Friday, 22 September 2017
If you take some bluesy hard rock add a pinch of proto-metal and season with a touch of doom and then coat the resulting groove in Glenn Danzig -like vocal tones then your likely to arrive at a sound not unlike that of Ohio's Crowtalker. Crowtalker, Ryan (drums), Jesse (vocals), Kyle (guitar) and Wig (bass) hail from Columbus, Ohio and are a relatively new band who having only played their first live show in May of this year are trying to keep the momentum going by now releasing their first EP "Crowtalker".
First track "Them Crows" moves from a fizzing drone intro into a bluesy doom refrain that leans more towards the Zeppelin-esque than it does that of the more Sabbath orientated grooves that are the norm today, a groove ingrained with a dark metallic edginess that even Page & Co., at their most satanic, would probably struggle to replicate. Over this tornado of metallic delta groove are delivered powerful deep baritone vocals that have, as already mentioned, a distinct Danzig like feel giving the song an added dimension of gothic rock splendour.
"Sleeper" starts off life as a stonerized hard rocker driven by booming bass lines and pounding drums furnished off nicely by an addictive fuzz drenched guitar motif before shifting gear into a pulverising slow, low doom groove with those uber-strong vocal tones roaring manfully over the top.
"Wither" raises the tempo and sees the band jamming a galloping hook laden groove, replete with clever little musical twists and turns, around a slightly more strident vocal performance.
"The Well/Train Wreck" is, at a guess, two songs cleverly cobbled together to make one epic statement with the first part having an almost outlaw country feel, both musically and vocally, and the second being a storming atmospheric doomy blues foray enhanced by crunching riffs and searing guitar solos all underpinned by a pummelling, pulverising combination of bass and drums.
Swagger is often a word bandied around when describing music that has a bluesy core but what does that mean? Well the English Dictionary defines swagger as " to walk or behave in a very confident and arrogant or self-important way" and if you transpose this to musical terms then we are talking about grooves that have a certain strutting quality that say "this is us and this is what we do, deal with it" and "Crowtalker" is an EP that swaggers like a peacock in full display from start to finish.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 18 September 2017
Whether its the economics of touring with just two members that has been the catalyst for the current glut of rock duo's to assail our ears Desert Psychlist does not know, but bands, stretching right across the many genres and sub-genres of the underground rock scene, from Year of the Cobra to Telekinetic Yeti, seem to be finding an audience eager to lap up their stripped down grooves.
Montana's Swamp Ritual, Dustin Fugere (bass, vocals) and Sid LaTray (drums, vocals), put their own twist on this two members, two instrument phenomenon and it's a twist listeners can witness for themselves on Swamp Ritual's brand new opus "Sunchaser".
The bass guitar is a lot more than just a prop to anchor a groove and in the right hands it can be a weapon of mass destruction with a vast array of sonic possibilities. Swamp Rituals's Dustin Fugere understands this and uses every inch of his fretboard in an attempt show the instrument in a new light, employing his four stringed guitar as both a lead instrument and as a means to drive the groove, combining with Sid LaTray's pulverising percussion to fill every song on "Sunchaser" with a mixture of deep rumbling undertones and dark swirling dynamics. LaTrey meanwhile, on drums, seems destined for, at the very least, a spell in some sort of recovery unit such is the force and power he brings to the table with his percussive contributions.. Fugere and LaTray also share vocal duties throughout the albums five songs and hereby lies the twist spoke of in this reviews intro. the pair do not approach dual vocals in a "traditional" sense as in say lead vocal/backing vocals and not even in a twin harmonies sense but more of a two men roaring at you in unison style, the resulting effect, at times, coming across like the raucous voices found singing on the terraces of a British football/soccer match, something that works especially well on the slightly throwaway party song "Lawnmower" with it's "I mow the lawn when I'm high, Take some shrooms, put on some doom" lyric. It is, however, when Swamp Ritual get down and seriously doomy that they really come into their own and shine as on the epic instrumental "The Bearded Dragon"with its mixture of low slow dynamics and moments of manic furiosity, and the moody psychedelic tinted closer "Malacastria" a place "Where dead walk ghouls have their home" and "Spectres sneer and the phantoms moan", sang/shouted over a backdrop of growling stoner doom groove.
Swamp Ritual describe themselves as "a couple of scuzzballs who needed to play something loud" and with a need to create a sound that "can always be felt as well as heard". Well with "Sunchaser" it seems those needs have been well and truly met..
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 17 September 2017
When the stoner/desert scene exploded into being in the early 1990's it was pretty much split into two camps, one camp, which included Kyuss. Fu Manchu and Unida, came from a more hard rock/punk background the other which was championed by the likes of Yawning Man, RotoR and Colour Haze took a more experimental approach to the music, often taking off into long extended jams with minimal vocals (if any at all).
Germany's Mother Engine hail from the second of those two camps and have to date released two well received albums "Muttermashcine" (2012) and "Absturz" (2015), the trio, Cornelius Grünert (drums), Chris Trautenbach (guitar) and Christian Dressel (bass) are just about to release their third album "Hangar" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records).
The album continues the bands loose theme of cosmic journeying that informed the bands first two albums with four songs split into movements that flow seamlessly into each other and sees the band shifting gears through a smorgasbord of differing dynamics, tempos and dramatics using not only melody as the basis for their grooves but also dissonance and atonality, moving from harmonious and pleasant to discordant and ugly in a heartbeat. Funky in places, hard rocking and raucous in others the music shifts back and forth between serene ambience one minute, fuzz drenched riffage the next, never sitting still long enough for someone to lay a musical tag or label on, the band even throwing in a little modal jazz colouring on "Tokamak".
"Hangar" is an immense album which was two years in the making and the time and patience put into this project has well and truly paid off. Instrumental music can be a little one dimensional in the wrong hands, sometimes just a vehicle for one member (often the guitarist) to show off his or her musical prowess, not so with Mother Engine, each member brings to the table not only a high level of individual skill but also an ability to play off of each other with no one musician dominating proceedings, the trio playing as an ensemble and creating a sound that is the sum of its whole as well as a sum of its parts..
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 15 September 2017
Intricate, complex music is all well and good when your in the mood for some deep thought and reflection but there are times when you just want to kick over a few tables and throw a chair or two around and for that you need some good ol' in your face, aggressive grooves. Well if that describes your current state of mind and musical need then look no further than Starburner's self titled debut EP "Starburner".
Anger is often a short lived emotion bursting forth suddenly from somewhere within and then dissipating almost as soon as it has been released, much like the four songs that make up "Starburner", Starburner (the band) deal in short sharp blasts of molten stoner metal that hit you hard and hit you heavy, blasts laced with elements of doom and hard rock fronted by raucous larynx tearing vocals. Songs like "Palms", with it's addictive chorus, powerful drumming and wah drenched solo's, "GTI", with its pacey hard driving groove and "Slow Obsession", with its swinging vocal line are delivered with a feral ferocity that at times is overwhelming but are balanced out with little subtle touches of bluesy/hard rock guitar colouring. Even when the band ease up on the ferocity, as on the relatively slow, low and doom drenched penultimate title track "Starburner", such is the undercurrent of simmering malevolence boiling just beneath its surface that the listener is left with a feeling that this song could at any minute explode into another onslaught of anger and aggression.
Powerful, short and to the point and heavy without being overly brutal "Starburner" is an EP that smacks the listener hard round the face, leaving an imprint that'll take a long time to fade and will leave a lasting memory.
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 14 September 2017
Imagine waking up in an operating theatre to find yourself surrounded not by white suited surgeons trying to save your life but by three hairy stoners trying to slay you with their raucous fuzz drenched grooves, frightened and alone you then scream for a doctor only to see all three turn as one and utter the words...."Yes!". Sound like a scene from "The Simpsons"? Well you could be closer than you think!
Dr. Jon (guitar/vocals), Dr. Love (bass/vocals) and Dr. Johnston (drums) are Dr. Colossus a trio hailing from Melbourne, Australia who use America's yellow tinted dysfunctional cartoon family "The Simpsons" as the inspiration for their brand of fuzz drenched riff'n'roll, something that on paper sounds a little ridiculous but in reality strangely works. The band have just recently released their latest album (or should that be episode) "The Dank"(Death Mountain Records).
"Thrillho" opens things with a slow throbbing doom riff over which reflective, woe is me type lyrics are sung from the viewpoint of Bart Simpson's long suffering best friend Milhouse. Dr, Jon's clean, strong vocals ooze with a knowing resignation of goals unattainable as he sings "My best friends sis, wanna kiss her sexy lips" against a backdrop of (Jacques) Brel-like vaudevillian melancholy and fuzz drenched stoner swagger.
"Future Bart" struts straight out of the starting blocks on a swirling circular guitar refrain supported by Dr. Love's spine-crumbling bass and Dr. Johnston's pulverising percussion. The song's doom desert groove and vocal refrain of "I wash myself with a rag on a stick" harks back to a Simpson's episode where Bart is shown his future and finds sister Lisa has become President of America and Bart is a failed musician forced to eek a living playing gigs at a beach bar.
"It's Still Good" echoes the mantra Homer voices as he chases a pig he was cooking all over Springfield on a mobile barbecue after vegetarian Lisa has pushed it downhill. The song sees Dr.Jon and Dr, Love trading off vocals over a crunching stoner groove and has an almost "pop" feel to it owing to its addictive chorus and fresh bright dynamics.
"Dr. Colossus" follows and sees the band veering towards darker territory telling the story of Springfield's very own mad scientist over a soundtrack of menacing low slow grinding riffage and pulverising rhythms coated in a mixture of low,sinister and clean, roared vocals.
"Excellent" is an ode to the Simpson's resident all round not so nice guy "Mr.Burns"set to a backdrop of crunching desert groove taken to an epic close on a swathe of discordant guitar riffage.
"Holy Driver" utilises a throbbing, heavily distorted bass line as the anchor for a growling stoner riff fest that along the way references the great Ronnie James Dio in snatches of melody and phrasing.
"Lemonade" with it's "Eat my shorts" vocal refrain and totally addictive groove is one of the highlights of the album, Built around a rumbling bass and guitar refrain perfectly supported by Dr. Johnston's tight economic percussion the song rolls along with an understated menace yet retains that tongue in cheek humour that colours all the bands work both on this album and their previous work.
"Dr. Tongue" closes the album with a doom flecked ode to lust, loss and infatuation edged with a bluesy swagger and contains the immortal lines "I don't believe it but now my pants are chaffing me" .....pure poetry.
Some might see Dr. Colossus's Simpson's themes as being a tad gimmicky but with so many bands writing songs about a cloven hoofed man with horns and a forked tail, who also only appears in books and on screen, then that argument falls a little flat. Desert Psychlist's advice is to just listen with an open mind and enjoy.
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 10 September 2017
Portuguese fuzz'n'rollers The Black Wizards will be no strangers to those who prefer their grooves a touch psychedelic, a touch fuzzy and a whole lot bluesy. The quartet of Joana Brito (vocals, guitar), Paulo Ferreira (guitar), João Mendes (bass, acoustic guitar) and Helena Peixoto (drums, congas, backing vocals) have previously released one very impressive EP, "Fuzzadelic" and one equally impressive album "Lake of Fire" both of which were very well received by critics and fans alike. The band are now hoping for a similar reaction for their second and latest album "What The Fuzz!" (Raging Planet).
The incredibly short and noisy "Side by Side" is the intro by which you enter into The Black Wizards world of bluesy torch songs, raucous riff fuelled rockers and fuzz drenched jams and it's a world you will want to dwell in for some time. From the achingly beautiful "Freaks and Geeks" where Brito's majestic vocals soar and swoop over a backdrop of searing slow blues groove. through to the country edged gospel feel of "Everything Is Good Until Trouble Comes" the listener is treated to a masterclass in fuzz edged delta groove and bluesy vocal pyrotechnics. Brito's vocals throughout "What The Fuzz!" are revelation, the guitarist/ vocalist's natural vibrato adding a unique edge to her powerful tones, the singer using it as a tool to add extra layers of texture to each songs lyrics coming across at times like a female version of (British 70's rock band) Family's vocalist Roger Chapman but a whole lot easier on the ear. The Black Wizards are not all about one members vocal gymnastics however and beneath that voice the listener will find a band of musicians who are wholly on top of their game. Ferreira compliments Brito's vocals and crunching powerchords with scorching lead work, his solo's and riffs filled with emotion and feel taking off soaring flights of fancy one minute laying out with intricate fills and licks the next. Every band needs a good rhythm section to drive its grooves and The Black Wizards have a superb one in Mendes and Peixoto, Mendes holding down the bottom end with a mixture of bone shaking distorted riffs and liquid clean lines and motifs while Peixoto brings a natural Latin swing to both her drumming and assorted percussion, the pair together laying solid foundations for Brito and Ferreira to build upon.
"What The Fuzz!" is a fine album delivered with a high level of musicianship and packed with a range of blues rooted songs that run from the stonerized to the countrified, paying homage to the genres history while at the same time giving it well needed shot in the arm.
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 9 September 2017
Slow, low and heavy is the dynamic that many of us associate with the genres of sludge metal and doom, these more sedate tempos and lower tunings somehow amplifying the music's intensity and depth in a way that standard tuning and brighter dynamics would struggle to emulate.
France's Owl Coven know a thing or two about dynamics, the Nantes quartet use them to create huge monstrous rumbling grooves of sludge tinted doom flecked with pinches of psychedelic colouring and occult texturing, two examples of which can be heard on the band s debut EP "Cosmic Void"
"Wanderer of the Cosmic Void" opens with the obligatory narrative soundbyte lifted from some classic horror movie, something that seems to be mandatory these days, beneath which a reverberating guitar arpeggio is gently and slowly picked. As the song slowly evolves the guitar is joined by sporadic bursts from bass and drums embellished with Gregorian-like vocal chanting before guitar, bass and drums all come together and the songs drifts into a low, slow heavy doom groove with the vocals shifting from monk like to demonic. Now there are those that rail against harsh vocals but here mixed low down amidst a tsunami of swirling, psychedelic morosity they work perfectly and give the song a feeling of epic magnitude.
"Dying Mammoth" begins with swirling wind like effects then segues into a sludge heavy desert groove over which glistening shards of chordal guitar colouring sporadically erupt like lightning illuminating a black sky. Buried within this maelstrom of sound rasping, chanted vocals tell of "Mountains made of concrete" and "Modern altars built to ancient demons", a damning verdict ,set to a soundtrack of unrelenting heaviness, bemoaning mans unstoppable quest to destroy his only habitat. The song then takes flight into an extended jam with bluesy guitar solo's swooping and swaying over a foundation of earth-shaking bass and pummelling percussion before finishing with another soundbyte, this one very apt and simply stating "One day, sooner or later, you will remember my words"
Atmospheric and strangely spiritual "Cosmic Void" is a superb debut from a band who are unafraid to bring a little social commentary and self analysis to a genre of music renowned for its obsessions with the macabre and dismal, and that alone deserves our applause.
Check it out....
© 2017 Frazer Jones