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

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