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!
Monday 28 February 2022
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.
Sunday 20 February 2022
Friday 18 February 2022
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.
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
© 2022 Frazer Jones
Tuesday 8 February 2022
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.
© 2022 Frazer Jones
Friday 4 February 2022
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.
© 2022 Frazer Jones