Friday 30 June 2023


Desert Psychlist
does not review tribute albums, not because we don't enjoy them but simply because we prefer to review albums by bands promoting their own work, today though we are making an exception. Why are we breaking our own rules you may ask, well the reason is that the band who are the recipients of this tribute are a band very close to our hearts, a Welsh band from the 70's who didn't get quite the same breaks or hit the same levels of success as their English contemporaries Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple but were equally as important and integral in the evolution of heavy rock music in the UK. The band we are talking about is of course Budgie, a trio from Cardiff whose classic line up of Burke Shelley (bass/vocals); Tony Bourge (guitar) and Ray Phillips (drums) made three albums on the spin that have since become cult classics and are, right up to the present day, still causing first time listeners to step back in amazement and awe. Those three albums "Budgie", "Squawk" and " Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" saw Budgie filling that musical middle ground between Led Zeppelin's heavy blues and Black Sabbath's heavier proto-doom/metal, it was a sound that in a perfect world should have seen the band reaping rich rewards, unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world and bad decisions, poor management and just old fashioned bad luck conspired to hold them back. For those of us lucky enough to be around at the time and who were aware of the band the fact that Budgie were not going on massive world tours or spending all their time trying to break the USA was somewhat of a boon, the hopes of getting to see any of the big three of British rock live was becoming increasingly rare while being able to see Budgie was, thanks to their incessant presence on the UK club circuit, almost unavoidable and a Budgie show was not something you would ever want to avoid. Although over the years the band continued to make great albums, notably  "In For The Kill" (Pete Boot replacing Ray Phillips), and "Bandolier" (Steve Williams replacing Pete Boot), they never quite reached that same level of  hard rock grittiness and heavy metal bite they achieved on those first three albums. 
Sadly Budgie stalwart and main man Burke Shelley died last year (2022) and Budgie as a band were to fly no more but their legend lives on and Pale Wizard Records are celebrating that legend with the release of  "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend: 50 Years Later" a tribute to what many consider to be the bands best album, it is a release that sees artists from right across the board putting their own spin on songs from "Never Turn Your Back On a Friend" plus some other iconic Budgie songs, it is a true labour of love and one that we are not ashamed to say sent a shiver of delight hurtling down our spines and brought a nostalgic tear to our eyes. 

Alunah kick things off with what is probably Budgie's most well known song "Breadfan" and to be totally honest Desert Psychlist was more than a little apprehensive about how they were going to approach this number, the song is rightfully a cult classic and screwing this up could well of brought some serious critical shade come tumbling Alunah's way. Well any apprehension we may have had went flying out the window as soon as that finger blurring riff hit our ears and Sian Greenaway's powerful vocal exploded into the songs opening verse. Alunah absolutely nail it by sticking fairly rigidly to the original version while still managing to stamp their own personality all over the song, the insertion of flute and the slight echo on Greenaway's vocal in the songs quieter section is a stroke of genius, so much so that anyone touting Metallica's version as the definitive cover of this Budgie classic may have to have a serious rethink after hearing this.
Next up is Firegarden's cover of Budgie's cover of Big Joe Williams "Baby Please Don't Go", again it is not too far removed from Budgie's version of the song except maybe for having a little more fire in the solo. Budgie's version was an exhilarating romp from start to finish, this is no different
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell get the honour of taking on "You Know I'll Always Love You", one of Budgie's lesser known songs. The original was somewhat laid back and flowery but in the Admiral's hands it becomes a quirky rocker drenched in dissonance and distortion, nice work lads.
Regulas rock up next with "You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk", this is the one song on this tribute/homage/celebration that boasts a vocal closest to Burke Shelley's distinctive helium howl, it is also the one song that gets closest to capturing that original Budgie sound. 
 "In The Grip Of The Tyrefitter's Hand", is another Budgie song that fans would not want messed around with too much and thankfully Syncolima respect that by playing the song almost note for note with the only difference being the elements of grainy gruffness guitarist Josh Morgan brings to the vocals.
"Riding My Nightmare" was always a song that felt more California than it did Cardiff, so who better to get to cover it than San Diego's Great Electric Quest, the band adding to the songs West Coast feel with some lovely harmonised vocal interplay, gentle strummed guitars and beautifully executed lead work.
British underground rock royalty Sergeant Thunderhoof get to close the "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" section of this release with "Parents", the song was always a highlight of any Budgie show and it proves to be no less a highlight here either. Vocalist Dan Flitcroft may not possess the same piercing upper range Burke Shelley brought to the original but his smoothness of tone and clarity more than make up for that, his voice is perfect for a song of this magnitude. The guitar work on this cover is also outstanding and it is hard at times to believe that it is the Hoof's Mark Sayer and not the great Tony Bourge who is wailing away on those six strings.
Next up we get three songs from different periods of Budgie's career 
"Guts", originally appeared on the bands debut "Budgie" and is covered here by Vancouver's La Chinga, the band perfectly capturing that proto-metallic stutter that was such a major factor of the originals appeal 
"Forearm Smash" is a song that appeared on Budgie's 1980 album "Power Supply" and saw John Thomas taking over guitar duties from Tony Bourge. Low Voltage are the band tasked with covering this slice of metallic rock'n'roll and they do so with all the necessary vim and vigour you could possibly hope for.
Last but not least we have Scotland's Solar Sons getting down and dirty on "Melt The Ice Away", the opening number of Budgie's 1978 album "Impeckable". The Scots bring a much welcome stoner rock feel to their version, filthy guitar tones, growling bass, thunderous drums and Rory Lee's gritty vocals adding a nice gnarly edge to a song that in its original form was let down by a rather spacious and tinny production.

 A complaint often aimed at tribute/homage albums is that the artists involved do not stray too far from the original songs they are invited to cover and so why shouldn't prospective listeners just swerve the covers and just crank up the originals instead. It's a fair argument and one we at Desert Psychlist have voiced ourselves on occasions. So then why are we recommending an album of covers that sticks pretty close to the feel of the original songs, The reason is because this is Budgie, a band that may be known by the few but not by the many. When Pale Wizard first tested the waters by allowing listeners to stream Alunah's version of "Breadfan" and Sergeant Thunderhoof's take on "Parents" posts soon started to appear on social media sites from people previously unaware of Budgie who liked what they were hearing and were promising to go back and check out the originals, if just two songs can invoke that sort of reaction then imagine what the full album will do. "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend: 50 Years Later" is not just a an album for wizened old Budgie fans its also a gateway for those unaware of the bands existence to discover a band who though never quite made it to the top of the mountain put out some damn fine music while they were climbing. 
Check it out ....  
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 28 June 2023



Are all these Italian acid doom/scuzz rock bands, currently putting out fuzz drenched and filthy sounding albums and EP's like there is no tomorrow, somehow connected? This is a question we have asked before on these pages but we have come to the conclusion that the question really doesn't need to be answered just so long as the music these bands are making exists. 
Demonio, Anthony (guitar/vocals); Paolo (drums) and Matteo (bass), like their Italian contemporaries Witchsnake, Sonic Demon and Wizard Master, started their life jamming grooves inspired by Black Sabbath and  Electric Wizard, the band putting their own spin on that iconic sound by drowning those grooves in swathes of distortion and fuzz and and by dropping the vocals way back into the mix to allow the music to take centre stage. The sound the band created was loud, doomic and raw but at the same time gloriously uplifting and addictive and was a sound that dominated both their first album "Electric Voodoo" and its follow up EP "Black Dawn". Musicians though have a tendency to want to evolve and so for their latest album, "Reaching For The Light", Demonio have slightly moved away from the doom and embraced a more proto-metallic sound, still raw still loud and still very noisy but leaning a little more towards the screaming lysergic heavy blues rock of  The Jimi Hendrix Experience and  the JPT Scare Band than it does the devastating doom of Electric Wizard.

"Heavy Dose" kicks things off and straight away you notice a difference from that which Demonio served up with their previous releases and that which they deliver with this their new platter. The first thing you notice is that the vocals are clearer and sit a little further forward in the mix, the next thing you will notice is the clarity of the guitars. Much of Anthony's guitar work on previous releases tended to been buried under so much filthy fuzz and distortion that any subtleties in his playing tended to get lost, here though his tones sparkle and shine and cut through the growling bass and thunderous percussion that Matteo and Paolo expertly lay beneath him with a sharpness not previously witnessed on a Demonio release. Demonio prefaced the release of their new album by announcing on their Facebook page that they were "done with the satanic crap" and "Reaching For The Light" is testament to that statement. There are no mentions of horned devil's, demons or ritual sacrifices to be found on songs like "Fire Guru", "Shiva's Dance" or "Death Trip" instead what you get are lyrical celebrations of an alternative lifestyle set against a backdrop of music that pays homage to that period of rock music when the heavy blues of the late 60's started to morph into the hard rock of the mid 70's, a groove we have now come to refer to as proto-metal.   

There will be of course those that will bemoan the fact that Demonio have moved slightly away from their Electric Wizard inspired roots towards a more acid rock/proto-metal sound but the truth of the matter is that Demonio have always been more acid than they have been doom so it could be argued that "Reaching For The Light" is just a natural progression. It's not a progression far removed from the bands original sound but it is a progression nonetheless and one that has resulted in the bands best release to date.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 23 June 2023


Strange the things that come to mind when sitting down to write a review. Today we tasked ourselves with penning a few words on an intriguing release we had just discovered from a Serbian trio going by the name Swamp Dukes. The band, Bora Jovanovic (guitars); Stevan Fujto (bass) and Ilija Stefanovic (vocals and harmonica), had just released their debut EP "Living Nightmares" on Bandcamp but the first thought that entered our minds, as we sat down to start our piece, was not how are we going to describe those guitar tones and those distinctive vocals, no the question that plagued us was.. are there any actual swamps in Serbia? Thankfully a quick Google searched revealed that Serbia does indeed have swamps (apparently quite a few of them), which explains not only the bands name but also why the bands sound has such a deliciously swampy dynamic.

Opening number "Southern Cross" begins with the sound of a tolling bell and footsteps treading through water and is followed by some suitably southern flavoured guitar picking and a wonderfully drawled and swampy vocal. This is a song with its roots in the blues but that also resides in the same territories as the modern southern tinted stoner rock of bands like Mississippi Bones, Clutch and Planet of Zeus but do not be surprised however if you also detect a little Creedence Clearwater Revival twang knocking around in there too. Next tune up is "Death House Rescue" an enthralling up-tempo stoner romp boasting rhythms tighter than a gastric band and searing bluesy guitar solos that fire off in all directions beneath a devilishly delicious drawling vocal. Fujto's bass and an expertly programmed drum track (the band currently have no drummer in residence) combine in a wonderfully rhythmic intro for next song "Dig Deeper" then are joined by Jovanovic's guitar in as swaggering, strutting bluesy hard rock groove that reaches another level of swagger when Stefanovic's distinctive grainy baritone joins the fray. "The Devil in the Details" is up next and jams a slightly off-kilter stoner blues groove not unlike something QOTSA's Josh Homme might have toyed with on one of his "Desert Sessions" projects while final song "The Voice of Void" rounds things of nicely with crunchy southern fried blues riffs and equally bluesy guitar solos delivered beneath a superb ear catching vocal melody, the songs gradual fade out bringing to an end an EP that has been an absolute joyful listening experience from start to finish.

"From the depths of the swamp come the Dukes to stone your brains to another dimension" is the legend that accompanies this release, as well as a statement telling us that the band are "just old pals who love to play together and share the music with the crowd"  Old pals wishing to share or stone braining swamp dwellers these guys play some mean sounding grooves worthy of investigation.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 21 June 2023


Sweden is held in such high esteem within the stoner, doom and psych community that those of us who are constantly searching for new music, on sites like Bandcamp and Spotify, feel almost compelled to check out anything that bears the country's name. Of course not everything that comes out of Sweden is going to blow your socks off but the Swedes do seem to have a knack of hitting the back of the net more often than they hit the post. That net was more than rippled recently with the release of Swedish outfit Terra Black's "All Descend", a scintillating collection of songs that blend crushing stoner/doom heaviness with the sort of  majestic ethereal elegance usually only found in certain forms of progressive folk metal and pagan themed occult rock.

Desert Psychlist has to confess that along with our love of all things doomic and heavy we also have a soft spot for the folk tinted progressive metal of British bands like Karnataka, Mostly Autumn and Panic Room, three bands often wrongly tagged as "symphonic metal". So why are we revealing this guilty pleasure now you may ask, well the reason is that Sweden's Terra Black combine their crunching doomic riffs and thunderous rhythms with essences that can be found in all three of those bands, Denice (bass); Sophie (drums); Isak (guitars/vocals) and Ezgi (vocals/guitar) may love to lay down thick reverberating guitar refrains and pummelling drum patterns but they are also not averse to taking things in a more otherworldly, ethereal direction either. Ezgi's vocals might not have quite the full range of elegance of a Heather Findlay (ex-Mostly Autumn) or a Anne Marie Helder (ex-Karnataka/Panic Room) but her vocals reside in somewhat similar territory, fragile and fey in the lower register and soaring and magnificent at the top end of her range. As we stated earlier heaviness is a a major factor in Terra Black's sound, and on songs like "Asteroid", "Black Flames of Funeral Fire", "Spawn of Lyssa" and "Slumber Grove" that heaviness is pushed to the fore with Ezgi's, crunching chord work locking in tight with Denice's growling bass and Sophie's powerhouse drumming to create a variety of doomic groove that Isak then decorates with searing and tasteful lead guitar as well as occasional lead and backing vocals. The real beauty of this album however are those moments when the heaviness momentarily subsides and the band drift into a more laid back and occult(ish) dynamic as on the sublime "Ashes and Dust" and the atmospheric "Divinest Sin", songs that perfectly highlight not only Terra Black's heaviness but also their lightness of touch.

Songs full to brimming over with lyrical content referencing witchcraft and astronomy might lead some to lumping Terra Black in with occult rockers like Wucan, Blood Ceremony and bands of that ilk but Terra Black's music is far heavier, far more dense and far more intense than anything those bands have released in the past, or might do in the future, What Terra Black bring to the alter with "All Descend" is an edgy doom, a heavy dank doom infused with subtle textures of folk, prog and post metal that can just as easily brush your cheek with a manicured finger as it can smash your nose to a pulp with a heavily ringed fist.
Check 'em out ....
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 19 June 2023



Seems we might be going through one of those periods when a certain country suddenly has a surge in creativity and starts to put out one great release after another, we have seen it happen with Sweden, we've seen it happen with Greece and we've also seen it happen with some of the South American countries and now we are seeing it happen with Finland, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. Already this year we have had great albums from bands like Takezo I, Captain and Smoulder and now we have one from a combo going by the name of WitchTribe. At the time of writing this review Desert Psychlist was unable to find any information regarding the band and a quick Google search directed us to numerous social media pages for budding witch coven's but no Finnish metal bands. What we can tell you however is that the band describe themselves as "Devil seeking men on a path to enlightment" and their grooves are a unholy alliance of stonerized doom, swampy sludge metal and fuzz drenched heavy rock infused with an air of off-centredness and twistedness that seems a common characteristic of so many of the heavier Nordic and Scandinavian bands, but don't just take our word for it go give their debur "Fuzzropolis" a listen and find out for yourselves.

WitchTribe kick off their debut with "Fuzzropolis", the song that gave their album its title, the track begins life slow low and suitably heavy with crunching dank riffs reverberating loudly over sparse pounding percussion and for the most part the stays that way for its duration. Vocals for this song tell of a "city of demons" and a "place of power and might" and are delivered in clean monotonic tones that often edge toward guttural but never quite get there. Low slow musical dynamics combined with monotone vocal tones are of course nothing new in the world of doom but there is something about the way WitchTribe put the two together here that feels different, it's hard to say why it feels different it just simply does. If you were expecting an album with songs all bearing a similar dynamic then next track "Dreamwalker" will shatter those expectations, here we have a song that begins life raucous and rowdy with throaty vocal melodies bellowed out over a chugging proto-doomic groove decorated in Iommi-like guitar colouring but then at around the halfway mark transforms in to this weird but wonderful blend of heavy psych and post-rock, the song only reprising its initial  raucousness and rowdiness as it dashes towards its finale. "Meditation of Witchfinder" utilizes all the usual cliches associated with modern doom, i.e  sampled narrative, mournful vocals and chunky reverberating circular refrains, but avoids sounding generic thanks to it possessing a weird off-centred vibe that is again hard to describe but is nevertheless still there. Next track, "Apophis" is a song of two halves with its first half a deep dive into weedian territory and its second a full on in your face sludge metal romp boasting some delicious and delightful screaming lead guitar while its follow up, " Amare Diaboli", sees WitchTribe throwing all your favourite genres of doom into one big pot and vigorously mixing them all together. You may need to grab a partner for next song "Charming Rites of Rock'n'Roll", whoever it was who said you can't dance to doom might seriously have to rethink that statement after hearing this dank little nugget. After the brief intake of fresh air the previous track afforded us the band take us back into the murky mire with the not so cheery "Everyone is Dead", a monolithic tome spread out over eleven minutes that for its most part boasts a lumbering low slow and heavy stoner doom dynamic and is decorated in suitably monotone vocal tones, the song does shift up a couple of gears in its last quarter but not by too much, this is tune for those who like to close their eyes and sagely nod along rather than those who like to slam-dance and mosh. Final number "Hell is Everywhere" stays relatively in the same ballpark as its predecessor but with a touch more variation and colour in its groove, a groove closer to proto and traditional doom than it is to stoner doom despite the fact that its vocals remain very much in the canon of the latter.

There are times throughout WitchTribe's debut where the doom gets consigned to the backseat and we get a brief glimpse of the band as a straight down the line heavy rock band with psychedelic undertones, these occasions are rare but are welcomed as they serve as respite in a sea of crushing heaviness. Doom is of course the currency WitchTribe deal in but "Fuzzropolis" is not an album you could say is typical of the genre, there is an undercurrent of weirdness and off-kilter quirkiness running through each and every one of its eight songs, a weirdness and quirkiness that on first listen might come across as a little unsettling and unnerving but will, on subsequent listens, soon become nectar for the ears. 
Check 'em out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 15 June 2023


Coventry, UK has given us Lady Godiva, Daimler cars and British ska outfit The Specials the city has also given us, in Cathedral, one of Britain's best doom bands not named Black Sabbath. Cathedral aside Coventry is a city not renowned for its doom scene but that might change with the arrival of Massasauga, Conrad Lummus (guitars/vocals) and Adam Stewart (drums), a duo with a penchant for thunderous rhythms and fuzzed out refrains who describe what they do as "conjuring riffs from beyond the grave, blasting drums from another dimension" then add to that legend by telling us that they also write "lyrics that put a spell on you".  The duo have been quite prolific since their coming together in 2020 and have been steadily releasing demo's, singles and EP's via their Bandcamp page and Spotify ever since, including impressive covers of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and Edwyn Collins "A Girl Like You". Today though we are here to discuss their latest EP "The Only Good Wizard is a Dead Wizard", a conceptual piece that in the bands words "tells a story of mass hysteria, ritual sacrifice and ancient magic" and might just be the bands best release to date.

Doom is often regarded as being a dense, dark and mildly depressive music, hence its name, and given that Massasauga's latest opus is loosely based around the witch trials of the seventeenth century you would expect the music contained therein to be of a similar nature. To make such an assumption would be a mistake because despite its dark conceptual theme, heavy riffs and horror meets occult lyrical content "The Only Good Wizard is a Dead Wizard" is with the odd exception, a surprisingly upbeat and in places playful, collection of songs each of which plays its part in telling a story. Opening track "Witching Hour" is a great example of this playfulness its chugging proto-doomic groove has a "Master of Reality" era Sabbath feel and its lyrical content is suitably dark and doomic but then somewhere around the halfway mark that Sabbathesque chug seems to shift into something more along the lines of something Sweet or Bowie might have attempted in the heady days of 70's British glam and it is this, combined with Lummus' oddly 90's flavoured vocals, that take what could have been a generic stroll down paths we have all walked a thousand times before into something wholly refreshing and special. Title song "The Only Good Wizard is a Dead Wizard" is next and if you ever wondered what Scottish post punk outfit Franz Ferdinand might sound like if they threw their lot in with the doom crowd then this song will provide the answer, doom it seems can also be fun. For next track, "Interlude (No Peace in the Village)" Massasauga take their listeners by the hand and lead them into lysergic waters with a serene and quite beautiful instrumental that sees swirling guitar solos and liquid arpeggios majestically weaving in and out of one another over a backdrop of suitably intricate percussion. One of Desert Psychlist's favourite songs EVER is The Heavy Eyes "These Men Are Wolves" and Massasauga's "Don't Be Scared of the Dark" has much that same feel good, compelled to sing-a-long to vibe, in an alternative universe where stoner and doom are the preferred listening choice of the mass populace this would be a sure fire #1 hit. It is rare for Desert Psychlist not to mention the word "gnarly" when reviewing an album in the stoner or doom canon but by including "Dungeon Crawler" (which features Sam Shiers of Ambrius guesting on vocals) on this album Massasauga have given us the perfect excuse to include that word in this review as well as both the words "ass" and "kicking".
#Desert Psychlist assumes that "The Sorcerer's Theme (Bonus Track)" will not appear on any (hopefully) forthcoming vinyl release but seeing as it appears on both the bands Bandcamp page and Spotify account we thought we had better include it here, the song is a mournful keyboard heavy instrumental mood piece that shows a whole different side to the band, a side the duo may or not explore in further depth on future releases, whether they will or not is something only time can tell.  

Massasauga's "The Only Good Wizard is a Dead Wizard" is a hard one to categorise, it is definitely doom-ic but is it doom? It has all the right elements of doom like crunching riffs, thundering percussion and occult themed lyrical content but then it also has those uncharacteristic 90's flavoured vocals and those occasional forays into 70's glam rock, indie-flavoured post punk and experimental psych. The best thing to do when listening to this slightly confusing but utterly brilliant EP is to enjoy it for what it is and that is a highly thrilling ride from start to finish worthy of repeated listens.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 14 June 2023



Spain's Misty Grey have not had the best of luck with their vocalist's, the band first vocalist Malicia sported unique and sneery tones that kind of split listeners right down the middle with some really digging the band's proto doomic grooves but not warming to the distinctive vocal tones that fronted those grooves. Next came Bea, her tones were much easier on the ear and were better suited to the bands Pentagram inspired sound but lacked a little power at the top end. The Covid pandemic then saw the band forced to take some time out and during that time Bea parted ways with the band. It was three years before Misty Grey returned to the studio and their return saw the introduction of yet another new vocalist in the shape of Angel Flores who has, along with his keyboard skills, brought a more classic/traditional doom element to the bands sound, and it is with Flores at the mic that Misty Grey now release their latest and third full album "Visions After Void"..

Misty Grey's third full album opens with "House by the River" and it is immediately apparent that the gothic edge the bands new vocalist brings to the party has had a major influence on the bands sound. The proto-doom grooves of the bands first two albums are still in place but on this song, and those that follow, there is tendency to lean a little more heavily towards the more traditional end of the doom spectrum, the overall sound a little less Pentagram and a touch more Candlemass. Don't be overly surprised either if your ears pick up on touches of British goth rock while listening to songs like "Hangmen Also Die", "M" and "Ministry of Fear", goth and doom have long shared many of the same characteristics and with the new singers vocals possessing (in places) not too dissimilar tones to those of Bauhaus' Pete Murphy that gothic vibe feels even more pronounced. Doom is of course the overriding element of Misty Grey's sound and they play that element to perfection, there is no harshness or brutality to be found among the seven songs that make up "Visions After Void", there are no left turns into lysergic waters or sudden jumps into more extreme territories instead what you get is doom as close to its original form as it is possible to get without coming across as generic or retro, and that is a rare thing these days.

Old school doom has become somewhat of a rare commodity these days, fans of the doom genre have become accustomed to having their doom served up with otherworldly psych, low slow stoner dynamics and swampy blackened sludge. With "Visions After Void" Misty Grey serve up doom with no other trimmings other than a side order of gothic flavoured atmospherics, and it makes for a very tasty dish indeed.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 11 June 2023



Snakemother are four talented female musicians from Oakland, California who make a noise we are sure regular readers of Desert Psychlist , and those coming here anew, will wholeheartedly approve of. The band, Bianca Salinas (vocals / guitar); Colie Sutter (bass / vocals); Julia Arria (drums) and Sammie Dee Wallinga (lead guitar), jam a groove that is an intriguing blend stoner doom, proto-doom and occult/pagan rock tinted with splashes of exotic eastern promise and lysergic laced heavy psych over which strong lead and harmonised vocals waft with a fey ethereal elegance. The bands self-titled opus "Snakemother" is the bands very first release, we sure hope it's not their last.

Opening song "Ritual" begins with exotic drones over which a powerful vocal, sung in the style of a traditional Bulgarian folk song, is delivered, crunching guitars and growling bass then enter the fray but then just as quickly fade away to allow an almost folkish metal air to prevail, both musically and vocally Those crunching riffs are never too far way though and as the song progresses they soon shift from being bit part players to leading cast members, only relinquishing their dominance when the the music shifts into brief period of lysergic ambience but soon returning to take the song to its close. Unlike the opening song "Sacrum" does not bother with trying to gradually ease the listener in but instead goes straight for the throat with thundering drumming and grinding guitar refrains right from the offset. Eventually things do subside and those eastern tinted vocals that opened "Ritual" are reprised  over a groove that slowly shifts, via another passage of ambience, towards a more traditional doom gait with the vocals taking on an almost nursery rhyme meter. Next song "Circles" is an intriguing blend of seductive alt-rock eeriness and swaggering doomic bluster that should appeal to fans of both Spain's Rosy Finch and France's Grandma's Ashes, it being a song that possess the sludgy bite of the former and the grungy elegance of the latter"Gold Shields" follows and has a stuttering, almost stop/start, groove and is the first song, up to this point, not to go off on unexpected tangents into lysergic and ambient territories while the emotionally charged torch song "Mu Rise" dips it toes into both those territories as well as boasting a superbly delivered folkish vocal melody. Final song, "Little Lady", sees Snakemother mixing galloping proto-doom refrains with low slow stoner doom dynamics then topping off the resulting outcome with Iommi-like lead breaks and powerful ethereal vocals, a stunning and face melting finale to what is a truly impressive debut.

Snakemother's debut is a highly impressive opus that blends together all the elements listeners of underground rock and metal hold dear to their hearts, an amalgamation of crushing heaviness and ethereal elegance that is as times jagged and jarring and at others soothing and seductive.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 6 June 2023



Malta, a small island country situated in the Mediterranean Sea, is not a place renowned for its underground rock scene, mainly due to its lack of venues willing to host rock shows, but that does not mean one does not exist. Malta does not lack bands who want to play heavy music the lack is with the limited resources at hand for these bands to promote that music. Thankfully the rise of music hosting sites, like Bandcamp, and small specialist record labels, like Ripple Records and Electric Valley Records, there are many more opportunities available to bands and artists from all over the world to get their wares out to wider audiences. It is in fact thanks to Electric Valley Records that today we get the chance to introduce you to Hemplifier, a stoner doom trio from Santa Venera, Malta consisting of Emanuel Portelli (guitar/vocals), Bażaż (bass) and Dino Mifsud Lepre (drums & samples). Hemplifier's groove is one we know will go down well with regular readers of Desert Psychlist, a heavy blend of low slung riffage and pounding percussion played at a sedate tempos and then sparingly decorated in an eclectic mixture of vocal tones, all of which are now available to hear on the bands debut "The Stoner Side of The Doom".

With a title like "The Stoner Side of The Doom" it is a pretty sure bet that Hemplifier are not going to be pinning anyone's ears back with grooves of thrash like furiosity or mid tempo Sabbathesque proto doom, as the album title suggests this is an album residing at the stoner end of the doom spectrum. Slow, low and heavy is the order of the day here with the band jamming dark insidious grooves that boast a lumbering rather than a galloping gait. First song out of the traps "Headless Chicken (intro)" begins with drummer Lepre beating out a simple but effective tattoo which is then joined by a low slung bass refrain from Bażaż, the songs increasingly sinister dynamic then becomes even more sinister thanks to guitarist Portelli layering raked strings and behind the nut picking just beneath the groove, the overall effect coming across like the soundtrack to a John Carpenter movie. The final drum beat of "Headless Chicken (intro)" is almost immediately followed by the piercing feedback and dank, reverberating riffage of next song "Brujo", a song built around one single riff but with the tempo of that riff constantly shifting back and forth between really slow and extremely slow, its accompanying vocal wordless and guttural. Next up is "Invocation" a song that sees the band mixing their cellar crawling stoner doom dynamics with elements of funereal doom and drone and then layering the resulting outcome with an unsettling but strangely intriguing blend of vocal stylings. Hemplifier offer us up an instrumental next, "Gort" is similar in style to its predecessor in that it possess many of the same elements of funereal doom and drone but differs slightly by adding an element of psych to the mix, but let's not get ahead of ourselves and start thinking along the lines of Elder or REZN here because Hemplifier's take on psych is completely different being that it is much darker, much more dense and much, much slower. For "Weedcraft" Hemplifier almost, but not quite, go down the proto-doom route, the songs groove is more strident and livelier than much of what has passed up until this point and its harsher vocals are definitely more in keeping with what we have come to expect from a modern doom album. Final song "Snooze (outro)" somewhat expands on the ideas explored on the opening intro in that it jams a groove that could easily serve as a movie soundtrack only instead of John Carpenter think something more along the lines of an Italian B movie themed around satanic horror and the occult.

"The Stoner Side of The Doom" is everything a stoner doom album should be, it is ponderous, dark, intense and thunderous yet, unlike some albums in the genre, it is far from being one dimensional. There is an air of daring and a sense of innovation to be found in Hemplifier's monolithic grooves and low slow dynamics that regular listeners and lovers of sedate paced heavy doom will find both extremely refreshing and highly rewarding.
Check 'em out .... 
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 5 June 2023



We think people may be able to tell by reading through the various reviews posted on Desert Psychlist that music leaning towards the heavier end of the rock spectrum is something we care about deeply but we also hope that our love of music that is a little quirky and sits a little left of centre is something that has not gone unnoticed either. Heavy music is of course Desert Psychlist's bread and butter but you cannot live on bread alone and so we vary our musical diet by listening to a diverse array of different  music, someone passing by Stonerking Towers is as likely to hear the lilting British folk of Fairport Convention, the staccato chords of  Steel Pulse or the modal jazz of John Coltrane blaring from the towers uppermost windows as they are the crunching fuzz of Kyuss or the reverberating riffs of YOB or Sleep, it 's how we roll. One of The Psychlist's greatest pleasures is finding a band who manage to cram all of our musical needs into one  package, its a rare occurrence but one that Montana outfit The Gray Goo, Max Gargasz (guitar/ vox/ synthesizer); Matt Carper (bass/ vox/ keyboards) and Zach Ronish (drums/ vox/ percussion), have managed to pull off twice, first with their debut "1943" and now again with their latest release "Circus Nightmare"

When Desert Psychlist reviewed The Gray Goo's debut "1943" we described the bands mix of the straightforward with the unconventional as Zappa-esque and "Circus Nightmare" is an album very much in that same vein. The Gray Goo's music on "Circus Nightmare", like Zappa's, does not follow straight lines or rules, there is a air of organised chaos and manic playfulness to songs like "Alligator Bundee", "BEP", "Wizards of the Mountain" and "Out of Sight (Out of Mind)" that on a first listen may invoke a "what the fuck" reaction but will, with subsequent listens, soon turn to admiration and respect. Every style and genre of music ever committed to tape (and even some that have not) can be found on "Circus Nightmare", reggae, funk, doom, stoner/hard rock, jazz, musical theatre and folk all raise their heads here, sometimes separately and sometimes all together in one song, these different styles generally topped of with a mix of vocals that range from sneered and punky all the way through to harsh and guttural. Lyrically things are just as schizophrenic, even Zappa might have raised an eyebrow at lyrics like  "and there was a producer named Ron Zachary, he recorded and mixed Bundy‘s EP, snare sounded like shit Bundy was pissed so he went into the booth and chomped off his DICK" ("Alligator Bundee") or "holy shit this shits the shit, I'm The Wizard and I'm ripped" ("Pipe Hitter"). Musically these guys are totally on the ball, to be able to play so many different styles and then be able to seamlessly weave those styles in and around each other over a whole album calls for a special kind of musician and these guys can play the shit out of anything they set their minds to... and on this album regularly do so.

There will be some for whom "Circus Nightmare" will be a bridge too far, who will find The Gray Goo's music too disjointed, too angular and too far off the beaten path, but there will also be those that find the bands unconventional grooves refreshing, exciting and courageous. Hopefully the majority of listeners will fall into the latter category rather than the former and revel in the levels of daring diversity and musical multiplicity The Gray Goo bring to our tables with their gloriously garish grooves..
Check 'em out ...... 
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 2 June 2023


North London, UK is not known for its mountains, hills it has in abundance such as Muswell Hill. Primrose Hill and Highgate Hill, mountains however there is a distinct lack of. Well not entirely, there is a mountain to be found in London's northern reaches only this mountain is not a geographical one but a musical one and consists of four guys, Aitor Mendez (guitar/keyboards), Nando Thommessen (guitar), Dhairya Anand (vocals), David Saunders (bass) and Alexis Humanes (drums), who make music together under the collective umbrella of Sleeping Mountain.
Sleeping Mountain make music heavily influenced by the psych and prog of the early to mid 70's but with a modern twist, the band jam a unique groove that melds the complexities and intricacies of 70's prog with the some of the more melodic and heavier aspects of todays heavy rock, metal and psych scene to create a sound that is totally their own, a sound informed by the past but not defined by it, as you will discover when listening to their brand new self-tiled debut release "Sleeping Mountain".

The opening piece to this review mentioned progpsych, metal and rock, what we never mentioned was the blues and the Sleeping Mountain's opening song, "Break Me Down", is most definitely a song with its roots in that particular genre. This is not however the type of generic twelve bar blues played by men in suits in clubs and bars all over the world, this is a heavily mutated version of the form infused with lysergic colourations and proggish complexities. Zeppelin-esque in places but also containing elements of the genre that have since been explored by bands like The Parlour Mob and Rival Sons the song is a powerful opening statement. "Weigh" follows and finds the band twinning crunching chord progressions with searing solos, growling bass and thunderous percussion beneath an impassioned vocal that tells of being "caught inside a loop of endless misery" and "throwing gas on fire", over a groove that draws from the wells of both swaggering hard rock and prog tinted modern metal. Sleeping Mountain finish things up with "Evermore" a slow building atmospheric lament/torch song packed to the rafters with swirling keyboard textures and soaring lead guitar. Lyrically mournful and despondent the song might seem a strange choice to bring things to a close with but any misgivings the listener may have are soon blown away when those keyboards, guitars, bass and drums combine to climb towards the songs majestic finale.

Sleeping Mountain's debut has the feel of a demo, not in its production or its execution, all of which are top notch, but in the way it shows three completely different facets of the bands sound. One could imagine that had the band released a longer album then it would include more songs that were similar in style and feel to one another but with this three song format they seem to be attempting to highlight not only their skill as musicians but also the diversity of their arrangements and their song writing, showing us that they are not just one trick ponies but a band with many strings to their collective bow, it's a tactic we think they have successfully pulled off.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones