bands Bandcamp page "I’m not entirely sure what the fuck is going on here, possibly some kind of twisted proggy grunge perhaps, but I am pretty sure it’s great..." and he is 100% correct, from opening track "Bury Me Closer" to the closing number "Preacher" the listener is not so much led by the hand through Kyning's mythical world of melancholy, mistrust and malcontent as dragged through it screaming, made to look at leafless trees and sombre lonely mountains against a musical soundtrack that is continuously soaring and plummeting, a relentless ride that is as mind-blowing as it is breathtaking.

Those that thought that prog metal had steered its way into a cul-de-sac and had nowhere else left to go should wrap their ears around Kyning's "Ān", by blending into their proggish overtures elements of alt-rock, stoner rock, doom and metal Kyning have shown that prog still has destinations not yet explored.
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday 9 April 2021


Black Sabbath did not really invent doom metal, they certainly inspired the genre with their thick heavy riffs and slower thundering rhythms, but doom as a recognized genre really only came into fruition with the emergence of bands like Witchfinder General, Candlemass, Pentagram, Trouble and Solitude Aeturnus. Using Sabbath's iconic B-movie inspired self titled song "Black Sabbath" as their blueprint these bands tuned their guitars down low, slowed down their rhythmic patterns and in doing so added to their sound a cloying atmospheric that is still the norm in doom music to this day. Vocally and lyrically however things have changed quite dramatically since dooms early days, where once powerful clean vocals, often sang in semi operatic tones, were the norm now doom is often the territory of demonic screechers, gutteral growlers and rabid roarers, where lyrics once had a Mary Shelley. Bram Stoker Gothic novel type vibe now they are inspired by movies like Hellraiser and Event Horizon. Germany's Wheel, Ben Homberger (guitar); Arkadius Kurek (vocals); Marcus Grabowski (bass) and Carsten Jercke (drums), do not buy into this new doom model their doom could well be described as "epic", "traditional" or "old school", a type of doom that is getting increasingly rare but is just as relevant and enjoyable today as it ever was, something you can discover for yourselves by giving their latest release "Preserved In Time" (Cruz Del Sur Music) a spin.

You could not want for a better opening track than "At Night They Came Upon Us" its eastern guitar motifs interspersing a series of chugging doomic refrains is decorated in a vocal that is pure "old school" in tone and execution, Kurek's melodic slightly operatic voice is pitched to perfection and sits perfectly in that "Goldilocks Zone" where it compliments the grooves surrounding it rather than overpowering them. "When The Shadow Takes You Over" follows and has a melancholic vibe, more a torch song than a ballad it boasts an incredible vocal from Kurek as well as some stunning brief but effective soloing from Homberger. "After All" is what could be described as a list song that finds Kurek lamenting, in mournful tones, a loss against a backdrop of mind-blowing atmospheric doom driven by Jercke's thundering and industrious drumming, anchored by Grabowski's rumbling deep bass and given wings by Homberger's crunching reverberating riffs and swirling solos. "She Left In Silence" thunders along on one of those dank, dark and powerful grooves that reminds us all why we fell in love with doom in the first place while "Aeon Of Darkness" contains all the necessary ingredients to underline the reasons why we are in love with the genre still. "Hero Of The Weak" ramps up the doom both atmospherically and dynamically and adds a little theatrical vocal dramatics to the equation, Kurek adopting a darker grittier tone to his voice and even trading off vocal licks with some "new doom" style guttural intonations. Final song "Daedalus" revives the eastern themes visited on the albums opening track but this time we find the band blending those themes with a more undulating musical attack the songs groove ebbing and flowing between full on and  thunderous and restrained and melancholic, huge dark crunching powerchords regularly making way for reverberating arpeggios and swirling solos, pounding pummeling drum patterns replaced by shimmering an intricate percussion, growling bass riffs that rumble and roar suddenly becoming liquid, languid and fluid while the vocals range from a humble croon to an impassioned aria, it's mind-blowing stuff!

If you were brought up on the post-Sabbath doom of Candlemass, Trouble and their ilk and have a hankering for those days when vocals soared and swooned with a power and clarity only usually associated with music of a more classical leaning then Wheel's "Preserved In Time" is perfect for you, if on the other hand you were too young to have witnessed those early days of doom and are wondering what all the fuss was about then this is a great place to start and then work your way backwards.
Check it out .....

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 5 April 2021



Desert Psychlist has quite a few male friends living in Britain of Philippine descent nearly all of them are rock music fans but to a man their tastes favor the more mainstream end of the rock and metal spectrum. Not one of my Filipino friends has ever shown an interest in the more underground aspects of the rock scene and so it came as somewhat of a surprise to be directed towards an album from a Filipino combo who not only understand underground rock they also play the shit out of it! Polymerase are VN Jose (vocals), Vincent Jose (guitars/bass) and Francis Ilagan (drums), VN and Vincent originally put down a few grooves on tape back in 2014 but due to a technical error the files storing those recordings disappeared into the black hole of cyberspace, nothing much happened for a while but when Covid hit in 2020 VN persuaded Vincent that they should try again and so with the help of drummer friend Francis that is exactly what they did, the results of which is the trio's debut release "Unostentatious"

Desert Psychlist is somewhat confused about VN's role in Polymerase as he is credited as the bands vocalist but his only contribution (on this release) is a raw, harsh vocal on final track "Green Is The Color Of Evil", most of the instrumental work on "Unostentatious" seems to fall to his brother Vincent and drummer Francis, maybe this will change on future recordings but either way this does not alter the fact that "Unostentatious" is a stunning collection of psych tinted stoner rock worthy of a place in every underground rock fans music collection. There is a touch of  Earthless, a smidgeon of Colour Haze and a salting of My Brother the Wind about much of the songs on this mind-blowing release but dosed with added elements of  heavy doominosity and lysergic haziness that keeps things earthy and anchored and this is despite the bands constant attempts to take off into the cosmos on instrumentals, "The Traveler", "A Night With A Succubus" and "Lightbringer/Lightgiver".We come back to "Green Is The Color of Evil" for the final song and it is here where we find Polymerase slightly changing tact and heading into darker, danker waters, the songs low slow refrain lumbers and lurches beneath the weight of its own fuzz and is decorated with a vocal that is partly a murmured mumble, partly a demonic roar. The song sticks out a little like a sore thumb from the spaced out heavy psych that populates the rest of this release but it does show that Polymerase have more than one string to their bow and that they are unafraid to fire their musical arrows in any direction that takes their fancy.

Lysergic heaviness and spaced out otherworldliness is the order of things for most of  Polymerase's "Unostentatious" but as the last track of this stunning release goes to prove these guys are no one trick ponies, Desert Psychlist expects more surprises to come from these guys on future releases.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday 2 April 2021



It seems like an age since we featured a Brazilian band on these pages so lets put that right by introducing you to Peixes Voadores a combo from Rio Grande do Sul with a nice line in raucous catchy riffs and boisterous head-banging rhythms who have just released their debut album "Altered States".

 Describing a song as "catchy" will often send the underground purists running to their bunkers desperate to cleanse themselves with something harsh and extreme but would those dank grooves even exist if it were not for the Sabbath's, Zeppelin's and Purples of this world whose grooves were built on the constructs of hooks and melodies. Mentioning Deep Purple in that trio of examples is no accident on our behalf as Peixes Voadores share many similarities with all of Purple's various lineups as on songs like "High On The Road", "Flying High", "Stranger Within" and "Virtual Minds" the band, much like Purple did (and still do), keep things fairly simple but effective behind the vocals, which are strong clean and powerful, but then take off into the stratosphere between them, the only thing missing being some parping John Lord style keyboard flourishes. Of course this is not the 70's or the 80's so Peixes Voadores bring their grooves up to date by adding an undercurrent of doominess to proceedings, nothing too dark or dank but just enough to take their tunes out of the realms of sounding overly bright and polished and giving them a pleasing underground edginess.

Although Peixes Voadores describe what they do as "stoner rock" we at Desert Psychlist find the bands sonic attack leaning a little more towards an 80's hard rock/metal sound, a sound that relies on ear catching melodies and cleverly placed instrumental hooks with which to ensnare its audience. As mentioned previously there will be those reading this that will immediately balk at the mention of  words like ear-catching and melody, people who may be concerned that hearing something melodic might expose them to something that might be deemed commercial or mainstream, fear not though because there is enough gnarliness and gritiness on "Altered States" to fill a small canyon.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones