Title track "Devil's Night" begins its journey with sampled narrative of a priest attempting to cast out a demon then erupts into a achingly low slow Sabbathian guitar refrain enhanced by swathes of atmospheric keyboards and anchored by booming bass and thunderous drumming. Over this menacing wave of dankness vocals are delivered in a semi spoken almost sermon like manner, a trick that adds an extra level of doomic menace to its already pretty menacing dynamic and ramps up its overall impact to an eleven out of ten. Fans of 70's UK cult heroes Atomic Rooster will find much to enjoy about next track "Watch Them as They Die", its Vincent Crane like keyboard flourishes are at the heart of everything that is good about this song and the guitar work is worthy of the great late John Du Cann, as for that matter are the vocals. "Lucifer Morning Star (Devil's Night 2)" sees Ancient Days donning their cowls for some straight down the line atmospheric trad doom with lyrical themes more in keeping with Dennis Wheatley than Lovecraft or Poe while "The Shape" sees the band jamming a groove that starts life low slow and heavy but then later evolves into something more akin to Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats or something by one of the bands from the Italian acid doom/scuzz scene. Up next is "I Am Your Nightmare" an enthralling and highly enjoyable blending of stoner/hard rock and proto doom in its first half and a blues tinted heavy psych/doom lament in it second. Finally we arrive at "Face of Fire/ Devil Rides Out" here we not only find the band paying homage two classic horror movies (the latter of which was an adaption of a Dennis Wheatley novel) but also performing at the height of their powers, powerful vocals soaring mournfully over a backdrop of solid tight bass and drum groove enhanced by searing bluesy guitar solos and swooning keyboards, essential listening for anyone with a love of good doom.
Tuesday 31 October 2023
Sunday 29 October 2023
"Gone" is the song choice Black Glow went with when deciding what should open their debut album. and it was an inspired choice given its climbing/descending guitar refrains, thundering heavy percussion and its soaring swaying vocals, if ever there was a song that compelled you to listen to a whole album then "Gone" is THAT song. "Epsilon" follows and justifies that compulsion with thick syrupy bass and solid drumming forming the platform from which crunchy chord progressions support a wafting and seductive vocal. For "More mg" Black Glow add a touch of drone to their repertoire as well as some elements of shoegaze like texturing, Rios responding to those dynamics by adding a haunted quality to her vocal delivery. Next up is "Next To You" a haunting lament built around a repetitive bass and guitar refrain over which is delivered a vocal that leans towards symphonic in places and operatic in others. Closing number "Obscured Jail" finds Saucedo and Diliegros laying down a solid backdrop of tight groove and rhythm for Rios to decorate with guitar textures that have an element of folk and Americana in their make-up and are mirrored by vocals showing a similar dynamic, totally different from what has gone before this song promises much for the bands future development.
Saturday 28 October 2023
Bands bringing a little rural colouring to their rock grooves is not a new phenomenon, back in the 70's bands like The Strawbs, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and even to some extent Wishbone Ash took traditional British folk music and mixed it with elements of psych and rock to create a sound that appealed to both the Aran jumper wearing folk traditionalists and the great coat wearing long haired rockers. When heavy metal took over from bluesy hard rock in the late 70's/early 80's the audiences for a more pastoral form of rock diminished but never really went away as the success of Jethro Tull's "Songs From the Wood" would attest to. Rural flavoured rock however didn't really have that much of an impact within the confines of our little underground scene until bands like Canada's Black Mountain and the UK's Wolf People started mixing elements of psych rock and folk together in more modernistic settings which in turn led many of us to discover bands like Finland's Hexvessel and Norway's Dunbarrow. Glasgow based duo Lucid Sins, Andreas Jönsson (lead vocals, guitar bass, organ, synth) and Ruaraidh Sanachan (backing vocals), have with the help of some illustrious friends made an album that fits all the criteria so far mentioned, an album that blends elements of occult flavoured hard rock, pastoral psych and traditional folk in such a way as not to pander to any one demographic but that will appeal to all, the album (their third) is called "Dancing In The Dark" (Totem Cat Records) and it is a truly majestic and wonderous piece of work.
Opening number "Jack Of Diamonds" utilizes the folk tradition of storytelling, this one telling a tale of lustful manipulation and the consequences thereof, set to a backdrop of lilting psychedelic tinted folk-rock that if it were not for its very clipped and different vocal tones could easily be mistaken for an outtake from an unreleased Wolf People album . "The Dance" follows and boasts an element of Green Lung like occult rockiness in its attack while "Take Me Back", featuring Dunbarrow's Espen Andersen on shared vocal duties and Stuart Coleman on Hammond organ, throws the listener completely off track by sounding like Booker T & The MG's jamming with cult American rockers Ashbury. "From The Bough" uses a fractured chord progression to hook it listeners in along with some nice keyboard flourishes, were there such a thing as proto-metal-lite then this would be a perfect fit for such a genre. If "The Wicker Man" and "Midsommar" are movies that ignite the pagan in you then "Sanctuary Stone" is going to be right up your cult populated valley, guest Hanna Tuulikki's lilting vocal tones, backed by Sanachan on the songs chorus, evoke images of naked virgins singing and dancing around maypoles and white clad cultists applying burning torches to giant effigies. Next track "Call In The Dark" finds Lucid Sins toying with a little proto-doomic dynamics but nothing too heavy while "The Drifter", a homage to off grid living, is a little darker than what has passed up to this point, darker in both its musical execution and its vocals which are delivered slightly deeper and with less ethereality. For "Heavy Toll" Lucid Sins switch up and down between the occult swagger of bands like Green Lung and Sleepwulf and the ethereal folksiness that was once the mark of UK psychonauts Opel (check them out here). It's back to more traditional folk dynamics for "The Raven's Eye" before the band close things with the delightfully fey soft rocker "Catch The Wild" a song with a touch of radio friendly catchiness in its sonic makeup and which closes out with a killer clarinet solo courtesy of guest musician Alex Ward.
Friday 27 October 2023
A lot has changed in The Sound Of Origin universe since the release of their 2020 release "The All Seeing Eye", firstly only vocalist Joel Bulsara, guitarist Joe 'Zeph' Wilczynski and bassist Azriel Nyx remain from the line up that made that album and secondly the band have added the word "the" in front of their band name to mark the fact that their new line up, now including Jack Walker on drums, is somewhat of a new beginning. It is this line up that are behind the bands new album "Man in the Arena" (APF Records), an album that continues the journey started on "The All Seeing Eye" but also sees the band travelling down musical avenues previously left unexplored.
Things kick off with "This Ain't Free" a song that blends Alice In Chains like slurred riffage and melodies with touches of NOLA-like hardcore sludginess, Bulsara's vocals sliding between a clean grungy croon and larynx ripping roar while the rest of the band lay down a chugging darkened alt-metal groove briefly interrupted by a deep dive into dynamics of a more extreme nature. "Birthright" begins with Wilczynski cranking out an earworm of a riff similar in flavour to the one Arch Enemy's Michael Amott employed on the song "Angel of Betrayal" (with his side project band Spiritual Beggars), that riff plus Nyx's deft booming bass lines, Walker's solid tight drumming and Bulsara's relatively clean and powerful vocal, going a long way in explaining why the band chose this song as the first single to promote the album. "Crown of the Cynic" is a grunge doom hard rock mishmash packed to the rafters with clever hooks and catches that sees Bulsara channelling both Layne Staley and Chris Cornell in his vocal outpourings, the song also throws a spotlight on the almost telepathic rhythmic understanding between Nyx and Walker, these two literally ooze groove. Next track "Frail Old Bones" features a guest appearance from Kyle Thomas of Exhorder/Trouble fame and twins elements of hard rock and up tempo heavy blues with aspect of swampy groove metal. Up next is "Thousand Year Curse" a song that finds Bulsara switching his vocals up and down between raw ferality and grungy clean melody beneath which Wilczynski, Nyx and Walker lay down a supporting barrage of Sabbathian tinted proto-doomic mayhem off-set with occasional post-metal texturing. Kyle Thomas returns to give Bulsara support on title track "Man in the Arena", the two vocalists trading off and harmonising on both the songs harsh and clean vocals over a musical backdrop that is constantly shifting and changing direction while "Gold Drenched In White" sees The Sound of Origin again blending Alice In Chains alt-metal dynamics with NOLA flavoured groove and nailing both disciplines. Finally we arrive at "Lightbringer" a joyous up tempo romp that could easily have challenged "Birthright" for that promotional single spot, a fist pumping crowd pleaser sure to become a live favourite at future shows.
Wednesday 25 October 2023
Friday 20 October 2023
Hippie Death Cult first came onto Desert Psychlist's radar when they released a series of one off releases via the pages of Bandcamp, those releases later made their way onto the bands debut album "111" but not before they had garnered attention from the ears of all the right people. Those single releases showed a band who had a sound that was amenable to both those that still held a flame for the old school values of classic and hard rock and those whose bag was fuzzy stoner rock and up-tempo doom, a band who worshipped at the altar of screaming guitar solos and melodic vocals but could also get down dirty and fuzzy when a song called for it. The band followed up "111" with the excellent "Circle of Days" and all of a sudden Hippie Death Cult were being touted as one of the underground scene's new major players. Keyboardist Ben Jackson's vocals were an integral component of HDC's sound at this time, his clean smooth singing style harked back to a bygone age and served as a bridge between the bands more vintage sound and their more metallic leanings, unexpectedly "Circle of Days" turned out to be Jackson's last album with the band, and he was followed in 2022 by drummer Ryan Moore. Up until this point bassist Laura Phillips had provided backing vocals and only sung lead on the occasional song, Jackson's departure meant she was now the bands main singer, a daunting task given Jackson's part in the bands success. Phillips to her credit grasped the chance with both hands and her vocals and bass playing on the bands new album "Helichrysum" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records), combined with Eddie Brnabic's jaw dropping guitar pyrotechnics and new drummer Harry Silvers tight solid beats, take Hippie Death Cult's musical attack to a whole new level of sonic excellence.
In Desert Psychlist's birthplace of East London, UK we refer to courage as "bottle" and Laura Phillips must have had some "bottle" to step up to that microphone for the bands first gig without Jackson, it is however a mark of Brnabic's confidence in her ability that he encouraged her to do so and she pays that confidence back in spades throughout "Helichrysum", her vocals are powerful distinctive and possess a level of doomic gravitas not previously heard on a HDC release up until this point. First track "Arise" is a perfect example of this new found doomic depth Phillips brings in to play, Brnabic's dark toned guitar riffs and solos frame her surprisingly deep toned vocal perfectly while Silvers busy tight percussion locks in solid with her huge sounding bass motifs. Brnabic is an exceptional guitar player who can swap between old school feel and new school shredding without breaking sweat but who can also deliver subtle textures and colours, this he demonstrates on following track "Shadows" a slow burning tome with a penchant for sudden explosiveness, a song that sees Phillips showing us that along with depth and power she also has ethereal in her vocal locker, That ethereality also finds a home on the following "Better Days", a powerful torch-like opus that boasts, along with its superbly delivered vocal, liquid bottom end and on the button drumming and an absolutely mind blowing solo from Brnabic. "Red Giant" starts life serene and tranquil with Phillips crooning gently over shimmering arpeggios then erupts into a galloping groove reminiscent in places of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". Phillips vocal for this part of the song is tinted with touches of grittiness and she also throws in some feral harshness but it is the way the trio's musical chops compliment each other that is most impressive here, Silvers seems to be trying to smash the living hell out of everything in reach, Phillips low slung bass lines lock the groove down tighter than a submarines hatch while Brnabic's riffs and solos are on a level with some of the 70's guitar greats. You will probably be thinking you need a break after such an assault on the senses but HDC have no intention of allowing that to happen instead they dive straight into "Toxic Annihilator", Phillips giving free reign to the harsher side of her vocal prowess over another galloping rhythmic groove, this one even more strident and in your face than its predecessor. Given the ferocity of the previous two tracks it almost seems fitting that HDC throw us a bit of a curveball with their next track "Nefelibata" its elements of off kilter bluesiness and heavy psych giving the album a somewhat unexpected but welcome left turn. Closing number "Tomorrow's Sky" utilizes some of that off-kilter quirkiness and doubles it up with tribalistic drumming and elements of vocal ethereality, the song boasting an almost folkish dynamic in its initial stages moving up to an almost Thin Lizzy like Celtic swagger as the song progresses, Brnabic's searing guitar solos and crunching riffs the virtual cherry on a particularly tasty cake, killer stuff!
Thursday 19 October 2023
It has been three years since Desert Psychlist reviewed French trio Occult Hand Order's second album "The Chained The Burned The Wounded", and we do have to admit to beginning to wonder if we would ever hear from the band again, thankfully the appearance of two singles , "Sink" and "Sailor" this year (2023), followed by the announcement of a brand new album, allayed those fears. That album has now landed and if you thought "The Chained The Burned The Wounded" was exceptional then "Silence By The Raging Sea" is going to send you into melt-down.
"Sink" opens "Silence By The Raging Sea", its percussive intro, backed by a phased guitar motif, suddenly bursts into life when the bass joins the fray the resulting circular feeling groove heavy and impactful. That heaviness soon dissipates and things take on a post-rock feel with ethereal, almost mournful, vocals wafting over ringing guitar textures, liquid bass and solid steady percussion, then just as suddenly the heaviness returns, joined by an appropriately gnarled vocal, to begin the whole cycle again, a true case of mixing the sweet with the sour. "Sailors" follows and boasts a slightly more chugging and heavy dynamic to its predecessor with the vocals following suite in places by taking on grittier/harsher tones, there are also some nice loud/quiet dynamics employed here which balance things out nicely and add to the songs overall atmospheric. Next we have "Pyre" a song that begins life loud and doomic, with crunching dank guitar tones reverberating over pummelling percussion, but then morphs into some sort of post-metal/heavy psych hybrid with monophonic yet melodic vocals delivered in an almost Gregorian semi-chant, the song routinely switching back and forth between these dynamics as it journeys to its close. Elements of sludge, industrial, goth and experimental metals find a place to call their own on "Fever" along with aspects from the more extreme edges of the metallic spectrum while "Tidal Waves" mirrors its title with an undulating groove that constantly alternates between a gentle trickle and a raging torrent. "Golden Bones" finally brings things to a close, a stunning opus that finds Occult Hand Order ramping up their heavy/gentle/heavy dynamics to whole other level of impressive while also throwing in a little prog-like texturing for added impact.
Sunday 15 October 2023
Saturday 14 October 2023
Desert Psychlist has no problem with bands that bring a touch of mainstream sensibility to the Temple of Doom. a touch of melody and ear-worming catchiness can make a pleasant change from all the dankness and darkness doom usually has on offer and Italy's Soul of Salem, Claudia Martinelli (vocals/ keys): Francesco Natilla (guitars); Antonio Desantis (bass) and Carlo Perrucci (drums), are one such band. This Bari based quartet mix a cocktail of groove that is a blend of occult themed bluesy hard rock and riff heavy proto-doom decorated in clean clear powerful vocals that posses a honeyed jazziness. The band first's album "From the Hands of Witches" garnered favourable reviews from all the right quarters with many rightfully remarking on the deliciousness of Martinelli's vocals but just as many waxing lyrical on the depth of its grooves. The band return this year with a new album "Spellbook" (No Slip Records) and if you like your doom served with a side order of foot-tapping bluesy swing then take a seat at their table and tuck in.
Friday 13 October 2023
Doom, strange name for a genre of music, the word suggests the end or destruction of something but doom is far from being destroyed or coming to end in fact it seems to be finding more and more ways to evolve and adapt as time goes by, even finding a foothold in some forms of electronic music. Do not however start to panic that we are about to break down the tracks of some dark electronica release, the subject of today's review comes from a British outfit going by the name Gévaudan who have their boots firmly planted in sacred soil at the more traditional end of the doom spectrum. Gévaudan have opted, with their latest release "Umbra",(Meuse Music Records) not to go down the route of six or seven individual tracks but instead give us one epic song full of dynamic twists and turns, its big. its bold and its damn impressive!
Being a one song piece stretched out over forty three minutes it is not surprising that Gévaudan's "Umbra" is structured much like a classical music piece, reliant on a series of atmospheric movements and differing dynamics so as not to become stuck in a musical cul-de-sac. The mood throughout "Umbra" is sombre and melancholic so many of those dynamics tend to be of the darker danker variety but that is not to say that there are not some truly spectacular highs to be found here, its just that those highs are tempered by Gévaudan's predilection for delivering their music mostly low slow and heavy. Vocals for the most part are delivered in a rich baritone, reminiscent in some ways of the dramatic tones that once graced albums by Reverend Bizarre, but do also regularly soar into higher climes as and when the music surrounding them dictates. Musically the band are right on the money able to lay out languid and lithe on the songs quieter passages and crunch, thrum and pound on its heavier sections, a mixture of solid tight and loose rhythms, low liquid bass and swirling dark guitar textures the brushes with which Gévaudan paint what many may consider (us included) to be somewhat of a doomic masterpiece.
Tuesday 10 October 2023
Saturday 7 October 2023
Check it out ....
Tuesday 3 October 2023
Genre identification is a thorny subject, many a band have been tagged with a label they don't think is appropriate thanks to the words of a a well meaning journalist, blogger or podcaster, so we are going to tread carefully here and just tell you exactly what the band themselves describe their music as. "NOVERE is a Post-Metal band which aims to translate the universe of human emotions and psychological struggle into their music. Their sound mixes elements of Doom, Black Metal and Post-Rock. The band aspires to create a mix of raw, melancholic distortion with melodic moments" Now that out of the way we can also tell you that NOVERE are a collaborative group of international musicians based in London, UK consisting of Voi (drums and vocals); Dave (guitars); Top (bass and vocals) and Matteo (guitars) who jam a groove that can be both placating and brutalizing but never ever boring as you will find out when giving the bands new album "Nothing Stays Hidden In Daylight" (Trepanation Recordings) a spin.
A droning effect followed by a crunchy circular guitar refrain announces the arrival of opening track "Hydra" then is joined by the bass, drums and second guitar to build a framework for the vocals to hang on, those vocals consist of a mixture of raw sludgy harshness and lilting clean melodies with the musical dynamic shifting between blackened heaviness and post-metal complexity to accommodate both voicings, if you are not already familiar with the band music then this is a great introduction. Up next is "Aphalion" its floating clean vocal backed by gentle guitar arpeggios possesses a haunting beauty, however beauty is often fleeting and that proves to be the case here when the hammer goes down and those gentle arpeggios make way for thrumming doomic guitar tones and those lilting clean lead vocals and harmonies step aside for thick sludgy growls and roars, the song swaying between these differing but equally powerful dynamics throughout its journey. Penultimate track "Danse Macabre" is atmospheric, elegant and bewitching, it is a song that feels like its building towards something explosive but cleverly never erupts, constantly teasing a crescendo but always pulling back at the last minute. Closing number "Cromlech" begins life smouldering and simmering but then erupts like a volcano with crunching twin guitar riffage and thunderous rhythms supporting a forceful growled vocal telling us that there is "no hope for the afterlife" and of a place where "blackness swallows the light", powerful stuff!
© 2023 Frazer Jones