Saturday 30 September 2023


Having been to Mallorca on a number of occasions Desert Psychlist can honestly say that it is a place close to our hearts. Relaxation and recouperation were the reason for our visits then and we have to say that searching out the island's underground rock scene was not high on our agenda of things to do, however having had our eyes and ears opened up by labels like Spinda Records and Discos Macarras Records our next visit might well be for that very purpose. Queen Marsa, are one such Mallorcan band that would definitely be on out list for checking out, if only to see if their live shows live up to the promise shown on their studio output. Queen Marsa, Manuel Pintos (vocals)· Xavi Cárceles (guitar); Jaume Rado (guitar); Juan Bonet (drums) and Toni Coronado (bass)  first came to Desert Psychlist's attention when Dani Audi, head honcho at Discos Macarras Records and drummer for heavy rock band Memest, messaged Desert Psychlist suggesting we should to check out the bands self-titled debut EP "Queen Marsa",which given Dani's impeccable taste in music we immediately did, what we heard was a band with a real feel and understanding of 70's hard rock but also knew how to mould that sound to appeal to a modern day audience. That was three years ago and things went a little quiet for a while causing Desert Psychlist to fear that Queen Marsa was another of those bands that had not come out of the other side of the worlds Covid crisis. Those fears were allayed however when Dani once again got in touch to inform us the band were releasing a full length album entitled "I Am The Land" (Discos Macarras Records), so it looks like that Mallorcan trip could still be on the cards.

"Guagameia" kicks things off, an old school hard rocker packed solid with everything you loved about rock before the the size of a bands hair become more important than the quality of their music, grinding crunchy guitar tones, bass lines played on more than one string, drumming that swings as much as it thunders and vocals that combine power with melody. "Made For Lovers" follows, a song with a title that suggests balladry but is in fact a swaggering stuttering tour-de-force with more hooks than a cloakroom. Three songs in and you might be thinking its time for a change in tempo and that is exactly what you don't get, unless you count the songs slightly bluesy middle section but even that hits harder than a heavyweight boxer. "The Trick Is You Don't Mind" is a driving rocker with an element of psychedelic headiness sitting in its centre and leads into title track "I Am The Land" a song with a groove that routinely shifts between a restrained chug and a sudden explosion and boasts a vocal melody so infectious it demands the wearing of a face mask. If you are a fan of Australian rockers Electric Mary then you cannot fail to enjoy "Stop Dry" as it has that same dirty bluesiness and thunderous drive that has become that bands trademark. A touch of southern bluesy swagger and wah pedal drenched funkiness informs "Treat Me Like You Do" combined with excellent guitar solos and another of those superb throaty vocal performances while "The Truth (You Don't Want To Know)" throws a little proggish texturing into ring just to show this is a band with more than one string to their collective bow. "Outlaw On The Run" brings things to a close in furious style, circular twin guitar motifs and palm muted riffs swirling and crunching respectively over a tight, tight rhythmic groove decorated with a gritty but uber melodic and powerful vocal.

Stoner rock fans  and hard rock fans share a love of riffs, driving rhythms and searing solos but whereas it is the riff that is often the deal breaker for stoner rock fans, and any furnishings around that riff are a bonus, your hard rock fan is a much more discerning listener who demands catchy choruses and hooks big enough to hang a sky on. Queen Marsa's "I Am The Land" is an album that WILL appeal to the stoner rockers but is first and foremost aimed at the latter group. 
Check it out ...  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 28 September 2023

TUSOC ~ ÉTER .... review

Desert Psychlist has something a little different and more than a little special to bring you today, that something is an album from an Argentinian combo calling themselves Tusoc and the album in question is called "Éter" (English translation: ether). Tusoc, Fabián Lugones (bass); Guillermo Lambrisca (guitar); Alberto Lugones (drums) and Fernando Morelli (vocals), formed in Rosario in 2020 and in 2022 they released their debut album "Un cipr​é​s en llamas". The bands sound is an enticing mix of heavy.psych, post rock and proggish metal flecked with elements of stoner grittiness and Latin swing, it's a sound that sits a little left of centre of what we usually post here on The Psychlist but its one well worth hearing.

Things begin fairly gnarled and heavy with opening track "Altiplano" but that initial heaviness soon settles down and the band slip effortlessly into a groove that sits somewhere between alt-metal and post-rock around a clean vocal (Spanish) edged with just hint of grittiness, its a sound that is easy on the ear yet gnarly enough to get the blood pumping. This is followed by "Forastero" a song with a loud/quiet/loud dynamic, its louds powerful and crunchy, its quiets sweeping and serene both dynamics decorated in vocal tones so smooth you could spread them on bread. "Vertiente" is up next and finds Tusoc flexing their experimental muscles, droning noise the platform from which a myriad of guitar effects is launched."Errante" follows and is a song that is partly a gentle stroll through the meadows and partly a strident gallop into battle and proves to be just as superb on both fronts. "Mitico" raises its head above the parapets next and is the perfect song for those out there who like their grooves with a little meat on them, it is a raucous romp packed with chugging riffs and searing solos driven by a tight rhythm section, it also boasts the albums grittiest vocal. "Icaro" is for Desert Psychlist the stand out track of the album, a song that is as tantalising and beautiful as it is punchy and aggressive, shimmering arpeggios and fractured chords making way for searing guitar solos and thrumming riffs, restrained rhythm standing aside for thunderous percussive attack, the vocals effortlessly switches up from a saccharine croon to a melodious yell as the song progresses. Title track "Éter" makes its appearance next and sees Tusoc adding a little doomic dankness to their already impressive armoury, the guitar tones here are darker, the drumming more insistent, the bass growlier and the vocals a touch more sneery and snarly. Tusoc brings things to a close with "Poniente" a brief but quite engaging instrumental piece that uses wind like effects to frame the gentle picking of what sounds like a mandolin, the song is not something you would expect as a closing statement but we did say these guys were a bit different.

"Éter" is a stunning opus from a country whose music scene is fast growing in international stature, it is not a particularly heavy album nor is it one you could describe as being ambient but it does posses elements of both those dynamics. Tusoc's sound is an embracing one, it is a musical hug that wraps around you and pulls you in, and we all need a hug sometimes.
Check 'em out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 27 September 2023


Orbiter, not to be confused with the Florida metal outfit, the Norwegian stoner metal combo or the New Haven post-rock duo (all of whom bear the same name) are a collective of musicians hailing from Helsinki, Finland who jam doomy grooves blended with elements of psych and alt-metal. The band, Carolin (vocals); Alexander (guitars); Tuomas (bass) and Sami (drums) have been doing their thing since 2017 but first came to Desert Psychlist's attention via their 2020 EP "The Deluge", a collection of Sabbath inspired psychedelic tinted doom fronted by exquisite and quite unique vocals. Three years and a pandemic after "The Deluge" the band return to grace our ears off with some new music, this time in the form of a full album entitled "Hollow World".(Argonauta Records)

Beneath artwork, that reminds Desert Psychlist of paintings often found gracing the walls of British middle class households in the early 70's, lies a music that has that rare quality of being heavy yet strangely soothing. Opening track "Silence Breaks" is the perfect example of how Orbiter achieve this heavy but soothing balancing act, the songs heavy pounding rhythms and thrumming dank riffs are exactly what you would expect to hear from a band who have thrown their collective hats into the doom metal ring but are offset by a vocal that is an intriguing mix of monotonic and ethereal. Orbiter move into slightly more uptempo doomic waters for next track "Beneath" still dank, still heavy but somewhat more strident, a stridency matched by vocalist Carolin shifting her delivery up a gear and adding a touch more soaring urgency into her vocal attack. Third song "Kolibri", is a beautiful instrumental piece for guitar that works both as a standalone track and as a companion piece to title track "Hollow World" where we find Orbiter once again balancing moments of powerful heaviness with moments of lilting serenity, an element of lounge lizard jazziness sneaking into the songs undulating dynamic in places. Orbiter bring a touch of Nordic folkishness into play for next track "Raven Bones" with Sami laying down a tribalistic drum tattoo behind Tuomas' low liquid bass lines and Alexander's thrumming darkened riffs, Carolin adding the cherry to the cake with a vocal that shifts between fragile smokiness and mournful majesty . The band go down the instrumental psych route for next number "Transmissions", Sami and Tuomas laying down a circular rhythmic groove over which a variety of  electronic effects burp, burble and blip, if that sounds a bit weird it's because it is, but it is also very enjoyable. It seems that everyone gets their moment in the sun on this album and "Under Your Spell" is Carolin's moment, backed by a lone guitar she sings a tale of secret passageways and tangled roots in lilting tones that sit somewhere between folk(ish) and jazzy. Closing song "Last Call" finds Carolin reverting back to the slightly monotonic delivery she employed on the albums opening track against a backdrop of atmospheric groove that in its initial stages boasts a low slow and heavy dynamic but gradually increases in tempo as the song progresses towards its dark droning finale.

Elements of psych, occult rock, folk and doom can all be found floating around in the music Orbiter bring to our ears with "Hollow World" but in truth they are not really one or the other, they have a sound totally unique to themselves, a sound that is as refreshing as it is different.
Check 'em out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 26 September 2023


 That mysterious essence that seems to inspire so many Swedish bands to create quality heavy music appears to have once again made its way into the Swedish water system this time infecting four guys from Gothenburg working under the collective title of Stone Of Duna. The band, who at the time of writing this review have not yet set foot on a stage, have just released, via Bandcamp, their debut album "Moonsplitter" a promising and most enjoyable blending of fuzzy stoner/hard rock, prog metal and psych that we guarantee you are going to love. 

"Dirge For Fallen Giants" opens things up, its doomic intro, dark and throbbing, soon making way for a stuttering stoner metal like groove made strangely effective thanks to its understated but totally in the zone drumming. The songs lyrical content,  mythological and poetic, is delivered in powerful clean tones that possess a soulful clarity not usually the norm at the heavier end of the rock spectrum. "Deathbright" follows and sees the band bringing a little prog-like texturing to the table along with some nice grunge/alt-metal like vocal dynamics and off the scale guitar pyrotechnics, its understandable why they chose this as a single as it hits on every level. The proggish texturing of the previous track comes into its own on "Stygian Slumber" with crunching chord progressions, growling bass lines and thunderous drum patterns sharing space with gentle arpeggios, liquid low end and restrained but still swinging percussion beneath a vocal that soars and swoops with melodic muscularity. Desert Psychlist may be swimming against the tide here, as people are already making comparisons with TOOL, but we hear an element of Dream Theatre in next song "The Seven Aspect Snake" albeit slightly more thundersome and doomic and fronted by vocals that do not possess an annoying wobble. Final number and title track "Moonsplitter" sees Stone Of Duna going large, a ten minute plus opus that allows them to put all their musical eggs in one basket, crunching heaviness, grungy dynamics and prog complexity all blended together to create one epic wave goodbye that will leave many wondering what a second Stone Of Duna album may one day bring.

Comparisons are already being made between Stone Of Duna and some of the big hitters in the prog-metal genre but these guys are more than just another prog related metal outfit, they also incorporate the grittiness of stoner rock,  the dynamics of alt-metal and the dankness of doom into their sound. "Moonsplitter" is not just an album for prog metal fans it is an album for anyone who appreciates good, well played and well written rock music. 
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 25 September 2023


Australian sextet Astronomie came into being in 2017 when guitarist Bean and bassist Kenny Slessor decided to combine their love of sci-fi with their love of slow heavy music and then proceeded to recruit musicians who could make that vision. a blending of space rock swirliness and heavy doom sludginess, a reality. The band, which also includes James Webster (vocals); Anna KG (backing vocals); Glen K (lead guitar) and Android (drums & percussion), call what they do "sublime heaviness" a statement Desert Psychlist finds very hard to argue with.

Opening song "The Infinite" begins just how you would hope any heavy album would open, a brief intro and then straight into the main riff, a chugging heavily fuzzed out riff driven by low booming bass and thunderous drum patterns enhanced by occasional searing lead breaks. Now that would already be enough to catch the interest of any discerning fan of heavy music but then Asronomie up the ante by decorating those resulting grooves with vocals that are a mix of mellow, yet strong, lead and powerful harmonies before finishing things off with some Hawkwind-esque swirliness, its a powerful opening statement. We have already mentioned Hawkwind, it is hard not to when discussing space themed rock music, and next track "Galactic Jack" is pure Hawkwind worship from its Nick Turner like vocal delivery right down to its space boogie type dynamics and Michael Moorcock flavoured lyrical content. Things take a darker turn for title track "Interstellar Nomad", the song still retaining an essence of that sonic vibe borrowed from Ladbroke Grove's finest  hippy space rockers but this time twinned with a touch of doomic dankness. We are offered a brief but quaint interlude with "Syzygy" then its back to the heavy for "Moondozer", the song boasting a low slow dynamic more akin to stoner doom than it is to space rock. Things get a little sludgy for "War Eternal" the songs dark lyrics telling of "the deaths of a billion young men" is mirrored with dank heavy guitar tones and mournful vocal melodies while final song, "Sea of Thirst" paints a lyrical picture of  a dying universe against a musical backdrop that incorporates everything from crunching doomic riffs to swirling bluesy solos, its vocals delivered in a weird but effective meter that's not quite rapping but not quite singing either, more a melodic shout.

Creating a sound that is both crushing AND spacious is no easy feat but with "Interstellar Nomad" Astronomie have managed to pull off that feat with unerring ease. As debut albums go this one's up there with some of the best.
Check it out ...  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 19 September 2023



Desert Psychlist loves a good book and our favourite reading material is sci-fi and fantasy, now why do we need to tell you that you might ask, well the reason is that is the artwork for the album we are about to review is laid out very much like something that might grace the cover of such a novel, bold print over a painting depicting an alien landscape. The album in question is "Arrival of the Waves" by New Hampshire outfit Abel Blood,  Adam Joslyn (guitar/bass/vocals); Malcolm Salls (guitar/bass/vocals) and Jim DeLuca (drums), and the music concealed beneath that artwork is of an equally alien and otherworldly quality.

"Arrival of the Waves" is not typical of the albums we usually review here on Desert Psychlist, it has riffs of course but those riffs are not the prime driving force behind the music gracing its nine songs, it's vocals are neither stoner gritty or metallically harsh instead they possess a goth rock quality once the preserve of bands like Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy, and if that was not enough it's grooves routinely shift between spaced out and lilting and heavy and droning. "Arrival of the Waves" doesn't quite fit into any of the usual boxes we create for our music and that is its greatest asset, it's an album that melds together everything from doom to Americana, an album of music that'll tear your nerve ends to shreds with its caustic refrains one minute then gently wrap you up in a blanket of melodious swirling ambience the next. Tracks like "Kept Them Past", "Reflections", "Scrape The Dirt" and the epic "Mental Note" are not just songs they are audial experiences that both enrich and elevate and take you to places only really great music can and "Arrival of the Waves" is REALLY great music.

Abel Blood have broken the mould with "Arrival of the Waves" they have created something that speaks to its listener not just on a musical level but also on a spiritual level, a mixture of heaviness and transcendency that goes beyond  just being sound and becomes something almost tangible.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 18 September 2023



Today, due to dour weather and various health problems, Desert Psychlist was searching for something that might lift our mood and make us feel a bit better about our situation, something that met our heavy, fuzzy and doomic criteria but still had a bit of a feel good factor about it, and like a good nurse Bandcamp provided the medicine. The tonic we found came in the shape of a four song EP titled "Warriors of Doom" recorded by a four piece from Amsterdam going by the name of Fuzzard, an EP that despite its heaviness carried somewhat of an upbeat and joyous swagger in its gait. Some of you might remember the names Bas (guitar, vocals); Arianne (guitar, vocals); Tijmen (bass, vocals) and Niels (drums) gracing the line up of another Amsterdam band called Gaai and that would be because it is the same band but whereas with Gaai this line-up toyed with a more stoner/psych sound with Fuzzard they go all in doom. Now given that Fuzzard have hardly any presence on social media there is good chance they will never know how much their little EP has brightened up our day, let alone that it has moved us to pen a few words about it, but never mind we did it anyway.

Fuzzard open up their new release with "Subject #69", guitar tones dialled to fuzzy and rhythms pushing thunderous, now given that this is an EP with the word "doom" in its title you might be thinking this dynamic is somewhat par for the course but then in come the vocals and turn things completely upside down, instead of an Ozzy type nasal whine or a Dio-esque howl what we get is clean lead and shared harmonies delivered in an almost playful meter that are in perfect sync with the songs equally playful but nevertheless heavy groove. For next track, "Serpent King", guitarist Arianne steps up to the mic to tell us a tale of "emerald spires" and "lizards and snakes" in creamy smooth powerful tones, even throwing in a token growl at one point, against a backdrop of gnarly occult rocking doom. Title track "Warriors of Doom" is a song with its tongue pushed so far into its cheek its in danger of escaping its mouth entirely,  it's lyrics are a satirical overview of climate change and its effects on the planet delivered in an almost comedic and somewhat vaudevillian vocal style, it's a song with a serious political message but that delivers its message with an element of irony attached. Fuzzard bring things to a close with a cover of Ansley Dunbar's "The Warning" cleverly mixing the bluesiness of Dunbar's original with the more proto-doom version made famous by Black Sabbath while still managing to put their own unique spin on things.

Fuzzard's "Warriors of Doom" is one of those releases you fall in love with but are never quite sure if others will share your enthusiasm for, this may be because "doom" is a generally expected to be dour dank and dark with fun not something many fans look for in the genre. This EP however is both dank and dark AND FUN and if you don't like that then it's your loss.
Check it out ...

 © 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 16 September 2023



Its seems like a while since we at Desert Psychlist brought you an album from a non-English speaking/singing band but we return to doing just that today with an absolute beauty in the shape of Sótano's "El Semimuerto". Those with good memories may remember us waxing lyrical on these very pages about the virtues of the Chilean bands 2017 album ,"El Rey Máquina", a mind blowing collection of songs that blended blustering stoner metal with aspects of old school hard rock, but then the band slipped off our radar and we feared that they may have called it a day, thankfully it seems they were just on an extended hiatus and now they are back harder, louder and crunchier than ever.

"El Semimuerto" kicks off with "Yomotsu" and within seconds of hearing its doomy intro, a circular guitar riff slowly joined by low, low bass and tight solid percussion, it feels almost as if this band had never been away, especially when those clean but gritty vocal harmonies kick in over the songs slightly Sabbathian main groove. Next track  "La Habitación de la Bruja" raises the tempo up a notch or two and wanders into slightly more metallic waters with caustic guitar tones ramping up the gnarliness quotient to just the right side of nasty. "Locochaino" is up next, a glorious mix of old school heavy rock and up tempo doom graced with an extremely ear-pleasing vocal melody. "Semimuerto" follows in much the same vein as its predecessor but this time with a touch more strident and also boasting a face-melting guitar solo. We then arrive at "Calera en Fuego" and here we find Sótano injecting a little Latin funk and heavy psych into the musical equation all topped off with another superb vocal melody, the only criticism you could possibly level at this song is that at just over four minutes you'll want it to be longer. "Pagano" and "Micronauta" follow, the former another of those hard rock/doom barnburners, the latter a mix of  aggressive punkish swagger and thrash like furiosity. Final number "Paralasis" is like the missing jig-saw piece that completes the whole picture, Sabbathian riffs, heavy psych textures, funky Latin rhythms and easy on the ear vocal melodies all coming together in one mind-blowing finale..

Iván Villanueva (guitar/vocals);Víctor Silva (bass/vocals) and Alejandro Sanhueza (drums) hint, in their liner notes for this album, that pressures of work and life played a huge part in their lack of activity on the recording front over the last few years, so its credit to their dogged determination and belief in their music that they have been able to come up with anything at all let alone an album of the magnitude of "El Semimuerto". 
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 14 September 2023


One would imagine that the gas giant Jupiter casts a considerably large shadow so it would make sense that a band calling themselves Shadow of Jupiter would have an equally big sound, and they do. Shadow of Jupiter, John Piotrowski (vocals); Colin Peterson (guitars); Scott Brakebill (bass) and Adam Kazragys (drums), are no new kids on the block these are musicians with a rich musical pedigree who bring to this project influences that range from death metal through to the avant-garde and all stops in-between. With Shadow of Jupiter however the emphasis is on jamming a more stoner/doom/heavy psych dynamic, a dynamic built not just on riffs but also on atmosphere and texture, all of which are major components of their debut release "Porta Coeli"

Shadow of Jupiter's "Porta Coeli" could probably be called a "doom album" but to call it just that would be doing it an injustice, there is so much more to this album than just doom. The album starts with title song "Shadow of Jupiter" a moody intro piece featuring dissonant droning guitar textures and is then followed by "Majesty", three minutes of funkalicious hard rock fronted by a vocal that oozes the sort of gritty soulfulness usually associated with bands from the classic rock era. Next up is "RAVEN" a mid-tempo doomster with a bluesy underbelly, the songs lyrics a cryptic cry for peace framed by a dark and heavy, yet seductive groove. "Daisy Cutter" begins life atmospheric and moody then erupts into a groove that sits somewhere between heavy metal and proto doom and boasts one of those recurring guitar licks once favoured by the likes of Budgie and UFO, the songs lyrics a rant against the world's injustices delivered in the form of a prayer. "Fate of Nations" finds Shadow of Jupiter directing their ire at those who will happily trade other peoples misery for their own gain, a sort of "War Pigs" for the now generation played out to a soundtrack of atmospheric doom metal. Final track "Bleeding Out" tackles our own mental health and the pressures put on us by a broken world, Piotrowski telling us in grave tones of how he has to "try each day to improve as a man" and "force a smile while they snuff out the light", Peterson enhancing the songs feeling of melancholy and misery with droning guitar textures and swirling dark solos ably supported by Brakebill's thick booming bass lines and Kazragys' pounding solid percussion.

The word that comes most to mind while listening to Shadow of Jupiter's "Porta Coeli" is "class", there are no endless screeching guitar solo's or sudden plummets into brutality, that's not to say these guys could not do that if a song asked for it. The songs are what is king here and these consummate musicians dress those songs to perfection with a level of musical competency more akin to that of jazz musicians. This is an amazing debut from a band we are sure to hear more from in the future.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 11 September 2023

FUZZ EVIL ~ NEW BLOOD .... review

Hit 'em hard and hit 'em fast is a format that works, yes it is nice sometimes to get lost in long meandering songs that go off on tangents into uncharted waters but in truth nothing smacks harder than a song that comes in and gets out in under six minute while still managing to say everything it needs to. This is what Arizona's Fuzz Evil do, they have the chops to go down the long form song route if they so chose but prefer instead to keep things compact and vital. The band's latest release "New Blood" contains thirteen such songs, each one a mini desert rock/garage/stoner/ punk masterpiece.

Fuzz Evil's sound is one born from a love of the late 60's garage rock bands like The Stooges and  MC5, and the party in the desert grooves of Kyuss, Fu Manchu and bands of that ilk. It is a raucous sound but not exactly a raw sound, amidst its fuzz fuelled refrains and driving rhythms can also be found elements of finesse and polish, elements which take things to a whole other level of enjoyable. As we said previously "New Blood" contains thirteen songs so we are not going to attempt a track by track analysis instead we will attempt to point you towards what we consider are a few of the albums highlights and try to explain why we feel this album deserves to be on your list of essential listens for 2023. The first of those highlights has to be opening number "Suit Coffin" a stompin' old school desert rock romp spliced with a large dose of punkish aggression. "Run Away" is next on our list of special mentions, the song boasting a level of fuzzy off-kilter quirkiness it would be hard to find outside of a QOTSA album or one of Josh Homme's "Desert Sessions" The Psychlist's favourite though has to be "Heavy Glow" its post-punk meets stoner rock groove and infectious chorus just demands repeated plays. In truth though there is not a weak track to be found on "New Blood", each song possess its own individual appeal and charm and each will no doubt prove to be someone's favourite, there are are no fillers here...just killers.!

Catchy vocal melodies, spasmodic refrains and furious rhythms are what Fuzz Evil deliver with "New Blood", a joyous and jagged tsunami of quirky desert fuzziness married to grooves that leave the listener wondering whether they should be dancing or throwing devil horns. 
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 8 September 2023


We have an obsession with deserts in this scene we call the "underground" why this is we at Desert Psychlist have no idea, maybe its the vastness and heat of deserts that inspires a certain kind of sound in a musicians head or maybe its simply a hangover from those days when Kyuss and their like played impromptu gigs among the palms and dunes of Southern California. The amusing thing about this scenes obsession with deserts is the fact that many of the bands who jam a "desert sound" hail from countries that contain no such thing as a desert, something that brings us nicely around to the subject of this review.
Fire Down Below hail from Ghent, Belgium so probably the nearest these guys have ever got to a desert is a sandpit in their local children's playground but that has not stopped them capturing that authentic driving desert rock sound we all love and cherish as their latest release "Low Desert Surf Club" (Ripple Records) will testify to.

"Low Desert Surf Club" kicks off its account with "Cocaine Hippo" the songs title referring to the herd of African Hippo's introduced into Colombia by the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, this despite the fact that the songs lyrics make no mention of either the hippos or Escobar. What you do get though is an upbeat romp driven by manic drumming, layered in oodles of fuzzy guitar tones and decorated in enthusiastic clean vocals referencing surf, sand and highways. "California" follows and is a lyrical ode to the state taken from a typical outsiders viewpoint, a backdrop of deliciously driven old school flavoured stoner/desert rock framing a vocal that tells of  wanting to "see the sun set in the valley" and getting stoned "beyond my mind". "Airwolf" boasts some very tasty lead and chugging rhythm work from the respective guitars of Kevin Gernaey and Jeroen Van Troyen, bassist Bert Wynsberghe and drummer Sam Nuytens filling the spaces in-between with low growling bottom end and busy thunderous percussion while "Surf Queen" sees Fire Down Below flexing their beach muscles and waxing their boards before going full on stoner in the songs last quarter. We climb aboard some big wheels for next tune "Dune Buggy" a throbbing bass anchored, fuzz drenched tome that sees Van Troyen adopting a slightly different vocal approach. Things get a little lysergic and laid back for the next two songs "Here Comes The Flood" and "Hazy Snake" the former boasting touches of heavy psych and doom, the latter a lilting psychedelic instrumental. Its back to short sharp jabs of stoner fuzz and strident desert swagger for penultimate track "The Last Cowboy" but then things get epic for the final song "Mantra", a sprawling sixteen minute plus opus that touches base with all that has gone before yet still manages to find new ground to explore along the way, its first third a Colour Haze-ish jam, its second third a mixture of funky blues and desert rock featuring a strong vocal and its final section a mind-blowing blast of scorching lead and crunchy rhythm guitar backed by a drummer and bassist worth their weight in groove. 

Let us finish this review by stating how damn good it is to spin an album that lifts you up from its very first note and does not put you down again until its last note fades into the ether. There is, despite a couple of  moody diversions, a feelgood factor to "Low Desert Surf Club" that, in these times of strife and turmoil is nothing short of priceless. 
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 7 September 2023



In June of 2022 while perusing the stoner, metal and heavy psych sections of Bandcamp Desert Psychlist chanced upon an EP titled "Ego Death" by a Long Island, New York outfit called Smoke The Light, not knowing what to expect but drawn in by its doomic flavoured artwork we pressed play. At first we were confused as the opening number was more an experiment in noise than actual song but then came the second track, a gnarly psych drenched riff monster with strong rhythms and gritty strong vocals, we were hooked. Over a year has passed since the release of "Ego Death" and Smoke The Light have now returned with their second release, this one a full length album " The Great Never Ending" or as they like to call it "some bluesy, groovy stoner, heavy psych for your ear holes"!!

The legend on their Bandcamp page states that Smoke The Light think of themselves as something of a psychedelic sludge band, the psychedelic part we can live with as the band are not afraid to occasionally take their music into cosmic climes but the "sludge" part we do have a slight problem with as the grooves that inhabit "The Great Never Ending" are slightly shy of the ferality and growl that informed much of their debut EP,  a better description for their current musical attack would be gnarled heavy stoner/hard rock with a raw and twisted metallic bluesy edge, an edge so sharp you could shave with it. There is no off centred experimentation kicking things off this time around instead we get "Uphill" an eight minute plus fuzz fest driven by punchy rhythms and overlaid with gritty, husky vocal tones which is then followed by title track "The Great Never Ending", the songs lysergic tinted intro gradually building in intensity but never quite exploding, the band unexpectedly shifting into a groove that mixes bluesy stoner rock with elements of choppy dub and reggae. We are only two tracks in but already you can see that Smoke The Light, although being fairly riffcentric, are unafraid to mix things up and throw a few interesting curveballs around, the excellent "Steed" boasting loud/quiet/loud dynamics and spaghetti western flavoured guitar tones, "Dungeons" and its sister piece "And Dragons" mixing urban stoner funkiness with fuzzy proto-doom and "Pretty" an intriguing blend of heavy psych and alt-metal. All these songs have something about them that makes them stand out from the crowd but if we were asked to pick a favourite it would have to be the ear catching and cleverly titled "Speaking of Witch", a song with a constantly ascending descending groove decorated in a vocal that rises from a weary croon to an impassioned roar and manages to send shivers of delight hurtling down Desert Psychlist's spine every time we listen.

There is a maturity and depth to the songs gracing "The Great Never Ending" that was not so much missing from "Ego Death" as not fully realised, vocal melodies here are more melodic, riffs are a little less brutal and raw and its rhythms do not just thunder they also swing. Word on social media suggests that these guys are slowing things down a little due to member relocation, lets hope they still find time to get together and make music as it would be a real shame not have some Smoke The Light in our lives. 
Check 'em out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 2 September 2023



As you may have guessed from previous reviews on the subject Desert Psychlist are all in, fully paid up members of the Italian scuzz rock/acid doom fan club. We won't bore you with a list of the bands currently involved in this scene, if you are already a reader you will know them anyway, especially as 99.9% of them have reviews featured on these pages. What we can tell you though is that there is another you should be checking out and they are Sicilian trio Dark ShamanSeby (guitar/vocals), Dario (bass) and Alberto (drums), who have just released their debut studio EP "Evil Ceremony", expect all the usual retro horror movie artwork, semi buried vocals and lots and lots of fuzz and distortion.

Weird sounds and remote eerie voices introduce opening track "The Black Skull" followed by a thick reverberating bass and guitar riff accompanied by drumming that is thunderous on the skins and heavy on the cymbals, when the vocals do come in they are delivered in heavily filtered  swinging meter usually the reserve of sermonizing blues singers or evangelist preachers. Dark Shaman plough headlong into proto-doom territory next with "Horror Night" a doomic riff monster decorated in another swinging vocal and the prerequisite shifts in time and tempo that are a given when listening to music of this nature. Third track up "Sign Of The Wizard" is a little more driven and strident than what has passed before and has more of a stoner/desert rock vibe as well as a guitar solo's leaning towards a more blues orientated dynamic but even with those elements in place there is no getting away from the fact that this is a song rooted heavily in doom. Closing track "Acid Addict" boasts wah pedal drenched guitar riffs, dungeon dank bass and the sort of pounding percussion Vikings used to dictate the tempo of their oar strokes with, its a song with a devilishly "addictive" groove wrapped around a heavily filtered vocal delivered in a meter more akin to a nursery rhyme than doomic heaviness.

There are those who complain that the music of the bands inhabiting the Italian acid-doom scene has become too formulaic that it is, given that the majority of the bands involved  all share a similar reliance on distant vocals and heavily effect laden guitar refrains, getting hard to tell where one band starts and another one finishes, , For those heavily invested in the scene however these elements are what we love about bands like Dark Shaman and their ilk, we all have the opportunity to check out and listen to music of a more cerebral nature when we feel in the mood for it yet we all still love us some AC/DC from time to time. It is this function Italian acid doom plays in our scene, it delivers all the doom and fuzz we could possibly ask for but it doesn't demand we listen to it endlessly it just lets us know its there when we feel like getting a little dark dank and scuzzy.... and things don't get much darker, danker and scuzzier than Dark Shaman's "Evil Ceremony"
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones


It seems Desert Psychlist has spent a fair amount of our time this year (2023) reviewing albums from Norwegian bands, something we will not apologising for as the amount of good music coming out of Norway lately is frankly quite staggering. For a long time Norway has had a reputation for producing some of the gnarliest, most evil sounding death and black metal known to man but over the last few years a noticeable array of bands have emerged with a leaning towards a more psyched up hard/stoner and heavy rock sound. Of course we are not saying this a new phenomenon, these bands have probably been doing their thing under the radar for a long, long time it just that now those bands who have been long plugging away with their fuzzy riffs and driving rhythms seem to be getting noticed just that little more and are in turn inspiring others to push a little harder to get themselves heard. Having said all that Spiral Shades, Khushal R Bhadra (vocals) and Filip Petersen (guitars/bass,/drums), the subject of this review, are not strictly a Norwegian band, Peterson does indeed hail from Vennesla, Norway but Bhadra comes from Mumbai, India, the pair connecting via social media courtesy of a shared love of heavy doom and progressive rock. The duo first came to our attention at Desert Psychlist thanks to their 2014 debut "Hypnosis Sessions" an enthralling mix of swaggering Sabbathian proto-doom and heavy psyched up stoner rock that garnered all the right responses from all the right quarters. Unfortunately distance, illness and life in general meant that a quick follow up was impossible but rewards do however come to those with modicum of patience and this year the band return with a new album "Revival" which given that many thought this band and their music were lost to us is a fairly apt title.

Title track "Revival" kicks things off with Bhadra channelling more than a little of his eastern heritage into his vocals, retaining the slightly Ozzy-ish whine that informed much of the duos debut but adding just a hint of exotic inflection into his delivery. Peterson handles the instrumental side of things and it is testament to his skill as a musician that for this song, and for the whole album, you could easily be fooled into thinking you were listening to fully formed four piece band rather than just one extremely talented man. "Chapter Zero" follows and utilizes a little drone-like atmospherics and prog-like loud and quiet dynamics to achieve its goals and scores with both. There is a touch of  theatre about next track "Darkest Night" plus some nicely placed shifts in time and tempo, you could just imagine Bhadra twirling a well waxed moustache and furling and unfurling a long black cape while performing the lyrics to this one. "Foggy Mist" follows and occupies musical territory sitting somewhere between Uncle Acid and Green Lung, a catchy tome almost impossible not to tap a foot along to. "Fading Away" finds Spiral Shades blending thrumming dank atmospherics with a lilting vocal melody to create a sound that is as insidious as it is delicious whereas "Witchy Eyes" wanders into Sabbath country but doesn't fully take up residence preferring instead to get a little pastural and rural. Final track "Twisted Realities" boasts, for its most part, a sound that runs along similar musical lines to Sweden's Sleepwulf but then muddies the waters with elements of post-doom and prog
Those opting for a digital download are rewarded with two bonus tracks, the delightfully upbeat and retro "Dead By Dawn" and the excellent sneery and sinister "Cellar of Misery" plus a an extended version of the latter with added sampled narrative, each worthy of repeat listening.

Those out there with a penchant for the retro tinted witchy grooves of Parrish, Sleepwulf and Green Lung will throw their wicker cross effigies into the air with unbridled joy when they get a load of Spiral Shades "Revival", but so will those who came to this crossroads on a diet of Pentagram, Black Sabbath and Pagan Altar.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones