Sunday, 17 December 2017

SONS OF NIBIRU ~ HELLSPIRIT ... review


Well as plans go Desert Psychlist's seemed a good one, cease from any more reviews for the month and then just put out our "Best Of 2017" and take a well earned rest, but that plan was well and truly scuppered by a release that just screamed "review me" and so here we are again sitting in front of a PC, earphones on and fingers hovering over a keyboard.


 The album that caused this change of mind and shattered any hope of a festive season break comes from a trio hailing from Rzesow, Poland going by the name of Sons of Nibiru, Khshemo (bass/vocals), Quoda (guitars) and Caspah (drums), who have just released their debut "Hellspirit" (Green Plague Records)


Beginning with the sounds of an Aboriginal instrument (digeridoo) backed by shards of dissonant chords and hand hit percussion ("The Signal") may not be the indicator you the listener are looking for when checking out something tagged as psychedelic stoner metal but it does point to the fact that Sons of Nibiru are not a band prepared to adhere to those rules set out by genre and expectation. "Arrival" follows a similar path to "The Signal" but this time moves into more electrified territory with Caspah moving back to his full kit and locking in with Khshemo's big growling bass, behind Quoda's exquisite guitar colourings, to drive an atmospheric instrumental that builds layer by layer, unwrapping little sonic delights as it grows. "Peachcraft" muddies up the waters by moving into a grumbling heavy stoner groove with Khshemo's bass the dominant force, his low, low bass rumbling like an earthquake ready to split the ground asunder and is superbly backed by Caspah's busy percussion and Quoda's soaring solo's and textured licks and fills. Vocals raise their heads for the first time here and are pitched slightly monotonic and Gregorian giving the song an almost monastic, spiritual feel. "Pulsar" follows and finds the band experimenting with every effect and trick in the book to create a stunning soundscape of spacial ambience. "Hellspirit" brings things back to Earth with a song that, for this reviewer, recalls the heavier "Barrel of a Gun" era of Depeche Mode but with Sons of Nibiru taking the song off on tangents that even the most drug addled Mode would baulk from travelling to. "The Journey" sees the band getting expansive and a little cinematic with Quoda leading from the front with some truly scorching lead work ably supported by Khshemo's ever present grizzly bass and Caspah's sympathetic rhythms. Sons of Nibiru finish things in grand style with their final song "Star Sailors" an epic tome that pulls all those threads explored in the albums previous songs and weaves them into one massive and awe inspiring musical tapestry.


"Hellspirit" is a stunning album that defies all the usual tags and labels we tend to lump music into thanks to its diverse nature and also thanks to the bravery of a band not prepared to compromise their musical vision and ideals.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 15 December 2017

BITCHCRAFT ~ BITCHCRAFT ...review


Amazing what a difference a few years can make when it comes to a bands musical direction and evolution, it's been nearly two years since Poland's Bitchcraft released "Bitchcraft EP" and in that time the band have embraced a whole new approach to their musical craft, not in a drastic, complete alteration of their sound but in more subtle ways, the band slowing down their grooves a couple of notches and ramping up the atmospherics and heaviness to create a denser more intense musical experience, as can be witnessed on their first full length album "Bitchcraft".


Bitchcraft, with their new album, deliver four epic tomes, none of which could be in any shape or form come under the title of "happy music", that are cram packed full of intensity and darkness and are titled from and based around four films, "The Thing", "Big Trouble In Little China", "In The Mouth of Madness" and "Christine", directed by celebrated cult filmmaker John Carpenter. Basically "Bitchcraft" is a doom album but to just describe it us such would be doing the band and the album a disservice as there are elements of drone, prog and psych dynamics to be found scattered in and around these massive tomes if you take the time to dig deep enough. Vocalist Pawel is in possession of a strong distinctive voice and she uses it to great effect soaring above the slow, dank riffs and pounding rhythms provided by her fellow band members, her powerful but slightly monochrome tones bringing an extra level of intensity to the already quite dark and intense musical grooves surrounding them. If there is a criticism to be levelled at "Bitchcraft" it is that there are occasions where maybe a little creative editing may have been applied and that one or two songs may just overstay their welcome but that's a minor quibble and doesn't detract from their overall impact.


On the whole "Bitchcraft" is a solid, enjoyable album from a band evolving at their own pace and trying find their own sound and niche in this place we call the "underground".
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 14 December 2017

SMOKE HEALER ~ HIGHWAY MEETS THE SKY ... review


There seem to be a new genre on the block, or so Kentucky's Smoke Healer would have you believe, and that genre is "smoked metal" funny thing is, so far, there only seems to be one exponentDan Ryan (Vocals),Chris Brown (Guitar), Jake Stone (Guitar), Brooke Smith (Bass) and Mike Hamm (Percussion) are Smoke Healer a band who have accrued a small but dedicated following since the release of their self-titled debut "Smoke Healer" in 2015.The band are hoping to enlarge on that following with the release of their latest offering "Highway Meets The Sky".




Those nay-sayers who have a down on 70's inspired hard rock and metal (yes they do exist) may need to stop reading now as "Highway Meets The Sky" is an album unabashed and unashamed to strut its 70's credentials. Those that stick around though might find themselves reading about a little gem that although influenced by the past is not defined by it. Smoke Healer are a band who write songs, not vehicles for riffs, though there are plenty to be found here, good old fashioned songs with intro's, verses, choruses, bridges, and outros and into these unfashionable song structures the band inject swagger, swing and attitude as well as some damn fine musicianship. To say that these songs rock would be an understatement, from first track "Fungustus Villa" through to the Tarantino inspired last track "Death Proof (Hell On Wheels)" Smoke Healer propel you on journeys that take in hard rock bluster, stoner fuzz and old school metal all sprinkled with a liberal dose of South Eastern swagger. Thick riffage, soaring solo's, galloping bass lines and punchy percussion are all topped off by clean, clear vocals that are imbued with just the right amount of Kentuckian grit and gravel to give the six songs that make up "Highway Meets The Sky" a real organic feel, something that can't be described in words but can certainly be felt through the music.


"Highway Meets The Sky" is an excellent release that hopefully will see a few more of those who appreciate a good groove flocking to their flag. If your looking for a sound occupying a middle ground pitched somewhere between Greece's Planet of Zeus and Maryland's Clutch then you can't go wrong with Smoke Healer.
Check 'em out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

ELECTRIC AGE ~ SLEEP OF THE SILENT KING ..... review


Keeping your finger on the pulse of today's underground scene is never easy and with so much great music constantly bombarding you from every angle it is inevitable that some manage to slip by you. Today's review dates back to February of this year (2017) and comes from one such band who slipped past Desert Psychlist's elaborate network of traps and snares, a band from Louisiana going by the name of Electric Age, Shawn Tucker (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass), J Ogle (Guitar, Bass, Vocals) and Kelly Davis (Drums, Vocal), who on that date released their debut album "Sleep of the Silent King"




"Sleep of the Silent King" begins with "The Threshold" an instrumental that starts with genteel acoustic guitars picking atmospheric, almost medieval motifs then goes all  electric and moves into an anthemic groove that would not sound out of place as the soundtrack to some Game of Thrones type TV show. At this time you may be asking yourself why is this gracing the pages of Desert Psychlist, a blog specialising in raucous rhythms  and low slung riffage, but all is revealed as next track "Shepherd and the Raven" makes itself heard and you, the listener, are thrown into a world of southern tinted Thin Lizzy-esque guitar groove fronted by cool clean vocal melodies pushed hard by a solid bass and drum combination. Although born in the USA's Deepest South and played by three guys who look like they've been raised on grits and Southern Comfort there are parts of Electric Age's overall groove that has an undeniable Britishness, the band weaving the hard rock bluster of bands like the aforementioned Thin Lizzy and UFO with the swagger and strut we have come to expect from those bands of a more southern persuasion. "Sleep of the Silent King" is not all riff 'n'roll though and the band are not averse to throwing in a nicely paced power ballad as with the emotive "Silent King" or even getting a little mellow and prog-ish as on "Black Galleons" which has more than a little of 80's cult icons Ashbury to it's sonic attack (check out their "Endless Skies" album for comparison).


All in all "Sleep of the Silent King" is a solid, well balanced and highly enjoyable album filled with little twists and turns, nuances and delights that will keep you coming back to it time and time again.
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 10 December 2017

SHADOW WITCH ~ DISCIPLES OF THE CROW ...... review


Sometimes a band appears and manages to cut a swathe through all the bullshit of genres and sub-genres by just delivering good old fashioned, well structured, superbly written and arranged rock songs and in doing so manages to unite fans of all the genres of metal and rock under one flag.  Shadow Witch, from Kingston, New York, are one such band, the collective of David Pannullo (bass), Doug "Beans" Thompson (drums), Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples) and Jeremy H. Hall (guitars) have created ,through a combination of sheer hard work and determination and after only one previous album "Sun Killer", an unprecedented air of anticipation among the underground rock community for where their next album may take them. Well with the release (December 15th 2017) of "Disciples of the Crow" ( Salt of the Earth Records) we can now find out!


"Love Could Be Like This" kicks things off and finds Shadow Witch delivering the goods with a song that is a little bit galloping NWOBHM, a little bit soulful hard rock and a whole lot enjoyable. "Older than emeralds am I, darker than shadows at night" sings the vocalist over a backdrop of insistent rolling rhythms and a mixture of crunching powerchords and neo-classical shredding, the band coming together to hit a perfect balance between that which is heavy and that which is soulful . The song exemplifies superbly Shadow Witch's "modus operandi" of serving up grooves that have the ability to traverse genres, like Sweden's Spiritual Beggars did, and continue to do, Shadow Witch fill that void between fuzzy stoner/hard rock and traditional heavy metal with the band hitting a groove on songs like "Cruel","Stranger Skies" and "Beneath The Veil" that, in places, could be described as something akin to Iron Maiden jamming with (Mark III) Deep Purple. This is not to say Shadow Witch are unoriginal or retro just that they use what's available from both the past and present to create something new yet still pleasingly familiar, utilising what has gone before with what is here and now to the utmost effect.



Not wishing to go over old ground but the description that Desert Psychlist gave when reviewing Shadow Witch's last opus "Sun Killer", of them being a band who encompass all aspects of  rock's vast cannon, once again rings loud and clear throughout every one of the eight gloriously addictive songs on "Disciples of the Crow", this is an album you truly MUST...check out....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Big thanks to Leanne Ridgeway at Mettle Media PR for promo materials

Saturday, 9 December 2017

DEADLY VIPERS ~ FUELTRONAUT .... review


Deadly Vipers, a quartet hailing from Perpignan, France consisting of  Fred (vocals), David(guitar), Thomas (bass) and Vincent (drums), deal in grooves of no nonsense rock'n'roll that are two parts stoner/desert fuzz, one part raucous hard rock and one part bluesy classic rock all parts of which can be heard on the band's debut album "Fueltronaut"


The band kick things off with a "Fuel Prophecy", a brief instrumental built around crunching riffage and rolling percussion, then plough straight into "Universe" a sweaty hi-octane fuzz fest that has more than a whiff of the Truckfighters testosterone fuelled attack about it. This track is a monster and it's full on assault on the senses may have fuelled a few of the Kyuss/Truckfighters comparisons that Desert Psychlist had read prior to this review but there is far more to Deadly Vipers than just a kicking groove and a fuzzy riff. Dig a little deeper into "Fueltronaut" and among the fuzz and distortion you will start coming across little touches of classic rock texturing and dynamics as on he excellent "The Prey Goes On" where the fuzz subsides for a moment and the band drops briefly into a more laid back rock groove before erupting again into its initial raucous refrain or on the Bad Company/Free like "Stalker" where the vocalist  does a sterling job of conveying the songs emotions with a superb range of vocal pyrotechnics, all bluesy crooning one minute full on rock god roar the next.



The vocalist is ably supported throughout the album by a strong rhythm section with the drums and bass creating a series of strong foundations for the guitarist to overlay with big crunching chords and well chosen solo's ,the quartet coming together as a whole to create an overall sound that although not totally unique and original is nonetheless highly enjoyable.
Check it out ...

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 7 December 2017

OMEGA SUN ~ OPIUM FOR THE MASSES ... review


Slovenia might not yet be one of the "go to" countries for underground music but there is a small yet thriving scene taking shape in the Central European republic. One band attempting to break out of that scene and make a name for themselves further afield are Medo..,Seba..and Aris..otherwise known as Omega Sun, a trio from Koper who have just released their debut album "Opium For The Masses"


Although sitting quite comfortably in stoner/desert territory, due to its heavily fuzzed guitar tones and throbbing, muscular rhythmic grooves, there is nonetheless an air of old school classic/hard rock to be found swirling over and around the six songs that make up "Opium For The Masses" thanks in part (a large part) to its strong clean vocal attack. Bassist/vocalist Medo harnesses a vocal tone not dissimilar to that of Kyuss front man John Garcia and combines it with the feral power of late Soundgarden/Audioslave's Chris Cornell ,this when combined with his thunderous bass lines,Seba's solid, insistent percussion and Aris' superb deep toned guitar riffs and solo's, makes for a compelling mix that although owing a huge debt to those dusty grooves born in the deserts of the USA has a charm and uniqueness all of its own.


If you like your grooves Kyuss-like with a touch of 70/80's hard rock vocal swagger then you can't go far wrong by taking "Opium For The Masses" for a spin.
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones