Friday 29 October 2021


As exporters of heavy music we in the UK can feel rightly proud, since as way back as the mid sixties we have consistently delivered the goods, giving the world such heavy hitters as Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and that's without mentioning the so-called mid table bands like Budgie, The Groundhogs, Hawkwind and so many others. One might think that the flow of ass-kicking British bands might have curtailed with the passage of time, or at the very least been stemmed somewhat, but with the emergence of British bands like Boss Keloid, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Sound of Origin and the subject of this review, Green Lung, it would seem as though its business as usual in good 'ol Blighty.

Green Lung, Tom Templar (vocals); Scott Black (guitar); Joseph Ghast (bass); Matt Wiseman (drums) and John Wright (organ), have come a long way in a comparatively short space of time, the first green shoots of what this band would become and where they would be headed where planted with their demo "Green Man Rising" a promising two tracker that blended heavy psych with elements of hard rock and doom, it was a little raw and untamed but you could almost taste the potential within its grooves. The band followed this up with the EP "Free The Witch" a stunning collection of songs brimming over with raucous refrains and thunderous rhythms that also showed the band had an ear for a good melody. "Free The Witch" was good but what was about to come next was a game changer. "Woodland Rites", the bands debut full album, sent the over-ground and the underground press into virtual meltdown with Kerrang magazine calling it "‘Killer, sample-strewn psych-doom" and Metal Hammer describing it as "Surging with all the druggy riffs and spooky psychedelia you could ever want", it also made March 2019's #1 spot on that bastion of monthly good taste The Doom Charts beating some serious contenders to get there. The critical success of "Woodland Rites" meant that the bands next album needed to be something special, a big ask but it is one Green Lung's latest release "Black Harvest" delivers on.

There is an occult/pagan vibe to much of Green Lung's themes and that is reflected in the opening vocal to opening track "The Harrowing", Templar urging us to "Come up to the hill for The Harrowing" in sombre tones backed by ominous dark droning noise, the song then exploding into a metallic groove decorated in exquisite swathes of swirling organ and neo-classical guitar textures backed by thunderous drumming and bone shaking bass. Next up is "Old Gods" a stonking rocker with more than a pinch of  Celtic flavouring in its sonic attack, imagine Pagan Altar jamming with Deep Purple and you might just get a handle on what you are hearing, however as the songs seems to be reaching a noisy crescendo it suddenly and quite unexpectedly shifts into a slightly mellower groove that features some clever vocal interplay and  trade off harmonies  If "Old Gods" was Green Lung channelling their inner Deep Purple then next track  "Leaders of The Blind" is them paying homage to Uriah Heep, the songs strident organ rich grooves frame a clean melodic vocal that is further enhanced by Scott Black's scorching lead work. Next track "Reaper's Scythe" continues the Heep-ish attack of its predecessor but throws a little occult rock flavouring into the mix to spice things up while "Graveyard Sun" brings things down to tell a vampiric love story lamenting dawn's that will never come against a suitably atmospheric musical backdrop. Title track "Black Harvest" is an instrumental, although it does contain some Gregorian-like cadences in its moody intro, and gives the listener the chance to really appreciate what a superb musical unit this band have become without the distraction of a vocal, Wiseman's busy thunderous drums and Ghast's winding bass lines laying down a solid foundation of rhythmic might for Wright and Black to launch off on their respective flights of fancy. "Upon The Altar" finds Green Lung going all in on an occult flavoured rocker that is full to brimming over with Dennis Wheatley style lyrical imagery, Templar promising to "deliver to the devil a daughter" in clean but sinister tones. The band shift tack slightly for next song "Bear The Mark", the band hitting into a groove that although still heavy has a  slightly more old school hard rock meter. "Doomsayer" mixes Green Lung's classic rock leanings with a little proto-metallic doom, if you are one of those rare beasts that shudder when confronted with the sound of keyboards then this is not the song for you as Wright is all over this, his swirling keys swooping in and out of the dark refrains that surround them, his playing supporting  Black's scorching guitar riffs and solos in places replacing them in others. "Born to a Dying World" closes the album and is a song with gentle/heavy/gentle dynamic, quaint and folk-like one minute, searing hot and heavy the next ,the songs barely concealed green message finding Templar mournfully bemoaning a world doomed by those inhabiting it..

If you are a fan of the organ heavy classic rock of bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, have a hankering for the folk-tinted doom of Pagan Altar but also get off on the 00's occult rock of Blood Ceremony and The Devil's Blood then Green Lung's "Black Harvest" is an album sure to tick all your relevant boxes and will also explain why one of Britain's major newspapers, The Guardian, called Green Lung "'Britain’s finest folk horror-indebted heavy metallers'
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 25 October 2021


Germany's Redscale, Christian Reuter (guitars); Henning Claussen (vocals/guitars); Martin Stabler (drums) and Grant Price (bass), are a band who consistently deliver the goods and we can confidently announce that their new album "The Old Colossus" (Majestic Mountain Records) continues that tradition. If for some unknown reason you are unfamiliar with Redscale then let us tell you that this is a band who jam a metallic groove influenced by70's heavy rock and 90's stoner/desert rock, it is a sound built on raucous guitar riffs and insistent rhythms and it is one that will appeal to fans who like their rock to ROCK!

"On The Run" opens proceedings and employs that old standby of verse/ chorus/verse, something that is becoming increasingly rare these days, the song is a strident foot to the floor romp decorated with ear catching hooks, a duel guitar attack and powerful full on vocals, those that regularly moan on social media about stoner rock and metal becoming stale and one-dimensional obviously haven't listened to these guys yet. Having already got us on the ropes with their opening number Redscale proceed their assault with title track "The Old Colossus", lyrically the song has similarities with Nick Cave's "Right Red Hand" and Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" but with a more politically aware message, musically it is crunching riff monster with a groove so infectious it should carry a health warning. Stoner rock has always had an affinity with punk rock, many of the leading lights of the 90's desert/stoner scene cut their teeth in punk bands, and for "It's a Death Cult, Baby" go back to their punk roots with a song that is as furious as it is fun. Up until now its been full steam ahead assault on the senses but next track "Tabula Rasa" marks the beginnings of a pulling back on the reins with a song that could be described musically as a torch song, due to its undulating intensity, but lyrically deals with much darker subject matter, ambiguous lyrics that could be describing anything from the sudden cold shock of birth to the slow crumbling of a once fertile mind. "Hard To Believe" could almost be the sister piece to it's predecessor the song having much the same levels of intensity and torch-like dynamics only this time we are presented with lyrics that point to a more disturbed mind, someone with "secrets dark and terrible" who promises to "show you what’s there to find behind the curtain". Instrumental, "Wall of Bricks", ups the tempo slightly and allows the band to don their heavy psych caps while "Of Wealth and Taste" finds the band mixing up their stoner with a smattering of doom. "At The End" is a for most part a vehicle for voice and acoustic guitar its folk/Americana feel broken only by a brief but soaring lysergic section. The album signs off with "The Lathe of Heaven" a mid to up- tempo number with a to die for groove this is packed to brimming over with crunching power chords and searing solos backed by tight solid drumming and deep low bottom end all of which is decorated in forceful vocals edged with an element of anger.

There are many describing this album as "pure" stoner rock but to Desert Psychlist's ears there is much more to this album than a few of fuzzed out riffs and hard driven rhythms, Redscale have a real understanding of songcraft and dynamics and how to pace a song so as to maximise its impact and for us, and maybe you, that places "The Old Colossus"  in "classic rock" territory.
Check it out ...

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday 24 October 2021


One of the more pleasant surprises of 2019 was the release of "Scarecrow" an enthralling slice of genuine sounding 70's flavoured proto-metal/hard rock from a Russian quartet trading under the same name. The band, Artemis (vocals); Elijah (bass); Vadim (drums) and Max (guitar), were probably taken aback somewhat by the reaction to their debut as it seemed everybody who mattered in the worldwide underground scene appeared to be falling over themselves to lavish praise on them and their grooves, and rightly so. Having such a well received debut however can throw up its own problems, the main problem being how do you follow up such an ass-kicking release when its fairly obvious your newly acquired fan-base are going to want more of the same but you as a band have a duty to yourselves to push your music forward. Well the band answer that question with "Scarecrow II", a stunning collection of songs that does not deviate too far from the blueprint the band drew up with "Scarecrow" but is innovative and daring enough not to sound like a re-creation of what has gone before.

Those who have delved a little deeper into Scarecrow's world will already know that the bands singer Artemis has a background in composing, arranging and conducting symphonic/orchestral music (check out his solo project  "Artemis' The Endless Journey: North") so it will come as no surprise that some of that work finds its way on to Scarecrow's new album. "The Endless Ocean Overture" opens "II" and has the feel of a soundtrack to a documentary or a movie, the pieces luscious strings, classical style piano and huge cavernous percussion, backed by sound effects of sea and wind, is an epic introduction, if a somewhat unusual one, to an album that gives a whole new meaning to the word diverse. In our review of the bands debut album we compared Artemis' vocals to those of  Rush's Geddy Lee and Budgie's Burke Shelley and we still stand by that opinion but there is also a touch of Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale and Mark Melicia of The Parlor Mob to be found in his high wailing vocal style and this especially evident on next track "Blizzard" a song that in its initial stages boasts a heavy proto-metallic groove but then encapsulates elements of proggish jazziness into its sonic attack, guitarist Max throwing every rock guitar cliché in the book into his solos yet still making those solo's sound fresh, new and wholly original, doing this despite bassist Elijah and drummer Vadim's attempts to drown him out with the combined power of their ever shifting rhythmic backdrops. Every band has a blues song in them and Scarecrow are no exception and the one they bring to the table with "Magic Flower" is a blues of rare magnitude and is one with just the merest hint of Zeppelin-esque bluster about it with wailing harmonica and Jimmy Page like guitar textures pushed right to the fore and a "Whole Lotta Love" style lysergic section sitting smack bang in the middle. " Spirit Seducer" follows and and here we find Scarecrow still channelling Zeppelin but more in the way Canada's Rush did on their Neil Peart- less self-titled debut. Having ticked off the their Zeppelin and Rush boxes Scarecrow now concentrate their attentions on doom with the excellent "The Moors", Scarecrow's doom however is a complete departure from the doom of their peers and although it does carry elements of the proto-doomic dynamics, that were once the territory of  Black Sabbath and Pentagram, Scarecrow's doom is a much more complex and convoluted beast that incorporates swirling orchestral flourishes and bluesy psychedelic colourings. "The Mushroom King" follows and has a groove similar to something that Deep Purple or Uriah Heep might have attempted back in the day but one with a totally different vocal dynamic and one that occasionally deviates into folk -rock territory. Those folk-rock textures are expanded further on the gently rocking  and semi-acoustic "The Golden Times" before the band sign off with epic closer "The Endless Ocean", a enthralling musical piece that sees Artemis' orchestral skills and the rest of the bands abilities to rock out combining together to create a groove that ebbs and flows between symphonic and jazzy while touching all the relevant bases in-between.

Following up on the critical success of their debut was always going to be a big ask for Scarecrow but with "II" they have proved that they are a not just a one hit wonder and that they have the chops, the ideas and the songs to not only match the success they achieved with their debut but to surpass that success.
Check it out .... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 18 October 2021

MARAGDA ~ MARAGDA ..... review

Maragda, Marçal  (bass/vocals/synth); Guillem (guitar/vocals/synth) and Xavi (drums/vocals), are a trio from Barcalona, Spain who augment their sonic attack by use synths to add colour and texture to their  blend of heavy psych and complex prog, not to overpower their grooves but as a tool to expand those grooves and give them added depth and structure, to give their sound a fullness not usually associated with underground music. Don't get us wrong if you took the synths out of the equation Maragda would still be a band with the power to blow your mind to smithereens, and their self-titled album "Maragda" (Spinda Records, Necio Records & Nafra Records) would still be an album of the year contender but with those synths .....WOW!

"Maragda" is a concept album and that being the case it would be remiss of us if we didn't include the bands statement regarding the ideas behind the music, so here goes "This record tells the story of Maragda, a civilization that took refuge underground after the Great Disaster. Many years have passed now, and the memory of a life on the surface has completely faded. People live under the oppression of a totalitarian government, The Core, when suddenly a strange voice speaks inside their minds. After this call, a group of rebels launches an expedition through The Unknown, willing to discover the secrets of Maragda”. Whether this concept works in tying the seven songs that make up "Maragda" together is hard to say, the first two songs of the album, "The Core as the Whole" and "The Calling"  are clearly explained in the bands statement but after that, and without the benefit of having a full storyline to hand, things get a bit confusing as to how each of the following songs fit in with the story, so for the purposes of this review we will concentrate on each song as a separate entity and for its impact as a standalone piece. 
"The Core as the Whole" comes out of the traps on a wave screaming feedback then explodes into a riff laden groove that although is hard hitting and heavy nonetheless has an air of proggish complexity about it, this prog-like vibe is expanded upon when the song moves into its next phase and those riffs suddenly make way for ringing arpeggios and intricate chord progressions that glisten and sparkle around the low-key and beautifully melodic harmonies that accompany them. There are elements to be found here, and for that matter throughout this album, that will remind older listeners of both Rush and Yes, especially in the way Maragda go about constructing their songs, but there are also elements that will be familiar to those who regularly listen to the likes of Elder, All Them Witches and Howling Giant. "The Calling" follows and here we find Maragda channelling a little indie jangliness into their heavy prog and psych with the guitarist even throwing a little country rock flavoured shredding into the mix to make things even more  interesting while "The Hermit" finds the band getting a little angular and off kilter with circular guitar motifs vying for space with strident bass lines and insistent rhythms around which coolly executed harmonies ask us if  "reality goes any further". A low and gritty bass refrain introduces next track "Orb of Delusion" supported by restrained but effective percussion over which slightly echoed vocal harmonies waft their mellow magic, the song also boasts one of the albums best guitar solos, a scorching blend of structured dissonance and cosmic bluesiness. "Crystal Passage" follows and those synths we spoke of in our introduction piece are pushed to the fore to create a moody atmospheric instrumental that has a floating orchestral feel. Those synths are utilised a little differently for next track "Beyond The Ruins" cleverly giving the songs already strident and full on instrumental attack and upbeat vocal meters an added element of va-va-voom. For their final song, "The Blue Ceiling"" go all in on an enthralling and totally mesmerising instrumental that gives the guitarist free rein to explore everything from country style picking to Steve Howe-like prog shredding in his blistering solos.

"Maragda" is one of those albums that you could play a thousand times and on the thousandth time still find something new to send your mind into a spin. There is so much going on within these seven essential slices of metallic tinted prog and heavy psych that one sitting will never be enough to take it all in and that, my friends, is the hallmark of a truly great album.

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Thursday 14 October 2021

SNOWY DUNES ~ SASTRUGI ...... review

There was a time in the mid to late 70's when a modicum of mellowness and melody started creeping into heavy rock, it was a period that saw the rise of bands like Bad Company, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Boston and early Foreigner, bands who when called upon could rock like a cradle in a hurricane but also had in their locker songs that could tug at your heartstrings and didn't just rely on a riff to grab their listeners attention. Sweden's Snowy Dunes, Niklas Eisen (lead vocals, percussion, acoustic guitar); Christoffer Kingstedt (electric guitars, guitorchestration); Carl Oredson (bass, keyboards, mellotron) and Jonathan Wårdsäter (drums, percussion) do not exactly work from the same blueprint that those bands used to propel their careers into the stratosphere, Snowy Dunes  grooves are a little bit too gnarly and gritty, but they do bring to underground rock many of those same attributes of songcraft, melody and soulful gravitas that saw those other bands become staples of worldwide rock radio stations, attributes that can be found scattered quite liberally throughout the five songs that make up the bands third album "Sastrugi

Title track "Sastrugi" (a word used to describe parallel wave-like ridges caused by winds on the surface of hard snow) kicks things off in grand style, with hardly an intro other than a brief shimmering effect the song jumps straight in to the vocal backed by any almost funkish hard rock groove with the guitar laying down an almost staccato like refrain beneath which booming bass and  thunderously busy drums keep things tight and on course while the singer tells us of being lost amid the snow in tones clean and powerful. If you are already familiar with Snowy Dunes you will know that they are not a band who like to stay stuck in one groove for the duration of a song and so its not long before the funky heaviness is jettisoned for a trip into lysergic territory, random whistling, reverberating guitar tones and hazy soulful vocals giving the songs latter section an almost spaghetti western/surf rock dynamic. The heady psychedelic feel of the latter part of the previous song is continued into next track "Let's Save Dreams" a song that sees Snowy Dunes recruiting a few friends to help fill things out, Alex Gatica contributing keys, acoustic guitar and backing vocals and Adele Friberg also adding her weight to the vocals. There is a trippy late 60's playfulness to this song that had Desert Psychlist reminiscing about Hollywood's attempts to portray pop culture on celluloid back in the heyday's of love and peace, if you close your eyes you can almost see the mini-skirted beauties and young men in tie-dyed shirts and beads dancing along to its eastern tinted grooves while their blue-rinsed elders look on disapprovingly. Following track "Great Divide" switches routinely between a laid back torch song and an out and out rocker with Eisen adjusting his vocal approach accordingly while "Medicinmannen" finds the band grooving melodic yet gritty on a song sang in their native Swedish, something that strangely has the effect of giving the song a Latinesque feel. For final track "Helios" Snowy Dunes opt for a mix of lounge lizard jazziness and psych tinted classic rock resulting in a groove that is reminiscent of The Doors in places but with a slightly more stoner-ish dynamic.

"Sastrugi" is probably Snowy Dunes most diverse and contemporary sounding album to date but do not take that as a bad thing, there is an uplifting feel to the grooves the band bring to the table with their third album that makes for a refreshing change from the doom and gloom we have been surrounded by over the last eighteen months.
Check it out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Sunday 10 October 2021


Houston, Texas' Direlands may have come up with a unique marketing ploy regarding their artwork, the band released their first EP "The Cave You Fear" in October last year (2020) and this year they have released their second "Ascension", both releases sport exactly the same artwork with the only difference being "Ascension" has an extra splash of colour added to its skyline. Desert Psychlist may be wrong but we suspect that the bands next release will sport the same artwork again and another colour will be added and that this will continue EP by EP until we are presented with a full completed piece. If this is the bands intention then its a great idea but in order to achieve this goal and get listeners to buy into their concept the band need the grooves that will back up that concept, thankfully Direlands have those grooves.

Direlands call themselves an "American heavy metal band" who draw their inspiration from "classic metal, the occult, conspiracies, and a prevailing dystopic worldview". Now while there is no doubting Direlands "classic metal" credentials,  Maiden -esque galloping bass lines, crunching riffs, finger blurring guitar solos and insistent driving rhythms can all be found in abundance here,  there are also aspects of Direlands sound that owes much to more modern doom and stoner metal. This is no more evident than on opening number "Singularity", the songs gnarly riffs and thunderous rhythms are delivered at a few BPM's beneath thrash tempo with plenty of interesting twist and turns along the way while vocalist Jarett Dureell shreds his vocal chords to ribbons with a demonesque delivery that reminded Desert Psychlist somewhat of a slightly hoarser Emil Johansson (Ordos). Following track,"Doombringer", is probably more doomic than it is actual doom and what we mean by that statement is that although there are elements of doom to be found here, especially in some of guitarist Troy Binegar and bassist Patrick Gerek's choices of riffs, the overall vibe is still one of old school metal and in particular that NWOBHM groove beloved of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and bands of that ilk. All the best metal bands have one of those slow burning torch songs that will induce mass swaying and the holding up of lighters and Direlands is "Blood Moon" an atmospheric number, underpinned by some intricate percussion work from Daniel Thompson, that builds and builds layer by layer before signing out not on the screaming finale you might have expected but on an equally satisfying dark stuttering riff. "Beyond The Horizon" closes  proceedings and is a song that opens up the playground for "old school" metal to mix together with its "new school" cousins doom and stoner metal, Gerek and Thompson lay down a superbly shifting rhythmic platform for Binegar to garnish with soaring technical solos and Iommi-esque riffs over which Dureell flexes his rock god muscles almost coming over like a demonically possessed Bruce Dickenson in places, not so much harnessing the same air raid siren power of the Maiden frontman but certainly matching him in the meter of his delivery.

Direlands have with "Ascension" taken the vibe of the traditional metal many of us grew up listening to and blended it with elements of the harsher edged metal that popular today, melding these two metallic styles together to create a groove that should appeal to fans of both styles without having to compromise their sound or their dynamic
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2021 Frazer Jones

Monday 4 October 2021


Damned to Earth
started out life as Forest Evil but after parting ways with their original singer and a quick reshuffle of their line up they decided it was time for a name change, especially as their music with this refreshed and pared down line-up was leaning more and more towards a southern dynamic. Having said that Damned to Earth are not what you would call your archetypical "southern" band, their grooves are a heavy mix of sludge and stoner metal but there is no mistaking that "southern" twang that permeates every riff, rhythm and vocal inflection on the five songs that make up the bands self-titled  debut album "Damned to Earth".

If the opening guitar salvo of "Down In The Basement" doesn't grab you by the throat and keep you hanging around until the last notes of the excellent final song "Toe Licker" fade into the ether then you really should be consulting an ear specialist (or checking your pulse) as this is a collection of essential southern fried metal you really don't want to let pass you by. Everything you could possibly ask of from a band plying their trade in the field of heavy music is contained within this album, soaring bluesy guitar solos ,thick crunching distorted riffs, low growling bass motifs, swinging percussion and throaty soulful livid -in vocals are all delivered here with the type of gusto, passion and verve you may have come to expect from an established band releasing their third or fourth album but not from a relatively new combo presenting to the world what is technically their first. Intensity is an important element in rock music of any genre but that intensity can often fade or wane over the length of a full album however Damned to Earth never let you catch your breath for a nanosecond powering through songs like the aforementioned "Down In The Basement", "Eye of the Storm", "Coil of the Snake" and "Stone Magnet" like their lives depended on it, maintaining the same levels of  intensity and attack they brought to your ears with their first song right through to their last one.

There will be some who will say that Damned to Earth are not a new band, having been birthed from the members of a previous band minus their original vocalist, and that to class their self titled new album as a "debut" is pushing things a little to far, but then take a moment to check out their work under the banner of Forest Evil and compare it to the music on "Damned to Earth" and you will notice a whole different dynamic, where Forest Evil's sludgy doom tended to lumber and plod Damned to Earth's southern tinted grooves have a swagger and strut that is just as heavy but far more satisfying and vital.
Check 'em out .... 

© Frazer Jones 2021