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

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