Friday 28 July 2023
Thursday 27 July 2023
We all love a touch of raucousness in our rock, there is nothing better for getting the blood flowing than hearing jagged riffs with an element of crunch and bite to them, especially if said riffs are backed by a hard driving rhythm section Things can get even better if the band laying down those raucous riffs and forceful rhythms also possess a singer with a voice that can do those dynamics justice. You may now be thinking where can we find a band who meets all the above criteria without taking a deep dive into Spotify, Bandcamp and other music related sites. This is where Desert Psychlist comes in, we have done all the hard work for you, the band you are looking for are Jukebox Monkey and they have just released their second full length album "Smiles Becoming Teeth"
Wednesday 26 July 2023
Monday 24 July 2023
For some the inclusion of saxophone in rock and metal music is a big no-no while for others the addition of the brass instrument is something to be encouraged as it brings with it textures and colours you might not otherwise hear in either genre. Being fans of a wide spectrum of different musical genres we at Desert Psychlist fall very much into the latter camp with our thinking being that if the sax sits so well in music like the blues, soul and jazz then why should it not work in rock and metal. It seems very strange to us that most fans of heavy music are perfectly willing to except bands utilising violins, cellos and flutes in their music but mention the inclusion of the humble saxophone and a brick wall suddenly goes up. This "saxism" is even more prevalent within the doom community, maybe that is because an instrument that "honks" rather than "crunches" seems an alien concept to fans of a music that has built its reputation on dank, dark guitar refrains and thrumming low bass lines. Berlin outfit Ursular, Babett (vocals,/saxophone) ;Tim (guitar); Kay (bass) and Markus (drums) are attempting to change this outdated perception with their new album "Preta", the band delivering all the dank guitar heavy doom you could possibly ask for but then augmenting that doom with a brass instrument that is not always sonically pretty but when placed in the right setting dooms like a motherf**ker.
Desert Psychlist has read reviews and posts posted on social media comparing Ursular with bands like Windhand and Italy's Haunted and although we can understand the thinking behind these comparisons we do not necessarily agree with them, Ok their are certain similarities Ursular share with those two bands, like the sex of their vocalist and the fact that Ursular also jam grooves that are heavily reliant on atmosphere, but that's where, for us, the comparisons end. Ursalar's sound is a much more intricate and encompassing affair, some of which comes down to Babett's soaring vocals and the saxophone she wields like a jazz veteran but chiefly it comes from the superb grooves Tim, Kay and Markus lay over, under and around her, grooves that are doomic in nature but in an undulating. billowing way, heavy of course but more of a strong dark breeze than a bullish blustering wind. "Preta" consists of just four songs, "Siren", "Malediction", "Livores" and "Golem" each of which heavily features Babett's sax, her weapon of choice sometimes just adding an extra level of depth to a songs groove other times featuring as a lead instrument in its own right but in all cases acting as prominent component in the band overall sound, its no wonder the band are dubbing what they do as "saxodoom".
Sunday 23 July 2023
Spanish groovesters Grip are not what you would call the most prolific of outfits, the band, Ana Ruiz (vocals); Quim Torres (guitars); Ángel Fuentes (guitars); Albert Vilella (bass) and Sergi Querol (drums) formed in Reus, Spain in 2016 it then took them a further two years to get around to releasing their debut, "Sessions from Beyond", and it is only now, five years later, that we are getting to hear "Solstici" the follow up to that release. However good things are worth waiting for and this intriguing blend of post-metal, occult rock and stoner doom, decorated in strong distinctive vocals, has been well worth waiting for.
First song out of the traps is "Roots", it's lone opening guitar motif reminiscent of the late John McGeoch's work with British post-punk/goth outfit Siouxsie and the Banshees, this motif is then replaced by dank guitar refrains backed up by pummelling drums and rumbling bass over which vocalist Ruiz delivers powerful, lightly accented, vocals in a voice that sits between fey and forceful and is tinted with just a splash of monotonic edginess, the singer delivering her vocals for this track in a 50-50 mix of English and Catalan "Pirene" follows and finds Ruiz singing of being "trapped between two large seas" and being "hidden in fields of burning trees" over a musical backdrop that sits just a bpm or two above low slow and heavy and has, in its more animated sections, an almost Sabbathian/Sleep-ish flavour. "Aloja" sees Torres and Fuentes bringing a touch of post-metal texturing to their guitar work ably supported by Vilella and Querol, who on the evidence so far have proved themselves a formidable rhythm section, For this song Ruiz opts for a more torch-like and soaring vocal delivery, a delivery totally suited to the songs more textured dynamic. There is an element of stoner metal chug to be found on next song "Tretze Vents"(translation: thirteen winds) but only in its initial stages for as the song progresses so its dynamic slowly shifts from being upbeat and metallic to sedate, doomic and in places bluesy. Penultimate track "Black Hounds" sits somewhere between occult rock and proto-doom and along its journey features some very tasty off-kilter guitar work from both Torres and Fuentes as well as another great Ruiz vocal. Last song "Solstici" boasts off kilter guitar motifs around which doomic chord progressions hold sway and rhythmic thunder is unleashed, Ruiz opts to jettison the monotonic elements she has employed on previous songs here and instead adopts a more ethereal and fey vocal approach, an approach that pays huge dividends by adding an air of otherworldly mysticism to the songs mid-seasonal lyrical theme.
© 2023 Frazer Jones
Friday 21 July 2023
Saturday 15 July 2023
Friday 14 July 2023
When Desert Psychlist reviewed "Cavern Deep" we tried hard to tie in the story with our descriptions of the music, it was a big ask and we are not sure we succeeded, "Part II-Breach" is a far more complex and convoluted story that mixes the physical with the metaphysical so in order not to do the story any injustice we will instead concentrate on the albums music and only gingerly offer any insights we may have on the albums concept. Title track "Breach" opens proceedings and is a song that switches routinely between crunching doomic heaviness and dank post-metal tranquillity as it chronicles the transformation of the greed driven archaeologist, featured in "Cavern Deep", from from flesh and blood into something else entirely, its a great opener that sets the scene for the rest of the album. One of the features of "Part II-Breach" is its guest appearances and the first of these appearances comes from Brume's Susie McMullan whose soaring powerful tones bring an ethereal and otherworldly feel to the proceedings, especially when twinned with guitarist Dufvenberg's swooning bluesy lead work. McMullen's vocals and Dufvenberg's guitar are backed by a low slow doomic, but not overtly heavy, backing groove that is only just anchored to terra-firma by Malmer's booming bass and Sjödin's steady but powerful drumming, these parts all coming together to create a sound perfectly in sync with the songs theme of creation and birth. "A World Bereaved" finds Dufvenberg and Malmer sharing vocals duties over a backdrop of sedately paced but weighty psychedelic doom, their voices combing in mournful harmony to describe the destruction and devastation of a world seen through newly forming eyes. Next track "Skeletal Wastes" (featuring guitar contributions from Sarcophagus Now's Johannes Behndig). boasts a superbly powerful vocal that tells a lyrical tale of "sceneries of war" and "mountains made of spines" against a backdrop of groove that starts life in quite traditional doom territory but then in its last quarter dips its toes into more lysergic/post-metal waters and sees Sjödin's keyboards taking centre stage. Up next we get "Sea of Rust" a song that chronicles our newly birthed entity achieving awareness, the song boasting an appropriately evolving musical dynamic and it's vocals crooned in deep sonorous tones. Finally we arrive at "The Pulse", the songs intro of synthesised electronica heralding in a low slow heavy psych/doom groove built from thick crunching guitar chords, low grumbling bass lines and ponderous percussion. The song also sees the return of Brume's Susie McMullan, her vocals here possessing a fragile tone that might at first seem at odds with the devastating dankness surrounding them but as the song progresses soon prove to be the perfect accompaniment. The synopsis accompanying this song hints at this story continuing which of course would mean another album, Desert Psychlist is keeping our collective fingers crossed.
© 2023 Frazer Jones
Tuesday 11 July 2023
If you are not a fan of Lamb of God, Down, Gojira, Mastodon and bands of that ilk then you might as well stop reading now as Struck/Down are a band who share similar musical characteristics to all those bands listed above, we have to stress the word similar here though as Struck/Down are no bandwagon jumpers or copyists. Being from the UK and not the southern states of the USA sees Struck/Down bringing an air of British reserve and restraint to the groove metal party, where they could so easily have gone down the route of continuous heaviness and face melting intensity they instead prefer to regularly take their foot off the gas and take a little time to smell the roses. Groove metal, be it doom tinted or metallically extreme, can be a bit of a chore to listen to in one sitting but that is not the case with "To Witches..", each song on this stunning EP is a perfect balance of darkness and shade, the band even wandering into Clutch territory in places. Songs like "The Enforcer", the excellent "No Value" and the mind-blowing "Son of the Unburnt Witch" are not just built around riffs they have colour an texture too, these are songs that can pin you to the floor with the weight of their thrumming refrains and incessant rhythms but can also caress you with an arm around the shoulder, moments that may only be fleeting but are the difference between a song being just good and a song being great, and these are all great songs.
Monday 10 July 2023
Melt, Joey Troupe (guitar/vocals); James May (bass/vocals) and J.J. Young (drums/vocals) hail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and are seasoned musicians who have achieved a wealth of experience playing and working in and around their local music scene, In 2021 Melt released their first full length album "Melt" a blend of stoner strut, hard rock swagger and off the wall punk/pop playfulness that garnered favourable responses in all the right quarters. This year the band release their second album "Replica of Man", a release that sees the band levelling up on all those elements that made their debut such an enjoyable experience by adding to their sound a little extra element of gnarl and bite.
If you are coming to this review expecting Desert Psychlist to wax lyrical about brutal riffs, low slow dynamics and monolithic heaviness then you are going to be disappointed because Melt are more about the hardness of their rock than the heaviness of that rock, of course where there is hardness there is bound to be found some heaviness but any heaviness found on this gem of an album is more akin to the heaviness you might find on something released by a classic rock band or one of the more musical punk bands. We mentioned playfulness in this reviews opening piece and despite the quite serious lyrical subject matter, broached on songs like "Sight To See", "Diviner" and "Shame", that playfulness is a commodity that is ever present, a playfulness that presents itself in the albums strategically placed samples and also in its off-kilter vocal melodies and harmonies which are delivered in a variety of tones meters and styles throughout the albums nine song tenure. Musically these guys are on top of their game, Troupe's guitar work is a mixture of choppy chords and intricate lead, bassist May brings low liquid bounce as well as thrumming growl to the table while Young's drumming is busier than a bee and tighter than a misers purse, together they create a groove that is hard dark and complex but is at the same time upbeat, infectious and fun.
Friday 7 July 2023
Having only recently reviewed Italian scuzzmeisters Demonio's excellent new release "Reaching For The Sky" along comes another slice of Italian scuzziness for Desert Psychlist to wax lyrical over in the shape of Wizard Master's latest release "Ablanathanalba" (Electric Valley Records). Wizard Master, in much the same way as the aforementioned Demonio did with "Reaching For The Sky", have for their latest release embraced a more heavily psychedelic and blues orientated dynamic, a dynamic that sees the band still drawing inspiration from the likes of Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and bands of that ilk but also toying with elements that can be found in the music of new breed doomsters like the UK's Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, France's Witchthroat Serpent and Argentina's No Stone, in other words an engaging blend of heaviness and melody.
© 2023 Frazer Jones