Monday 31 January 2022

NARBO DACAL ~ NARBO DACAL ....... review

Powerful ,occasionally ethereal, vocal tones twinned with heavy prog(ish) metallic grooves will probably have the prospective listener expecting to hear something sitting in either the occult rock or the symphonic metal genres but what you get instead with Polish trio Narbo Dacal's self titled debut EP (Piranha Records) is a twisting  turning blend of sludge and blackened metal tinted in places with a little witchy folkiness. The band, Eli (vocals/bass); Drut (guitars) and Bartek (drums/backing vocals) hail from Krakow, Poland and are no strangers to the music business, or to each other for that matter, with Drut and Bartak cutting their teeth in a number of bands before teaming up with Eli in Narbo Dacal,( one of which was a raucous outfit going by the name DIZEL who jammed a highly enjoyable AC/DC meets Motorhead flavoured groove). Narbo Dacal are however a whole different animal, the bands sound is one of dankness and darkness juxtaposed with a fey wispiness courtesy of their bass playing vocalist Eli.

"Narbo Dacal" opens its account with "Ice Pick" its chugging, almost staccato, riffs and tribalistic drumming create a feeling of dark foreboding that gradually increases in intensity and depth but then a strange thing happens and instead of an expected explosion of gnarly demonic voiced harshness, which seems to be the norm these days, we are treated to a vocal that although not exactly ethereal is most definitely on that spectrum. Desert Psychlist is reminded a little of MWWB (formally Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard) in the way that Narbo Dacal offset their heavy riffs with vocals of a more fragile nature but where MWWB come more from a doomic place Narbo Dacal's roots are firmly entrenched in sludge and black metal, the grooves the band play behind those wafting vocals having a wholly more raucous and raw demeanour. There is also an undercurrent of metal proggishness to be found on songs like "DCCXXXVII", and "Will-'o-the-Wisp" that puts a whole different spin on things, the band constantly shifting time signatures, tempos and dynamics to add further depth to their compositions and increase their interest and impact, a trick also applied to their vocals which in the space of a song can shift from a husky whisper to an impassioned scream while touching all bases in-between..

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.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Thursday 27 January 2022


power trio The Society Of Bandits, Jason Eckblad (vocals/ bass); Brandon Becker (guitar/vocals) and Matthew Smith (drums/vocals), tell us in no uncertain terms that they are "here to remind you that rock and roll is meant to be loud, abrasive and unapologetic" and that "they play a unique brand of southern rock and they play it loud". Desert Psychlist is in total agreement with their first statement and after listening to the trio's latest release "Postcards From The Kali Yuga" we can confidently endorse the fact that their the second statement holds water also.

If you were perusing the endless pages of Bandcamp checking out album artwork for something you think might be of interest, as many of us do, then you might, if you were not familiar with The Society Of Bandits, have passed over "Postcards From The Kali Yuga" thinking that the watercolour painting depicting elegantly wafting jellyfish pointed to something a little ambient and gentle but how wrong you would be. What you would discover when dropping the needle on this, the bands third release, is a collection of raucous and gritty southern flecked stonerized rock and metal that is as big and as bold as the state it was birthed in. From opening track "Julius" through to its last track "Electric Cannon" what you get is a no holds barred in your face romp packed to the rafters with crunching guitar riffs, tight solid rhythms and cleverly arranged, and executed, three way vocal trade offs, off kilter harmonies and gritty vocal leads. For those looking for comparisons to other bands well forget it because The Society Of Bandits take on that "southern thang" is a unique one that doesn't follow any of the usual rules, if you are expecting to hear something that might tie them in with the Lynyrd Skynyrd's Blackfoot's and Molly Hatchet's of this world then you are also going to be disappointed yet despite this the bands "southernisms" are something that constantly shine through and makes their presence felt even when the band are tackling something as unexpected as a cover of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" and it is these "southernisms" combined with the bands uncompromising metallic attack and intelligent vocal arrangements that make "Postcards From The Kali Yuga" essential listening for anyone with an interest in music that struts its stuff with a "southern" swagger.

Its been almost four years since The Society Of Bandits released their last album and many might have thought they had gone the way of so many other bands and faded away never to be heard from again but thankfully this was not the case and with "Postcards From The Kali Yuga" these Texas groovemeisters have returned with a renewed vigour and a collection of huge sounding raucous grooves that are as loud, as abrasive and as unapologetic as they promised us they would be. 
Check 'em out .....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday 23 January 2022

OCULTO ~ PENUMBRA ....... review


Mexico is not a country that has featured too much on the pages of Desert Psychlist and that is somewhat remiss of us because the Central American country has a very vibrant and diverse underground scene with many really good bands to be found within its borders, Bar de Monjas, Vinnum Sabbathi and Spacegoat to name just three. Today we aim to somehow readdress our lack of coverage by introducing you to Oculto Adán Nájera (bass/vocals) and Gerson‎ ‎Paredes (drums), a two piece combo from Mexico City who bring to the table a heady mixture of thrumming heavy doomic instrumentals with songs decorated in mournful, almost monastic, vocal tones sang in their native Spanish tongue. Last year (2019) the duo released their debut "Caos, Cosmos y Cataclismos", which Steve Woodier of Deathrattle Podcast called "Suffocating doom with enough fuzz to gag on", this year they come back with more of the same with their second outing "Penumbra".

 "Penumbra" is an album full of heavy doomic tomes that although not brutal are nonetheless dank, dark and sinister as you will discover for yourselves as the first strains of opening track "Satánica" assails your senses with its menacing low slow grooves and Gregorian flavoured vocal mantras. Instrumental "Llora Sangre" follows and although a little less pedestrian than its predecessor it still carries that same feeling of brooding menace and ominousity. "Memento Mori" sees the return of the vocals, this time delivered a little less mournfully, and finds Paredes bucking convention and concentrating most of his attention on the upper reaches of his drum kit accompanying Najera's vocals and heavily distorted bass in a crescendo of crashing cymbals. Next up is "De la Penumbra" an instrumental spliced with sampled demonic narrative (reversed for greater effect), that in its later stages throws the spotlight full on Paredes drumming skills, the percussionist going hell for leather all over his kit while Najera keeps things grounded with a rumbling growling bass riff. An uplifting sample of a band playing music at what sounds like a fair introduces "Danse Macabre" but is soon countered by Najera plucking out low reverberating notes from his bass only really upping the pace of his delivery when Paredes adds his weight to the proceedings, the song swinging back and forth between slow and really damn slow throughout its duration. If things were not sinister enough then the organ music that heralds in "Fvnebre" and sticks around for the duration of the song ramps things up to a whole new level. "Caminando entre muertos perderás la esencia de vivir." (translation: "walking among the dead you will lose the essence of living") sings Najera in dark ominous tones that suggest he knows something we don't. Strangely "Fvnebre" is the only song on "Penumbra" where Oculto really allow themselves to break away from their funereal roots and really take wing, the screaming guitar solo that takes this song into the stratosphere in the latter part of this piece is breath-taking and the strident groove behind it is much closer to stoner-psych than it is to the stoner doom that has dominated proceedings up to this point. Final song "Zangbeto" maintains a little of the stridency of its predecessor by jamming a tribalistic groove that finds Najera utilising an almost percussive attack to his bass strings while Paredes seems to be trying crash and pound his drum kit into dust beneath him, the song finally finishing not so much in a crescendo but in more of a noisy slow winding down.

There is a ritualistic almost religious feel to many of the songs gracing "Penumbra", and when we say "religious" we are not talking happy clappy hymns to the white haired man strumming his harp in the Kingdom of Heaven but songs referencing the workings of his ex bandmate Satan who left to form his own group due to irretrievable musical differences. If God and Satan ever decide to put their differences aside and get back together for a jam and are looking for a bassist and drummer then they wouldn't go far wrong by giving Oculto a call. 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday 21 January 2022

MAMVTH ~ THE FOG ..... review


We at Desert Psychlist were reared on diet of classic metal and hard rock, the soundtrack of our youth was the heavy bluesy rock of Led Zeppelin, the proto-doom of Black Sabbath and the organ fuelled grooves of Deep Purple as well as those bands that didn't quite reach rock music's upper echelon like Budgie, Stray, Buffalo and Hawkwind. It is not surprising then that when we hear something that harks back to that golden era we jump on it and jump on it hard! 
Mamvth, Law (vocals); David “Deibiss” Arca (drums); Karlos (guitar) and Jesús (bass), hail from Spain and came together in Madrid in 2016 bonded by a love of 90's era stoner rock and 70's hard rock. The band first came to our attention via their self-titled demo/debut EP "MAMVTH"  a release that saw the band mixing elements of bluesy vintage rock with its more fuzzy cousin stoner/desert rock managing to avoid the pitfall of sounding overtly "retro" by adding into their sound elements gleaned from today's, ever reinventing itself underground, scene . "MAMVTH" being a demo is a little hard to lay ones hands on now but thankfully, with the exception of "You Should Believe Me", all the tracks on "MAMVTH" appear on their recently released "official" debut "The Fog".

If you are coming to this "The Fog" expecting the type of thunderous heavy bluesy hard/stoner rock of say a Thunder Horse or a Kingsnake then you are sort of in the right place but not quite, yes there is plenty of  fuzzy swagger to be found among the ten songs that make up Mamvth's debut but there is also a leaning towards a more authentic sounding early 70's proto-metal sound. Punchy and uncomplicated is the best way to describe Mamvth's sonic attack, they are a band who don't overplay their hand and don't need to because they know what works for them and execute it to perfection. It does help their cause that in Laws they have a singer with a powerful distinctive voice, her slightly accented vocals soar with bluesy power over the superbly executed grooves of classic flavoured rock that surround them and in the spaces between her upper and lower register she serves up a gender blurring tone that has surprising shades of the late Burke Shelley (Budgie) in its delivery, especially on the excellent "Fire" and the superb "B.L.U." . All in all there isn't a duff track to be found on this delightful album, we are not talking boundary pushing grooves here just good old fashioned hard rock that'll put a smile on your face and leave you feeling damn good about the world.

Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday 17 January 2022


Washington's Swamp Lantern, Jeff Kastelic (guitar/vocals); Jonny McIntyre (guitar,/vocals); Stu Hodge (bass/vocals) and Easton Sartor (drums), are a hard band to pin a label on, the Bellingham quartet jam a groove that blends stonerized doom with metals heavy and blackened that is then flavoured with elements of post-rock and psych, it is a sound that is sometimes brutal, sometimes laid back and sometimes challenging but is one that is at all times highly enjoyable. The band return this year with "The Lord Is With Us" the highly anticipated follow up to their well received 2000 debut "Phantasms".

If there was a criticism to be levelled at "Phantasms" it would be that it lacked a little "oomph" in places, this had nothing to do with the bands songcraft or musical abilities but was more due to its production and mix which applied a little too much polish to proceedings and tended to round off the bands natural raw edginess, however for new album, "The Lord Is With Us",  a balance has been found that allows the bands more quieter reflective moments to glisten and shine but then brings in the rawness and growl for when the dynamics get a little brutal and heavy.  First song "Blood Oath (On Pebble Beach)" is a prime example of this balance, the song opens up with crunching heavily distorted guitars jamming a riff pushed by rumbling bass and thunderous drumming, then suddenly subsides into a gentle post-rock meander that sees liquid arpeggios replacing reverberating power chords and shimmering percussion taking the place of pounded drum skins before gradually building in intensity and ending in a blaze of blackened metal bluster. Vocally this song has an almost operatic feel that mixes wordless choral singing (courtesy of  guest vocalist Aimee Wright) with mournful sounding harmonies and also includes the occasional smatterings of raucous vocal harshness, in other words there is something for everyone to be found here. Next song "Still Life" boasts the type of reverberating liquid guitar tones, that would not sound out of place on a Chris Issak or Roy Orbison album, twinned with a languid gothic tinted vocal, Swamp Lantern being Swamp Lantern though it does not come as a surprise when the groove slowly increases in heaviness and takes on a more doomic dynamic replete with ear catching guitar motifs and cryptic lyrics that blend drug references with a thinly veiled green message. "Graven Tide" follows and is a song that never stays in one place long enough to to be pinned down to one style, post-rock textures, Celtic tinged guitar harmonies and demonic vocals all combine to create a weird but exhilarating mish mash of styles driven by a strident blackened bass and drum groove. Title track "The Lord Is With Us", an instrumental, is a song that has a film soundtrack vibe due to its folkish/Americana dynamic that rightly or wrongly had Desert Psychlist visualising a running scene not unlike the one that opens Michael Mann's blockbuster movie  "The Last Of The Mohicans". Final song " The Halo of Eternal Night" is a beautifully constructed opus that builds layer by layer, the song swinging neatly from a mournful ballad to an emotive torch song before erupting into a crescendo of blackened doomic splendour over which guest guitarist Bobby Savage unleashes a screaming shredded solo, the song finally closing its account the way it started gentle and placid.

"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. Where Swamp Lantern take their music next is anyone's guess, could they take the Opeth route and move towards a more prog orientated sound (they certainly have the chops) or they could go the other way and just get heavier, more brutal and more intense, only time will tell. 
Check 'em out .....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday 10 January 2022


Slovakian trio Void Odyssey play psych tinted instrumental doom spliced together with sampled narrative begged borrowed or stolen from various old horror movies, radio broadcasts and documentaries. Nothing new there i can hear you say, this has become common practice for bands in this genre, and we would have to agree with you but there is something about the way those samples are integrated into Void Odyssey's relentless sonic attack on their self-titled debut EP that takes things to a whole new level of enjoyment and negates the need of any vocals.

Before we get down to the task of dissecting every power chord , bass line or drum beat of the three songs that make up "Void Odyssey" let us give a shout out to  Mont Doom the artist whose amp worshipping illustration graces the cover of this face melting tome. The painting of three cowled figures standing in  reverence before a huge Laney stack, surrounded by gnarled smoking trees and shrooms, not only captures perfectly the lysergic elements of Void Odyssey's sound but also pays a thinly veiled tribute to Black Sabbath the band at the root of everything we deem doomic.

Title track "Void Odyssey" opens with a sample of what we can only assume is two law enforcement officers discussing something apocalyptic, "are they slow moving chief?" asks one voice, "yeah they're dead, they're all messed up" is the reply, a statement followed by a low rumbling heavily distorted bass motif that is then joined by the guitar and drums in an equally rumbling doomic groove. We mentioned the word "relentless" in the opening piece of this review and although describing something in those terms can sometimes be seen as derogatory this is not the case here, in fact it is the "relentlessness" of this piece that is its biggest asset, yes it does sit very much on one groove but it is a groove that is constantly building and one that incorporates into its attack subtle psychedelic elements as it builds, elements enhanced by swirling eastern flavoured guitar textures and those occasional well placed samples. "Aberration" follows and begins with a hazy guitar riff played over a tribalistic drum pattern that combined with its sinister sampled narrative, telling of being born to serve Satan, gives the songs initial stages a Colour Haze meets OM type meditative feel but then in comes the bass and suddenly the songs dynamic descends into a low slow heavy doomic groove with crunching guitar riffs and thundering percussion, accompanied by yet another well chosen sample, taking it to its conclusion. "Reefer Rites" brings things to a close with a song that, like its predecessor, starts hazy and languid, an echo drenched guitar arpeggio holding sway until another well placed sample heralds in the inclusion of the bass and drums and the eruption of the song into heavier territory. Once the bass and drums hit into this doomic groove they rarely deviate from it but with the addition of some really cleverly inserted samples and an ear catching circular guitar motif the repetitiveness of the songs main refrain does not ever become an issue and instead works for the song rather than against it.

There are some within our scene who find instrumental music a bridge too far to cross and that the lack of lyrics and a singer somehow detracts from a bands overall appeal, Void Odyssey understand this to some extent and so embellish their jams on their debut EP with sampled narrative gleaned from a variety of sources, these samples are not chosen at random however but are specifically picked to fit in with the mood and feel of each musical piece and by doing this they add a dynamic to their instrumental jams that might not have been there otherwise.
Check 'em out ...... 
© 2021 frazer Jones