Tuesday 28 February 2023


Today Desert Psychlist reviews a truly impressive album but at the same time laments the passing of the band that made that album, the album in question is "Mystic Vulture" a stunning opus awash with elements of grunge, desert rock and heavy psych, the band are/were Cleõphüzz a Canadian outfit haling from Quebec who up until a while ago looked to have a bright and promising future. The Covid pandemic caused a lot of heartache and pain for a lot of people and the effect of its lockdowns and forced isolations hit the music world hard, venues were closed overnight, gigs got cancelled and musicians, who needed to play with other musicians in order to make music, were restricted from doing so, some bands/artists chose to cross their fingers and sit things out but for some it was all too much and this was the case with Cleõphüzz. "Mystic Vulture" is the bands parting gift to us, an album that is the final legacy of a band who may have well gone on to greater things if not for a virus called Covid-19

 "Mystic Vulture" is an album Desert Psychlist expects to see gracing many of those much loved end of year lists, not out of sympathy or some misplaced loyalty to a band we all had high hopes for but simply because it is a truly SUPERB album. Canada is not a country known for its deserts, or for that matter its vultures, yet despite this Cleõphüzz have somehow captured the feel of that environment. The ironically titled intro "The End" with its strings and reverberating guitar tones has the vibe of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, close your eyes and you can almost feel the heat on your face, see the snakes sidewinding their way across the dunes and the scorpions scuttling for the safety of the rocks. The appropriately named "Desert Rider" follows, a gnarly riffed fuzz drenched opus boasting a Kyuss flavoured hard/desert rock groove decorated with a gritty lead vocal backed up by a serene counter melody. Next track "Sortilëdge" begins with an achingly beautiful cello motif that is then joined by the rest of the band in what is essentially a heavy psych instrumental but due to its spiralling intensity feels like so much more. "Desperado" follows, a shape shifting, slow building behemoth that employs everything from Hawkwind-esque swirls to bluesy orchestral swells, its brief vocal passages delivered in clean melodic and suitably hazy tones. So far Cleõphüzz desert flavoured grooves have had a somewhat  North American bias but "Sarcophage" sees the band casting their gaze towards the deserts of North Africa and the Middle-East, eastern motifs are legion throughout this enthralling instrumental and the musicianship on display here is on another level.  "When the Siren Blows" is up next and is a much more gnarled and raucous affair, the guitars tones here are darker and fuzzier and a touch more caustic a feel mirrored in the songs vocals which are delivered with a ragged throatiness. Tile track "Mystic Vulture". rightly or wrongly. reminded us of All Them Witches, not so much in sound but in the way this song is constructed, the band building the song up one layer at a time, the music slowly moving towards a crescendo only to be pulled back at the last minute to start the process all over again. Final song " Sundown in the Afterlife" is an uplifting instrumental built around a circular groove that every now and then erupts into gnarliness only to fall back in on itself again only deviating from this path as it reaches its climax whereby an element of bluesy melancholy enters into the equation., stunning stuff!  

Cleõphüzz, Joe (lead guitar/vocals); Alex (rhythm guitar/noise); Carolune (cello/sitar); Freink (bass) and Josh (drums), as a band may be no more but they have left us with a thing of real beauty in "Mystic Vulture". Cleõphüzz have not gone out with a whimper, like so many bands before them, they have walked into the sunset guns blazing and their hats cocked at a jaunty angle.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 26 February 2023

OKKTLI ~ OKKTLI .... review

Once again Desert Psychlist has to bow down to fellow Doom Chart's contributor, and the brains behind SUNDAY'S HEAVY TUNES, Mel Lie for pointing us towards the subject of this review, Mel has a knack for sorting the wheat from the chaff when it comes to new music so when she posted up a recommendation for a debut album from a Mexican outfit called Okktli on her social media we were of course all over it. The Mexico City quartet Mel recommended so highly jam a groove that sits somewhere between bluesy occult rock and acid tinted proto-doom, a groove decorated in vocals that are rich in texture and powerful in execution as you will no doubt find out when you give their self-titled debut album "OKKTLI" a spin. 

Many bands ploughing a furrow in the fields of doom and occult rock make the mistake of decorating their grooves in harsh, demonic styled tones in order to make them feel more menacing, sinister and evil but evil, by its very nature, is something seductive and insidious, the Satan that supposedly appeared at the crossroads to legendary bluesman Robert Johnson would not have come spitting and snarling like some demon from a Hollywood horror movie, he would probably have spoken in a combination of engaging and alluring tones, otherwise Mr. Johnson would have been straight out of there. It's in these enticing tones that Alfonso Brito Lopez (vocals/rhythm guitar) sings the albums tales of  melancholy and despair, his voice possessing a deep velvety gravitas in the lower register and at the higher end displaying a powerful gritty, almost Dio-esque, timbre. Lopez's extraordinary rich vocals and crunching chords, combined with bassist Israel Oñate's meaty low end riffs and runs, drummer Mauricio Hernández's swinging beats and frenetic fills and guitarist César Gama's scorching blues tinted lead work, are what elevates this band from being just another bunch of Black Sabbath wannabees to something else entirely. Having said this there are many Sabbathian moments to be found nestled away on "OKKTLI", especially on final track "Our Hope Is Gone" which along its way unashamedly lifts a whole section from a well known Sabbath classic (we won't spoil it by telling you which one), but other than that "The Shamen", "Mayahuel" and "Deny" are all products of the bands collective imagination, bluesy doomic tomes that are as alluring as they are sinister and dark.

"OKKTLI" is a dark, delicious slice of doom/occult rock from a band who know a thing about flow and dynamics, it is not perfect by any means, very few debuts are, but what faults it does have are few and barely noticeable. Mexico has given us some great bands over the years, Vinnum Sabbathi, Spacegoat, Comanchet and Crimson Trip have all made their mark on the international scene, with this release Okktli could well be adding their name to that list.
Check 'em out. .......
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 22 February 2023


If you are veteran of the underground rock/metal scene you will already be familiar with New York's Clouds Taste Satanic, if you are not then you have sadly been missing out. Clouds Taste Satanic are the instrumental doom band other instrumental doom based outfits aspire to be, a band who know their way around a few good riffs and rhythms but also know how to augment those riffs and rhythms with a plethora of dynamic variables and subtle shades and textures. The band, Steve Scavuzzo (guitar);.Brian Bauhs (guitar); Greg Acampora (drums) and Rob Halstead (bass), have just recently released "Tales Of Demonic Possession" (Majestic Mountain Records) the latest in a long line of consistently high quality, and well received, releases that has made them one of the go to band for scintillating instrumental heaviness.

The tracks that populate "Tales Of Demonic Possession" are huge sprawling affairs, which if you follow the band you will know is the norm for CTS, this is a band for whom a three minute song is an impossibility, a band who like to paint their musical portraits on a far broader canvas. First up is the 18 minutes plus "Flames and Demon Drummers" a song that begins life soothing and serene but then takes so many twists and turns along its way its becomes hard to know if you are listening to the same song you, not so long ago, dropped the needle on, and this is true of all four of the albums songs. Some of those twists and turns CTS take on "Tales of Demonic Possession" can be seen coming and are flowed into with subtlety and finesse but others burst out on you like a deranged alien face-hugger, unexpected and startling. Meandering is a word not in the CTS vocabulary, you will not find this band jamming endlessly on a groove or noodling just for the sake of noodling, they are a band always looking for that next avenue to explore, that next musical horizon to conquer, there are no constants to be found on this album, "Flames and Demon Drummers", "Sun Death Ritual", "Spirits of the Green Desert" and "Conjuring the Dark Rider" are almost like living breathing entities, untamed and unpredictable liable to lick your hand one minute the next rip your arm off. 

The musicianship throughout "Tales Of Demonic Possession" is absolutely jaw dropping, the guitar solo's soar, scream and screech, the bass lines growl and boom and the drumming is a scintillating blend of feral power and light handed restraint. Clouds Taste Satanic are not just a band at the top of their game they are a band ABOVE the game looking down and showing others how instrumental music should be done.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 21 February 2023


Some of you may remember reading Desert Psychlist's short blurb on the Doom Charts for a self titled album from a New York band going by the name of Ultra Void back in 2021, well a lot has happened since we wrote that blurb, the most significant being Ultra Void's transition from being a band to becoming a one man project. Ultra Void are now, to all intents and purposes, a solo vehicle, a vehicle multi-instrumentalist, and remaining member, Jihef Garnero is free to steer in whatever direction he feels best suit his musical visions... and judging by Ultra Void's new album "Mother of Doom" we are in for quite a ride.

Opening/title track "Mother Of Doom" begins life as you would expect a song with such a title to begin, thick reverberating riffs, pounding percussion, swirling guitar textures and low growling bass are all present in the songs initial stages, the only thing a little different at this point being the inclusion of some orgasmic moaning. Things start to take a turn for the off -kilter at about a quarter of the way in when  Garnero's semi-guttural vocals join the fray and the songs takes on an almost drone-like industrial groove, still very doomic in feel but a doom well outside the remit of epic, traditional or any other dooms you might care to mention. "Sic Mundus Creatus Est" follows and again we find ourselves in doom country but with that doom tinted with bluesy brushstrokes and vocal tones alternating between harsh, guttural and clean, the real genius though is the brief, but oh so effective, insertion of a piano which will leave those brought up listening to pianist Mike Garson's contributions to Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" drooling. "Måntår" sees Garnero donning his headband and kaftan and heading off into the land of purple trees and multi-coloured sunsets, yes folks we are talking heavy psych here, a place where guitar solo's go on for ever and the grooves lift you three foot off the ground. "Squares & Circles" brings us back down to earth with what is essentially Ultra Void's version of a stoner rock boogie, fuzz drenched and crunchy guitar tones, thick bottom end and tight percussion supporting a grizzled vocal you can't help but sing along with. Final number "Special K" finds Ultra Void/Garnero signing off  with an old school flavoured desert rock romp, its furious pace and the tone of its guitars causing speculation that the "K" in the songs title might possibly be a doff of the cap to Kyuss, whether it is or not it is nevertheless a great way to bring things to a close.

Ultra Void's debut album "Ultra Void" was anything but straightforward, it was an album that defied genre classification, its music employed elements of doom, sludge and and other metals but then would confuse matters by throwing into the mix funk, blues and even some shock rock type theatrical colouration, it was a twisted and contorted take on metal that once heard could not be forgotten. Those that invested time and money on "Ultra Void" will be pleased to know that new album "Mother Of Doom" retains much of the essence of that first album except under Garnero's sole stewardship those twists seem much more twisted, those contortions a touch more contorted. 
Check it out .....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 20 February 2023


Already carrying a Doomed & Stoned award for best debut album under their collective arms for their 2020 self titled album the next logical step for British Columbia's Hail the Void was to sign with Ripple Music, the world's best underground rock label. Hail the Void's mind-blowing melding of hard/classic rock, psych and metal combined with Ripple's knack for promotion and distribution is a match made in heaven, a coming together that if there is any justice in the world should see Hail the Void's stunning second album, "Memento Mori" securing itself a place on the end of year lists of all those with a love of quality heavy music.

Kirin Gudmundson (vocals/guitar), Dean Gustin (bass) and Lucas McKinnon (drums) have gone above and beyond with their latest release "Memento Mori", they promised much with their self-titled debut, "Hail the Void", and delivered on most of that promise, but what they have brought to the table with this, their second release, is on a whole other level. From the eerie droning white noise of the intro "Mind Undone" through to the wearied and funereal paced final track "The Void" there is not a note, beat or vocal inflection you will want to miss or be distracted from, this is an album that makes any skip function you may have on your listening devices totally redundant. Gudmundson's vocals throughout the album are astonishing, he wails, he croons he roars and he snarls and when he screams, on "Talking To the Dead" the line "when you were alone I bought and sold the world" he sings it with such conviction it's hard not to believe him. Gudmundson is no shrinking violet on guitar either his lead work soars and swoops, his chords crunch and crackle and his arpeggios glisten and ring. Gudmundson's vocals and guitar work is ably supported by Gustin and McKinnon, the formers bass work a blend of feral growl and dark liquidity, the latter's drumming a masterclass of restraint and power. Conceptually "Memento Mori" explores the long crawl we all make each day towards our final destination and the effect it can have on our mental wellbeing with lines like "did you believe what your father told you, this solemn life is not the end" ("Writing on the Wall") and "I'll wait till they call me by my name(" Goldwater") reflecting our struggle with accepting the inevitable. Given the subject matter you might find yourselves being fooled into thinking "Memento Mori" to be a gloomy and desolate affair and in some respects you would be right but you would also be wrong, granted there is an underlying gloominess to be found here but at the end of the day this is music situated at the doom end of the metal spectrum so a certain amount of gloominess should be expected, however for every low slung chord progression there is a soaring solo to counter it, for every thunderous tom there is a shimmering cymbal, for every growling bass run there is a flowing liquid motif, in other words this is an album where the lows are almost subterranean and the highs tower away into the clouds.

So we have bigged up the bands music, and the label that is it's platform, but is "Memento Mori" really as good as our review suggests or are we just blowing smoke up both the band and labels asses just to score brownie points.. Well the answer is both yes and no, YES "Memento Mori" is as good, if not better than, our review suggests and NO Desert Psychlist is not pandering to either artist or label for altruistic gain, this album really is SPECIAL and worthy of all the praise bound to come its way.
Check it out .....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 18 February 2023


Cryptic Witch (not to be confused with German instrumental stoner outfit Crypt Witch) have been on Desert Psychlist's radar ever since hearing their 2022 release "Demos: Live From Studio 3" in the April of the same year, the band then released a couple of tantalising singles on Bandcamp but to our dismay there was no mention of a forthcoming "official" album. A few days ago, and with hardly any fanfare, that album finally did materialise and, despite containing all but one of the songs that appeared on the bands demo release, it is, to use an old English superlative, an absolute corker. So without further ado let us welcome you to the " Summoning".

One look at this album's artwork will tell you that this is not a collection of tunes with jangly chiming guitar tones decorated with lyrics bemoaning an unrequited love, no the artwork gracing "Summoning" promises dark dank RIFFS, and what the artwork promises is exactly what Cryptic Witch deliver. The band, Tommy Murello (guitar/vocals); Eli Klopotek (bass/vocals) and Conor Amanatullah (drums), have put together an album that compliments its occult themed artwork with music very much in the same vein, a dark, dank music oozing atmosphere and not a little menace.  That atmosphere and menace no more makes its presence felt than on opening number/title track "Summoning", Klopotek's bass working in tandem with Amanatullah's drums to create a groove that if it were any meatier would come served on a plate with Murello supplying the guitar parts, which are a mix of low crunching riffs and soaring blues tinted solos.  The guitarist also doubles up on lead vocals which are filtered through a distortion pedal to give them the feel of being sung through a loudspeaker/megaphone, a trick originally employed to counter Murello's lack of self confidence behind a microphone but one that has ultimately given the band an edge they might well have lacked had those vocals been delivered straight and unadorned. Up next is "Spacewalk" an instrumental mix of heavy psych an low slung proto flavoured doom into which Murello slings a series of guitar solo's each distinctly different from one another in both tone and execution. Next up is the song from which the band took their name, "Cryptic Witch" is yet another vocal free opus only this time with an almost industrial backbeat, that is up until just over the halfway mark when Amanatullah breaks into a drum pattern reminiscent of Issac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft" and the song flies to its close on a fractured heavy stoner groove. "Domina Mortis" is the albums third instrumental in a row, well we say instrumental as there are the occasional guttural oooh's and aaah's , either way this is a song that dooms and dooms HARD! The vocals return for "White Horse" and once again they are delivered disembodied and distorted, for this particular number Cryptic Witch look to the roots of doom for inspiration and when we say roots of doom of course we mean Black Sabbath, not so much musically but more in the feel of the piece. Penultimate track "Green Sun" finds Cryptic Witch scratching their Kyuss itch, and scratching it quite impressively, while final number, "Eclipse", sees the band stretching out on another instrumental, this one though boasting a plethora of scintillating curve ball moments where the band seem to be throwing caution to the wind and just letting the music dictate its own path.

"Summoning" is a stunning album in all its aspects, its instrumentals are not just riffs and solos they have texture. depth and colour, it's vocalised numbers, although heavily filtered, are ear catching and melodic and its overall groove is an enthralling blend of heavily psyched up doom and swaggering old school desert rock, in fact there is not a lot not to like about this little diamond in the rough.
Check it out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 17 February 2023



When stoner/prog/alt-rock combo Grandma's Ashes, Myriam (guitar/vocals); Eva (bass/vocals) and Edith (drums/vocals), burst on to the scene with their debut release "The Fates" it was clearly obvious that this Paris based trio knew their way around a good groove but what was also obvious was their understanding of how to weave into that groove elements of light and shade. The band latest album "This Too Shall Pass" (Nice Prod) follows much the same path as it's predecessor but those elements of light and shade that made "The Fates" such a joy to listen to have been enhanced with a little magic fairy dust, where the light gleamed on "The Fates" here it sparkles and shines, where the shade was previously grey and a little murky here it is pitch black and deliciously gnarly. 

 Things begin quite unexpectedly with "Intro - À mon Seul Désir" an A cappella style three part harmony which has a an almost medieval feel, it is a song that is both touching and beautiful and  frames the the bands individual voices perfectly. Things take a turn for the heavy with next track "Cold Touch", not brutal heavy but more of a fractured alternative heavy, with sharded guitar textures, deep booming bass and thundering percussion holding sway over vocals that alternate between soaring ethereal harmonies and serenely semi crooned lead. Those with a discerning ear will also detect an air of progressive rock complexity to the proceedings here, an air that makes its presence felt throughout the remainder of the album. Next up is "Aside" an absolute peach of a song that soothes and savages in equal measure, a song that is one minute smacking you around the head with its raucous toned riffs and the next is caressing you with its lilting vocal tones, for those who love a comparison then this is a song very much in Rosy Finch territory. "Borderline" introduces fleeting glimpses of fey folkiness into the equation but being a band intent on flexing their newly discovered prog muscles it is not long before things start to get a little convoluted and intense with the band throwing everything from angular funkiness to doomic dankness into the mix, those heavenly voices weaving in and out of each other the songs only constant. Up next is "Glow" the first of the albums two short instrumental "interludes", this one boasting a liquid bass motif accompanied by tribalistic flavoured drumming and spacious guitar textures, it is brief but very effective. It's back to the angular funkiness for "Spring Harvest" a song that it could be argued is the bands most radio friendly to date, that is if you expect to hear fractured chord progressions and complex rhythmic patterns emanating from your humble transmitter. The following song, "Cruel Nature", is an off kilter torch like affair that has touches of fusion jazziness in its makeup which conveniently leads into the jazzy saxophone heavy second "interlude" "Melt". "La Ronce", "Caffeine", "Cassandra" and "Lost at Sea" follow before the band sign out with a reprisal of the excellent "Aside", all have their own individual merits and charms but out of that bunch it is probably "Cassandra" that takes the biscuit, it is a song that perfectly encapsulates the way Grandma's Ashes are able to bring together the complexities of progressive rock with the melodies of popular music and create something that will appeal to fans of both while at the same time still managing to grab the attention of the doomers and the stoners.

As good as Grandma's Ashes first release was there was still, in our opinion, an ingredient missing from their sound, an ingredient we couldn't quite put our finger on but felt the lack of could hinder the bands progress forward. Thankfully that ingredient has been found and utilised to great effect on "This Too Shall Pass". What exactly that missing ingredient was remains somewhat of a mystery but there is a majesty and magnificence to the bands latest release that wasn't quite as prominent on "The Fates" as it could have been. Let's however not get bogged down with trying to discover what this previously missing element actually was, let us instead rejoice that whatever it was that was missing has now been found and in turn has taken Grandma's Ashes music to whole other level of  excellence.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 15 February 2023


It's not often Desert Psychlist gets to name check a religious cult for introducing us to a new band but that is how we came to find the subject of this review. Well we say religious cult but Dingir Zu is more a place where like minded souls can share music on Facebook but with the added twist of calling its, invitation only, members "prophets". It was thanks to a post on Dingir Zu that we came across Durham, North Carolina outfit It Had To Be Snakes, Johnny (vocals); James (guitar); Jordan (guitar); Luke (bass) and Ben (drums), and their debut EP "Fates", not knowing what to expect (Dingir Zu's flock have eclectic tastes) we hit the link and discovered a band rooted in the blues but with its branches reaching out into desert rock, grungealt-rock and much more, a band we think you should hear.

IHTBS come out of the traps spitting and snarling with opener "Thunder" a raunchy up-tempo rocker with southern rock undertones and a vocal melody to die for, a tune that struts and swaggers with much the same attitude as the gunslinger it portrays in its lyrics. "Battle Flag" follows and although it doesn't hit with quite the same force of it predecessor it is nevertheless musically just as impressive, as are the vocals which are delivered in husky almost crackled tones. "Florence" is up to bat next and here we find those alt-rock/grunge elements we spoke of earlier starting to bloom and blossom, not in an obvious way though, you won't find Alice In Chains-like slurred riffs or Soundgarden-like vocal pyrotechnics, what you will find however is textured guitars interplay, subtle shifts in rhythm and a superbly wearied and heartfelt vocal. The band continue down the alt-rock pathway with "Early Heartbreak" only this time with those grungy elements spliced with touches of psych and minute traces of  Americana. Its back to the southern tinted bluesiness for next song "Dirty Grind"  a song that had us at The Psychlist reminiscing about southern rock stalwarts Blackfoot which, when you think about it, is pretty much a recommendation in itself. "Home" finds IHTBS taking a slight detour into the mainstream rock arena with a song that could easily be mistaken for something coming from the pen of a Bob Seger or a John Mellencamp, its a slight departure from what has gone before but is nevertheless still a damn good song. "Brice's Song" finishes things up by combining all of the different elements of IHTBS' sonic attack in one song with raunchy guitar tones, alt-rock dynamics, big choruses and emotionally charged vocals all finding a place to call their home in a song that has the feel of a lament but the dynamics of a torch song.

It Had To Be Snakes have a sound that draws pretty much from right across the rock spectrum, a sound that does not commit to just one style or genre, a sound owing as much to the underground as it does to the mainstream. Attempting to put so many eggs in one basket on "Fates" could have potentially turned out as a disaster, the fact that it hasn't says a lot about this bands prowess as both musicians and songwriters. 
Check 'em out .....   

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 14 February 2023


Somewhere in a city called Newcastle, situated in New South Wales, Australia, sit five hairy musicians smoking weed and drinking beer watching a movie called "THE VVITCH", this is not the first time these guys have watched this movie, in fact the movie has become somewhat of an obsession with them, so much so that it has even inspired them to put down their beers and bongs and pick up their instruments to make an album. The musicians in question go by the collective name of Drug Mother and the album they have made is called "Rise Witch" an album the band describe as a concept album, the theme of which is getting drunk and watching "THE VVITCH".

"Stone on the back it’s done, stone in the mouth the burial has begun" is the immortal first line of opener "Deep Down in the Darkness" a lyric proceeded by a sardonically whispered  mantra and a groove that sits somewhere between swaggering southern metal and chugging proto-doom, a song full of occult imagery that doesn't try to pretend that it is anything other than what it is... which is a slice of gnarly-assed occult themed fuzz'n'roll. "Guide thy Hand" follows with guitar amps dialled to eleven and drums in thunder mode the raucous groove relenting only for a second to allow the vocalist to announce that "this is a song about an old Welsh witch" before once again taking off on wave of  southern fried raunchiness decorated in husky toned vocals and interspersed with moments of lysergic haziness. Next up is "Hemarthrosis" a strategically placed, mostly instrumental number that allows the band to really stretch out, the band jamming a groove that along the way employs everything from neo classical shredding to wordless choral harmonies. We say strategically placed because "Hemarthrosis" marks a shift in the albums sound towards a darker, danker and more doomic dynamic, a dynamic that can also be found making its presence felt on the albums last two tracks, "Wicked Sky" and "The Wych Elm", tracks that see the band not exactly jettisoning their southern swagger but certainly sees them not leaning on it as much, still raunchy and raucous but with the guitar tones a little darker, the bass lines a touch more boneshaking and the drums a tad more thunderous. 

Photo by Lucas Smith

Witch themed songs inspired by a film about a witch compiled on an album called "Rise Witch" is the short summary of what Drug Mother present to us with their latest release, the longer summary would probably go something like .. a heady, quite addictive, mix of raucous stoner rock, gnarly southern metal and dank doom weaved around lyrical themes of  witchcraft and the occult. Short summary or long summary the conclusion is the same and that is that "Rise Witch" is a real banger of an album that any stoner or doomer, with a love of a meaty riff, would be proud to add to their playlist.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 12 February 2023


Heavy blues of the type once churned out by the likes of Cream and Mountain has become a rare commodity these days, sure there are plenty of bands still jamming grooves that are both heavy and bluesy but none that have captured that same blend of late 60's psych and early 70's hard rock in quite the same way as those two bands mentioned did back in their day. Well this is what we at Desert Psychlist thought before we chanced upon Moodoom, Cristian Marchesi (guitar/vocals); Jonathan Calleja (bass/vocals) and Javier Cervetti (drums), a trio from Buenos Aires, Argentina who's latest album "Desde el Bosque" not only owes a huge debt to Cream and Mountain but also early Black Sabbath.

The musicianship throughout "Desde el Bosque" is of an unbelievably high standard,  Cervetti brings an element of swing to the proceedings with a display of drumming that even the late Ginger Baker might approve of while Marchesi's guitar playing brings all the necessary swagger and strut that music of this nature demands, a guitarist with an understanding of when to let loose and when and hold back his lead work is scorching and feel based, his chord work crunching and gnarly. The gold star however has to go to Calleja, whether the bassist is mirroring Marchesi's riffs, laying down booming walking blues motifs or locking in with Cervetti on a heavy proto-doom groove he is never, EVER less than impressive, a true master of his instrument.  If there is one chink in Moodoom's armour it is that they do not possess a vocalist of the quality of a Jack Bruce or a Lesley West but that is a minor quibble as the combined vocals of Marchesi and Calleja (sung in Spanish) are more than adequate decoration for the superb heavy blues grooves they sit above. We did mention Black Sabbath in our intro piece and you may well be wondering where they figure in what we have so far described as essentially a blues album, well the tracks "La noche del lagarto" and "Las maravillas de estar loco" will answer that query, the former boasts a low slung doom groove that is unashamedly Sabbathian in all but its vocals and the latter is a mix of heavy blues and proto doom that will please fans of both genres. 

"Desde el Bosque" is an album that will appeal to those brought up on 70's rock as much as it will to those coming to the underground rock scene anew, an album from a band of Argentinian musicians on a mission to put the heavy back into the blues.
Check it out ....... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 6 February 2023



You can almost guarantee that every band/artist that has ever made an album or stepped on to a stage can trace their origins back to the humble bedroom, for many budding musicians the bedroom was a refuge where they could try to work out those finger stretching riffs, complex drum patterns and blister creating bass motifs, a place where wannabe vocalists could stand in front of a mirror and practice their mic craft singing into a hairbrush without fear of being mocked or criticised. If said musicians were any good they might, as they progressed in skill, start inviting other budding musicians up to their refuge to jam and from these jams go on to start a band, some might even start creating their own music. All in all the humble bedroom has played a huge part in much of the music we now listen to and is still doing so right up to the present day, all of which brings us nicely around to Hakkon, the Indonesian combo who are the subject of this review.
Hakkon, Ferdian G Maulana (guitar/vocals); Fajar M (bass/backing vocals) and Adrian Fadhil (drums/backing vocals), started out life as a bedroom project but has since moved on to being a fully fledged band, the trio of musicians utilising those skills honed in the bedroom and taking them up to the next level, a fairly impressive level judging by their debut EP release "The Fifth Cessation"(Orange Cliff Records)

Hakkon's groove is rooted in metal but metal in all it's various forms and guises, the band drawing from the wells of prog, stoner, proto and doom, as well some of metals more alternative forms, to create a sound that is a sum of its influences yet still retains its own signature. The first track out of the bag "Tusk" is a perfect example of how Hakkon like to meld their metals, an instrumental number with a galloping NWOBHM gait underscored by elements of both stoner and proto doom, the song may be just under four minutes long but the band pack a hell of a lot into it. "Haunted" follows next and is a nicely balanced mix of riff heavy proto-doom and languid semi acoustic psych, the song also gives us a our first taste of the bands vocals which are delivered clean and melodic by guitarist Maulana, drummer Fadhil and bassist Fajar M complimenting his lilting tones with backing harmonies of an equal quality. The last three tracks "Ashes I", "II" and "III", are essentially one song split into three separate movements "Ashes I" is a beautifully constructed instrumental piece made up of ringing circular guitar arpeggios, liquid bass lines and sympathetically applied percussion, "Ashes II" initially follows a similar path but then adds into the equation those aforementioned lilting vocals plus heavier handed percussion and lot more guitar based crunch,. The band take the later dynamic of "II" into final track "Ashes III" where they expand upon that  heavier dynamic and in doing so take things in a much more doomic direction both vocally and musically, albeit fleshing that doom out with elements gleaned from the full spectrum of metal.

Indonesian underground bands are notoriously difficult to track down and Hakkon are no exception, attempting to find any information, other than what can be found on their labels social media pages, has been hard. A photo of the band on the labels Instagram account depicts them as a relatively young band so hopefully they are have not yet become disillusioned with the whole music making process and there will be more from them in the future, here's hoping so because although "The Fifth Cessation" maybe a little raw around the edges and a touch naïve in places it is nonetheless a cracking little debut well worth spending some time with.
Check it out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 3 February 2023

SWELL O - MORNING HAZE .... review

 Of late it every album landing on our desk seems to be hailing from Germany, not that we are complaining as the scene over there looks to be on fire. The latest album from a German outfit to reach the top of our "marked for review" pile comes from a combo going by the name of Swell O, consisting of Simo (drums), Harald (bass),Sebastian (vocals, guitar) and Sönke (vocals, guitar), a quartet of musicians who jam an up-tempo mix of stoner rock and heavy psych ideal for those who like their grooves with an element of "joie-de-vivre" about them, an element running rife throughout their debut album, "Morning Haze".(Clostridium Records)

"Hitchhiker" kicks things off  in forceful style, a hard driven stoner/desert romp with an insistent fuzz drenched groove that fans of bands like Fu Manchu, Truckfighters and early Red Fang would sell a kidney to acquire for their music collections. Vocals come from much the same ballpark as the music , clean melodic tones that are a mixture of lead and dual harmonies with any grittiness kept to a bare minimum and zero traces of harshness, in other words a very much "old school" style of what we currently call stoner rock. For their next track, "Summit" Swell O introduce a little psych into the equation, the songs groove still staying very much within the stoner/desert parameters of the previous track but this time sprinkled with a liberal pinch of cosmic haziness. That haziness extends itself into following song "Black Cat" but here takes on a more circular swirly dynamic with the heavily filtered vocals possessing a tone not too dissimilar to those found on early Nebula recordings. "Earthship No,2" is somewhat of a departure from what has gone before mainly due to its vocals, which are delivered in a clipped tone that gives them an almost goth(ic) feel, a feel reflected in the songs grooves which are still stoner/desert in flavour but are tinted with a darker edginess. It is fully understandable that Swell O should choose "Morning Haze" as the song to name their album after as it is a song that perfectly captures what the band are all about, its throbbing desert groove and ear catching vocal melodies are just so joyous and life affirming that its hard not to just keep hitting the repeat button and attempt to live in the moment for eternity, if people tell you that stoner rock has seen better days then just play them this track and walk away smugly smiling. "Shine Through" carries much the same vibe as its predecessor only this time with a touch more bluesiness in its attack as well as a little extra heavy psych haziness while final song "Venom" takes its lead from the punk and garage rock that fuelled the desert movements early days, its furious groove and staccato type vocal delivery possess a gnarly infectiousness that will appeal to fans of both Kyuss and Black Flag alike.

Swell O should be given a hearty slap on the back for what they have brought to the table with "Morning Haze", it is an album packed solid with all the things we valued about the original desert sound but then puts a fresh spin on them so that those same values can be appreciated by a whole new generation of retro tee wearing, fuzz obsessed disciples of the riff.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones