Wednesday, 21 March 2018

SUNNATA ~ OUTLANDS .... review

Poland's Sunnata caused a bit of tremor to resonate around the stoner/doom community with the release of their 2016 album "Zorya", a stunning collection of psych drenched tunes infused with both doom and post-metal textures that had reviewers falling over themselves to heap praise upon. Some called it spiritual and transcendental, others called it mind expanding and brave, either way you looked at it Sunnata had with "Zorya" announced their arrival as a major player on the underground scene.This year (2018) the band return to once again expand our minds and re-spin our chakras with their latest offering "Outlands".(Releases March 23)

"Outlands" begins with "Intro" a series of deep disonant droning effects backed by chiming percussion that slowly segues into "Lucid Dream" an eastern tinted opus based around a deliciously liquid bass line over which eastern tinted guitar motifs are weaved backed up some superbly restrained but totally effective drumming. The song has a strong spiritual feel which is made to feel even more so by the use of clean, mellow cantilated style vocal melodies. more intoned than actually sang giving the song an almost mystical feel. This spiritualistic approach is prominent throughout "Outlands" eight tracks with many of the songs having an almost devout feel, albeit with a heavy doom/post-metal bias, the band blending elements of grunge, sludge,stoner, psych and even Indian raga into songs with titles like "Gordian Knot" and "Hollow Kingdom" , stirring these elements together in one big melting pot to create something that is as exciting as it is unique

Sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, sometimes challenging, sometimes simple but at all times totally intruiguing and immersive "Outlands" is an album that delivers on all levels.
Check it out .....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 18 March 2018

OKWAHO ~ OKWAHO .... review

In the realms of doom and sludge metal "atmosphere" can be almost as an important factor in defining your sound as the strength of your songs and instrumental prowess, there are many ways a band can ramp up a songs atmospherics but by far the best and most effective way is by tuning low and playing your grooves at a sedate, almost pedestrian tempo. Athens based Greek sludgemeisters Okwaho, Andreas (drums), Bob (bass) and George (guitar/vocals), are one such band to use this technique, combining their low slung riffage with almost equally low slung vocal tones  all underpinned by pummelling slow and heavy percussion, as can be heard on the bands self-titled debut album "Okwaho"

It is unlikely that the music Okwaho create is one that will cause a continuous outbreak of swirling moshpits to erupt at their live gigs, the more likely scenario is one of long haired heads nodding as one to the slow deliberate heavy grooves being laid before them. If Desert Psychlist were to use an analogy to describe Okwaho's sound then it would be to say that the bands groove is akin to an old grizzly bear, a growling, lumbering mass of muscle and teeth that although is not as fast as its younger brethren is nonetheless still as highly dangerous. This feeling of lumbering menace is perfectly exemplified right from the off with title track "Okwaho", a grumbling low, slow and heavy tome that crawls from the speakers driven by slow thunderous percussion and rumbling bass. Overlaid with thick gravel throated vocal tones and a mixture of crunching sludge guitar riffage and lysergic infused solo's the song drips and drools with a latent malevolence and menace and perfectly sets the tone for everything else to come. It would be wrong however to say that "Okwaho" is just a long procession of doom and despair as there are many moments of bright shinning light to be found among the dankness and gloom of the albums seven songs, such as on the superbly atmospheric "Bitter Taste of Betrayal", where in the songs last quarter the curtains of doom are briefly parted and the listener is treated to a blistering blues drenched guitar solo backed by an almost proto(ish) hard rock groove, and the chugging "Stray Hound" with its, albeit vastly slower, stoner rock feel. Blending melody with brutality is no easy thing but Okwaho have managed to balance the two superbly by offsetting their heavy riffs and rhythms with brief but strategic moments of bluesy swagger and lysergic colouring and in doing so have created a highly enjoyable and well rounded album.

If your a fan of Dopelord, Weedeater and their ilk but also partial to the likes of Egypt, Goya and Electric Wizard then you might just find "Okwaho" is the album for you
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 17 March 2018

SuuM ~ BURIED INTO THE GRAVE .... review

Old school doom à la Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and Reverend Bizarre is becoming a bit of a rarity of late replaced by a much harder more abrasive form of the genre with harsher style vocals, thankfully though that classic doom sound of yore can still be found if your willing to look hard enough. One band still keeping the old school doom flame burning are Italian quartet SuuM, Mark Wolf (vocals), Painkiller (guitars), Marcas (bass) and Rick (drums), who take the traditional approach to doom, pioneered by those bands already mentioned, but bring it up to date by salting it with elements found in doom's present, something they do to great effect on their new album "Buried Into The Grave"   ( Endless Winter for CD, Hellas Records for tape).

Traditional forms of doom require, above all else, a vocalist capable of delivering tones that are a little bit gothic, a touch grandiose and a whole lot powerful and in Mark Wolf SuuM have found a vocalist who ticks all those boxes. Wolf's vocals range from Bela Lugosi-ish sinister and operatic to harsh, growling and feral while retaining both power and clarity in both, his voice as much an instrument as those played by the rest of the band. Big vocals need big music to compliment them and SuuM provide huge swathes of dank, atmospheric doom to do just that,  Marcas and Rick laying down a massive foundation of heavy grumbling bass and tumultuous percussion around which the wonderfully named Painkiller weaves a mixture of crunching and swirling dank and dark guitar textures. The seven songs on "Buried Into The Grave" stay very much within traditional doom territory with songs like "Black Mist", "Seeds of Decay" and "Shadows Haunt The Night" all boasting huge grooves of atmospheric doom coated in gothic tinted vocals but the band are also prepared to step out of their traditional doom comfort zone and blacken up their sound with a little modern harshness as on the excellent title track "Buried Into the Grave".

The beacon of traditional/classic doom may not be burning as bright today as it was back in the day but SuuM are making sure, with "Buried Into The Grave", that there is still a vestige of flame still flickering brightly among its ashes.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 16 March 2018


Cybernetic Witch Cult, Sergeant Thunderhoof and Steak are just a few UK bands making their presence felt not only on their own home turf but also further afield, sitting proudly at the forefront of this little British rock revolution are a little five piece combo from Oxford going by the name of  Desert Storm. The band, Matt Ryan (vocals), Chris White (guitar), Ryan Cole (guitar), Chris Benoist (bass) and Elliot Cole (drums), have been steadily building their reputation as a mean, lean riff machine via an almost insane touring schedule and the release of a series of absolutely essential groove drenched albums, the latest of which is entitled "Sentinels" (APF Records)

"Journey's End" may seem a strange title for the opening track of a new album but then Desert Storm are not a band who like to do things straightforward and conventional as the songs diverse shifts in mood,dynamics and tempo will testify. The first thing to hit you about "Journey's End" and the subsequent nine tracks that follow it is in how far this band have come in both instrumental prowess and sonic impact since the release of their self titled 2008 debut "Desert Storm", an evolution that has arisen from an almost constant touring regime and hard work spent in the rehearsal room. There are moments during "Sentinels" that, if it wasn't for Matt Ryan's powerful, thick sludge bellow, you could almost be convinced you were listening to some Swedish progressive metal band rather than a sludge based rock band from a city in England, especially on tracks like "Too Far Gone" and "King Of Horns" where Chris White and Ryan Cole's excellent guitar interplay, expertly supported by Chris Benoist's big booming bass and Elliot Cole's tumultuous percussion, take things to another level entirely. Fans of Desert Storm's raucous origins need not fear the band have evolved too far away from their heavy stoner /sludge metal roots however as there is plenty here that will satisfy their needs such the hard hitting "Gearhead" with its heavy/light/heavy dynamics, the swaggering "Drifter" with its southern tinted edges and "Convulsions" with its initial doomic beginnings gradually making way for full on sludge metal bluster.

"Sentinels" follows on pretty much where Desert Storm's last album "Omniscient" left off except this time around the band have slightly shifted their focus towards a more complex and progressive attack, still as intense and bludgeoning as before but with subtle shades thrown in to add relief and contrast.
Check it out ...

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


Sweden, that hub of so much of that which has become essential listening within our ever growing underground community, once again delivers something special. Fungus Hill a five piece band from Umea have just released what amounts to a sci-fi themed concept album consisting of ten deliciously diverse songs, seamlessly stitched together in one fifty minute suite entitled "Cosmic Construction on Proxima B"

Fungus Hill, Erik Sköld (guitar), Nils Mörtzell (drums), Gustav Orvafors (guitar/vocals), Tom Westerlund (bass) and Jenny Isaksson (vocals/percussion), tell. over the course of forty nine minutes twenty three seconds, a story of  mass exodus from a dying Earth in order to build a new life on a distant planet. Not an exactly new concept you might say, there are many songs and albums that have explored similar territory, where Fungus Hill differ however is in the way they have laid out their tale. Using snippets of sampled dialogue in strategic places to tie everything together the band have created an immersive experience, much like a well written novel, whereby the listener is placed within the story as opposed to being stood outside merely listening in, an almost rock opera approach that combines story and music in a unique and quite exhilarating blend. Musically the band have slightly shifted from the stonerized heavy blues and psych of their previous full length release, "Creatures", and moved into more progressive territories, the band salting their grooves with a mixture of  jazz-like colourings, lysergic textures and complex prog flavourings, filling out their sound with these elements while at the same time keeping a firm grip on those hard earned stonerized rock credentials that first drew many to the band's musical vision in the first place.

Intelligent, enthralling and highly enjoyable "Cosmic Construction on Proxima B" is a concept album, a space opera and a sci-fi novel all cleverly wrapped up in one and is something you need to check out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 10 March 2018

AUX ERA ~ AUX ERA ... review

Very rarely does Desert Psychlist come across an album that has us struggling with the words to describe it, usually with the vast majority of albums there are reference points whereby the humble reviewer is able to point their readers towards something similar sounding so he/she can get a rough idea of a said albums sound, dynamic and genre. This is not really the case with Brooklyn's Aux Era's self titled album "Aux Era" the band, Dylan Ricards (vocals/guitar & keys), Tommy Orza (bass) and Jeff Stieber (drums), having created something sonically unique and quite wonderful.

Spacious is a word that comes to mind while listening to "Aux Era", there is an uncluttered feel to the music being heard, a feeling that everything is bigger than it actually is, this may be due in part to the albums excellent crisp production but also in part to the fact the music is allowed to breath. In conventional rock the emphasis is often focused on tightness and solidity with riffs and rhythms filling up every available space, a tsunami of sound coming at you hard and heavy. Aux Era's approach however is to allow their music to have a lot more fluidity and ambience a place  where a second of  silence has as much impact as the dirtiest of riffs. Fans of progressive experimentalists The Mars Volta will lap up Aux Era's diversity of sound but then again so will those of  "The Bends" era Radiohead's alternative rock, especially as Ricards vocal contributions have a distant echo of both Cedric Bixlar-Zavala's impassioned howls and Thom Yorke's fractured phrasing.

Experimental, angular and challenging, "Aux Era" is an album that is sure to divide opinion, there will be those that love its diversity and applaud its bravery and there will be those that will point the finger and call it pompous, overbearing and indulgent and should have no place on a site dealing in the harder edges of underground rock music. Whatever side of the fence you think you may fall on the ball is  now very much in your court and you really won't know until you check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 9 March 2018


Wytchgoat hail from Virginia and have just released their debut album "Kult of the Wytch Goat" and that is the full extent of the information Desert Psychlist can reveal to you at this present time, not because we are trying to keep their identities secret or trying to shroud them in an air of mystery but because that is all the information that we can find on them ( or even he/she as for all we know this could well be a one man/woman project).

Surrounding mystery aside "Kult of the Wytch Goat" is an album that slays from its opening note to its grainy fuzz drenched last, visiting along its way a myriad of differing doomic styles. If Black Sabbath's blues based proto-doom is the thing that rocks your boat then Wytchgoat have that covered, if the heavily distorted riffs of Electric Wizard are your particular chalice of poison then here you will find a cup with your name on, relentless circular riffage à la Sleep... you can tick that off also. Now it would be easy to think that given these references Wytchgoat could be accused of riding the coattails of their heroes and that "Kult of the Wytch Goat" is an album lacking in originality but you would be wrong, there is a freshness and vitality to the six songs Wytchgoat lay before the altar that although borrows heavily from the past is very much of the now. Grainy, heavy doom grooves, with titles like "Circle of Stoned Goats" and "Conan the Riff Lord", are soaked in differing shades of fuzz and distortion interspersed with scorching acid tinted guitar solo's then further enhanced by heavily phased vocals that sound, on occasions, as if they have been phoned in from another dimension, those vocal tones combined with the relentless nature of the grooves giving everything a delightfully sinister and malevolent edge.

Wytchgoat may not have exactly re-invented the wheel with "Kult of the Wytch Goat" but they most certainly have re-aligned it and put on a shiny new tyre
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones