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


  1. Desert Psychlist always nails it and this review is not different. I swear, it's like he's in the room listening with me!

  2. A solid summation of this album!