Saturday 24 December 2022


 Let's get things straight here, before all the "but this was better than that" and "why have you left this off" posts start appearing. and that is that these are Desert Psychlist's choices, collated from what we have listened to and enjoyed the most over the past year, and not what you, the readers, may have chosen to include in your own end of year/best of lists. The thirty albums and EP's listed below are the ones that have had the biggest impact on us here at Stonerking Towers and are the ones that we can see ourselves returning to listen to long after 2022 has passed into history. Yours in, all probability, will be entirely different but that's the beauty of listening to music, we all hear things differently and an album that some might deem a masterpiece will have others dubbing as unlistenable noise.
That out of the way let's get down to the reason we are all here...


"Bewitching metal" is how Narbo Dacal describe their sound and "bewitching" is exactly what it is, this is an EP that weaves its magic from its opening note to its last, these guys anchoring their grooves to this world with a mixture of complex chord progressions, crunching riffs and thunderous rhythms while also possessing an ability to lift you out of yourself with the sheer beauty of their wafting vocal melodies and undulating dynamics. All in all Narbo Dacal are yet another name to add to that ever-growing list of great Polish bands you really need to hear.


High quality desert rock!
Absolutely loved their last album "Licancabur" so had big hopes for this one and was not disappointed,


"The Lord Is With Us" is an album full of contradictions, an album that brutalizes the ear drums one minute then gently soothes them the next, an album that dips its toes in waters situated at the harsher end of the metal spectrum as well as those at its more ambient opposite.


Gnome are three guys from Belgium with a penchant for wearing pointy red hats on their heads, who jam a groove that is heavy, sometimes complex and sometimes brutal but is at all times imbued with a tongue in cheek sense of the ridiculous.


It is hard to believe, while listening to "Coma Hole", that the sounds you are hearing are being created by just two people, such is the power and force of the music on offer, but a quick scan of the duo's Bandcamp page will confirm this fact and further prove that to make a BIG sound you don't have to be a BIG band.


A pummelling blend of stoner metal bluster and doomic dankness shot through with elements of old school heavy metal and heavy psych, there just not enough words to prepare you for how good this album is.


It would not be right to compile a best of list without including an album from one of Italy's acid doom bands and Witchsnake released one of the sub-genres finest and filthiest this year with their self-titled debut. 


The grooves Inche Kai Che lay down on these seven essential cuts of strutting metal and heady psych are as good, and possibly even better in places, as anything currently being released outside of the Southern Hemisphere.


O ye lovers of the heavy riff come gather beneath the Great Moon and pay tribute to Mount Saturn for they deliver us from the eclipse and bring light into our lives.


Stone Nomads describe themselves as "sons of Sabbath", but their take on doom owes as much to Trouble, as it does Sabbath and let us not ignore the elements of galloping Iron Maiden-flavoured NWOBHM, swampy sludge and Texican bluesiness they also shoe-horn into their dank dark and doomic compositions.


If you took the alt-rock prog of Muse rolled it up with the vocal melodies of Scottish indie rockers Biffy Clyro and then sprinkled over the result some sludgy harshness and stoner fuzz then Mountains "Tide's End" is what you would end up with.


Whether you like to get your rocks off listening to the grainy proto doom of early Black Sabbath or its Ghost's current arena filling melodic occult rock that floats your boat SpellBook's "Deadly Charms" has something for you.


Thick reverberating guitar refrains, rumbling bass lines and thundering drums twinned with intelligent angry lyrics sung in soulful clean and emotive tones all coming together to make one hell of a powerful album. THAL are the real deal!


Vintage sounding occult proto-metal/doom that sounds so authentically seventies you could almost believe these guys hopped aboard a time machine to go back to the 70's to record this gem of an album


An album with its feet planted in not one genre but several, ranging from traditional Iberian folk right 
through to heady cosmic space rock


Thia album not only marked Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard becoming just MWWB it also marked the bands moving into more experimental waters, a move they pulled off with all their usual aplomb


Doom is a music that trades heavily on atmosphere and there is no lack of that commodity in the five songs that make up Realm Drifter's debut, brooding moody and dark "Realm Drifter" is most definitely the real deal!


There is a flow to YURT's music, albeit one that twists and turns with alarming regularity, that despite its numerous intricacies and complexities is easy on the ear and doesn't feel like you are wading through a mire of egotistical showmanship, each participant playing for the song instead of despite of it.


Grunge meets stoner in an enthralling mix of Alice in Chains like slurriness and Graveyard flavoured fuzzy stoner bluesiness


Paralyzed are without doubt one of the finest stonerized blues band this planet has ever produced, and if you need any further proof of that statement then look no further than "Heavy Road".  


Mammoth Volume are a band who like to play around with musical form, a band who tend to cast their nets into waters other bands might not even consider dipping their toes into. a band where the unexpected is expected.


Those of you familiar with Rosy Finch will already know to expect raucous sludgy riffage, lysergic laced cosmicness and vocal tones that range from ethereal to throat destroying. Those of you not familiar with the band make it your mission to remedy that.


Dynamic, dark, diverse and delightful, "Close" is an album that delivers on every level. 


Our reactions to Oreyeon's musical evolution go like this
First album..... "this is interesting, yeah we like this"
Second album....."Wow these guys have come a long way, this is really good!"
This album...... "Oh Jezus H Christ these guys must have sold their souls at the crossroads, this is fucking off the scale amazing!"


Thirteen years between releases is a long time to wait for a new album but when you are presented with an album of the depth, intensity and sheer musical brilliance of Obiat's "Indian Ocean" well then the time waited becomes an irrelevance and you just have to thank the higher beings of your choice that a band like Obiat exists and is still out there making music of this quality and calibre.


Vitskar Suden's debut release was one of Desert Psychlist's favourite albums of 2020 and "The Faceless King" has fast become one of our favourites of 2022.


Sergeant Thunderhoof are probably never going fly to gigs in their own charted plane or live in huge mansions decorated in questionable taste, those days are long gone, these days bands have to subsidise their rock'n'roll lifestyles by having proper jobs which makes it even more astonishing that despite having to take kids to school, worrying about paying bills and generally trying to survive from day to day a band like The Hoof are still able to make albums as powerful, majestic and essential as "This Sceptred Veil"


Off centred grooves that touch on prog, psych and hard rock fronted by a vocalist with unique and distinctive tones.  "Myriad" is not just a good album, it's a GREAT album that is a heady mix of the straightforward and the unconventional played by a band who see music in colours and shapes rather than just notes and chords.


What a journey these guys have taken us on, their evolution from heavy lumbering stoner doom behemoths to the prog/psych/space wizards they are today has been quite a ride and "Innate Passage" shows they have no intentions of slowing down just yet. Mind-blowing! 


Some might be scratching their heads and wondering why Elder never made the #1 spot on this end of year list, well The Otolith's "Folium Limina" is the reason why,  "Folium Limina" is not an album for casually dipping into, it is an opus that needs to be listened to without interruption from start to finish, an album that should be savoured and lovingly poured over so as to best marvel at its jaw-dropping complexities and subtle intricacies. It is an album we knew would be sitting at the top of any list we decided to compile a minute after hearing its diverse array of textures and colours, simply put it is nectar for the ears.

Well, that's it for another year folks, only thing left to do now is thank a few people.
Michele for all her hard work and support, Vikki, Billy and Sian for being the best kids anyone could hope for, grandchildren Ethan, Austin, Rowan and Amber for being simply awesome, Steve Howe (of Outlaws Of The Sun) and Reek of Stoom (of Howls From The Hollows podcast) for support and constantly pointing us in the direction of new grooves and for those late night chats about life, football and music , Joop Konraad (of Stoner Hive) for all his support and regular shout-outs, all the members at Retro Rockets (Facebook) for riding the time machine, Leanne Ridgeway (of Riff Relevant) for always managing to make me laugh, all the contributors at The Doom Charts who monthly go that extra mile, all the record labels and PR companies for the promos and updates, all the musicians and artists who constantly amaze us with their music, and of course you the readers who are the main reason why we do this.


# The blurbs that grace these thirty albums are a mix of snippets from previously published Desert Psychlist reviews and blurbs posted on the respective artists Bandcamp pages
© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday 23 December 2022



If you look at the date written above this review you will notice that we are fast approaching Christmas Day 2022 and if , like us, you have had your fill of all the doom and gloom we've been forced to endure over the last few years then you will probably find yourselves looking around for something to lift your spirits and shake away all the negativity, something you can crack a beer or get a little high too. "Intergalactic Party Powder" by Robot Death Monkey might be just that something you are looking for, but be warned it is not for the faint of heart.

Put all thoughts of "wokeness" or "political correctness" aside for a while because you sure 'aint gonna find any here, Robot Death Monkey are a band with "cancel me" written large across their foreheads and they don't care. Robot Death Monkey are like the musical equivalent of  those old British "Carry On..." movies, all lewd song titles and lyrics full of  sexual innuendo and tales of beer drinking, a stoner AC/DC only a little less discreet. First song out of the bag "Bantha Rider" is a hoary instrumental monster that does not pretend to be anything else other than a riff fest with its only concession to its Star Wars inspired title being its slightly spaced out and lysergic guitar solos' while "Asgardian Micro Whitey" rips the urine out of all those Viking Metal bands, singing of raiding the land from longboats, by setting its horn headed warriors in a van full of beer and singing of dropping a "six pack an hour" against a backdrop of gnarly stoner metal, "Immigrant Song " it isn't but then why would you want it to be. "Dragon Clit" follows, a chugging stoner instrumental laced with some very ear catching lead work, it is a song that begs two questions, the first being do Dragons posses such a thing, and secondly if they do what are the chances of  a man ever finding it. Robot Death Monkey bring the party to a raucous finale with "Kittens and Coke" a thunderous rocker boasting lyrical content that'll have some running to their keyboards in order to type a scathing email and others marvelling at the bands balls for being so brazen and un-PC in a world that now frowns on such things.

Deep thinking lyrics and intense, complex grooves are all well and good but they just don't cut it when you want to party and Scotland's Robot Death Monkey like to party. The band, Shaun Forshaw (bass/vocals); Sam Forshaw (drums); Alan Travers (guitar) and Fraser Lough (guitar), jam a groove that's full on, in your face and as uplifting as hell, if a times a little near the knuckle.
Check it out. ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday 19 December 2022

SCUZZY YETI ~ RUINED ..... review

Long gaps between releases seems to be coming a "thing" with bands plying their trade on the underground rock scene, ok probably nobody is going to beat Obiat's thirteen year gap between albums but five years is still a fairly long wait for a new album. The band we are speaking of is Troy, New Hampshire's Scuzzy Yeti a five piece consisting of Chris Wells (vocals); Brad Decatur (guitar); Jason Lawrence (guitar); Josh Turnbull (drums) and Wayne Munson (bass), who, in 2017, released their self-titled debut "Scuzzy Yeti" to much acclaim only to then seemingly disappear to everyone but those on their local gig circuit. The band return this year with their second album "Ruined" (Salt of the Earth Records) and its seems pretty obvious to Desert Psychlist that those five years have not been wasted by the band but spent honing not only their instrumental chops but also their song writing skills.

Things kick off with "Vortex" an in your face blues tinted metallic rocker with heavy psych undertones that routinely varies its attack in order to maximise its impact, blistering solos, riffs and rhythms framing a vocal that is powerful, soulful and sits at the grittier end of Dio-esque. "Rabbit" follows and highlights the band classic rock and metal influences with the band hitting into a groove that comes over like a hybrid coupling of Sabbath and Bad Company, heavy as a truck full of lead but at the same time possessing a certain glossy finesse. Next track "Dark Forest" throws everything from galloping NWOBHM refrains to cosmic noodling into the pot, constantly altering its direction but never to the detriment of its groove "Prime Mover" is a song that perfectly lives up to its title while "Slipstream" is a short sharp jab of stonerized heavy rock brought to a close on a wave of droning noise which then continues into the next track. "Savages" finds Scuzzy Yeti getting their doom groove on with dank reverberating guitars and growling bass, driven by thunderous percussion, the platform for another superb vocal performance. "Thrive" rounds things off and if you didn't buy into our Dio comparison earlier we think you probably will with this one, an anthemic tome with a big, big vocal that finds the bands two guitar attack really paying dividends over a backdrop of dank, perfectly executed, doomic bass and drum groove.

Big brash and loud and yet at the same time soulful stylish and majestic "Ruined" is an album that ticks both old and new school boxes, an album that draws from the well of everything that has gone before while remaining relevant to the here and now.
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday 16 December 2022

ZOAHR ~ APRAXIA .... review

Germany's ZOAHR, Thorsten (bass); Philipp (drums) and Jessie (guitar/vocals) may already be familiar to some due to their 2019 album "Off Axis", an album which earned glowing praise from all the right quarters of the underground press on its release. The album's blend of heavy blues and psychedelic rock, liberally sprinkled with elements of stoner and alt-rock, seemed to hit a chord with its listeners so it was expected that a follow up would not be long in the coming. Sadly it has taken three years for that follow up to land but good things come to those who are prepared to wait and our patience has at last been rewarded with the release of "Apraxia".

A lone gently strummed chord progression introduces first track "Imperious Hand" then is joined by the bass and drums in a rocking quasi-progressive groove that for all its bite and drive possesses a pleasing underlying funkiness. Vocals on this track, and for that matter all the albums songs, are delivered clean, melodic and have a clarity more in keeping with classic rock and the blues than they do the stoner rock and metal that the bands music has tended to be lumped in with. That last sentence is an important one as it is not just ZOAHR's vocals that have a leaning towards a more classic rock sound it is also their music. Songs like "Avarice", title track "Apraxia" "Portal" and "Threatmill" have a much more airy, clean, and dare we say, polished feel to them than much of what we usually hear emanating from the heavy underground rock scene, the band incorporating elements of everything from late sixties blues rock to present day heavy psych to create a sound that would be as acceptable on Jonny Pirie's Hour of The Riff podcast as it would be on some classic rock radio station. Even when they do decide to put their foot down hard on the accelerator. like on "Dreamstate" and "Avers & Reverse", it is done with an air of  efficiency only a German band could pull off, the trio never letting things get too raucous or overly aggressive and becoming just another noisy riff fest, the band allowing the melodies to come through and the grooves space to breathe, keeping things heavy, bluesy and alternative but at the same time classy.

ZOAHR tell us that "Apraxia" is not a concept album but more a collection of observational pieces decorated with lyrics that question our place in the great scheme of things, or as the band put it "a reflection of todays current state of the world, social discontents and depression". Whether this works in the way the band intend it to is debatable but then the real strength of "Apraxia" is the music behind its superbly delivered lyrics, which is at all times unquestionably sublime.
Check it out .....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday 11 December 2022


The final month of the year is often a barren one regarding album and EP releases, usually by November most bands/artists have released their quota of music for the year and are either getting in some last minute gigs or are settling down for the festive season, not this year though. Maybe its a response to two years of uncertainty and a lockdown that has triggered this whirlwind of creativity, Desert Psychlist doesn't know, but December 2022 is turning out to be just as busy as all the other months leading up to it have been this year. One of those bands gracing us with a December release are North Dakota's Gypsy Wizard Queen, a trio consisting of Chris Ellingson (guitar/vocals); Chad Heille (drums) and Mitch Martin (bass/vocals), whose self-titled debut is a highly enjoyable blend of stoner rock/metal, heavy psych and the blues sprinkled with southern and country rock textures.

You might expect a song titled "Witch Lung" to be some doomic tome boasting  reverberating low tuned riffs, ponderous rhythms and harsh type vocal content and in parts that is exactly what this opening number is, in other parts however it is a bluesy mix of  heavy psych haziness flecked with just the merest hints of southern swagger and country rock twang, the two differing dynamics coming together to create a Crypt Trip meets Dopelord type vibe that is both diverse and entertaining.  Following track, "Paranoid Humanoid", has a more of a four to the floor stoner rock groove, driven by some impressive drum and bass work from Heille and Martin, that is routinely taken off piste by Ellingson's superb lysergic laced guitar work, it also boasts pretty cool vocals, not exactly rock-god  powerful but clean gritty and highly effective. The excellently titled "Yeti Davis Eyes" is up next and like "Witch Lung" blends full on heavy stoneristic rock with heavy psychedelics only this time with the vocals taking on an almost rap style meter while "The Good Ride" is a languid country tinted instrumental with low rumbling bass and steady solid drumming creating the perfect platform for Ellingson to launch twanging guitar motifs and swirling solos from. Closing track, "Stoned Age", is like listening to the Allman Brothers jamming with Egypt after they've necked copious amounts of steroids and speed, which is not surprising when you consider Heille was once Egypt's drummer, either way it's a barnstormin' finale to what is a pretty barnstormin' album.

"Gypsy Wizard Queen" might not come wrapped in festive paper with a neat bow and a gift card sitting on top but it has landed wham bang thank you mam in the middle of a month not normally known for its quality releases, so if you are a fan of seriously good hard rock, spliced with elements of country rock and heavy psych, then you cannot go far wrong in gifting this to yourself this Christmas. or for that matter anytime of the year
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 30 November 2022


THAL (The Heathens Are Loose), have earned themselves a reputation for delivering the goods, the two-man unit, consisting of multi-instrumentalists John "Vince Green" Walker and Kevin Hartnell, have in a relatively shorts space of time reached a level of respect within the scene whereby an announcement of an upcoming release is now met with a mix of excitement and anticipation. Those feelings were once again triggered when, earlier this month, the duo announced the release of their new album "Swarm the Mandala", were those feelings justified? We think so.

There is an "urban" feel to many of the songs inhabiting "Swarm the Mandala", the bands two previous releases "Reach for the Dragon's Eye" and "The Harvesting" played a little with fantasy and mythology but here we find Hartnell and Walker lyrically directing their ire at targets a little closer to home. This "urban" feel is no better exemplified than on opening title track "Swarm the Mandala", a song with ambiguous lyrical content, are we listening to the blood lustful boasts of a brainwashed soldier or as the line "behind the eyes, an empty space, to contemplate my own hell" might suggest, the nightmarish memories of a veteran fighter who has seen too much. Whatever way you wish to read it there, and there are many, there is no escaping the fact that this is one powerful and angry song, that anger not only reflected in its lyrics, which are sung in an almost rap style meter, but also in the delivery of the grooves surrounding those lyrics. "Caustic" follows and kicks off with a lay preacher like vocal sermonising over a stuttering stoner/desert groove that initially has a Clutch/Mississippi Bones vibe but then as the song progresses moves into harder, heavier territory. If the song "Swarm the Mandala" may have hinted at post-traumatic stress disorder then it could be argued that "Mirage" tackles the subject head-on, " time froze and I walked away from those I thought were heroes, took my trust and ripped it in two, went from boy to a man in a day, as much as I try, I’ve lost my own light", powerful words delivered over a backdrop of powerful music. As the album progresses, through songs with titles like "Torch the Crown", "Death Sublime" and "Godmaker and the Child Profits", it becomes increasingly obvious that "Swarm the Mandala" is an album born out of anger, anger at those who wield the power, anger at the futility of conflict and anger at ourselves for falling for the same old lies and promises, the duo ironically using graphic descriptions of violence in their lyrics to hammer home their point, "the bloodshed is great, but the kill comes so fast, when the wolf spots his target, that target won’t last" ("Caustic"), while at the same time referencing elements of our own inner conflicts, "crawling alone on the side of the road, looking for what remains of my soul" ("Desolation"), lyrics a psychiatrist would have a field day analysing. 

"Swarm the Mandala" is a "protest album" in all but name, its targets are numerous, and its arrows are directed both outwardly and inwardly, it is a powerful album, both lyrically and musically, an album that doesn't offer answers but urges us to ask questions of not just those who make the rules but also those that follow them.
Check it out ......

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 29 November 2022


Up until now most, but not all, of the Italian bands Desert Psychlist has introduced you to have come from the more scuzz rock, acid doom end of the underground spectrum so it makes a nice change to bring you something a little less abrasive and little more considered from the country.
Desert Wave are a trio hailing from Vincenza, Italy consisting of Enrico "Burton" Dalla Pozza (guitar); Luca "Logan" Adamati (bass, vocals, synth) and Andrea "Drugo" Vetri (drums), who some of you may already be acquainted with thanks to their 2017 debut "Lost in Dunes". Desert Wave's approach to their music is quite different to that of their Electric Wizard worshipping countrymen in that Desert Wave's sound owes more to the desert rock experimentations of Yawning Man, Causa Sui and Colour Haze, than it does Electric Wizard's fuzzed to the max doom and has, despite its moments of heaviness, a more chilled and spacious feel. It has been five years since Desert Wave assailed our ears with their unique brand of panoramic desert rock, but good things are always worth waiting for and new album "Deafening Silence" is a very good thing indeed.

Ominous droning synth effects introduce opening track "Outside Pt.1" accompanied by a tight solid drum rhythm that is then joined by guitar in an otherworldly off-kilter jam that then segues into "Outside Pt.2" which shares much the same groove as its predecessor but with everything dialled up a notch and clean, mellow vocals added. Title track "Deafening Silence" follows and is a song built around a trippy circular guitar motif that routinely increases and decreases in volume, such is the hypnotic power of this one motif that it becomes almost easy to overlook what is going on beneath it but listen hard enough and you will soon realise that there is a seriously good rhythm section going about their work here. "Above" and "Vortex" both have a very Colour Haze feel with heavily fuzz drenched bass combining with the drums to build a platform for the guitarist to launch swirling sand-blasted motifs and solos from, the former also boasting a suitably Colour Haze(ish) vocal. "Venus Chains" sees Desert Wave jamming a groove that is a little less Colour Haze and a touch more Re-Stoned/Mother Engine in flavour, while final track "Endless Night" is a spaced-out heavy psych tome with guitar swirling and swooping over a circular drum and bass groove and hushed vocals telling of "ghostly eyes" and "space vampires", impressive stuff!

 With all the doom, stoner metal and 70's retro bands currently swamping the underground the trippy psychedelic rock, of bands like Colour Haze, The Machine, Sungrazer and My Brother the Wind, seems to have taken a bit of a backseat but that does not mean we should ignore it. Italy's Desert Wave, with "Deafening Silence" prove that there is still a place for music that speaks to us on a spiritual rather than earthly level, otherwise who would there be left to play at DUNAJAM
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Thursday 24 November 2022

GAUPA ~ MYRIAD .... review


When Desert Psychlist first heard Swedish alternative/stoner combo Gaupa's self-titled debut back in 2018 we have to admit it was a case of love at first listen, and that love reached almost biblical proportions with the release of "Feberdröm" in 2020. Now with all things against the middle, and given the warm reception it was getting from all the "right people", "Feberdröm" should have seen Gaupa's name being mentioned in the same breaths as some of those of the underground's upper echelon. Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen thanks in part to "Feberdröm" being released while the world was in the throes of a global pandemic, which made it a little difficult for the band to give the album the push it deserved. There is a saying that goes "the cream will somehow always rise to the top" and that is certainly true in this case because one of those "right people" listening to the album turned out to be Jens Prueter, head of A&R Nuclear Blast Records Europe who immediately signed them for his label. So, with the power of a major label behind them and with new album, "Myriad", just released Gaupa are now back on course for world domination.

GaupaJimmy Hurtig (drums); Daniel Nygren (guitars); Erik Sävström (bass); Emma Näslund (vocals) and David Rosberg (guitars), create a special sound together, a sound that may have its roots in stoner/hard rock but is not typical of the genre, a sound that also contains elements of heavy psych but would be a push to call "psychedelic". Probably the closest you could get to describing the music inhabiting "Myriad" is that it is some sort of off centred prog/stoner/alternative rock hybrid but even that description falls short of the mark as first track "Exoskeleton" will attest to. "Exoskeleton" begins straightforwardly enough, with Näslund vocalising in majestic elfish tones over a strident, raucous and fuzzy stoner rock groove, but then at just over the midway mark all sorts of weird and wonderful things start happening with swirling electronic effects and complex prog-like guitar solos vying for dominance with off centred rhythmic patterns and low funky bass lines, the band then reprising the songs initial groove in a final, somewhat more manic, dash to the close. "Diametrical Enchantress" follows and sees Nygren and Rosberg chopping out stuttering angular refrains ably supported by Sävström and Hurtig, Näslund delivering a vocal that is almost straight in comparison to her usual Bjork-like crackle and pop. Gaupa dial things down a notch or two for next song "Moloken", an atmospheric and utterly beautiful hazy blues tinted tome that balances out its occasional heaviness with restrained rhythmic patterns and shimmering guitar textures with  Näslund's vocal routinely rising from a whisper to a wail in response. "RA" sees Gaupa jamming a groove that begins its life soothing and serene but then slowly takes on a more aggressive stance, both musically and vocally, as it nears its last note. "Elden" follows a similar path to its predecessor but adds a little more eastern flavoured dissonance into the mix while "My Sister Is A Very Angry Man" is quirky, off kilter and just damn rocking. Next up is the "Sömnen" a fey and folky number featuring just voice and acoustic guitar, Näslund sings the song in her native tongue and never has the Swedish language sounded so fragile, powerful, seductive and beautiful as it does here. Final track "Mammon" begins with a groove that would not sound out of place in a modern dance club, it has the feel of something a DJ might spin to build the tension before the beats slam down and everyone goes crazy, only when the beats DO go down on this, they are not computer-generated bass and drum loops but fuzzy refrains and punchy rhythms played by real living breathing musicians with a unique and distinctive vocalist at their helm.

 "Myriad" is not just a good album, its a GREAT album that is a heady mix of the straightforward and the unconventional played by a band who see music in colours and shapes rather than just notes and chords. If you are planning on going to see Gaupa play live in the near future, then it would be advisable to go see them while they are still playing clubs and tickets are still reasonably priced because this is a band with a bright future in front of them.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 16 November 2022



The tragic loss of a member will obviously have a huge effect on the remaining members of a band, a totally understandable state of affairs given that said band would have not just lost a fellow musician and integral cog in their musical wheel but have also lost a confidante, a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and, most importantly, a friend. For some bands the death of a member can be a bridge too far to cross and so they will reluctantly call it day, others however see carrying on as the greatest tribute they can possibly pay to a partner in groove. It is this latter option that Connecticut stoner/sludge combo Afghan Haze decided to follow when they tragically lost their drummer Randall "Randy" Colbourne this year, knowing that the very last thing Randy would have wanted was for the band to fold the remaining members, Jonathan Mlyniec (vocals); Erik Barrett (bass) and Jon Harrison (guitars), asked Paul Litewka to join. However, prior to his passing Randy had completed putting down rhythms on the bands second album "Hallucinations of a Heretic" and it is this album we are reviewing today, a barnstorming mix of sludge, blackened doom and stoner metal, infused with elements of space and psych, driven from beneath by a mighty fine drummer.

The ironically titled "Pushing Up Daisies" kicks things off, a song that we would normally describe as an instrumental if it were not for the various soundbites and samples that are layered over its crunching riffs and thunderous rhythms. More doomic than sludgy the song is a kick-ass opener, situated just the right side of brutal, that highlights, among other things, Afghan Haze's unique and sometimes off-kilter approach to heavy music. "Satan Ripper" follows and sees the band hitting into a more familiar sludge/stoner metal groove, decorated with a forceful bear like vocal, a groove that does not deviate too much until it reaches its midway point when a sudden burst of white noise and feedback heralds in a brief, but quite captivating, period of lysergic laced otherworldliness that features a heavily phased guitar motif being played out over an equally effect laden bass line and militaristic drumming, the band reprising the songs original groove shortly after, only this time at a more doomic pace. A song entitled "Hellijuana" might lead you to expect some sort of Sleep-like ode to exotic smoking materials, but you would be wrong, granted the song does possess a "weedian" flavour but lyrics like "peel back my skin, expose my tissue" and " my soul sinks into the soil, where my body will rot", roared in bullish tones, do not exactly paint a picture of a stoned-out nirvana. Having arrived in Hell and had a taste of its many delights Afghan Haze then decide to show us around, pointing out a few of its residents and generally giving us their impressions of the place, a sort of twisted travelogue set to a soundtrack of sludgy stoner metal riffage driven by powerful rhythms. Final song "Gin Whore" begins with sampled narrative of a murderer describing the dismemberment of one of his victims in detached, matter of fact tones then erupts into a droning low slow, heavy blackened doom groove with the vocals taking on a grittier more spoken than sang/roared meter, "this is the pleasure palace" intones Mlyniec, in his unique bullish tones, and for lovers of sludgy metallic blackened doom it most certainly is!

Afghan Haze's "Hallucinations of a Heretic" is a dark heavy and uncompromising album that mixes brutality with unexpected moments of cosmic finesse, an album that works not only as a fitting tribute to the late Randall "Randy" Colbourne but also as a statement of the band's future intent. 
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Saturday 12 November 2022


Complicated, complex and indulgent are all criticisms that have been levelled at music of a progressive nature, or as we have come to call it prog, and in many respects those criticisms have been justified. In fact, it was because of these reasons, and a few others, that prog crashed and burned in the late 70's and allowed punk rock to get its foot in the door, kids were bored rigid with mind-scrambling concepts, twenty-minute organ/synthesiser solos and lyrics you needed a PhD to understand. However, prog is a resilient beast and never fully went away and has, over the last few decades or so, been slowly clawing its way out of the shadows and back into our lives.

YURT are Andrew Bushe (drums); Steven Anderson (guitars/vocals/electronics) and Boz Mugabe (bass/vocals/electronics), otherwise known as the "Sonic Elders of YURT", the music they make IS complicated and complex and IS on occasions indulgent, but weirdly that is also its beauty. YURT are not prog in any traditional musical sense of the word, yes, they do draw their influences from some of the same wells that the likes of Yes, Dream Theater and Opeth drew inspiration from, but they also do not ignore the rock'n'roll basics either, they are a band who are just as likely to jam on riff as they are to experiment with a convoluted chord progression, as their fifth album "V-Upgrade to Obselete" will attest to.

 Opening number "Paralyse" begins in classic YURT style with shimmering drones, electronic beeps and whirls and robotic voicings (played at a variety of speeds) then slams into a strident and angular groove, decorated in effect laden guitar textures, driven by low heavy bass and a whirlwind of percussion. The song shapeshifts through a myriad of changes in tempo, volume and dynamics over its twelve minutes plus duration but probably it will be the section where the vocals first come in that will stick in many listeners minds the most, a section that gives a hint that some members in the band may have possibly been listening to their fair share of early Hawkwind of late. Title track "Upgrade to Obsolete" looms into earshot next, a superbly busy tome, packed solid with unexpected flourishes, textures and colours, that is anchored strongly to the ground by a surprisingly funky bass line, and if you thought that was busy wait till "The Book of Esophagus" hits your aural canals, its fusion of swirling space rock and free-form jazz may on the face of it seem to be going in a hundred different directions at once, with bursts of saxophone, guitar and electronic noise constantly battling for supremacy but is, underneath it all, rhythmically quite straightforward and tight. "Breakfast in Aksum" then follows, a song that is probably the closest YURT come to laying down something resembling traditional prog on this album, Anderson channelling a little Steve Howe (YES) complexity into his guitar playing while Mugabe and Bushe concentrate on supplying the songs jagged and turbulent groove, of course this being YURT they could not possibly allow a song to end much the same way it started and so they close the song out in maelstrom of swirling, fizzing  dissonant noise. "The Brand Evangelist" sees those monotonic Hawkwind-esque lead vocals and harmonies rear their head once again, but this time backed by a musical backdrop that has a surprising dank and doomic quality. "Mukbang" finally brings things to a close and is a song that throws everything into the pot at once, old and new school prog, space rock, heavy psych, a little doom, you can also hear shades of Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles as well as YES, Floyd and Dream Theater and even  touches of Kraftwerk and CAN, all these different elements and influences spinning and weaving around each other to create a melting pot of sound that you won't want to end but ultimately has to.

Exceptional from start to finish "V-Upgrade to Obsolete" is progressive rock how we always hoped it would sound, complex, intricate and dynamic but at the same time not so far up its lowest orifice that you end up turning it off and moving on to something less taxing and confusing. Dubbing YURT's latest album as mind-blowing seems like a bit of a cliche but that is exactly what it is. YURT make music that is uncompromising, angular and experimental but is at the same time accessible and does not require any overthinking on the part of the listener, of course the band want to impress you with their musicianship and arrangement skills but at the same time they do not want you to feel like you have to understand music theory to enjoy what they do. There is a flow to YURT's music, albeit one that twists and turns with alarming regularity, that despite its numerous intricacies and complexities is easy on the ear and doesn't feel like you are wading through a mire of egotistical showmanship, each participant playing for the song instead of despite of it. 
Check it out ....

  © 2022 Frazer Jones