Wednesday 24 April 2024

RED MESA ~ PARTIAL DISTORTIONS .... review




If you were a purchaser/listener of Red Mesa's previous album, "The Path to the Deathless", you will remember that the core trio of Brad Frye (guitar/vocals); Roman Barham (drums/vocals) and Alex Cantwell (bass/vocals'/additional guitar) were joined by slew of guest musicians, the most notable being Wino and the late Dave Sherman, however their new release "Partial Distortions" (Desert Records/Majestic Mountain Records) is all Red Mesa. Now there will be those who disagree but we at Desert Psychlist are of the opinion that "Partial Distortion" is far better for its lack of additional musicians as it is a far truer representation of the band as a working unit, we also feel that it is heavier than anything the band have attempted previously, a sound the band themselves have dubbed "blackened desert".


"Óðr" kicks off "Partial Distortions" and immediately clears up any confusion anyone might have had about the "blackened" element the band describe in their liner notes, its guitar tones are thick sludgy and downright nasty, its bass lines are dialled to low and grizzly and its drums are thunderous, loud and busy, add to this a mix of of clean gritty and growled vocal tones and you are talking one hell of an opening statement. Ok its a given that a good opener is a hook to reel you in but we all have albums in our collections where things have gone quickly downhill after the first number, this is not one of those albums. If you thought "Óðr" hit hard then be prepared for life changing injuries with "The Assertion" a doom laden barnburner in possession of a myriad of dank musical layers that also owes a debt of gratitude to Barry Manilow for its opening line. Red Mesa's default desert rock sound is the dominant force on next song "Dying In The Cold Sun" its guitar tones, circular and expansive, give the song a feeling of vastness but a feeling countered by its larynx tearing vocals which are delivered intense raw and throaty. "12 Volt Shaman" sees Red Mesa still residing in desert territory but toying with elements of urban hip hop/rap in some of the songs vocal and musical stylings while "Desert March", an instrumental, finds Red Mesa creating a soundtrack for a modern day western where cowboys ride into the sunset on Harley Davidson's. Final number "Witching Hour" delivers everything you would expect a song bearing such a title would deliver, dense crunchy distorted guitar refrains, languid circular droning motifs, dark sinister lyricism and vocals that border on the edge of pained, the song serving as the perfect curtain closer to a very, VERY powerful album. 


Those expecting the fuzzy psych of first album "Red Mesa" or the dusty Americana visited on "The Devil and the Desert" are in for a shock when "Partial Distortions" hits their audial canals, yes there were hints on "The Path To The Deathless" that the band were heading in a heavier direction but nobody would have predicted they would get this damn heavy, "blackened" you better believe it!
Check 'em out ....

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 23 April 2024

IRONxLUNG ~ RIFFSTANBUL ...review


Please do not try to trace IronxLung's journey up to the release of "Riffstanbul", you will only end up confused bewildered and nursing a giant headache, IronxLung for starters have not always been IronxLung they were once Disciples of the Apocalypse and before that Hellfire Dawn and before that ....,(the list goes on). There have been releases as a trio, a duo and on occasions as a one man project, in fact the only constant throughout has been guitarist/vocalist/bassist Joshua Stanard. We could fill up this page with the various line-ups and releases that have led up to this current state of affairs but let's just concentrate on "Riffstanbul" (Tin Ghetto Records) an album that sees Stannard reuniting with his old sparring partner and original Disciples of the Apocalypse member Andres Logan (drums/electronics/vocals).


IronxLung jams a groove rooted in sludge, doom and progressive metal and features vocals that, despite their creaking guttural harshness, are surprisingly easy on the ear. Those, and we know there are a few, who balk at the words "sludge" and "harsh" might find themselves pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the vocals and grooves on display here especially when they come to the realisation that those grooves are not your bog standard walls of noise but are well thought out soundscapes that although in possession of their fair share of noisiness are at times exotic and, dare we say, delicate. There is a huge prog factor at play here too, songs like title track "Riffstanbul", the excellent "Plight of the Cannabinites",the caustic and gnarly "Belly Of A Whale", the bluesy and doomic "Petrified the Mind's Eye" and the two instrumentals "Damascus" and "Rev 21:4" are not just vehicles for crunching riffs and thunderous rhythms but are also in possessed of an array of intricate textures, musical colours and mind-blowing complexities. The musicianship throughout borders on stunning at times especially when the guttural vocals and crunching riffage takes a backseat and allow Stanard free reign to explore his inner guitar god with searing bluesy solos and ear-catching motifs, his axe wielding prowess ably supported by Logan's punchy solid drumming and occasional electronic squeals and squawks. 
For those for whom sludge has always been a bridge to far "Riffstanbul" might just be the album to draw you over to the dark side, if you don't like it you can always turn it off but we don't think you will.
Check it out ...... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Monday 22 April 2024

TYPHUZZ ~ TYPHUZZ .... review


Germany's Typhuzz, Max Mörmann (vocals/guitar); Sebastian Örtle (drums) and Alexander Pontzhail (bass), hail from Karlsruhe and, like so many other bands in this scene, worship at the altar of Black Sabbath the result of which sees them jamming grooves not too dissimilar in flavour and style to that of their heroes. Now there are many out there who will decry the emergence of yet another heavily Sabbath influenced band, Desert Psychlist however is not among that "many". Ok nobody wants to hear a band slavishly recreate an iconic bands sound to the point that it borders on plagiarism but having said that there is also nothing wrong with hearing a band who take that sound and then stamp their own personalities and identities all over it, something we think Typhuzz have done on their self -titled debut album "Typhuzz".(Hand Of Doom Records)


Loud/quiet/loud dynamics play a big part in Typhuzz's overall sonic attack and it is these dynamics that are the driving force behind opening track "Golden Glow" a song that alternates between galloping heavy metal and languid lysergic proto doom beneath clean slightly sneered vocal tones that utilize all the usual lyrical cliches we have come to expect (and love) from music of this nature. "Winter Sun" follows and sees Typhuzz fully embracing their Sabbathian roots with chugging palm-muted riffage and punchy thundering bass and drums supporting a vocal that is Ozzy-ish in its melody but not so much in its tone. We mentioned, in our opening piece, about Typhuzz stamping their own personalities on an iconic sound and for "Alarm" they do just that, the band jamming a proto-doomic groove ramped up to warp speed and then decorated in a punkish angsty vocal. For "Drug Transformation" Typhuzz opt for a more stoner-doom sound, grumbling low bass and solid tight drumming the platform for an ear-worming vocal melody enhanced by bluesy Iommi-esque guitar pyrotechnics. Heavy rock and doom hold hands and skip the light fandango on the excellent "Lizard Queen" while for "Fracturo Fibulas" the band offer us two minutes plus of birdsong and acoustic guitar. Its back to the riff'n'roll for next track "Globesmoker" a delicious mix of low slow heaviness and swaggering doomic bluesiness that is then followed by "Cosmic Crypt" a shape shifting opus that lyrically and musically sits somewhere between Sabbath's "Into The Void" and Deep Purple MK III's "Burn". Penultimate track "Running Down" sees Typhuzz going all in on the heavy rock before going out with all guns blazing with the head spinning finale "Tonight" a song that incorporates every element of doom and heavy rock visited previously on this album and weaves them together into one brain frying curtain closer, epic stuff!  


Typhuzz's debut is a highly impressive blending of blistering heavy rock and deliciously dank doom, it is an album that is the sum of its influences rather than a carbon copy of those influences, yes you can hear elements of Sabbath, Pentegram and others greats in what Typhuzz bring to the table but you can also hear that they are a band with their own thing going on too.  
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Friday 19 April 2024

DVNE ~ VOIDKIND ... review


Post-metal, doom, sludge and a blackened form of progressive metal are just some of the tools Edinburgh five piece DVNE employ to create their sonic soundscapes along with a variety of vocal inflections that range from clean and mellow through to gnarled growly and harsh. DVNE, Victor Vicart (guitar,/keyboards,/vocals);  Allan Paterson (guitar,/bass); Dudley Tait (drums); Daniel Barter (vocals) and Maxime Keller (keyboards/vocals), were formed in 2013 and have over time built themselves a reputation as one of the finest British bands in the field of underground progressive metal today. a feat achieved by releasing a series of EP's and albums that are the true definition of the word "progressive", each release marking an evolution in the bands skill as both musicians and songwriters. This year (2024) DVNE release their highly anticipated third full length album "Voidkind", (Metal Blade Records) and if you like your progressive metal complex and intricate with a heavy blackened edge then you really need this album in your life.


"Summa Blasphemia" opens proceedings and apart from a very brief keyboard intro comes out of the traps spitting and snarling, things do settle down here and there but on the whole what you get is a full on assault of crunchy riffs and incredibly powerful drumming supporting a mixture of clean and harsh vocals that are seemingly coming at you from all angles, the band have stated that they wanted to strip away some of the studio frills and layers that marked their last album, "Etemen Ænka" and go for a sound more akin to their live shows and if this track is anything to go by then it would seem they have achieved that goal. "Eleonora" follows and although not quite as intense and full on as its predecessor the song still carries a fair amount of punch despite it also featuring a decidedly restrained post-metal/alt-prog flavoured middle section. "Reaching for Telos" sees DVNE really brandishing their prog membership card for all to see its guitar textures, a mixture of fractured chord voicings and crunching refrains, are complimented by subtle keyboard colourings over a groove that is in constant flux. If it were not for its mellow and languid middle section you could easily mistake "Reliquary" for groove metal or hardcore such is it furiosity while "Path of Dust" goes in the completely opposite direction, the song serving as a gentle and serene moment of tranquillity before the raucous "Sarmatæ" pins the ears back with its sludgy riffs, clean /harsh vocals and thunderous rhythms. We are given another moment to catch our breaths with the lush keyboard piece "Paths of Ether" but any respite your ears may have garnered is soon shattered by the off-centred loud/quiet/loud dynamics of "Abode of the Perfect Soul", a truly face melting slice of blackened prog metal. Last but one comes "Plērōma" where we find DVNE at probably their most accessible, a real toe tapper of a song boasting a vocal that for its most part is kept clean and melodious with those harsher vocals allowed only the briefest of windows to make their presence felt. Finally we arrive at "Cobalt Sun Necropolis" a nine minute plus epic that goes through a myriad of changes along its journey, languidity and brutality being just two of those changes, this is a song with fan favourite written large all over it.


Many may have thought that DVNE had reached their peak with "Etemen Ænka" that there was no possible way they could ever top such a hugely impactful release but those "many" underestimated how much more these guys had (and still have) in their locker, what they had in that locker was "Voidkind" probably the best black edged progressive metal album to come out of the British Isles in an age.
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 16 April 2024

CASTLE RAT ~ INTO THE REALM ..... review


Medieval fantasy doom metal is how Brooklyn's Castle Rat describe their music and judging by their videos they certainly dress the part, the respective members utilizing a mix of over the top makeup, headdresses and masks to reflect the medieval fantasy side of their image. Image is all well and good but if you do not have the musical chops to go with that image then basically you end up being just a novelty and Castle RatRiley Pinkerton (vocals/guitar); Henry Black (lead guitar/backing vocals); Ronnie Lanzilotta III (bass) and Josh Strmic (drums), are no novelty, this is a band who more than deliver on the doom metal part of their self-description as their debut release "Into The Realm" (King Volume Records) will attest to.


What Castle Rat describe as medieval fantasy doom metal will probably come across, to those of us who have been listening to music from the dark side since we could strap on a pair of earphones, as sitting at the more occult rock end of the doom spectrum, in other words a little more bright and melodic than it is dark and thunderous. First track out of the bag "Dagger Dragger" is testament to this lighter breezier dynamic its bouncy hard rock/proto doom groove, not unlike something you might expect emanating from a Blood Ceremony or a The Devil's Blood release, has a chunky semi-galloping gait that supports clean powerful vocals telling lyrical tales of daggers and demons. "Feed The Dream" follows and finds Castle Rat mixing proto-doom with its more traditional equivalent to come up with a groove that is as dank as it is delightful, especially when twinned with Pinkerton's slightly slurred vocal melody. We are offered a moment of respite with "Resurrector" a brief but highly enjoyable solo piece featuring bassist extraordinaire Lanzilotta III. Its all hands onboard again for "Red Sands" the tale of a wearied warrior set against a backdrop of atmospheric doom/occult metal that boasts scorching lead work from Black and Bonham-esque drumming from Strmic. We get another moment to catch our breaths with "The Mirror" a serene and tranquil dual acoustic guitar piece that leads into the equally serene but slightly less tranquil "Cry For Me", a soaring torch song/lament that showcases not only Pinkerton's vocal power but also her fragility, it is stunning. "Realm" is up next, another short mood piece that is similar in feel to the previous "The Mirror" but this time with the electricity turned on. The band pack a hell of a lot into penultimate track "Fresh Fur", a doomic rocker with an air of off-centredness in both its vocal and musical delivery, so much so that its just under four minute duration feels like twice that, something you won't find us complaining about. "Nightblood" brings proceedings to a close with a song that once again blurs the lines between traditional and proto doom, a full on assault on the senses packed to the rafters with top performances from everyone involved.


The dressing up and make-up may lead some to expecting Castle Rat to jam grooves not too dissimilar in flavour to that of Swedish occult rockers Ghost but they would be wrong in their assumptions, Castle Rat's music, although sharing some of Ghost's melodic qualities, is a much harder and heavier affair that takes its influences from Black Sabbath and the bands and music that Sabbath spawned. It has to be said though that there has been a certain amount of hype circulating around Castle Rat but it is justified hype, these guys can really play, they have great songs and their debut album "Into The Realm" is an absolute banger on every level.
Check it out ......

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Sunday 14 April 2024

IRON BLANKET ~ ASTRAL WANDERER ... review


Probably Desert Psychlist's favourite sub-genre of music would be the one that traversed that period between late sixties heavy blues rock and what would later be classed as heavy metal, we are talking proto-metal/doom here, a period that saw bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, BANG, Buffalo, Budgie and many. many more experimenting with louder amplification and new effects to create a sound that was heavier and harsher than anything that had come before it. Of course you could add big guns like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple to that list but there was something about the uncompromising rawness that those smaller, lesser known, often short-lived bands brought to the table that just felt so primal. It is probably why, to this day, we at Stonerking Towers are still drawn to bands with that proto metal/doom sound and also why we want to draw your attention to Australia's Iron Blanket and their debut album "Astral Wanderer"(Copper Feast Records & Sound Effects Records).


"Evil Mind" kicks things off and, apart from its heavily lysergic middle section, boasts a groove and vocal melody so authentically 70's it'll have you double checking the album notes to verify its release date. "Mystic Goddess" follows, its mixture of circular guitar riffage and driving rhythmic grooviness is decorated in a soaring vocal that tells of a "celestial being from realms unknown" in helium tinted tones that posses an essence of  both Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Rush's Geddy Lee in their delivery as well a smattering of Budgie's Burke Shelley. Expect much of the same for the duration of the rest of the album with songs like the swaggering "Witch's Kiss", the cosmic and spacious "Kookaburra Dream" and the raucous and heavy "Iron Blanket" all steeped in a hybrid mix of 70's proto-metal/doom and 90's stoner rock dressed up with occasional forays into heavy psych. However, do not expect to find yourself getting bored or notice your attention starting to wander while listening to this stunning debut as all of the songs showcased here are of a type that grab you and keep you grabbed until they either bail out in a crescendo of noise or slowly fade into silence.


Iron Blanket members Mark Lonsdale (guitar), Nick Matthews (drums), Tom Withford (Guitar), Charles Eggleston (bass) and Johann Ingemar (vocals) were probably just a twinkle in their respective parents eyes when those early proto bands first tore up stages with their face melting heaviness but this has not stopped Iron Blanket from capturing that same raw grittiness with their own music. Let's not however pass off Iron Blanket as a retro band, there is much to found on "Astral Wanderer" that is informed by today's current underground rock scene, but having said that it is hard to ignore those 70's influences that run gloriously thick and true throughout each and every one of these ass-kicking songs.
Check 'em out .....

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Saturday 13 April 2024

LUCIFER GIANT ~ LUCIFER GIANT .... review


Have you ever listened to a bands earlier work and thought these guys have something good going on here but they are missing an ingredient? Usually in these cases you make a mental note to keep an eye on said band hoping they will find that ingredient and finally deliver the goods but in truth you usually tend to forget all about them when the next blow you away album from another artist/artists drops. This was the case with Switzerland's Lucifer Giant, we at the Psychlist had checked out their earlier released one off tracks and liked what we heard but were not quite sure if the band delivering those tracks were quite where they needed to be sonically yet and so put them to the back of our minds. Fast forward to today and while doing our daily search through Bandcamp's new releases we noticed that Lucifer Giant had released a brand new full length self-titled album, hopeful that they had found that missing ingredient we pushed play and were truly amazed, flabbergasted and blown away by what we heard.


Opening song "Lucifer" may fool you into thinking you are departing on a journey into post-rock territories with its intro of fizzy synthesised drones and military flavoured drumming but when those guitars join the fray you soon come to realise that what you are listening to is doom, not an atypical form of doom granted, but doom nevertheless, albeit doom salted with elements of heavy psych and prog. Another thing that quickly becomes evident is that Lucifer Giant know how to incorporate melody into their songs both musically and vocally, "Lucifer" and its bedfellows "Monument", "Acid Dreams", "Miles Deep Well", "Crimson Curtains" and "Ghost" are not songs built around riffs. although they do have them, these are cleverly structured songs with intelligent arrangements, songs that possess ascending/descending dynamics that combine to create the perfect backdrops for the lilting clean, slightly wearied, vocal melodies and harmonies that decorate them. 


Lucifer Giant, Simu Sigrist (guitar/vocals); Matt Flury (guitar/vocals); Remo (synth/backing vocals); Avi Moser (drums) and Ändu Feuz (bass), have with their self-titled new release delivered an absolute monster of an album, an album that fully delivers on the promise and potential shown on those earlier one off singular releases.
Check 'em out ... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Friday 12 April 2024

HEAVY TEMPLE ~ GARDEN OF HEATHENS ...... review



Reading the blurb accompanying Heavy Temple's latest release Desert Psychlist was somewhat shocked to find that it was only 2012 that Heavy Temple came into existence, we say shocked because it seems like they have been around making music for just about forever. Admittedly the band have gone through a few line up changes in their time together and have been a little less than prolific on the album front but it does, partly thanks to their constant touring, feel like they have been around this whole doom/stoner/psych scene a lot longer than they actually have. The band recently finished and have now released their second full length album "Garden Of Heathens" (Magnetic Eye Records), with the ever present High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals, Baron Lycan on drums and Lord Paisley on guitar (Paisley has since left the band), its essential listening!


Things kick off with the sociopathic anthem "Extreme Indifference to Life", a seriously impressive track boasting basement deep bass, grainy circular guitar motifs and thundering punchy drumming but as good as all those things are the real sucker punch comes in the shape of  High Priestess Nighthawk's vocals, her voice possessing in its low register a deep rich timbre and in its upper register boasts an air of dark bluesiness, we are blessed with some truly great vocalists in this thing we call "the underground" and this vocal is up there with the best of them. Things get nicely gnarly for next song "Hiraeth", with Paisley laying down some  heavily fuzzed six-string crunchiness ably supported by busy solid drumming and bouncy growling bass from Lycan and Nighthawk the song, a mixture of proto-doomic gallop and hard rock furiosity, also features some incendiary lead work as well as another top class vocal performance. "Divine Indiscretion" is up next, Nighthawk delivering a powerful, slightly gothic tinted vocal telling us she's "a monster on the inside" over a groove that begins life in hard rock territory and accelerates to an almost speed metal tempo in its final quarter. The excellently titled "House of Warship" follows and begins with wordless wailing before erupting into what is probably the albums most traditionally doomic groove so far, well that is if you can call this onslaught of twisted guitar tones, abstract bass lines and full on manic drumming "traditional", the song also marks Nighthawks finest vocal performance of the entire album. We stay in doomic territory for "Snake Oil (and Other Remedies)" but this time a more desert rock take on doom, heavy on fuzz but lighter on atmospherics while instrumental title track "Garden of Heathens" ramps up the atmospherics and twins them with acoustic guitars and cello (supplied by guest John Forrestal). Up until this point things have been REALLY GOOD but GOOD soon makes way for GREAT with next track "Jesus Wept" the track boasting dissonant guitar textures squawking and squealing over Bonham-esque drum patterns anchored by grizzled bass and elevated by Nighthawk's powerful and intentionally off kilter vocal melodies, the song wandering into the realms of free form improvisation in places. Heavy Temple sign off their second full length album with "Psychomanteum" a title that could easily be shortened to just "psycho" as this instrumental comes at you like Norman Bates in a shower, slashing at you with its razer sharp lead work, pinning you with its weighty bass lines and bludgeoning you with its furious drumming, if there is a better closing track on an album released this year then Desert Psychlist has yet to hear it.


It's still kind of hard to believe that "Garden of Heathens" is only Heavy Temple's second full length album, especially given how long they have been around, but the best things are always worth waiting for and Heavy Temple have with their new album delivered one of the best things you'll hear this year.
Check it out ...   

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Monday 8 April 2024

LOUD ~ SUPER HEAVY DOOM .... review


That damn Chilean underground scene has its hooks embedded deep into us here at Desert Psychlist, it seems that every time we think the we have heard all the country has to offer up pops another outfit and drags us back into the countries clutches. The outfit pulling on those hooks today is a Punta Arenas trio going by the name Loud, and before you ask yes they are loud, they are also heavy, doomic and have a penchant for going off on unexpected tangents into cosmic climes, all of which makes their latest album "Super Heavy Doom" a very interesting and highly satisfying listening experience.


A good friend of Desert Psychlist recently described Loud as Chile's answer to Electric Wizard and it is easy to see why he came up with that analogy, like those doom/sludge legends Loud don't lightly dust their grooves with fuzz and distortion they lay it on thick with a trowel, something that must give their studio engineers nightmares as they see all their needles going into the red. The band, Sebastián Bazán (guitar/vox/synth); Gustavo Beytía (bass) and Edgar Acosta (drums/chorus.vox/synth), are not overly concerned with the clarity of their vocals either opting for partly buried in the mix clean tuneful shouting rather than actual singing. Now we can understand if, given our description, you are starting to think that this all sounds like a bit of a mess and in certain regards it is but it is a gloriously delightful mess loosely held together by elements of dissonance and disharmony. As for songs, well Loud have them and even give them titles like "El Huasa", "Black Drug", "Necro-addict, sataná" and "Dementia Doom" but in truth these are not so much songs as huge slabs of delicously dank dark riffage and thunderous rhythms that are occasionally interrupted by moments of lysergic languidity and synth generated spaciousness., it may not sound like it written down but this magical stuff!


Fuzzy, scuzzy, heavy and laced with enough acidity to show up on a litmus test Loud's "Super Heavy Doom" is a must have for those with a love of raw uncompromising doom metal.
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Saturday 6 April 2024

ACID MAMMOTH ~ SUPERSONIC MEGAFAUNA COLLISION .... review



Acid Mammoth, Chris Babalis Jr (vocals/guitars); Chris Babalis Sr. (guitars); Dimosthenis Varikos (bass) and Marios Louvaris (drums) have risen from promising new kids on the block to being one of those bands whose albums are pre-ordered well in advance of their release date but it has not been an overnight thing, they have worked hard to get where they are today. The band was formed by schoolfriends Babalis Jr. and Varikos and were soon joined by Babalis Jr's father Babalis Sr. and Louvaris, the band then set about honing their chops on their local scene before going on to fund and self-release their first album "Acid Mammoth". After garnering positive reactions from all the right quarters with their debut they then signed to Heavy Psych Sounds Records who along with releasing their next albums "Under Acid Hoof" and "Caravan" also paired them with heavy Italian doomsters 1782 for "Vol.2" of their "Doom Sessions" series while also re-releasing their debut album. The band have since toured Europe and have also graced the stages of Desertfest (London & Antwerp) as well as SonicBlast and are now releasing, again via Heavy Psych Sounds Records, their latest album "Supersonic Megafauna Collision", an album packed to the rafters with all the quality doom and hard rock we have come to expect from these guys plus a few unexpected twists and turns.


It is the track that gives the album its title that opens proceedings, "Supersonic Megafauna Collision" is typical Acid Mammoth fare, thick heavy dual guitar riffs, low grumbling bass lines and powerful drumming supporting clean slightly witchy but wholly effective vocals, a song that does not try to hide its Sabbathian roots but neither tries to push those roots to the fore. It is followed by "Fuzzorgasm (Keep On Screaming)" its thundering, just a notch above sedate, psych-doom groove holding sway up until just around the halfway mark when Babalis Jr's distinctive vocals join the party to tell a tale of fire and desire. Acid Mammoth show us a whole new side to their doom on the excellent "Garden of Bones", the song boasting an off-piste sinister element made even more menacing by its off-centred guitar tones and  oddly paced "witchy" vocal melodies. "Atomic Shaman" is up next, the off-centred eeriness of the previous track jettisoned for a more up-tempo proto-doomic attack beneath which Louvaris delivers some of the albums most impressive drumming. It's back to the weirdness for penultimate number "One With The Void", the songs spacious sounding guitar tones and restrained percussion framing a low key vocal that is almost mantra like in its delivery, Desert Psychlist guesses you could describe this song as having a dark lysergic spiritual vibe. Final song "Tusko's Last Trip" twins exotic off-kilter guitar motifs with forays into proto-doomic bluster, Babalis Jr's unique vocals the only constant in a song that seems to be routinely pulled back from the edge of all out heaviness but is so much more satisfying because of that restraint.  


Acid Mammoth's "Supersonic Megafauna Collision" sees the band moving slightly away from Sabbathian flavoured doom of their early albums and dipping their toes into a more psych orientated form of the genre, still riff heavy still just as enjoyable but just a little more textured and colourful. 
Check it out ....  

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Friday 5 April 2024

UNDER THE SUN ~ THE BELL OF DOOM ..... review


While there may be countless songs titled "Under the Sun," Desert Psychlist is aware of only one band with that name. Hailing from Athens, this Greek group delivers a brand of rock'n'roll rich in fuzz and laden with crunchy riffs, a sound that's evident on their debut album "The Bell of Doom."(Sound Effects Records)


Given the albums title and artwork and the fact that the word "DOOM" looms large on its cover it might be expected that Under The Sun's debut is an opus drenched in dark down tuned dankness. While it is true that there are moments when the band DO don their cloaks and ride the Sabbathian train to the gates of hell the overall feel throughout this album is one of heavy rock spliced with a little blues and southern rock swagger. First track, "Smoking Angels" opens with a throaty shout of "Oh Yeah" then after a brief burst of rolling drums erupts into a foot to the floor hard rock romp that sits crunchily beneath a gritty vocal that tells of celestial beings getting off their tits on exotic substances. It is followed by "Cry Out" an equally dirty rocker anchored by growling bass and punchy drumming and features swirly guitar motifs squealing and squawking over and around a grizzled and grainy vocal melody. Title track "The Bell of Doom" begins, as it should, with a tolling bell then explodes into a proto-doom(ish) slow and heavy refrain with the vocals mixing up their grittiness with an element of old school doomic semi-operatics.  The doominosity of the previous song hangs around like a heavy mist for next song "One Reason" only this time with a little torch-like bluesiness added into the mix, while next track "Going Down" sees Under The Sun employing a little heavy rock stutter in their attack. "The Shot" boasts one of those hard to ignore circular guitar motif's as its hook and there are also moments here, both vocally and musically, where the band get very close to sounding like their fellow countrymen Planet of Zeus, an observation that can also be levelled at following track "Pony Ride". Lastly comes "Know My Name" an absolute gem that is initially full on and rocking but then brings in to play a weird yet wonderful bass heavy middle section replete with vaudevillian vocal trade offs before signing off on a wave of droning effects. 


Greece has a had its fair share of problems over the years, especially financially, but there are two things you can always rely on Greece to deliver and that is to die for holiday destinations and ass-kicking underground rock and Under The Sun, with "The Bell Of Doom", have more than delivered on the latter.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones


Thursday 4 April 2024

LUGGY TON ~ HOLEY TROLLER ... review

Once again Desert Psychlist has been seduced into checking something out simply due to its artwork, its an old habit formed in our youth when perusing the shelves of record stores that did not allow buyers to check out a release before purchase, a time when the only way to discover new music was to take a gamble based solely on an albums cover art. The album in question is Luggy Ton's "Holey Troller", the artwork of which depicts a partially buried skeletal head with glowing eyes staring skywards against a monochrome rural backdrop. Quite why we were drawn to this albums artwork remains uncertain but what we found when hitting play literally blew our minds.

There are a LOT of tracks to be found on "Holey Troller" so do not expect us to analyse every single one of those tracks, instead we will endeavour to give you a general feel of what to expect when pushing play on this little gem of an album. To be fair opening song "I Can Smell The Future", a hazy somewhat dreamy instrumental, is not truly representative of Luggy Ton's overall musical attack, a truer representation comes in the shape of its follow up "Cruised On Down" a deliciously retro flavoured rocker that melds the early psych of Randy California's Spirit with the accessible proto-metal of early 70's pioneers Bang and boasts a clean vocal that's part early stoner, part 90's pop punk. Next track "Leave It Blank" is probably the one many will leave this album remembering the most, its infectious blues meets country rock groove supports a vocal rant that comes over like a lyrical cross between The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good". And that's about the way it goes for the rest of the album, short but effective groove heavy tunes inspired and influenced by the pioneers of psychedelic rock and proto-metal and spliced with elements of country rock, the blues and hard rock, you can call it retro or you can call it vintage we prefer to just call it brilliant!


Luggy Ton could be the best proto-metal band not to have been formed in the 70's, an outfit with the DNA of bands like Spirit, Bang, Poobah and Jo Jo Gunne running through their grooves combined with an essence of the fuzzy drive of early stoner bands like Fu Manchu and Nebula
Check 'em out ... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 27 March 2024

THIRTY DORADUS ~ EP ..... review


Thirty Doradus, Daniel (drums/vocals); Olli (bass/vocals); Jens (guitar) and Christoph (guitar), describe their music with all the straightforwardness and efficiency we have come to expect from Germans, they don't try to dress things up with all the usual bells and whistles they say it how it is and that is that Thirty Doradus play "heavy psychedelic blues with progressive elements and deeply layered sounds and rhythm arrangements". Although bluntly accurate that statement does not really tell you everything you need to know before dropping the needle /pushing play on their equally straightforwardly titled release "EP" which is why we at Desert Psychlist are writing this review, efficiency is all well and good but a release this good deserves a few flowery words.


 Things start well with opening number "Under My Stone" the song coming straight out of the traps on a wall of shimmering guitar textures and thundering rhythms before settling down into a hazy loose and bluesy psych groove over which smooth clean vocal tones tell a tale of chosen isolation and escapism, the songs occasional eruptions into a heavier dynamic adding tension and depth to the songs overall impact. Next song "Rimless Hole" finds Thirty Doradus jamming a slow lysergic blues groove around a smoothly crooned vocal, the band using this groove to launch off on musical tangents into territories that include both prog and jazz fusion, often seeming in danger of losing themselves in those territories but always managing to navigate their way back to the songs initial bluesy core. "Parasomnia" finds Thirty Doradus flexing their alt-metal/grunge muscles on a deeply fuzzilicious mid tempo workout, the song employing all the necessary loud/quiet/loud dynamics associated with genre but boasting much more complexity and intensity. Up next is "Gargoyles" a song that mixes off-centred bluesy funkiness with equally off-centred grunginess and features seriously off the scale musicianship from all concerned. Finally we come to "Blue Fish" a moody prog/psych hybrid routinely interrupted by bursts of heavy rock bluster, its not quite the  big curtain closer you might have been expecting but that said its still a pretty impressive tune.


There is no reason why, unless knowing the band personally or living in their hometown, the majority of us would have been aware of  Thirty Doradus' existence, and lets face it their description of their music and the simplicity of their debut releases title is not exactly a big selling point. That said anyone pushing play or dropping a needle on this understated gem is in for a real treat, a truly remarkable collection of songs deeply rooted in the blues but tinted with elements from a wide range of other musical sources.
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Monday 25 March 2024

ZOMBIE HUNGER ~ ZOMBIE HUNGER ..... review

For those familiar with the long-running TV show 'The Walking Dead' and its various spin-offs, you'll know that zombies often appear in hordes. Typically, these hordes are merely a collection of shambling, decaying humanity whose sole purpose is to feast on the flesh of the unturned. Today, however, we present a horde of a different sort. Let us introduce you to Zombie Hunger, an ensemble comprising Patient Zero on vocals, Coffin Queen on bass, Graveborn on rhythm guitar, Wormfeast on lead guitar, and Skineater on drums, an Australian outfit with a flair for delivering old-school doom tinted with an element of theatrical shock-rock, as is showcased on their self-titled debut release 'Zombie Hunger'.

The instrumental "Rise From Your Graves" opens up proceedings its swirling effects are joined by rhythm guitar, bass and drums in a thrumming doomic groove over which a circular guitar motif holds sway before suddenly segueing into its follow up "Zombie Children", this song a chugging proto-doomic tome that would sound Sabbath-esque if it were not for Patient Zero's distinctive vocals which for this song sit nicely at the sneery end of sinister despite, in places, bearing a remarkable similarity to The B52's Fred Schneider. Patient Zero reverts to a more traditional doomic tone for next track "Mask of Satan" with Coffin Queen, Graveborn and Skineater laying down a pulsating mid tempo proto-doom groove over which Wormfeast layers incendiary lead. "They Multiply" follows", its core tempo may be set at just a notch or two above low and slow and its atmospherics may reside at the danker end of the doom spectrum but its vocals are powerful and fiery, its lead work scorching. Things get a touch stoner-ish and bluesy for penultimate track "Coming For You", its delicious earworm riffs, powerful rhythms and searing solos are taken to a whole new level of enjoyment by an absolute peach of a vocal melody. Its back to traditional doom for final track "Death Without Rest", a song that is essential listening for any of those brought up on a diet of Reverend Bizarre, Candlemass, Count Raven and bands of that ilk, the songs delightfully dank, lurching and thundering groove is enhanced by a superbly delivered gothic flavoured vocal, the like of which has sadly become a rarity in this age of growlers and screamers. 


If you are a fan of doom, especially its earlier forms, then Zombie Hunger's self-titled debut is going to tick more boxes for you than it leaves blank. The band took their name from a Saint Vitus song and it is the spirit of Saint Vitus, along with bands like Solitude Aeturnus, Pentagram, Hidden Hand and others from that golden era of doom that informs every beat, refrain and vocal inflection of this superbly delivered album, yes it is "old school" in both feel and execution but when has "old school" ever equated to "bad school".
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones