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


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


"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

Saturday 20 August 2022

INFEROUS ~ DOPERIDER ...... review

Argentinian trio Inferous really turned heads with the release of their 2020 album "Somos la Noche" a release that garnered rave reviews from many quarters, its mix of heavy psych and stoner metal decorated in strong powerful vocals (sang in the bands native tongue of Spanish ) prompting Stoner Hive's Joop Konraad to dub it "a wild ride into the night" and La Habitación 235's  Ruben Herrera to call it "intense in its sounds, sharp in its riffs". The band are about to spin  heads once again only this time with a three song EP entitled "Doperider".

 "Doperider" begins its three track life with "Logan's Run" an untypical Inferous instrumental awash with synthesised textures and colours, the resulting sound reminiscent of the sounds early Tangerine Dream experimented with in the 70's, it is a piece not unpleasant or uninteresting just a little unexpected. Inferous get back to their usual blend of stoner metal and heavy psych with two absolute belters "La Pared" and "Mentiras" and Desert Psychlist's first thoughts on hearing these two excellent barn burners is that Inferous really need to work out a sponsorship deal with the companies that supply their guitar pedals because this band use them to their maximum effect, the distortion and fuzz decorating these superb songs has an almost tangible quality, you don't just hear those effects emanating from their amps you can actually feel them! Our second thought is how well they structure their music by constantly shifting up and down the gears and taking off on weird and wonderful  tangents so has to never find themselves trapped in a musical rut they will struggle to escape from, breathing new life into their jams at every turn. If that isn't enough to get your juices flowing then the clean vocals, sat at just the perfect point in the mix, will have you reaching for a tissue to mop up all your various discharges. If there is a complaint you can point at this little gem of an EP it is that at only three songs it leaves you feeling a little cheated and in desperate need of more.

 Gnarly edged stoner metal shot through with elements of swirling heavy psych and decorated in ultra-cool vocal tones is what Inferous bring to the table with "Doperider" and it is a table you will want to, no you will need to, be sat at.
Check it out .... 

© 2022 frazer Jones

Friday 19 August 2022


"Turn up, detune, doom out" is the motto Colorado doomsters Deer Creek live their lives by and it is one that has served them well since their formation in 2002. The band have been no slouches in their time together and as well as paying their dues on the live circuit have accrued quite an impressive back catalogue of quality splits and EP's. Deer CreekStephanie Hopper (bass); Conan Hultgren (guitar/vocals); Marc Brooks (drums) and Paul Vismara (guitar/vocals), make no bones about describing what they do as "doom" but the doom they bring to the table is of a type that doesn't quite fit into any of the established doom genres, it is a sound that possess much of the qualities of that which we describe as "stoner-doom", in that many of the bands songs jam a sedate and monolithic dynamic, but there is something in the way Vismara and Hultgren phrase their vocals and in the way the band arrange and structure their songs around those vocals that makes their music seem so much more than just another monotonous riff fest and gives their sound so much more light and shade, as you will find out for yourselves when you check out the bands latest release "Menticide".

Deer Creek have a history of giving their songs cryptic titles and they open "Menticide" with an absolute beauty, "(It Had Neither Fins Or Wings) Nor Did It Writhe" a song built around a deliciously dank fuzzed out refrain driven by not so much thunderous (though it does have elements of that) but powerful tight and totally effective percussion. The song boasts a clean vocal that sits on the more melodic side of monotonic and would have given the proceedings an almost monastic/Gregorian feel if it were not for the interjection of a more spoken gothic tinted vocal dynamic between verses. Next up is "Peace On Earth" a song that lyrically scans like a love song but musically sounds like anything but, Hopper's deep growling bass combining with Brooks drums to lay down a thick layer of dank dark groove over which Hultgren and Vismara layer low tuned guitar textures and dank colourings drenched in distortion and barely held together fuzz, the songs lyrics telling us that "Blessed the meek shall inherit the earth" and that you should  "love your friends while they’re on this dirt". Deer Creek initially opt to go up-tempo sludgy and proto-ish for next song "The Utter Absence of Hope" with the band hitting into a dank circular type groove but then apply the brakes and slip into a dirge like refrain that if it got any lower and slower would come to a shuddering halt while for "It's Rotten" they go slightly alternative and grungy, albeit still quite doomy. "A Dark Heartless Machine" follows and is a doomic anti-war song set to a backdrop of grizzled low slung guitar and bass refrains underpinned by slow pounding percussion over which Vismara warns us to "hide the children down in the cellar", the song coming across like the bastard child of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" in that it covers similar subject matter only viewed from a slightly different perspective. Finally we arrive at last song "The Working Man Is A Dead Pig" a blustering doomic tome that not only lifts the chorus from Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead" but also validates our "War Pigs" analogy, for the preceding track, by actually lifting a verse from that iconic tome.

There is an edginess and slightly off-kilter feel to to Deer Creek's doom that sets the band apart from many of their peers and it is  something that cannot be easily translated into words, they are a band who utilize all the same tools as their stoner doom compadres , monolithic low slow heavy riffs and sedate pounding rhythms, but there is a something different in how they use those tools to create their music. This is doom folks but not quite as we know it.
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 17 August 2022


Bandcamp has long been the platform of choice for those of us looking for new grooves that fall under the banners of doom, stoner, psych and sludge etc., and rightly so as it is a platform that treats both the bands that use it and the fans who buy from it with a degree of respect that many similar platforms do not, so it was nice to see this statement gracing the Bandcamp page of Spanish doomster collective Monsters Flesh's debut album "Black Magic" ... "This album has been inspired by a wide variety of underground doom metal artists discovered through the Bandcamp platform throughout the years 2019 to 2022 and, in a way, it has been conceived as a tribute to them all". A nice touch we think you will agree but one that wouldn't mean as much if the music paying that tribute was not of a similar quality to the bands and albums it was paying homage to, thankfully it is!

Monsters Flesh is basically a one-man operation, the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Lord Charlie with the bass and drums being handled by a fluctuating cast of members, now this could have resulted in some disjointed performances, but it is testament to Lord Charlie's vision and tight hold on the reins of Monsters Flesh that these grooves are at all times focused and totally on point. This focus is in part thanks to Lord C tying these songs together with a conceptual theme. a story that tells of a group of mythical creatures and beings joining forces against a dastardly character, going by the name of The Skeleton King, who by opening portals to other worlds has gathered together a bestial army to do his bidding. Granted it is probably not the most original of concepts, but it does pull everything together and gives the album a focus it might of lacked had it been just a collection of random tunes. The way Monsters Flesh construct the concept of "Black Magic" is similar in many ways to how US duo Lorekeeper approach their themed albums, telling a story from start to finish as you might read it from a book only in the case of Monsters Flesh their lyrics tend to be slightly more cryptic and a little more open to interpretation.
Musically the album sits at the stoner end of the doom spectrum with the occasional forays into traditional doom territories with thick toned guitar and bass riffs darkly reverberating and crunching over solid and steady powerful rhythms while vocally it pushes its toes into goth-rock waters with Lord Charlie crooning a laid back and unrushed baritone that recalls, in places, Bauhaus' Pete Murphy. Lord C's vocal delivery adding an extra dimension of doomic dankness to what is already a fairly dank and doomic fantasy themed album of grooviness.

"Black Magic" works both as a tribute to the doom bands Lord Charlie has slavishly been listening to on the Bandcamp platform and as a stand alone fantasy themed doom release in its own right. It is an album that may not be highly original in its concept or in its music dynamics but it is nonetheless well constructed, superbly executed and highly enjoyable.
Check it out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

Thursday 11 August 2022


Melbourne, Australia's Motherslug have been knocking around for a while now and although they have always put out quality releases they have never, in Desert Psychlist's opinion, really been given the kudos they deserve, maybe its because they haven't promoted themselves hard enough, haven't shaken the right hands or made the right connections or maybe its simply because they are situated on the other side of the world and find themselves a little isolated from everything going on.in the rest of the world. Whatever the reasons may be Motherslug deserve more recognition for what they do than they are currently getting and their new release "Blood Moon Blues" might just be the album to get them that recognition.

"Misery" opens Motherslug's latest opus and if ever there was a less apt title for a song then this is it, the song is brief but beautiful and consists of gently picked acoustic guitars combining on a piece that has an almost medieval vibe, if this is misery then Desert Psychlist says bring it on. Things get back to some semblance of Motherslug like normality with "Hordes" but even here the listener will notice some subtle differences in the bands sound, the band have always had a penchant for heaviness but here they take things to whole other plane with distortion and fuzz levels dialled to eleven and vocals mixing it up between gritty growls, bear-like roars and throaty harshness while all the time trying to compete with a drummer who wants to topple tall buildings with the power of his rhythms. "Breathe" follows and although doesn't compromise on intensity and heaviness does jam a more stoner/desert like groove albeit one that'll cause your bones to rattle with its deep booming bottom end and thunderous drumming. "The Ballad of Jock Brown" is up next and opens its account with vocalist Cam Crichton crooning in a deep southern drawl over a languid backdrop that has a kind of Doors feel but without the keyboards, the songs builds slowly like this for a few minutes but then suddenly erupts into a mind-blowing heavy blues groove anchored down by Cyn Bae's growling bass and Nick Rad's drums and given wings by Regan Batley's scorching guitar work with Crichton's vocal shift from a drawl to a gritty roar being the cherry on the cake. "Evil" has a Clutch like feel to it in places but also boasts a very un-Clutch like psych drenched middle section while "Crank" packs everything from southern bluesy rock to crunching stoner metal and doom into its short three minutes plus duration. "Monolith" lives up to its name by being a thick slab of heavy stoner groove infused with all manner of  ear catching hooks and leads up to what is probably Desert Psychlist's favourite track of the album "Forever More" a scintillating shape shifting blend of stoner doom and heavy psych decorated in an astounding array of vocal tones that just delights at every turn. For next track "Push the Venom" Motherslug don their desert punk hats for a furious and highly enjoyable raucous romp while "Deep In The Hole" sounds like something Alice Cooper might attempt if he was back on the drink and drugs. Penultimate track "You (a love song)" is not exactly the type of song you might pick for your first wedding dance, unless of course your marrying the corpse of your recently departed fiancée, but it does have a strange eerie beauty thanks in main to Batley's jaw-dropping guitar solos. Motherslug bring things to a close with "Misery (a slight return)" a reprisal of the opening track but this time with an added vocal, its morbid lyrics going someway to answering why the song got its title in the first place.

As we stated in the opening piece to this review Motherslug are a band who deserve more love for what they do, and for that matter what they have done in the past, and "Blood Moon Blues" is the album that in our opinion will bring them that love. This is an album that wears many hats, elements of stoner metal, doom, the blues and southern rock can all be found on this fantastic release yet not once does it sound as if the band are paying lip service to those genres instead they mould, meld and blend those elements into something new and exiting and in doing so create a sound that carries traces of familiarity yet retains its own unique signature.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

"Blood Moon Blues" releases August 13, 2022

Monday 8 August 2022

COMMONER ~ I ...... review

Commoner, Mik (guitar/lead vocals); Si (bass//backing vocals); Matt (guitar) and Al (drums), are a collective of like-minded musicians, based in Norwich, UK whose grooves reside at the crustier end of the stoner rock and doom spectrums or as they like to call it "downtrodden crust doom rock". How long the band have been together or how they came together is a bit of a mystery as the bands social media presence is pretty minimal, (which would suggest that they are a fairly new concern), what they do have however is a Bandcamp page and on that page you can find the bands debut release "I", a collection of gnarly riff heavy tomes tinted with elements of doom, metal and stoner rock underscored with an aggressive punkish edge.

"I" opens its account with "Mutant Resistance" a gritty instrumental driven by thunderous drumming and growling bottom end over which the guitarists layer a  mixture of crunching power chords and dual guitar motifs, it is a track that only lasts for just under two minutes but those minutes set the mood for the rest of the album. Next up is "Electric Opiate" and here we get our first taste of what the band sound like with vocals added to the mix, and what they sound like is angry! Mik's vocals are big, loud and possess an untamed shoutiness which when combined with Si's equally  raw backing tones give the bands already aggressive sound an even more confrontational and up in your face vibe. Let's not fall into the trap however of thinking that Commoner's music is a a full on attack on the senses, a relentless tsunami of aggression and malevolence, because it is not, there are subtleties and nuances to be found throughout the six songs that make up "I". On songs like "Wytchlycker"," Saint Tyrant" and "N13/Headwound" the band inject elements as diverse as Celtic tinted guitar harmonies, bluesy wah drenched lead work and even some folk flavoured acoustic picking into their blustering metallic onslaughts and in doing so give their raucous grooves a much more rounded dynamic.

"I" is at its roots a blend of stonerized metal and proto-doom which in itself is not an unusual combination but what Commoner have done a little differently is rough up the edges of those two particular genre's and tack on to those edges elements of punkish raucousness and battle-metal bluster and in doing so have created a much more interesting musical beast.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones