Sunday, 22 April 2018

US AS CARAVAN ~ BUILT ...... review


Those brave few who first began experimenting with hallucinogenic substances like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and certain strains of wild mushrooms in the mid to late 60's may not have been aware at the time the effects their use would have on popular culture, especially when it came to music. With their minds expanded musicians started transposing their visual and auditory experiences into the sounds they were making, creating soundscapes with their music that had a certain freedom and an almost an almost transcendental quality. The reverberations from those early days of lysergic experimentation and musical exploration still abide to this day and nevermore so than in the music of today's underground rock scene where the word psychedelic may have been abbreviated to "psych" but is still as out there and experimental as the day it first came on to our radar.
One band embracing that spirit of musical adventure and bringing it up to date for a new generation are Chicago's Us As Caravan a three piece band who blend shoegaze(ish) texturing and  lysergic colourings with fuzz drenched riffage and thunderous rhythms, something that can be heard on their stunning new debut "Built".


As any vinyl/CD buying, or even digital buying, music fan will tell you, sometimes an albums artwork can tell you more about the music inside than a thousand words will and the startling yet simple water colour and crayon painting that adorns "Built" tells you to expect something a little different, a little off-kilter and fresh.
Things start off well straight from the off, a warm liquid bass motif, accompanied by gradually increasing fuzz and feedback, introduces first track "Wave Goodbye", the song then exploding  into a heavily tripped out and hazy blues groove. This however is not the sort of blues groove your gonna hear coming out of some back street blues club played by old men in well worn suits telling you how their baby done them wrong, no this is a heady, trippy blues groove driven by gnarly bass and pounding drums, coated in strong clean, slightly indie vocals then decorated with layers of dirty fuzz and crackling distortion, it is still the blues but with a twist. "Damn Sure" follows and this time the band propel us down more spacey hard rock corridors with guitarist/vocalist Alex dialling his six string settings to phased and his vocals to melodic indie. The song has a strong heavy psych vibe made stronger by drummer Luis' incessant and exemplary use of the more shimmering and crashing components of his kit and Jimmy's ever present booming, growling bass. Next up is "So Called Man" a song that sees the band running the psychedelic flag to the top of the pole and truly embracing their more lysergic leanings. Swirling and hazy with colourful fractured guitar chords vying for space with soaring solos and glistening harmonics it almost feels as though the two previous songs have been gradually leading up to this point and the band now feel ready to cut free and fly. And fly they do with next offering "Chew The Fat" a song that floats and punches in equal measure, its undulating groove visiting elements of  hard rock, spacey psych and hazy blues as it winds along it's merry but terminally stoned way. "Sunfalcon" closes "Built" with a hard driven, heavily fuzzed, phased and distorted psychedelic rocker coated in powerful hazy vocals that has a vibe that suggests the band got together and decided they wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, all guns blazing and hell for leather, something they more than achieve here.



Us As Caravan are a stunning band unafraid to go out on a limb occasionally, a band who deliver a sound that is structured yet has fluidity and freedom, a band who should be mentioned in the same sentences as similar psych/blues trailblazers All Them Witches and Youngblood Supercult, a band you should check out.....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 20 April 2018

BURIED SLEEPER ~ OBSIDIAN ..... review


It has been six years since Scotland's Buried Sleeper released their debut album "Colosseum" and six years is a long, long period in musical terms, a lot of things can happen in a bands life in that time. As we all are slowly coming to realise these days mega stardom and untold riches are no longer something attainable and band members who need to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads also need to have a job outside of their musical endeavours. Whether this is the case in why there has been such a long gap between Buried Sleeper's albums Desert Psychlist doesn't know but it is most likely that work, family and life in general have all somehow played their part. No matter though the band are back now with a new album and a slightly more expansive sound with their latest offering "Obsidian"


"Obsidian" is an album that proves true that old adage that "if something is good then it's worth waiting for", it is also an album that shows Buried Sleeper have not been sitting idle all these years just twiddling their thumbs. There is a deeper more complex feel to the four grooves that make up "Obsidian", all those things that made their debut "Colosseum" such a great listen are all still in place but there is a maturity to their sound now, a maturity reflected in not only their songs but also in their execution and arrangement. The band, Tommy Wigman (bass), Bryce Sutherland (guitar/vocals), Harry Clapham (guitar) and Dominic Hardy (drums), create huge walls of dark atmospheric groove around which they weave clean, mellow and slightly monastic harmonies,  grooves that at times veer towards crushing and heavy but are reigned in by the bands clever use of dynamics and melody, a tsunami of riffs and rhythms that bubble and boil threatening to erupt tempered by moments of simmering tranquility  Each song on "Obsidian" should be listened to as a separate entity as each has its own signature and unmistakeable dark beauty but these songs also work if you ignore the gaps between tracks and listen as if listening to one complete movement, allowing the music and vocals to wash over you in wave upon wave of dark sonic majesty.


Let's hope its not another six years before Buried Sleeper grace us with their next offering but even if that is the case we will still have "Obsidian" to turn to in the interim and that on the evidence of these four songs that is not a bad thing at all.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

SLOW GREEN THING ~ III ...... review


Dresden, Germany, the recipient of a ferocious bombing campaign by the allied forces during the Second World War, was rebuilt, reconstructed and is now a central hub for cultural and technological education with the Dresden University of Technology being one of the biggest seats of learning in the country. As seems the case with all university cities it is never long before a vibrant and enthusiastic music scene becomes established around them. Dresden is no different boasting up and coming bands like the retro sounding Wucan and the psychedelic Sir Robin and The Longbowman, the city also has a thriving heavy scene and up front and centre of that scene stand a four piece band going by he name of Slow Green Thing, a band who have already had two well received releases under their belts in 2014's "I" and 2016's "II" and have just released their third album, unsurprisingly entitled "III" (Fuzzmatazz Records)



With one foot in the hard/classic rock of the 70's/80's and the other in the swampy heaviness of today's stoner metal/doom scene Slow Green Thing, Sven (guitar/vocals), Andreas (guitar), Jorg (drums) and Martin (bass), are one of those bands once heard, never forgotten. The quartet have a distinctive groove that is very much their own, a signature sound that marries melody with crushing heaviness without over leaning in either direction, the band walking stridently and confidently a middle ground between both dynamics. On songs such as "When Habits Embrace" and "Recipe of Doom" it would be so easy for Slow Green Thing to fall in to the trap of being heavy just for heaviness sake but they avoid this by injecting into their songs a melodic air both vocally and in the structure of their musical arrangements, tempering and counterbalancing all the heaviness of their grooves with soaring psychedelic guitar solo's and clean, clear vocal melodies, allowing spaces where the music can take a breath before diving back down into doomic depths.


Slow Green Thing's "III" is an album that fluctuates between crushing and caressing in an instant, brimming over with grooves that are a mix of volatile seething riffage, mellow psychedelic meanderings and old school hard rocking bluster, all delivered with a level of musicianship that at times takes your breath away.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 15 April 2018

WITCH TRIPPER ~ I, OF THE STORM ...... review


Mansfield, England 2014 and bass player Chris "Stoff" Daughton and guitarist Richie Barlow bump into each other while out and about and get talking, the pair hit it off and decide, due to their similar musical leanings, to form a band. "Stoff " and Barlow start then to look for a drummer and finally settle on young skin beater Jimmy Collins and so Witch Tripper are born. The band soon begin a period of intense gigging which culminates in an appearance at the prestigious Bloodstock Festival thanks to them coming second in a battle of the bands type competition in their area. In this time the band also find the time to unleash their hard rocking debut album "Witch Tripper" on an unsuspecting but very grateful public. Two years later, with a slew of gigs under their belts and a growing reputation the band return to the studio, the result of which is this their second album "I, Of The Storm"


Witch Tripper, with their debut album, hit a groove that melded elements of hard rock, classic rock and metal with touches of bluesy swagger  and played it with the same sort of passion, intensity and power that Lemmy's legendary Motorhead used to attack their rock'n'roll based metal with, this time however Witch Tripper have ramped up the metallic content of their sound, eased off of those bluesy elements and in doing so have found their own sound. From the very first notes of first track "White Lines" it is fairly obvious this is a not a band who are going to be asking us to hug a tree and worry about our carbon footprints anytime soon, no this is a take no prisoners and give no quarter rocket ride of  hi-octane, foot to the floor rock'n'roll played hard, played fast and played dirty. Witch Tripper cleverly keep things tight and economical throughout, with only two songs, "I, Of The Storm" and "Roll The Dice", creeping over the five minute mark, resulting in the albums songs having a more immediate feel and in your face impact, something Desert Psychlist imagines must transfer extremely well to the live environment. Musically the band are as tight as their songs with "Stoff" and Collins laying down a thrumming whirlwind of drum and bass groove for Barlow to decorate with his strong grainy vocals and mix of metallic and bluesy guitar colourings, the three musicians combining to create a thunderous maelstrom of filthy groove that is as exciting as it is enjoyable.



Whether you've got a soft spot for old school heavy metal, a penchant for full on hard rock or a hankering for stonerized heavy blues you will find something on "I, Of The Storm" to quench your thirst and sate your appetite. To paraphrase Jagger and Richards " It's only rock'n'roll but we fucking love it"
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 14 April 2018

LORD ELLIS ~ MOUTH OF THE MAD .... review


When Humboldt County bands The Hitch, Dragged By Horses, Sake and Grimace went their separate ways various members of those bands started looking around for other projects to fill up their time and sate their need to make music, one such project took the form of a new band going by the name of Lord Ellis and saw the release in 2015 of a self-titled album. "Lord Ellis" showed a band totally in tune with each other who blended old school hard rock with elements of grunge, punk and proto-metal to create a virtual tsunami of groove that would gain them an army of new fans and followers. Forward to 2018 and the band are back, a little bit older a little bit wiser and with a new album entitled "Mouth of the Mad"


The ex The Hitch rhythm section of Steve Bohner (drums) and Roshawn Beere (bass) are the backbone of groove around which Pablo Midence (guitar/vocals) and Adam Sorter (keys) weave their magic, the rhythmic pairing coming across at times like the stoner rock equivalent of legendary reggae rhythmeisters Sly & Robbie. Bohner's on point percussion and Beere's growling, rumbling bass are the rock steady foundations on which each of "Mouth of the Mad's" ten songs are built and when Desert Psychlist says songs, we mean songs. Lord Ellis are not just a vehicle for endless riffage as there is more going on here than just refrains and rhythms, the band know how to structure their songs so as to bring the best out of them utilising things like melody and dynamics to breathe life into them. Sorter's keyboard contributions are a major ingredient in Lord Ellis' sonic attack but unlike John Lord's role in Deep Purple where Lord, with Ritchie Blackmore, was one of the main instrumental voices of the band Sorter's role is more decorative, the keyboardist supporting and complimenting the grooves rather trying to overwhelm them. This is not to say that Sorter doesn't shine, on the excellent "Hollywood" he introduces the song with a swathe of delicious wooshing organ and when given the room to execute a blistering solo mid-song he greedily grabs it with both hands and duly delivers. Midence's vocal and guitar work throughout "Mouth of the Mad" is a revelation, whether he is chopping out raucous chordal colourings or burning through the frets on a soaring solo he gives everything to the song, something that can also said about his vocal contributions. Midance's voice is distinctive and strong with a grainy edge and is a dominant force even when joined by Sorter on backing vocals and occasional harmonies, the guitarist/vocalist even managing to pull off a faultless Glenn Hughes type falsetto on the aforementioned "Hollywood".


Because of the bands use of keyboards to complete their overall sound there will probably be, as there always seems to be in these cases, those inevitable comparisons to Deep Purple being made. This in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion would be a touch unfair  as Lord Ellis are a band who with "Mouth of the Mad" are attempting to forge their own sound and groove and on the evidence of this album are making a damn good job of it!
Check 'em out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 13 April 2018

STONE DUST RIDERS ~ VOLUME 1 ....... review


I guess you could call Baltimore's Stone Dust Riders a true garage band, the trio of Sean Kearney (guitar/vocals), Dennis Barth (bass) and the oddly named Cabbage (drums), having worked out their tunes, rehearsed and jammed them from a garage they call "The Compound" in Granite , Maryland. Now the words "garage band" these days seems to conjure up visions of  The Stooges, MC5 type grooves, raw and untamed rock with a ton of feral punkish attitude but Stone Dust Riders could not be further from that description, the sound coming from their garage is an intriguing mix of 70's hard rock bluster and 90's stoner/desert grooviness all seasoned with a large pinch of bluesy swagger, still slightly raw edged but with a certain finesse. Their debut release "Volume 1" may have been born in the garage but it wants to live in the mansion.


"Volume 1" kicks into life courtesy of the WAH drenched and fuzz heavy  instrumental "November" a delightfully grainy tome driven by Cabbage's solid, tight percussion and Barth's growling bass over which Kearney lays down a grizzly circular refrain embellished with gritty lead work. "Bike Ride" follows and we are suddenly plunged into newer territory with the band hitting into a funky blues groove that if it were not for its fuzz heavy mid-section you would swear was something lifted from a (pre-Michael McDonald) Doobie Brothers session thanks to its excellent vocal melody where Kearney perfectly channels the spirit, of that bands original vocalist (Tom Johnston), in both his tone and delivery.
Throughout "Volume 1" Stone Dust Riders explore different aspects and facets of that we call the "blues" putting a jazzy spin on them on "Steve The Dolphin", tinting them in psychedelic hues on "British Desert Tent" or just rocking them out with old school heaviness and southern swagger as on "Hominey & Grits" and "42",


Be you a hippy sporting a bandana and a kaftan, a stoner in cargo shorts and band tee or a hep cat in a zoot suit and tie you can rest assured that somewhere on "Volume 1" Stone Dust Riders have your blues preferences covered
Check it out ....

© Frazer Jones 2018

Thursday, 12 April 2018

TWIN SPEAK ~ SOULSS ..... review


Desert Psychlist described Twin Speak's self titled debut album, in a short Bandcamp review blurb, as "perfect for those times when you have overdosed on heavy riffs and just want something to chill to" and "instrumental jam/stoner/desert rock that has a Colour Haze, Sungrazer, Causa Sui vibe" . Whether the band, Brandon Battles (guitar), Brett Rhymestine (guitar) and Ian Bellassai (drums), agreed with those descriptions is not known but there must have been something in those words that resonated with the Utica, New York trio as they recently contacted Desert Psychlist to point us in the direction of their latest release "Soulss"


Instrumental music can sometimes come over a touch one dimensional , lacking in the lyrical hooks and phrasing a vocalist can bring to the table, relying instead on the strength and instrumental prowess of the musicians involved. Sometimes those strengths and skills can work against a band and find them wandering into areas of self-indulgent, mindless noodling, thankfully that is not the case here. "Soulss" is not a pretty album but then nor is it an ugly one, there are moments of sheer beauty to be found throughout its forty two plus minute duration but there are also moments of discord and brutality, Twin Speak balance out these opposing aspects by not allowing one or the other ever to become the dominant force, weaving those aspects into each of their songs, sometimes in sections, sometimes cleverly interlaced together. There is also an undeniable cinematic quality to many of the grooves on "Soullss" with songs like "Black On Biscay", "Moonbathing" and "Mantras & Monsters" undulating in both mood and tempo, executed as if the band are following a film script only they can see but want you to feel.


A lot more angular and convoluted than its predecessor "Soulss" is nevertheless a stunning album that although not always easy on the ear is worth putting in the little extra effort needed to truly appreciate its, at times, breathtaking majesty.
Check it out ......

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 9 April 2018

SHINE ~ MOON WEDDING ...... review


In Poland slow is the new black, or that is how it seems whenever Desert Psychlist is confronted by something from that countries burgeoning heavy underground scene, musicians from this part of the world must be drinking something in the water that causes them to slow things down to crawling pace while at the same time thickening them up in both depth and resonance . ShineKamil Baran - guitar/vocals, Damian Olearczyk - bass/vocals, Igor Wasztyl - guitar and Marcel Łękawa - drums, a four piece stonerized doom band from Bielsko-Białaare are no exception to this rule. Shine, who first came to our attention with their excellent debut EP "Weednight", have a knack for creating lurching menacingly atmospheric grooves shot through with lysergic textures, textures and grooves they continue to explore on their latest release "Moon Wedding"


"Goat Mountain", an instrumental piece, opens "Moon Wedding", as you would expect, an achingly low, terminally slow doom groove supported from beneath by slow deliberate percussion with bass and rhythm guitar holding down the songs main riff while the second guitar adds touches of low, lysergic colouring. The song gradually increasing in depth and intensity before unexpectedly morphing into an up-tempo, wah pedal drenched blues groove in its dying seconds, an unexpected turn of events but one that is as enjoyable as it is surprising. "Shine" follows and finds the band once again hitting the slow. low trail this time though with the distortion levels turned up to eleven, vocals telling of seeing "unholy naked women dancing on your crypt" are delivered in cracked, sinister tones against a backdrop of grainy fuzz and pulverising rhythm. Title track "Moon Wedding" is up next and for once the band step away from their usual lethargic groove and embrace an almost stoner-esque,desert dynamic that sees Olearczyk and Łękawa laying down a solid bedrock of bass and drum grooviness for Baran and Wasztyl to decorate with crunching riffs and swirling solo's over which Baran and  Olearczyk harmonise lyrics that tell of  "a trip on a broom" and  agonize over " the illusion of separation". Shine return to the swampy mire for "Honey" a song whose tittle suggests saccharine sweetness but is in fact a song telling a tale of suffocation in sin and a slow fall from grace set against slow grinding metallic refrains and punishing percussion. "Riding The Snake" closes out the album with another slightly up-tempo number pushed by Olearczyk's growling bass and Łękawa's strident drums and overlayed with Baran and Wasztyl's combination of crunching powerchords and heavily effect laden guitar solo's, ok its not exactly thrash but for a band who like to play things a little sedate this is pretty pacey stuff.

 

Shine proved with their debut "Weednight" that they were a band to be reckoned with, a band with a penchant for the slow and heavy but one with a willingness to step outside of those constraints into faster waters if and when the mood took them but they were also a band still searching for their definitive sound, with "Moon Wedding" they've found it.
Check 'em out ...

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 8 April 2018

GODHEAD LIZARD ~ GODHEAD LIZARD .... review


Originally an instrumental band Quebec's Godhead Lizard, Jo (drums), Nic (guitar) and Phil (bass), soon came to realise they were missing a vital component from their musical equation and after a year of instrumental heaviness recruited that component into their sound in the shape of vocalist Vince. This move not only turned the band from a trio into a quartet overnight but was one that also saw their musical visions become full blown stories. Those stories, telling of anguish and despair pitched against a backdrop of crunching riffage and diverse rhythms, are now presented, for your listening pleasure, via the bands debut EP "Godhead Lizard".


"Dingir" kicks things off and starts with samples of contrasting religious cadences chanted and sang over an ever evolving guitar motif before exploding into a throbbing heavily fuzzed stoner-ish groove around which the vocalist rails against the hypocrisy's of religion and worship , in rich powerful  and slightly bitter tones. "Aphelia" follows and finds the band ramping up the atmospherics with a low. slow and very dank groove embellished with clever effects and touches of bluesy colouring, the songs brooding moodiness taken to another level by an unbelievably strong emotive vocal. Next track "Ancient Suns" begins its life gentle and considerate with acoustic guitar strummed and picked over a background of textured ambience before exploding bomb-like into a fuzz drenched heavy blues groove with its vocals, supported by growling bass, pounding percussion and crunching guitar, up front, aggressive and in your face. Around the halfway mark the groove suddenly shifts and the songs morphs into cinematic mode with frontman Vince taking the song to a close narrating a half sang, half spoken story/tone poem over a backdrop of liquid bass, jazzy percussion and glistening arpeggios, its overall effect and execution having an element of Robert De Niro's/Travis' iconic " All the animals come out at night" speech in Martin Scorcese's "Taxi Driver". "Mirage" finds Godhead Lizard back in more familiar territory, the band hitting a raucous hard rock/stoner groove drenched in fuzz and distortion and flecked with touches of bluesy swagger. "Dreamstone" closes proceedings with a song that follows in much the same vain as its predecessor but then veers left into  more lysergic areas before finishing in a wave of droning noise.


Dark, moody, atmospheric and brooding, "Godhead Lizard" is all of things and more, an album that delivers on all levels written, arranged and performed  by a band unafraid to confront things like alienation, frustration and anger yet a band still able to keep their foot well and truly on the groove.
Check 'em out ...

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 7 April 2018

FERNANDO ~ FERNANDO ........ review


Let's not muck about with long introductions today, let's just get down to the nitty gritty and tell you that FernandoNelson Rodrigues - Guitar / Vocals, Pedro Simão - Bass and Filipe Diniz - Drums, are a three piece band from Caldas Da Rainha, Portugal who play raucous sludge/stoner grooves coated in a mixture of clean and throaty vocal melodies and have a self-titled album out now that you just must hear.

In trying to keep with the straightforward and to the point introduction to this review how does Desert Psychlist explain how damn good this album is without going overboard and getting all gushing and flowery? Well the truth is we can't as "Fernando" is one of the most immediate and joyous albums we have had the privilege of hearing so far this year. Let's start with the riffs, this band have riffs coming out of their pores, raucous riffs, complex riffs, riffs that go in one direction and reverse back on themselves, riffs that will send shivers up your spine, riffs that will have have your jaw hitting the floor. If, by now you've not already scrolled down to the link posted beneath this review then let us tell you about the mixture of complex and simple rhythms that sit beneath those riffs, infectious drum beats and thrumming bass grooves that are the driving force around which those aforementioned riffs (and solo's) are executed, a tsunami of shifting  rhythmic groove that swells and quells as the various dynamics of each song dictate. Still with us? Well then let's discuss the superb vocal melodies that decorate these grooves, clean vocal melodies that swing between melodic and throaty and counterbalance the raucousness of the songs riffs and grooves with their contrasting mellow approach.


Ok, so if you managed to get here without scrolling past all our slavering praise then I guess you deserve to finally hear what we consider to be one of this years finest debuts from a new and very exciting band.
 Check it out ...

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 6 April 2018

MALOTA ~ KOCMOHABT ... review


Venice, Italy that maze of canals linked by bridges was, during the middle-ages, once a major seat of power but is these days known more as tourist attraction for foreign travellers, however power can take many forms and there is a new power making its presence felt atop the wooden piles and limestone plates that hold the city above water and is one wielded by four musicians, Alberto Montagner (guitar), Max D'Ospina (bass/keyboards/vocals),Roberto "Mariuz" Mariuzzo (drums/vocals) and Massimo Battistella (guitar/keyboards), who go by the name Malota, that power is the power of the riff and it can be heard on the bands latest album "Kocmohabt".

Concept albums seem to be coming out on an almost daily basis lately and "Kocmohabt" is yet another one, this time though there is a touch of tongue in cheek black humour involved as the theme concerns a journey through the cosmos not on a spaceship, designed to go where no man has been before, but on drugs. Songs with titles like "Visa for the Universe", "You Drive Me Junkie" and "Dimethyheptylpyran and Space Alien Dolphins" are served up with a mixture of swaggering hard rock bluster, gritty stoner/sludge attitude and a mischievous twinkle in the eye. From the absolutely delightful "The Long Sleep, The Wake and The Warp", with it's totally addictive and hard not to sing-a-long to chorus, through to the speaker shredding heaviness of "Buprenorphinelessness" there is a sense of roads much travelled, a feeling that this is less a concept and more a collective acid trip documented in music. Musically the band do not put a foot out of place with the band utilising a mixture of crunching riffage, thundering rhythms and strong throaty vocals with which to decorate their grooves overlaying those grooves with a wash of  clever keyboard effects and synthesised textures to give their sound, and songs, an extra lysergic dimension and astral spaciousness..


Listening to "Kocmohabt" brings to mind Neo's dilemma in the Matrix, "You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.". Desert Psychlist suggests you take the red pill and let Malota show you their universe.
Check 'em out ...


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 2 April 2018

PALE BASTARD ~ PALE BASTARD ........ review


A bands lifestyle choices can often be an indication of the music they play so when Swansea based Welsh rockers declare theirs as "riffs, beards, beers and blunts" you kind of get the feel that their grooves are going to be of a raucous, stonerized nature, a theory that is more than borne out by their self titled debut album "Pale Bastard"


Raucous metal riffs and gnarly stonerized rhythmic grooves are very much in evidence throughout the seven tracks that make up "Pale Bastard", as are shades of southern bluesy swagger and old school hard rock bluster and even some occasional doomy dankness, the band combining all these textures and stylings together to create a groove that is as much old school as it is new. A perfect example of this blending of musical styles occurs on the albums second track "Residual Fluid" where the band kick things off with a groove that would not have sounded out of place on a compilation album from NOLA's southern sludge and metal scene with heavy crunching riffs and big growling vocals layered over a backdrop of swampy groove that then suddenly takes off quite unexpectedly into a blues drenched metallic boogie section before gradually segueing into more stonerized metal territory for its finale. This diversity in dynamics and style continue right throughout the album even touching on prog(ish)  on  "Jira" and the excellently schizophrenic "Anne Frankenstein"  Highlights are many on "Pale Bastard" but if Desert Psychlist had to pick a favourite then we would have to opt for the sludgey stoner metal heaviness of "Spider Blood" with it's duelling vocals and diversity of guitar tones, a song that holds your attention from its crunching first note to its last.


In all honesty though there is not a weak track to be found throughout "Pale Bastard", the band cherry-picking elements from a variety of musical sources to create a sound that although has its core in the dynamics of sludge and metal is not constrained by those dynamics, a debut album that in Desert Psychlist's opinion is up there with this years finest.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 31 March 2018

COSMIC FALL ~ IN SEARCH OF OUTER SPACE ...review


One definition of the word cosmic is something that is "inconceivably vast" and that is exactly what you can expect from Berlin, Germany's purveyors of the lysergic and trippy Cosmic Fall. The band, Daniel Sax (drums), Klaus Friedrich (bass/vocals) and Marcin Morawski ( guitar) describe themselves as a psychedelic jam band so the question is can a band who have a tendency, and need, to go off on tangents into the unknown be confined by the parameters placed upon them by studio time and album length, well I guess we will find out by giving their latest release "In Search of Outer Space" a listen.


Deep rolling distorted bass backed by solid insistent percussion introduces first track "Jabberwocky" and is then joined by wailing low pitched guitar only for it to all fall away when the vocals enter. Not wishing to sound rude or of stereotyping a particular style of singing but Friedrich's vocals do have a distinctive Germanic tone, a tone often associated with the work of  Kraftwerk, an almost robotic baritone delivery that at first listen sounds slightly at odds with the swirling psych that surrounds them but after their initial shock dissipates seem like the most natural thing in the world. Whether your a fan of Friedrich's vocal stylings or not the real meat and potatoes of Cosmic Fall's sound is their ability to take a groove and twist and bend it into any shape or form they desire, taking off on tangents into hyperspace one minute grooving on the dirtiest of riffs the next while shoehorning elements of jazz, metal, funk and good old fashioned rock into those grooves along the way. Musically these guys are firmly on point with Friedrich holding down the bottom end on songs like "Narcotic Vortex", "Lumberjam" and the aforementioned "Jabberwocky" with a mixture of liquid funky and fuzz heavy distorted bass while Sax's drumming throughout is nothing short of breath-taking, especially on the laid back "Purification" where his jazzy chops are well and truly to the fore. Morawski meantime takes elements from such guitar masters as Gilmour, Hendrix, Page and Holdsworth and blends them together in a mish mash of styles that comes out as pure Morawski, using elements, drawn from a wide musical spectrum, to paint swirling brush strokes of scintillating lead over Friedrich and Sax's ever shifting rhythmic textures.


The title of this album is "In Search Of Outer Space" and they say that the search is half the fun, if they are having this much fun just searching imagine the fun they will have when they finally find what they are looking for
Check it out ...

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 30 March 2018

INDICA BLUES ~ HYMNS FOR A DYING REALM .... review


Greek mythology tells us that from the demise of the legendary Phoenix another will rise from its ashes and take its place, well that legend when applied to Oxford based doomsters Indica Blues has a ring of truth to it. When cult Oxford doomsters Caravan of Whores called it a day fan Tom Pilsworth, a guitarist/vocalist with a love of Kyuss and Electric Wizard, approached CoW's now out of work guitarist John Slaymaker and invited him to a jam, the pair hit it off both musically and personally and after recruiting Andrew Haines-Villalta on bass and Ed Glenn on drums (Glenn has since left the band and has been replaced by Rich Walker) Indica Blues were born.
The current line up have just released the follow up to their well received debut "Ruins On The Shore" entitled "Hymns For A Dying Realm". ( Releases April 21 2018. available to pre-order from their Bandcamp page now)


Doom, as a genre, is a many headed beast sprouting a myriad of sub-genre faces snapping and snarling at each other from a dark powerful neck so the question you may be asking now is what doomic face does Oxford's Indica Blues wear? Well the answer to that question is not as straightforward as you might expect as Indica Blues are as prone to travelling the traditional route as they are to travelling down more diverse roads, the band blending elements of  old school grandeur with those of a more lysergic and stonerized nature while at the same time tipping their caps to the Sabbath's, Budgie's and May Blitz's whose proto-metal endeavour's unwittingly and unknowingly kick started this whole doom thing. The old school elements of  Indica Blues sound are well represented here on "Hymns For A Dying Realm" by the albums first two songs "Cosmic Fall" and "Knight's Return" both of which are driven by pounding percussion and throbbing deep bass lines then overlaid with clean. slightly stilted and gothic vocal tones around which overdriven crunching riffs and swirling dark solo's are weaved. If the grandiose doom of the likes of Candlemass and Reverend Bizarre are your thing then you may now be thinking you've opened the door to your own personal heaven but there is more to Indica Blues than just big riffs and big vocals as can be witnessed on the album's next track,"Reigns End", which not only raises the albums tempo up a notch or two but also sees the band experimenting with touches of goth rock texturing. Here the big riffs and pummeling percussion, employed on the songs verses, are fractured by shimmering chordal voicings, on its chorus, and give the song a feel that would not have sounded out of place on one of The Cure's (British goth rock band) darker, early career, albums. "Scum River" follows and finds the band back in low, slow territory but this time salting their sedate refrains with a sprinkling of heady lysergic flavouring with scorching blues infused lead work swooping and swirling over a backdrop of grainy doom groove. "Pearls In The Ash" and "Island of Hate" follow in very much the same vein with heavy riffs, thundering percussion and psych drenched solo's the frame around which mournful clean vocals tell their stories of  woe and wonder before the band bring things to a close with "Psychedelic Haze" a huge atmospheric tome infused with bluesy colourings and proto doomic dankness that takes off into the stratosphere in its final third courtesy of it's spine-chilling, jaw dropping guitar solo.


Indica Blues, with "Hymns For A Dying Realm", have taken traditional doom back into territories the genre was heading towards, before the stoners, droners and black metallers hijacked it and diverted it down new paths, and have done so by not blinkering themselves to those other forms and styles but by amalgamating some, but not all, of those forms into their own sound, creating a sort of hybrid that has is roots in the traditional but it's head in the clouds.
Check it out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 25 March 2018

CLEOPHUZZ ~ WIZARD OF PHUZZ .... review


Two six-string guitars, one set of drums might suggest a lack of bottom end in a bands overall sonic impact but Quebec based Canadian psychonauts Cleophuzz, Alex Sabourin (rhythm guitar), Joe Poitras (guitar/vocals) and Joseph Grenier (drums), have no problems with putting "the low" into their particular brand of desert tinted, blues flecked psychedelic rock as can be witnessed when giving the bands eclectic debut EP "Wizard of Phuzz" (releases March 30th 2018) a spin.


"Wizard of Phuzz" opens its account with "Sandstorm" an instrumental that begins its life in Colour Haze flavoured style, moody, atmospheric and drenched in fuzz. The song crawls and drags itself slowly along on this experimental, highly atmospheric dynamic, embellished with clever little sound effects,  gradually gaining in momentum before climbing to its feet and suddenly exploding into a heavy psychedelic/desert groove pushed by Grenier's pummelling percussion and Sabourin's grainy, heavily effected rhythmic guitar and overlayed with swirling lysergic colouring courtesy of Poitras' hugely distorted lead work. "Mirage" follows and although very much in the same ballpark soundwise as the previous track this time the band introduces a little laid back bluesy swagger into the equation, a swagger that is further emphasised by Poitras  throaty, slightly weary but totally effective vocal melody. Next track " Half Moon Ritual" finds Cleophuzz exploring their spiritual, transcendental side with an achingly beautiful instrumental that has a strong Arabian/Indian influence and sees Grenier providing a strong backbone of tribalistic percussion around which Sabourin and Poitras weave a smorgasbord of diverse, exhilarating and majestic glistening arpeggios, fractured chords and swooping solo's all competing and complementing each other against a backdrop of mesmerising eastern rhythms. It seems fitting, given the Cleophuzz's obvious desert rock influences, that they should brings things to a close with "Walk of Shame" a song that ties all the elements of the albums previous songs together in one place and adds into that mix a touch of Kyuss-like Palm Desert swing with Poitras very much channelling the raw spirit of John Garcia in his strong powerful vocal delivery.


Desert rock is a term and genre that covers quite a wide and varied spectrum taking in the experimental explorations of bands like Causa Sui, Colour Haze and Sungrazer right through to the raucous riffery  of Kyuss and Unida, Cleophuzz with "Wizard of Phuzz" have found a place for themselves in a middle ground sitting somewhere between those dynamics, a place that allows them the freedom to experiment and rock out in equal measure, a place you should most definitely visit.
Check 'em out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 23 March 2018

GREEN DRUID ~ ASHEN BLOOD ...review


Desert Psychlist are not the first site to review Green Druid's debut album nor we suspect will we be the last and in reading the reviews  from our colleagues in the undergrounds free press (for research reasons, no plagiarism here) there seems to be a lot of Sleep, Electric Wizard comparisons being made with regard to this Denver based quartet. Now for some that may not seem a bad thing others may well disagree but whatever your stance there is no denying that the bands first full length album "Ashen Blood". (Earache Records), is something that certainly makes its presence felt.


They say "big is beautiful" and it has to be said that although beautiful is not something Green Druid were specifically aiming for with "Ashen Blood" big is certainly something they have achieved. What we have here are seven dank slow, low and heavy tomes, six of which span from just under nine minutes to an epic eighteen plus, with only one "Nightfall", an eerie collection of drones, scraping metal and cawing bird effects, falling under four minutes. "Pale Blood Sky" opens proceedings and begins with the band laying down a swathe of grizzled, grainy low slung riffage that suddenly falls away when the vocals appear. Up to this moment it is fairly easy to understand why those comparisons with Sleep and Electric Wizard have been made as there is a similar level of relentlessness and raw depth to the riffs and rhythms executed here, however the addition of guitarist/vocalist Chris McLaughlin's voice to the mix takes things in a whole new direction. McLaughlin's vocals, whether singing clean and mellow or growling harsh and feral, have a certain uniqueness that is hard to describe, there are times, like on the quieter moments of the superbly schizophrenic "Dead Tree", when his voice almost wanders into indie/alt territory, his harsher delivery is also just as unique with him avoiding the usual low guttural approach and opting for a far more manic larynx shredding roar, while on "Ritual Sacrifice" his heavily phased vocal gives the song an almost otherworldly feel. McLaughlin's diverse array of vocal tones throughout "Ashen Blood" are what gives Green Druid their edge over similar sounding bands and helps elevate the albums songs to a level they might not have attained if the band had employed a vocalist of a more generic doom nature  McLaughlin's voice and guitar contributions are superbly backed up by Ryan Skates growling, grumbling bass and Ryan Sims powerful, relentless percussion the pair combining to lay down huge arrays of thunderous groove on the albums heavier sections yet able to lay out considerate and supportive on its quieter, more lysergic moments, creating the perfect rhythmic platform for guitarists Graham Zander and McLaughlin to decorate with their mix of crunching down tuned power chords and dark swirling, psych drenched solo's, their guitars weaving around each other to fill the spaces Skates and Sims leave with swathes of dank but vibrant six-string colouring.


Those fans of Sleep and Electric Wizard brought here by those reviews, mentioned in this pieces intro, will no doubt revel in the heaviness and remorselessness of the grooves found within "Ashen Blood" but those with a more discerning palette, who may find the more progressive/psychedelic, yet still as heavy, leanings of the likes of Elder and Spelljammer more to there taste, will also discover plenty here to drool and slaver over too.
Check it out .....



© 2018 Frazer Jones