Friday, 24 March 2017
London, UK, this humble reviewers birthplace and home of legendary stoner/doom and psych event Desertfest is, when compared to places like Portland, USA, Malmo, Sweden and Athens, Greece, not the hotbed of "underground" rock some might think it should be. There are plenty of bands from around the UK's capital ploughing a stonerized furrow through the scenes fuzz soaked fields but not that many claiming to be an actual "London" band so it's with a gladdened heart that Desert Psychlist introduces you to London's Kujara, Joe Flaherty (bass & vocals), Will Milne (guitars) and Steve Wood (drums), and their brand new EP "Three Days".
"Three Days" begins with "Intro" a brief montage of string hits, pedal effects and shimmering percussion that builds to a noisy crescendo before segueing into the next track..
"Dead Behind The Eyes" opens with Flaherty laying down a deliciously distorted bass motif that is then joined by Wood's insistent drums and Milne's heavily fuzzed guitar. The songs shifting mix of heavy staccato riffs and stuttering rhythms are perfectly augmented by Milne's blend of palm muted and openly chopped chords, the guitarists warmly fuzzed tones combining with Wood's titanic percussion, Flaherty's grizzled bass and clean slightly alt/grunge vocals to create a groove that is both delicious and highly addictive.
"Tryptych" starts life all "Pablo Honey/The Bends" era Radiohead before shifting into a groove sitting somewhere between the alt/grunge of Stone Temple Pilots and the desert fuelled stoner/psych of Kyuss. managing to find a sound that incorporates elements of each into their groove yet still managing to create something fresh, exciting and totally their own.
"Pitfall" sees Kujara blending into their heavily psyched stoner refrains touches of Alice In Chains-like alt- rock atmospherics and vocal melodies, the band mixing it up between passages of dark moody grunge and raucous stonerized hard rock, utilizing quiet/loud/quiet aesthetics both vocally and musically to ramp up the songs dark seductiveness.
Title track "Three Days" closes the EP and finds Milne laying down sparse gently sweeping licks and arpeggios over Wood's lightly brushed percussion and Flaherty's low booming bass. The tempo slowly increases with the trio locking into a slightly lysergic groove before the bassist/vocalist enters. his smooth clean voice, mellow and relaxed at first, becoming louder.stronger and more strident as the groove develops. Suddenly, without any warning, we are thrown into a riff heavy doom tinted stoner jam with Milne and Flaherty chopping out their now familiar stuttering riffs superbly supported by Wood's thunderous drumming, the three musicians taking things to a gloriously noisy and fuzzed out conclusion!
Kujara have, with "Three Days", made an EP that will not only please those of us from their grey concrete hometown of London but one that will be appreciated internationally too.
Check it out .....
Monday, 20 March 2017
If your a fan of gritty underground rock music then no matter where your searches take you, be it the rainforests of Brazil or the neon lit streets of the USA, there is a high probability that your search for a gnarly groove will eventually bring you to Sweden. Whether it's dark dismal doom, raucous stoner, hard driving blues, swirling psych/space or growling black/death metal Sweden has a band that can deliver it.
Swedish doomsters Alastor cherrypick from these various underground genres and sub-genres, taking what they can use and discarding what they can't, blending what they've accumulated in a swirling assemblage of grizzly riffage and acid-laced groove that is wholly their own, as can be experienced on the bands debut EP "Black Magic" (Twin Earth Records).
"Enemy" is the first of the three songs that make up "Black Magic" and creeps menacingly out of the speakers on slow low wave of heavily distorted riffage supported by pulverising pounding percussion interspersed with occasional squealing guitar licks. The track slowly builds until the hazy, slightly distant and ethereal vocals appear, their haunting tones bringing an air of mysticism to the proceedings. The songs dark monolithic groove hardly deviates from it's meandering slow doom path throughout its eleven minutes (plus) span but this works to its advantage giving the song a feeling of impending danger and growing terror, akin to being chased in some 50's horror movie by a dishevelled monster, a leaden leg dragging behind it, that no matter how fast you try to run is still there lumbering malevolently just behind you.
"Nothing To Fear" lightens the atmosphere a shade and sees the band jamming a gnarly proto-doom groove replete with wah drenched guitar pyrotechnics and reverb soaked vocals. Those feeling of menace and foreboding experienced on the first track still remains but are ever so slightly diluted by the faster tempos and lightened but still effective sonic attack.
"Black Magic", a massive doom drenched opus stretched over fourteen minutes, blends elements of the two previous tracks and adds into those elements touches of swirling acid colouring. Basically a song of two halves "Black Magic" begins on a deliciously grizzled, mid-tempo, proto-doom groove over which hazy clean vocals are delivered, the singer smoothly stretching his vocal register to hit the songs higher notes, then segues, via a slow psych drenched passage of growling low bass and intricate percussion, into a pounding doom refrain with dark shards of guitar colouring reverberating with sustain around a repeated vocal mantra before finishing on a wave of screaming guitar and thunderous rhythm.
Heavy, hazy and humongous "Black Magic" is a stunning debut that will leave listeners hungrily begging for more.
Check it out ....
Sunday, 19 March 2017
When Lafayette, Louisiana architects of groove Forming The Void released their debut album "Skyward" in 2015 it was wondered if the band may have raised the bar too high, such was the magnitude of their heavy sludged slightly prog-ish , stoner doom refrains it was hard to see how they could possibly follow up something so intense and powerfull!
Thankfully these reservations have proven to be unfounded as just one listen to the bands brand new album "Relic" (Argonauta Records) will bear witness.
Forming The Void have taken things to the next level with their new album “Relic” filling every nook and cranny of its eight songs with a dark, and at times mouth dropping. array of deliciously dank lysergic groove all furnished in swathes of slow, low distorted guitar riffage, brutal thrumming bass and earthshaking percussion. Over this humungous tsunami of raw progressive tinted stoner metal are floated powerful cryptic and mystical lyrics sang with strength and passion, slightly monotone but clean, and delivered with a power to match the tumultuous heavy grooves surrounding them. Songs like "Bialozar", "Plumes" and title track "Relic" are filled with swathes upon swathes of swirling atmospheric texture and colouring these elements combing with the heavy metallic grooves and lyrical content to take listeners on heady psychedelic tours through smoke filled landscapes populated by mystical creatures spreading leathery wings over towering stone mountains All this and an absolutely barnstorming version of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, what more could a discerning stoner doom fan possibly ask for.
Check it out ....
Also available on other digital outlets through Black Bow Records.
Check it out ....
Also available on other digital outlets through Black Bow Records.
Saturday, 18 March 2017
There's been a lot of expectation surrounding the release of Dallas stonernauts Mothership's new album especially after the release of the trio's storming 2016 live release " Live Over Freak Valley" (Ripple Music), a tour-de force of thundering stoner/hard rock perfectly executed in a live environment. The trouble with expectation is there is always a chance of disappointment when the long awaited product finally arrives, luckily this is not the case with the bands third album "High Strangeness"(Heavy Psych Sounds Europe/ Ripple Music USA).
Kicking off with title track "High Strangeness", a delightful instrumental underpinned by a hazy psychedelic drum and bass groove, perfectly executed by Judge Smith (drums) and
Next up is "Ride The Sun" a song that sees Mothership hitting a more familiar stoner/hard rock groove replete with hard driving rhythmic pulses that push the guitarist to match them with swathes of crunching riffage and searing fretwork. Vocals are delivered over this maelstrom of riff'n'rhythm clean, melodic and clear, a perfect foil for the raucousness beneath them.
A touch of darkness creeps into the equation with next track "Midnight Express" and sees the band hitting a heavier doom tinted groove with the two Juett's trading vocal licks on the verses and harmonising on the catchy sing-a-long chorus.
"Crown of Lies" continues the darker vibe of the previous track but this time mixes in a little heavy metal swagger into the proceedings with Kyle Juett's clean slightly snarled vocals and Maiden-esque galloping bass lines combining with Smith's tumultuous array of pounding percussion to create a base for Kelley Juett to launch into finger burning guitar solo's.
Mothership move the listener away from the dark recesses of the previous two tracks and into the bright sunlit landscapes of the desert with next track "Helter Skelter". a heavily fuzzed Kyuss- like groove that'll have moshpits at all their future gigs going absolutely apeshit!
"Eternal Trip" takes a left turn into ambiance with Kelley Juett laying soaring Gilmour-esque guitar colouring over a backdrop of gently picked arpeggios, serene and soothing.
"Wise Man" jams a chugging hard/stoner rock groove beneath lyrics that tell of regret and a life misspent, although probably the weakest track on the album it has its moments and well deserves it place.
"Speed Dealer" sees guitarist Kelley Juett take over lead vocal duties and blends the spirits of AC/DC and Motorhead in a song that pulls all the threads of the blues, hard rock and metal together to deliver a masterclass in raw rock'n'roll.
If you were one of those getting a little twitchy with anticipation for this release then fear not "High Strangeness" delivers everything you would expect from a Mothership album and whole lot more
Check it out.....
Friday, 17 March 2017
Alex Baumann (guitar/vocals), Anthony Dreyer (drums) are Telekinetic Yeti a two piece stoner/sludge unit from Dubuque, Iowa who specialise in grizzly grooves of heavy guitar riffage layered over thunderous percussion as can be heard on the bands debut "Abominable"(Sump Pump Records).
First and title track "Abominable" begins with droning feedback before erupting into a fractured,stuttering guitar refrain supported by Anthony Dreyer's almost tribal percussive accompaniment over which Alex Baumann's gruff bear-like vocals are roared, the songs chugging riffage broken intermittently by Iommi-esque fills and solo's, the resulting sonic attack almost belying the fact that this is being played a duo!
"Electronaut", an instrumental, opens with Dreyer laying down a solid and tight percussive beat before Baumann comes in with a low crunching guitar motif interspersed with clever little fills and licks. The groove takes a dramatic turn about of a quarter of the way in with Baumann chopping out some fuzz drenched powerchords completely unaccompanied before Dreyer returns and the groove moves into more Sabbath-esque territory that sees the guitarist tearing some very tasty notes from his fretboard before the pair move the groove back into the songs initial refrain and take things to the close.
"Stoned and Feathered" has a more desert/stoner feel than the previous songs, it's fuzz drenched groove leaning more closer to likes of Mos Generator and Fu Manchu than the heavy Sabbath -like vibes of what has gone before. Baumann however does not compromise his vocals to reflect this slightly lighter approach, roaring his vocals with intensity and power as if he was standing in front of a five piece death metal band instead of the one man sitting on the drum stool beside him.
"Colossus",another instrumental, begins light and airy with a Celtic tinged guitar motif played over intricate and sympathetic percussion before suddenly taking a left turn and moving into heavier areas with Dreyer's tumultuous sticksmanship the foundation for a furious Baumann riff, the song then continuing to swing back and forth between these two dynamics before fading into silence.
"Lightbearer" finds Telekinetic Yeti jamming a heavy sludge groove driven by Dreyer's pounding drums and furnished by Baumann's gnarly riffage and bellowing vocal tones but as is what seems to be bands modus operandi it's not long before they change tact and finish the song on a swathe of swirling spacey guitar effects.
"Apophis" has the duo jamming a brief but delicious slow, heavily distorted, low tuned instrumental sludge/doom groove replete with pulverising percussion and gnarly riffage. Short, sharp and soaked in swampy sludge its a shame that its almost over before its started.
"Beneath The Black Sun" sees Telekinetic Yeti bringing a little psychedelic colouring into play weaving lysergic textures around slow deliberate sludge metal riffage, but as before the band cannot resist the urge to mix it up a little, sticking a thrash like passage into the songs mid section and finishing in a wash of gentle ambiance for the finale.
"Himalayan Hymn" closes the album, its hazy almost pastoral beginnings of gently sweeped arpeggios over shimmering percussion soon making way for a maelstrom of heavy stoner metal groove superbly driven by Dreyer's whirlwind drumming and enhanced by Baumann's gnarly low and heavy fretwork.
Two guys, sounding like more, making a hell of a racket with just six strings and some skins, you just got to check it out .....
Thursday, 16 March 2017
Ghastly Sound were formed by bassist TJ Maynard and drummer Ryan Lewis, two childhood friends whose vision of heaviness and groove did not include in its equation the addition of a gurning, headlight hogging six stringer. These bass fronted grooves backed up with pulverising percussion needed something though and so entered vocalist Tyler Gurwicz, his blend of classic rock and stoner/sludge tones combining with Maynard and Lewis' thunderous rhythms to create an overall sound the trio like to call "unforgiving", a sound they explore to great lengths on their debut EP "Ghastly Sound" (Magnetic Eye Records)
"Ghastly Sound" is an EP exploding with feral power, assaulting the senses with waves upon waves of distorted riffage and rhythm around which powerfully emotive vocals are screamed, growled and roared and more importantly sang!. Frontman Gurwicz mixes up extreme vocal stylings with perfectly clean and powerful classic rock tones, at times coming across like a demonically possessed madman and at others like a shape throwing rock god delivering tones that would not sound out of place on a best of 70's rock album.
The lack of a "traditional" guitarist, although slightly unusual, is never an issue throughout "Ghastly Sound"s four song span, in fact such is Maynard's prowess with his instrument that the listener hardly notices the absence of any six-string colouring. Maynard uses his instrument not so much as a lead instrument but as a means to inform and direct the musical ebb and flow of the tumultuous heavy grooves he and Lewis lay beneath Gurwicz's vocal outpourings, combining with the drummers tsunami of groundshaking percussion to create a sonic palette that has no space (or need) for further instrumentation.
Check 'em out .....
Monday, 13 March 2017
What happens when you put two bands together, from different ends of the stoner doom spectrum, give them a theme to work with and ask them to write and record something. The answer my friends is one bad-ass split!
Thorr-Axe and Archarus, both Indianapolis bands, have come together in one place to tell the story, through the medium of riffage, of the humble Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and his "unexpected journey" through the mythical lands of Middle-Earth to aid a group of Dwarves reclaim their home..
Thorr-Axe open proceedings with "Good Morning" a gentle piece with acoustic instruments picking out baroque-like melodies that are then joined by their electric equivalent in a Floydian-like medieval groove. Soaring, tranquil and quite beautiful it in no way prepares you for what comes next.
"Dawn take You All" begins with a stuttering fuzz drenched stoner refrain before erupting like the fires of Mount Doom above the Plateau of Gorgorath in plumes of thrash like blackened doom with throaty harsh vocals screamed over a backdrop of gnarly heavy riffage and pulsating rhythm like the soundtrack to an Orc war party on the march.
"Foehammer" is up next and this time it's Archarus' turn to step up to plate with a tale telling of Gandalf' the Wizard's legendary weapon of mass destruction, his sword. Archarus here play Elrond to Thorr-Axe's Sauron their cleaner less abrasive classical/epic doom approach of powerful clean toned vocals and searing guitar solos over more traditional heavy metal grooves are seemingly used, within the albums concept, to portray values of glory and heroism against those of war, blood and battle which, in this recording, seem to be the territory of Thorr-Axe.
Thorr-Axe return for "Whispers In The Dark" it's serene and tranquil intro a smoke screen for the enormous grizzled doom grooves following behind. Sitting a little more lower and slower, initially, than their previous track and with a slightly less harsh but just as intense, vocal delivery it slowly grows in menace and tempo until fading in a whirlwind of thrash-like metallic splendour.
Archarus step into the spotlight for the next two songs "Flies & Spiders" and "Erebor".the former beginning with gently picked/strummed clean jazz-like guitar tones then shifting through the gears into a galloping Maiden-esque groove over which clear strong vocals and a mix of clean and fuzzed guitars soar and swoop. The latter is an ode to the stone walls of the mountain home the Dwarves are so desperate to regain and begins with a gnarly bass motif interspersed with flashes of chordal guitar colouring before segueing into pulverising proto-doom groove embellished with Celtic tinted guitar harmonies, that combined with the excellent vocal and lyrical content result in a groove that in places comes across like a meeting between Thin Lizzy and Dio.
Thorr-Axe close proceedings with "Battle of Five Armies" a song and theme perfectly suited to their brand of blackened doom and sludgey metal. Thorr-Axe bring into play elements of both epic doom and its sludgey stoner cousin in a groove dripping with atmosphere and emotion that sees throat tearing vocals roared over a backdrop of dramatically shifting grooves that perfectly match the ebb and flow of a battle, close your eyes and you can at times almost hear the clash of sword on shield.
Split albums can sometimes be risky affairs, throw a "concept" into the mix and that risk increases two-fold, fortunately by structuring the playlist so that the story is shared on the merits of it's musical dynamics, rather than the usual one band, one side structure, the two bands manage to pull it off with honours even and their reputations enhanced and intact.
Check it out ....