Friday 31 March 2023


WyndRider are a stoner doom outfit hailing from East Tennessee consisting of Richard Bucher (drums); Joshuwah Herald (bass); Chloe Gould (vocals) and Robbie Willis (guitar). The band have not been in existence long and only played their first gig in March of 2022 but the release of a well received demo "Electrophillia", on Bandcamp, and the pre-album release teaser, "Pit Witch" has forced the denizens of the underground rock press to sit up and take notice, attention that has now been justified with the release of  "WyndRider" the bands stunning self titled debut.

"Pit Witch", the song WyndRider first teased us with for this their debut, bursts out of the traps in a wave of proto-doomic riff heavy groove that blends Sabbathian dankness with bluesy heavy psych, not an unusual combination in this day and age we have to agree but then factor in Gould's hazy edged vocal tones and its not hard to see why this band are garnering so much attention. There is a touch of Windhand and Uta Plotkin era Witch Mountain in what WyndRider bring to the table musically and this is especially evident on the albums second track "Snake Children", which sees Willis laying down thick slabs of reverberating doomic riffage driven from beneath by Bucher's thunderous drums and Herald's bone rattling bass, Gould filling the spaces in between with a husky vocal, an air of jazzy smokiness in her tones. They say that familiarity breeds contempt but in doom familiarity breeds a deep seated love and that is the case with "Creator" a song buoyed by one of those doom grooves you will have heard a thousand times before and will no doubt here a thousand times more, here that groove is twinned with a slightly off kilter vocal delivery that has the effect of freshening up the grooves impact and revitalising it for both old and new ears. Down wanted to be buried in smoke WyndRider on the other hand want to you to be "Strangled by Smoke" and if Desert Psychlist had to choose a way to go out then listening to Gould's sultry voice filling our ears, while she pulls a smoky noose around our necks to a soundtrack of tightly wound doom, would be very high on our list of ways to wave sayonara. "Mother in Horns" follows and boasts a grizzled bass heavy proto-doom groove around which Gould weaves another of her ear-catching melodies, the song also features some very tasty lead work from Willis. "Electrophilia" is up next and the version that appears on this album is not that far removed from the version that graced the bands demo except here the production is much more luxurious with Gould's vocal reaping most of those benefits. "Sleeping Wizard", an instrumental, finds Herald spanking, tugging and slapping his bass strings over a backdrop of Hawkwind-esque swoops and swirls while final track "Space Paper Acid Saloon" finds the band slamming down the hammer and exploding into a chugging Sabbathian groove decorated in another superbly pitched vocal, Gould finding an extra ounce of huskiness in her vocal chords to take things to an altogether other level. The band also find space to insert heavily lysergic laced experimental sections into the equation, one serving as an intro and one appearing just before the heavy doom outro that closes proceedings, something that points to the possibilities of further experimentation on future releases.

Those anticipating something special coming from this relatively young band will not be disappointed with what they find on "WyndRider", it may not be a genre defining game-changer but there is enough to be found here to indicate that they have more than what it takes to make that calibre of album in the future, and for a band who most of us had not heard of prior to this release, that is damn impressive.
Check 'em out ....  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 29 March 2023


When you think about British metal bands still out there doing their thing then you probably think along the lines of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. Saxon and Orange Goblin but there is a tier of bands existing just below that upper echelon who have been beavering away making killer albums and touring far and wide for years now without the advantages and benefits of a major label behind them. One of those bands is Desert Storm, an Oxford based combo with six well received albums already under their belts and who have been wowing audiences all over the UK and Europe with their unique blend of stoner, groove metal, sludge and prog almost from day one. The current line up of the band, Matthew Ryan (vocals); Ryan Cole (guitars); Chris White (guitars,/keyboards/backing vocals); Elliot Cole (drums/percussion) and Matthew Dennett (bass) have just released their seventh album "Death Rattle" (APF Records) and time does not seem to have blunted their edge one iota.

"Master of None" confirms that all is still well in the world of Desert Storm, the song boasting ear-catching twin guitar motifs and crunching riffs driven by a superb rhythm section over which singer Ryan delivers a superbly pitched vocal that oozes husky gravitas. The song seems to lean towards an almost Viking Metal dynamic in places, whether this is intentional or not Desert Psychlist does not know but it works. "Cheyne Stoking" is next, a song inspired by graffiti seen sprayed on a wall in Shane Meadow's excellent British revenge movie "Dead Man's Shoes", much like the movie the song is a blend of simpering menace and extreme violence which in the songs case takes the form of pastoral folkish prog progressing into chord crunching, drum skin pounding heaviness with its vocals following a similar progression. There is a touch of, fellow Oxfordites, Radiohead's "Street Spirit" about next track "Bad Trip" in its arpeggiated intro but that comparison soon gets dispelled when a third of the way in Desert Storm erupt into a heavy stoner/sludge groove that would make Thom York's damaged eyelid flutter like a butterfly. For "Melatone" Desert Storm take a leaf out of Green Lung's book by mixing their sludge and stoner grooves with touches of retro flavoured occult rock to create a sound that is at times achingly beautiful at others blustering and brutal. Gently picked acoustic guitar introduces "Salt of the Earth" accompanied by a mournful thick and gravelled vocal, the songs occasional eruptions into gnarled heaviness tempered by bluesy solo's, languid acoustic noodling and flourishes of lysergic keyboard textures. The next three songs "Druid's Heath", "Insomniac" and " Self Depreciation" finds Desert Storm sandwiching proggish textures and psychedelic colours between various degrees of  heavy metallic stoner grittiness while final track "New Dawn" sees the band bringing things to a close with an uncharacteristic but quite delightful bright and airy instrumental. 

Whether Desert Storm will ever smash through that glass ceiling and break into metals upper echelon is doubtful, not because they don't have the chops or the songs but simply because that upper tier was formed in a time when such things could still happen. The music business has changed a lot since bands like Maiden and Priest could play the pub and club circuit with real hope of making a career out of music, now the best most new bands can hope for is to get their music on Spotify, Amazon or Bandcamp, sell some merch and maybe get a few local gigs or get on a small European tour that includes a few festival spots. Given those facts it is testament to Desert Storm's commitment and belief in their music that they are still here, seven albums down the line, still making albums of the relevance and quality of "Death Rattle".
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 27 March 2023


If ever a band deserved to be called legends then it is California's Acid King, a band with a similar play loud. play hard and leave 'em screaming for more ethic to Lemmy's Motorhead. Long time fans of doom, stoner and psych will already be familiar with Acid King's music, their albums, EP's and splits so listing them all here sems a bit pointless. What we will do however is bring to your attention that mainstay guitarist/vocalist Lori S. has surrounded herself with some new musicians for Acid King's latest release "Beyond Vision" (Blues Funeral Recordings) and has expanded the band to a quartet with Jason Willer on drums, Bryce Shelton on bass/synths and Black Cobra’s Jason Landrian contributing extra guitar as well as sharing song writing credits with Lori.

Apparently new album "Beyond Vision" was not actually intended to be a new Acid King album and was originally conceived as a one off project, a chance for Lori S to work with some musicians she had wanted to collaborate with for some time, the project only really becoming an Acid King album as things developed, which makes sense when listening to the new album as "Beyond Vision" is unlike any Acid King album that has proceeded it, Previous albums were heavy, gnarly affairs built on a foundation of  heavily distorted riffs and thunderous rhythms, there were of course elements of subtlety and hazy experimentation to be found on albums like "Busse Woods" and "III" but on the whole the music was downtuned, doomic and dank. Now we are not here to tell you that Lori S has suddenly taken a 360 degree turn, swapped her leather jacket for a tie-dye kaftan and put flowers in her hair because that just would not be true, the dankness and doom are all still very much in evidence on the new album its just there are levels of cosmic experimentation at play here that have never been heard on an Acid King album previously. From opening instrumental "One Light Second Away", with its ominous, pulsating intro right through to final song "Color Trails" with its slowly building intensity there is not a second you will want to miss, skip or be distracted from and you will not be allowed to either as each track seamlessly segues into the next. If you had told Desert Psychlist, prior to hearing "Beyond Vision", that we would one day be comparing Acid King with bands like Colour Haze and Ufomammut we would have probably laughed in your face but here we are today doing just that, there is an out there factor and a headiness to tunes like "90 Seconds" and title track "Beyond Vision" that have only ever been hinted at before and it has given the band a whole new palette of colours to paint their musical soundscapes with. Of course Lori S being Lori S she is not going allow us to get away entirely riff free and so there are still plenty of crunching chord progressions, growling bass lines and pummelling drum patterns to get our teeth into, as well as her distinctive vocal tones, but overall this is an album where space texture and colour are king and the journey is everything.

Credit: Kevork Demirjian

"Beyond Vision" is probably the best comeback album never intended to be a comeback album ever recorded in the history of rock music, and possibly the only one. The musicianship throughout "Beyond Vision" is off the scale as is its concept of allowing each song to bleed into the next to make it feel more like a complete journey from start to finish. Acid King are back, they might not have meant to be, but you have to agree the world is a far, far better place with them in it.
Check 'em out..... 
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 24 March 2023


If a band cites among its influences such luminaries as Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Sleep and High on Fire then you are probably expecting said band to have a somewhat similar sound, well you might unless that band hails from Scotland and goes by the surprisingly un-doom-like name of The Rhubarb. The Rhubarb, Hannah White (vocals/bass); Seán Maguire (vocals); Michael McConville (guitar) and Jack Donnelly (drums), may share some of the qualities of those bands they cite as influences but sounding like them is not one of them, this is a band who approach their doom from a whole different angle as you may come to realise when giving their latest release "Symptom of Failure" a listen.

Everything we said about The Rhubarb not sounding like the bands that have influenced them might sound like absolute tosh when hearing the opening bars to first track "Mist", its dark riffs and thunderous rhythms are most definitely Sleep-ish, maybe even Sabbathian, in texture and colour, but then in comes the dual vocal attack of White and Maguire and suddenly those textures and colours take on a whole new hue. White's voice, ethereal and haunting combines with Maguire's low clean baritone to give the bands music a unique and different vibe and feel to that of any of their contemporaries in the field of doom, in fact Desert Psychlist would go as far as saying that there is not a band out there, at the present time, that sound anything like The Rhubarb. There are times throughout "Symptom of Failure" where you are left wondering if you are listening to some studio created mash-up whereby some tech savvy producer has layered the vocal tracks of one band over the metallic grooves of another, but then there are also moments when those grooves and the vocals weave together in such perfect unison that you have to concede that this is the work of just one band, and a very good one at that. The musicianship, on songs like the sinister "Awful Breed", the mournful and heavy  "I Wanna Play a Game", the schizophrenic "I Can't Roll" and the epic "Mother's Ruin", is nothing short of outstanding, White's bass lines growl and purr, Donnelly's drums are thunderous and articulate while McConville's guitar work is a mixture of dark crunchy chord progressions and searing fiery lead, factor into the equation White and Maguire's astonishing vocal interplay and its not hard to understand why The Rhubarb are attracting the attention of those both inside and outside of their Scottish homeland.

A high level of musicianship combined with sweet and sour harmonies and tonally opposed vocal trade offs is what makes "Symptom of Failure" stand out from the crowd, it is not a conventional doom album by any means yet it is still very much a doom album. Purists might bemoan the fact that its vocals are not typical of the genre but then The Rhubarb are not your typical doom band. 
Check 'em out ....  
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 23 March 2023


Majestica, Therion-live. ex-Captain Crimson bassist/guitarist/vocalist Chris David had a sound in his head, a sound that merged the doom of his fellow Swedes Candlemass and Witchcraft with the polished electric blues of the USA's workaholic guitarist Joe Bonamassa. To bring this vision to life David needed to recruit musicians who shared his vision and so in came Richard Eriksson on drums, Mattias Linusson on Hammond organ and  Andreas Eriksson on guitar to record an EP of songs under the collective name of Wizdoom. Now whether this line up is set in stone or has been put together by David just for this project Desert Psychlist does not know but given the strength of the songs on the bands debut "Trolldoom"(Moving Air Music) and the way these guys bring those songs to life, we hope its the former rather than the latter.

Given David's work with Therion its not surprising that elements of polished symphonic metal creep into Wizdoom's groove from time to time but fear not you lovers of the gnarly riff, those elements are just that... elements and on the whole "Trolldoom" is all about the doom. Opening number "Doomed Fleet" is a prime example of David's vision for Wizdoom its gnarled riffs and pounding rhythms are of the sort that bands like Witchcraft and Spiritual Beggars built their reputations on while its quieter more considered moments possess the atmospheric grandeur that were once the territory of bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. David's vocal is magnificent throughout and ranges from husky and gritty to Dio-esque and operatic while managing to comfortably accommodate all stations in-between. The bluesier stoner side of Wizdoom gets an airing on next track "The Half Living Realm", a blues flecked number that builds from humble beginnings into a stomping rocker routinely punctuated by soaring tasteful lead from Andreas Eriksson. "Way of the Lost" follows, an undulating doom ballad/torch song given wings by Linusson's keyboards and taken to another level by an incredible vocal performance from David. The highlight of the album for Desert Psychlist has to be next track "Engrave" its fractured fist pumping groove, underpinned by David's growling bass and Richard Eriksson's thunderous drumming, is just joyously addictive and is further enhanced by some serious shredding from guest guitarist Tommy Johansson (Sabaton/Majestica), and of course it goes without saying how good David's vocals are here. And so we finally arrive at title track "Trolldoom" its bluesy doomic groove, boosted by whooshing Hammond organ and scorching guitar work, effectively bringing to a close what has been a highly entertaining collection of blues flavoured doominosity. 

The beauty of Wizdoom's "Trolldoom" is in the balance of its grit with its polish, the five songs to be found inhabiting this stunning debut EP have an appeal that will sit well with both those who like their doom to have a certain grandiose traditional sheen and those who like their doom a little gnarled and dirty, lets hope there is more to come.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 21 March 2023


Pick a colour then pick a mythical creature to pair it with seems to be the thinking behind many of the names bands choose to call themselves, why this is Desert Psychlist could not say but run your finger down a list of albums owned by any discerning stoner, doom or psych fan and you would be hard pushed not to find a black this or a red that. Today's review concerns one such band who have used this colour/creature combination, a Greek doom/stoner psych trio called Green Yeti, consisting of Dani Avramidis (bass); Michael Andresakis (guitar/vocals) and Giannis Koutroumpis (drums), who have just released their latest album "Necropolitan

Green Yeti kick off their new album with instrumental "Syracuse" a stunning heavy psych jam packed full of interesting little twists and turns that slides effortlessly into following track "Witch Dive" a song that is an unashamed declaration of love/lust for a woman sporting "witch eyes" and "blond hair" played out to a backdrop of old school flavoured stoner/desert groove enhanced by some seriously impressive lead guitar. With not a second to catch our breaths we are then propelled into the albums second instrumental "Jupiter 362" a stunning blend of spaced out rock and lysergic laced experimentation that seems to be going a million places all at once yet somehow never losing its way. The groove that sees the previous track leave us is also the groove that introduces us to next song "Golgotha" the band ramping up the grooves intensity until it can go no further and instead erupts into a discordant heavy stoner groove over which Andresakis roars unintelligible vocals like he was having some sort of mental breakdown, which is exactly what this track feels like musically. "Dirty Lung" finds the band getting their doom groove on with Andresakis guitar and Avramidis' bass dialled to dank and Koutroumpis' drums set to thunder mode, the songs mix of gravelled and clean vocal tones adding an extra air of doomic gravitas to a song with an already considerable doomic impact. Penultimate track "Kerosene" is a song that sits halfway between an anguished lament and an impassioned rant with a soundtrack very much in keeping with those two emotions, raucous chord progressions vying for dominance with soaring emotionally charged vocals over a platform of tight solid drumming and thick growling bottom end. The excellent "One More Bite" rounds things off its crunchy dank riffs framing another anguished and angry vocal from Andresakis, the guitarist/vocalist perfectly summing up the songs thrumming heavy dynamic with the line "feral riffs, reverse your mind".

Those of you who bought/streamed the bands previous releases "The Yeti Has Landed" and "Desert Show" will know that Green Yeti do not make bad albums, (just take a look at the endless plaudits gracing those albums on their Bandcamp page for confirmation), and "Necropolitan" is no exception, in fact it maybe their best release so far...well that is until the next one.
Check it out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 18 March 2023


 Spain is another one of those countries coming on leaps and bounds in regard to the underground rock scene, what first started out as a trickle has now turned into a flood with more and more Spanish bands seemingly appearing on the international scene daily. It should be also noted that there is an increasing trend among these bands to cease trying to cater for UK and American ears and instead write and sing in their native Spanish tongue. 
One such band are Jaén based trio Santo Rostro, consisting of  Miguel Ortega (guitars, synths, vocals); Kuki Galiano (drums) and Antonio Gámez (bass/vocals), who previous to the album we are reviewing today, have released three well received, well executed albums. The bands early releases were very much inspired by their early musical heroes Mastodon, High on Fire, The Melvins and Black Sabbath but those influences have waned somewhat over the years and slowly been replaced by a more refined dynamic, a dynamic that has seen the band putting more emphasis on texture and colour in their compositions, something their latest album "Despu​é​s No Habrá Nada" (Spinda Records/ Discos Macarras Records/ LaRubiaProducciones) will more than attest to.

A crunchy circular guitar riff coming out of one speaker announces the arrival of first song "Telarañas" and is quickly joined, in full stereo effect, by the drums and bass in a groove that although loud brash and heavy stays just shy of brutal. The powerful gritty but clean vocals decorating this song are frankly mind-blowing, as are its guitar solos which heavily draw their influence from Spain's Moorish heritage."Carcasa Digital" follows and comes out of the traps spitting blood and fire, its prog-metal like chord progressions and complex rhythmic patterns creating a somewhat angular attack that proves to be its biggest asset. "Aire" begins with acoustic finesse and ends in fuzzy electronica and betwixt the two is a fiery  mix of doom, sludge and stoner metal over which another superb gruff and powerful vocal performance is delivered. "Matriz" sees Santo Rostro once again drawing on their Moorish roots while also giving free rein to their more prog-metal side while final track, the instrumental "Despu​é​s No Habrá Nada", makes no pretence at trying to be anything other than an exhilarating and jaw dropping prog-metal jam, Ortega, Galiano and  Gámez showing that if you have the chops to play music of this complexity, depth and quality then why not just stretch out play the fuck out of it.

Santo Rostro have with "Despu​é​s No Habrá Nada" exceeded all expectations, they were always a good band, they were always good musicians and always good composers but for this their latest release we need to remove the word "good" from those statements and replace it with the word "great", or maybe even "superb". 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 17 March 2023


We do not usually review "live" albums on The Psychlist, not because we do not like them (we love them) but because they are a snapshot in time that are often not indicative of where a band are currently at in their musical evolution and are usually filled with crowd favourites rather than brand new compositions. For Witchrot's "Live In The Hammer" (Fuzzed and Buzzed Records) Desert Psychlist has made an an exception, first because it was not recorded in front of a paying audience but on the floor of Boxcar Sound Hamilton, Ontario and second because, for us, the quality of execution to be found on these live recordings far exceeds that of the original versions.  

 The albums first track, "Druid 1//Crypt Reaper//Burn Me Down" is a medley made up of songs from the bands self-titled debut "Witchrot" and its follow up "Hollow" tied together with threads of dank, dark groove. The medley opens to the luscious strains of violin then is joined by crashing drums and thrumming bass and reverberating guitar riffs in what can only be described as a series of industrial strength doom grooves over which vocalist Lea Reto intones vocals that alternate between seductive and ethereal that occasionally switch to anguished as and when the music dictates. "Dug Your Grave/Strega"  follows, another medley this time a combination of two of the bands single releases, and if you thought the studio versions of these two songs were something special just wait until you hear the live versions, Reto making full use of the environment she finds herself singing in, using the acoustics of the room to make her voice sound so much fuller and larger while the band use those same spaces to bring to the table a speaker shredding rawness that those original versions just didn't quite posses. Two previously unreleased  tracks follow the first of which, "Acedia", is a short but dark instrumental that twins dank droning refrains with sparse ringing arpeggios to create an otherworldly dynamic. The second is " Who Scared You" a song that finds Reto flattening out her vocals on the verses to give things a slightly off-kilter feel, a feel mirrored in the bands musical attack which has a grungy off- centeredness. That off-centredness continues into "Colder Hands", the dissonant slurriness of the original "Hollow" version is here amplified ten-fold and taken to a whole new level while final number "Million Shattered Swords" progression from lilting ballad, backed by soaring violin, to soaring, yet deeply distorted, torch song is nothing but jaw-dropping.

For "Live in the Hammer" the line up of Lea Reto (vocals), Peter Turik (guiitar), Nick Kervin (drums) and Cam Alford (bass) are joined by guitarist Daniel DeKay (Exciter) and violinist/vocalist Laura C Bates (Völur) in a celebration of doom liable to summon the gnarliest demons hell has to offer. Dark, uncompromising, sinister, ethereal, loud and brash are all adjectives that could be used to describe the music Witchrot lay before us with their new album, but none of them quite capture or fit the sound these guys make together. Here is a music rooted in Sabbathian soil but grown so far away from that root that it no longer bears even a close resemblance, its doom sure enough but a gnarled, twisted insidious doom.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 13 March 2023


 From the hills of Athens, Greece descend three warriors their chiselled features set with stern intent, their sculptured bodies bronzed by the fierce Athenian sun. One of them carries in his gnarled battle scarred hand a weapon, a sword forged from the fire stolen from the workshop of master craftsman Hephaestus and given to man by the trickster Prometheus. This is the Bastard Sword, a symbol of mans intelligence, ingenuity, and progress.
Well not exactly, the truth of the matter is Bastard Sword are an Athens based trio with a penchant for cranking out big stoner doom guitar riffs driven by growling low end and thunderous rhythms mixed with elements of heavy psych and post-rock, its just that whenever Desert Psychlist gets the chance to review a Greek band we tend get an itch to get a little Homer-ish. Having said this Bastard Sword do themselves play with their Greek heritage, the band hiding their real identities with names cherry picked from Greek mythology whereby we have Achilles on guitar/vocals and keyboards, Akis on drums and Odysseus on bass. 
Demi-gods, warriors or just ordinary men these three musicians make a fine noise as you can hear for yourselves when delving into their excellent debut  "I"

If you are going to open an album with a song referencing in its lyrics "a creature immense and strong" then the song better have a groove that reflects that immensity and strength and "Il Gigante" does. Lumbering, heavy and dark with eerie passages of creepy dissonance "Il Gigante" is pure old school flavoured doom that borrows more than a few tricks from the iconic Black Sabbath song that bore that bands name, especially in the anguished, fearful and pleading nature of its vocals."Heirophant" follows, a song still very much in the doom canon but possessing a groove that is pitched a little left of centre with its guitar parts muddied in fuzz and distortion to maximise its off-kilter atmospherics, as the song progresses it slowly discards that distortion and fuzziness and drifts into a deliciously hazy heavy psych groove with Archllies ripping searing bluesy solos from his fretboard over a backdrop of tight fluid drum and bass rhythm. For "Witching Brethren" Bastard Sword drop the doom and go full on stoner/hard rock, chugging guitars, thunderous drums and growling bottom end supporting a well delivered ear-catching vocal melody that as it nears its finale is joined by some swirling keyboard flourishes. "Santeria de Sangre" is up next and here we find the band upping the warp factor and hitting a groove not far off punkish that is decorated in vocals brandishing a dynamic just shy of harsh. It's back to the doom for "Ghosts in the Beehive" only this time doom with a more proto-metallic flavour, the song boasting a mid-tempo groove over which a clipped, almost robotic, vocal is delivered."Athropocene" is a song that evolves from being lysergic and experimental through to languid and luscious, carrying the threat of heaviness but never quite delivering on it and is followed by " Orbital Mechanist" a mood piece consisting of gentle acoustic guitar appegios picked beneath a swathe of swirling synth and keyboard textures. "Tenbones" finds Bastard Sword once again flexing their stoner rock muscles, all crunchy guitar tones and four to the floor rhythms, the band only momentarily deviating from that path with a touch of doomic pacing in the final third. Last but by no means least we have "Tooth Rattler" an instrumental that takes a little from all that has gone before, sticks it all in a pot with some cathedral flavoured keyboard textures and mixes it all together to create one big post rock gumbo.

Anyone listening to "I" is going to be hard pushed to describe what this band bring to the table in terms of genre or style, each song is just so radically different from the next. Forcing so many different elements together on one album could well have been a recipe for disaster but it isn't and the reason it isn't is because Bastard Sword pour so much of themselves into each track. Whether they are jamming a heavy doom groove or laying out on a passage of hazy liquid psych, the tone of the guitars and the dynamics of the drums tell you that you are listening to the same band and given the diversity of the songs they present to us with "I" that's a pretty mean feat.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 12 March 2023

DRYAD ~ Y .... review

In 2018 German trio Dryad, Michael Rudolf (bass | vocals), Alexander Atzinger (guitar | backing vocals), and Sebastian Spahn (drums | percussion), released "Rehearsal Tape" a five song collection of proto-metal flavoured heavy stoner grooves recorded live at one of the bands rehearsals (hence its name). "Rehearsal Tape" was a little raw and rough around the edges but it had something about it that caught The Psychlist's ear and prompted us to make a note of the bands name in the hope that they would soon release a follow up, little did we know that it would be another five years before that follow up materialised. "Y", the bands brand new full length debut has finally arrived, a little later than expected but patience pays its own rewards and the band has rewarded us well.

The thing that prompted Desert Psychlist to hit the buy button, on Dryad's Bandcamp page, for "Rehearsal Tape" was its drive, its vigour and its full on ferocity, thankfully five years has not seen any watering down in those departments. All five of the songs that appeared on "Rehearsal Tape" have found their way onto "Y" the songs all still retaining the raw edginess of the original recordings but enhanced by a better production and mix. Of the five songs "Y" shares with "Rehearsal Tape" it is probably "Overload" that benefits the most from its re-working, on "Rehearsal Tape" it felt almost like the band were trying to race to the finish whereas on "Y" it feels less rushed, its rhythms tighter and it solo's a touch less caustic. The newer songs are as good if not better than those reworked songs "Pulsar", begins tranquil and ambient then erupts into a chugging stoner riff fest decorated in a surprisingly mellow vocal, "Darvaza" toys with heavy psych textures and alt-rock quiet/loud/quiet dynamics, "The Devil's Breath" is off-kilter and punkish and "Of Knaves and Fools" is a delightfully ear catching blend of 70's heavy rock swagger and 90's desert rock fuzziness. The band even throw in some ambient weirdity with the extremely brief "Ludus Interruptus". The highlight of "Y" for us, at The Psychlist however is the same song that was our favourite from "Rehearsal Tape" and that is "Meghalaya", a song that is an absolute blistering force of nature, thick gravelled vocals roaring and barking over a backdrop of fierce percussion, bone rattling bass and crunching riffage that culminates in a thunderous finale, a real barnstormer in an album full of barnstormers.

"Y" may not have quite the feral attack of its predecessor but it was never going to, what this debut full length album lacks in ferality it makes up for in subtlety, the raucous guitar tones, growling bottom end and thunderous drumming that were such a integral component of "Rehearsal Tape" are all still very much in place on "Y" but have been tempered with touches of heavy psych and post-rock to give the bands sound a fuller more refined dynamic, a dynamic Dryad will hopefully expand upon with further releases.
Check 'em out ......  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 10 March 2023

REZN ~ SOLACE ...... review


REZN have evolved massively since their coming together as a band in 2015, the bands first album "Let it Burn" was a little raw around the edges but it showcased a band who where attempting to break out of the usual riff/vocal/solo box and take their music to places a little more universal and cosmic. The bands next release "Calm Black Water" took the ideas explored on their debut a little further but also sanded off those rough edges to give their sound an element of polish. The band then released the keyboard heavy "Infected Ambient Works", in collaboration with Catechism, a massive collection of ambient, and quite beautiful, soundscapes released in order to raise awareness and funds for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund2020 saw the band release "Chaotic Divine" a game changing album both for the band and psychedelic doom as sub-genre, everything about this album was on another level, its guitars crunched and rang, its keyboards swooped and soared, its rhythms ebbed and flowed and its vocal melodies swooned and swung. Many, Desert Psychlist included, wondered how REZN would ever be able to follow up an album of such majesty and magnitude, had the band pushed the bar too high? The answer to that question is a firm NO, the bands new album "Solace" has not just lifted the bar higher its thrown the damn thing out of the stadium.

"Allured By Feverish Visions" is a title that suggests psychedelic textures and lysergic liquidity and that is exactly what the first track from "Solace" delivers with its washes of droning guitars punctuated by snatches of ethereal flute and swirling synth, its steady drums only just anchoring down an instrumental that feels as if it could just waft away into the ether at any given moment. Beautiful is not a word banded about much when talking about underground rock music but this most certainly is. "Possession" follows its intense heavy psych textures enhanced by a vocal that is elegant and other-worldly, things do get a touch heavier as the song progresses but it is a structured heaviness that amplifies the songs stealth like intensity rather than detracts from it. Dank and doomic is the only way to describe the opening bars of next track "Reversal" a brief moment of raw brutality that shows that if you stripped away all the psychedelic colours and heady cosmic textures you would still find a pretty gnarly doom combo underneath. However it is only a brief moment and its not long before the songs set sail into more lysergic waters with a to die for vocal melody floating serenely over a backdrop of chiming guitar arpeggios, low liquid bass, tight percussion and tasteful keyboard flourishes. "Stasis" is the heaviest song on "Solace" and probably its most straightforward both in its vocals and its musical dynamic, well that is up until it reaches its last third when things start to get a little experimental and ambient while "Faded and Fleeting" finds the band adding hazy jazziness to the list of things they can turn their hand to, the addition of  saxophone giving the song a feel not too dissimilar to that of 70's jazz/rock fusion pioneers Weather Report. Finally we arrive at "Webbed Roots" a stunning opus that has a constantly shifting dynamic that is languid and loose one minute, blustering and brash the next with surprises coming at you from all angles one of which is a spoken word passage narrated by guest contributor Marie Davidson.

REZNRob McWilliams (guitar/vocals); Phil Cangelosi (bass/rainstick); Patrick Dunn (drums/percussion) and Spencer Ouellette (saxophone/synth/piano/flute), are not a band who have suddenly exploded on to the scene and become an overnight sensation, these guys have paid their dues and worked hard to get to the point where a new REZN album is met with much the same enthusiasm as say a new Elder album or Monster Magnet release. The anticipation and enthusiasm for new album "Solace" was of that level and they have not disappointed.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Fr

azer Jones

Wednesday 8 March 2023

EVILLEAF ~ SLOW BURN ..... review

North Carolina's EvilLeaf are a five piece combo consisting of Sara Sage (vocals/keys); Evil Wes McCumbee (rhythm guitar); Maurice Francis (lead guitar); Matt White (bass) and Derrick Moore (drums), a band somewhat in their infancy, given they only got together in 2021. Despite their short tenure as a band EvilLeaf boast a maturity of sound many more established band would give their right arms for, a sound that blends sludgy low ends rhythmic grooves with fuzzy desert riffs, scorching blues flecked solos and vocals that alternate between fey and ethereal and harsh and demonic , all of which can be heard gracing their very impressive debut EP "Slow Burn"

"Disquiet" opens proceedings, a perfectly balanced blend of bluesy swagger and occult flavoured rock built around a big circular riff anchored down by booming bass and tight solid drums, so far so good we hear you say but then in come Sage's vocals and take things to a whole other level, her vocal here is powerful clean and edged with an endearing grittiness which as the song progresses becomes more and more pronoounced  Second song "Folium Messis" is a brief instrumental interlude that allows Sage to show off her prowess on keyboards and is quickly followed up by "Summoned By Smoke" a slow burning but nonetheless rocking tune that has the feel of a torch song due in part to Sage's classically trained vocal, which is soaring and powerful, but also due to McCumbee and Francis' guitar textures, which are a mix of crunchy metal riffage and searing bluesy lead, White's bass and Moore's drums the glue holding it all together."Tenebris" is up next and here we find the band mixing into their bluesy occult flavoured grooves a touch of metallic vocal harshness, Sage showing us that even the classically trained can find their inner demons if needed. EvilLeaf brings things to a close with title track "Slow Burn" a pretty apt title when you consider that the majority of songs on display here possesses a slow burning dynamic, for this tune Sage once again alternates her vocals between ethereal crooning and demonic snarling but it is Francis eastern tinted guitar solos' that are the real star of this particular song.

There was a period when you could not throw a stone without hitting an occult themed rock band fronted by a female vocalist, bands like Blood Ceremony, Witch Mountain, The Devil's Blood and Kroh seemed to be popping up every other day, Things seems to have slowed down somewhat these days and those type of bands seem to be a little thinner on the ground so its good to see a band like EvilLeaf emerging to relight the beacon. EvilLeaf are not quite in the same league as those band mentioned YET but if they stick together and continue releasing EP's and albums of the quality of "Slow Burn" then it will not be long before they are.
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 7 March 2023


It was way back in 2014 when Witchthroat Serpent first came under Desert Psychlist's radar thanks to their Electric Wizard inspired self-titled debut "Witchthroat Serpent", the album had a raw slightly unrefined sound  but promised much for the future. Two years later the band followed up with "Sang-Dragon" a slightly more polished affair but still retaining that raw edginess that was fast becoming the bands signature. This was followed by the two song EP "Striped Dragon" which was followed a year later by the bands third full length album "Swallow the Venom". By now people were starting to sit up and take notice and realise that these guys were more than just Electric Wizard clones, that they were a band with something a little extra in their armoury. One of those to sit up and take notice were Heavy Psych Sounds Records who invited the band to  contribute to their "Doom Sessions" series of splits ("Vol.666" with Dead Witches) which in turn led to Heavy Psych Sounds picking up the option to release the bands new album "Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway", their first as a quartet.

Up until this release Witchthroat Serpent had been a trio consisting of  Fredrik (guitar/vox), Niko (drums) and Ügo (who replaced original bassist Lo Klav after the release of the bands third album). In 2020 Djé joined as second guitarist and the band almost immediately set about recording two brand new tracks for Heavy Psych Sounds Records "Doom Sessions Vol.666" with Dead Witches,. The two tracks Witchthroat Serpent premiered on that split saw Djé's inclusion bringing a denser thicker dynamic into play, a sound not too far removed from the bands original sound but a sound that felt a shade danker and a shade more slower and intense, it is this darker, denser sound that Witchthroat Serpent have chosen to explore further with new album "Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway". If you needed further proof of the slightly darker sound the band bring to the table with their new line-up then you need look no further than first track "Multi-dimensional Marvellous Throne (M-DMT)" a song with a sedate and heavy stoner doom dynamic decorated in monotonic clean vocal tones underscored by low thrumming guitar tones, growling bass and pounding slow percussion. It is hard to believe that things could get more darker, denser and intense but Witchthroat Serpent manage to do just that with next song "Nosferatu's Mastery" and ode to the legendary vampire of legend and cinema, Fredrik asking, in crystal clear tones, "did you hear a voice behind you" over a backdrop of thundering sedately paced doom that in its final third boasts some very impressive off kilter and lysergic laced lead work. Mellotron is not an instrument you hear gracing many albums these days but the staple of so many 70's albums makes an appearance on next track "The Gorgon" a weird but compelling experimental piece with a horror movie soundtrack vibe, the humble electronic keyboard more than holding its own against the movie samples and droning guitar effects it is forced to share space with. "The House That Dripped Blood" is doom in its most pure and basic form, deliciously slow guitar riffs reverberating and thrumming with malignant menace over crypt level low bass and pummelling percussion. Vocals are delivered clean and powerful and tell us of  a house filled with terrors, where evil dwells in every room and "vampires lay down in the wet cellar", the only relief from the doom and gloom being its searing guitar solos' which are scorching and heavily blues tinted. Penultimate track "Yellow Nacre" finds the band upping the pace to something a little closer to mid-tempo, the drums a touch more insistent, the bass a little more fluid and the vocals a tad brighter but with the guitars still very much remaining low, slow and thrumming. Witchthroat Serpent brings things to a close with "Mountain Temple in Bleakness" its bass heavy intro making way for a lysergic laced stoner doom groove that routinely swells and dissipates around a strikingly clean and clear vocal. In its initial stages the song follows much the same path as the majority of the albums preceding tracks, low slung guitar riffs, thundering slow pounding rhythms and morose, mournful vocals but then as the song reaches towards its finale things start to take on a more experimental air with screaming feedback and sinister droning guitar textures vying for space with a variety of movie sound bytes and samples.

For "Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway" Witchthroat Serpent decided to go the analogue route, recording everything to tape without the aid of computers or anything digital, this has resulted in a rawer more atmospheric sound but also a warmth you don't usually associate with stoner doom or similar doom related genres. The album also sees the band moving slightly away from those Electric Wizard influences, that have coloured much of their previous work, and finding their own unique signature sound, still a sum of those influences but not shackled by them.
Check 'em out ...... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones