Friday 28 April 2023


Sometimes you hear an album and you just know that said album is going to be one of your go to albums for the remainder of your life on this planet, admittedly this is a rare occurrence but when it does happen, as with Elder's "Lore", Kyuss' "Welcome To Sky Valley" and Black Sabbath's "Master of Reality", well it feels like an almost religious experience. It was this feeling we, at Desert Psychlist, experienced when pushing play on Pittsburgh combo Spotlights latest opus "Alchemy For The Dead" (Ipecac Recordings) a release that tears up the rock rule book by incorporating into its grooves elements of alt-rock, doom-gaze, synth-wave, prog and aspects of metal and stoner rock to create a sound that is devoid of boundaries and owes as much to The Cure, Portishead and Porcupine Tree as it does to those purveyors of heaviness we mentioned earlier.

Death, how we deal with it and its effect on everything we are connected with, is the main theme explored by Spotlights on "Alchemy For The Dead", but don't go expecting a journey down a rabbit hole of dark despair and depression because that is just not the case, yes the subject matter is weighty and the music can get dark and intense but there is also a beautiful dreaminess to be found here also. The band, Sarah Quintero (bass/guitar/vocals); Mario Quintero (guitar/synths/vocals) and Chris Enriquez (drums), may infuse their music with moments of heavy sludge-like ugliness but those moments are, more often than not, countered by episodes of shimmering ambience and synthesised lysergic liquidity and combine with the mostly hazy clean and melodic mix of lead and harmonised vocals to create a dynamic that although not exactly undulating is nonetheless multi-dimensional. The song writing  throughout this superbly put together opus is nothing short of mind-blowing, the lyrical structures and musical arrangements, on songs like "Beyond The Broken Sky", "Sunset Burial", "False Gods" (featuring Ben Ople on tenor sax), "Ballad In The Mirror", and the blustering and beautiful title track "Alchemy For The Dead", are nothing short of masterful and see swirling synths, shimmering percussion and gently picked acoustics routinely trading places with reverberating power chords, low growling bass motifs and heavy rhythmic drum patterns in a mix of styles and dynamics you would be hard pushed to find any other band being able to replicate.

Heavy music can often find itself travelling down the same old paths it has always travelled down, relying on the same old riffs and the same old lyrical cliches that we all still love and admire but do not really break new ground. Spotlights, with "Alchemy For The Dead" are bucking that trend, the songs that populate this album challenge the listener to explore outside of the musical boxes that have become their comfort blankets and change their perception of what equates to heavy.
Check it out ....  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 26 April 2023

RED EYED CULT ~ UNIT 61 ..... review

Gather ye Weedians, Hashishians and Lungsmen and climb aboard the caravan to the riff filled land of Norwich, UK where a new breed of Creedsmen are erecting a bong shaped temple in honour of the holy leaf, these new priests go by the name Red Eyed Cult and impart their wisdom via the medium of music, teachings that can be found residing within the grooves of their latest missive "Unit 61".

Red Eyed Cult, Lewis Doran (bass/vocals); Max Lungley (guitar) and John Franks (drums), site their influences as Sleep, High On Fire and Weedeater as well as such 70's giants as Mountain, Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath and although it is the first three of those influences that informs the greater part of the music offered up on "Unit 61" it is also not hard to pick out the elements Red Eyed Cult have cherrypicked from the last three. Don't however expect to hear an Ozzy- like clean nasal whine or a Leslie West bluesy holler gracing the grooves Red Eyed Cult lay before us, the vocals served up on songs like "Mithrandir","Up In Smoke","Grogg", "Hammerhands" and "Snowcone" are of the type a throat surgeon would be at pains NOT to recommend, larynx wrecking and raspy, not quite demonic but sailing pretty close to that level of harshness. It is however beneath those tonsil tearing vocal tones that the real surprises happen, it is here where you will find those 70's influences really making their presence felt with the drums and bass combining to create a swing not often found in modern metal these days and the guitar tones dialled to a vintage crunch rather than a heavy modern thrum. Of course given that the bands music resides in the canon of weedian flavoured stoner metal, sludge and doom the albums lyrical themes reference all the usual weed and wizards cliches but they also posses a little tongue in cheek grizzled stoner humour, you can't help but smile at a line like "Ahhh you fucked with a wizard, You better grab all your shit and leave before your dead" ("Mithrandir") or "place your heads on fucking pikes and throw them at his castle wall".("Grogg"), all of which proves that it is possible to be heavy and still have a little fun with it.

Red Eyed Cult decided to call their debut EP "Unit 61" due to the fact that it was recorded at Bomb Store Studios, a studio located on the site where Britain's first nuclear bomb was built and now bears that address, which when you think about is a very apt title given the explosive nature of the grooves it contains 
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 22 April 2023



Along with a love of a meaty riff  Desert Psychlist also loves a good melody, something we can easily hum or sing along to. Now we know that probably may seem a bit strange, seeing as we spend all our free time writing about and listening to music that isn't exactly massive on hummable melodies, but it is actually a fact, so you can imagine our delight when a band comes along that jams a marriage of the two. Margarita Witch Cult hail from Birmingham, UK the same city that gave us Black Sabbath, but that is where any comparisons with Ozzy and co. end, in fact Margarita Witch Cult are probably closer in sound to the raw edged desert rock of Kyuss than they are the dank pre-doom of Sabbath, their grooves are raw, raucous and raunchy and are at times even punky and Motorhead-ish, all of which makes their self-tiled debut "Margarita Witch Cult" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records) such a welcome breath of fresh air.

  After making mentions of Motorhead and punk rock in this reviews intro Margarita Witch Cult go and screw us over by opening their debut with "Diabolical Influence" a song that boasts a groove straight out of the Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats for dummies handbook, the song is catchy heavy and possess a superbly delivered vocal melody that is nigh-on impossible not to sing-along with. Next track "Death Lurks at Every Turn" comes out of the traps at breakneck tempo with its guitar tones raunchy and crunching, its drumming  furious and fiery, its bottom end lower than a snakes belly and its vocals ear-catching and gritty. Following number "The Witchfinder Comes" utilizes horror movie flavoured lyrical imagery around a heavy chugging proto-doom groove yet does not fall into the trap of trying to be overly dank and dark thanks in part to the songs endearing vocal playfulness "Be My Witch" follows and this is song guaranteed to prove a live favourite, close your eyes and you can just imagine a crowd fist pumping and slam dancing while singing along to its ear worm of a chorus. We did mention earlier that MWC have a little Motorhead in their locker and "Annihilation" is the song where they open that locker and allow it to run free, to call this fast and furious would be an understatement. MWC go instrumental for next track "Theme From Cyclops" a heavily rhythmic workout built around a circular groove that is then followed up by "Lord of the Flies" another hook laden tome, this one blending elements of  proto-doom with old school heavy metal and 70's heavy rock. "Aradia" is another instrumental but where the previous one threw the spotlight on the rhythmic duo of drummer George Casual and bassist Jim Thing this one allows guitarist/vocalist Scott Vincent the chance to shine and show off his six-string prowess. Last song "Sacrifice" opens the door for the band to stretch out and experiment with a little heavy psych texturing and colour, nothing over the top just a hint of lysergic ambience sandwiched either side by slabs of raucous raw gnarly retro flavoured doom.

If you like your grooves raucous, raw edged and nasty but are also partial to songs with old fashioned values like melody and swing then you can't go far wrong than by giving Margarita Witch Cult's self-titled debut a spin, its not perfect by any means but then when has perfection ever ranked high on a rock fans list of priorities.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 19 April 2023

1782 ~ CLAMOR LUCIFERI .... review

We all enjoy up-tempo and strident music from time to time but there are also times when the only thing that will satisfy is something down tuned heavy and relentless and you could not find a better band to supply that type of dynamic than Italian trio 1782. These guys, Gabriele Fancellu (drums/backing vocals); Francesco Pintore (vocals/bass) and Marco Nieddu (vocals/guitar/bass), are virtual black belts in the art of sedateness, so much so that you could easily imagine them spontaneously combusting if asked to raise their BPM's anywhere too far north of a pummelling plod. Relentless however does not equate to monotonous, 1782 may like to walk on the dark side but there are plenty of shards of light regularly shining through the bands miasma of gloominess that will cause any feelings of ennui to rapidly dissipate and no more so than on the bands latest release "Clamor Luciferi" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records)

Things begin reverent and solemn with organ heavy intro "A Merciful Suffering" (featuring Nico Sechi) but then take on a more satanic feel with its follow up "Succubus", the band settling nicely into a sedate doom groove replete with thrumming riffs and pounding percussion over which vocals are roared in bear like monotonic tones. "Demons" follows and boasts a slightly more strident tempo, not a gallop by any means but more a step up from a crawl to a heavy lumber. "Black Rites" is up next its dark reverberating riffs twinned with a mix of grizzled lead and hellish harmonized vocal interplay, it is on this track that one of those rare shards of light makes an appearance, Nieddu stepping up to the plate with a brief, but very welcome, guitar motif that is tonally at odds with the thick swampy tones surrounding it. If you thought things couldn't get any lower slower and heavier then that thought gets shattered by the almost subterranean groove of "Tummultus XIII" an instrumental that sounds like the soundtrack to an oncoming apocalypse. "River of Sins" raises the tempo once again but only by a notch and contains the albums most melodic vocal, that is if sounding like someone manically roaring from the bowels of the earth can be called melodic. The band bring a touch of psych to the altar for "Devil's Blood", only a hint but it does count as one of those shards of light we spoke of earlier. It is customary to close an album on a high but 1782 do not really do high and so with "Death Ceremony"  they go as low as it is possible to go without being crushed under the weight of their own riffs, a crushingly heavy doomic tome that gnaws at the ears like an emaciated zombie with the munchies.

There is a claustrophobic element to 1782's "Clamor Lucuferi", a heaviness in its grooves and its dank cloying atmospherics that at times feels almost physical and evokes a feeling of being crushed or smothered, strangely it is this same element that also make it such an enjoyable listening experience. Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 18 April 2023


As we have stated on these pages before Desert Psychlist likes to review albums and EP's in the month of their release but every now and then we find something we've missed, usually something released on the last day of the month, that we feel is too good to be ignored and so on these occasions we break that rule. This is the case with Brazilian doomsters The Evil's new album "Seven Acts To Apocalypse", the album landed on the last day of March and for some reason or another flew under our radar and that of many others which is a strange state of affairs given the bands self-titled debut, "The Evil", was so warmly embraced by all who heard it. The band, Miss Aileen  (vocals), Theophylactus (bass), Iossif (guitar) and Saengar (drums/percussions), hail from Minas Gerais, Brazil and jam a groove that is rooted in doom but incorporates into that groove elements of classical music and opera, however do not go lumping The Evil in with those symphonic metal bands like Nightwish and Epica, these guys are a different animal entirely.

Swirling wind effects and low droning bass introduce opening track "Envy" which is then is joined by a dank slurred Sabbathian guitar refrain and the soaring vocals of Miss Aileen, her vocal alternating between straight edged clean and gritty and soaring and operatic with the odd spoken narrative thrown in for atmospheric effect, it's doom folks but its doom with a classical edge. "Pride" follows and it seems that guitarist Iossif may be a bit of an Alice In Chains fan as he once again tints his refrains with a Cantrell- like slur. The vocals here are a superb mix of  ethereal croons and operatic vocal pyrotechnics with the latter dynamic really hitting its stride in the songs final quarter. As you may of already noticed the track titles reference mans seven deadly sins and so we have "Greed" next, a song that sees TheophylactusIossif and Saengar laying down a low slow chugging circular doom groove over which Miss Aileen waxes lyrical of mans obsession with having more in tones both gritty and soaring. "Sloth" follows and boasts a slightly more strident and metallic tempo with the vocals still alternating between straight and operatic but with a few unexpected vocal curveballs thrown in for added interest. "Lust" tampers down the operatics slightly and sees Miss Aileen exploring the more rockier range of her vocal spectrum over a backdrop of dank doom expertly delivered by her fellow band members. "Voracity" is up next, a low slow and heavy tome that features one of the best vocals on the album, vocals that begin macabre clean and menacing and build up to operatic and classical as the song progresses, well that is until the song reaches its three quarter mark and the band erupt into an up-tempo stoner/proto-doom groove with Miss Aileen's vocals taking on a similar gnarly dynamic. Last track "Wrath" finds Saengar supplying a barrage of thunderous rhythm for Iossif and Theophylactus to jam dark angular riffs over, Miss Aileen filling in all the available spaces around and in-between with her, by now, familiar mix of clean ethereal and classical flavoured vocal outpourings, its impressive stuff.

There are times throughout "Seven Acts To Apocalypse" when you could be fooled into thinking that you are listening to a doom version of Carl Orff's infamous cantata "Carmina Burana" backed by musicians from Black Sabbath, Sleep and Conan, such is the grandeur of the vocal performances and the dankness of the doomic grooves present beneath those vocals. Of course there will be those that find The Evil's blending of doom and opera totally atrocious and going against the true essence of doom but then isn't doom all about telling stories to an atmospheric musical soundtrack and are not those the same elements that can found in all the great opera's? We'll let you make your minds up on that one.
Check it out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 15 April 2023


The Danes are on the march again, this time their target is not the green and pleasant fields of England, as it was in days of yore, this time their sights are set on the dusty cold deserts of the Red Planet! Well not exactly but this seems to be the loose concept behind Danish combo Center of the Earth's latest release "Mars", a three song opus, recorded live in the studio, telling epic tales of swords and sorcery set to a soundtrack of crushing stonerized doom and wonderfully twisted heavy psych and space.  

Center of the Earth, Frederik Holm (guitar/vocals); Jesper Laugmann (guitar/backing vocals); Aksel Brammer (drums) and Sebastian Wilsleff (bass), may not wield swords and shields but the effect they create with their music is every bit as intimidating. Low slow heavy refrains driven by thunderous drumming and decorated in tunefully roared vocals is the order of the day here, a dynamic which would normally have us placing them in the stoner doom camp, but then there is also an intriguing psychedelic element to their sound that muddies the water somewhat and gives their grooves an unexpected cosmic twist. The best example of this "twist" can be found in the epic sized "Old Fang" a song that starts off in classic stoner doom mould, with Holm waxing lyrical of  sailing across red sands with "sword and shield and death at hand" over crunching low slung power chords and pummelling percussion, but then suddenly takes a left turn into what can only be described as a dark monastic passage with the vocals taking on a Gregorian cadence and the guitars getting psychedelic and other-worldly. "Witchqueen" follows and the initial dynamic is again low slow and heavy but is saved from becoming one-dimensional thanks to some searing blues tinted guitar work and a really powerful bear-like vocal. As the song reaches towards it finale the song  morphs into a chugging stoner/proto-doom groove proving that not only can these guys doom they can also rock out. Final number "HC Mechadevil" is an absolute peach of a song to close out on, an undulating doom-ic romp packed to the rafters with dank guitar tones, subterranean level bass lines and an incredible mix of tight and fluid drumming, a word of warning...listeners may well have to turn the volume down a few notches on their listening devices for this or they may soon be on the lookout for a new set of speakers.

 Not strictly stoner doom, despite its sometimes leaden tempo's, and not strictly traditional doom, thanks to its passages of heavy psych and space like experimentation, Center of the Earth's "Mars" is a bit of an enigma. It is some sort of doom, of that there is no doubt, but its not typical of the genre nor any of doom's sub-genre's which, in a scene saturated with similar sounding bands, is probably it biggest and best asset.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 14 April 2023


James Wallwork (guitar/vocals), Kyle Hulgus (guitar), Alex Wallwork (bass) and Joey Rhew (drums) hail from Evansville, Indiana and make music under the collective name of Faerie Ring. Some of you might remember Faerie Ring making somewhat of a splash with their 2019 debut "The Clearing", a riff heavy collection of "weedian" flavoured heavy rock/stoner doom that along with obvious influences like Sleep and Black Sabbath also drew inspiration from desert rock giants like Fu Manchu and Kyuss. The band return this year with a new album, "Weary Traveler" (King Volume Records), a blistering follow up that finds the band still "following the smoke to the riff filled land" but taking full advantage of a modern studio to refine and polish their "weedian" tomes.

 Let's be honest here, for most of us fans of heavy rock music, and especially underground heavy rock music, it is all about "the riffs", you can dress things up by talking about atmospherics, textures, tones and lyrical imagery but if "the riffs" ain't cutting it then you are probably going to see us moving on to a band whose riffs do. Now that might sound shallow but unfortunately it is true, how many budding axe heroes will pick up a guitar for the first time just so they can play a shimmering arpeggio, the answer is not many, the majority will want to crunch out the iconic riffs from songs like "Smoke On The Water", "Sunshine Of Your Love" or "Highway To Hell" and only then move on to more complicated things. Now we are not trying to paint Faerie Ring as a band whose whole sound is solely reliant on the strength of their riffs, they have far more going for them than that, but their riffs are an important element of their sound and boy do they have some beauties, thick crunchy ones, dank dark reverberating ones and some so heavy they are in danger of collapsing under their own weight. Riffs aside Faerie Ring also have some other things working in their favour, firstly the vocals, which are clean powerful and possess a mournful edginess, secondly the relentless intensity of the bands rhythm section, which at times is breath-taking, and thirdly the subtle colours and textures the two guitarist bring into play when they are not banging out a gnarly refrain, check out the sublime "Endless Color/Dope Purple" for proof of that last statement. It is these extra elements, working in conjunction with those aforementioned riffs, that takes Faerie Ring's "Weary Traveler" from being just another run of the mill gnarly riff fest to being something quite special indeed. 

Fans of Sleep, The Sword and Black Sabbath will love what Faerie Ring bring to the table with "Weary Traveler" but lets be clear about something and that is these guys are no bandwagon jumping doomsters trying to clone a sound that has proved fruitful for others. Faerie Ring are their own animal, their sound might bear similarities to those band mentioned but it is a sound that has its own unique flavour, its own characteristics, its own signature and most importantly its own RIFFS!
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 13 April 2023


Here is something you don't find on Desert Psychlist everyday, a band carrying the tag "Viking metal" beneath their Bandcamp profile, we of course have nothing against "Viking metal", we get off on bands like Bathory and Amon Amarth as much as the next Berserker/Shield Maiden, its just that the album we are reviewing today doesn't quite fit snugly into that whole old gods, axe'n'riff thing, its less one-dimensional, far more diverse and whole lot more enjoyable. The album we are discussing here is "Secrets of the Cosmos" from a combo going by the name of Sins Of MagnusEric Early (bass/vocals); Rich Sutcliffe (guitar/vocals) and Sean Young (drums), a trio from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who describe themselves as a sort of Black Sabbath/Motorhead hybrid with an obsession with all things Norse.

Don't go expecting long drawn out songs stretching well over the nine minute mark as that is just not what Sins Of Magnus are all about, this is a band who like to get their punches in quick and move on, six minutes equates to an epic in this bands book and their music is all the better for that. Things get off to a Sabbathian flavoured start with "Snakes", the songs catchy vocal melody bears a distinctive Ozzy like nasality, however the songs groove is more desert rock than it is proto-doom and is punctuated with passages of punk(ish) bluesy swagger. Title track "Secrets of the Cosmos" follows and apart from its grittier vocal and its "No Quarter" like finale it is hard to find anything Viking to report on, this is pure punk edged stoner rock jam packed with enough hooks to fill a cloakroom. And so it continues through the whole album, each song possessing its own individual merits, each heavy but never overpowering, each bearing a marked difference in attack from its neighbour. When the band do don their Norse armour, like on "Stoking The Flames" and "No Sanctuary" it is more in the vein of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" than it is say Amon Amarth's "Put Your Back Into The Oars" or Bathory's "Blood Fire Death", less abrasive metal more raw rock. The band even get a little alternative and quirky on "Mother Knows Best" (which features Pete Cortner on vocals), and go urban and hardcore on "Is Anybody There?" (featuring Sam Pinola), both tracks showing a level of diversity far removed from the Viking metal they seem to have found themselves associated with.

If you are looking to inflict a Blood Eagle on that annoying neighbour whose dog has deposited something nasty on your lawn, then maybe "Secrets Of The Cosmos" is not the soundtrack you are looking for. Sins Of Magnus may toy with Norse imagery but to tag them as Viking metal is kind of stretching things a little far, sure there are aspects of the metal sub-genre that can be found in their grooves but you can also find elements of hardcore punk, desert/stoner rock and Sabbath-esque proto-doom in what they bring to the table, a sound that is as raucously diverse as it is delightfully dangerous.
Check 'em out .....  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 12 April 2023



Mansfield, UK's Syncolima came into being after bassist Stoff and drummer Gaz Evans pulled the plug on their previous band Witchtripper and began looking around for a guitarist who could also handle vocals. The pair approached Josh Morgan, who had previously been plying his skills with Supersonic Death Monkey, Morgan agreed to give things a go and after a productive jam session it become apparent that this was something that had wings enough to fly, and so Syncolima were born. The band didn't waste much time documenting their existence and soon released an album, "Where The End Meets The Beginning" which saw Syncolima fusing together elements of hard rock and metal and then adding into that mix pop like hooks and ear catching melodies, not exactly a mainstream rock sound but one that at times came pretty close. This year the band return with their second album, "Wavelengths" a tome with much the same flavour as its predecessor only this time containing a little added spiciness.

"Beautifully Unsaid" kicks things off , a raucous blend of crunching guitar refrains and strident rhythms married to a clean, slightly gritted vocal, a song with the sort of crossover appeal bands like Thin Lizzy and UFO once boasted of, crunchy enough to please the rockers but with a groove that could possibly appeal to a wider demographic. Desert Psychlist has to admit to having reservations about next track "Riff", not because it doesn't rock, because it does, but because its sermon like vocal is more geared towards audience participation and doesn't quite work (for us) as an album track. "Communicide", however, is the perfect album track, a song that rocks when it needs to and lays out languid and lysergic when it doesn't while next track "New Beginnings" finds Syncolima toying with a little proto-doom, not quite Sabbath-esque but certainly in that ballpark. Title track "Wavelengths" is an undulating gem that routinely shifts between hazy and heavy with Morgan tailoring his vocal and guitar tones to accommodate the songs changes and Stoff and Evans laying down an almost fusion type groove to drive those changes. "Death of an Enemy" and "The Dregs" are out and out heavy rockers  that are sure to become live favourites while "Down In The Muck" twins a 70's heavy rock groove with a 60's flavoured vocal melody then signs out on a Celtic reel played at warp speed. "Dead and Gone" follows and is a hard rock gem with an almost theatrical dynamic that is both playful and rocking, The band bring things to a close with "Pound of Flesh" another undulating tome that twins languid passages with heavier sections and sees Morgan chopping out Lizzy/UFO flavoured guitar refrains and lysergic laced guitar solos while Stoff  lays down exceptional bottom end in support, Evans' tight solid and powerful drumming the glue holding it all together.

Syncolima are not a doom, a heavy metal, a stoner, a psych, a glam or even a pop band but at the same time they are all those things and more, they are a band unafraid to dip their toes into any genre that takes their fancy just so long as they can make it rock. They have a sound that is unmistakably British and owes a debt to Thin Lizzy, UFO, Stray and bands of that ilk but one, that like those bands mentioned, is international in its appeal. "Where The End Meets The Beginning" was a great debut, "Wavelengths" is a superb follow up, their next will be a MONSTER!
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 11 April 2023


We at Desert Psychlist absolutely love a big clean powerful vocal, this is not to say we have anything against the guttural growlers, the demonic screechers, the ethereal crooners and the whiskey ruined roarers who also populate the hard rock, stoner, doom and psych scene, all of which have been covered and praised on these pages, it is just that there is something about a strong rich voice (male or female) that really smacks our sweet spot and sends shivers of delight hurtling down our spines. Indianapolis quartet Void King possess amongst their number a vocalist of such power and tone, the bands line up of Derek Felix (drums/percussion), Chris Carroll (bass) and Tommy Miller (guitar) lay down grooves that blend proto and traditional flavoured doom with elements of classic metal, hard rock and grunge, it is a sound that even without the addition of vocals would sound majestic and mighty but with Jason Kindred's rich strong tones front and centre things take on a whole new level of impressive as you will no doubt discover when listening to the bands latest album "The Hidden Hymnal"

"The Hidden Hymnal" is not just a collection of songs built around powerful grooves and and an exceptional vocal, dig into the albums lyrics and you will find intelligent observations of our current political climate, our relationships with each other and the individual choices we make in our lives. Opening song "Egg Of The Sun" might boast thick reverberating doom flavoured guitar tones and thunderous rhythms but vocalist Kindred is not waxing lyrical about devil's and demon's he's pointing a finger at those that turn a blind eye to intolerance and prejudice, a state of affairs perfectly summed up in the line "Mine eyes have seen the tyranny of the hatred caused by bended knee", telling us "It's time to shine the light In the cracks where they like to hide". Following number " The Grackle" tells the story of an injured bird being taken in and nursed back to health against a backdrop of strident metallic bluster, a moralistic tale told in forceful tones whereby the bird could be an analogy for helping a friend down on their luck or a political refugee in need of support, a great song either way you care to read it . Third track "Engulfed In Absence" is an emotive lament/tribute to a departed parent/guardian that if it had been sang to a backdrop of bluesy guitar and sympathetic keyboards could have possibly come across as a little cheesy, thankfully Void King chose to go in completely the other direction and what could have been laid back mournful and sad is instead heavy celebratory and thankful. Next track "When The Pinecones Close Up" not only boasts a superb vocal it also throws the spotlight on how good a band it is that supports that vocal, Carroll's low boneshaking bass lines lock in with Felix's thunderous and tight drums to lay down a platform of groove that even at its quietest is still mountainous while Miller's guitar work, although not soaring here, is the glue that that holds it all together, his thick toned riffs reverberate and thrum like an overloaded power cable. Void King get a little bluesy for penultimate number "Brother Tried" a gritty rant against fake news and misinformation and those that use the internet to both control and divide while final song  "Drink In The Light" is another tune that can be read two ways, is it one man describing an episode of hypochondria, as the line "Fear fills in the times when the mind is allowed to roam" seems to suggest, or is the body in question a lyrical tool to explain a society slowly falling into disrepair, our money is on the latter but we could be wrong so we'll let you decide.

Doom, stoner/hard rock and metal bands are dab hands at telling tales of the dark arts, wizards and witches and swords and sorcery but not so good at dealing with things sitting on their own doorsteps. This is where Void King's "The Hidden Hymnal" differs from albums released by many of their contemporaries, here we have songs that reference fathers, brothers, current political situations and social media, an album populated with people events and situations we can not only relate to but have to deal with everyday, its basically all our triumphs all our disappointments and all our fears set to music.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 10 April 2023


That dastardly duo of A (guitar/bass/vocals) and P (drums) return with another platter of distortion drenched fuzz flooded acid doom. For those of you scratching your heads wondering who the fuck A and P are then you will probably know them better by their collective name of Sonic Demon, an Italian duo renowned for barely audible vocals roared, shouted and snarled over backdrops of Electric Wizard inspired gnarled guitar riffage and relentless powerful drumming. Those with their fingers on the pulse of the Italian acid doom/scuzz scene will probably already be familiar with the bands previous outings "Doom 2020" and "Vendetta" and will know that finesse and subtlety are not high on Sonic Demon's list of musical attributes, but even they may be surprised by the venomous attack of their latest release "Veterans of the Psychic War" (Majestic Mountain Records/ Interstellar Smoke Records)

Sonic Demon are with "Veterans of the Psychic War" inviting you to hear the scuzz, feel the scuzz and become one with the scuzz. This has got to be the bands most gnarly, raucous and uncompromising album to date, its fuzz and distortion has a tangible quality that adheres itself to you like a foul filthy grime and makes you feel like taking a long hot shower moments after its last note has faded into the ether. From opening song "Electric Demon" to closing number "To Hell and Back" there is hardly any let up, moments of hazy quiet reflection are rare and when they do present themselves, like on the excellent "Black Pill" and the psychedelic and bluesy "Sexmagick Nights",  they have an almost reverse shock effect whereby the listener, who by now is expecting more scuzzed out gnarliness, suddenly experiences a "where the fuck did that come from" reaction when an out of the blue  passage of lysergic haziness suddenly appears.  Like many of the bands populating the Italian acid doom scene Sonic Demon are not overly concerned with the clarity of their vocals and bury them way back in the mix, the odd word can be picked out here and there but on the whole are delivered in a barely audible sneered snarl, strangely this is the bands, and for that matter the scenes, biggest selling point because those coming to this music are not looking for pristine solo's and sing a long choruses, they are here for the rawness, the ferality and the filthiness of the fuzz all of which Sonic Demon deliver by the truckload.

Sonic Demon make the music they want to make, they are not trying to please anyone but themselves. You are unlikely to find this duo getting in depth articles written about them in glossy mags like Classic Rock and Metal Hammer simply because they are just too feral, raw and uncompromising for the readership of those publications. However for those of us who like their grooves filthy and their vocals sneered and snotty Sonic Demon are manna from heaven (or maybe hell) and their album "Veterans of the Psychic War" a shining example of how damn good nasty can be 
Check 'em out ....   

© 2023 Frazer Jones