Tuesday 30 May 2023

WOYGN ~ ASCENDANCE ...... review

The first thing Desert Psychlist does of a morning is check through the endless emails and messages that we are constantly sent from PR companies, record labels, bands and fellow groove seekers, we then save to a file what we find interesting and discard what we don't. Our next job is to then peruse the stoner, doom and other relevant genres of Bandcamp to see what else might be of interest and worthy of a possible review. It was while we were busying ourselves doing the latter that we came across an EP release entitled "Ascendance" from a Slovenian duo going by the name Woygn, Jan Laznik (guitar/vocals) and Alex Paradiž (bass/drums,/backing vocals). Drawn in by the bands unusual name and the EP's stunning artwork we pushed play and what we heard immediately pushed everything else earmarked for a review down a place and resulted in the words you will find below.

Woygn  kick off "Ascendance" with the face melting "Watery Grave" a song that combines thunderous percussion with fuzz heavy riffage, screaming guitar solos and impassioned clean sneery vocals to create a sound that is a raunchy blend of sludge and stoner/hard rock fleshed out with elements of psychedelic doom and pacey heavy metal. Now it is often the case that a band will open a release with what they perceive as an "ear grabber" a song so good you can forgive said band any fall off in intensity and impact that may follow, however "fall" and "off" are not words that exist in Woygn's vocabulary and so "Watery Grave" is followed up with three more ass-kicking ball-busting barn burners. "Ascendant Divine", with its Maiden-esque galloping groove and off the scale lead work, the proto-doomic "The Glutton", with its tastefully shredded solos', gritty vocal interplay and furious drumming, and "Lord of the Plagueborne", with its almost Viking metal like groove and bellowed vocal harmonies, are each as impactful and joyously intense as each other, there are no ambient let ups or lilting ballads allowing the listener time to catch a breath instead what you get is full on metallic furiosity from the EP's very first note to its last, a mind-blowing maelstrom of groove.
Check it out ..... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 27 May 2023


The stories of HP Lovecraft are probably just as influential on today's heavy underground as Black Sabbath's first six albums, Lovecraft's twisted tales of killer cats, monstrous sea creatures and mysterious cities and islands have inspired songs, albums and even band names. Having died in 1937 Lovecraft was of course oblivious to the influence his writings would later have on popular culture but it is interesting to note that scholar Joseph Norman once argued that there were similarities between the music described in Lovecraft's fiction and the aesthetics and atmosphere of metal music. Either way Lovecraft's writing continues to inspire lyrics and music right up to the present day and no more so than the subject of this review. 
OceanlordJason Ker (bass); Peter Willmott (guitar/vocals) and Jon May (drums), came together in Melbourne, Australia in 2019 over a shared love of doom. in 2020 the band tested the waters with a two song demo that garnered good responses from all the right quarters, unfortunately Covid then reared its ugly head and any plans the band had for moving forward were scuppered by the ensuing lockdown, well not exactly all plans because with time on his hands Willmott set about building his own home studio. It was in this studio that the band convened, after lockdown, to track the songs for their debut album "Kingdom Cold" (Magnetic Eye Records) a stunning mix of doom, psych and post-metal crafted around Lovecraftian themes of horror and the occult.

 Opening song "Kingdom" opens with a low deeply distorted bass motif over which an off centred guitar lick wails and drones, the drums then join in and the band take off on the sedate doomic groove that forms the songs backbone and lays the foundation for the songs vocals. If you are not familiar with Oceanlord then these vocals might come as somewhat of a surprise, firstly because they contain almost no traces of the usual bellowed gruffness, Ozzy-like nasality or demonic harshness that is often associated with doom and secondly because they possess a tone more akin to folk-rock than they do doom, clean clear and world-weary they add an air of fragile vulnerability to Oceanlord's music. "2340" follows, a song documenting a doomed voyage that finds Willmott singing of "children" who "watch their fathers drown" while "the Captain waves farewell" against a groove anchored down by Ker's thick fuzzy bass lines and May's mix of tight and loose percussion, the dynamic only shifting up a gear in the songs chorus where Willmott woefully laments of "going down again" and "never coming home" while crunching out treacle thick power chords and swirling dank solos. Next up is "Siren" a restrained,. almost gentle, ode to those shimmering maidens of legend who are fabled to call sailors to their deaths with their song, Willmott's fragile almost resigned vocal tones adding extra gravitas to the songs lyrical content. Dissonance and distortion introduce next track "Isle of the Dead" followed by a devastatingly delicious dank doom groove over which Willmott acts as our travel guide, describing in gory detail the islands many macabre wonders. This is followed by the bluesy, yes we did say bluesy, "So Cold" an enthralling little ditty with many interesting twists and turns that in its last quarter constantly feels like its building towards a climax but never quite does. Final track "Come Home", is a much more expansive tome than those that have gone before, here the musicians find the space to stretch out a little and just enjoy being in the groove, especially Willmott whose heavily effected guitar solo, that takes the song to the fade, is a mouth-wateringly sublime mix of crunchiness and finesse.

Oceanlord's "Kingdom Cold" is the type of  album you get when musicians from different musical backgrounds get together to make music inspired by a shared love of  H.P. Lovecraft and doom, a sound not typical of the doom genre but yet still recognisable as being of that genre. The band have in the past described their sound as "stoner gloom rock" and in fairness it does possess a certain gloominess but it is a gloom you will want to embrace and in turn be embraced by, which when you think about it is a concept Lovecraft would probably wholeheartedly approve of.
Check it out ....    

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 25 May 2023


Finnish sludgemeisters Takezo consist of Niko Oikarinen (vocals/guitar); Tino Kraft (guitar); Jesse Antikainen (bass) and Sami Taskinen (drums) and are a band who jam a sludgy low and heavy groove that, thanks to its ever so subtle psychedelic textures and colours, manages to fall just the right side of crushing. The band have, prior to the subject of this review, released two EP's and a full length album "Reality Left Behind", all of which have been fairly well received by those with their fingers on the pulse of the underground rock scene. Takezo have just recently dropped their latest release "Waste of Consciousness", a collection of four epic sized tomes guaranteed to shake your masonry loose and destabilize your foundations.

"Waste of Consciousness" begins its journey with "Medicine" a sprawling twelve minute epic that begins with the two guitarists crunching out deep reverberating doom flavoured riffs over a backdrop of steady ponding percussion and grumbling bottom end but then is moved by the band into a sludgy proto-metallic groove over which vocals are voiced in gruff bellicose tones and swirling lysergic laced guitar textures routinely weave in and out of, a highly impressive opening number. "Quick and Painless", the albums shortest track, follows and what this song lacks in length it more than makes up for in intensity and sheer ferocity with Oikarinen adding an element of punk/hardcore aggressiveness to his vocals to give the songs overall feel one of conflict and confrontation, a feel that is perfectly matched by the in your face nature of the music surrounding those vocals. We will deal with the albums last two tracks ,"Goats" and "Innsmouth", together  as they are what we can only describe two of the best blendings of doom, sludge and heavy psych Desert Psychlist has had the privilege of sitting through for what seems like eons. Here are two song that any new bands hoping to plough a furrow in the fields of heavy  music should aspire to and take inspiration from. Takezo inject into these final two songs everything you could ever want from music of this nature, dank heavy riffs, off centred lysergic guitar solos', full on bear like vocals, thunderous drumming and bone-shaking bass lines, but they mix that instrumentation with a level of fearlessness that has become increasingly rare at the heavier end of the musical spectrum these days. Where some bands coming to a musical fork in the road will invariably take the safer option Takezo will, almost on every occasion, opt to take their music down the road less travelled and it is this fearlessness combined with their skills as musicians that sets Takezo apart from many of their contemporaries and makes these two songs, and "Waste of Consciousness" as a whole, such a damn good listen.

It would seem the further North you go the heavier and more twisted the music becomes, whether this is because musicians from the Nordics are drawn to darker dynamics due to the weird (to us) day and night ratios that effect those regions we cannot say but it is a fact that some of the gnarliest, dankest and downright heaviest metal music has tended to emanate from coldest reaches of the North. With "Waste of Consciousneess" Takezo  do not only uphold the North's reputation for twisted heaviness they enhance it, not however by attempting to out-heavy all those around them but by adding to their heaviness an absence of expectancy whereby where you may think Takezo's music might be heading at the start of a song may well be a million miles away from where it will actually arrive at the end of that song.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 22 May 2023


Desert Psychlist described Chilean trio Peregrino's first EP "Borde" as an "excellent blend of hard rock, doom and heavy psych", we then went on to dub their second self-titled EP "Peregrino" as "truly excellent in every department", now with the release of  their first full length album "BongoBonzoo" we are going to have to come up with a whole new list of superlatives, though in all honesty it will not be a difficult task as this album RIPS!

Peregrino, Pablo Moreno (vocals/guitar); Luis Oviedo (bass) and Alejandro "Nano" Vera (drums), do not bring anything particularly ground-breaking to the table, their sound is a fairly straightforward mish mash of fuzzy stoner/desert rock, blues, grunge and heavy psych  that is then decorated in clean melodic vocal tones (sung in their own native Spanish tongue). So why then is Desert Psychlist going out of our way to review the bands latest opus and in turn try to persuade you, the reader, to invest your time and money in this bands latest venture? The reason is the way this band go about executing those grooves, the musical formula this band use as their starting point maybe one that has become somewhat overused in the past but they inject into that formula so much vigour and vitality that its almost like hearing music of this nature for the very first time, the band infusing subtle textures of  their Latin heritage into those tried and tested riffs and rhythms to give them a freshness and vitality maybe not found in desert flavoured rock music since bands like Kyuss, Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson moved their operations away from makeshift outdoor events and into clubs and arena's. Each of the eleven songs that make up "BongoBonzoo" are mini masterpieces in their own right, from the pure desert rock of "Viento fresco", through the Santana on mushrooms and speed title track "BongoBonzoo" to the gloriously all over the place angular and manic craziness of final track "Vendaval" not one single second will you be wishing you had not dropped the needle or pushed play on this absolute enthralling Chilean gem, its such a damn good trip from start to finish.

 Those out there already familiar with the grooves Chile and other South American based bands have to offer will find "BongoBonzoo" a more than worthy addition to your music collections. If , however, you are non-Spanish speaking lover of desert flavoured rock and swirling heavy psych looking to dip your toes into the South American underground scene for the very first time then we could not recommend a better starting point than Peregrino's full length debut, it's not just a great South American album, it's a great album FULL STOP!
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 19 May 2023



It may surprise some to find that we at Desert Psychlist never really got off on the whole thrash metal thing, we of course appreciated the musicianship of bands like Slayer, Metallica and others but our musical preferences have always leant more towards the sedate and slower end of the metal spectrum, so much so that we would sometimes play a 45rpm single by one of thrash's big three at 33rpm to see what it would sound like slowed down (pretty good in some cases). Today we are reviewing an album by a band who have described their music as "stoner thrash" which, given our above statement, may lead you to expecting somewhat of a hatchet job from us, but you could not be further from the truth. The band in question hail from Tel Aviv Yafo, Israel and go by the name Love Your Witch, consisting of Michael Kozlovzky (guitar); Mor Gal (bass/vocals) and Amit Abrahamy (drums), and first came to our attention via their second album "If You Love Your Witch Kill Her" a collection of gnarly assed tunes that staggered the bands love of a speedy tempo with moments of mid tempo stoner fuzziness and low slow doom. We were so impressed by what the band were bringing to the table we immediately went back to check out their self-titled debut and have been taking a keen interest in their progress ever since. The band return this year with "A Journey Into The Unknown" (Reality Rehab Records) an album that sees Love Your Witch not completely abandoning their thrash roots but tempering them slightly to accommodate a much more open and rounded musical attack that allows those other elements a little more room to shine, we think its their best album yet.

Opening song "Fire Lady" puts a marker down for the rest of the album, its wearily crooned vocal, accompanied by ringing guitar arpeggios low grumbling bass lines and intricate drum patterns, gives the song a mid 70's prog feel in places, a feel totally at odds with what we have come to expect from this band in the past. If you thought the previous song was somewhat of a departure for this Israeli trio then wait until your ears get a load of "Under Water", a song that finds the band throwing everything from psychedelic grunge to doomic prog into the pot then vigorously stirring it all together to create a gumbo of groove that'll leave you searching around to find exactly where you just dropped your jaw.  Next is "Breaking Point" an intriguing fusion of stoner rock swagger and dank doomic bluesiness that along with its gritty vocal tones boasts some face melting lead work from Kozlovzky, especially in its more thrash like final moments. For "Barrel In The River" Love Your Witch" switch their baseball caps back to front and get down urban and funky, bassist Gal spitting out his vocals in a rap style meter over some incredible drumming from Abrahamy, drumming that gets even more incredible when the groove moves towards a more doomic dynamic in its last quarter. "Care Free" follows and begins life in gnarly stoner mode but then morphs into a heavy blues chug before then transitioning once more into a full on thrash fest while "Witches Blues" is exactly what it says it is... a blues, and an achingly beautiful one to boot. "Temples Down" is another blues only this one a touch more downbeat and morose, Gal's bass locking in with  Abrahamy's drums to create a tense sinister atmosphere made even more sinister by Gal's wearied and emotional vocal and Kozlovzky's shimmering and fractured guitar textures. Closing number "Superman", an instrumental, runs the full gamut of rock and metal, opening its account with a mixture of prog and post-rock textures then spiralling through elements of stoner metal, doom and the blues before finally ending in a full on thrash wig out, breath-taking! 

 Desert Psychlist reviews a lot of music, it's what we do, but not all of the albums we review are game changers, most are what we consider to be just great listens, however, in our opinion  Love Your Witch's "A Journey Into The Unknown" is a game-changing genre defining monster that is as good as anything that has been released by any of the underground scenes big hitters this year.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 17 May 2023

MOONSTONE ~ GROWTH .... review

It seems like quite a while since we dipped our toes into the murky waters of the Polish underground scene and what better band could we pick to make that return journey for than Moonstone, a four piece combo from Kraków consisting of Wiktor Kozak (bass); Kacper Kubień (drums); Jan Maniewski (guitars/vocals) and Volodymyr Lyashenko (guitars). Regular readers may remember Desert Psychlist heaping truckloads of well deserved wordy praise on the bands 2021 two song opus "1904", waxing lyrical about its dark spirituality and its expansive blending of ambience and heaviness, well the band return this year with another helping of all of the above with "Growth", and if you thought "1904" was something special then wait 'till this little gem hits your audial canals.

Gently plucked guitars, laid back percussion and vocals that possess a lilting folk-like quality might not be quite what you are expecting to hear from a band we, at Desert Psychlist, have described in the past as having a low slow and heavy aesthetic but the beauty of listening to a Moonstone release is that you don't always get what you expect. "Harvest", the albums opening track, might start its journey from a place of calm and tranquillity but musical journey's tend to deviate and rarely finish how they started and this is also the case here. Those sweetly serene guitar tones that introduced this song are gradually replaced by dark reverberating chord progressions, those laid back drum patterns become more insistent and heavier, the introduction of bass guitar adds a dark edgy pulse to proceedings and the vocals shift from folk-like to having an almost Gregorian cadence, these shifts, although subtle, leaving the listener doubting whether the song they just pressed play on is the the same one nearing its close on a wall of droning dissonance. "Bloom" follows and like its predecessor starts loose and languid but instead of a gradual climb into heaviness the band dive straight into that heaviness after just a few bars, only deviating from that heavier dynamic for a brief interlude of  post metal languidity before erupting back into a stoner doom groove to take things to the close. "Sun" is a far from sunny opus with a slow creeping dynamic decorated in a twisted mournful vocal, it is probably the albums only song that, apart from a brief folkish interlude, sticks rigidly to what we have come to recognise as a typical stoner-doom groove. "Night" is up next and boasts ringing guitar arpeggios shimmering over a low slung bass motifs and tight percussion, this is a song that slowly increases in both atmosphere and intensity but never quite explodes to the level you expect it to, this might sound like a complaint but it is not as it is this expectancy and anticipation that ultimately works in the songs favour. "Lust" is probably Desert Psychlist's favourite track on the album, it's a song that mixes a little Sabbathian flavoured proto-doom with traditional doom and then puts a spin on things that only a band hailing from Poland's heavy underground could pull off, and if you don't quite understand that last statement then you need to listen to more Polish doom. Finally we arrive at "Emerald" a song with a torch-song like dynamic boasting deep lyrics telling of "ground once tortured" and a "will once torn and broken" against a backdrop of crunching riffs, spiralling guitar solos, growling bottom end and powerful drumming, its intense heavy but also quite beautiful.

Moonstone's "Growth" is an album that is constantly in flux and at odds with itself, an album that can be serene, tranquil and melancholic one moment and brutish, blustering and confrontational the next, it  feels, in places, like this is an album that is a product of a band who have had to deal with mental health issues in the past (we could be wrong), which may go a long way in explaining why the band  describe "Growth" as "a sonic tale about the many emotional journeys that we've been through, currently struggle with and will battle again in the future"
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 15 May 2023


We at Desert Psychlist are not 100% sure but we think Alconaut, the subject of this review, could well be the first Corsican band to be featured on these hallowed pages. The band, Georges Agostini (guitar/harmonica/vocals/keys); Kevin Albertini (bass) and Antoine-Joseph Marini (drums). hail from Bastia in the north-east of Corsica and started out by playing covers of songs by Sleep, The Sword and Fu Manchu which then led on to them composing their own material and in turn releasing their debut "Sand Turns To Tide" three years later. Of course then along came a global pandemic and put paid to things like promotion, gigging and touring but thankfully that period is now behind them and with a new album in the can, "Endless Skies", and with the world once again opening up, Alconaut could well become Corsica's most noted export since Napoleon Bonaparte.

 "Causality" a brief instrumental mood piece, consisting of drone like effects accompanied by shimmering keys, opens proceedings then slams straight into "Slugs" a stuttering bass heavy stoner/desert tome underscored by punchy tight percussion and washes of textured keyboard over which is delivered a clean vocal melody tinted with just a hint of laryngeal distortion, its damn impressive stuff and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Next track up is "Lost" and where the previous track rode a desert/stoner/hard rock path this one throws in everything from off centred bluesiness to stoner metal swagger and sees searing and tasteful guitar solos facing off with raucous ragged bass refrains against a backdrop of powerful and thunderous percussion, Agostini adding a growlier edge to his vocal in order not to be overwhelmed in the onslaught. Up next is the "Ascending" trilogy, three songs divided into three separate movements entitled "The Departure", "Journey" and "Endless Skies" each movement possessing its own charms and individual merits and each an intriguing mixture of post-rock languidity and crunching stoner heaviness, the band showing that the desert rock aspects of their sound owe as much to the sonic explorations of Yawning Man and Colour Haze as they do to the fuzz pedal fuelled filthiness of Kyuss and Fu Manchu. Its back to firing on all fuzz for "Icarus Down" with Agostini's guitar and Albertini's bass combining to deliver a myriad of jagged and raw refrains over Martini's backdrop of pummelling percussion, Agostini's vocal, impassioned and powerful, a perfect match for the musical ferocity being unleashed around it. "Gelmir's Path" keeps the momentum going with a chugging hard rocker packed to the gills with stuttering guitar and bass riffs and is driven hard by some incredible drumming from Martini while final song "Earthbound" finds the band mixing post-rock and prog textures with elements of the blues and heavy psych in an atmospheric and emotionally charged instrumental that is both uplifting and melancholic in equal measure. 

"Endless Skies" is a seriously good album from a seriously good band who have a lot going for them, the guitar and bass tones on this albums more ferocious numbers are as good, if not better in places, than any you will hear on albums by some of the scenes more established bands and when they lay out loose and languid they do so with a skill and aptitude that belies their relatively short tenure as a working unit.
As Corsica's most famous native once said "Until you spread your wings, you'll have no idea how far you can fly", well Alconaut have spread their wings, now watch them soar.
Check 'em out ....  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 11 May 2023


Many cite Birmingham, UK's Black Sabbath as the founding fathers of occult flavoured rock but there are also many who will argue that it was Chicago, USA outfit Coven who really brought a darker edge to the altar of  rock'n'roll,  Why are we mentioning this you may ask, well the reason is the release of "Arrival of the Church of Psychic Mass" an EP from Australian trio Psychic Mass that, intentionally or unintentionally, carries an essence of Coven's psychedelic occultism in its grooves. The Melbourne trio, consisting of Lizard (vocals); Lang (guitars & bass) and J.R.(drums), have together, with the help of their friend Daniel Tucceri (keys), created a sound that harks back to a time in rock's history when light shows at gigs were a provided by a light shone through a rotating disc of painted plastic and beads and headbands were  mandatory fashion accessories, in other words the 60's.

Most would describe what Psychic Mass do musically as retro or vintage and each of the four songs that appear on "Arrival of the Church of Psychic Mass" most certainly do fall into one or both of those categories but then there is such a high level of authenticity involved here that you could almost be fooled into thinking these were songs originally recorded by some obscure 60's band that had been given a present day studio make-over. Opening song "Tumbleweeds" is a prime example, its guitar tones possess a warm vintage jangly fuzziness, its rhythms have an old fashioned swing and its vocals, although more Grace Slick than Jinx Dawson, are the embodiment of a clipped style of delivery not uncommon with female vocalists back in those days of free love and LSD. Having bigged up the bands occult rock authenticity the band then throw a spanner in the works by going full on garage rock with "Godspeed" a gnarly assed rocker fronted this time by a throaty, slightly manic male vocal, it is a song still rooted in a late 60's sound but this time one that takes its lead from very early Alice Cooper, The Stooges and the MC5. Its back to the female fronted occult rock of the first track with "LSDemon", the band jamming a groove that is a mish mash of heady 60's psych and present day occult rock, it is however Tucceri's keyboards that are the real star of the show on this particular number, they majestically wash over and around the crunchy guitar tones and searing solos the band lay down and in doing so add extra texture and colour to what is already a quite colourful little ditty. Final song "Devil Master" finds the band jamming a groove that is a little more proto-metallic, a heady mix of  heavy psychedelic bluesiness and dark lyrical imagery that is similar in sound to the aforementioned Coven but also possess the early doom feel of bands like Black Widow, Bulbous Creation and the lesser known Astaroth and Earth & Fire.

Fans of bands like Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony and The Devil's Blood will find much to admire on "Arrival of the Church of Psychic Mass" but so will those with an interest in the early days of occult themed heavy metal and garage rock. The EP title suggests that Psychic Mass may be on the cusp of starting their own religion. if that is so then this EP makes for one hell of a hymn sheet.
Check it out .....  
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 8 May 2023



According to the bio posted on their Bandcamp page Norway's Grand Atomic started out by taking their influences from Electric Wizard, Sleep and OM but then in the process stumbled on a sound all of their own. It has to be said that the sound Grand Atomic stumbled across is not a million miles removed from the riff heavy grooves of their heroes but it is different enough not to be considered worshipful or tributary and has, over the duration of the bands life, proceeded to become less informed by those influences and more a sound bearing its own signature. The band have just released their first full album "Beyond the Realm of Common Sense" and if you like your doom "weedian" and heavy then this one is for you.

Of course those Sleep/Electric Wizard influences are never far away and still play a huge part in Grand Atomics' overall sound but the more Desert Psychlist listens to "Beyond the Realm of Common Sense" the less we hear the sway of Matt Pike and Jus Oborn's influences and the more we are reminded of the likes of Sweden's Spelljammer and Poland's Dopelord, bands that jam similar low slow and heavy dynamics to early Sleep and Electric Wizard but tend to infuse those dynamics with aspects of space and heavy psych.  Opening track "Mountain Toker (Summit Smoker)" is a perfect example of how Grand Atomic have incorporated those aspects of psych and space into their thunderous "weedian" flavoured grooves, here we have a song that exhibits all the thick dank riffage and ponderous powerful percussion you could ever hope to find in a song pitched at the stoner end of doom but also boasts subtle shades of alien otherworldliness beneath its low slow and heavy façade, something that becomes even more noticeable around the songs brief but wholly effective monotonic vocal. Seeing as we are speaking of vocals we should point out this is an area where a lot has changed for Grand Atomic, the clean melodic, almost bluesy, vocals that adorned their debut EP "Ivy King" have for the most part of the new release been replaced by an almost ethereal vocal dynamic, well that is apart from following track "Space Train", a superb psych/doom barnburner where the solitary line "needle in the vain, take a ride on the space train" is delivered in what could only be described as a heavily filtered joyous bark. The instrumental "Nibiru" follows "Space Train" and is a mixture of droning feedback and off kilter effects that is not so much a song as an experiment in sound, it might not be pretty but it does show how far this band have moved away from those influences that first inspired them to pick up their instruments. "Descending" finds the band on more structured ground with the band jamming a heavy psyched out circular doom groove beneath a clean vocal that boasts an almost celestial/spiritual quality, this has to be Desert Psychlist's favourite song of the six on offer, not because its the heaviest or the most diverse but because it is on this song that all the bands past influences and all the band visions of where they want to take their music come together in a perfect synergy. Penultimate track "Drifter Part II" begins languid and lysergic then explodes into a heavy weedian groove decorated with tasteful guitar colouring and a vocal attack similar to that which was employed on the bands debut EP while final track "King of Hesh" closes out proceedings by going fully weedian, the band grooving on one riff but adjusting the attack of that riff so as to build up tension and atmosphere, a theoretically simple concept but one that needs good musicianship to successfully pull off, thankfully Grand Atomic are exceptional musicians.

The bands first release, the three song EP  "Ivy King", was very much rooted in those influences mentioned earlier but also carried in its grooves elements of Kyuss like desert fuzziness and not a little old school 70's hard rock swagger, however for "Beyond the Realm of Common Sense" Grand Atomic have applied the brakes on those tempos, thickened up those guitar tones, slightly altered the way those vocals are delivered and dived headlong into the murkier end of the stoner doom pool, and it suits them.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 6 May 2023

SLUGG ~ ORICHALCUM .... review

We have brought a few Italian bands to your attention over the years, most of them heavy, some of them psychedelic and some of them both heavy and psychedelic. The one we bring you today hail from Rome and go by the collective name of SLUGG a band that fall very much into the latter category, albeit spliced with a little metallic prog colouring and post-metal ambience. SLUGG are Jacopo Cautela (guitar/vocals); Stephen Drive (bass) and Valerio Libera (drums/guitar/vocals), the trio first contacted Desert Psychlist in January of 2022 to ask if we would be prepared to pen a few words in support of their debut single "Yonder", we explained to them that although we loved the song our policy was to only review EP's and full albums and so asked them to reconnect with us when they had something more substantial we could get our teeth into. In many cases that is the last we hear from a band but to their credit SLUGG picked up the gauntlet and delivered that substance and so today we are pleased to be introducing you to "Orichalcum" the bands first full album, and on the strength of the music it contains therein, hopefully not their last.

"Orichalcum" begins its journey with the aforementioned "Yonder" a song that impressed us as stand alone single and continues to impress in its full album setting. The songs laid back and atmospheric intro of ringing guitar chords chiming over low slung  grumbling bass and pounding percussion slowly evolves to become a circular desert flavoured groove tinted with eastern flavours and prog-metal textures that is then decorated with a disharmonious mixture of guttural growling and clean crooning that in theory shouldn't work but in practice ultimately does. "Opal" follows and here we find the band jamming a groove that utilises everything from eastern tinted grunginess to blackened doominess and sees clean vocal melodies and low gravelled growls routinely being traded and entwined on its intelligently composed verses, the songs blending of beauty and brutality truly breath-taking and at times utterly mind-blowing. For "VagrantSLUGG tone things down a little, musically this song has a  more restrained post-metal feel but don't be fooled into thinking restrained relates to relaxed as this is as intense and as heavy as anything you have witnessed on this album thus far. Final number "Bloodhound" is epic in every sense of the word, its moments of beauty are spinetingling its episodes of intense heaviness are crushing and brutal, it is the perfect finale to an album that over its four song duration has not once come even close to dropping below excellent! 

SLUGG's "Orichalcum" is something special, it is an album that both swaggers and swoons, it has moments of intense heaviness but counters that heaviness and intensity with moments of poise and calm, those opposing dynamics creating a balance of musicality that you can both get lost in and be brutalised by.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 5 May 2023

HIGH LEAF ~ VISION QUEST ...... review

"All Hail the Leaf " might be a statement that will get the attention of those who like their smokes herbal and exotic but Desert Psychlist's real intention is to point you in the direction of a four piece stoner/desert doom combo, consisting of Corey Presner (vocals/guitar); Patrick Fiore (lead guitar); Brian Schmidt (bass) and Dean Welsh (drums), who go by the collective name High Leaf. The band hail from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and jam a groove that sees them blending riff centric weedian stoner heaviness with classic/hard rock sheen and alt-rock/grunge dynamics to create a sound that should appeal to regular listeners of each. The band have just released their debut album "Vision Quest" on Riffslayer Records and to just say it kicks serious ass would be a gross understatement.

High Leaf's debut kicks off with "Green Rider" its appropriate weed related soundbite intro making way for an equally appropriate "weedian" flavoured stoner groove that leans more to Sleep than it does Sabbath and boasts, in its initial stages, a low key vocal which gradually shifts towards a more powerful throaty delivery as the song progresses. Lyrically the song is an ode to smoking the leaf and finds Presner referencing the "goddess Mary Jane" over a backdrop of gnarly proto-doomic riffage and pummelling percussion around which Fiore weaves blues tinted doomic lead. Given the song is built around a formula that has been done to death by many bands over the years you might expect things to get a little generic but they don't because there is a freshness of ideas brought to bear here that takes what can be achieved within that formula to whole other level. Title track "Vision Quest" opens with the band jamming a little ambient psych then suddenly erupts into a raucous heavy rock groove helped along with some searing guitar pyrotechnics before dropping down once again into lysergic ambience, it isn't until the songs reaches its final third that another eruption ensues and Presner pitches in with a full on throaty vocal to take things to the close. "Subversive" follows and the vocal attack on this may come as somewhat of a surprise, Presner opting to alternate his impassioned throaty howls with an almost grungy croon despite the songs musical groove remaining very much at the metal end of the stoner spectrum. Next track "Dead Eye" has one of those fuzzy circular desert style grooves that will have fans of Kyuss and Dozer reminiscing, while "Hard to Find" follows a similar path but throws in some Alice In Chains guitar tones and a little punkish aggression to sweeten the deal, a deal made even sweeter by Schmidt and Welsh locking in tight on the songs hard driven punchy groove. Talking of deserts next up is "Painted Desert" a deliciously seductive mix that takes all that was good about the scenes in Washington's Seattle and California's Palm Desert and rolls them conveniently up in one song, a vibe that is also mirrored in its follow up "March to The Grave". Finally we arrive at "The Rot" a song that switches back and forth between heavy and funky with Presner adjusting his vocal attack in accordance, well that is up until Fiore graces the song with a blistering wah drenched solo and the song goes all out hard and heavy in its final quarter.

High Leaf's "Vision Quest" is the perfect album for those looking to tie in their love of bands like Kyuss, Sleep and Black Sabbath with their love of bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Tad and the fact that High Leaf can do this while still  maintaining their own musical identity and their own signature sound is something to be applauded. If they stick together through all the shit this industry and life throws at them and can keep making albums of this quality then the future might not always be rosy but it will definitely be Leaf shaped.
Check 'em out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 4 May 2023


They describe themselves as "the most exciting thing to come out of Redhill (Surrey, UK)" in the last three centuries, their music crosses genres like chickens cross roads and they approach their music with a typical British mix of seriousness and humour. Who are they we hear you ask, well they are Roger Atkins (guitar & vocals); Aaron Strachan (bass, synth, kalimba, vocals) and Matt Ainsworth (drums, synth, mellotron, flute and vocals) a trio otherwise known as Trevor's Head. Trevor's Head are a combo who have been doing their thing in and around the British underground rock scene for what seems like forever and have been releasing albums and EP's since 2012, with 2016's "Tricolossus" and 2018's "Soma Holiday" being the most noteable. The band have just released their latest album "A View From Below" (APF Records), an album the band describe as "a lean and cohesive expression of the power trio's precision, which marks the next stage in the genre-bending and ever-evolving sound that is Trevor’s Head" and we at Desert Psychlist just call "their best album TO DATE!".

Trevor's Head's previous releases have been an eclectic blend of stoner rock, prog, punk, folk and alt-rock and that doesn't change for "A View From Below", what has changed though is the flow the band achieve with this album, those previous albums, although great, tended to leap back and forth dynamically almost as if the songs were thrown together with no real though process being applied, raucous punk rock sitting next to lilting prog/folk complexity followed by stoner metal bluster. At times it seemed that it was a case of we wrote these tunes in this order so that's how they'll appear on the album but this is not so with the new album, the track listing on "A View From Below" has a flow whereby each song is placed perfectly in line so as to best compliment its near neighbours. First song "Call Of The Deep", an enthralling blend of stoner rock fuzziness and prog-like intricacy coated in a Wolf People like folkish vocal melody, is followed by "Under My Skin", a superbly put together tome that mixes chainsaw guitar textures with off-kilter rhythms and playful vocal trade offs, but because these songs share certain sonic elements the transition in styles appears less abrupt and sudden than on previous albums.. And so it continues throughout the remainder of the album with songs like "Grape Fang", "Rumspringa", "A True Gentleman" and "Don't Make Me Ask" all boasting radically different musical attacks but each bonded to it s neighbour by its shared elements, the jarring sudden dynamic shifts of previous outings replaced by a more subtle progression that is much more easier on the ear and is in turn far more satisfying and enjoyable..

It has been stated elsewhere that no one sounds quite like Trevor's Head and it has to be said that no one quite does, they are a band who bring to the table a level of diversity not common in this scene we call "the underground". Strangely it is this diversity that has held them back a little in the past, not because of the music they play but in how they have presented that music to the public on their albums. Spin any track off of  their 2018 album "Soma Holiday" in isolation and its love at first listen but play all of the albums songs back to back and it all becomes a bit overwhelming simply because there is no sense of flow or progression, the listener is faced with an overload of styles and genres coming at them from every conceivable angle all at once with no real sense of cohesive structure. Recent interviews and notes on their social media pages seem to point to the band being aware of this and so with "A View From Below" they have strived to address this problem and have as a result recorded what is the best album of their career so far, an album that flows like a river and yet still retains all the charm, originality and uniqueness we have come to love from this talented and quirky threesome. 
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 3 May 2023



Salt Lake City, Utah quartet Hibernaut are not some new kids on the block attempting to find their way around the music business for the first time, these guys are seasoned musicians who have earned their spurs playing in bands with real pedigree such as Oldtimer, Dwellers, Oxcross and Subrosa. The band, consisting of Josh Dupree (bass); Dave Jones (vocals/rhythm guitar); Zach Hatsis (drums) and Joey Toscano (lead guitar), jam a groove that blends heavy sludge and stonerized metal with elements of heavy psych and doom and while that may not seem an unusual mixture, in a scene choc a block full of bands jamming similar dynamics, it is this bands execution of those dynamics that elevates them above the herd, something you will find out for yourselves when giving their debut "Ingress" a spin.

You could not ask for a more impactful opener than "Stygian Nectar" and considering the word "stygian" is often used in Greek to describe something murky and gloomy seems quite apt choice to start off an album mired in those atmospherics. The song boasts some seriously impressive lyrical imagery with Jones giving gritty voice to a grim travelogue, describing "Stone seracs, sentinels on the barren plain" and asking us to bear witness to "Stone conduits eating electric light", against a backdrop of gnarled doom tinted metal that although devastatingly heavy is thankfully shy of being brutal. For next track "Summoner" Jones, Hatsis and Dupree lay down a circular slightly left of centre groove that not so much crunches as whirls, we were reminded of an old washing machine on its last legs attempting to complete its final spin cycle here, Jones delivers over this groove an impassioned lay-preacher like vocal drenched in rage and anger, strangely it is against this backdrop of whirling off-kilter groove and vocal furiosity that lead guitarist Toscano decides to lay down his most melodic and bluesy solo of the album and just as strangely makes it work. By reading thus far you have probably got a handle on what Hibernaut are all about and being that "Ingress" is an album made up of eleven tracks we are not going to do a full break down of each and every track, what we will do however is point you in the direction of a few of what, we believe, are some of its remaining highlights. The first of those highlights is, for us, the excellent "Nor'easter" a stunning tome that finds the band toying with elements of experimental heavy psych on a song that tells, in big bold throaty tones, of the aftermath of an extreme weather event, big horns should go to Dupree here his bass intro and his anchoring of the songs groove to Hatsis' busy tight rhythms is on another level but then so is the six string interplay that Toscano and Jones bring to the table. The second highlight is "Kaleidoscope" a heavy full on assault on the senses driven by some incredible drumming from Hatsis, this has a groove that picks you up and slams you around like a rag doll to the point that you will be checking yourself for bruises the minute its last beat subsides. The last of our picks has to go to the furious final track "Spherical", imagine Hawkwind dumping their synths and electronics and upping their tempos to a thrash like meter and you might just get your heads around this one. Those tracks we mentioned in this review are Desert Psychlist's favourites but you might find your own and in truth there is not a single duff track to be found among the eleven on this album and how many albums can you honestly say that about?

Big bold and brash riffage, twinned with thick grumbling bass and pummelling percussion are the tools Hibernaut bring to bear on "Ingress" along with piercing guitar solos and powerful gruff vocals, it is a sound not entirely original or genre-defining but it is nevertheless a great sound and one that you will find yourself returning to over and over again.
Check 'em out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones