Tuesday 31 October 2023


Indiana's Ancient Days have been knocking around the scene for a while now and in that time they have evolved a lot, the bands first album "Sacrificial Knife" was a raw and untamed mix of bluesy heavy psych and proto-doom metal that although slightly naïve in places showed plenty of promise, their next album, "The End", was just as raw and undisciplined but saw the band toying with a slightly more Sabbathian dynamics. This was followed by the self-titled "Ancient Days" an album that saw the band jamming dynamics of a more low, slow and heavy stoner doom nature. The better production values, stronger song writing and bigger arrangements of following album "Black Magic Nights" saw Ancient Days starting to get themselves noticed in all the right quarters but it was its follow up "Sign of the Times" that really made people sit up and listen, its swathes of textured keyboards and its dark guitar tones giving its songs a doomic majesty that was somewhat lacking on previous efforts. This month the band release their sixth album "Devil's Night" an album that sees Ancient Days putting all their doomic eggs in one basket and hitting their listeners with everything they've learnt along the way and then some!

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.

If cult horror movies and late 50's occult novels are your thing AND you have a love of  heavy music with its feet planted in the unconsecrated soils of both traditional and proto doom then you just cannot go wrong by giving Ancient Days "Devil's Night" a place in your music collection, it DOOMS!
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 29 October 2023


Desert Psychlist loves the timbre and tone of a strong female voice powerfully soaring over music of a dank dark and heavy nature, there is something about that contrast that sends shivers of delight hurtling down our spines. Given that statement it will come as no surprise to find us waxing lyrical on the virtues of an album containing such dynamics that we discovered literally an hour before writing this review. The album in question is "Black Glow", the debut release from a Mexican trio going by the very same name. Black Glow hail from Monterray and consist of Gina Ríos (guitar/vocals); Oscar Saucedo (bass) and Octavio Diliegros (drums), the band jam a groove that should appeal to fans of Witch Mountain, Windhand and bands of that ilk, a dark seductive doomic groove enhanced by powerful velvety smooth vocal tones.

 "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.

 Black Glow are not the finished article quite yet, there are places where the bands could have dialled down the repetition a touch and added a little more diversity but that's just a minor niggle. On the whole this is a stunning debut from a band who if they show a bit more of the ambition and bravery exhibited on last track "Obscured Jail" could well one day be rubbing shoulders with some of the scenes biggest hitters. 
Check 'em out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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 SinsAndreas 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.

Acid folk, wicker rock, pastoral psych are just some terms that will be thrown Lucid Sins way and to be fair there are elements of all of them to be found on "Dancing In The Dark" Forget labels and tags though because what Lucid Sins deliver with their new album is just great music played with true heart and a real belief in what they do. 
Check 'em out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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.

Even before "the" was added to their name there were always elements of hard rock and alt-metal/grunge to be found in The Sound of Origin's music, even going as far back as the pre Bulsara era, but those elements are a lot more prominent on "Man in the Arena". Whether this is an intentional move or a natural progression is something you will have to ask the band but it is there and has given the bands sound a much more rounded and accessible dynamic. 
Check it out ...   
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 25 October 2023


Stone Nomads debut "Fields of Doom" blew out of nowhere and devastated the minds of all those who heard it, a mixture of old school proto-doom and modern day sludge that hit with the force of a hurricane and laid waste to all in its path. The band at that time consisted of Jude Sisk (bass/vocals); Jon Cosky (guitar/vocals) and Dwayne Crosby (drums) but for their new album ",,,At the Gates of Solitude" (Gravitoid Heavy Music) Cosky and Crosby have recruited Esben Willems to take on the drum duties, a slightly altered line up but still the same musical force of nature.

Those references to blowing and hurricanes seem justified given that this albums intro piece is entitled "Post-Apocalyptic Winds" a brief but wholly interesting instrumental made up of wind effects, reverberating guitar refrains and pounding percussion but it is what follows that really blows the barn doors off, What follows is "Frigid" a chugging behemoth driven by powerful drumming and grizzled bass over which crunching chord progressions and searing solos are interspersed with growling lead vocals and equally growly harmonies, a beast of a track in all its aspects. "Blackened Paradise" follows and lives up to its title by being a slice of blackened dank grooviness that has one foot planted in black metal and the other entrenched in death tinted doom and is accompanied by appropriately bestial vocals. You might have noticed by now that whereas the bands previous album, "Fields of Doom", was rooted in  more traditional/proto territories things here lean towards the more sludgier end of  the doom genre, however that slightly changes for next track "Tempter" (a Trouble cover), those heavy sludge leanings still in existence but tempered with elements of old school heavy metal gallop and thrash-like furiosity, the song also features ex Trouble man Kyle Thomas guesting on vocals. The serene acoustic guitar noodling of "Premonition" allows us to momentarily catch our breaths but then its all back aboard the good ship heavy for "Upon the Hands of Gods", another song that mixes old school metal and thrash with new school sludge and groove, it also boasts some pretty impressive lead work. "Rumination" allows us another moment of brief instrumental respite before we are thrust into the mire again with "The Void that Remains", here we find Stone Nomads fully embracing the doom, not so much in a Sabbathian way but more in a Candlemass/Solitude of Aeturnus sort of way, the trio making clever use of atmospherics and dynamics to give the song an epic, almost cinematic, feel. Final song "Overlords" adds to Stone Nomads résumé of old school and new school grooves elements of both Celtic and Viking metal swagger and twins them with some clever harsh/clean/harsh vocal dynamics to add an extra level of depth and magnitude to the songs dank dark atmospherics, a monstrous finale to a truly monstrous album.

"Fields of Doom" was a stunning debut album but one that was very much a sum of its influences, with "...At the Gates of Solitude" Stone Nomads have found their own voice. The sound the band capture on this album is heavier, blacker and more extreme than anything that graced their debut and is all the better for it. "Fields of Doom" gave Stone Nomads an audience "...At the Gates of Solitude" is the band showing that audience what else they have in their locker.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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! 

There must have been an element of trepidation about having to more or less start over again, especially given what Hippie Death Cult had achieved in a such relatively short space of time, but trimming down to a trio and pushing their bass player in front of a mic seems to have been the making of them, Not only do this band sound tighter than they have done before they sound more vital, more forceful and a hell of a lot more exciting, long may that continue. 
Check 'em out ...

© 2023 2023 Frazer Jones

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.

Occult Hand Order's "The Chained The Burned The Wounded" was an opus that really pushed the boundaries of what it was possible to achieve within the confines of the stoner doom genre, an album that balanced bluster and heaviness with calmness and restraint. Such a ground breaking album was always going to be a tough act to follow but these guys seem to thrive on a challenge and with "Silence By The Raging Sea" they have not only met that challenge they've taken things to the next level. 
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 15 October 2023


Over the years there have been many albums that have taken inspiration from Frank Herbert's Dune novels and today we take a look at another, this one from a Turkish stoner-doom trio going by the name of GodBud. GodBud may have taken their name from a hybrid strain of marijuana but the two massive songs they present to us on their latest album "Sermons of Sand" are pure Dune and are particularly centred around the novels mysterious witch-like sisterhood known as the Missionaria Protectiva, a powerful religious sisterhood tasked with spreading superstition among the Dune universe's more primitive cultures. Right, we have filled you in on the concept lets get on with talking about the music.

Studying the artwork gracing many of the Dune novels you will no doubt notice similarities between that artwork and the "weedian" imagery associated with the legendary stoner doom band Sleep, similar desert landscapes and similar heavily cowled figures wearing remote facial apparatus. Given those similarities it should come as no surprise to find that GodBud's Dune inspired two track album also shares similar musical dynamics to those of their Californian brethren, employing heavy low tuned repetitive riffs and slow deliberate pounding rhythms to create an almost mediative/spiritual feel to their grooves. This is especially noticeable on the albums first song "Reverend Mothers" where the band combine those leaden rhythms and thrumming refrains with monophonic vocal harmonies that tell us of a sisterhood tasked with "roaming a thousand planes" and informing us that "only the righteous gene is fit to breed the nun supreme" against a backdrop of doomic groove that is constantly evolving but remains anchored to solid ground by its low slow and heavy aesthetics. Second and final song "Black Arm of Superstition" opens with a crunching bass and guitar refrain, supported by thunderous drumming, that feels like it is liable to collapse under its own weight at any moment, this tsunami of thrumming dark groove is then joined by vocal harmonies that would sound Gregorian if it were not for the fact they are pitched slightly higher. Things start to get a little more strident as we approach the songs halfway mark, the drumming gets a little more more busy and elaborate and the bass adopts a fuzzier growlier tone all of which sets the scene for some incendiary guitar pyrotechnics before the band briefly plummet back into the songs initial low slow and monolithic groove only then to suddenly take off into the stratosphere again, the band finally bringing things to a close in a mixture of both dynamics.

You might think that to truly enjoy GodBud's "Sermons of Sand" you would need to be an avid reader of Frank Herbert's novels, YOU DO NOT!. It is true that having some background knowledge will give you an insight into both songs lyrical content but that is all really, its the music and its groove and not the concept that are the important things here and GodBud's music DOOMS
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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.

"Ipomoea Alba", a mixture of gnarled chugging riffage and recuring guitar motifs driven by solid punchy drumming and graced with an ear pleasing vocal melody, kicks things off and has that addictive quality that once upon a time would've seen a rock song unexpectedly find its way into the lower reaches of the British and American music charts. Sadly those days are long past but if they ever did come back then it would be songs like this one that you would be hoping to hear making those radio playlists. Next song "Cursed Ground" finds Soul of Salem flexing their doomic muscles with reverberating guitar refrains crunching and thrumming over a thunderous low end bass and drum groove with Martinelli shifting her vocal to a slightly lower register to give the songs lyrics added gravitas. Fans of Uta Plotkin era Witch Mountain will find "Pitch Black" very much to their liking, the songs just above low and slow tempo has a deliciously seductive quality made even more seductive thanks to Martinelli's perfectly pitched vocal performance and Natilla's swirling dark guitar textures, both superbly anchored to earth by Desantis syrupy bass lines and Perrucci's pummelling drums. Doom and the blues have never complimented each other so well as they do on the exquisite "Bearing Madness", a song that finds Soul of Salem not only toying with elements of torch-like jazziness but also touches of languid psych, Martinelli's keys in the songs heady middle section adding an impressive haunting off-centeredness to the proceedings. "Raney Blues" does not try to disguise itself as anything other than what it is and that is a heavy blues played in a similar style to Led Zeppelin's version of Memphis Minnie's "When The Levee Breaks", sans the sliding guitars. Next track "Doomsday" finds Natilla and Desantis swapping instruments on another Zeppelin-esque blues groove, this time tinted with a little exotic eastern promise and boasting a more smooth and relaxed vocal. "Lords of Fog Island" combines devastatingly dark and dank proto-doomic refrains and rhythms with an undulating vocal to create a musical dynamic that is as catchy as it is heavy while final tune "Black Dahlia" finds Soul of Salem mixing their love of a Sabbathian groove with their love of a smoky blues and winning on both counts, a delightfully impressive finale to an incredibly impressive album.

Bands playing music of a doomic nature that has appeal to mainstream audiences are about as rare as hen's teeth and we are not suggesting Soul of Salem are the band to break through that glass ceiling. What we are saying is that IF this WAS a world where doom stood on an equal footing with the latest industry pop sensation then it would be albums like "Spellbook", with its heavy swaggering riffs, attention grabbing hooks and ear-worming melodies, that WOULD be breaking through that ceiling..
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 13 October 2023

GÉVAUDAN ~ UMBRA ... review


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.

To release an album consisting of one epic song is a brave move, especially when you consider that many of today's listeners have the attention span of a gnat, but Gévaudan seemed to have managed to pull it off. "Umbra", is an album that demands to be listened to from its very first note to its last and will richly reward you for doing so.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 10 October 2023

MORAG TONG ~ GRIEVE ..... review

We at Desert Psychlist are not what you could call patriotic but we do admit to getting a nice warm feeling in the pits of our collective stomachs when we see a British band getting a little well deserved attention, especially when that band is as deserved of that attention as London's Morag Tong are. The band, Adam Asquith (vocals/drums); Alex Clarke (guitar); Lewis Crane (guitar) and James Atha (bass), might not be the most prolific band on the planet, only releasing three albums in a period of seven years, and they may not make a sound likely to bother the playlists of mainstream rock radio but to those of us in the know these guys releasing a new album is a BIG deal. You only have to head over to the bands Bandcamp page and note the number of purchasers faces beneath their previous albums, "Through Clouded Time" and "The Last Knell of Om", to see the amount of love there is for this bands music and that love will no doubt be matched, if not quadrupled, when fans get a load of the bands latest release "Grieve" (Majestic Mountain Records)

"At First Light" opens proceedings a lyrical plea to keep reaching for a dream/light/new day even when we can no longer see what it is we are reaching for, Asquith telling us "Tomorrow can be kind, an opening door, Welcoming and mild, so much worth fighting for" against a musical backdrop of ringing guitar arpeggios, thrumming low bass and sparse percussion that gradually builds into a storm cloud of dark crunching riffs, swirling guitar motifs and thunderous drumming as the song progresses towards its final destination. If you are trying to peel yourself off of the wall the opening song threw you against don't bother because the force Morag Tong unleash with next track "Passages" is going to pin you straight back against that wall, monstrous low slung doomic riffage combined with pounding percussion and a vocal that borders on feral is the order of the day here and its a day you are not going to forget in a hurry. There is a green message to next song "A Stem's Embrace" but one wrapped up in elements of Greek mythology and occult symbolism, the song starts serene and gentle with an almost orchestral feel but with one deft drum beat suddenly erupts into a hellish sludge fest of humongous proportions with Clarke and Cane's guitars spewing out a mix of dank reverberating riffs and swooping solos furnished from beneath by Atha's growling bass and Asquith's pummelling drums, Asquith decorating the resulting musical tsunami with another of his throat shredding vocals. Morag Tong go large for their final number "No Sun, No Moon" an epic twenty minute plus opus that begins with isolated guitar notes pinging out melodically over waves of shimmering percussion then settles down around a basement low bass motif before building up around a fractured chord progression over which Asquith rants at a featureless sky asking the question "who will miss us when we're gone". Question asked the band then move into an unexpected but most welcome fusion flavoured middle section, boasting an equally unexpected mellow vocal, then just when you about to reach for your smoking jacket and light up one of your exotic jazz cigarettes all hell breaks loose and we are thrown back into a pit of heavy sludge and doom, what a ride!

On the edges of extreme heaviness yet spliced with moments of restraint and serenity "Grieve" is a powerful and uncompromising album that picks its targets and hits them with unerring accuracy, as we stated in our blurb on the bands Bandcamp page "there have been some absolute bangers released this year (2023) and this album is one of them"
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 7 October 2023


Those Polish masters of the reverberating riffs and pounding rhythms Dopelord return with a collection of tunes intended to grace the ears of the fallen angel Lucifer, however we are sure he won't mind us giving them a listen, we may have to pay with our souls but hey what use is a soul these days? The album goes by the name "Songs for Satan" (Blues Funeral Recordings) and if anyone wants to argue that Dopelord are not one the heaviest, most musical and most vocally melodic bands currently ploughing a furrow through the stoner-doom scene then they might want to take it up with the man they wrote these tunes for.

Dopelord have never hidden their love of a meaty riff but they have also never been afraid to combine those riffs with a lilting melody or an ear catching musical hook and this is why they have become one of the most respected bands in their field. Dopelord have always been a heavy band but they have never been a brutally heavy band, their grooves possess a measured heaviness that sits easy on the ears and is accessible to those who may find some of metal's extremities a little hard to take yet will still appeal to those that DO like their metal on the extreme side. "Songs for Satan" is an album packed with songs that meet the criteria just mentioned, songs like "Night of the Witch", "The Chosen One", "Evil Spell" and "Worms" meet everything we look for in heavier natured music but are much more than just a collection of gnarled riffs and pounding drumbeats, yes they have the monolithic riffs and the pounding percussion but they also have melodies and they swing.

When Dopelord released "Children of the Haze" many thought they would never better such a powerful release but then along came "Sign of the Devil" and blew everyone away, again it was thought they had surpassed themselves but then "Reality Dagger" proved that to be a falsehood. Now with "Songs for Satan" the band have once again gone that extra mile and created something way beyond our wildest expectations.
Check it out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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!

Powerful heavy music should not be a constant assault on the senses,, music of a heavier nature utilizing a variety of dynamics has the effect of making the heavy parts of your music sound heavier in contrast and that is what NOVERE do on "Nothing Stays Hidden In Daylight". Brutality in music is all well and good but if that is all you have then sooner or later people are going to get bored with it, you will not however get bored listening to NOVERE, they engage their listeners by giving them light and shade, peaks and troughs and beauty and ugliness to hang their collective hats on and that is something that makes NOVERE's music not only interesting but also exciting. 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones