Wednesday 29 September 2021


Lorena Rocha (vocals/guitar); Rafaum Costa (guitar/vocals); Thassio Martins (bass) and Fred Nunes (drums) are Black Witch, a Brazilian quartet who have graced the pages of Desert Psychlist on a number of occasions first with their debut EP "Aware" and then again with their first full album "Solve et Coagula". This year (2021) the band have been very busy and graced their fans with two releases the first a three song EP entitled "Spiral The I" (released in July and which we described, on their Bandcamp page, as "three tracks of dank dark doomic splendour delivered in their own unique signature sound" and the second "Spiral II", a four track slice of witchy doom blessed once again with that unique Black Witch sound.

"Scuzzy" is a word Desert Psychlist has seen twice associated with "The Spiral II" and it is a description perfectly fitted to Black Witch's gnarly, filth drenched guitar and bass refrains and  thundering rhythms and it is a description that is given further credence by the vocals that accompany those refrains and rhythms. Lorena Rocha has a unique and distinctive singing voice her vocals are part ethereal and elfin and part sinister and witchy and are a perfect fit for the gnarly assed backdrop of traditional and proto-doom grooves Costa, Martins and Nunes provide for her voice to decorate. . There is a touch of Dutch occultists The Devil's Blood about where Black Witch are at these days only a tad more grimy and (of course) "scuzzy" and minus the satanic lyrical content, this is no more evident than on opening track "Calling Me" a song built around a dark Alice In Chains style slurring  riff that is driven by thunderous and inventive drumming and over which Rocha intones cryptic lyrics in distinctive tones. "I'm pleasure but I'm also a prison" sings Rocha on the excellent "Come Again", her warning given further gravitas by the dank doomic grooves that provide the backdrop to her confessions., grooves that are Sabbath-esque in feel but not in an obvious way. Any doomic outfit worth its weight in despair will these days throw a few dramatic sound-FX into the mix to ramp up the atmospherics and Black Witch are no exception and so "Chasing" begins its life to the sound of rainfall and thunder underpinned by a sedate bass motif and a high pitched droning effect, the band then dropping into a low, slow and heavy doomic groove around which vitriolic tinted lyrics describing the human race as being "made of dust and sperm and salt" in sinister  but nevertheless melodic tones. For final track "Besides It All" Black Witch add a little cosmic spiciness and lysergic texturizing to their doomic onslaught, not enough to take things way out on a limb but just enough to show that  if they wanted to they could take things in a whole other direction.

Sound-wise Black Witch have come a long way from the slightly naïve and raw doom they first delivered to us via their debut release "Aware", gone are the untamed vocals, the reliance on just one or two riffs to see a song through and gone is the raw edged production values instead "The Spiral II" presents us with lilting if somewhat monotonic melodies, numerous shifts in time and tempo and a production that, although is smoother, warmer and much more polished than that of the bands first release, still manages to retain all the required grit and grime an album of this musical style demands
Check it out.... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 27 September 2021


Listening to the subject of this review, Italian heavy rock trio Cripta Blue's self titled debut "Cripta Blue", is like stepping into a time machine for Desert Psychlist, we were immediately transported to a time when the width of material at the bottom of our trouser legs was almost equal to the length of  material at our waist, a time when those iconic bands we still listen to today were strutting their stuff not in arena's but in sweaty clubs like The Marquee (London) and The Whiskey A Go Go (Hollywood), yes we are talking the 70's here. This did not come as a surprise especially given the information that Cripta Blue was a project "conceived to create personal and original music in the way of Budgie, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Wicked Lady, May Blitz and more modern groups like Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus and Pentagram". Did they succeed in this endeavour?  You bet your bottom dollar they did.

Just one look at the painting gracing "Cripta Blue" will tell you what you are likely to hear beneath its Blue Cheer inspired fonts and artwork, a stoned looking skull, bats and a psychedelic lawned cemetery, framed by mushroom sprouting trees, just screams the words "proto" and "metal" at you and what it screams is ultimately what you get. There is no pretence to be found here, no dressing up retro-sounding grooves with elements drawn from the extremities of the modern underground, this is a pure love letter to a bygone era and the music these guys grew up listening to. Cripta Blue, Andrea Giuliani (vocals/bass); Federico Bocchini (guitar) and Silvio Dalla Valle (drums), do not so much re-hash or try to re-create the vibe of early 70's proto-metal as cleverly attempt to re-imagine it and bring it up to speed for a fresh new audience. That prospective new audience will most likely have already heard 70's giants like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple but may not have delved any deeper and discovered the joys of  bands likes Budgie, Stray, Blue Cheer, Dust and Sir Lord Baltimore, may never have heard a bass guitar played through a WAH pedal, a guitar solo funk it up on a heavy rock song or witness a drummer swing with a jazzy meter. If you see some of yourself in that last sentence then let Cripta Blue educate you in the ways of  "proto-doom" and "proto-metal" with songs like "Magickal Ride", "Tombstone" (featuring Witchwood's Ricky Dal Pane on vocals), "Spectral Highway" and "Death Wheelers", original songs that rock raw hard and heavy and incorporate into their grooves essences from the whole history of heavy music from the late sixties right through to the present day.

If you've read about "proto-metal" but are not quite sure what it actually is then "Cripta Blue" is the perfect starting point to work your way backwards from, if however, like Desert Psychlist, you were born at the ass-end of the 50's and grew up listening to many of those bands previously mentioned then this is a delightfully delicious wallow in welcoming and still very much exhilarating waters.
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday 19 September 2021


Having named themselves after a mythical creature from Scandanavian folk-lore, who legend has it dwells in the mist shrouded bogs and swamps of their homeland, it is not surprising that Danish doomsters Bogwife incorporate a certain element of otherworldliness into their sonic attack, their sound having the type of dark lumbering and swampy gait you just might imagine the creature that gave them their name might also possess. The band first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via their debut "Halls of Rebirth", a sprawling collection of doomic tunes tinted with essences of heavy psych, blues and classic rock that prompted us to describe their sound as "combining radically differing dynamics in such a way that it is almost impossible to see the joins", a description that still holds water today. The band have just released "A Passage Divine", the much awaited follow up to their debut, it is an album that  incorporates all the elements that made "Halls of Rebirth" such a compelling listen but moves them up to whole new level of BADASS!

"Approach" opens "A Passage Divine" with ominous dark droning guitar effects and squeals of piercing feedback then settles into a low slow thunderous refrain supported by equally sedate but pummelling percussion over which superbly pitched clean and powerful vocals tell a spiritual tale of old religions and sacrifice. As the album slowly progresses, through songs with suitably cosmic and doomic titles like "Restoration", "Among The Trees"" and "Celestial Dawn",  it soon starts to become apparent  that the band have subtly shifted their sound towards a more danker, doomier dynamic, those swirling guitar solo's that were such a joy to hear on the bands debut still remain but the grooves surrounding those solos' are gnarlier, swampier and just that damn more darker. This doomier dynamic is helped to some extent by the new album having a far more grittier production, the guitars sound less polished and nastier, the bass sounds deeper and dirtier, the drums sound bigger and more powerful while in contrast the vocals, which were a tad buried on "Halls of Rebirth", are here pushed further forward in the mix to give the bands sound a much more balanced feel. The album closes with "Descent" a ten minute plus tome that incorporates everything that is good about this band, we are talking dark emotive guitar solos, thick reverberating riffs and powerful rhythmic grooves all topped off with a huge soaring and heartfelt vocal, this song is not just good its fucking majestic! 

"A Passage Divine" is an album of intense, powerful and emotive heavy music that is as good, if not better, than anything that has been released this year so far, it is an album that demands not only your attention but also your respect.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Saturday 11 September 2021



A procession of cowled figures in blood red robes move slowly through the darkened streets of Warsaw Old Town, before them they carry an ornate and ancient torch burning a mystical herb that is older than the gods themselves, a torch that trails drifting clouds of  pungent sweet smelling smoke behind it and thus heralds "The Rite of The Smoke" OK that is not exactly true but this is the imagery that we at Desert Psychlist had conjured up in our minds eye while listening to Polish doomsters Smoke Rites debut EP of the same name, a four song opus the band describe as "Satan Praising, Occultism" .

It's a pretty safe bet that a band hailing from Poland's underground metal/rock scene are going to be firing some pretty heavy riffs our way and Smoke Rites are certainly not a band who disappoint in that department, it would also be fairly safe to say, given the EP's artwork and the fact that the band precede their line-up notes on their Facebook page with the legend "𝔖𝔱𝔬𝔫𝔢𝔡 𝔇𝔬𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔯𝔰",that  the grooves to be found on "The Rite of The Smoke" are going to be sitting within the sub-division of stoner doom especially as it is a sub-genre Poland seems to be gold medallists in, though having said that there is plenty of old school doom dynamics and new school occult rock textures to be found here also. Max (vocals); Lucas (guitar); Marek (bass) and Michał (drums), are all veterans of the Polish heavy scene and the chops they honed with well respected bands like War-Saw, Setheist and Goat Force One are all brought to bear on this their latest project but those those elements of thrash, prog and blackened metal, that were such an integral component of each members previous musical explorations, are here cleverly salted with a touch more doominosity and sludginess. Max's vocals are revelation throughout this stunning EP, at times her voice soars with a honeyed ethereal sweetness at others she cackles and crows like a possessed crone her vocal switching back and forth between these two differing dynamics with an unerring ease. Musically the band are as tight as a gastric belt, guitarist Lucas adds to the albums blackened atmospherics with an unending array of dark and delicious riffs and swirling dank solos while drummer Michal and bassist Marek lay down the sort of rhythmic power that could cause castle walls to crumble, this combination of emotionally charged vocalisations and thunderous doomic grooviness coming over at times like an unrelenting and unstoppable force of nature.

"The Rite of The Smoke" is a superb debut EP from a band of seasoned musicians who on the evidence of this release will only get better and better but lets leave the last word to the band themselves who state on their Bandcamp page that "We are the Smoke Rites and The Rite has just fucking BEGUN".
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Friday 10 September 2021


Lucifer's Children are Lidi Ramirez (vocals) Edu Centurion (drums) and R.Doom (guitars/bass), a doomic trio from Asunción, Paraguay whose music tends to lean towards the more "traditional" end of the doom spectrum. The trio's sound is one of huge reverberating riffs played at sedate tempo's over rhythmic backdrops of slow pounding percussion around which a mixture of neo-classical and bluesy lead guitar solo's squeal and scream accompanied by a vocal that is clean and just different enough to give their music a "quirksome" edge. The band have just recently released their second full length album, and first as a trio, "Signs of Saturn" (vinyl to be released via DHU Records in 2022).

For a band whose sound is probably closer to traditional doom than it is proto-doom it is quite surprising to hear them open with a track that sits firmly in the latter's territory. "The Blessed Harvest" chugs along on a mid-tempo groove driven by punchy drumming and decorated with Iommi inspired riffs and solos with only the merest hints of the bands more traditional roots allowed to peek through. Vocally though Lucifer's Children do not ascribe to either doomic camp, Lidi Ramirez's vocals possess neither the gothic operatics of  traditional doom bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus and neither do they possess the nasal whine usually associated with Sabbath-esque proto doom, instead we are presented with an almost "witchy" type dynamic, clean and melodic but with just a hint of gritty menace in its execution. "Exiled Angels" follows and finds the band back in their more familiar traditional territory with Ramirez's sinister vocal tones crooning and crowing of a groove packed with all the elements we have come to expect from the genre, neo-classical passages tinted in gothic textures wrapped up in dank guitar motifs that reverberate like rumbling thunder over ponderous and deliberate percussion. For "My bloodlust to the moon" Lucifer's Children slow things down to a virtual crawl with Edu Centurion's drums pounding out a hellish tattoo over which R.Doom crunches out low tuned powerchords that linger long in the air before slowly dissipating and being replaced, Ramirez adding to the songs atmospherics with a suitably baleful vocal. Title track "Signs of Saturn" sees the band step up the tempo and, as they did with the albums opening track, blend their traditional sound with a more proto-doomic dynamic while "Goat of Mendes" finds the band sprinkling their doom with a little occult rock flavouring. Traditional doom is by its own nature a genre known for its dramatics and things do not get anymore dramatic or atmospheric than album finale "The one who hears the time's voice" , a sprawling doomic tome spread over ten minutes that incorporates everything you could possibly wish for from an album that sits within the doom canon, huge dark and boasting one of the albums best vocals it is a fitting end to what is very fine and enjoyable collection of songs.

Traditional/Epic doom has become somewhat of rarity these days having slowly lost ground, and much of its audience, to stoner doom, proto-doom, occult rock and even death doom so its good to know that there are bands still out there carrying the torch for the genre's original form. Lucifer's Children's "Signs of Saturn" is by no means as polished or lustrous as say Candlemass' "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" or Trouble's "Psalm 9" but it does have a rough charm all of its own and also carries an essence of that dark magic that made those albums so iconic.
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 8 September 2021


Let's get one thing straight right from the get go and that is that what you are about to hear, after reading this review and then pressing play on the selected track at the bottom of this post, is not always an easy listen neither is it a release blessed with a highly polished production, in fact this release from British Colombian three piece Vulcanodon Phazer is at times murky, muddy and a little messy. Now you might be thinking that the previous sentence is an odd way to begin a review, especially when Desert Psychlist has a reputation for only reviewing those albums and EP's we really dig, and it is but it is also a way of preparing the prospective listener for something a little different from what they might be expecting, something that is a little left of field, dissonant and raw but something that is quite brilliant because of that, so with this in mind let us introduce you to Vulcanoden Phazer's third album "Lemurian Thunder" (Bud Metal Records) an uncompromising blend of mind-blowing space rock, lysergic sludge and dank discordant doom.

Dark repetitive riffs played over a mixture of shimmering and insistent percussion is probably the best way to describe opening track "Fossils In The Dark", a song that relies on the crunch of its guitars for its rhythmic attack far more than it does on its drums and is decorated in a weird but captivating vocal harmonies that are more disharmonious than they are harmonious, like we said in our opening intro this is not an easy listen. Things do however get slightly a little more, what you might call traditional, with title track "Lemurian Thunder" but this is probably more because its chugging space rock groove sits a little easier on the ear as does its Hawkwind-esque vocals, but like everything on this album those twin elements of chaos and mayhem are never far away and here they present themselves in some truly insane guitar work. Following track "Human Beams" finds our heroes jamming a groove that could almost be described as gothic and funky if it were not for the ever present dissonance that sits just beneath its vocals that spout sci-fi influenced lyrics in unconventional meters. "The Telechine Way" sees the band once again strutting their stuff in space rock territory while "Chiba" finds them mixing their doom with their sludge and sprinkling some lysergic spaciness into the proceeding along the way. Final song "I Pledge Allegiance to Our Alien Robot Gods" is an instrumental blend of droning doom and heavy psych that utilises the unusual ploy of keeping the guitar riffs at a fairly constant pace while the drums slowly increase in tempo before then signing out on an abrupt full stop, it is probably our lest favourite song on the album simply because it lacks the chaos of the previous five but then this being an album where you have to expect the unexpected we suppose that signing out on something a little less than chaotic is exactly what we should expect, if that makes sense.

There are those out there who will describe what Vulcanodon Phazer do on "Lemurian Thunder" as just noise but then some describe free-jazz in those same terms, of course we are not trying to equate what these Canadians do with jazz but there is a similar feeling of organised chaos going on here that was also a factor in the music of Ornette Coleman and later period  John Coltrane. The trick to listening to music that has an air of dissonance and discord attached to it is to allow your ear  to focus on something familiar to you within that music and then let everything else sort of fall into place around that, and if you do that with "Lemurian Thunder" you just might find, like us, that you mind will get well and truly blown.
Check it out ...

© 2021 Frazer Jones