Monday 28 February 2022


Their record label calls them "surrealistic doom lords", we at Desert Psychlist prefer to call them "sonic sculptures of darkened groove" but whatever you decide to call them there is no getting away from the fact that Portland's Charley No Face, Carina Hartley (keys/vocals); Nick Wulforst (guitar/vocals); Brad Larson (bass) and Tim Abel (drums),  are a band with a sound totally unlike any other. The band caused a bit of a stir last year with their debut album "The Green Man" its mix of psych, doom and alt-rock coated in shoegaze(ish) vocal tones had a completely different feel and approach to much of the music that was being released around it at that time and its release garnered much praise and many plaudits from all the right people in all the right quarters. This year the band return with a new album, "Eleven Thousand Volts" (Forbidden Place Records) and if you thought "The Green Man" was something a little special then wait 'til this one hits your lugholes.

We mentioned "shoegaze" in our intro piece and to some that particular word is like a red rag to a bull causing much gnashing of teeth and hand wringing due to that sub-genre's tendencies for feyness and its perceived lack of  any satisfying crunch but fear not there is no feyness to be found on these seven cuts of eclectic grooviness and as for crunch, well there is more here than anyone could reasonably ask for, That "crunch" makes its presence felt almost right from the starting pistol on first track "Eyes" when after a few seconds of  solid drumming and liquid bass the guitar kicks in with a riff so caustic you could probably remove rust with it. As much as we at Desert Psychlist love a good riff we also love an undulating dynamic and Charley No Face have no problem with supplying that particular commodity, songs like "Flat Circle", "Big Sleep" and "Satan's Hands" are all blessed with dynamics that swell and dissipate with unerring regularity, dreamy psychedelic passages constantly interchanging with heavier  sections all overlaid with a mix of mellow shoegaze-like lead vocals and ethereal harmonies, sublime is just too small a word for music this good!

Charley No Face are a band with a unique sound and groove, a band who have not found the need to cherry-pick from the bands of 70's, the 80's and the 90's in order to forge their sound because theirs is the sound of today and maybe the future.
Check 'em out .....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 22 February 2022


There is a genre of music always guaranteed to attract our attention here at Desert Psychlist and it is a genre that probably causes more confusion than any other. Proto-metal/doom is a term coined a long time after much of the music and many of the bands it is now used to describe had passed into the annuls of history. "Proto" is short for "prototype" and when used in the context of metal or rock music it refers to that period of time between the late 60's and mid to late 70's when some bands were starting to move away from heavy blues and were transitioning towards the heavier dynamics of the music we now refer to as heavy metal and doom. The emergence of stoner/desert rock in the 90's, and its reliance on fuzzed out guitar riffs and strident rhythms, caused many fans of the scene to start looking backwards and delving into the record collections of their parents and older siblings in order to explore where the music they were now listening to had originated from, a journey which not only saw them reassessing the importance of big hitters like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin but also discovering for the first time those "proto" bands who didn't quite make that leap into rocks upper echelon but were nevertheless vital in moving rock and metal towards the sounds we are familiar with today.

San Antonio, Texas quartet Green Ripper's love of proto-metal and doom may have been birthed from that same backwards journey into the past that those stoner rock fans mentioned above undertook or they may have just simply been brought up with it always playing in the background and absorbed its vibe by some form of sonic osmosis, whether by the former or the latter there is no doubting, after listening to the bands debut EP "Dark Sessions", that they have that "proto" sound nailed down to perfection.

First track out of the bag, and the one that the band take their name from, is "Green Ripper" an atmospheric tome played at a mid-tempo pace packed with dark resounding bass and guitar riffs driven hard by economic but nonetheless thunderous percussion. The song boasts clean slightly nasal vocals that are delivered with just a hint of Ozzy-ish nasality but a hint is all it is so lets not start shouting "sabbathian clones" in their faces just yet. Next track "Robotic Woman" is one of those rock songs that if it had been released as a single in the mid 70's might have found itself nestled  in the lower reaches of the music charts, its ascending/descending guitar motifs, galloping rhythms and ear catching vocal melody would certainly have given Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and Deep Purple's "Fireball" a run for their money back in the day. "Dark Clouds" follows and possesses all the requisite proto-doomic attributes you could ever ask for, thunder effects, wah drenched bass motifs, crunching guitar riffs, swirling solos and suitably despondent lyrical content are all to be found present and correct here while "Hypnotic Hipshaker" throws a few Budgie flavoured chord progressions into the mix to make things even more interesting. "Oh My Darkness" mixes its doom with its metal to create a hybrid of the two that is nigh on impossible not to throw yourself around to, a situation that repeats itself again with the excellent closer "Tired of Living".

Desert Psychlist recently published a review of Swedish/Scottish combo Sleepwulf's latest album "Sunbeams Curl", an album with a similar "proto" feel to Green Ripper's "Dark Sessions" but where Sleepwulf went for an almost "vintage" sound and production with their album Green Ripper have, with their debut EP, opted for a more modern approach. Sleepwulf  attempted (and succeeded) to capture an authentic aged feel with "Sunbeams Curl" but what Green Ripper bring to the table with "Dark Sessions" is an updated version of the sub-genre for an audience used to their music having a slicker contemporary production. 
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday 20 February 2022

SMOKE ~ GROUPTHINK .... review

Smoke, Dalton (guitar/vocals); Ben (guitar); Alex (drums) and Braxton (bass), hail from Virginia, an area of the United States with a rich and varied musical history that has given the world artists ranging from jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald to Clutch's Neil Fallon. Obviously Smoke have not been around long enough to even come close to reaching the heady heights of those two names mentioned but with their debut album "Groupthink" just released these Virginians may soon see some well deserved attention coming their way.

Smoke's sound is probably one of the hardest Desert Psychlist has had to describe on these pages and this is because Smoke do not really conform to any one style or genre. Take opening title song "Groupthink" for instance, here is a song that has more variants than a virus, its musical gearbox shifting from monastic voiced low slow stoner doom through head spinning psych to swampy space rock all in the space of just over six minutes, its a trip from start to finish and one well worth the undertaking. "Temple" on the other hand begins with an almost Colour Haze-like vibe with slightly phased vocals incanted over hazy lysergic grooves before exploding into something more akin to heavy grunge with the vocals taking on a much more anguished and angsty tone .Epic centrepiece "One Eyed King"  seems to be a merging of Manga fantasy and a play on the old adage "in the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king" set around a groove that is constantly swinging between languid and blustering while "Davidian" finds the band taking a (sweet) leaf out of Black Sabbath's book by jamming a lysergic laced "Planet Caravan" style groove for much of the songs duration but then sprinting to the close on a wave of heavy bluesy bluster, Next up is "The Son of Man" a song that after its hazy opening morphs into a swaggering behemoth that lurches and lumbers with an angsty grungy doominess and sees the singer spitting out lyrical pearls of schizophrenic wisdom such as "I have collected broken discarded things pieced together in the image of me, a mirror reflecting a mirror reflecting a mirror, staring for eternity", in  wearied venomous tones. If Smoke's genre defying dynamics haven't quite confused you by now then the bands penultimate song "Supplication of Flame", with its its lilting vocals floating over a gloriously heady mix of  acoustic doom, Americana and folk, most certainly will. Final song "TELAH" is a quirky off-kilter but totally compelling tome that boasts ear catching guitar motifs, spoken word passages and vocal harmonies decorating an ever changing backdrop of rhythms and tempos, it is the perfect full stop to an album that never stops giving and keeps you guessing right up to its very last note.

Smoke have with ""Groupthink" crafted something very special, an album packed with tunes unhampered by genre, style or fashion that occupy a space between lysergic exploration and blustering heaviness, it is a space uniquely their own and one you will never get tired of visiting.
Check it out

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday 18 February 2022


If you chanced upon, and read, Desert Psychlist's review of Swedish/Scottish combo Sleepwulf's self-titled debut album "Sleepwulf" you will know we were mightily impressed with their retro flavoured blend of classic metal and proto-doom and with their tendency to keep their songs short sharp and to the point. This year of our Lord 2022 sees the band return with a new album, "Sunbeams Curl" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records) and although the songs are a little longer this time around those retro flavourings remain and are just as impressive.

Desert Psychlist had been hearing people making comparisons to such big hitters as Jethro Tull and Black Sabbath prior to us reviewing "Sunbeams Curl" and we kind of got the Tull comparison, although we would have to point out that we are talking very early Tull here, but as for the Sabbath connection well we are just not hearing that one. When reviewing the bands debut album we described them as having "the musical essences of such cult legends as Warhorse, May Blitz, and Leaf Hound" and we stand by that statement with maybe the additions of Scotland's Iron Claw and the USA's Coven to that list. Sleepwulf's new album is filled with songs bearing titles like "Satan is King", "Sex Magic Manifestation", "Toad Licker Mushroom Picker" and "Bury Me Backwards", songs themed around the occult, paganism and rural folklore decorated in a sound so authentically 70's it is hard to believe that they grace an album that was only made recently. Reading the notes that accompany "Sunbeams Curl" on the albums Bandcamp page it is not surprising that the band have managed  to captured such an authenticity of sound, the band having recorded the album live in their own studio, on the edge of a woodland (which may explain much of albums paganistic and rural leanings), onto an old  tape machine. Comparisons and authenticity aside "Sunbeams Curl" is a superb album in its own right and one that is packed with solid performances from all involved, Sebastian Ihme and Viktor Sjöström's crisp and crunchy guitar and bass refrains are drenched in vintage fuzz and distortion, Carl Lindberg delivers tight solid busy and precise percussion and the perfectly pitched clean effective vocals of Owen Robertson are delivered bereft of any traces of egoistic rock god showboating, all these elements and more combining together to provide the perfect example of why less, in musical terms, can often equate to being more and in this case so much more.

"Sunbeams Curl" has the feeling and sound of an album you might chance upon while searching for rare rock gems from the early 70's on YouTube, an album with the warmth and feel of an age long gone but still fondly remembered. Some will call Sleepwulf's sound "retro" some will opt for "vintage" but whatever you decide to call it really doesn't matter because "retro" or "vintage" this is some damn fine music! 
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 9 February 2022



If you are an aficionado of all things doom then you will have probably heard of Portugual's Dawnrider, they are probably not the most well known of the bands that ply their trade in doomic circles but they have, since their 2004 formation, been one of those names that seems to be always knocking around when discussing underrated bands in the doom genre. The band have gone through many line-up changes since the release of their 2007 full length album "Alpha Chapter" but no matter what the line-up the quality of Dawnrider's music has never faltered. Dawnrider's current line-up of Hugo “Rattlesnake” Conim (guitars), Filipe Relêgo (bass/vocals), João Ventura (drums) and Diogo Simões (keyboards) march into 2022 not only with a brand new album, "The Fourth Dawn"(Alma Mater Records), but also a commitment to widen their international profile and introduce their music to whole new fanbase.

Calling the first song of your brand new album "A Farewell To Hope" is a bit like announcing the apocalypse after building a hospital, you just know things are going to get a little bleak and dark from here on in. Surprisingly the song is a quite beautiful, if somewhat mournful, instrumental played out on acoustic guitars around which swirling wind effects and the howling of animals give things a requisite feeling of doominess. "Order of Dawn" follows and here we have the perfect example of why its so hard to pin the band's sound to just one form of doom, bluesy guitar solo's, Iron Maiden style galloping bass lines and ear catching clean vocal melodies and choruses are all cleverly thrown in over a groove that is essentially proto-doomic but devoid of all the usual Sabbathisms we have come to expect from that sub-genre. "Reaching Glory" brings with it all the trappings of traditional doom, thick toned reverberating guitar refrains, swirling solos, ponderous rhythms and grizzled low end but then adds into that mix an almost Viking metal flavoured middle section that finds Relêgo recanting the songs chorus over and over again in an almost war cry meter. Next track "Unwanted Sorrows" begins with a guitar motif worthy of gracing the soundtrack of a sci-fi/horror movie or TV show then slips into a low slow traditional doom groove over which a strong vocal tells a tale of grief, woe and disappointment. The songs middle section ups the pace to a tempo of a more proto-doomic nature, with the vocals taking on a more strident dynamic and guitarist Conim trading off scorching solos with keyboardist Simões, but then slips back into its initial slow low groove to take things to the close. Electrical effects, keyboards and Relêgo's deep booming bass introduce next track "Those Who Parted" then Ventura's thunderous drums join the fray and the band shift into another of their wonderfully ponderous doom grooves with Relêgo regaling the songs lyrics in strong wearied tones. For "The Final Call" Dawnrider again mix their doom with a little Maiden-esque NWOBHM, the song dank and atmospheric one minute galloping and strident the next. Final track "Lord" is one of those songs you immediately know is going to be a firm favourite in a live environment it is big bold and brash with a groove that will appeal to stoners metalheads and doomers alike, it also boasts a vocal hook just perfect for audience participation.

Note: "A Farewell To Hope" is available only on digital downloads and CD not on the vinyl version

Dawnrider are not what you would call your archetypical doom band, they are a band who do not quite fit into any of dooms sub-genres, their sound is probably a tad too "proto-doomic" to be considered "traditional" and probably a touch too "traditional" to carry a "proto-doom" label and their grooves have a stonerish quality but are far removed from bearing any resemblance to "stoner-doom". So that leaves the question  where do you place Dawnrider in the great scheme of things? Well the answer to that is exactly where they are, jamming grooves that don't quite fit into any of the usual doom boxes but are nonetheless "doomic" in both nature and essence.
Check 'em out .....

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 8 February 2022


We at Desert Psychlist have championed the Greek underground rock scene ever since we chanced upon Greek stoner rock legends Nightstalker's very first EP "Side FX", while searching for something new to hear on YouTube, that was back in 2002 and it wasn't long after that we discovered that Nightstalker were just the spearhead behind which a whole phalanx of like minded Greek bands were honing their weaponry hoping to unleash their grooves on an unexpecting international market. There have been times since then that we have felt a little like the legendary messenger Pheidippides, who ran the 40km from Marathon to Athens to tell the Athenians of Greek victory over the Persians, only with our message having to travel a little further and wider. Hopefully we don't suffer the same fate as Pheidippides, who after imparting his news dropped down dead at the end of his journey, and we can carry on bringing you more bands like Blind Sun, the subject of this review.

Blind Sun hail from Athens and consist of  Marios Kassianos (vocals/lead guitar), Kostas Kotsiras (vocals, rhythm guitar), Nick Tountas (bass), Xanthippi Papadopoulou (lead vocals) and Antonis Aspropoulos (drums), they are a a collective with a sound that has its roots set in a wide variety of genres and who cite their influences as ranging "from Black Sabbath to Pink Floyd, from Soundgarden to Tool", influences they utilise to great effect on their debut release "Under Them Stones"

Opening song "Freedom In Hell" belies its doomic title by jamming a heavy blues groove replete with chugging guitar riffs and scorching solo's over which lead vocalist Xanthippi Papadopoulos tells a tale of finding her own kind of freedom in a barren desert wasteland, singing of "silent plains and burning dust" in powerful tones drenched in bluesy gravitas. "Stoned Godess" follows and finds the band shifting up and down the gears on a song that is part a lament and part a heavy blues torch song with jazzy chord progressions overlapping crunching riffs over an undulating rhythmic backdrop that explodes and smoulders with unerring regularity and a vocal that shifts from a roar to a whisper as and when the groove dictates. The next two tracks, "These Blues" and "Ghosts of Revolutions Past"  both stick very much to a blues rock formula with the former having a more traditional feel and the latter bringing a little stoner(ish) stridency into play. These two songs are followed by "I Am" and "Turn" songs that find the band throwing not only elements of funkishness into the mix but also more than a modicum of metallic progishness too, a direction we at Desert Psychlist would very much like to see the band follow with any future endeavours they may undertake. "Mariners" is as the perfect vehicle for Papadopoulos to show off  her full vocal range, her voice having an almost symphonic floating quality in the songs quieter sections rising to a blues drenched holler when the song shifts into heavier territories. Title song "Under Them Stones" brings things to a close and is a song that amalgamates all the elements explored on the albums previous tracks into one piece, a stunning finale packed full with  powerful vocal performances, crunching refrains, deep throbbing bass lines, swirling guitar solos and a mix of thunderous and restrained drumming.

A feature of many of the underground bands (not by any means all) coming out of Greece is that they tend to lean towards a more classic/hard rock sound as opposed to the more doomic and metallic sounds that seems to originate from countries, with an equally thriving underground scene, like Sweden and Poland. In this respect Blind Sun or no different from many of their homeland contemporaries, their sound is one steeped in heavy bluesy swagger and classic rock polish and they are a band who understand both the art of song structure and the value of a good melody, elements of which are present throughout the eight songs that make up "Under Them Stones".
Check it out ....... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday 4 February 2022

JAWLESS ~ WARRIZER ...... review

 One day in the not to distant future we at Desert Psychlist are going to have to set a day aside to really dig deep into the Indonesian underground scene and see what we can find because already little nuggets of gold are starting to work their way to the surface and make their presence felt internationally. Today we are going to be looking at one of those nuggets, a little gem of an album entitled "Warrizer" from a Bandung based quartet going by the name Jawless.

A deep rumbling bass line introduces first track "G.O.D (Genuine Obsessive Disruptive)" accompanied by subtle percussion and gently picked guitar arpeggios., slowly the tempo picking up pace until suddenly exploding into plodding Sabbath-esque groove. Now already we can hear the cries of " do we really need another Sabbath clone " but if you hold off those cries for just a minute and listen a little bit further into this track you will start to realise that the sabbathian elements of this song are just that "an element" and that there are other forces at work within this songs groove. Those forces include  clean, slightly accented, vocals which are delivered in a metre and tone more in keeping with the vocals gracing the proto-metal of bands like May Blitz and Warhorse (UK) than they are with the proto-doomic nasal whine of Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne, and guitar solos which are more Bourge (Budgie) than they are Iommi. Next track "War Is Come" tells a lyrical tale of war and its effects and boasts soaring blues tinted guitar solos that swoop and swirl over a thunderous backdrop of pounding drums and boneshaking bass. "Dark Muzzling" has a more introspective feel that sees the bands vocalist spouting  thought provoking lyrical lines like "under the bludgeoning's of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed" and "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul" over a groove that spits and snarls for most of its duration but then lays out languid and lysergic in its final stages. The lysergic feel of the previous tracks ending spills over into the intro of next song "Deceptive Events" but then explodes into a groove that although partly sabbathian in feel, due to its abrupt changes in time and dynamics, is far enough removed to have its own identity. "Bad Excursion" and "Metaphorical Speech" finds the band exploring a more heavy stoner sound albeit with classic/hard rock vocal melodies while "Restrained" sees the band getting a little experimental  and wacky and boasts some really crazy arsed drumming that is anything but restrained. Final song "The Throne of Tramp" has all the makings of a great song, crunching doomic riffs and a good vocal, but seems to lack a little of the discipline of the albums previous songs and sounds a little chaotic and messy in places which is a shame as it would have been nice to have heard the band finish what is a really enjoyable album on a massive high.

If we were to level any sort of criticisms at Jawless' "Warrizer" it would be that it is a little underproduced and untamed in places yet despite this "Warrizer" is a highly enjoyable heavy stoner romp that promises much for the future. 
Check it out ....

© 2022 Frazer Jones