Friday, 17 November 2017
Led Zeppelin's charismatic frontman Robert Plant once said "The past is a stepping stone, not a millstone" and Greece's Rollin' Dice have taken that to heart the trio, consisting of Antonis Karathanasopoulos (Guitar & Vocals), Giannis Robas (Bass Guitar) and Aggelos Kalogiannis(Drums),unashamedly borrowing from the past as a means to make music for the present, something that becomes quite obvious when listening to the bands brand new album "Way To The Sun"
From the moment the needle/laser, or whatever initiates play on your mode of listening, drops on first track "Live It Up" you know your in for a ride of epic proportions through a world populated by crunching riffage, thundering rhythms and those type of vocals usually accompanied by thrusting pelvic muscles and a rock star stance, (ok the last two don't apply as the vocalist is also the guitarist but you get the visual imagery). Yes folks we are talking old school hard rock here, shot through with a touch of bluesy swagger and classic rock polish and fronted by the sort of vocals you thought you had heard the last of when Ronnie James Dio sadly left this world. Fear not though you doomers, grungers and stoners, who may be thinking you have stumbled into some retro flavoured 70's half-hell, there is enough grit and grime to be found here among the eight songs on offer to please even the most discerning of you. Heavy metal bluster, grunge dynamics, stoner fuzz and doomic atmospherics can all be found lurking somewhere within songs with titles like "Common Lies","Into the Graveyard" and "Roundabout" giving them an obvious nostalgic feel yet at the same time one that is very much relevant to today's underground scene.
"Way To The Sun" is an album that, it could be argued, falls under the description "classic rock", not because it was made way back in an age when giants of rock like Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath roamed the hills but because it has an essence of that era, others might argue however that it is just old fashioned "blues rock" brought up to date with a few fuzz pedals and a crisper production, opinions will vary but what cannot be denied is that Rollin' Dice have, with "Way To The Sun", made an album that ROCKS!
Check it out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Rahu (Vox, Guitar, SFX), Markiz (Guitar), Radek -(Bass) and Michal (Drums) are Doomster Reich, four guys from Łódź, Poland influenced by the likes of Can, Hawkwind and the MC5 as well as all the usual doom and stoner suspects. The band have been hawking their wares around their home country since their formation in 2014 and in that time have released a number of well received albums, EP's and singles and are now busy promoting their latest opus "Drug Magick"
Things kick off nicely with first track "Gimme Skelter" a rabble rousing ditty that has a distinctive "garage" feel thanks in main to it's excellent retro feeling production and played live in the studio execution, the band coming across in places like a mix between California's Nebula and present day Welsh stoners Dope Smoker thanks to the similarities in both musical and vocal delivery. "Rites of Drug Magick" follows and has that same garage/stoner vibe but here the band add an element of doomic dynamics to the mix ramping up the atmospherics with slightly danker WHA drenched guitar tones and a heavier, thunderous rhythmic attack. Both songs top the ten minute mark and both songs are notable for going off on tangents into lysergic territory with guitars swirling and swooping over backdrops of undulating rhythmic might. These detours into more cosmic and experimental climes are continued right through "Drug Magick" with songs like "Round The Bend Satan", "Meet The Dead" and "Chemical Funeral" fusing elements of doom and desert rock with, Earthless-like, psychedelic guitar wizardry anchored from beneath by throbbing bass lines and pulverising percussion and coated in clean distinctive vocal tones, The band save their best for last though in the shape of a twelve minute epic entitled "Black Earth, Red Sun", a song that sees Doomster Reich experimenting with a myriad of differing dynamics, SFX and tempos, the band taking their listeners on sonic journey's through ever shifting landscapes on wave upon wave of breath-taking lysergic groove.
If you are looking for something to consolidate your love of Kyuss, Nebula and Earthless with an appreciation of the garage rock of The Stooges and the MC5 but are also partial to a touch of Sabbath-esque proto-doom then look no further, Doomster Reich are YOUR band!
Check 'em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 12 November 2017
Sweden's Bleeding Mountains may be new a new name to many of us but the bands members, Patrik Zetterberg (vocals/guitars), Erik Jervaeus (drums) and Adam Mayer (bass), will be familiar to those who may have followed the progressive metal grooves of a little Swedish trio called Jahoomha, and this is because they are the same band. Exactly why Jahoomha felt the need to change their name to Bleeding Mountains is not clear but it does seem that the name change coincided with the recording of new material and Desert Psychlist can only surmise that the heavier direction taken on the new recording was the justification for this change. Whatever the reasoning behind it all the new material is now available and flying under the flag of "Treeline".
Of course their are similarities between the grooves laid down previously by Jahoomha and those now being delivered by Bleeding Mountains, why wouldn't there be, after all we are talking about the same musicians here, but where Jahoomha blended their prog-ish grooves with those of a more alternative/grunge nature Bleeding Mountains go for a more feral approach entirely. Everything about "Treeline" has a harder, heavier feel than that of the bands earlier incarnation, from the tone of the guitars through to the aggressive nature of the vocals, everything feeling that much more confrontational and in your face. The album begins with "Escaping The Lord", a short instrumental piece made up of a circular guitar motif played over big booming bass and solid precise percussion, that, although perfectly executed, does not give much away about their new direction. Then comes "Dead Ice" and we get our first indication of where these guys are currently at musically, Zetterberg laying down a ferociously fuzz drenched refrain that's part textured prog metal, part raucous stoner crunch over which he delivers clean but larynx shredding vocal tones. Beneath this onslaught of feral roars and chainsaw riffage Mayer and Jervaeus lay down a tsunami of raw edged groove, Mayer's grizzled bass lines meshing with Jervaeus' complex and intricate rhythms to create a solid bedrock of metallic bluster for the guitarist/vocalist to decorate with his vocal and six-string colourings. Following track "Temples" touches briefly on past glories with its mix of loud and quiet dynamics and mellower vocal tones but its when the band let loose their proggier, heavier stoner metal side, as on the excellent "The Undertaker", the complex and intense "Glacier" and the diverse and eclectic "Weightless" that the trio really come into their own and show what a force they are collectively.
New name, new album, same musicians but what a difference, "Treeline" is heavier, harder and more aggressive than anything the trio recorded under their previous guise, a stunning assault on the senses from beginning to end and well worth taking the time to check out ....
Saturday, 11 November 2017
If you have been a regular peruser of Facebook's various stoner, doom and psych orientated pages then you will no doubt be familiar with the name Black Road and that bands lithe vocalist Suzi Uzi, Uzi and the band, hailing from Chicago.Illinois, have long been teasing us with snippets of their live shows, photo's and personal videos but apart from a few well received singles and an enjoyable but a little rough around the edges live EP we, the general public, have had nothing tangible to really get our teeth into. That was until now and the release of their debut studio EP "Black Road".
Black Road, Suzi Uzi (vox/lyrics/piano), Tim M. (guitar), Casey Papp (bass) and Robert Gonzales (drums), have been regulars on the stoner/doom club circuits since their 2015 inception, slowly honing their skills and sound, writing and arranging songs (as well as having to blood new members) waiting patiently until that time when the planets aligned and they had something that not only met their own high standards but had something they felt confident and comfortable to share with others, "Black Road" is the result of all that hard work and sacrifice and is stunning EP from start to finish. From the swirling occult/doom refrains of "From Hell", with its slightly cryptic environmental message, through "Bloody Mary" with its chugging fuzz drenched groove, bluesy guitar fills/solo's and psychedelic mid-section, and "Red", with its vaguely 80's pop rock intro leading into an atmospheric and doomic blues, to the closer "Black Rose", an epic tome that takes in elements of folk and prog as it wends and weaves its way to its majestic finale, there is not a vocal inflection, bass line, guitar note or drum beat wasted, everything coming together in a beautiful and totally satisfying whole. The band even throw in a couple of instrumental(ish) numbers in the shape of "Morte" and "Morte (coda)" the former a duet between Uzi on piano and Tim M. on guitar that could easily grace the soundtrack of a 60's spy movie, the latter a slightly more electric version with Papp and Gonzales adding their weight to proceedings as well as a contribution from the legendary guitarist and studio maestro Tony Reed (Mos Generator) on mellatron.
In a scene where female vocalists are fast becoming the norm it is getting increasingly hard for bands with similar line ups to stand out from the crowd but Black Road manage to do this not just by the fact they have a striking looking lead singer with strong, powerful sultry tones at their helm but also because these guys have the chops to back up such a voice and the songs to compliment those tones and when you put that all together in one place you end up with something quite special.
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 10 November 2017
When we think about the underground rock scene we tend to think about four or five guys/gals cranking out raucous riffs and rhythms in the context of a band but there are also those out there, who for reasons of their own, eschew the whole band concept and like to do things all on their lonesome.
Jeremy Vibbert (a.k.a King Jeremy the Wicked, a.k.a Bad Monster Black)) is one such soul, a multi-instrumentalist from Kentucky with a head full of ideas and concepts who knows a thing or two about writing a good tune, three of which can be heard on his latest EP "Diablo".
Vibbert has, with previous releases, "Doped Up Devils With Sexual Grooves", "Darkside" and "The Question of Sanity", leant towards the more sleazy end of rock'n'roll, albeit edged with a menacing darkness, but with "Diablo" Vibbert has embraced those darker edges and brought them to the fore giving the EP an almost doomic feel in places. First track "The Resurrection" exemplifies this new approach perfectly with Vibbert utilising darker,danker guitar tones, heavier rhythms and a diverse mixture of vocal stylings to ramp up the songs atmosphere and brooding menace, you can almost feel the spine chilling malevolence oozing from the speakers as Vibbert sings " I am that from which they told you you have to run from" and almost see the wicked glint in his eye as he asks "Why though? I don't know,I am so fun". Vibbert can't fully shake the sleaze from his shoulders though and on "Monstro" he doesn't try, instead he amalgamates that sleaze into his darker experiments with groove and arrives at a sound that accommodates both. Crunching riffage, massive percussion are the bedrock around which Vibbert weaves a tale of psychopathic tendencies and sexual deviancy, helped out by guest vocalist Dasya Smith, their vocal trade off of punky shouts and stoner roars taking the song on to another level. "Diablo" is up next and finds Vibbert/Bad Monster Black in full stoner/sleaze mode with Vibbert roaring "Give Me Sex, Give Me Soul, Give Me Fucking Rock And Roll" against a backdrop of dissonant riffage and thundering rhythms that sporadically break down into moments of funky ambience before erupting again into a volcano of heavily fuzzed groove.
Desert Psychlist recently spoke to Jeremy Vibbert/Bad Monster Black after hearing a demo of "The Ressurection" and asked him whether the slightly darker direction of the song was the way he intended to go with future projects he answered "Yeah, I plan on trying to continue on this path with the music and see what else I can write and hopefully it wont suck" Well Jeremy if the songs on "Diablo" are anything to go by it won't.
Check it out ....
#note: those purchasing the EP will also get 5 bonus songs
Diablo (Original Recording)
Doper (2017 Version)
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 7 November 2017
The beauty of the internet for a music fan is that he/she is no longer restricted by borders, it is now possible, for those with more adventurous tastes, to access music from right across the globe, from Australia to Outer Mongolia, and all from the same device you use to talk to your friends or order your pizza's from. This can also work from the opposite direction with bands able to reach out to those who may have an interest in their work via e-mails and social media, it was through this process of mutual interaction that Desert Psychlist became aware of Romania's C.O.D 's latest album "Came Out Damned".
C.O.D., Stanciu Dragos (vocals, guitar), Stoicescu Liviu (bass), Irmia Vlad -(guitar) and Dumitrascu Mihai (drums), advise listeners to dial their music systems to eleven, when listening to their latest album "Came Out Damned", for that ultimate experience and it is true that the higher volume is a perfect fit for the bands mix of southern tinted stoner metal and grunge flecked metal. Crunching distorted riffage played over grizzled bass lines and pounding drums are the bedrock around which C.O.D. build their songs and these things alone would tempt the casual listener to give the eleven songs on "Came Out Damned" a listen but there is more to be found here than just riffs and rhythms. Neo-classical style guitar solo's and those of a more psychedelic nature are weaved in and out of hard rocking grooves peppered with alt/grunge dynamics coated in strong and distinctive throaty vocal tones pushed hard by a strong and vibrant rhythm section, the resulting mix of styles and execution giving songs with titles like "No Rest For The Wicked","Blackend" and "Light It Up" an almost classic/hard rock vibe in places. It is however when the band veer into darker territories that things get really interesting as on the metallic stoner-ish "Bury Me" and the throbbing proto-doomish "Become", the band showing not only can they hold their own in the rocking stakes but they can do intense and deep too.
Check em out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 5 November 2017
Cyprus is an island situated in the Eastern Mediterranean that has through history been the subject of territorial disputes, the Turkish, British all the way back to the Romans and Greece's Alexander the Great have battled to possess this beautiful oasis that legend tells us was the birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis. You would expect music made by a rock band coming from such an island to somehow reflect that countries juxtaposition of conflict and serenity within their grooves and Limassol's Arcadian Child do not disappoint on that score, the quartet of Panayiotis I.G (vocals/guitar), Stathis Hadjicharalambous (guitars), Andreas Kerveros (bass/backing vocals) and Christos Dimou (drums) do this not through lyrical content but by mixing into their easy on the ear psych tinted sonic output little touches of fuzzy stoner dirtiness framing their languid lysergic grooves with dark edges, edges that can be heard on the bands new album "Afterglow".
Arcadian Child cite one of their influences as 70's Greek psych/prog pioneers Aphrodite's Child and apart from the obvious similarity in name it is not hard to see why, although coming from a more modern stonerized psych place than that occupied by Vangelis and Co, Arcadian Child utilise a similar mixture of edgy rock bluster and well constructed songcraft, the band writing songs not only with old fashioned concepts like verses and choruses but songs that leave ample space for the four musicians to stretch out in, when and where those opportunities present themselves. From the phased opening chords of "She's On my Mind", with its catchy vocal melody, right through to the countrified lysergic lament "Used" "Afterglow" is an album that delights and dazzles in equal measure, sure there will be those who balk at it obvious crossover appeal, it's catchiness and its occasional leanings towards commerciality but those are all integral components of the whole and a major reason why "Afterglow" is such a fantastic listen.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer jones
Friday, 3 November 2017
There was a moment, as 2014's autumn slowly moved towards winter, that will stick in Desert Psychlist's memory for aeons to come, that moment came in the shape of a conceptual album released by a then little known band from Rome, Italy going by the name of Otehi. The album in question was titled "Dead Chants and Forbidden Melodies" a stunning opus that blended mystical themes and psychedelic motifs with crunching riffage and brutal rhythms and propelled the band from being an interesting little Italian trio to cult status almost overnight.The band, Domenico Canino (Guitar,Vocals & Effects), Maciej Wild Mikolajczyk (Bass & Vocals) and Corrado Battistoni (Drums), return this year hoping to cement their newly acquired reputation with a new opus of lysergic grooves presented under the collective title "Garden of God"
"Sabbath" opens proceedings and in complete contrast to what its title may suggests is 01:01 minutes of synthesised effects that mimics the dawn's chorus of singing birds heralding in the new day.
"Naked God" follows, opening its account with a filthy fuzz drenched circular guitar riff supported by thick growling. bass and superbly executed percussion. Over this tsunami of grizzled riffage and thrumming rhythmic groove are delivered clean strong vocals perfectly pitched to match the undulating jazzy swing of the songs groove. As the song reaches the halfway mark the groove briefly shifts into lysergic territory with Mikolajczyk's bass and Battistoni's shimmering percussion the bedrock over which Canino executes reverberating arpeggios and brushed chords that slowly grow in tempo and intensity until suddenly erupting again and heading to its finale on the songs initial riff and groove.
"The Great Cold" begins with strummed clean guitar chords backed by a strident, eastern tinted bass motif before being joined by the drums and suddenly exploding into a dirty. heavily fuzzed and distorted stoner-ish groove only to then subside back again. The song ebbs and flows between these two dynamics of crunching western riffage and gentle eastern ambiance with the vocals following suite, clean and resonant in the quieter passages, feral and aggressive in the heavier sections
"Verbena" is up next, its deliciously heavy intro collapsing down into gentle ambience with glistening shards of guitar colouring and whispered/spoken vocals weaved around liquid bass and restrained percussion fragmented with moments of distorted chainsaw riffage and brutal pounding rhythm.
"Purified" sees Otehi jamming their signature sound of lysergic grooves blended with brutal riffage but this time throwing in an interesting curveball in the shape of an almost Germanic/robotic type vocal delivery, the band channelling an element of Kraftwerk-ian krautrock into their psychedelic refrains of lysergic metallic bluster.
"Esbeth" closes the album in much the same fashion as it started with those synthesised effects, used on first track "Sabbath", this time mimicking the creatures of the night lamenting the setting of the sun and the end of the day.
Otehi may not be the most prolific of bands, its been almost a three year time span between "Dead Chants and Forbidden Melodies" and the new album "Garden of God" with only a live acoustic album "Unplugged" delivered in-between but when they DO deliver THEY DELIVER!
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 30 October 2017
Not many doom bands can pull off instrumental music, doom just by it's very nature is a genre defined by its lyrical tales of despair and desolation married to repetitious riffage and incessant plodding rhythms and is not the sort of sound that easily lends itself to vocal-less soundscapes.
Brooklyn's Clouds Taste Satanic, however. have built a career doing just that, the band releasing three albums of crushing psych laced instrumental doom, "To Sleep Beyond The Earth"(2014), "Your Doom Has Come"(2015) and "Dawn of the Satanic Age" (2016), along the way. The band return this year with another collection of mind blowing slow, low and heavy instrumental grooves flying under the collective title "The Glitter of Infinite Hell" (due for release 31st October 2017)
"The Glitter of Infinite Hell" consists of four one word titled songs, a list of deadly sins for a new age, that begins with "Greed" a song that opens with slow deliberate riffage reverberating over heavy pounding percussion enhanced by soaring guitar colouring that is reminiscent, to this listeners ears, of the opening bars to, 70's prog giants, ELP's "Knife-Edge" albeit considerably slower and a lot more menacing. The song then wends and winds its way along dark musical paths holding the listeners attention by shifting through a variety of differing dynamics and musical colourings, its core base of doom drenched riffage enhanced by soaring, tasteful guitar solo's, before resuming its initial refrain to take things to a close. "Treachery" follows and begins with a low slow bass line played over tinkling, shimmering percussion that is slowly joined by the bands two guitarists, the four musicians combining to take the song on a myriad of ever shifting crunching doom drenched and psychedelic tinted tangents before finally finishing in a deliriously superb, and frankly quite surprising, blues groove. "Violence" rears its head next and like its title suggests is an epic tome informed by pummelling percussion and vicious refrains but also by moments of simmering moody ambiance that perfectly reflect both musically and dynamically the emotional ebb and flow of its subject matter. "Wrath" closes the album and finds Clouds Taste Satanic in classic stoner doom mode jamming a crunching mid-paced groove replete with scorching heavily effected guitar solo's, the band coming across in places like Sleep on acid. As shown on previous tracks Clouds Taste Satanic are not a band to allow one riff to dictate a groove and so mix things up a little with clever uses of dynamics and time signatures to add an extra level of depth and intensity to grooves that it has to be said are already quite deep and intense to begin with.
If album cover artwork is a reflection of the music contained therein then Clouds Taste Satanic's choice of an Hieronymus Bosh inspired painting by an uncredited artist for "The Glitter of Infinite Hell" is a masterstroke and one that speaks volumes about what lies inside. Doom both musically. lyrically and visually has long been associated with themes inspired by the darker side of the religious spectrum but these themes have often been found to have an almost cartoonish, even at times comedic feel to them, a feeling that the bands in question are just playing with those themes, however this is not the case with Clouds Taste Satanic. There is a feeling, while listening to the four instrumental songs that make up the album, that if Clouds Taste Satanic were to add vocals to their huge musical tomes then the lyrics for those vocals would be some of the darkest, most thought provoking and disturbing ever committed to tape however until/if that time ever arrives you can just... check out the jams....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 29 October 2017
Desert Psychlist sometimes wonders what those men and women, ripped from their homelands and forced to work under the yoke of slavery, would make of the way their simple songs, sang to alleviate their burdens, have evolved into that which we now call the blues, especially when they found those songs had been adopted by long haired and bearded white men, electrified,swamped in swathes of fuzz and played at ear-splitting volumes like those delivered by Philadelphia's Hound on their new album "Born Under 76" (Let's Pretend Records)
Hound, Perry Shall (guitar/vocals), Chris Wilson (drums) and Pat Hickey (bass), are not your archetypical blues rock band, for a start there is just a hint of punky aggression and attitude to be found within their grooves along with large doses of desert/stoner gritty fuzz and distortion. Hound's approach to the blues comes from a slightly left of field position, a position not dissimilar to that taken back in the day by cult 70's bluesters The Groundhogs, in fact it is not unfair to say there are times, while listening to the twelve tracks that make up "Born Under 76", that the casual listener might be fooled into thinking he/she is actually listening to a present day version of that band such are the musical and vocal similarities. Perry Shall's vocals, on songs like "Eyes In The Dark", "Demon Eyes" and "Best Wishes", have a more than a essence of "The 'Hogs" Tony McPhee's vocal inflections and tones about them especially when they are combined with his slightly phased and spacey guitar tones. Hound are not all about one man however and Wilson and Hickey support Shall's vocals and guitar with a dazzling array of rhythmic grooves, Hickey filling in the spaces left by Shall's vocals and guitar with big grumbling bass lines while Wilson holds down his end with tight powerful displays of industrious percussive might, the pair forming the perfect frame for Shall's vocal and six-string portraits.
Although the blues, in one shape or another, inform most of the songs on "Born Under 76" it would be wrong to suggest this is a "blues" album, on songs like "Two Horns" and the punky "Bad One" the band step momentarily outside of their delta drenched comfort zones and jump into harder more aggressive territories showing that when the song calls for it they are quite capable and willing to mix it up and are not just one trick ponies.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 28 October 2017
The late 60's early 70's was a time of change musically, a time when the youth of the day were discovering new found freedoms both culturally and sexually with those freedoms reflected in the music they chose to both listen to and play. These early experimentations with sound, accelerated by the newer technology of big powerful amplifiers and signal altering effect pedals, has to a large extent coloured everything we listen to today especially within the undergrounds burgeoning doom,stoner and psych scenes where "retro" is not seen as a dirty word but as a badge of honour.
Quebec's Mojo Wizard have no bones about declaring their allegiances to the past the Canadian four piece describing their sound as "heavy and intoxicating rock that brings back to life the era of jean coats and rolled cigarettes", whether that description exactly nails what Mojo Wizard brings to the table you will have to decide for yourself by giving the bands new album "The Mystic Peephole" a listen.
Mojo Wizard, Rico Desjardins (vocals & keys), Guillaume Couture (bass). Maxime Lussier (percussion) and Karim M'sallem (guitar), have with "The Mystic Peephole" created an album that takes all those good vibrations from the past and merges them with all that is currently rocking the boat of the rock's underground scene today, blending the resulting mix in such a way as to retain a certain level of "old school" familiarity yet at the same time a feeling of modern freshness and innovation. Bluesy psychedelic grooves served up with a large helping of stoner/desert fuzz was the name of the game with Mojo Wizard's first release "EP", the four Canadians jamming a sound informed by swirling guitar solo's, crunching riffage and tight rhythmic patterns but with "The Mystic Peephole" the band have shifted their focus towards a more expansive sound, bringing in keyboards to not only fill out their sound but to also add an element of lysergic spaciousness to their grooves. Songs like " Euphoria", with it's trippy intro segueing into a grizzled stonerized blues groove and "Pheromone Mist", with it's early psych vibe, head spinning lyrics and scorching guitar screaming finale, are fleshed out by swathes of cleverly placed keyboard texturing that lift the songs, already impressive grooves, from being good to bordering on being outstanding. Mojo Wizard show they can also get down and dirty too as on the spacey doom-lite opener "Move" and the fuzz drenched rocker "Are You Satisfied", the band proving not only can they take off on acid hued flights of fancy but they can rock out with the best of them also. Factor into these musical equations Desjardins clean, distinctive vocal tones, Couture's gnawing,growling bass lines, Lussier's mix of rock solid tight and jazzy laid back percussion, M'sallem's swirling lysergic solo's and fuzz drenched riffs and you arrive at a sound that although rooted in the psychedelic blues and hard rock of the past has more than a firm grip on the grooves of the present and maybe even those of the future.
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 27 October 2017
Year of the Cobra, Amy Tung (bass, vocals.keys) and Jon Barrysmith (drums), seemed to be everywhere all at once after the release of their debut album "...In The Shadows Below", the duo garnering favourable mentions and praise in both the mainstreams music magazines and the web's underground press. This level of appreciation was achieved not by being in the right place at the right time but by a combination of sheer hard work, hauling their asses around the club circuits getting a reputation as a must see live act, and having a sound and groove that appealed to both those lovers of the gnarly riff and those that appreciate a good melody alike. Amy and Jon return this year with another offering of riffs and melody with their latest release "Burn Your Dead" (Magnetic Eye Records).
First offering "Cold" starts with Tung laying down a low, slow heavily distorted bass line accompanied by Barrysmith's percussion, the drummer keeping things economic but solid, laying out when Tung enters with her vocals. on the verses, supporting her with a heavier touch on the chorus. Tung's vocals are sublime, her slightly sweet, slightly ethereal tones although not having the bluesy power of say Holy Grove's Andrea Vidal nonetheless have a strength and clarity perfectly suited to the grooves set around them. "The Descent" follows, Tung introducing the song with a warm clean jazzy bass motif before Barrysmith's drums crash in and the song takes off into mid-tempo soulful territory with Tung singing of "putting one foot in front of the other" and telling us "don't look back" over a backdrop of sensual undulating groove. "Burn Your Dead" explodes from the speakers with Tung and Barrysmith hitting a strident stoner/punk rock groove that recalls the early days of Fu Manchu and Nebula and briefly visits doomier climes mid-song before once again hitting the safety pin and ripped t-shirts trail to take things to a close. "The Howl" finds YOT bringing things back down nearer to earth with a tune that has an edgy space feel thanks, in part, to its phased bass lines and keyboard effects. Tung tailors her voice perfectly to match the songs groove as she croons, whispers and sings her lyrics but it is the duo's musical interaction that really catches the ear here, Barrysmith's drumming on this track is a masterclass in restraint and release, the drummer knowing when to lay out and when to let loose, his percussive might perfectly matched by Tung's intricate, and at times breathtaking, bass playing. "And They Sang.." closes proceedings and sees YOT continuing the phasey attack of the previous track but this time at higher tempo. Tung's vocals taking on an aggressive almost sneering tone that perfectly compliments the songs 100mph drum and bass onslaught.
On the strength of the five songs to be found and enjoyed on "Burn Your Dead" Desert Psychlist predicts another busy and successful year ahead for Year of the Cobra ....and then the one after that, and the one after that, and the........
Check it out here.
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 26 October 2017
The Free Dictionary defines the word "sound bite" as "a short audio or video clip taken from a speech or press conference and broadcast", this definition can be extended to movie clips, and even snippets of music and is a trick long been used by artists and bands in the underground rock scene to furnish their songs with an added level of interest and impact. Australian prog-doom instrumentalists Reptilian Illuminati have taken this little trick a step further with their album "Dark/Light", the quintet from Melbourne, Matthew Brennan (guitar), Terry Pietrosanto (guitar), Dean Astrella (guitar), Dexter Karpe (bass), and Matty Innes (drums), have taken those sound bites and weaved them into and around their dark grooves of progressive doom not only to furnish those grooves but also to document their story.
"Dark/Light" is a conceptual album exploring the phenomenon of UFO's and the mystery that surrounds them by integrating into swirling, sometimes brutal, sometimes gentle and ambient, grooves of complex and intricate progressive doom metal snippets lifted from documentaries, news reports and interviews, using them not, as is often the case, as an introduction to a song but as part of that song. Each song on "Dark/Light" refers to an incident, sighting involving a UFO encounter, songs with titles like "Roswell N.M. 1947", "Rendlesham Forest" and "Ruwa, Zimbabwe" are, along with swathes of crunching riffage, subtle arpeggios, searing solo's and a diverse array of bass and drum groove, filled with eye witness accounts and reports concerning those incidents weaved cleverly into the heart of those songs. Instrumental music can often alienate listeners used to having a screaming front man at the helm but Reptilian Illuminati's use of these samples/snippets/bites within the structures of their tunes, instead of at the start or finish, manages to alleviate that need for a vocalist and makes for a more complete and satisfying instrumental experience.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Wednesday, 25 October 2017
Conceptual albums these days can be a tricky thing to get right, artists want/need to tell their stories via songs connected to each other by a theme but at the same time a band needs those songs to stand up in their own right, especially in today's digital age where music buyers can purchase the tracks they like and leave those they don't. It's a brave move by any band these days to attempt to release a conceptual album but when it's done right it can be a beautiful thing.
Spanish groovsters Hela, Mireia Porto (vocals and guitars), Julián Velasco (guitars and fx), Tano Giménez (bass) and Miguel Fernandez (drums), are one band unafraid to tackle the minefield of the concept album and with new album "Death May Die"(Discos Macarras Records for CD's/ Lay Bare Recordings for Vinyl), a tale of one girls struggle against all odds to find and be herself, they have found a perfect balance between songs that can work thematically and also work independently of that theme.
"The Gateway" opens "Death May Die", an ominous low, slow doom groove with demonic breathy vocals growling beneath a foreground of pounding percussion, grizzled bass and sinister circular riffage which is swiftly followed by "Mother of Monsters" a song that although rooted very much in the occult/doom/stoner metal genre has a thread of alt/grunge dynamics running through its veins and is the albums first track to feature Mireia Porto's vocal tones. Porto brings a different aesthetic to Hela's sound than her predecessor Isabel Sierras, a little less ethereal, a little darker around the edges but just as powerful, her voice and guitar playing a perfect fit for the slightly more progressive doom grooves that she Velasco, Giménez and Fernandez are presently experimenting with. This is never more evident than on next track "Touched By Evil" a song that finds Porto wailing banshee-like melodies over a backdrop of constantly shifting groove, Fernandez and Giménez combining to lay down a plethora of diverse rhythms and growling bass lines for Velasco and Porto to weave their six string magic around with the former ripping some scintillating lead work from his strings and fretboard. "Dark Passage" finds Hela toying with post-rock textures and alt-rock dynamics around what must be Porto's best vocal performance on the album, the guitarist/vocalist stretching her vocal chords to their limit and in doing so adding a gritty edge to her tone giving the songs dark progressive and metallic grooves an added level of power and emotion. "Repulsion" has the band mixing it up musically between moments of crushing brutality and moments of quiet reflection with Porto's sweetly sang mantra of "walking with my head down", in the songs more tranquil section, a complete contrast to her more forceful aggressive tones elsewhere.
"Bodies In Hell" brings "Death May To Die" to a close with a song that sees Hela really embracing those progressive metal elements that have been threatening to break out on previous tracks. Velasco and Porto between them lay down a swathe of exotic tinted riffs, fills and solo's over a tumultuous array of rhythm'n'groove, expertly laid down by Fernandez and Giménez, with Porto mixing up her vocals accordingly, even getting a little growly and grizzly in the songs closing moments.
Hela were always a good band but with the addition of Porto on second guitar and vocals they have evolved into a great band and "Death May Die" with it's darker edges, progressive leanings and conceptual theme stands as a fitting testament to that evolution.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 24 October 2017
When reviewing Tuna de Tierra's "EPisode I Pilot" back in August 2015 Desert Psychlist made the observation that the Italian trio from Napoli existed in a hinterland between the riff heavy fuzz of the likes of Fu Manchu and Kyuss and the more experimental stoner/psych of the likes of Sungrazer and Colour Haze, well the band, Alessio De Cicco (guitar, vocals), Luciano Mirra (bass guitar) return this year with a new drummer, Marco Mancaniello, and a new full length album, "Tuna de Tierra" (Argonauta Records), so let's see if those observations still ring true.
As the opening bars of instrumental first track "Slow Burn" ring out from the speakers its fairly obvious that Tuna de Tierra's modus operandi of delivering heavily fuzzed refrains over an array of ever shifting rhythmic groove is still in place, De Cicco's guitar soars like an eagle riding thermals over Mirra's throbbing bass lines and Mancaniello's solid, tight percussion, the resulting sound having an almost Floydian feel to it. Next track "Morning Demon" sees Tuna de Tierra hitting a Colour Haze-ish groove fractured by moments of gnarly fuzz drenched aggression with Mirra's bass the anchor around which De Cicco weaves a mixture of lysergic guitar textures and crunchimg riffage while at the same time delivering mellow, clean and slightly laid back vocals ably supported from beneath by Mancaniello's sympathetic drumming. "Out of Time" follows and finds De Cicco laying down gentle vocal tones over the top of a circular guitar motif backed by liquid clean bass lines and restrained jazzy percussion. "Long Sabbath's Day"could almost be described as a spiritual and incorporates gospel like handclaps backed by what sounds like a bass string being stroked and tapped with De Cicco crooning and moaning gently over head. "Rise of the Lights" changes the mood by jamming a groove that has an almost indie blues vibe and recalls to this listeners ears the early sound of British alternative/indie blues purveyors Gomez both musically and in its vocal melodies. "Mountain" again sees Tuna de Tierra wandering into Colour Haze territory only this time with a hint of eastern mysticism bubbling just beneath the surface. Mancaniello lays down a restrained but totally effective tribal beat around which Mirra weaves intricate and jazzy bass lines, De Cicco adding subtle textured guitar colouring while gently crooning dreamy, heartfelt vocals. Final song "Laguna" initially keeps things dreamy and lysergic with De Cicco's warm vocals sitting a little lower in the mix but then slowly grows in tempo moving briefly into a heavily psychedelic blues groove before morphing once again and erupting into a fuzz heavy stoner refrain and taking things to a deliciously noisy close.
Heady, trippy and experimental yet at the same time solid, fuzzy and structured "Tuna de Tierra" is an album that delivers on many levels and is one that deserves to be heard by those that like their desert/stoner grooves hard and heavy as well as those who prefer their grooves a little on the loose and lysergic side.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 23 October 2017
Books have long been the inspiration for songs, albums and artwork, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Dennis Wheatley and J.R. Tolkien have, over the years, all been cited as influences for numerous musical projects and themes. Now it seems we must add to that list the name of master of modern horror Stephen King as Desert Psychlist has, over the course of this year, had the pleasure of reviewing two artists inspired by his The Dark Towers saga. The first album was Heavy Temple's "Chassit" released in January, the second has just seen the light of day and comes from Greek stoner/ blues psychonauts The Road Miles and flies under the banner "Ballads for the Wasteland".
Inspired not so much by the story of The Dark Towers but more by the essence of that story "Ballads of the Wasteland" concentrates on the saga's Wild West themes of gunslingers, deserts and uncertain futures told over the course of seven atmospheric songs. The Road Miles, Afroditi Tavoulari (vocals), Alex Darmis (keys), Anargiros Pantazis (drums). Epameinondas Koutsoumpas (guitar), Michael Chrysos (guitar) and Yannis Efthymiou (bass), have on previous outings toyed with cinematic aspects within their music but here they expand those cinematic aspects onto a bigger screen, creating a movie for the mind with their lyrics and grooves. Reverberating guitars echoing over atmospheric swirling keyboards pushed by a diverse array of rhythms and grooves set the scenes around which Afroditi Tavoulari tells tales of men dressed in black, scorching suns and camp fires burning, her dark distinctive tones switching between ethereal and bluesy to half whispered, half spoken as an when the song dictates, her slightly jazzy delivery adding an extra level of cinematic authenticity to proceedings. These vocal tones when combined with the superbly intricate and complex arrangements and dazzling instrumental skills of each and every member of the band create a series of atmospheric and absorbing audial vistas that are a joy to experience.
Each song on "Ballads for the Wastelands" stands on its own merit but is also an integral part of its whole so it would be remiss to pick and choose favourites, this is an album that works best heard from start to finish and enjoyed and savoured as a whole rather than just a collection of individual songs.
Check it out ....
Sunday, 22 October 2017
Desert Psychlist once again revisits Brazil, a country fast becoming a major player on the underground scene, to bring you yet another band of groovsters demanding your attention. This time the band in question are, Alexandre Canhetti (vocals), Pedro Canhetti (lead guitar), Danilo Oliveira (bass), Rafael"Psy" Daltro (rhythm guitar) and Arthur Rodrigues (drums), a quintet going by the quite unusual but memorable name of Gods & Punks who have just released their debut album " Into The Dunes of Doom"
Gods & Punks are a band who wear their admiration for 70's hard rock proudly on their collective sleeves but are not a band defined by that sound, the five members bringing to the table elements of swirling psych, cosmic space and good old stoner fuzz to beef out their slightly proto grooves and give them a modern, yet still very retro, feel. From the Ozzy-ish vocal refrains of opener "Dunes of Doom" through the excellent "Signs of Life", with it's clever guitar and bass interplay, and the swirling instrumental "Mushroom Cloud", with it's bluesy guitar solo's played over an ever shifting pattern of diverse grooves, to the epic closer "The Encounter" with its sprawling canvas of progressive textures fleshed out by guest Ronaldo Rodrigues' superb keyboard flourishes, there is not a minute, second when the listeners attention is allowed to drift, the band holding them rapt and absorbed with where this band might lead them next.
Retro yet modern, heavy yet gentle, basic but at the same time full of complexity Gods & Punks have, with " Into the Dunes of Doom", made an album that ticks all the right boxes and has something to offer to the full spectrum of underground rock fans be they young bearded doomers or middle aged rockers looking to relive their past.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones