Wednesday 24 April 2024


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

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