Monday, 31 October 2022
Saturday, 29 October 2022
Friday, 28 October 2022
Thammuz's second album bursts into life with an absolute barn burner in the shape of instrumental "Electric Sheep", though to call it an instrumental is not strictly accurate as it does contain a heavily filtered robotic voice quoting the title of Phillip K. Dick's celebrated novel that inspired the movie "Blade Runner". The track begins with a delicious circular guitar motif that is then joined by the bass, drums and second guitar in a groove that recalls the heydays of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, a raucous, grainy and strident groove that would make the perfect soundtrack for an overhead shot of cars racing through deserts in some futuristic road movie. Leaving us no time to catch our breaths Thammuz then slam straight into the album's title track "Sons of the Occult" a thrumming blend of doom tinted riffage interspersed with curly little QOTSA flavoured guitar licks and motifs overlayed with a superbly pitched throaty vocal that at one point intones the immortal lines "We all have the power in our hands to kill, some of you want to but just a few will". Next up is "Guayota" a semi-acoustic instrumental that slowly builds layer upon layer and along the way incorporates a mixture of Floydian and Elder type guitar textures and colours in its sonic makeup This is then followed by "Had A Blast" a hypnotic tome decorated in a mix of falsetto and husky vocal tones, the song subtly increasing in intensity and volume but never quite exploding. "Self-taught Man" is the type of song Alice Cooper might have pitched to his record company back in his early days only to be told not to risk his career, it is a song that shares many of the musical characteristics Alice toyed with back in those early days. Its lyrical themes of horror and perversity are almost vaudevillian in content and are backed by a mixture of musical backdrops that range from Victorian music hall theatrics to Sunset Strip hard rock sleaziness, and who could resist a line like "i want to play with your remains" or the offer to "make love to you when you were dead". Next is "Dumuzid's Descent" a brief but interesting instrumental with strong lysergic overtones which then leads us to "Death Song's" a crunching riff monster with an old school hard/desert rock vibe that routinely shifts between a strident gallop and a satisfying chug. "People From the Sky" follows next and is a nicely paced desert rock workout perfect for driving along to while "Peyote", an instrumental, blends heavy psych haziness with desert rock swagger without drifting too far into either territory. Finally, we arrive at "Insomnia" a song that shifts with keen regularity between laid back and languid and raucous and gnarly boasting along the way low liquid bass motifs, crunching riffs, searing solos and thunderous solid percussion all topped off with a superb vocal that lyrically sways between weary introspection and questioning anger.
© 2022 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 27 October 2022
Monday, 24 October 2022
Thursday, 20 October 2022
It has been a while since a Brazilian band graced these pages, which is a little weird as there was a time when it seemed that every other band we were listening to seemed to hail from this South American country. This recent lack of coverage comes to an end today with the release of "Breathtaker" (All Good Clean Records) the second full length album from Londrina trio Red Mess, Douglas Labigalini (drums); Thiago Franzim (guitars/vocals) and Lucas Klepa (bass/vocals), who, for those not familiar with the band, play a super cool blend of stoner rock and heavy psych undershot with elements of alt-rock/grunge and old school hard rock.
If immediate impact is what you are looking for from an album well then you couldn't ask for anything more impactful than opening song/ title track "Breathtaker". This is a song that literally leaps out of the speakers in a whirlwind of gnarly riffage and thunderous drumming but then just as suddenly drops away into a languid and grungy blues groove over which hushed, almost whispered, vocals tell of "trying something new" and being "out of control" before then once again taking off into gnarlier territories with the vocals taking on a more strident and powerful dynamic, the song swaying back and forth in this way before finally signing off with a low slow doomic refrain. Following song "Deep Blue Fever", much like its predecessor, doesn't bother with clever intros and instead dives straight into the groove with amps turned up to eleven and effect pedals dialled to devastation, vocals here are pitched a little cleaner and a touch more melodic but any relief from the onslaught of fuzzed out gnarliness they may provide is soon wiped out by the gloriously mind-fucking and heavily dissonant guitar solo that finally brings the song to its close. If you are already familiar with Red Mess, you will know they do love to get a little heady and cosmic from time to time and next song "Icicles" is the perfect vehicle for that side of their character, the songs mix of laid back and languid serenity and heavy stoner bluster sees luscious low liquid bass, sweetly swept arpeggios and shimmering percussion routinely trading places with growling bottom end, thunderous drum patterns and crunching power chords without once feeling disjointed or forced. "Extinction" and "Outta Sight" follow, both songs foot to the floor rockers but with the latter boasting an off-kilter and spaced-out middle section. Following these two comes "Dead End Stairs" a song that crams all Red Mess' eggs into one basket, a song that is in turns heavy, grungy, lysergic and bluesy and for its finale serves up another of those jaw-dropping dissonant guitar wig-outs while penultimate track "Atomic Tide" has somewhat of a desert rock feel due to its strident rhythms and the grainy tones of its bass and guitars. It has almost become a tradition in rock music to save your best for last and Red Mess uphold that tradition with closer "Crushing Gravity" a song with so many twists and turns it's hard to know sometimes if you are still listening to the same song and haven't accidently skipped onto a series of hidden bonus tracks, Heavy, heady spaced out and swaggering the song boasts some really impressive lead and harmonised vocal dynamics as well as some pretty slick musicianship, it is a monster of a song that does not just match the impact of the albums opening number it supersedes it!
© 2022 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 16 October 2022
Friday, 14 October 2022
Album releases in the sub-genres of stoner, desert, doom and psych are our main musical focus here at Desert Psychlist but we also try to cover those albums by bands whose music falls into the cracks and grey areas that exist in-between those genres. London based trio Mountains are one such band whose music dwells in those cracks and grey areas, their music has stoner(ish) elements in its make-up but is not exactly what you would call stoner or desert, you will find dank doomic flavours making their presence felt here and there also but you would never in a million years ever call these guys a doom band and as for psych, well there are elements present, but they tend to lean towards the more prog end of that particular spectrum. Mountains are a bit of an enigma, a band whose music has ticks in all the relevent boxes but doesn't actually fit into any of those boxes, something that will become more evident when listening to the band's new album "Tides End".
Friday, 7 October 2022
With seven fairly well received albums under their belts and hailing from Maryland, a place many consider to be the epicentre of the underground's rock, metal and doom scene, you would think that Faith in Jane, Dan Mize (guitar/vocals); Brendan Winston (bass) and Alex Llewellyn (drums), would be a band getting mentioned in the same breaths as The Obsessed, Clutch and all those other Maryland based warriors of the riff but unfortunately that is just not the case. Maybe it is because the band have in the past toyed with such un-metal musical elements such as reggae, funk and soul or maybe it is simply a case of under promotion, whatever the reason Faith in Jane are a band in need of more love and the band's eighth album "Axe to Oak" (Grimoire Records) might just be the album to get them that love.
Tuesday, 4 October 2022
Grunge. or alt-rock as some prefer to call it, exploded onto the music scene in the early 90's and was more or less spent as a major musical force by the end of the decade, however, in its short life span grunge managed to wreak its fair share of havoc on the music business. Glam/hair metal was wiped out as a credible musical force almost overnight and thrash metal was never ever quite the same after grunge hit. One rock sub-genre that wasn't quite so damaged by grunge's emergence was the desert/stoner rock scene, in fact it actually benefited from its rise with many, so called, "stoner" bands incorporating elements of grunge and alt-rock into their own sounds, something that brings us nicely around to the subject of this review.
Netherlands trio Baardvader, J.Aron (guitar/vocals); J.P. (bass) and Koen (drums), were formed in early 2019 and the following year released their self-titled album "Baardvader", a stunning collection of tunes that mixed the slurred grungy dynamics of bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden with the fuzzed out riffage and stonerized swagger of combos like Graveyard and Kamchatka. This year the band return with their second album "Foolish Fires" sounding even more slurred and fuzzed out than ever.
A myriad of effects and sampled noises introduces first track "Pray" followed by the band exploding into a groove that is at first doomic and dank but then with just the slightest shift morphs into an Alice In Chains - like groove, slurred bass and guitar riffs and double tracked vocals holding sway over a backdrop of powerful solid and tight percussion. "Understand" follows and has, in its initial stages, a somewhat more Nirvana-esque quiet/loud/quiet dynamic than its predecessor but then gets a touch more stonerized and metallic as it nears its close with its vocal neatly following suite. "Illuminate" is up next and is a song that uses every trick in the grunge/alt-rock handbook, undulating dynamics, Staley/Cantrell/Cobain-like vocal phrasing and low-slung slurred guitar refrains, yet even with these in place still comes out sounding sludgier and heavier than anything that was coming out of Seattle back in the day. "Blinded Out" finds Baardvader flexing their psychedelic muscles with a song that utilizes everything from Hawkwind-esque swirls to exotic flavoured motifs, ideas they expand upon further with the excellent spaced out and ever so slightly doomic "Prolong Eternity". Baardvader close out their second album with "Echoes" a spitting snarling ten minutes plus beast of a song that chugs and gallops in equal measure and leans, at times, towards a more extreme metal sound while still managing to hold on to its grunge/alt-rock credentials thanks to a superb Cantrell/Staley flavoured vocal melody, it's impressive stuff and a fitting end to an album that started on a high and then just kept on climbing.