Friday 12 July 2024

BLACK CAPRICORN ~ SACRIFICE DARKNESS... AND FIRE ...... review


Balancing work life with music life can be a struggle and it is one Italy's Black Capricorn have learnt to come to terms with over their tenure and they have done this by working gigs/tours and and time spent in studios around the jobs that give them the funds to carry on making the music they love, it is a struggle faced by many bands these days. Thankfully Black Capricorn are a resilient bunch of individuals and the recent announcement of a new album "Sacrifice Darkness... and Fire" (Majestic Mountain Records) is proof of that resilience, the recording of this album may not have been easy given the circumstances but great art is often born out of struggle.


In a short blurb on the bands Bandcamp page for new album "Sacrifice Darkness... and Fire" Desert Psychlist described Black Capricorn as "the more doomic and less scuzzy arm of the Italian acid doom scenea statement we can quantify here by explaining that although Black Capricorn share many of the same influences that have inspired bands like Sonic Demon, Witchsnake and Demonio their sound is much more traditional in flavour with vocals pushed further forward in the mix and fuzz pedals dialled to a more accessible level of fuzzy. Do not, however, be fooled into thinking Black Capricorn are not heavy, they are, but that heaviness is imbued with an element of swing and melody that many of their contemporaries tend to overlook in favour of  a more filthier and nastier sound. In fact listening to this album while we write Desert Psychlist is struck by how much Black Capricorn's sound has become less Sabbath-esque and more Uncle Acid-ish.  OK opening track "Sacrifice" does have its Sabbathian moments but when you take away the reverberating riffs and thundering drums what you are left with is a lilting melody that without its dank backing might even be considered radio friendly. The same could be said of following song "The moon rises as the immortal" only here we find Rachela Piras (drums); Virginia Piras (bass) and Fabrizio Monni (guitars/vocals) layering a little acidic psych and lysergic bluesiness into the mix with Monni decorating the results with vocal tones that although mournful are nonetheless melodic. "The night they came to take you away" finds Black Capricorn flexing their stoner-doom muscles with  low slow and heavy bass and drums supporting clean lilting vocals and searing bluesy guitar textures. Crunchy hard rock, chugging proto-metal and old school heavy metal are the ingredients that make up the instrumental "Queen Zabo" while for "Another night, another bite" the trio go full on Sabbath, Monni going as far as effecting an Ozzy-like nasal sneer in his vocal delivery. It is back to the low and slow for "Blood of Evil" a mournful doomic yet bluesy tome taken to another level by both Monni's melancholic vocal and his less is more guitar work. Penultimate track "Electric night" is somewhat of a galloping rocker that utilizes a little grunge-like slurriness in its guitar dynamics and brings us nicely around to closing number "A New Day Rising" a song that begins life dank dark and atmospheric but then suddenly morphs into an easy on the ear chugging proto rocker in possession of melodically pleasing vocals, those vocals  intoned over a dank groove driven hard by the rhythmic might of the sisters Piras.


Black Capricorn's "Sacrifice Darkness... and Fire" is an undeniably doomic, unquestionably dank and unashamedly raw opus but at the same time is also a disarmingly melodic album that sits easy on the ears despite all its heaviness. Black Capricorn have released some truly great music over the years but "Sacrifice Darkness...and Fire" might just be their finest moment yet.
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Monday 8 July 2024

OUTER HEAD - COSMIC VIBRATOR ..... review

Outer Head hail from Leeds, UK and apart from being able to tell you that they have two very well received albums under their belts, "Cult of Chaos" (2020) and "Delirium" (2023), there is not a lot else we can tell you about them.  You may have already noticed that we are referring to Outer Head as "them" and as a "band" rather than say a one man project and that is because after perusing their social media Desert Psychlist noticed advertisements for gigs. live clips and also a mention of a change of drummer. The sound this band of shady individuals make together is what we are here for though and that sound is an intriguing blend of chugging proto-doom, heady psych and swirly space rock spliced with elements of hard rock, heavy blues. The band have just released a brand new EP "Cosmic Vibrator" which at the time of writing is exclusive to Bandcamp but hopefully will soon appear on all the available platforms. 

The superbly titled "Prometheus Iscariot" begins like the soundtrack to a space themed movie not yet made, its spinning doomic refrain starts low key and slightly phased, accompanied by wordless singing and parping keyboards, and slowly swells in volume and depth with each circular passage, the song following along this pattern until just over the three minute mark when it is joined by clean vocals, delivered in powerful but slightly detached tones and a plethora of swirling keyboard and guitar textures. Effect laden guitar introduces title track "Cosmic Vibrator" a song that owes a huge debt both vocally and musically to Ladbroke Grove's favourite space lords Hawkwind, the vocalist nailing the slightly clipped innate Englishness that was (and still is) such an important component of Hawkwind's sound, and the band as a whole perfectly capturing the swirliness and grooviness of that era. "Atrahashish" sees Outer Head mixing Hawkwind-esque space with Sleep-like weedianisms to create a groove that is the sum of both worlds, heavy and dank in places, swirly and cosmic in others, thunderous drumming and growly bottom end supporting powerful vocals, whooshing keys and bluesy guitar soloing. "Elyon" brings things to a close, the song again boasts a cinematic feel but but unlike the space/horror vibe that permeated opening number "Prometheus Iscariot" this has more of a desert feel its tribalistic drumming, droning keyboard effects and beautifully delivered flute invoke images of white clad travellers riding caravans of camels across endless sands, however it comes as no surprise when the song takes a more "weedian" direction at its midway mark with things starting to get a little heavy and the song taking on a more OM meets Sleep direction, a direction we suspect not too many will be complaining about.


When you think about it doom, a dank dark music played down-tuned heavy and loud, twinned with psychedelic music, known for its garish colours and floweriness, is a match that on paper should never work but it is one that ultimately does. Outer Head's latest EP "Cosmic Vibrator" is certainly proof that doom and psych can co-exist in the same musical space, and while we are on the subject of space there is plenty of that here too. 
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Friday 5 July 2024

MEIFU ~ HAUNTED DREAMS ..... review

 Florence outfit MEIFUMari (vocals); Tommy (guitar); Genia (bass/backing vocals) and Edoardo (drums/backing vocals) have been doing their thing since 2019 and have in their time together shared stages with notable Italian bands like Messa and Carrito, doing this while also plying their trade in other bands such as Lord Elephant, Dragnet, Vij and Sorelle Trapasso. In 2022 MEIFU released the appropriately titled "Demo 2022" a release that featured three very good and quite epic songs that sat squarely in the canon of atmospheric doom, although the demo did not really reach as many ears as the band might have liked it to it did show, to those that heard it, that this was a band with a lot of potential. In 2023 the band went into the studio to record a full album, that album has now been released via Argonauta Records, we at Desert Psychlist like it a lot and we think you will too.

"Haunted Dreams" opens with "Cubensis" an instrumental that boasts slightly dissonant off-kilter guitar motifs supported by grizzled and fuzzy bass and solid tight drumming, the song swells in both power and volume until it reaches a point where you think it cannot possibly go any further and then it does and the place it goes is straight into next song "Third Eye Invocation". Here we get our first taste of Mari's vocals on this album her vocals, an instrument in their own right, are part ethereal and fey part witchy and gritty her voice punching through the miasma of doom Tommy, Genia and Edoardo lay around her like sunshine through a dungeon window, even reverting to wordless banshee like wails in the songs later passages. "Turkish Kraken" follows, a song possessing a dynamic that is constantly switching between low and slow and mid tempo while utilizing middle eastern motifs and themes in both its guitar work and its vocals with Mari's vocals a mixture of witcihiness and spirituality and Tommy's guitar tones spiralling and exotic. Next up is "Steerpike", the song starts life hazy and slightly lysergic with its lyrics imparted in semi-spoken tones but then gradually builds layer by layer with those vocals taking on a much more strident and tuneful dynamic, the songs groove still in possession of a hazy and lysergic undercurrent but thanks to Genia's gritty bass lines and Edoardo's thunderous drumming becoming much more doomic and in your face as things progress. A basement level bass riff anchors next song "Battle of Chapultepec" supported by busy drum patterns over which reverberating doomic guitar crunchiness is applied with a considerably  heavy touch, vocals here are again dominated by Mari  but she gets some help along the way thanks to Genia and Edoardo who accompany her distinctive tones with some sludge like vocal harshness.  Final number "So Magic" sees the band  experimenting with elements of psych and space to great effect, ringing guitar motifs, bone shaking bass lines and tribalistic drumming framing a soaring vocal that again carries an air of dark spirituality in its delivery.


Eastern flavouring, psychedelic serenity and doomic heaviness are the elements MEIFU bring to the table with their debut "Haunted Dreams", a superbly crafted mixture of dank dark crunchiness and swirling exotica fronted by a distinctive array of vocal tones that range from hag-like malevolence to wordless spirituality. 
Check 'em out ... 


© 2024 Frazer Jones

Saturday 29 June 2024

BLACK ON HIGH ~ ECHOES THROUGH TIME .... review



Texas, such a small word for a place with a reputation for being BIG in everything. Given that reputation it comes as no surprise that Texas based bands working in the arena's of metal. stoner and doom will often possess a BIG sound and Fort Worth's Black on High are no exception to that rule. The band, Nick Forkel (guitars/vocals); Chris Mullins (guitar); Brian McCoy (bass) and Ben Harwood (drums), make a sound totally in keeping with their states reputation, a sound that blends together elements of stoner rock, sludge, doom and alt-metal while still maintaining the levels of swing and groove that can pull in listeners brought up on a more mainstream rock diet. The band have just released their new album "Echoes Through Time" and it's a keeper.


"Alleyway Ecstasy" kicks things off with thick low bass and guitars jamming grunge flavoured refrains over meaty drum patterns with the accompanying vocals sporting similar grungy and slurred dynamics the result of which is a sound a little closer to the post alt-metal of early Bush rather than any of the Seattle based bands of the mid 80's, nevertheless its an impressive start. Black on High's stoner and doom credentials get an airing for next track "I Feel Lethal" the band channelling a little Sasquatch like proto-doom in their attack but tempering that attack with some nice moments of light and shade. "She Was a Witch" follows, a swaggering mix of stoner metal and proto-doom that sees an element of sludge-like harshness creeping into its vocals. "Slow and Low" seems quite an unusual title for a song that is tuned not particularly low and, apart from a brief mid-section passage, is not what you would describe as slow, however that does not stop this from being an absolute banger of a tune. Next song "Leave You" again boasts vocal dynamics that carry an air of grunginess about them but this time those vocals are coupled with a groove that is pure in your face stoner metal and features incendiary performances from all concerned. Black on High mix up their stoner metal, alt-metal and sludge with a little punk(ish) aggression for the galloping "Take These Pills" then decorate the results with guitar solo's that are a blend of 70's feel and present day shredding. Last track/title track "Echoes Through Time" finds Black on High getting atmospheric, and in places, a little bluesy with a song that swoops and sways in all the right places but retains its heaviness thanks to its thunderous drumming and ground zero low end, the song also features some searing guitar work as well as boasting, what we think is, the albums strongest vocal.


Desert Psychlist nearly passed over this album, while perusing June's new releases, due to us not being overly taken by its low key artwork, had we passed over this we would have missed out on one of the must have releases of 2024. With "Echoes Through Time" Black on High have made an album that will appeal to rock fans no matter if they are hooped shirted grungers, leather clad metalheads, tee wearing stoners or old school rockers stuck in a 70's time warp. This is the good shit people, this is ROCK!
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Thursday 27 June 2024

MELTEM ~ MARE NOSTRUM .... review


Catalonian doomsters MELTEM might not be a familiar name to many out there but some of you, especially those who have a finger placed firmly on the pulse of the Spanish "underground" scene, may recognise one of the names to be found among the bands line up. Pep Carabante has provided drums for Cuzo, The Mothercrow and Wolfhead among others and with MELTEM he adds vocals and darbuka to his list of attributes. Carabante is joined in MELTEM by Daniel Pozuelo (guitar/effects) and David Giménez (electric bass and 12-string guitar) and for this, their debut, have percussionist Omar Katan guesting on daf/Iranian daf and second darbuka. Despite their use of crunching chord progressions and thunderous rhythms MELTEM's sound is not what you could call archetypical doom, sure it is dark dank and heavy but its underlying eastern influences and Gregorian like vocal intonations often sees MELTEM's music heading down paths other doom bands rarely travel, something you can discover for yourselves by giving their debut album "Mare Nostrum" (Discos Macarras Records) a spin.


Opening number "Tretze" opens with all the usual doomic bluster we expect from the genre but then in come the vocals and any expectations you may have had of hearing gothic operatics or guttural harshness are dashed against the wall, what you get instead are rich deep tones with Gregorian overtones, the song giving the listener a feeling that what they are listening to is a re-enactment of some deeply religious rite. Following track "Curcuna", an instrumental, finds MELTEM diving deep into their roots with traditional and modern percussion forming a platform for swirling guitar textures and colours that take their influences from the many cultures that border the Mediterranean Sea, that particular stretch of water serving as the theme this whole album is based around. "Mandraga" rears its head next, the song kicks off quite gnarly and aggressive in its first quarter but then settles down into a spacious and trippy lysergic laced groove before a sudden return to gnarliness announces the arrival of the vocals which again are more incanted than sang, the music surrounding those vocals a mix of heavy western doom and exotic eastern psych. Final track "Oasi" sees guest musician Omar Katan showing just why he is such a highly regarded percussionist, his hands, plus those of Carabante, beat out an impressive array of rhythms for Pozuelo and Giménez to decorate with subtle guitar/bass colourings and textures that take their influences from the more eastern reaches of the Mediterranean as well as reflecting the Moorish elements of Spain's past.


Bands that strive to create a perfect balance between doom and heavy psych often find the music they make either leans too far one way or the other and never quite finds that ideal middle ground where the two musical styles meet on an equal footing. This is not the case here, with "Mare Nostrum" MELTEM have made an album truly deserving of the term "psychedelic doom"
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

SILENT CIRCLE ~ BOTTOMLESS CREEK .... review


Way back when social media was still in its infancy you would often have to join a forum to discuss anything music related and it was on one of these forums that a discussion started about what it was that prompted a person to check out a new release by an unknown band/artiste prior to actually hearing said release. There were various answers but the one that stuck in Desert Psychlist's mind, and we have since adopted for our own searches, was that if a releases artwork featured a muscle car or was predominantly purple and black then it was worth checking out. It was by using this method that we discovered Silent Circle and their excellent debut EP "Bottomless Creek", ok its artwork may not feature a muscle car but it does sport the colours purple and black and it IS worth checking out!


They have just released their debut EP "Bottomless Creek" via Bandcamp and have a few photos posted on their Instagram page but sadly that is the extent of Desert Psychlist's knowledge regarding Finnish atmospheric doom outfit Silent Circle. No matter though as its the music that matters and these guys jam some pretty impressive grooves as the EP's opening song "Remains" will exemplify. Post -metal guitar textures introduce "Remains" accompanied by tribalistic drumming before the rest of the band join in and things take on a more low slow and heavy stoner doom dynamic, at this point you may be expecting vocals to enter that sit at the more guttural end of the vocal spectrum but what you actually get are lilting female tones that possess a floating quality, a perfect marriage of ethereality and heaviness. Next song "Beyond Our Age" does not muck about with pretty intros but instead crunches straight into a the songs slow and doomic main groove only upping the tempo of that groove to a more proto-paced tempo at the songs midway mark, the songs lilting vocals matching those dynamics by being mournful and longing in the songs slower passages and swooning and swaying in its faster middle section. Last number "Sunken" boasts a groove that sits somewhere between traditional doom and occult rock and features  ascending/descending vocal melodies and harmonies that despite the heaviness they are surrounded by give the song a feeling of spectral airiness. 


Arguments rage over what is considered doom and what is considered occult rock and you will not find any answers to that question here, what we can say though is that if the music Silent Circle present to us with "Bottomless Creek" is what you would consider "occult rock" then it is damn fine occult rock, if on the other hand you want to place what Silent Circle do musically in the "doom" box then it is also damn fine doom.
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Wednesday 26 June 2024

BLACK SPELL ~ INTO DARKNESS .... review


It has long been our suspicion that Italian bands Witchsnake, Sonic Demon, Demonio. Wizard Master and Black Spell are the work of a small revolving collective of musicians, Desert Psychlist has no proof of this but it does seem like the same names (or variations of those names) keep cropping up again and again and the fact that all these "bands" seem to have connections with the same merchandise outlets and labels does add fuel to that theory. Whether our suspicions are founded or not does not really matter as each of these "bands" make a noise that is very pleasing to the ear, a fuzz fuelled and distortion drenched onslaught of guitar riffs and solos underscored by thunderous rhythms. The subject of todays review concerns the last of those names Black Spell who have just recently released their new album "Into Darkness", an opus in possession of all the filthiness and nastiness we've come to expect from the Italian scuzz/acid doom scene but played at a more traditionally doomic gait.


Opening/title track "Into Darkness" begins with a dark atmospheric echoing guitar motif  before effects pedals are engaged and we are plunged into a world of distorted gnarliness worthy of Electric Wizard at their very best., all of which is accompanied by slightly sneery clean vocals telling us of "consuming numbness" and a "spirit of deception". before the song signs off in an onslaught of spiralling guitar. "The Omen" follows, its full on assault of crunchy chugging chord progressions and fuzz drenched bass is driven by uber busy drumming and is decorated in sleazy vocals but unlike its predecessor this song boasts a more stoner(ish) dynamic. There is no doubting the doom credentials of next track "Black Witchery" its mix of Sabbath and Wizard like proto riffage is twinned with a semi sung, semi-narrated vocal that references Succubus, and speaks of witches and "sons of the pentagram". "A Sinner's Hell" begins life experimental and slightly lysergic then erupts into a deliciously dank doom refrain replete with Iommi-esque guitar trills and string bends over a thunderous bass and drum groove that lets up only for a brief passage of eastern tinted heavy psych before sprinting for the finish line on another wave of gnarliness. The remainder of the album follows much similar paths with "Saturn's Death", "Winds of Doom" and "Dungeons of Death" all boasting a variety of heavily fuzzed and distorted refrains crunched out over punchy rhythms enhanced with swirling six string pyrotechnics and decorated with occult lyrical imagery. There are exceptions though with "Note For the Devil" allowing Black Spell to show us that they also have a bluesy side and the eerie "Enter the Shrine of the Black Gods" showing that if anyone out there is looking for someone to score a soundtrack for a horror movie then Black Spell might just be available for offers.


Whether Black Spell are part of a collective of musicians or they are a bona fide band does not detract from the quality of the doom they serve up with "Into Darkness", this is a scintillating fuzzed to the max collection of tunes that'll leave your ears ringing your head spinning and your face a melted puddle beneath your feet.
Check it out ..... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Thursday 20 June 2024

EL JEFAZO ~ COLISIÓN BRUTAL ..... review

Everyone's favourite Peruvian combo El Jefazo have been melting our faces with their instrumental grooves from as far back as 2014, admittedly the bands early releases, "Ensayo" and "El Jefazo" were a bit raw and a touch underproduced but you could hear the potential these guys had despite those short fallings. Then along came "Simbiosis" a far better produced album that showcased a mix of remixed/remastered songs from the previous albums plus a couple of new tunes, at last you could really hear these guys fly. After releasing a couple of one off tracks the band then put out "Tormenta Mental" a live album that showed that what these guys could now do in the studio they could also transfer to a stage environment. What we really wanted though was for these guys to hunker down and come up with a new album of fresh material.. and what we wanted they have delivered with "Colisi​ó​n Brutal", it's face melting time again folks!

"Colisi​ó​n Brutal" opens with "Metal y Melancolía" a seat belts on hard rocking jam that when its not pinning you to the wall with its scorching guitar work, whooshing synth textures and its full on and thunderous rhythms unashamedly utilizes elements of Deep Purple's "Black Night" in its main riff. "Zarpazo" is up next, a galloping behemoth driven hard by drummer Adrián Hinojosa and bassist Carlos French and decorated in broad and colourful guitar work courtesy of Bruno Sánchez. Title track "Colisi​ó​n Brutal" begins with various synth generated whoops and whistles underscored by furious drumming over which a quirky off centred guitar motif holds sway, however things take an unexpected turn at the halfway mark when French's grainy bass line signals a shift into a passage of psychedelic doom followed by a period of lysergic weirdness. "Perro Seco" is up next its doomic groove boasting an almost prancing gait into which Sánchez inserts deeply off kilter guitar textures and colours, well that is until we once again reach that magical halfway mark and things take on a more swaggering and bluesy hard rock dynamic. "Delta Acuárida" boasts a more four to the floor feel than its predecessors but much like those predecessors is not averse to going off-piste in places, especially in its Floydian flavoured middle section. Final track "El Veneno es la Cura" begins life tranquil and calm with gentle acoustic guitar trading off against its electric counterpart over lightly brushed and shimmering percussion, as the song progresses so does its dynamics with things getting slightly heavier but not dramatically so, in fact half the beauty of this song is in the anticipation of a heaviness that never quite arrives. 


Not everyone finds instrumental rock music to their liking but for those that do "Colisi​ó​n Brutal", with its scorching guitar work and off the beaten path rhythms, is a bona-fide box ticker that'll leave you drooling like a dog that's just found a bone.
Check it out ...

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Thursday 13 June 2024

DUNERIDER ~ LONG TRIP .... review

 

Those who follow these pages will know that when informing our readers of a bands line-up we usually write a musician’s name followed by the instrument/instruments he/she plays contained in brackets, well if we were to do that for today’s release we would have to write; Fred Dupré (everything) and that is because Fred Dupré IS Dunerider and Dunerider IS Fred Dupré. If you are a fan of music drenched in swathes of filthy fuzz and distortion then you are probably already familiar with Mr Dupré and his love of a fuzz pedal thanks to his previous Dunerider releases "RUIN" and "ASCEND TO THE VOID" but if you are not then new album "Long Trip" would be an excellent starting point to work your way back from.


Partly buried vocals sung over lashings of fuzz and distortion in doom like settings is not a new phenomenon, Electric Wizard built their career around very much similar dynamics and if you are (like us) fans of the Italian acid doom/scuzz scene, where you are judged as much on the quality of your effects pedals as the strength of your grooves, then the fuzzed to the max sound Dupré brings to the table with his Dunerider projects latest release “Long Trip”  will be very much to your liking. There is however a major difference between those bands just mentioned and Dunerider and that is in the way Dupré will sometimes vary and temper his sonic onslaughts by bringing in, on songs like "Ride Eternity", "Long Way Get High" and "Wizard Valley", elements that are a somewhat trippier and slightly more spacious than those of his Italian counterparts. It must be said though that it is the full on doomic fuzz'n'roll of songs like "Death Trip", "Stone Rider and "Hoping Quicksand" that really get the adrenaline flowing and make this album such a fuzzilicious listening experience.

Nasty guitar tones and thunderous punchy rhythms supporting clean slightly buried vocal tones is what to expect when hitting play on this ridiculously raucous collection of tunes, and hitting play on "Long Trip" is something you will want to do again and again and again

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 11 June 2024

WYNDRIDER ~ REVIVAL ..... review

For many of us the emergence of WyndRider as a musical force came as a bit of a surprise, one minute the band’s debut album "WyndRider" was just another new release in a list of hundreds of new releases on Bandcamp and the next it was being lauded across the underground scene's media outlets as some sort of new coming. The reason "WyndRider" garnered the attention it did was not due to some clever marketing or PR campaign it was because the sound the band made on that album resonated with all those who took a chance and pushed play. For us at Desert Psychlist its appeal stemmed from the fact that it took us back to a time in our scene’s history when bands like Witch Mountain, Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth and The Devil's Blood were releasing one great album after another while also attempting to shatter the outdated notion that the female voice had no place in rock music (sadly a notion still not completely eradicated). Having released such a well-received debut the pressure was now on WyndRider to show the world that the recent praise heaped upon them was justified praise and that they were not just a one album wonder destined to soon disappear back into obscurity and the best way to do that was head straight back into the studio and make another album. That album is now out and if you bought into the bluesy proto-doom of “WyndRider" you are going to love "Revival" (Electric Valley Records).

WyndRider kick off their latest collection of occult themed musical imagery with "Forked Tongue Revival" a song that sits firmly in the canon of doom but also carries in its gait a very pleasing element of laid back bluesiness, a bluesiness that not only comes from singer Chloe Gould's powerful and slightly smoky vocal tones but also from the triumvirate of Robbie Willis (guitar), Joshuwah Herald (bass) and Josh Brock (drums) who when not laying down crunching proto flavoured riffs and rhythms are not too shabby at getting a little down-home and rootsy. If ever a song was destined to become a fan favourite then it has got to be "Motorcycle Witches" its 70's flavoured heavy rock refrains, driving rhythms and swinging vocal melodies are manna from heaven for anyone (like us) brought up on a diet of Black Sabbath, Budgie, May Blitz and others of that ilk. Third track "Judas" finds WyndRider successfully mixing low slow and heavy stoner with proto metal and more traditional doom to create a groove that feels like it is in constant flux yet in truth is fairly one dimensional, a feeling enhanced by Gould's vocal delivery which is pitched ever so slightly monotonic. The vocal bluesiness that tinted the albums opening track returns for "Devil's Den" and is twinned this time with blustering heavy'n'hard rock while the appropriately titled "Remember the Sabbath" ensures that we do by jamming a sedate and atmospheric groove that has Iommi, Butler and Ward written large all over it and sees Gould channelling a smoky and seductive version of Ozzy in her vocal. There is a touch of off-centred psych brought to bear on next track "Under the Influence" with Brock and Herald laying down a solid bedrock of thunderous rhythms for Willis to decorate with crunching riffs and searing solos, Gould ably filling the spaces in-between with a strong and distinctive vocal performance. Final song "The Wheel" retains the elements of psych utilized in the previous track but this time sets them in a more sedate and lumbering setting and adds into the mix a slurred vocal delivery and spoken prose to ramp up the atmospherics to the legendary eleven mark, well that is until the final third when out of the blue things take a strident turn and the band set off on a race to the finish line on a wave of chugging proto-doom.


Wyndrider's debut showed a band with the potential to go the whole way and become major players in this thing we call the "underground", their new album, "Revival", tells us they already are.
Check it out.....
 
© 2024 Frazer Jones

Sunday 9 June 2024

HUNTSMEN ~ THE DRY LAND ..... review


There cannot be many bands out there who can claim to be associated with as many genre descriptions as Chicago, Illinois' Huntsmen, Marc Stranger-Najjar (bass/vocals); Ray Knipe (drums); Kirill Orlov (guitars); Chris Kang (guitars/vocals) and Aimee Bueno (vocals). In Desert Psychlist's research we have seen their music described as a post-metal, progressive sludge, metallic Americana, doom and even blackened folk metal and as strange as it might seem none of those descriptions are that wide of the mark, yet at the same time none are truly representative of the music this band make together. Huntsmen have, since day one of their existence, strived to make music that cannot be conveniently placed in a box or be given a label, a typical Huntsmen song (if such a thing exists) is one that can one minute be skirting around the edges of metallic extremism and the next be dipping its toes in rural and tranquil backwaters. The band’s latest album, "The Dry Land" (Prosthetic Records), continues along much the same convoluted and diverse musical paths its excellent full length predecessor, "Mandala of Fear" did, with fey and lilting passages of serenity vying for attention with passages of brutal intensity and prog(ish) complexity, only this time upgraded and with added levels.

Furious drumming and slightly blackened post-metal flavoured riffage introduces first track "This, Our Gospel" which is then replaced by a slightly less aggressive and sedate prog(ish) groove over which clean harmonies hold sway, the dominance of those harmonies being shared evenly between the three participants except in the songs slightly hazy and psychedelic mid-section where Bueno's fey and lilting tones become the main focus. "Cruelly Dawns" follows its ringing guitar motifs heralding in vocal trade-offs reminiscent of early British folk music before things start to move in a more prog -like direction and things get intricate and complex with jig and reel like guitar motifs vying for space with convoluted chord progressions and driving, almost mechanical, rhythms. The acoustic guitars come out for "Lean Times" the song boasting a 90's Americana meets 70's West Coast feel in its initial stages but then moving towards a more torch-like dynamic in its final moments. Gnarly thrumming sludge -like guitar tones growling bass and thunderous drums are the dynamics used to interrupt passages of swooning folk tinted prog on next track "In Time, All Things" while "Rain" sees Huntsmen becoming bluesmen, albeit bluesmen with a penchant for mixing sweeping clean vocal leads and harmonies with throat tearing harshness. Finally, we arrive at "Herbsight" a stunning opus that ties together all the various musical threads that makes up Huntsmen's sound and weaves them into one song, complex prog, textured post-metal, shades of Americana and folk all sharing the same space with elements sitting at the more extreme ends of the metal spectrum, an astounding finale to an outstanding album.


Huntsmen are a totally unique and totally original band, you cannot point a finger at these guys and accuse them of jumping on bandwagons or following trends as they are their own bandwagon, their own trend. In an ideal world an album as exciting and as vital as "The Dry Land" would be deservedly nominated for a Grammy or a Mercury Music Prize, unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world so until there is a shift in musical values Huntsmen are just going to have to settle for old hacks like Desert Psychlist, and others like us, to sing their praises.
Check 'em out ....

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Friday 7 June 2024

WEEDEVIL ~ PROFANE SMOKE RITUAL ..... review


Flavio Cavichioli (drums); Poison (vocals); Jimmy Olden (guitar); Henrique Bittencourt (guitar) and Claudio HC Funari (bass) are Weedevil a Brazilian outfit from São Paulo who number among their influences Black Sabbath, Windhand, Acid King and Lucifer. The band have gone through quite a number of line-up changes since their formation, but their sound has remained pretty much anchored in the genres/sub-genres of doom, heavy metal and occult rock. Latest album, "Profane Smoke Ritual" (DHU Records), continues much in the same vein as the bands previous releases, dank dark riffage and thundering rhythms coated in soaring clean vocals, only this time with a little more emphasis on melody and a harder leaning towards a more traditional heavy metal sound.

Opening song "Serpent's Gaze" begins life metallic and crunchy but then subsides into a throbbing proto-doom groove when Poison's soaring slightly smoky vocals join the fray, her voice punching through the miasma of heaviness surrounding it like a sunbeam through a dungeon window, the moments between her impassioned tones filled by Olden and Bittencourt laying down a mixture of thrumming dank guitar riffage and soaring solo's ably supported by Cavichioli's solid tight drumming and Funari's growling bass lines. The sound of chirping insects and bird calls introduces next track "Chronic Abyss of Bane" followed by a sedate doom groove accompanied by a male voice narrating a speech referencing Lucifer and Satan before Poison enters stage right with a lilting, but not quite ethereal, vocal telling us of a place where "mushrooms unfurl" and "illusions persist" her voice only really going up a gear in the songs psych tinted and proto flavoured middle section. Title track "Profane Smoke Ritual" begins with Cavichioli beating out a solid drum tattoo accompanied by an effect heavy Funari bass motif, the pair are then joined by Bittencourt and Olden's guitars in a thrusting and swaggering metallic groove that boasts a blending of crunching chord progressions and palm- muted refrains, Poison's soaring swooping vocal the icing on the cake. "Veil of Enchanted Shadows" sees Olden and Bittercourt trading chords over doomic rhythms with Poison channelling a little Candlemass type dramatics in her vocal performance while "Necrotic Elegy" finds the band mixing Iron Maiden like gallop with Sabbath-esque chug to frame what is probably Desert Psychlist's favourite vocal on the album, a mixture of stoner smokiness and heavy metal holler. Lastly comes "Serenade of Baphomet" a song that shifts from off-kilter and bluesy to strident and face melting before returning to bluesy again and then signing out on a wave of droning noise.


Weedevil's "Profane Smoke Ritual" is undoubtedly a sum of the band’s influences, it is hard not to hear aspects of both Windhand and Lucifer in what these Brazilians bring to the table and there is no denying that Sabbath's shadow looms large over many of the album’s songs but there is much more going on here too. Although "Profane Smoke Ritual" sits predominately in the canon of doom/occult rock there are also elements to be heard on this album that have their roots in early heavy metal and proto-metal, which only enhances its appeal. 
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

Thursday 6 June 2024

CATAPULT THE SUN ~ DARK SUN FESTIVITIES .... review


Some music is created to entertain its listeners while some music is created to challenge its listeners, the album we are reviewing today kind of falls into the cracks between the two, a dark somewhat dank feeling collection of songs that sport a droning almost funereal dynamic. The band behind this release go by the name Catapult the Sun and hail from Athens, Greece and have, over a fairly short period of time, built a reputation for delivering thrumming grooves of a sedate and heavy nature. The release we speak of today goes by the title "Dark Sun Festivities" an opus much in the same slow low and heavy vein as its predecessors "Human Empire Falls" and "CATHODE", but this time with a darker cinematic quality.

"Dark Sun Festivities" begins with "Queen of Solstice" the songs intro, a hotch-potch of sparse percussion, droning guitar noise and feedback, leads us to the sound of sampled laughter slowly turning to screams which then serves as a signal for the band to dive deep into the achingly slow low doomic groove that holds sway throughout the songs duration. This is a piece of music that is bleak dank and repetitive, its intentional monotony only lifted by its swirling guitar textures, but for all its repetition and monotony it also possesses a hypnotic quality that sucks you in as a listener and refuses to let go until its last note fades into the ether. We spoke of this album having a cinematic quality and that is no more evident than on next tome "Dystopiate Haze" its dark droning textures. thundering percussion and ringing guitar motifs giving the songs extended intro and almost space-like dynamic that would not sound out of place as the soundtrack to some sort of "Event Horizon" or "Pandorum" type sci-fi horror movie. The song does eventually morph into a thrumming slowed down Sabbathian groove in its later stages but by then the damage is done and you will have already switched on all the lights around your listening station just to make sure there are no stitched together psychopaths lurking in the shadows. The worryingly titled "Our Pigs Will Drink Your King's Blood" is up next an off-centred jam built around a heavily slurred guitar refrain that in places sounds like the riff from Alice In Chains "Check My Brain" being played at half speed, again the song is heavily repetitive but again, thanks in parts to its soaring dark guitar textures, proves totally mesmerising. "A Shrine of Salt" follows, a pulsating tome that sees Catapult the Sun bringing just a tad more diversity to their attack, albeit more in its subtle use of loud/quiet/loud dynamics, dynamics which see the songs groove routinely swelling and dissipating. Final song " Slowly We Drone" is less a title and more a statement of the bands intent for what they wanted to bring to the table with this song, the band utilising deep reverberating bass lines and slow deliberate drumming to form a dank dark bedrock for sustained guitar notes that hang in the air until they slowly fall away to be replaced by others.


Let's face it if you are planning a riotous party Catapult the Sun's latest album is not the sort of music you are going to be choosing to get bums off seats and onto dancefloors, if on the other hand you are on the lookout for some musical accompaniment to a murderous weekend of sacrifice and demon summoning then "Dark Sun Festivitiesis a go to.
Check it out.... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones

MARY THE ELEPHANT ~ MARY THE ELEPHANT ..... review

Was a time when you just could not check out a stoner, doom or heavy psych fans Bandcamp collection or Spotify playlist without there being at least six or seven Swedish bands/artistes featured, things have slowed down a bit since those days but seeing the word "Sweden" associated with a release in those genres still carries a lot of weight when checking out new albums and EP's. To be honest seeing an album entitled "Mary The Elephant" by a band of the same name while perusing a list of new releases did not really fill us here at Desert Psychlist with the same sense of excitement we might have had if the band had sported a more doomic or stoner like name, however hidden away in the corner of the bands Bandcamp page we saw the word "Sweden" so we thought let’s give it a shot. What we found when hitting play was an EP that not only upheld Sweden's reputation for churning out great bands but was also an EP that was so much more than just a collection of raucous rhythms and ripping riffs.

Things kick off in proto-doomic style with opener "My King" the songs main riff sporting an Iommi-esque quality, however any thoughts that you may have stumbled on another one of those bands worshipping at the altar of Black Sabbath are soon shattered when vocalist Hami Malek enters front and centre with a world wearied vocal that is as bluesy as it is soulful. For next song "The Haze" guitarist Isaac Ingelsbo, bassist Johan Fogelberg and drummer Doe step away from the Sabbathian flavoured sound of the opening song and instead combine on a groove that is fuzzy hybrid of classic and southern rock, a groove that is the perfect fit for Malek's gritty lived in vocal. So far Mary the Elephant have given us proto doomic bluster and classic/southern rock swagger but for third track "A Dying Sun" the band opt for hazy moodiness and languid ambient atmospherics, the song a beautiful laid back instrumental piece with an almost caressing quality. Its back to the rock for penultimate song "In the Dark" a mixture of stoner and classic rock decorated with another great vocal performance and shot through with an endearing bluesiness. Things come to a close with "The Crows Will Fall" the band returning to their Sabbathesque ways but this time taking their inspiration from Sabbath's psychedelic curveball "Planet Caravan", Inglebo's phase heavy guitar tones, Fogelberg's low fuzzy bass lines and Doe's laid-back rhythms creating a hazy framework for Malek to hang a suitably slurred vocal over, a truly tune in turn on and drop out moment.


Mary the Elephant's debut EP is not going to pin your ears back with waves upon waves of heaviness nor is it going to lull you into unconsciousness with its languidity, what it will do for you however is leave you with an ear to ear smile thankful in the knowledge that there are still bands out there making classic edged rock music of this calibre and quality. 
Check it out...
 
© 2024 Frazer Jones