Friday 28 July 2023


Let's do something we have not done at Desert Psychlist for a while and that is dive headlong into some progressive rock. Do not go getting your knickers in a twist however as the album we are diving into is not your run of the mill take off into flights of fancy type prog, there are no songs concerning lambs lying down, roundabouts or brain salads, oh no. In fact the album we are bringing to your attention today could just as easily be described as psychedelic, stoner or post-metal as there is just as much of each of those genres/sub-genres to be found in its grooves as there is prog, plus quite a bit more 
The album we are reviewing today comes via a London, UK band going by the name of  The Fierce and the Dead and bears the title "News From the Invisible World" and we think its an album you should hear and may even change your perception about music of a "progressive" nature.

TFATD start with a song conveniently titled "The Start", the song boasts throbbing keyboards accompanied by a lone clean vocal, as the song slowly progresses so increases the amount of instrumentation and vocalists involved until finally the song explodes into a lively alt rock groove over which a myriad of voices are singing in harmonic unison, the whole feel of the song reminding Desert Psychlist of another British band going by the name of Elbow. Up next is "Shake The Jar" and here we find TFATD jamming a groove that blends QOTSA desert rock quirkiness with a touch of late Genesis radio friendly prog, this is a song that although musically complex is at the same time, thanks in part to its superb vocal arrangements, unexpectedly easy on the ears. Those wishing for a modicum of heaviness to rear its head will thoroughly enjoy "Golden Thread" it has riffs you can get your teeth into and has an overall gnarled and nasty feel, even when it does step off the gas and get a little lysergic and dreamy there is always a feeling that its only a matter of time before things explode again. "Photogenic Love" is another song that reminds Desert Psychlist of Elbow as it has one of those undulating vocal melodies that is constantly on the verge of a big sing along chorus. "Wonderful" follows and in Desert Psychlist's opinion very much deserves its title being a truly wonderful mix of Weather Report like jazz fusion and prog-lite complexity. "Non-Player" revives that late Genesis feel, its a laid back and gentle song decorated in serene and crystal clear vocals and boasts a to die for saxophone solo. "What A Time To Be Alive" starts life gnarly then drops down into light airy fusion mode the songs groove continuously swapping back and forth between these two dynamics for its duration with just a brief burst of Spyro Gyra  like jazziness, accompanied by heavily filtered vocals, breaking that cycle. Last track "Nostalgia Now" brings things to a close, a laid back lament crooned in reflective vocal tones that initially is backed by a minimal musical backdrop of but then increases its instrumentation to take things to a more torch-like finale.

The Fierce And The Dead's sound is at it's root  quintessentially British, but thanks to its forays into jazz fusion, post-rock and QOTSA -like desert rock it is a sound with international appeal. It is not a heavy sound, neither is it over complex or convoluted but it does have moments where those dynamics make their presence felt. Is "News From the Invisible World" a prog album or is it something else entirely is a question best thrashed out on the interweb's many prog rock forums, for now let's just enjoy it for what it is and that is a damn fine album of intelligently put together music.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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

Regular readers of Desert Psychlist may remember us getting a little frothy at the mouth over Jukebox Monkey's previous release "Grey Skies Red Planet" an album that mixed touches of Californian sneakers and cargo shorts desert rock with a beefy dollop of South East England Doc Martin's and jeans hard rock, grunge and metal. Those readers will be pleased to know that for "Smiles Becoming Teeth" Jukebox Monkey have not roamed too far away from the blueprint that informed their debut. What has changed though is how far these guys have come in regard to their songcraft and musicianship, "Smiles Becoming Teeth" is a much more rounded affair than its predecessor with subtle colours and  textures to be found even on the most gnarliest of its songs. If that last statement has you worrying that Jukebox Monkey might have lost some of their raucous edge by incorporating these colours and textures into their sonic attack you needn't stress as songs like the opening title track "Smiles Becoming Teeth", "Like 1973" and "Fountainhead" are as gnarled and nasty as anything you might find on their debut album but possess an added element of light and shade, an element that was not so much missing from their previous effort as not used to its full potential. Some might argue that adding this element to their sound has seen Jukebox Monkey's leaning towards a slightly more mainstream rock sound, and in some respects that is true, the music inhabiting "Smiles Becoming Teeth" does in places possess a similar anthemic vibe to much that populates mainstream rock radio (not a bad thing) but it is a sound that also possesses all the bite and growl we denizens of the underground rock scene thrive on, basically its a best of both worlds.

Grungy, metallic. fuzzy and hard rocking, "Smiles Becoming Teeth" is all of those things, it is an album that takes everything that made "Grey Skies Red Planet" such a good listen and ramps those things up to a whole other level. The raucousness of their original sound is still in place throughout this diamond of an album but it is enhanced by better arrangements, a better understanding of songcraft and a higher level of musicianship, If the band continue on this trajectory that notoriously difficult third album is going to be a breeze.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

#releases 28th July 2023

Wednesday 26 July 2023


A band who describe themselves as "legendary cannabis destroyers" who "rock hard and smoke heavy" are unlikely to be writing songs about social unrest or political change, and the tackling of such themes is even less likely when your band goes by the name of Marijuana Johnson. Given this information it will come as no surprise then that this Dayton, Ohio outfit's grooves and lyrical content is steeped in the same "weedian" mythology that informed Sleep's "Dopesmoker/Jerusalam". Now before you start throwing your hands in the air and start asking the question "do we really need another Sleep type band" let us point out that despite its iconic status Sleep's  iconic album was not an overly joyous affair and celebrated the humble leaf from a more religious angle, Marijuana Johnson on the other hand bring and element of fun to the party and no more so than on their latest release "Reefer Chamber".

Title track "Reefer Chamber" opens up proceedings and starts its life with sampled of narrative of a "stoner" trying to convince a potential "stoner" of the benefits of smoking cannabis over a crunching dank and doomic guitar refrain that is then joined by bass and drums on the songs equally crunching main riff, vocals then join the fray and are a mix of harmonised vocal interplay and clean lead sang in a swinging meter that honestly wouldn't sound out of place gracing an educational video for kindergarten children (weird but true). For next song "Mountain High" MJ mix things up by adding into their heavy "weedian" grooves a touch of old school 70's hard rock swagger beneath an ear catching vocal melody that like its predecessor possess a playful swing. "Glass Brain" is up next and here we find the band jamming a slightly more traditional stoner rock/proto-metal groove accompanied by a vocal that is a touch more gnarled and gritty. Sabbathian chug is applied to the mix for the ever so brief "Every Day" while "My Weight" is a furiously enjoyable romp that has an early desert rock/punk feel in places and boasts deliciously 70's flavoured guitar solos. Last track "Red" closes things out by pulling all the musical threads touched upon previously and compacting them into one killer finale.

Given Marijuana Johnson's predilection for "weedian" themes it is not surprising that they often get wrongly dismissed as Sleep clones but in truth they are a completely different animal. Where Sleep's musical dynamic is primarily influenced by bands like Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard MJ take their influences from a much wider palette that includes hard rock, punk and even the blues. It is also evident when listening to Marijuana Johnson's "Reefer Chamber" that they are not a band who take themselves too seriously, they may pay homage to the mythology and culture surrounding their drug of choice but they are not scared to have some fun with it either.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

# Releases 28th July 2023

Monday 24 July 2023

URSULAR ~ PRETA .... review

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".

Those who think that a saxophone should not be allowed within a hundred miles of a doom album might have to rethink their stance after hearing Ursular's "Preta", the introduction of the instrument into the bands dark but not overly crushing grooves does not detract one iota from their take on doom, in fact it enhances it tenfold and then some.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 23 July 2023

GRIP ~ SOLSTICI ..... review


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.

Grip describe the songs that inhabit "Solstici" as "reflections of the darkest feelings of the human being in relation to its natural environment, now in decline", and it is true as there is a huge "green" agenda attached to most of the albums songs. Don't, however, think Grip are going to haul you over the coals or preach at you about the size of your carbon footprint, the songs here are more about documenting the decline of our planet, the album does lyrically apportion blame but not at any one individual but at us as a human race and let's face it who can really argue with that.
Check it out ......

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 21 July 2023

SORCIA ~ LOST SEASON ..... review

Sorcia are a three piece unit from Seattle, Washington consisting of Neal De Atley (guitars/vocals), Jessica Brasch (bass/vocals) and Bryson Marcey (drums), the band released their first album "Sorcia" in 2020 just prior to the world closing down in response to the Covid pandemic. The ensuing lockdown meant the band had to abort any plans they had for touring their new album but it also meant they had time on their hands to write new songs ready for when the world finally opened up again. One of those songs took the form of a sixteen minute plus epic called "Death By Design" which the band released as an EP in 2021, the song was well received in all the right quarters with Outlaws of the Sun dubbing it " a must have release that leaves you wondering what musical avenues the band will go down for future releases" and Head-Banger Reviews calling it an EP that "delivers a performance that can’t be considered anything other than salivating". Of course Sorcia did not just write one song during their forced hiatus they wrote several and those songs are now seeing the light of day thanks to the release of their second full length album "Lost Season" (Desert Records), an album the band describe as a "continuance of their dynamic and heavy sound, yet showcases a matured evolution in style with a new exploration of influences" a statement we agree with and think you will too.

Discord and dissonance introduces opening track "Miss Anne Thrope" a delightfully dark dank number with a superb undulating vocal that regularly shifts between clean gothic crooning and harsh feral screaming over a groove that sways between proto and traditional doom and boasts some deliciously devilish lead work. "An Axe Named Otis" follows and and begins life at somewhat of a gallop with Marcey battering his drums into submission behind De Atley's crunching guitar riffs and Brasch's growling low bass,  De Atley handles the verses for this song in tones harsh and throaty but is ably helped out by Brasch whose slightly studio echoed tones, in the songs middle section and its later call and response section, inject an ethereal quality into all the mayhem. "Faded Doom" finds Sorcia jamming a groove a little less extreme both musically and vocally to its predecessor , still gnarly and still dank and doomic but a touch less abrasive especially in its last quarter where things start to become decidedly bluesy. "Dusty" is up next and the "matured evolution" the band spoke of in their mission statement for this album is never more evident than on this absolute peach of a song, it is grungy, bluesy and sludgy in turns and exists in a place somewhere between a lament and a torch song without feeling the need to commit to either. Vocals are a mix of harmony and lead with De Atley shouldering the majority of the weight, the vocalist/guitarist slowly shifting his tones from an easy on the ear croon to a larynx shredding roar as the song progresses. Final number "Entering the Eighth House" is a low slow and heavy trudge through stoner doom territory that sees Brasch and De Atley sharing a similar vocal dynamic to the one they shared on  "An Axe Named Otis" only with Brasch's ethereal tones getting a bigger piece of the vocal pie this time around. 

Sorcia's "Lost Season" is everything the band wanted it to be, it resides in the same dynamical territory that informed their debut, it showcases the bands growing maturity as musicians and songwriters and it draws its influences from a wide musical palette, in fact it is a triumph on every level.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 15 July 2023

FLORIST ~ CONTACT .... review

is a somewhat strange name for a band especially one that describe their music as "riff heavy psychedelic swamp metal" but seeing as two members of the Desert Psychlist family are both hard working florists we will just assume that the name is a tribute to the art of floristry and quietly move on. Florist, however they came by their name, play the sort of music we lovers of a gnarly fuzz drenched riff thrive on, a raucous mix of heavy psych and stoner/hard rock fleshed out with elements of spaced out swirliness. The band hail from Tampa, Florida and boast a sound that fans of bands like Fu Manchu and early Nebula and to some extent Kyuss may have though they would never hear the like of again. it is, as we said on their Bandcamp page, a soundtrack to skateboard through wormholes to.
The band have just released their debut EP "Contact" and we think it is essential listening.

First track out of the bag is title track "Contact". it is not so much a song as a collection of experimental space related noises and it is soon followed by "Lift", three minutes plus of riff fuelled desert rock fuzziness driven by explosive drumming and growling bass and featuring some surprisingly bluesy lead work. Vocals for this track, and for that matter the rest of the EP, are delivered clean and strong in that same un-rock god semi shouty style that was a characteristic of  many of the bands starting out in those early days of the desert rock scene. "Signal" is up next and finds Florist adding an element of doominess into the mix, we say an element because although this is a much weightier tome than its predecessor it is not really what you would call dank or dark especially given that there are Hawkwind -esque swoops and swirls continuously weaving in out and around its deliciously fuzzy groove. "Dimensional comprehension sensory overload, Drink the stream of consciousness from which all life will flow" are the lyrics decorating next song "Dr. Rendezvous", these are pretty deep lyrics but they are delivered in a playful almost nursery rhyme meter against a background of groove that although heavy boasts an up-tempo bluesiness that you just can't help tapping your foot along to, this however does not detract from the songs lyrical depth it just makes that depth a touch more fun to wallow in. "Rover" is a joyous up beat romp around the cosmos with a chorus impossible not to sing along to and a groove that could get even a corpse up and dancing. Final number "I,AI" is a superb mix of spacious heavy psych, psychedelic doom, stonerized blues and hard rock with vocals delivered in an appropriately disembodied robotic meter, it is a pretty apt song given the fear and uncertainty currently surrounding the new technology.

Well thought out intelligent lyrical content married to infectious grooves that you could dislocate a shoulder throwing horns at is what you get with Florist's "Contact", the bands name might suggest cultivated flowers but their music is as wild and thorny as it comes
Check 'em out .... .   
© 2023 Frazer Jones

#"Contact" is available to download via all the usual digital platforms on 17th July 2023.

Friday 14 July 2023


Sweden's Cavern Deep, Max Malmer (bass/vocals); Kenny Oswald Dufvenberg (guitar/vocals) and Dennis Sjödin (drums/keyboards/vocals), broke the mould for conceptual themed albums with their lengthy self-titled tome "Cavern Deep" in 2021, it was a scintillating sinister tale, of Lovecraftian proportions, that told the story of an archaeological expedition that goes terribly, terribly wrong. The story was laid out like a novel only instead of pages and chapters it was told via the medium of music and lyrics, music that was of a doomic flavour and lyrics that were delivered in sombre melodic tones. The album was initially accompanied by a track by track synopsis explaining each songs part in the whole, a synopsis that served as a written guide thus enabling listeners to follow the stories journey from adventure to horror that much easier, (that synopsis has since been removed from their Bandcamp page but can still be accessed via video on the bands YouTube channel). Here was a story that had a beginning a middle and an end...or so we thought before the release of the single "The Attuning" landed (featuring Monolord's Thomas V Jager) and informed us that this single release was intended as bridging piece for a forthcoming album that would be the next chapter in the story. Today that chapter landed in the shape of "Part II-Breach" (Bonebag Records), and it is every bit as good, if not better, than its predecessor, get ready to re-embrace the horror.

 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.
# For those who might have missed out on "The Attuning", the song released prior to "Part II-Breach" as a tie in between the two albums, it is included here as a bonus track.

For Cavern Deep to release a debut album with a concept as involved and as detailed as "Cavern Deep" was an incredibly brave move, especially as it was so radically different from anything anyone else was doing at the time. To then follow up that debut with "Part II-Breach" and take that concept into places no one expected it to go is beyond courageous and borders on insanity. The fact that they have managed to pull this feat off and make what is possibly one of the best albums released in 2023 is testament not only to their skill and intelligence as musicians but also their depth of imagination.
Check it out ...   

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 11 July 2023


 Kent, UK is known to us Brits as the "Garden of England" due to its beautiful landscapes and fertile land which is home to a variety of fruit orchards and hop fields, now given this information you might well expect music from the region to reflect some of that beauty. Well that might have been the case back in the 70's when Kent bands like Soft Machine and Caravan were at the height of their powers but things are a little different these days. 
Struck/Down, a five piece unit from Canterbury, Kent are not a band known for their laid back and gentle soundscapes or their lilting melodies, their music is a gnarled and gritty blend of doom, thrash and groove metal that has more in common with the swampy sludge of  New Orleans than it has the lilting prog and jazz of those Kent bands mentioned earlier. One thing the band does have in common with those band however is a love of a concept, the band's latest release "To Witches.." is the second instalment of a conceptual theme first explored on their 2021 EP "From Demons..", a story based around a fictitious priest named Father Brown who manages to cause turmoil and misery wherever he goes, both intentionally and unintentionally. 

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.

We have spoke a great deal about the groove metal element of Struck/Down's music, mainly because it plays such a huge role in the bands overall sound, what we haven't spoke much about are the elements of doom, stoner rock, classic rock and thrash that can also be heard bubbling away under all that groove. It is the way Struck/Down incorporate these elements into their sound that sets Struck/Down apart from their American cousins and allows them their own unique voice in a sub-genre that up until recently has had somewhat of a closed shop mentality.
Check 'em out .... 
  © 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 10 July 2023

MELT ~ REPLICA OF MAN ... review


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.

Melt do not sound like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Elder or Kyuss, neither do they sound like any of the other bands we reviewers often use as comparisons to give our readers an idea of what to expect from an album. They are not doom or heavy metal, they are not classic rock, stoner rock or punk yet there are elements of all of those genres and bands to be found in Melt's sonic attack. Melt's sound is the sound of Melt and no one else, they are unique, an enigma, a one off and we should be thankful they live among us.
Check 'em out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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.

Random noises. screams and a snippet from a 60's pop song introduce opening song "Hell Riders" and are followed by a deliciously dank riff heavy groove so classically proto-doomic it should be preserved in museum. Vocals for this slice of doomic delight are delivered in clean melodic sneery tones, the sneery aspect of those vocals adding an almost garage rock element to the proceedings. The song continues along this path right up until around about the halfway mark when an unexpected flourish of church like keyboards and sampled horror movie narrative signals a shift towards a more convoluted and complex dynamic with the guitars and keyboards combining to bring an almost twisted prog feel to the songs final moments. "Funeral Boogie" follows and here we have a song that would get feet tapping at even the most sorrowful of internments, an upbeat but still gloom laden slice of proto-doom that starts life quite dark and sinister but then evolves into a chugging choppy riff fest with an ear catching chorus. "Acid" is next, a low, slow and heavy tome drenched in searing lead work and driven by sedate thundering percussion over which those sneery vocals tell their tale in an equally sedate meter. Tolling bells and weird inaudible narrative announce the arrival of "Master of Wizardry" an eerie off centred and delightfully disjointed opus that only really comes together in its last quarter but despite this is nevertheless an enthralling, if somewhat unsettling, listen. The final two tracks of "Ablanathanalba", "We Are Füd" and "Tested By Death" are both glorious examples of how far the Italian doom scene has come over the past few years, the former is an excellent blend of Sabbathian proto-doom and Italian scuzzy acid rock bolstered by a great vocal melody while the latter sees Wizard Master throwing elements of lysergic bluesiness and twisted doomic proggishness into the mix to create something that is unnervingly dank and dismal yet at the same time possesses an unexpected spine tingling charm and beauty all of its own. 

The Italian acid-doom scene is in a very good place at the moment with bands like Black Spell, Sonic Demon, Witchsnake and Demonio garnering the sort of reactions that were once the reserve of the Swedish underground scene a few years back. With "Ablanathaalba" Wizard Master may well have muscled their way to the top of that pile.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones