Tuesday 28 November 2023

KLEAZER ~ SIGNALS ... review

Kleazer, Berthil de Lange (bass); Steven van Olphen (drums/backing vocals); Matthijs Oldenhuis (guitar) and Harald de Ruiter (vocals/guitar), hail from Amsterdam in The Netherlands and jam a form of rock that sonically sits somewhere between what Josh Homme was doing when he was with Kyuss and what he is now doing with his current band QOTSA, a mix of straight down the line swaggering fuzz'n'roll and sleazy off centred and jagged alt-rock. The band have just release a new EP "Signals", a long awaited follow up to their two song release "Beautiful Violence" (2010), and we think its well worth a listen.

Title song "Signals" opens things up, a nice'n'sleazy slice of stoner/desert fuzziness with choppy guitar refrains crunching out over a stuttering rhythmic groove which is then decorated in clean strong vocals that regularly climb to falsetto and give the song an almost post-punk feel in places, the perfect driving song. Next track "Cracks" finds Kleazer still very much jamming a desert groove but this time shifting the dynamics between strident heaviness and off kilter stoner funkiness, the vocals here are slightly harder edged than on the title track but are nevertheless still deliciously melodic and clean. "Void" follows and here we find Kleazer adding elements of doom, sludge and heavy psych to their musical armoury while still retaining that QOTSA- like quirkiness that has become very much a part of their signature sound while next track "Hide" boasts a groove and vocal that back in the day might have seen the band gracing MTV, a three minute pop-punk romp. Penultimate track "Ambition" sees a touch of grunginess seeping into Kleazer's vocal attack which is especially evident on the call and response sections of the songs chorus , the clincher here though is the effect laden guitar solo that proceeds the songs final drive to the finishing line, finger blurringly old school and all the better for it. Closing number "Another Year" stays in that grunge/alt-metal pocket but adds into its mix touches of heavy psych, post-metal and the blues, it is not quite the barnstormer you might have been expecting to close the album but it is nonetheless still a great song.

If you are planning on a long drive you could not ask for a better soundtrack to accompany you than Kleazer's "Signals", its grooves are upbeat enough to keep you awake when those white lines are lulling you into slumber. its lyrics will make you smile as much as they will make you reflect and its melodies will lodge in your brain never ever to leave, its highway heaven.
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 25 November 2023


Inspired by a collective love of American culture and 70's rock music. as well as more recent bands like Soundgarden and Sleep, Groningen, Netherlands based trio Chief of Smoke are the perfect fit for these pages as their music possesses all the attributes we at Desert Psychlist hold dear to our hearts like fuzzy guitar tones, clean slightly buried in the mix vocals and thunderous rhythms guaranteed to have the neighbours banging on the walls. The band, Omar Larabi (guitar/vocals); Romke-Theun de Vries (bass) and Tom Bak (drums), first appeared on Desert Psychlist's radar via their 2016 debut "A Fresh Round of Smoke" a gnarly mix of weedian heaviness blended with elements of early 70's proto-metal which they then followed up two years later with "Rice Paddy Rodeo"(2018), a denser darker sounding release, still 70's influenced but with a more of a low slow and heavy stoner doom dynamic. The guys slipped off our radar for a period after their second release but have returned this month with a new album "Short Cuts" an album that sees them exploring much the same musical territories they did on their previous releases but this time taking things up a level.

Devotees of fuzz teetering on the edge of total breakup will be in danger of ruining their underwear when they get a load of the guitar tones Omar Larabi employs on opening number "Burnt Cloth and Rancid Gardenias", those tones are not just a noise they are an almost tangible entity that crawls into your ears and spread through you like a contagion, tones that become especially effective when paired with Romke-Theun de Vries low growling bass lines, Tom Bak's sturdy thundersome drumming and the guitarists own clean slightly nasal but nevertheless powerful vocals. Next song "Embracing the Serpent" takes what is essentially a 70's hard rock groove, drowns it in fuzz and distortion and then tops it off with a Beatle-easque vocal melody, its a trick that has worked well for Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and it works here too. Chief of Smoke inject a little bluesy psychedelic texturing into the mix for next track "Arc of Resistance" along with an element of  Sabbath-like heft, an element also reflected in Larabi's vocal which channels a little Ozzy-like whine in its execution. For their last track, "Horsehead", Chief of Smoke don their cowls and cloaks and treat us to some dank, dark and nasty stoner doom, the songs sludgy guitar and bass refrains. reverberating over mountainous drumming, might fool you into expecting vocals pitched at the more extreme end of the vocal spectrum but instead what you get is a vocal melody that if stripped away from its dank doomic surroundings could easily pass as something lifted from some classic rock album, a contrast of styles that shouldn't work but just does.

If you are looking for an album that combines your love for 70's hard rock and proto-metal with your love of  sludge and stoner-doom then Chief of Smoke's "Short Cuts" is your new go to jam. It's an album that is musically heavy and blustering but at the same time vocally melodic and swinging, a true best of both worlds.
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 24 November 2023


The mission plan for Almost Honest's latest opus "The Hex of Penn's Woods" was, in the bands own words, to " Musically go for everything that made our last record great and turn it up to 11. Groovier, heavier, funkier, catchier." The bands last release "Seiches and Sirens" saw the band garnering plaudits from all the right quarters of the underground press so to then declare that they intended to outdo that album with their new release was somewhat of a bold statement. The question on everybody's lips now is have they achieved what they set out to do and the answer to that question is yes... and then some.

Opening song "Mortician Magician" opens with rolling drumbeats accompanied by some introductory fairground spiel then is joined by the guitar and bass in a strident fuzzed out and distorted stoner/heavy rock groove decorated in vocals that are a mix of slightly manic clean lead and shouty backing responses, and if that wasn't enough to blow your mind the band then throw in a series of abrupt and totally unexpected changes in direction, tempo and dynamics, seemingly just because they could. Next song "Laughter of the Deer Owl" (featuring Brandon Yeagley of Crobot on the chorus) is a touch less schizophrenic and fractious than its predecessor and boasts ear catching melodies and harmonies voiced over a backdrop of crunchy guitar, growling low bass and busy punching percussion, if Desert Psychlist was asked to pick a song from "The Hex Of Penn's Woods" that stood the best chance of getting radio airplay then this song would be our choice. "Alien Spiders" follows and sports the sort of punkish gait that was the hallmark of many of the early stoner/desert rock bands while "Eyeless Herd" finds Almost Honest toying with elements of doom, alt-metal and heavy prog but then going slightly off- piste and avant-garde in the last quarter. The following "Where The Quakers Dwell" mixes QOTSA-like quirkiness with proggish complexity to create a sound that has a hard to put into words off-centred edginess. "Amish Hex" may already be familiar to some of you as it was released as teaser prior to the release of the full album, those not familiar with the song will be treated to what is lyrically a collection of words and phrases connected by a well sung and easy on the ear chorus backed by a groove that leans towards doomic yet has a funk(ish) core, it is easy to see why the band chose this song to spearhead their new album as it is truly representative of what the band are all about musically. There is a touch of madcap jazziness about next track "Haunted Hunter" with convoluted chord progressions and intricate drum patterns vying for space with crunching bass and guitar refrains beneath vocals that are constantly harmonising and trading off, we think we may well have heard a banjo in there somewhere too. "Colony Of Fire" starts life with one of those guitar refrains so beloved of U2's The Edge but then evolves into this grungy post-punk/stoner hybrid and is followed by "Ballad Of A Mayfly" a song that feels like its five different songs played back to back yet somehow works as one. "Goliath's Lamp" is probably the most straightforward rock song to be found on "The Hex Of Penn's Woods" well that is if you don't factor in the sudden burst of a Franz Ferdinand (Scottish post-punk band) like guitar refrain and the weird gruff and growly backing vocals that occasionally raises their heads over the parapet. The band round things of with "William Penn" an instrumental piece that the band describe as "a sombre instrumental piece that relaxes the listener and lets them reflect on what they just experienced" and as such achieves its goal

 "The Hex Of Penn's Woods" is based around the folklore and myths that Almost Honest grew up hearing in and around their Pennsylvanian homeland, mixed in with a few beasties and creatures dreamed up by the band themselves. The music they have surrounded these tales with is some of the most brilliantly off centred and bat-shit crazy grooves you are likely to hear this side of the new year, nothing on this album is delivered straight down the line, each song has the propensity to go off grid at any given moment and each is far richer for doing that. Those bemoaning stoner rock for being safe and predictable should get their ears wrapped around this album and revise their opinions.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Monday 20 November 2023


Austrian quartet Honeygiant, Fabio Menches (bass); Christian Reitmann (guitar); Wolfgang "Wolli" Steinbach (vocals, guitar) and Lukas Ulrich (drums), have been doing their thing for around three years now but don't feel bad if this review is the first you've heard of the band because apart from "Mortar", a 2019 one track release, there has not been a lot for those outside of their Austrian homeland to latch their ears on to. That state of affairs changes with the release of the bands self-titled debut album "Honeygiant" (Independant Audio Management) a stunning collection of melodic heaviness that the band describe as being a perfect fit for fans of Red Fang, Witchcraft and Elder.

Red Fang, Witchcraft and Elder are not the bands that first come to mind when the intro to first track "Division" trickles gently out of the speakers, and it is still not the case even when the song erupts into a pre-verse doomic guitar refrain, especially when that verse is delivered in clean melodic tones over a laid back and jazzy groove that probably owes more to Steely Dan than it does any of those other bands mentioned, that said when Honeygiant do break out the big riffs, gritty up those vocals and push those rhythms hard they do make a mightily impressive gnarly noise. "Remain Where You Were Found" follows and musically is a much more gnarled and grimy affair than its predecessor, guitar tones here are dialled to nasty and the rhythms are big and thunderous while its vocals shift from a clean croon to a passionate throaty howl. Touches of spacious heavy psych make their presence felt on "Far Beyond" while things get a little raucous and raw on the garage like and punky "Phantom Hammer", both songs highly enjoyable outings with the former just shading it in the enjoyment stakes thanks to its soaring and emotive guitar solo. "What The Blind Eye Sees" twins choppy chord progressions with searing solos over a fractured but funky backing groove decorated in a vocal that shifts from laid back and jazzy to lilting and mournful. "Sisyphus" finds things getting lyrically reflective over a groove that sways back and forth between doomic and progressive and gets more intense and dark as it stretches towards its final note. Last song "Electric Ghost" mixes sections of post-metal tinted prog with passages of off-kilter spasmodic funkishness to create a constantly shifting dynamic that throws up surprises at every turn, a wonderfully schizophrenic ending to what is a wonderfully schizophrenic (in a good way) album.

Honeygiant may be new to us that live outside of Austria, and probably to some inside Austria, but if they continue to make albums of the quality of this their debut then it will not be long before they start to attract attention not just from the fans of the bands they mention but from fans of good rock music in general, these guys have the potential to be a big deal within this scene we call the "underground" they just need a few more people listening to what they are offering.
Check 'em out ....  

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 16 November 2023



Like your riffs fuzzed to the max with a crunchy circular dynamic, your rhythms solid busy and tight and your vocals tinged with a crackled raw edge? Well if you do then maybe you should lend an ear to "Pilot The Dune" the self-titled debut from, you guessed it....Pilot The Dune. Pilot The Dune hail from Norwich, UK, a city only a hop skip and a jump away from the East Anglian coast line where it is possible to find actual dunes, something that might go some way to explaining why a band from the lower middle East of England have a sound so close to that once birthed in the deserts of  90's era California

The first thing that comes to mind when the initial riff of first song "El Machina" hits the ear is its similarity to Deep Purple MK III's "Mistreated" however you should never judge a track by its intro and its not long before Pilot The Dune jettison their Purple-esque intro and jump two footed into stoner/desert territory with fuzz pedals dialled to max and rhythms in groove mode, the vocal decorating this onslaught possessing a more than pleasing cracked and throaty resonance. "Zub" is up next its easy on the ear vocal melody is backed up by one of those repetitive circular refrains that are almost impossible ever to get out of your head, Desert Psychlist is reminded a little of Welsh weedsters Dope Smoker while listening to this which is a big tick in its favour. Pilot The Dune plump for some good old school hard rock with next song "Modern Slave", the band still keeping one foot in the sandy soil of desert rock but dialling the fuzz back to allow the guitars a little more crunch and the drums room to swing, a trick they repeat to some extent on "Interstellar" only here the fuzz fights back a little harder. There is an essence of eastern exotica to be found in the guitar work for the following "Suntide" and it gives the song an almost proggish feel, albeit slightly diffused by the furiosity of its rhythms and the throaty rawness of its vocal attack. Urban sleazy post-grunginess is the name of the game on "Thruvia" while "It's Not You" finds the band experimenting with elements of heavy psych and grungy blues and coming up winners all round. For their last two songs, "Druid's Feet" and "Space Junk" return to what they do best and what they do best is jam heavy rhythmic stoner grooves decorated in circular refrains and wild eyed throaty vocals, these two song being prime examples of that art.

Pilot The Dune have, with their self-titled debut, taken aspects of 90's desert/stoner rock and 80's grunge/alt-metal and smashed them together with aspects of present day doom and psych to come up with something that is representative of each yet despite that still very much has its own thing going down.  
Check 'em out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 15 November 2023



For a long time Desert Psychlist considered Peter Gabriel's song "Intruder" (from his 1980 album Pete Gabriel: 3) as one of the most unnerving things ever recorded, that was until we received a promo (via The Doom Charts) of Norwegian outfit Praise the Sun's latest opus "Sinister & Unhinged", here we found not just one unnerving song but a whole album of them. 
Remember to check under the bed before playing this one and DO NOT go investigating that noise in your cellar. 

A quick crash of cymbals and a thick reverberating circular bass and guitar refrain introduces first track "The ramblings of a human predator (1)" then in come the vocals delivered hushed breathy and sinister, asking "do you feel safe tonight" and "are you cognizant of your death" the backing track of doomic groove accompanying those words adding to the songs overall menace, if the Norwegian police do not have the writers of these lyrics on their radar already then maybe they should after hearing this. Next track "Breaking a sinister streak (2)" utilizes a part grungy part funky groove as the backdrop for its view of the scenario created in the previous song, this time from the perspective of an investigating officer, "Our quiet little town, stalked by ruthless killer, walking alone at night, shouldn't feel like a thriller" sings the vocalist in low key but melodic tones, the perpetrator of the crimes summed up in the lines "getting more assured, clearly mentally ill, resisting being cured", this is cinematic stuff! Having dealt with serial killers and cops Praise the Sun turn their attention to goddesses and their offspring with "Son of Kali", or so we may think, maybe this is somehow tied in with all that has passed previously and we have found the root of our serial killers obsessions, either way this is some damn fine low slow and heavy doom made even more cloying and dank by those distinctive and disturbing vocal tones. Following next is "Wolf Overdrive" a song slightly more strident and upbeat than its predecessors, the drums here are a touch more insistent and busy and the guitar textures a little less dank and dark but then as the lyrics tell of running with a pack on a hunt that should be expected, vocals here are buried a little deeper in the mix and fed through some sort of filter giving them an off kilter but none the less menacing feel, we have to admit to looking across at our own big wolf like dog while writing this and suddenly feeling a little bit afraid. Praise the Sun take some time to think about death, grieving, repentance and forgiveness on next song "Penitent and blasphemous", a sort of lyrical travelogue to the tribulations and miseries you can expect once brushing off this mortal coil told in those sinister tones we have by now become accustomed to over a backdrop of insidious doomic bass drum and guitar textures. Final song "I was before and forever will be" is a deliciously dark song with which to sign off with, its disquieting vocal melodies and swelling/dissipating guitar textures combine with its low slung bass lines and thundering drum patterns to create an ominous and suffocating atmospheric that will send shivers of fear running down spines and have listeners turning on every light in the house regardless of the time of day.

Those of you out there who like good well played heavy music but find it hard to sleep after watching a slasher movie, or get freaked out when a spider suddenly dashes across the floor and makes itself comfortable under your favourite chair, well then maybe Praise the Sun's "Sinister & Unhinged" is not for you. If on the other hand you love heavy music but ALSO like serial killers, creaking floorboards, noises in the attic and being totally alone in the dark then this little beauty is most definitely your jam! 
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 14 November 2023


What better way to avoid arguments with egotistical vocalists, bassists who are constantly turning their amps up and drummers who keep putting fills where fills are not meant to go than by doing everything yourself. This is the course of action taken by multi-instrumentalist Jake Lewis for his ongoing project Burn Ritual and its a course that has so far paid dividends with Lewis seeing all of his releases getting favourable reviews from all the right quarters and seeing Burn Ritual's 2018 album "Blood of the Raven" placed at #17 in October's Doom Charts for that year. Burn Ritual is not Lewis' only project, he has also put out a brace of albums under the name Gypsybyrd (a project with Sun of Grey's Freddie Allen on bass) but it is probably Burn Ritual that he is best known for, not because its better than his other work but just simply because it is the one he has been involved with the longest. This year Lewis brings us a new Burn Ritual album in the shape of "Grave Watcher", a collection of occult and mythological tales set against an enthralling backdrop of proto-doomic groove that contains just a hint of Sabbatian swagger in its attack.

"Becoming the Beast" opens proceedings with droning bass and economic but solid drumming creating a platform for fuzz heavy refrains and occasional bursts of searing lead guitar over which hazy melodic vocals tell of transformation and change, this is doom, of that there is no doubt, but it is doom with a lilting, floating quality that feels more hugging than crushing. Next Track "Waiting for the Sun" may share a title with a classic Doors song but that is where any similarities end, this "Waiting for the Sun" is all dank guitar refrains over sinister drum and bass grooves decorated with a vocal that sits just below falsetto, the contrast of  these two sets of dynamics creating an eerie and unsettling atmospheric. "Embrace the Flames" follows and is probably Desert Psychlist's favourite track on the album its quiet/loud/quiet dynamics, low key but wholly effective vocals and low walking bass motif's are everything a true aficionado of the doom genre could ever hope for in a song. Title track "Grave Watcher" sees Lewis adding a touch of Ozzy-like nasality to his vocals over a groove that although doomic in flavour also boasts elements of  heavy psych and 80's British goth rock while "Black Veil" has somewhat of an Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats vibe about it in that it twins delicious vocal melodies with dank dark guitar tones to create something that you can not only sagely nod along to but can actually hum along with too. Last but one comes "Demons" the song is a little bit different from much that has gone before, its guitar tones are thicker, sludgier and its rhythms are a touch more sedate and plodding all of which is also reflected in its vocal which is harsher and a touch more sneery. For the albums final track, "When the Darkness Comes" Burn Ritual (Lewis) goes into full doom mode, chunky dark guitar and bass tones reverberating out over tight drumming and occasional keyboard flourishes in and around which lilting hazy vocal melodies and bluesy guitar solos are injected.

Jake Lewis IS Burn Ritual and Burn Ritual IS Jake Lewis, one cannot possibly exist without the other. The Texas born musician's love of stoner rock and doom and his interest in horror movies, mythology and the occult are blended together in a sound that is deliciously dank and heavy but never crushing, a sound that is as reliant on its melodies as it is its riffs, both of which more than make their presence felt on "Grave Watcher". 
Check it out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Sunday 12 November 2023


Milwaukee, Wisconsin outfit High Gallows, Tim (guitar/vocals; Louie (guitar); Josh (bass) and Eric (drums), do not try to hide what they do with terms like post- this or proto-that they just simply tell us that they play "riff heavy stoner rock". Desert Psychlist thinks they do themselves somewhat of a disservice with this description, yes they are a riff heavy and yes they do play a form of stoner rock but they seem to have forgotten to add "very good" to the beginning of that description, two words that you will no doubt agree with when listening to their latest album "Eulogies"

High Gallows keep things fairly simplistic musically throughout "Eulogies" but don't go mistaking simple for basic, there is much to admire about the way High Gallows stick to their strengths on this album, those strengths being strong vocal melodies and ear-catching guitar refrains backed by a rhythm section who truly understand the meaning of groove. Not meaning to disagree with High Gallows description of their own music but the nine songs populating "Eulogies" probably owe more of a debt to 70's hard rock than they do 90's to the present day stoner rock as the balance of bluesy swagger against dirty desert fuzz tends to lean slightly more towards the former rather than it does the latter which, in Desert Psychlist's opinion, is no bad thing. Songs like the opening "Tampa" with its chunky guitar riffs and driving backbeat, "Swear To Change" and "If Ya Ain't" with their southern flecked boogie grooves and "Wrong Turns, Dead Ends" with its Electric Mary meets Thunder Horse vibe are further enhanced by searing solos and vocals that are pitched just the right side of gritty. The band even get to throw some lysergic textures and off kilter weirdness into the mix with the instrumental "Bear and Hads", a laid back slightly experimental piece that almost seems to be the bands way of saying "look we are not just one trick ponies", and they are right, they are not. 

If you like your rock music with one foot in the past and the other in the present and with a groove so addictive it'll blow your mind well then get on High Gallows "Eulogies", the title might suggest solemnity and some of the lyrics might tackle some difficult subject matter but maaaan.. those grooves are life affirming.
© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 11 November 2023



For those of you out there with a friend who has one foot in the camp of grunge/alt-metal and one foot in the sludge/stoner metal camp Desert Psychlist has found the perfect gift for you to place under their Christmas Tree, an album that takes the best of both disciplines and merges them with elements of prog and post metal to create something a little bit moody and intense but also a little bit blustering and heavy. The band hails from Ghent, Belgium and go by the name Left Eye Perspective and the album in question is called "Conundrum".

Left Eye Perspective come out of the traps wild eyed and feral with opening track "Arrival" a song that shows not a hint of the grungy/alt-metal we alluded to in the opening piece of this review, this is a full on sludgy and metallic assault on the senses replete with crunchy off-centred guitar refrains, growling bass and furious drumming accompanied by a vocals that share a similar dynamic to the bass and drums, growly and furious. Next track "Breathcatcher" begins much in the same vein as its predecessor and may have many of you wondering when those grunge/alt-metal elements are going to kick in, well they appear not in the songs music, which is a furious blending of sludge/stoner metal riffs and rhythms, but in the songs vocals which when not delivered in bear like roars channel a tone that sits between Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Bush's Gavin Rossdale. "Across The Styx" is up next and is a song that shows that besides having bluster and swagger in their armoury Left Eye Perspective are also a band with complexity and melody in their locker. The prog-like complexities and occasional grungy vocal melodies of the previous track are revisited on both "Oumuamua" and "P97"  but are this time given a little more space to call their own while "Massacre" sees the band adding a little NOLA type groove into the mix as well as some far eastern guitar flavouring. Penultimate track "Atlantis" feels like its in a rush to get somewhere fast and nothing is going to get in its way, a furious galloping behemoth that briefly comes to a trot for a period of post-metal languidity before taking off again on a sprint to the hills. The band close out by revisiting "Oumuamua" but this time as an instrumental piece, a chance for the listener to truly appreciate the bands skill as musicians without the distraction of vocals.

Left Eye Perspective's first debut EP "Defiance" was a very good collection of tunes but saw a band not quite yet decided on their direction or for that matter fully finding their voice, it was a release full of promise but lacked a little of the magic that could of made it a great release. For "Conundrum" Left Eye Perspective have discovered that elusive magic and made an album that fully delivers on that promise.
Check it out ...

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 10 November 2023

IAH ~ V ..... review

There have been some truly impressive bands to have come out of the Argentinian underground rock scene, some we have covered on these very pages, but there is one band whom for Desert Psychlist stand head and shoulders above all the rest and that is Córdoba trio IAHJuan Pablo Lucco Borlera (bass); Mauricio Condon (guitar & synths) and José Landín (drums). IAH are an instrumental band so have had no need to make compromises to reach an international audience and this has seen the band build up a significant fan base stretching over many borders, you just have to take a peek under the artwork of each of their albums on Bandcamp and see the faces of those who have bought those releases for proof of that. The band return this year (2023), six years after the release of their self -titled debut "IAH", with their latest album "V", expect to see those same faces, plus many many more, sitting under this one too.

"Kutno", the song that opens "V", sees IAH going large from the offset, a just over ten minute full on sonic experience built around rolling drum patterns and fractured chord progressions interspersed with passages of post-metal languidity, an intriguing and enthralling mix of crunching ugliness and serene beauty that is pure IAH but at the same time not exactly typical of their sound. "Madre de los suspiros" follows, its almost indie rock sounding guitar tones and synth textures combining to create an almost cinematic feel to the songs initial stages the song only moving towards a heavier dynamic as the song progresses whereby we are treated to thrumming bass riffs and heavy drum patterns accompanied by some stunning lead guitar work. Up next is "Yaldabaoth" a delicious blend of post metal and heavy psych routinely interrupted by heavy chugging riffs which is then followed by the very brief "Sono io!" an engaging and ambient guitar and synth piece. "Sentado en el borde de una pregunta" has a more stoner(ish) feel compared to what has gone before, its mixture of circular and galloping riffs even channelling a little Sabbathian essence in its attack. Final number "Las palabras y el mar" is another of IAH's songs with a cinematic feel that could, if expanded and used correctly, easily work as a movie soundtrack for one of those arty films budding directors tend to cut their teeth on, a stunning instrumental piece that actually does feel like its taking you on a journey.

Instrumental rock music is not everyone's cup of tea, many just won't entertain music that comes without a vocalist warbling gamely all over it, but for those who DO have a soft spot for instrumental grooves then IAH's "V" is "manna from heaven", an album that will instrumentally cater for your every mood, be that mood angry, sad, relaxed or agitated. 
Check it out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Saturday 4 November 2023


Desert Psychlist is bringing you something a little different today, something from a band who themselves are a little different. That something is "Grind House" the new album from Kansas City's Merlin, a band we have featured a few times on these pages. Merlin, Carter Lewis (guitar, synth, organ, orchestral arrangements, vocals); Caleb Wyels (drums, percussion, vocals); Joey Hamm (bass) and Jordan Knorr (lead vocals), are no ordinary outfit, they are a band who make music that blurs the borders between genres and styles, a band who may have popped their cherry playing heavy doomic music but have over the years taken their music in so many other directions. For their new release Merlin take a deep dive into the world of cinema the result of which is an album unlike anything they've attempted before.

Remember those times sitting in a cinema theatre waiting for the main feature and being bombarded by adverts extolling the virtues of local businesses and up coming events while ushers directed latecomers to their seats, well opening song "Feature Presentation" perfectly captures that experience with funky-lite guitar textures, cheesy organ flourishes and keyboard generated horns that then fade away to leave the sound of a rotating movie reel and those fondly remembered beeps that always signalled the end of such a segment, its so authentic you almost feel you should be listening with a tub of popcorn balanced on your knees. In 70's Britain we kids had a thing called Saturday Morning Pictures, parents would drop their kids off at the cinema knowing that for at least a couple of hours they could get a break from wiping snotty noses and bandaging scraped elbows, those Saturday mornings sitting in the dark would always start with an adventure movie and next track "Revenger" has that feel to it, an enthralling blend of  Giorgio Moroder-like keyboard motifs and Kraftwerk like vocals underscored by a thrumming electronic pulses reminiscent of director/composer John Carpenter's best work. If you are going to make an album inspired by movies and movie soundtracks then you have to dip your toes into Blaxploitation and Merlin do just that with "Master Thief '77", its "Shaft" like lyrics (sung by guest vocalist Elizabeth Wyels) and its "Superfly" meets "Mission Impossible" groove is pure entertainment from start to finish. "Let's All Go To The Lobby" is reminiscent of the annoying tunes some cinema's would play mid show to get punters to buy more treats and sundries and although the song serves its purpose in the context of this album its still just as annoying.  Next we have "Endless Calamity" a slow tension building opus that mirrors those intense moments before a big plot reveal when everything is coming together inside the audiences heads, the way Merlin have constructed and arranged this piece is pure genius, the band cleverly teasing us with a crescendo but then frustrating us by leaving us on a time honoured cliff-hanger. "Blood Money" feels like a complete Western movie score condensed down to just over six minutes, a song that reflects, postures and swoons in equal measure, a true homage to the the movies of Sergio Leonne, John Ford and Sam Peckinpah and the soundtrack compositions of Ennio Morricone, Elmer Bernstein and Dimitri Tiomkin. Final number "Grindhouse" is an epic twelve minute tome that in turns revisits and re-examines aspects of all that has gone before it while being routinely interrupted by audience noise and replays of the the opening presentation soundtrack, its a bit disjointed and unarguably weird but strangely compelling at the same time.

Merlin are like the Frank Zappa of their day, you won't get everything they do but you will get some of it and even those parts you don't get will still have you admiring the musicianship and the thought that has been put into those parts. "Grind House" is an eclectic and diverse album, weird and wacky and at times totally insane but it is also innovative, brave and quite brilliant, do not go expecting another "Christ Killer" or "Electric Children" this band have moved on a long way since then.
Check 'em out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Friday 3 November 2023


The excitement Desert Psychlist felt when Green LungTom Templar (vocals); Scott Black (guitars); Joseph Ghast (bass); John Wright (keys) and Matt Wiseman (drums), announced they were releasing a new album reminded us of those days in the 70's when we we would feel that same level of anticipation for a new release from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or Deep Purple, a tingling excitement that would not go away until you were actually holding that said release in your clammy little hands. Of course there were times when that album did not quite deliver on your expectations and you had to accept that what you were now holding in your hands was not the soaring eagle you had been expecting but was actually a bit of a turkey, but then that is one of the pitfalls of being a music obsessive. Thankfully this is a situation not yet experienced by Green Lung devotees, everything this band have released to date has been a step up in strength and quality from its predecessor and that is again the case with new album "This Heathen Land" (Nuclear Blast Records) this is no turkey, this is a bird of paradise.


"Prologue", a short narrated invitation, opens proceedings and is swiftly followed by "The Forest Church", this is a classic Green Lung opus packed solid with everything we already love about this band, swirling keyboard textures, crunching chord progressions and a mix of thunderous and intricate drumming wrapped around a vocal that constantly shifts between a mournful croon and a melodic howl, a good start we think you will agree but things get even better. "Mountain Throne" tells of an unholy procession leaving their caves to "do the devil's work" against a backdrop of hard driven heavy rock that among its many charms boasts guitar textures and solos that would not sound out of place on a an album by Thin Lizzy or Judas Priest while "Maxine (Witch Queen)" is a song Ghost's Tobias Forge would have given his right arm to have written, catchy direct and sporting a to die for vocal melody, it has fan favourite written all over it. "One for Sorrow" follows and here we find Green Lung mixing reflective lyrical content with grooves that simper and swoon one minute and spit and snarl the next, the addition of an ascending/descending keyboard motif over both dynamics giving the song a weird but interesting off-kilter vibe. The guitar and drum intro to next song "Song of the Stones" has more than a passing resemblance to the intro to Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" but that similarity comes to an end when the song then continues along the lines of a rural lament replete with woodwind flavoured keyboard accompaniment, gentle and quite beautiful the song also features a stunning blues tinted guitar solo guaranteed to send shivers of delight running down the spine of anyone who hears it. "The Ancient Ways" sees Green Lung adding elements of heavy psych and prog to their sound while still staying true to their signature dynamics and is followed by "Hunter in the Sky" a song with more than a touch of Uriah Heep in its sonic make-up, both vocally and musically. Finally we are presented with "Oceans of Time" a lyrical serenade to Mina, the schoolmistress in Bram Stoker's Dracula who becomes not only the vampire's victim but also its downfall. Despite possessing many of the dynamics that have become Green Lung's calling card this song is nonetheless quite different from anything the band have attempted before in that it has an almost theatrical feel to it in parts, who knows maybe these guys have a rock opera in them.

What Green Lung bring to the table with "This Heathen Land" cannot be labelled as occult, doom or stoner because it is so much more than that, if you put this release in a time machine and sent it back to the seventies the rock fans of that time would be immediately asking "why have we not heard this before" and "where can we buy the album", it really is that good. Many people think rock music can only be deemed "classic" if it has been around for certain period of time, Green Lung disprove that theory by making classic rock for the here and now. and hopefully the coming future.
Check 'em out

© 2023 Frazer Jones

Thursday 2 November 2023


Desert Psychlist has held our hands up before about our not being totally comfortable listening to vocals of a harsher nature, especially those that seem to take their inspiration from Linda Blair's portrayal of a possessed child in William Friedkin's adaption of William Peter Blatty's novel "The Excorcist". Guttural low growling tones, delivered in a similar manner to those once utilized by Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt, are a different matter however, those we can totally get on board with, It is this style of vocalization that decorates Acid Throne's debut full length album "Kingdom's Death" (Trepanation Recordings) a stunningly opus that is predominantly doomic in flavour but is not averse to dipping its toes into elements of black metal, groove and stoner metal along the way, a dark dank and atmospheric sound perfectly suited to the gravelled guttural vocal tones that decorate it. 

White noise introduces first track "Death Is Not The End" followed by an echo laden guitar arpeggio that then makes way for low slow bass and guitar riffage backed by a slow deliberate drum pattern all of which is accompanied by those low toned and surprisingly clear guttural vocals we spoke of earlier. As the song progresses so do the levels of intricacy and texture, the bass and drums still laying down the doomic dankness but the guitar parts becoming a little more complex and prog-orientated. "River (Bare My Bones)" follows and begins with a low thrumming bass and guitar riff chopped out over steady and stoic drumming, the song following along on this path for a full five minutes before a rolling drum pattern announces the arrival of the vocals which are delivered in a slightly gargled mix of Viking metal like harmonies and lead voice. "King Slayer" is next, a song that blends blackened doom with elements of stoner metal raucousness, NOLA-like groove and old school heavy metal gallop and is followed by "War Torn" a heavy hitting number that shows that as well as all of the above Acid Throne also have post-metal in their locker. Penultimate track "Hallowed Ground" begins life low key and creepy then borrows every doomic riff ever recorded and places them all together in one song, it is virtually impossible NOT to like this tune. Final track "Last Will and Testament" is that thing all good doom bands are expected have in their armoury and that is a song of epic proportions, eleven minutes of  mind-blowing dankness that is constantly fluctuating between loud and crunching heaviness and moody and atmospheric languidity. if this song is not "epic" enough for you then maybe you should reconsider your definition of the word.

Acid Throne's "Kingdom's Death" is probably one of the best albums of blackened heaviness released by a British outfit this year, an album that borders on the edges of extreme in places but cleverly never goes fully over that edge, the band retaining an element of groove in their music that will appeal to ALL metal fans rather than just a select few.
Check  it out... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

# Album releases on 8th November 2023