Tuesday, 4 October 2022

BAARDVADER ~ FOOLISH FIRES .... review

 


Grunge. or alt-rock as some prefer to call it, exploded onto the music scene in the early 90's and was more or less spent as a major musical force by the end of the decade, however, in its short life span grunge managed to wreak its fair share of havoc on the music business. Glam/hair metal was wiped out as a credible musical force almost overnight and thrash metal was never ever quite the same after grunge hit. One rock sub-genre that wasn't quite so damaged by grunge's emergence was the desert/stoner rock scene, in fact it actually benefited from its rise with many, so called, "stoner" bands incorporating elements of grunge and alt-rock into their own sounds, something that brings us nicely around to the subject of this review.

Netherlands trio Baardvader, J.Aron (guitar/vocals); J.P. (bass) and Koen (drums), were formed in early 2019 and the following year released their self-titled album "Baardvader", a stunning collection of tunes that mixed the slurred grungy dynamics of bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden with the fuzzed out riffage and stonerized swagger of combos like Graveyard and Kamchatka. This year the band return with their second album "Foolish Fires" sounding even more slurred and fuzzed out than ever.

A myriad of effects and sampled noises introduces first track "Pray" followed by the band exploding into a groove that is at first doomic and dank but then with just the slightest shift morphs into an Alice In Chains - like groove, slurred bass and guitar riffs and double tracked vocals holding sway over a backdrop of powerful solid and tight percussion. "Understand" follows and has, in its initial stages, a somewhat more Nirvana-esque quiet/loud/quiet dynamic than its predecessor but then gets a touch more stonerized and metallic as it nears its close with its vocal neatly following suite. "Illuminate" is up next and is a song that uses every trick in the grunge/alt-rock handbook, undulating dynamics, Staley/Cantrell/Cobain-like vocal phrasing and low-slung slurred guitar refrains, yet even with these in place still comes out sounding sludgier and heavier than anything that was coming out of Seattle back in the day. "Blinded Out" finds Baardvader flexing their psychedelic muscles with a song that utilizes everything from Hawkwind-esque swirls to exotic flavoured motifs, ideas they expand upon further with the excellent spaced out and ever so slightly doomic "Prolong Eternity". Baardvader close out their second album with "Echoes" a spitting snarling ten minutes plus beast of a song that chugs and gallops in equal measure and leans, at times, towards a more extreme metal sound while still managing to hold on to its grunge/alt-rock credentials thanks to a superb Cantrell/Staley flavoured vocal melody, it's impressive stuff and a fitting end to an album that started on a high and then just kept on climbing.


One of the worst aspects of the whole grunge/alt-rock movement were the copycat bands and bandwagon jumpers, like Creed and Nickelback, bands who didn't quite grasp alt-rock/grunge's unique aesthetics and mixed elements of its sound with their own, fairly generic and stale, hard rock grooves to reach a wider audience and a achieve a short cut to success. This is not a criticism that can be levelled at Baardvader, there is an authentic feel to Baardvader's grungy/alt-rock grooves on "Foolish Fires" that is not copy and pasted, these guys understand the music and understand how it should be played but at the same time are not limited by it. By blending grunge/alt-rock's dark, somewhat downbeat and grimy, aesthetics with the heavier and fuzzier dynamics of sludge and stoner rock and then further muddying the waters by decorating that combination in lyrical content that is fairly doomic in its nature Baardvader have taken grunge/alt-rock into territories it was always meant to move into and in turn have revitalised the music for a whole new generation of fans unafraid to pair a plaid shirt with a sloppy sweater.
Check 'em out ,,,, 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday, 30 September 2022

NOISE RIVER ~ NOISE RIVER EP .... review


Desert Psychlist does not need to once again go over the importance of the Polish underground and its impact on the global scene as the seemingly unending number of bands coming out of Poland more or less tells its own story. Today we just want to point you in the direction of one Polish band in particular, a band from Wroclaw going by the name of Noise River, Jacek Węgrzyn (vocals/guitar), Filip Małż (drums), Dominik Nowak (bass) and Łukasz Ostrowski (guitar). Desert Psychlist was steered towards Noise River by Doomed & Stoned/Doom Charts contributor Mel Lie who will often subtitle her recommendations as a "nice thingy", well Mel couldn't have been more on the money in regard to Noise River's debut EP it is one of the nicest thingy's Desert Psychlist has heard in a while.

The blues lies at the root of much of what Noise River bring to the table, but do not go expecting anything remotely traditional or straightforward as what Noise River serve up is a twisted and warped version of the genre spliced with elements of stoner rock, sludge, doom and space that is in turns heavy, trippy and at times quite brutal. The bands blend of lysergic cosmicness and heavy bluesy bluster is no better exemplified than on opening track "Lost In Universe" a mesmerising hotch-potch of hazy psychedelics, thundering percussion and crunching riffage decorated in slightly one-dimensional, but hugely effective and powerful, clean vocals that tell of "an eternal void", "gravity slaves" and the coming of "four horsemen". Next up is "S.O.R." a song that in its initial stages is a pummelling sludge/stoner metal riff-fest over which cool flowing vocal melodies and occasional bluesy guitar colourings hold sway, but is in its second stage a low slung doomic dirge decorated in sampled narration. "Heartless Voices" rears its head above the parapet next, a schizophrenic mix of hazy lysergic laced bluesiness and feral stoner metal that routinely swoops and soars back and forth between these two dynamics before finally signing out with the two-guitarist attempting to outdo each other in a battle of squealing, squawking six-string dissonance. Noise River save their best for last with "Shamanic Rites and Preacher's Lament" an enthralling, mostly instrumental, ten minute opus built around what is essentially a short lyrical prayer to higher forces. It is a song that is in parts ambient, in parts spiritual and in parts heavy and thunderous yet traverses these differing dynamics without feeling disjointed or like it was an amalgamation of song ideas forced together for convenience, a song that flows from one dynamic to another with consummate ease and no lack of musical competency and serves as a fitting finale to what is a highly enjoyable debut.


Desert Psychlist is going to cheat here and close this review out with the short blurb we knocked up for the bands Bandcamp page, not because we are being lazy but because we feel it says not only everything you need to know about Noise River but also everything about the Polish heavy underground scene.as a whole,
".Polish bands always seem to do things a little more "IER", their sludge seems sludg"IER", their doom tends to be doom"IER" and when it comes to heavy trippy blues well, they do it heav"IER", trip"IER" and blues"IER" as this excellent release from Poland's Noise River will attest to"
Check 'em out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

BLOODSHOT ~ SINS OF THE FATHER ... review


If when you hear the word "Maryland" used in conjunction with other words like doom, metal and heavy and you do not start salivating then you probably have arrived at this review by accident and should probably leave right away. If, however, you are a devotee of all things dank, dark and thunderous and are of the understanding that, although metal and doom may have arguably come to prominence in the industrial heartlands of the UK's West Midlands, it is Maryland that is now considered by many to be the music's capital, then this review may well be of interest to you.
Bloodshot; ex War Injun member JB Matson (drums), former Earthride contributor Joe Ruthvin (bass), Tom Stacey (guitar) and Jared Winegardner (vocals) are based in Fredricks, Maryland and although the band possess many of the doomic traits of their fellow Maryland contemporaries they are also a band not averse to throwing into their musical compositions touches of punkish aggression and thrash-like speed as well as a little NOLA flavoured hardcore/groove metal mayhem, as you will no doubt find out for yourselves when checking out their debut "Sins of the Father" (Half Beast Records)


Matson introduces first track "Faded Natives" with three singular beats of his bass drum with a fourth beat signalling Stacey to enter with a galloping palm muted refrain ripped straight out of the thrash guitar for dummies handbook, Matson and Stacey are then joined by Ruthvin in a groove somewhat reminiscent of the bassist's tenure with the mighty Earthride, only maybe a touch more strident. Over this tsunami of thunderous gnarliness Winegardner delivers a vocal possessing all the requisite factors music of this ilk demands, guttural growls, bear-like roars and clean but gritty croons, yet through all these differing vocal dynamics still managing to maintain a surprising level of clarity. "Visions Of Yesterday" is next and finds Bloodshot flexing their punk rock muscles with short sharp stab of raucousness that finds Winegardner delivering his vocals a little cleaner than on the albums previous track and Matson laying down some incredibly busy and on point drumming. "Zero Humility" follows and here we find Bloodshot edging towards a more crossover sound, still as heavy as a truck load of rhinos but with touch more swing and swagger in both its vocal dynamics and musical attack. It's back to metallic bombast and bluster for next song "Uncivil War" a rant against global conflict, its opening line "millions of people, thousands of kids, countless murders, millions are spent” summing up in just a few words what some anti-war protesters have tried to get across in a thousand. "Beaten Into Rebellion" finds Motsan and Ruthvin laying down a stuttering stop-start groove over which Stacey layers crunching power chords and searing lead while Winegardner waxes lyrical of being forced into reactional behaviour by circumstances out of his control. "Worn & Thorn" is another slice of punkish raucousness played at thrash-like speed while "Inside The Outside" has an alt-rock/grunge feel courtesy of Stacey's slurring guitar refrains. Bloodshot dive even further down the grunge rabbit hole for next track "Sucking Chest Wound", with Matson and Ruthvin laying down a sedately paced groove over which Winegardner delivers a world weary toned vocal and which Stacey decorates with distortion drenched riffs and blues tinted solo's, the song only increasing in tempo as it nears its finale. Penultimate track "Fyre" has somewhat of a groove metal/hardcore feel underscored with touches of doom, a feel reflected in Winegardner's grittier, harsher vocal tones and the thrumming musical backdrops Stacey, Matson and Ruthvin frame those tones with. Title track "Sins Of The Father" closes proceedings and is for us, at Desert Psychlist,,the highlight of the album, it is a song that draws all the threads of Bloodshot's various influences and past associations together, aspects of Matson and Ruthvin's previous musical dalliances finding their way into the songs sonic makeup as well as those of Down, Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity while vocally Winegardner channels a powerful gruff tone that sits somewhere between the gravelled coarseness of the sadly missed Dave "Sherm" Sherman and the bull like roar of Phil Anselmo, Stacey adding his two penneth worth to the mix with caustic chord tones and squealing harmonics.


Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed, Earthride. Hidden Hand, Iron Man, Internal Void. the list of iconic doom and metal bands birthed in Maryland just seems to go on and on and on but just like an IKEA extendable table there is always room for one more and Bloodshot have proven with "Sins Of The Father" they are a band worthy of sitting down with the best of 'em.
Check 'em out  .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

KHYBERNAUT ~ EP .... review


Red Stoner Sun will be familiar to some reading this, the German trio released some absolutely stonking albums together, the band blending aspects of desert/stoner rock, inspired by the likes of Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Nebula, with elements of swirling space and psych to create a sound that was in parts raucous and riff heavy and in others experimental and heady. Unfortunately, Red Stoner Sun are currently on an extended hiatus but music, like life, finds a way and so from the remnants of Red Stoner Sun a new band has emerged.
Khybernaut are that new band and are made up of Eazy Butterfly (drums) and Hensen (bass) from Red Stoner Sun plus Dave aka Reverend Snow White on vocals and the less than exotically named Ben handling guitar duties. There is marked difference to the dynamics employed on this self-titled debut EP than those Eazy and Hensen explored before with Red Stoner Sun, a more progressive dynamic with a darker grittier edge, a dynamic made even more grittier and darker by the superbly executed vocals and thicker denser guitar tones the good Reverend and Ben bring to the party.


Desert Psychlist guesses many will label Khybernaut's music as being prog-metal, or at the very least "proggish", and fair enough it does have its fleeting moments of grandiosity and pomp but on the whole Khybernaut's sound is just a tad too gritty, doomy and raucous to be truly considered prog. Given that two of Khybernaut's members have spent time in a band known for blending desert flavoured rock with swirling spacious psych it is understandable that a certain level of grittiness is in evidence, but it is Ben's guitar tones and textures and Reverend Snow White's vocals that are the real deal breaker in this set up. Ben's riffs reverberate and thrum over and around Eazy and Hensen's superbly constructed rhythmic backdrops like thunderous black clouds and his solo's soar, swoop and squeal but rarely scream while Dave aka Reverend Snow White's superbly pitched clean baritone combines with his German accent to bring an almost gothic doominess to proceedings. There are no faults to be found in the levels of song writing and arrangement on display here either, "Relief", "Belief", the superbly atmospheric "Angel Must Fall" and the strident "Violet" all possess undulating dynamics that are constantly swelling and dissipating, each song flowing through its various changes with a stealth like subtlety that cleverly avoids the need for drastic musical leaps and sudden and unexpected left turns.


Labels and tags are a tool used by reviewers to give their readers an indication of what they might be listening to prior to hitting the play button when really, we should just be saying play this and make your own mind up but if a label HAD to be applied to Khybernaut's music, then we guess that proggish alt-doom served up with a side order of gothic desert grunge might just about cover it.
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 15 September 2022

WITCHSNAKE ~ WITCHSNAKE .... review

Desert Psychlist has spoken on these pages previously of our suspicions that bands hailing from the Italian acid doom/scuzzy metal scene are maybe somehow connected, that bands like Demonio, Sonic Demon and Black Spell may actually have evolved from a small pool of Italian musicians who routinely furnish us with vague information regarding their personnel etc. As we have already said this is just a suspicion, but that suspicion was once again ignited by the recent release of another slice of fuzzed out distortion drenched Electric Wizard worship flying under the banner of "Witchsnake" by a band of the same name. Witchsnake are a band who utilize not only a similar reliance on partly buried in the mix vocals, devastating distortion and furious fuzz as those bands mentioned earlier but also have a similar penchant for late 60's flavoured soft porn/horror movie artwork as well as that same vagueness regarding their individual identities. Desert Psychlist will probably never know for sure if our suspicions are founded but then again it doesn't really matter because be Witchsnake the creation of an Italian collective or a band in its own right their new album is a masterclass in doomic acid gnarliness.

Make sure you are holding on to something firmly planted in the earth when dropping the needle/ pushing play on opening song "Full Moon Wizardry" because the force this song comes out of the speakers at is something that can only be measured on a Richter scale, the levels of fuzz and distortion applied to the guitar tones here are of such a tangible quality that you don't just hear them you actually feel them. Add to this whirlwind of noise drumming that goes beyond thunderous and becomes a sound man has yet to find words for and its highly likely that if you didn't take our advice and hold on to something solidly fixed to the ground you will now be laying outside your place of abode looking back at the hole in your wall this song has just blown you through. If this is the case then please, for your own safety, do not re-enter your home, it will be safer to listen to the rest of this album from the relative security of where the opening song has just deposited you, especially as songs like "Weed of the Witch/Black Trip", "Hellrider 666" and "Green Serpent Rising" do not get any less gnarly, filthy or impactful and any movement towards those sounds could only endanger your life further. Are there vocals we hear you shout from your temporary shelter of rubble and stone, and our answer is yes there are vocals, but you will not be able to discern a damn word of them such is their placement in the mix, but worry ye not as this won't matter a jot as those vocals serve as just another layer of gnarliness to this maelstrom of sound that has blown both your mind and most of your home away.


Filthy fuzz, dirty distortion and pummelling, pounding percussion doubled up with sneery, barely audible vocals might sound like the stuff of nightmares for those with more conservative musical tastes but for those of us brought up suckling on the leathery tit of Electric Wizard, and bands of that ilk, Witchsnake's debut opus is manna from heaven, or should that be hell.
Check it out ...

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

TRIPPELGÃNGER ~ THIRD TRIP ...... review

 


Trippelgänger, Nicklas Lind (guitar/vocals); Tobias Jacobsen (bass) and Christoffer F. Moland (drums/vocals), hail from Aalborg, Denmark and have, over the past year and a half, been steadily assailing our audial cavities with a series of EP releases which they dub as "trips" and today we are reviewing the third, and latest, in that series the appropriately titled "Third Trip".


First track out of the bag, "Virology", most definitely resides at the traditional end of the doom spectrum, its slow to mid-tempo groove is made up of ponderous, pummelling percussion, growling deep bottom end and low reverberating guitar riffs tinted with just the right amount of wah pedal colouring so as to not stray into "wakka wakka" funk territory. Vocals for this song are delivered dually by Lind and Moland singing in what could be described as harmony but as the word harmony is usually applied to something sweet and melodic and the vocals on this opus sounds more like something you might hear coming from the terraces of a football stadium situated in hell, we are not so sure. "Ride" follows and apart from its low, slow and lysergic middle section steamrolls along at an almost thrash like pace, probably more stoner than it is doom it's a song that hits hard and fast and will leave life changing injuries. "Third Trip" ends its tenure with "Doomsday Clock" a delicious mix of proto doom swagger and traditional doom atmospherics, its sinister intro of tolling bells and pouring rain slowly making way for a low guttural vocal telling us in an almost nursery rhyme meter that "When the ticking stops from the doomsday clock i'll be far from here" against a backdrop of dark guitar arpeggios slightly reminiscent of those gracing the first part of Heaven & Hell's "Bible Black". Much like Heaven & Hell did with their iconic opus Trippelgänger soon jettison those ringing arpeggios and replace them with crunching power chords, grumbling bass lines and thunderous percussion, the band hitting into a groove that is big, loud and deliciously doomic decorated in an ear-catching vocal melody that boasts an intriguing and frankly quite addictive singalong quality, it's a superb choice to bring their third EP to a close with.


Whether Trippelgänger intend releasing these "trips" as a full album later on down the line is not known but for now let's just enjoy what we have, and with "Third Trip" what we have is three tracks of delicious proto doom blended with more than its fair share of traditional doomic dankness.
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday, 12 September 2022

SPELLBOOK ~ DEADLY CHARMS .... review


There could be many reasons why a band might change their name, legal reasons, changes in musical direction or the simple fact that there are other bands out there sporting the same or a similar name. Desert Psychlist doesn't know the facts behind why Pennsylvania's formally named Witch Hazel changed their collective title to SpellBook, it could well be a combination of all three, but we suspect it might be that they just got a little peeved off with getting mistaken for Lancashire, UK combo Wytch Hazel, who, it has to be said, tread a similar "retro" path.
Whatever the reasons may be the fact is Witch Hazel are now SpellBook and the band's latest album "Deadly Charms" (Cruz del Sur Music), their second release under their new name, (the first being "Magic & Mischief") is as good if not better than anything they have done under their previous name.


A brief but charming synth/piano piece entitled "1928" opens proceedings, slowly swelling in volume and intensity before just as quickly fading away to be replaced by the thundering rhythms and ear catching guitar motifs of next track "Rehmeyer's Hollow". Now given that we have already mentioned that SpellBook's music tends to lean towards the retro(ish) end of the rock spectrum it is not surprising then to hear echoes of other bands in this song, its chugging proto-doomic groove and Celtic flavoured guitar motif's scream familiarity, add to this a vocal that sits somewhere between Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne and Pagan Altar's Terry Jones and it's hard not to be taken back to bygone times. "Goddess" follows and reminds Desert Psychlist of one of those songs that back in the day would somehow buck all trends and find its way onto mainstream TV or radio, much like Black Sabbath did with "Paranoid", Iron Maiden did with "Running Free" and Saxon did with "Wheels of Steel", such is the addictiveness of its vocal melodies and the strength of its galloping groove. Up next is "Pandamonium" a song that finds SpellBook blending Sabbath-esque proto-doom with a little 80's NWOBHM and throwing in some old school 70's heavy rock into the cauldron just for the sheer hell of it. For "Her Spectral Armies" the band take a leaf out of Metallica's book by beginning and ending the song with a wordless female vocal, much in the same vein as the one Marianne Faithful famously supplied for "The Memory Remains", while in-between jamming a groove that undulates between torch-like balladry and strident metallic bluster. There is a touch of Ghost about next track "The Witch of Ridley Creek", in that it has a similar melodic swing to something that Papa Emeritus and his cohorts might attempt only with this song possessing a grittier and less theatrical dynamic. Title track "Deadly Charms" jams a mid-tempo groove decorated in scorching lead work and crunching guitar riffs anchored down by throbbing bass and solid punchy drumming over which the vocals soar and swoop with sneery nasal gravitas. "Night of the Doppelganger" begins off-kilter and doomic but then explodes into something not too far removed from being power metal, the band hitting into a strident groove only momentarily broken by the band going off-piste into unexpected and frankly quite weird waters before reverting back to their initial stridency to take the song to its close. "Out For Blood" closes the album and finds SpellBook waving goodbye with a song that is in total contrast to the occult rock swagger and proto doom-ic bluster that the band have assailed us with thus far, its jangly guitar textures and Beach Boy style vocal harmonies proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that if these guys ever wanted to take a more mainstream direction, they are more than capable of making that transition.


We have described SpellBook as being "retro" but this band are not just about recreating the past, there is much to be found within the nine songs that make up "Deadly Charms" that is fresh, contemporary and relevant to today's underground rock, metal and doom scene. Whether you like to get your rocks off listening to the grainy proto doom of early Black Sabbath or its Ghost's current stadium filling melodic occult rock that floats your boat SpellBook's "Deadly Charms" has something for you.
Check it out .... 

   

# SpellBook's "Deadly Charms" will be released on Cruz del Sur Music 30th September 2022

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday, 9 September 2022

WOE ~ CZERNOBOG ..... review


WOE, Felix Russell (guitars/vocals); Mat Frodsham (drums) and Brady Patmore (bass), hail from Tasmania, Australia and may be recognisable to some due to their involvement in the bands Taurus, Tarot and The Wizar'd. The trio take some of their inspiration from Ozzy era Sabbath but not exclusively, nestled among those Iommi-like riffs you will also find elements of NWOBHM and 70's hard rock as well as smatterings of stoner-like fuzz all of which combines to give them a more traditional doom sound that is more akin to St. Vitus, Pentagram, Witchfinder General and Trouble than it is Birmingham's iconic foursome, as you will no doubt discover when taking their debut album "Czernobog" (Crypt of the Wizard) for a spin.


Russell introduces first track "Waste of Life" with a deliciously dank guitar motif that is then joined by Frodsham and Patmore in a groove that is, in its initial stages, of a traditional flavour but then moves up a gear and takes on a more proto-doomic dynamic. Russell also handles the vocals, his voice clear clean and strong may not have the same doom-ic gravitas of Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne or the versatility of Trouble's Eric Wagner but what he lacks in those departments he makes up for in clarity, his vocals pristine and discernible reminding Desert Psychlist, at times, of Diamond Head's original vocalist Sean Harris only with slightly more range. "A New Day" follows and finds the trio adding a little more melody into the equation, retaining the musical drive and bite they showed us on their opening track but putting a little more "swing" into the vocals. "The Ghoulish Gathering" finds Frodsham and Patmore laying down a galloping NWOBHM groove for Russell to decorate with an array of dark riffs and soaring solos while singing of "communal poisoning" and "grotesque reflections" in strong distinctive tones while title track "Czernobog" opens with gently strummed chords and shimmering arpeggios but then explodes into what could be considered the albums most doom-ic opus, Frodsham's thunderous drums and Patmore's deep growling bass laying down a stuttering, spluttering groove over which Russell delivers crunching refrains and scorching lead work, the guitarist also tailoring his vocals with a little distortion to match the intensity of the music surrounding them. "Rays of Apollo" closes proceedings and is a doom-ic barnstormer that nods its head to those that picked up the doom baton from Sabbath and ran with it, the spirit of bands like  The Obsessed, St. Vitus, Pentagram and Trouble all can be found lurking here as well as a smattering of doom-ic elements, both vocally and musically, cherry picked from today's current doom scene.


Black Sabbath are rightly regarded as the godfathers of all things doom but let us not forget the others that served, Sabbath may have ignited the torch, but there were also quite a few other bands who, when Sabbath floundered under the weight of  line-up changes, drug abuse and management issues, strived to pick up that torch and keep doom's flame burning, it is these bands that WOE with their debut "Czernobog" pay tribute to.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 4 September 2022

ELEPHANT IMPRESSION ~ DAWN OF DOOM ... review

Back in the day doom used to be defined by its atmospherics, its grandiose themes and its huge gothic tinted vocals but doom comes in many flavours these days, flavours that s range from low slow and heavy to harsh strident and technically complex with a whole gamut of interesting and diverse variations in-between. Germany's Elephant ImpressionMarcel (guitar/vocals); Flo (guitar); Josué (drums) and Felix (bass), are a band whose grooves inhabit that "in-between". with their doom being an amalgamation of luscious heavy psych, gritty stoner metal, and textured post -rock tinted with an unexpected alt-rock/grunge like edginess. It is an intriguing blend and one that makes their debut album "Dawn of Doom" a worthy and rewarding listen.

Title track "Dawn of Doom" kicks things off and sets the scene for the rest of the album, its intro of slow pounding percussion, palm-muted arpeggios and droning guitar textures combining to create an insidious and menacing atmospheric that runs through not only this song but also the rest of the album, the band jamming a groove that is most certainly doom-ic in nature but is also so much more than just that. As the album progresses so does its appeal the bands guitarists laying down a mix of dark crunching riffs and shimmering post-rock guitar colourings beneath which the bassist and drummer have to routinely alter their rhythmic approach so as to accommodate each songs shifting dynamics. If this was an instrumental album Desert Psychlist would still not hesitate to recommend it to our readers, such is the quality of the musicianship on display, but there are vocals, and those vocals are of an equal quality to the musicianship that surrounds them. Vocalist Marcel is not a singer in possession of a rock god roar and apart from the occasional growl you won't find him going overboard on the harshness what he does possess however is a powerful and melodic vocal range which he uses to the utmost effect, soaring and pristine in the upper register dropping to a hushed semi whisper at the lower end, his distinctive vocals bringing extra dimensions of colour and texture to songs like " Walking Among Mammoths", "Stop the Time" and "Death" that they may well have lacked with a vocalist of a lesser talent'

  


Elephant Impression with "Dawn of Doom" are not exactly taking doom in a whole new direction, what they are doing is freshening it up and giving it a much-needed booster injection, they are doing this by weaving into it their doom-ic tapestries strands picked from musical fabrics not usually associated with the genre and in doing so are creating a sound that while familiar is nonetheless different.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday, 2 September 2022

LOVECRAFT ~ CAN ABYSS .... review


Polish groovemeisters Lovecraft are a bit vague about their band's personnel stating, in the notes on their Bandcamp page, "Names? Way too many to mention". Going by their social media they seem to be a collective made up of five members but their individual roles and instrumentation within the group, at the time of writing, remains a mystery. However, the fact that x played bass and y played drums is on the whole irrelevant and it is the music they create together that we are most interested in, and that music is pretty damn good as their debut album "Can Abyss" will attest to.


If you scroll down to the bottom of this albums Bandcamp page, you will notice tags describing Lovecraft's music as heavy prog, psychedelic and stoner so imagine our surprise when first track "Awakening (From the Sea)" comes drifting out of our speakers sounding like a previously undiscovered outtake from a late 60's Doors session fronted by an appropriately Morrison-esque rich baritone. Of course, given those tags mentioned things are not likely to stay Doors-ish for the duration of the song and between those Lizard King like verses things get a little more complex and heavier with the vocals taking on a more forceful dynamic and the music mirroring that dynamic. "Mooneater pt.I" follows and finds Lovecraft channelling a little Iron Maiden-esque prog-metal gallop into their attack with the vocals following a similar path, not quite hitting the air raid siren range of Bruce Dickenson but certainly coming relatively close. It's back to the Morrison-esque tones for next track "Another Damn Idiot" but only briefly as things soon take a left turn and take off in a more stoner metal direction with a mixture of clean and growled singing and call/response vocal trade-offs delivered over a virtual tsunami of crunching guitar chords. growling bass and pounding percussion that is only interrupted by a lysergic laced middle-section. Next up is "Horrors in the Attic" a superbly executed number that feels almost theatrical in feel thanks in part to the ear catching swing of its vocal melodies and its penny opera style lyrical content while musically the song switches between complex heavy prog and vaudevillian doom linked together nicely by bursts of highly impressive drumming. "Grasshopper" has a punk-ish feel in its initial stages, both vocally and musically, but then shifts down the gears and morphs into a lysergic blues groove over which spoken narrative tells its tale in low heavily accented tones ably supported by some truly stunning guitar work, the song then returning to its punk-ish origins for its finale. For penultimate track "The Deep Dark Slumber" Lovecraft revisit the theatrics they toyed with on "Horrors in the Attic" and merge them with the bluesy grooviness they explored on "Grasshopper" only this time throwing some doom-ic dankness into the mix for good measure. Lovecraft finish "Can Abyss" with "Bar Cannabis", a song that cherry picks from everything that has gone before and then blends it all together, Morrison-like vocal tones. spoken narrative, lysergic interludes, crunching riffs, thundering rhythms and screaming guitar solos all combining to create a fitting curtain closer for what is a diverse and highly entertaining album.


In turns theatrical, atmospheric, angular, lysergic and raucous Lovecraft's "Can Abyss" is an album that doesn't quite play by the rules, it is a collection of songs that on the whole start out straightforward and somewhat traditional but then along the way will regularly take unexpected left turns into uncharted musical territories, it's quite a ride.
Check 'em out ......   

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

SCUMBACK ~ SONS OF A WITCH ...... review


Desert Psychlist has to admit that apart from a few noted bands the whole hardcore/Southern groove metal thing has largely passed us by, but we know what we like, and the subject of this review have just released an album we really like. The band in question hail from Moscow, Russia and go by the name of Scumback and they jam a sound that owes a huge debt to NOLA bands like Eyehategod, Buzzov-en, and Crowbar but also to Corrosion of Conformity. Pantera, Down and in some respects Zakk Wylde's one album project Pride & Glory. The band have just released their second full length album "Sons of a Witch", a follow up to their fairly well received debut "Get Well Soon," and if you like your grooves coming at you short sharp and raucous then you are in for a treat.

Scumback do not go in for long drawn-out jamming, you are not going to find these guys laying out on an extended groove and going off on meandering tangents, Scumback's modus operandi is to hit you hard and fast then before you've collected your breath hit you again even harder. Do not however expect to be assailed with a continuous wall of unrelenting noise, there are subtleties to be found in Scumback's sonic onslaught that routinely take you by surprise such as the unexpected inclusion of a banjo on the excellent opening song "Enemy", the wailing harmonica that introduces "Southbound" and the bluesy slide guitar that opens "Pale Rider" The band are also not averse to reigning back their attack and throwing in something languid and gentle like they do with the fey and wistful "Bring Me The Ocean" but in the main "Sons of a Witch" is an album that attacks first and asks questions later full to brimming over with caustic guitar tones, pacey thunderous percussion and an array of vocal stylings that range from throat ripping and feral to clean gritty and melodic.


Scumback's "Sons of a Witch" is an album that boasts fifteen songs but due to the brevity of those songs' whizzes by in what seems like no time at all, it is however testament to the power of those songs and to the band playing those songs that the listener is not once left feeling cheated or short changed, in fact in a world where time is at a premium this is forty-two minutes wisely spent.
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 25 August 2022

STONE NOMADS ~ FIELDS OF DOOM ..... review


If you are in a band plying its trade in the stoner, doom or psych genres that band will no doubt have taken some of its influences from the mighty Black Sabbath, this is totally understandable given that the Birmingham Four more or less invented those musical forms. What you don't want to become, especially if you want to move forward with your music, is to be so influenced by that sound that you find yourself becoming a clone of your heroes or worse sounding like a tribute act.
Texas' trio Stone Nomads, Jude Sisk (vocals/bass); Jon Cosky (vocals/guitar) and Dwayne Crosby (drums), readily admit to being influenced by Tony, Ozzy, Geezer and Bill, even going as far as describing 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, gnarly Southern sludginess and Texan bluesiness they also shoe-horn into their dank dark and doomic compositions. 
The band have just released their debut "Fields of Doom", on Gravitoyd Heavy Music, and Desert Psychlist truly believes its an album you will not want to pass you by.

Title track "Fields of Doom" opens Stone Nomads debut opus and in five minutes forty two seconds more or less tells you exactly everything you need to know about what this band bring to the table, i.e. huge rumbling riffs, crushing percussion and big vocals. The main vocal for this particular song is handled by guitarist  Cosky his bear like roar is a real force of nature and his guitar playing, a mix of soaring bluesiness and metallic finger blurring shredding, is just as impressive. "Fiery Sabbath" follows and finds Cosky sharing vocal duties with bassist Sisk, Sisk's slightly cleaner, but just as huge, voice combining with Cosky's growlier tones to create raw and raucous harmonies beneath which, with considerable support from Crosby's drums, they lay down a groove that is constantly transitioning between low slow and heavy and up tempo and strident. "Primitive Rituals" sees Sisk taking the vocal lead with Cosky taking on more of a backing role, the songs groove is a little less undulating than on previous tracks and boasts a more proto-doomic dynamic with Sisk and Crosby locking in together to provide a gnarly mix of growling bottom end and thunderous percussion which Cosky then decorates with crunching power chords and screeching lead work. It's all aboard the good ship ambient for the next track "Winds of Barren Lands" a stunningly beautiful instrumental that sees Stone Nomads proving acoustic guitars can doom too. "Soul Stealer" is up next and is one of those songs that once heard will never be forgotten, a metal torch song that doesn't start out that way but becomes one thanks in part to Sisk and Cosky's emotion drenched vocal performances and Cosky's feel soaked guitar solo's that soar and swoop in and around his and Sisk's impressive vocal interplay, Crosby holding everything together with some seriously impressive drumming. Despite their tongue in cheek "sons of Sabbath" claim it is another iconic doom band that Stone Nomads doff their caps to for their closing number, the band crunching out a cover of St Vitus' "Dragon Time" and making a damn fine job of it too, their version almost eclipsing the original by ramping up the songs intensity to one more than ten and throwing in some seriously mind-blowing lead work.


The guys in Stone Nomad have been around the block a few times and paid their dues, they are fully fledged musicians totally at ease in both the studio and on stage who have a command over their respective instruments that comes from years of practice and gigging so do not expect to hear words like "potential" and "promise" banded about regarding their album "Fields of Doom" because this is a band who arrive fully formed and ready to doom straight out of the box.
Check 'em out ...... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 21 August 2022

MAMMOTH VOLUME ~ THE CURSED WHO PERFORM THE LAVAGOD RITES ...... review


"Stronger and weirder than ever, the godfathers of stoner prog return" is the legend that graces the Bandcamp page of Swedish groovemeisters Mammoth Volume, for their latest album "The Cursed Who Perform The Lavagod Rites" (Blues Funeral Recordings), whether Belgium's Hypnos 69 might have a stronger claim to that "godfathers of stoner prog" crown is debatable but then many might class them as more of a psych/prog outfit. Anyway, all this conjecture is leading us away from the fact that Mammoth Volume's new album is now out and whether you consider them "godfathers of stoner prog" or just a bunch of interested uncles there is no debating the quality of its grooves.


"The Kuleshov Effect" kicks things off and is the perfect example of Mammoth Volume's unique approach to their music, the song begins its journey with Daniel Gustafsson chopping out a lone guitar refrain accompanied by a dulcet toned vocal from frontman  Jörgen "Aston" Andersson before they are joined by Kalle Berlin's bass and Nicklas Andersson's drums in a crunching stoner-like groove that Gustafsson then decorates  with some quirky but effective keyboard textures J. Andersson pitching in with a more up front and stronger vocal backed and accompanied by guest vocalist Iza Elfström. "Diablo IV" follows and boasts a deep bass heavy chugging riff that Gustafsson again decorates with one of his quirky keyboard motifs giving the songs groove an almost fairground/carnival feel in its early stages. Note that we said "early stages" because the songs whole dynamic radically changes when Gustafsson swaps his keyboards for his guitar and things start to get a whole lot more intense and doomic with  J.Andersson's vocals shifting from a clean rock god howl to more of gritty roar in response. Next song "Medieval Torture Device" begins with the bass and guitar sharing an off-kilter refrain that is intentionally not quite played in tandem so as to give proceedings a funk(ish) otherworldly jazzy vibe, the song also boasts a great vocal from J.Andersson his clean powerful howls and throaty croons adding extra gravitas to the songs lyrical subject matter. The amusingly titled "Want To Join Us? Come Back Later" is a slice of funked up spaced out excellence full of unexpected twists and turns fronted by a heavily filtered vocal while its follow up "Osteoporos" is a laid back semi-acoustic song that's not sure if its a lament or a ballad and ends up a bit of both. "The Lightwedge 60's Race, Zombie Piccolo's and The German" is up next and starts off quite stoner-ish and straightforward but then takes a left turn into experimental waters as it nears its close and gets all highbrow and orchestral. "A King And A Tyrant" jams a strange mix of prog like rhythmic patterns and guitar textures, some of which wouldn't have sounded out of place on a 70's jazz fusion album, and also finds J, Andersson confessing " I threw my child into the wishing well"  in a laid back croon but then goes on to defend his actions by telling us he "nevertheless wished him well" Things get a bit more strident and direct for penultimate track "A Lullaby of Doom" and sees Gustafsson crunching out a heavily fuzzed guitar refrain around which J.Andersson asks us to "turn off your phones and float down stream", but it is not until around the halfway mark when, Berlin's bass sand N. Andersson's drums joins the fray,  that things get really heavy and we find the band sounding more like the "godfathers of stoner prog" that their Bandcamp liner notes professed they might be. Final song "Diablo V" is a mix of languid acoustic noodling, woodwind, synthesised effects, narration and off centre vocal harmonies, it is a pleasant but odd blend and one that is strangely hypnotic.


Another thing we could take issue with about that statement posted on the bands  Bandcamp page is the use of the word "weirder", there is nothing "weird" about what these Swedes bring to the table, quirky yes, off-kilter definitely but there is nothing that sticks out as radically "weird" . Ok the band do play around with form quite a bit and they do tend to cast their nets into waters other bands might not even consider dipping their toes into but that, in our opinion, does not make them a "weird" band it makes them BRAVE band and their new release "The Cursed Who Perform The Lavagod Rites" a truly courageous album.
Check it out ....

© 2022 Frazer Jones