Saturday 30 April 2022

MOOZOONSII ~ INWARD ..... review


Prog-rock/prog-metal lyrics can often be a little too clever for their own good with bands waxing lyrical on subjects that have no real relevance to the everyday lives of their listeners, ok we all love a little escapism from time to time but what in god's name IS an "Octavarium" (Dream Theater)) and WHY were Yes so "Close To The Edge"? Musically prog is up there with jazz and classical music, complex intricate arrangements and grooves played by musicians at the absolute apex of their game and it is the music, and those high levels of musicianship associated with prog, that were the catalyst for many of us to initially get into the genre. French trio Moozoonsii,  Basile Chiariello (guitar); Fabien Hervé (bass) and Matthieu Bellemere (drums/percussion), are not going to regale you with tales of purple wizards and floating islands in the sky the Nantes based unit are all about the music and their latest release "Inward" is some of the best instrumental heavy prog you are likely to hear this year, next year or any damn year.

Ok, this is prog so we do not totally escape the whole "concept" thing, "Inward" does have a theme around which the albums six instrumentals are based but then Desert Psychlist suspects that having an idea to structure your musical ideas around gives a musician something to work towards. and as concepts go Moozoonsii's for "Inward" is pretty straightforward, a journey through the mangroves and encounters both good and bad with its residents therein. It makes sense then that first song out of the bag is one entitled "Mangrove" and for first time listeners to Moozoonsii what an introduction to their music this is! "Mangrove" opens with sampled bird calls and Latin flavoured percussion accompanied by deep booming bass but then the guitar comes in and everything goes absolutely (in an extremely good way) mental! There is nothing straightforward about Chiariello's approach to playing his guitar, his style is an unconventional one that sees him attacking his strings in sporadic bursts rather than the usual up/down patterns, his chord and lead work has an unstructured structure throughout "Inward" that on first listen sounds a little dissonant and untamed but soon becomes evident that these elements of dissonance and rawness are not arrived at because of a lack of technique but because that is exactly the sound he is aiming for. Chiariello's co-conspirators Hervé and Bellemere are no slouches either Hervé more than matches his guitarist for instrumental prowess his bass a mixture of boom and growl adds a depth to songs like "Wudùm", "Titanoboa" and "Venom" that many bassists would struggle to emulate and Bellemere is, on the evidence of this album alone, one of finest drummers currently inhabiting the underground rock scene, a drummer able to shift through the gears with consummate ease his polyrhythmic patterns, fills and salvo's a masterclass in prog drumming. 

Moozoonsii with "Inward" take you on a journey from mangroves to jungle with no need of lyrical content, this is a trip chronicled by music not words and although it does help to know the thinking behind the music to this journey, so as to allow you to paint your own pictures in your minds eye,  it is no way essential. There are those that think instrumental music is an acquired taste, if that is so then we suggest those people acquire some taste and lay some well deserved love on this instrumental masterpiece.
Check it out ...... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 26 April 2022

OUT OF THE EARTH ~ II ...... review


One of Desert Psychlist's favourite Bandcamp discoveries was Out Of The Earth's 2015 self-titled debut "Out Of The Earth", a mix of crunching classic rock and fuzzy stoner rock underscored with a bluesy grunginess. The release of "Out Of This Earth" promised much for the future but unfortunately life doesn't always follow the paths we have mapped out in our heads and so thanks to a pandemic and the relocation to another country of the bands main songwriter and lyricist Out Of The Earth's plans for world domination came a little off the rails. Music, much like life, will always finds a way and this year Out Of The Earth return with a new album, "II", the bands line-up might be pared down to just two members now but the music they create is just as exciting and just as vital.

For this release Out Of The Earth consist of  Thanos Vlachos (vocals/guitar/bass/FX) who also handles the music and lyrics and Marios Papapavlou (drums and percussion) who does the arrangements. Now there will be those worrying that a pared down version of OOTE might not quite reach the same standards as the original line up, Desert Psychlist's answer to that is that those people should  file their concerns under "U" for "unwarranted" as "II" is as every bit as good if not better than the album that proceeded it. "Fucking Sick" kicks things off and whether this is reference to recent bout of Covid or a lyric inspired by particularly bad hangover Desert Psychlist doesn't know what we can tell you however is that this is two minutes forty seven seconds of the purest hard'n'heavy rock you could possibly wish for, Vlachos' soulful lived in vocal berating his ill luck over a galloping groove replete with screaming guitar solos and punchy rhythms.. In a recent conversation with Desert Psychlist Vlachos  informed us that moving to England had seen his music taking on a gloomier, fuzzier aspect but we disagree and think that for "gloomier" he should maybe substitute the word "bluesier" as it is the blues that sits at the root of many of the songs that inhabit "II". That bluesiness is never more evident than on the albums next track. "Addiction Blues" a heartfelt lament boasting tasteful lead guitar breaks and wearied emotion drenched vocal tones that also includes a brief but quite beautiful lysergic flavoured middle-section. We stay in blues territory for following track "Oh Devil" only this time the dynamic is a little more laid back and moody and sees Papapavlou laying down some very clever and very tasty percussion beneath a very low key but perfectly pitched vocal enhanced by some beautifully constructed guitar solos. "Explode" is up next and here we find OOTE upping the tempo, still jamming a bluesy dynamic but this time with a little more swagger in their step. "Walls" is one of those songs that just hits every mark it is possible for a blues song to hit, an emotion wracked torch song that inhabits the same spine tingling territories that songs like Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" and The Allman Brother's "Worried Down With the Blues" once called their home, stunning is too small a word for this bluesy tour-de-force. "II" closes its account with the aptly titled "Beast" a heavy slightly experimental instrumental that incorporates a mixture of monastic vocalisations and droning effects in its intro then bursts into a heavy psych workout that sees Papapavlou beating out an impressive array of percussive tattoo's and salvos around which Vlachos delivers a myriad of thrumming riffs, swirling solos and off grid pedal effects., its impressive stuff if a little unexpected given the bluesy furrow the band had ploughed previously.

Given that Thanos Vlachos now lives in England and Marios Papapavlou still resides in his homeland of Greece putting together this latest instalment of Out Of The Earth's story has not been the easiest of tasks but it has been one worthy of the effort. "II" is a stunning collection of songs, a heady mixture of  classic rock crunch, soulful bluesy swagger and hard rock bluster from a band many thought had disappeared never to be heard from again. 
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday 24 April 2022

COMA HOLE ~ COMA HOLE ....... review

By now we have come quite accustomed to the rock duo, the emergence of bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys caused many to step to back in amazement slightly bewildered by the fact that just two people could make so much noise, but these days duo's have become common place both within the mainstream and the underground. Having said that their is nothing common place about the sound Rhode Island's Coma Hole create with just a voice, a bass guitar and a set of drums, in fact it's something quite special!

"Go big or go home" is an exhortation to go all-out, to show your intent from the beginning, to present the best of yourself from the out-set and Coma Hole open their self-titled debut EP by going HUMONGOUS!. Opening track ,"The Familiar", is an eleven minute plus statement of intent that'll leave you breathless and wondering what has just hit you. its atmospheric droning intro, accompanied by shimmering percussion, builds expectation then delivers on that expectation with a groove that'll blow you not just out of your seat but your house, your street and your country. Eryka Fir's bass tone is one of the wonders of the world a powerful deep resonating, almost tangible, sound that reaches down in to the core of its listener and touches something there that no other sounds will have managed to reach before, a sound she backs up with a vocal that is clean powerful and melodic with just a hint of pleasing grittiness in its upper register. Not to be outdone drummer Steve Anderson does not just lay down a beat he lays down a virtual barrage, his drumming has a Bonham-esque quality throughout this stunning EP and is an integral component in the duo's overall sonic impact. You will not find a track on "Coma Hole" that you will not like, the aforementioned "The Familiar", the galloping and strident "Old Climb", the torch-like "Wind and Bone" and the epic "Sinking", with its proto-doom/heavy psych sign off, are all essential listening worthy of gracing any discerning rock fans music collection.

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

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday 18 April 2022

Overlooked Gems Series ..... VANITY ROSE ~ ROTTEN LITTLE THOUGHT .......

Feelings of anger, angst, frustration and fury may be seen as negative emotions but it is emotions like these that have fuelled some of the best music released on this planet, rock'n'roll, punk and grunge were just some of the music's born from frustrated, bored and angry disfranchised youth railing against the establishment and those poisoned chalices handed down to them by their parents and governments and in the future there will be other music's that will serve the same purpose. They do say that anger is not good for the soul but anger can sometimes be a release valve, a way of letting off steam and venting your fury in a positive way and this especially true in music.

Mallorcan quartet Vanity Rose,  Ana Herrero (vocals); Pablo B. De Haro (guitar/vocals); Xisco Rosselló (bass) and Andrea Trujillo (drums), are one such band channelling their frustrations through their music, the bands sound is a raucous blend of 90's grunge and late 70's punk rock spliced with a little stoner(ish) fuzz and distortion and has, to Desert Psychlist's ears, a Nirvana meets Garbage meets Riot-Girl vibe. That is of course our opinion and after giving their album "Rotten Little Thought" (Discos Macarras Records) a spin your opinion might be completely different, either way it's a cracking little listen!

There will be those reading the first part of this review and thinking "do I really need some angsty musicians venting their spleens at me for the entirety of a whole album?" Well those people might be surprised to find that despite containing song titles like "Obsession", "Hill of Lost Desires", "The Eyes of My Jailers" and "Bad Choices" and boasting lyrical references to depression, sorrow pain and rejection "Rotten Little Thought" is actually quite an upbeat and highly entertaining little opus. Grunge/alt-rock like many sub-cultures begat a slew of bandwagon jumpers, for every Nirvana there appeared a Staind, for every Soundgarden there popped up a Puddle of Mud, these "second wave" bands did not quite understand that grunge was also a celebration of youth and instead used it for an excuse to wallow in self-loathing and depression. It has to be said that Vanity Rose do their fair share of wallowing on "Rotten Little Thought" but they also know when to throw those cloaks of despair off and kick their legs up in the air, as their cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walking" will attest to. Musically Vanity Rose are totally on point Rosselló's booming earthy bass and Trujillo's tight, solid rhythms provide De Haro the perfect platform to either support his crunching chord work or launch his swirling solos from while in Herrero the band have a vocalist of rare quality, her ever so slightly accented voice, in turns sweet, soulful, raw and feral, is a powerful tool able to convey all the  emotions we have come to expect of music in this ilk..

Grunge/alt-rock began to get some bad press after the deaths of Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley and the fairly recent passing of Chris Cornell, the sub-culture became embroiled in tales of drug-abuse, depression and suicide but lets remember that things didn't start off that way and that in its beginnings it was a celebration of youth, yes its lyrical content was sometimes dark and inward looking but if you went to a gig during this time you would have seen both bands and fans thoroughly living for the moment. Vanity Rose, with "Rotten Little Thought"  have the balance just right, yes they are angry but that's not going to stop them having a good time.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Sunday 17 April 2022


Regular visitors to Desert Psychlist will already know that we like to feature music from Central and South American bands on these pages, we do not do this because we are trying to show how hip we are to the global underground rock scene but simply because there is so much good music coming out of those countries that we think the rest of the world deserves to hear it. Not too long ago if you asked about South American rock or metal then you would immediately be regaled with a long list of Brazilian band names to check out as, for a time, anything worth hearing coming out of the South America's seemed to emanate from there. This started to change a few years ago when the strict regimes in countries like Peru and Chile changed and began to allow musicians a little more musical freedom, suddenly there were bands coming at you from all over the continent.

 One of those more recent bands to explode out of South America are Inche Kai Che, a Chilean four piece from Curico consisting of Magol (guitar/vocals); Cris (guitar/vocals); Jony (drums/backing vocals and Diego (bass), the band only came together in 2020 but you could be fooled into thinking they had been together longer such is the tightness and fluidity of their grooves, a tightness and fluidity that runs throughout their self-titled debut "Inch Kai Che".

First track "Perderse es Encontrarse" explodes out of the traps with a lone guitar motif, one of those hooky affairs guaranteed to get your attention, it is then joined by the second guitar, bass and drums and together the band take off on not so much a gallop but more a healthy canter. Built around a recurring riff (think Budgie's Breadfan here) with the occasional deviations into blustering heaviness and boasting a top notch lead vocal (in Spanish) and some nice harmony work the song serves as the perfect opener for what is, for the most part, a collection of  very good old school flavoured hard rock, doom and metal tunes given a shot of stonerized fuzziness. "En el Camino" follows and much like its predecessor is a mid-tempo hard rocker with an irresistible groove, where it differs from the albums previous track however is in how well each member of the band plays for the song yet are still able to stamp their own identities on things, the differing tones of the two guitar players compliment each other perfectly while the bass player and the drummer do not only anchor the groove they also, at times, get to steer it.  "Atemporal" rears its gnarly head next and here we find Inche Kai Che slowing things down a little, the band tempering the more raucous elements of their sound with an added element of bluesy proto-doomic colouring and adjusting their vocal attack accordingly. This blues(ier) direction is continued on instrumental "48 horas sin dormir" but here we find the band also flexing their psych muscles with glistening arpeggios and soaring solos swirling and ringing over a backdrop of shuffled beats and low liquid bass. Having toyed with doom for a couple of tracks the band fully embrace the genre with "Rio Arribe" but cannot help but put a lysergic spin on things while for "Incomprensión" they revert back to the raucous hard rock that they kicked this album off with. Last track "Pantano" is another instrumental, it is a languid and lysergic workout that sees the two guitarists trading heavily effected licks, solos and arpeggios over a deep booming bass line supported by loose and restrained percussion, the track threatens to build towards a crescendo but instead winds slowly down which might sound like an anti-climax to some but is actually quite clever and leaves the listener desperately wishing for more.

A big shout out should go out to  Alejandro Lizama for the recording of this album and David Molina for the mixing and mastering as this is one of the best produced albums Desert Psychlist has heard come out of Chile, the sound is pristine and clear yet not so much so that it takes away from the essential grittiness that music of this ilk demands. However the biggest shout out should go out Inch Kai Che, the music they lay down on these seven essential cuts are as good, and possibly even better in places, as anything being released outside of the Southern Hemisphere
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Friday 15 April 2022


Ceased Sunfire may not be a name you will be overly familiar with but that could all change with the release of the bands debut EP "Sleepless". The Finnish trio of  Ale (vocals, guitars); Fellu (bass) and Juza (drums) hail from Helsinki and jam a groove that is best described as raucous and heavy, a doomic flavoured groove that boasts a blackened edginess layered with growling bass and crunching guitar tones and thunderous percussion over which a growling earthy vocal narrates and roars dark lyrical tales.

"Sleepless" consists of just three songs but those three songs are the perfect teaser for what will hopefully one day become a full Ceased Sunfire album. The first of those three songs is "Were We Ever.....", a groove laden monster packed to overflowing with thick chunky bass lines and thrumming guitar refrains driven by solid pounding rhythms, dynamically the song sits somewhere between proto doom and stoner/sludge metal in that it possesses the dankness and drama of the former but also takes ownership of the blackened grit and drive of the latter. The vocals that decorate this delicious slice of metallic bluster are a force of nature in themselves, Ale's vocals border on the harsh yet despite this possess a surprising clarity which when mixed with his frequent lapses into throaty spoken narrative gives his delivery an air of sinister malevolence. Some might complain that two minutes ten seconds is a little short for an opening number but it is in fact quite refreshing in a scene that often finds bands going a little overboard on track length to hear a song that hits you hard fast and doesn't overstay its welcome. "Dead To Me" follows and has an almost circular revolving feel to its dank doomic groove, the songs recurring guitar riffs are pushed hard by Fellu's growling bass and Juza's pounding drum salvo's and are taken to another level by Ale's distinctive vocals and swirling guitar solo's. Ceased Sunfire close the show with "Melting Stones" and here we find the band throwing a few curveballs into the ring, Ale still shreds his larynx into so much mincemeat with his distinctive delivery but this time he is accompanied by occasional ritualistic harmonies over a groove that carries a little more metallic stridency than its two predecessors, it is at three minutes fifteen seconds another song that hits its targets and moves away quickly but whether three minutes or longer a good song is always going to be a good song and this is a good song that has earned its place on a very good EP! 

Sometimes you take chances while searching for new music, checking things out because you are impressed with the artwork or are intrigued by a bands name, often this is an approach doomed to disappointment but every now and then you come across something that hits you hard in the solar plexus and ticks all your relevant musical boxes. This was the case with  Ceased Sunfire's "Sleepless", a raucous and righteous collection of hard edged doom and stoner metal that what it might lack in its finesse makes up for in its sheer gritty gnarliness.
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Thursday 14 April 2022


French psychonauts Jagannatha first wowed us with their self-titled debut "Jagannatha"(2016), a mind-blowing collection of instrumental workouts that mixed heavy stoner riffs with lysergic laced forays into the way out and the far away. Three years later the band followed up with "Samsara" a stunning three song opus that proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that these guys were not just one trick ponies and that when it come to instrumental jams they were way ahead of the chasing pack. This year (2022) the band return with "Trimurti" their third album, now third albums are often described as "difficult" due to the higher levels of expectation attached to them but the only thing "difficult" about "Trimuti" is turning it off and not playing it over and over again.

Things kick off discordant and noisy with "Agni", droning effects and feedback the introduction to a song that never ever stays too long in one place, heavy fuzz drenched bass and guitar riffs constantly trading places with liquid bottom end and ringing arpeggios driven by a mixture of thunderous and restrained percussion. At times listening to "Agni" is like being caught in one of those storms that mark the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, furious and blustering one moment serene and pleasant the next. "Surya", in contrast, has a more Autumn/Fall into Winter feel with its easy on the ear fusion flavoured beginnings slowly being replaced by a more strident and heavy dynamic touched with elements of the blues and heavy prog, those metaphorical reddish brown leaves that were slowly drifting down to earth in the first part of this piece suddenly being whipped viciously from the trees in a whirlwind of tumultuous groove. Things are brought to an unwanted conclusion with "Vayu" and if we are going to continue this analogy with the seasons of the year then this song is all four seasons hitting in just one single day, it is a song that is in turn bombastic, head spinning and languid yet despite its often shifting dynamics it is a song that remains focused and on point from start to finish, the band regularly taking the music off on wonderfully unexpected tangents but managing to always find their way back again or as fellow Bandcamper Dave Aftandilian  described it on the bands Bandcamp page "a transcendent listening experience steeped in fire, sun, and wind"

Those of you who just can't get their heads around music lacking a vocal spearhead are not going to be convinced by a few words from Desert Psychlist to suddenly change your views BUT if you are toying with taking a leap into the instrumental pool then "Trimurti" would be an excellent place for you to make a start. 
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Monday 4 April 2022

THE RING ~ IMAGINATOR ....... review

The Ring hail from Yogyakarta, Indonesia and consist of Jacky (vocals); Chandra (guitar), Miko (drums) and Aditya (bass) and, if we are not mistaken, their debut release "Imaginator" is only the fourth release from an Indonesian combo we have featured on Desert Psychlist's pages (the others being by Shankar, Deathgang and Jawless). The Ring's sound is an infectious mix of stonerized hard rock and proto-doom underscored with touches of lysergic heavy psych that is then decorated in clean, slightly raw, lead and harmonised vocals, its a sound that is a little abrasive and untamed in places but one that ticks way more boxes than it leaves blank.

"Imaginator" opens its account with "Fake Plastic Woman", a hard driven rocker with a galloping metallic groove overlaid with an infectious vocal melody, the songs lyrics (and that of every song on the album) are delivered in what is best described as "broken" English but given that English is not the bands first language this is totally acceptable and detracts nothing from the enjoyment as it is easy to follow the gist and flow of their meaning. "Slapt" is up next and follows a similar pattern to its predecessor, chugging riffs, strident rhythms above which those unique clean, slightly gritted, vocal tones tell their tale. Next comes "Nurnitha's Gov" a song that is both a lyrical rant against injustice and corruption and a plea for a peaceful life played out over a musical backdrop that is part stoner rock and part proto-metal with some heavy psych textures thrown in for good measure. This is much the pattern for the whole album, the band blending elements of Sabbath-esque proto-doom with elements of hard rock and metal while throwing lysergic textures and colours into the mix wherever they see them fitting, As the album progresses so does the music with the band moving more and more towards a darker, danker and more doomic dynamic. It is this darker half of the album that really pays dividends for The Ring with songs like "QAF", "Whispers", "V.E.A" and the excellent title track, "Imaginator" really showing what these guys are capable of when they decide to jettison the brighter more desert/stoner aspects of their sound and fully embrace the darkness.

Indonesia is a somewhat untapped resource for underground music, despite there being a thriving scene over there, that is slowly changing though with bands like The Ring able to showcase their music to a wider international audience through sites like Bandcamp and Spotify. "Imaginator" might be a touch naïve and a little raw in places and the lyrics might not meet Oxford Dictionary standards but what it  lacks in sophistication it more than makes up for in groove and drive.
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones