Tuesday, 16 January 2018

GRAJO ~ SLOWGOD II ...review


Cordoba, Spain is a place with a history of both Roman and Islamic occupation, something that can still be found influencing its architecture to this day. Cordoba is also the home of Grajo a four piece band whose diverse array of western doomic grooves mixed with elements of eastern promise reflect  the two opposing cultures that have helped shape their cities past and present. This blend of styles is something that you can hear for yourselves on the bands latest outing "Slowgod ll" (Underground Legends Records for CD/ DHU Records for Vinyl).


First track "Alteres" lurches out of the speakers like a B movie monster, slow deliberate and menacing, a wave of grinding riffage and pummelling percussion heralding its approach, just has the creature makes its grab for his intended victim she turns opens her mouth and the gloom and darkness are suddenly pierced by the light of sweet honeyed and ethereal vocal tones, tones that placate his bloodlust and bewitch him with their beauty . Ok that's romanticising things a little too much but if your new to Grajo's mix of thunder and sunshine and your reading this before listening then that imagery might just be the  deal breaker for you to go check them out. If and when you do make that move you might also find that the above description is not so far from the truth as you first thought.
Grajo deliver grooves that are dark, low, slow and heavy but they counterbalance those dank, dusky, refrains and thunderous rhythms with husky sweet but powerful clean vocals, vocals that are in stark contradiction to the grooves they are surrounded by yet somehow are enhanced and complimented by them. Album highlights are many on "Slowgod II" but special mentions should go out to the sprawling eastern tinted "Malmuerta", with its Moorish guitar motifs and superb vocal performance, and to the instrumental "Malestrom" with its prog-ish textures and washes of psychedelic/post-rock colouring, in actuality there is not a poor track to be found on the album and you the listener will no doubt find your own favourites.


Grajo have been slowly chipping away at that glass ceiling looming over them for a few years now, trying to reach a wider audience and break their music onto a more international market, "Slowgod II" just might be the album to do that..
Check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday, 15 January 2018

HAUNT ~ HAUNT .... review


Who remembers nights hiding behind a cushion watching old Italian horror movies? Ok if you watch them now they are not so scary and even pretty laughable but back in their day they were guaranteed to give you sleepless nights and have you jumping at every creak and groan of your old wooden floorboards. Haunt, a trio from Central Illinois, with influences that range from The Beatles to Voivoid, rehash those days of wide eyed panic and bedclothes pulled up high to the neck with their self recorded, self produced debut release "Haunt" a stunning mix of  60's style vocal harmonies and retro flavoured horror inspired hard/classic rock and metal,


Haunt are a band who like to play their cards close to their chests only telling us, in their own words, that they are "a lead vocalist on  guitar who also provides keyboards, a bassist who also provides backing vocals and a drummer who provides lead vocal harmonies" adding that they "hope to be thought of as a single entity (a unholy trinity)", all pretty mysterious stuff  but then that air of mystery and intrigue is also reflected in their music.
"Hymn" opens "Haunt" with beautifully executed choral harmonies and counter harmonies wordlessly sang a-cappella style that although not fully representative of the grooves to follow strangely sets the tone for the rest of the album. What does follow is "Revenant" a absolutely enthralling song that boasts among other things swathes of swirling keyboard colouring, a tolling bell and  a cool mix of vocal harmonies and vocal trade offs all superbly supported by tight, solid rhythms and topped off by a recurring guitar motif that will have listeners drooling and salivating. Next track "Planet Horror" sees Haunt move briefly into sci-fi territory with a tune that has an almost comic book quality, theremin-like whoops and whirls swish and swoop around a pacey groove underpinned by flourishes of textured keyboard that for some reason had Desert Psychlist recalling the rock opera " The Rocky Horror Show" especially in it's addictive chorus and playful mix of vocal dynamics. The 60's soaked "Build Your Wall" is up next and finds the band hitting a groove and vocal execution that would, if he was still alive, have had 60's psych rock pioneers Spirit's sadly passed guitarist Randy California beaming with pride. "Living Room" and "Thy Will Be Done" get Haunt back on the horror/occult track, the former a tongue in cheek  Lovecraftian  tale set in a domestic situation, the latter a song with a mini rock opera vibe enhanced by a mixture of early CSN&Y/Byrds like vocal harmonies. "Rise From Your Grave" closes "Haunt" with a beautifully arranged song filled to overflowing with clever little vocal hooks and instrumental catches that will pull you in deeper and deeper into Haunt's world of comic book horror and macabre sci-fi inspired intrigue and have you never wanting, or be able to, leave.


Fate brought Desert Psychlist to "Haunt", (we were searching for a band with a similar name) and if you are not a regular reader of these hallowed pages and fate has also brought you here under those very same circumstances then don't go away without listening, go with fates flow and check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 13 January 2018

SUN OF GREY ~ SUN OF GREY ....review


Right time to take advantage of the lull in review requests and and promos vying for Desert Psychlist's attention and take a step back to October of last year to take a look at a two song, self titled EP. that got a little lost in the huge tsunami of music that descended upon us in 2017, from a band hailing from Colorado going by the name of Sun of Grey.


"Sun of Grey" begins its brief but interesting life with  "All Bad Things" a song that thrums and  sparks like an overloaded electricity cable, hazardous but restrained by its outer casing. This analogy of contained danger is the perfect description for a song that has a dark, low key stealth-like attack both in its vocal and musical execution. The songs gnarled grinding refrain is both menacing, and malevolent but that menace and malevolence comes in a latent form that is akin to finding a sleeping rattlesnake, you know its dangerous but are hypnotized not only by its beauty but also by it's threat.
"The Day After" follows a similar doomic path to its predecessor but this time ramps up the atmospherics with sustained guitar colouring and subtle shifts in dynamic and tempo. The vocalist tells, in powerful clean monotonic tones, a tale of a world torn apart by war and disease against a backdrop of heavily distorted guitar riffage, spine crumbling bass and thunderous percussion, the three musicians painting, with their grooves, a nightmarish dystopian vision of the future.  


Freddy Allen (bass/vocals), Jim Merz (drums) and Anthony Welch (guitar) are Sun of Grey three doomanauts who play music they describe as "expansive as the Plains and as monstrous as the Rocky Mountains that comprise the landscape of Colorado". Now Desert Psychlist has never been to Colorado but it has to be said that the grooves to be found on the two songs that make up "Sun of Grey" are pretty damn huge.
Check 'em out .... 


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 11 January 2018

DOLLAR LLAMA ~ JUGGERNAUT .... review


With two pervious albums already under their belts, "Under The Hurricane" and "Grand Union", and having shared stages with the likes of John Garcia, Karma To Burn and Valient Thorr one would think that Portugual's Dollar Llama would be considered as A-list material among those that prefer their music doomic and stonerized. Somehow, and not because of a lack of talent or dearth of addictive grooves, taking that next step up the ladder has so far eluded the band, hopefully that will all change with the release of their latest album "Juggernaut" (Stoner Groove Records)


"Juggernaut" is possibly Dollar Llama's best album to date combining as it does an undercurrent of gnarly southern strut flecked with elements of raucous stoner/sludge riffage and bluesy hard rock swagger. Add in to this equation the fact that these guys can not only lay down all the grizzled and gnarly refrains you could ever possibly desire but are also not averse to filling their songs with such occasionally outdated notions as swing and melody. From the opening bars of "Semigod" to the gradual fade out that closes last track "Youth Riot" Dollar Llama tick every box needing to be ticked, push every button needing to be pushed to ensure maximum impact. The twin guitar attack of Hugo Vieira and Chikko Marques pay huge dividends and define each song throughout "Juggernaut", whether the pair are playing off one another or harmonising on a motif/riff their contributions are a massive part of what makes Dollar Llama's songs work, their slightly different guitar tones, clashing and entwining around each other, an integral component to the bands overall sound. Beneath those swirling solo's and crunching riffs beats the heart of the band, the engine room of José Dinis (bass) and Pedro Cardoso (drums) who drive and steer the bands groove with booming low end and pummelling percussion, the bassist and drummer laying out loose and easy when the dynamic calls for it, locking in tight and solid when the hammer needs to go down. Over this whirlwind of gnarled groove and duelling fretwork are layered the distinctive tones of one Tiago Simôes his bear like sludge roar and throaty yet surprisingly clear stoner rasp dominating songs like "Knucklehead" and "Nails". giving them an impressive extra level of passion and gritty gravitas, his powerful voice the icing on what is a very tasty cake.


If Dollar Llama's latest release does not see them climbing another rung of the ladder towards wider international recognition within the underground community then there is very little justice in this world. "Juggernaut" is a truly impressive album that deserves better than cult status so do the band a favour tell your friends, tell your family and even tell your enemies to....
check it out ....


© 2018 Frazer jones

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

ISAK ~ EP2 .... review


Space and deserts have a lot in common, both are vast expanses populated by very little, both have extremes of either heat or cold and both have been the inspiration behind much of the underground rock scenes finest moments. Glasgow, Scotland may not be somewhere one would associate with either of these expanses but that has not stopped Glaswegian trio Isak , Joe McGarrity (vocals/guitar), Gregor Malcolm (bass/noise) and Robert "Twig" McLean (drums/percussion), from exploring the musical possibilities these two extremes throw up, as can be witnessed on the bands second release "EP2"


Floydian is the first thought that comes to mind as the swirling, circular motif, that introduces first track "The Sound & The Fury", spins around faster and faster and Floydian is still uppermost in Desert Psychlist's thoughts as Malcolm's gnarly sounding bass refrain is joined by McLean's excellently busy percussion in a groove not dissimilar, in its rhythmic vibe, to that of Pink Floyd's "One Of These Days". However Isak are no copyists and with the introduction of McGarrity's  superbly effective guitar colourings/textures and his clean, clear, perfectly pitched vocals the band soon prove they have a sound and groove all of their own, a groove that although born in streets of Glasgow brushes across sandy desert dunes on its way to the stars and beyond. "Smoke and Mirrors" sees Isak hitting the desert trail with a song that begins with slowly brushed guitar chords echoing over swirling electronic effects underpinned by liquid bass and intricate percussion before exploding into a gnarly desert groove that just as suddenly then drifts into psychedelic ambience with McGarrity singing cryptic lyrics about "Frosted Glass" and "Heavy Water" before the song takes off once again this time on a unexpected foray into heavy blues territory. Malcolm's gnarly bass riff introduces last track "Dirty River" and he is soon joined by McGarrity's grainy guitar and McLean's tight, solid drums in a just as gnarly heavy groove with the guitarist/vocalist ever so slightly flexing his vocal muscles into the upper register. Not a band willing to hang around though Isak soon take the song off on a series of differing tangents that range from spacey ambience through to scorching heavy psych, the band moving through these differing dynamics with unerring and consummate ease.


It's been five years since Isak released "EP" and in that time the band have polished off their rougher edges and refined their sound, Those edges can still be found on "EP2" but they are tempered by a more mature and less abrasive approach, the band concentrating less on how gnarly their riffs can be and focusing more on how they can expand their sound into newer and more challenging areas.
Check 'em out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

GYPSY SUN REVIVAL ~ JOURNEY OUTSIDE OF TIME ... review


Texas, USA is a damn big place and has a reputation for turning out bands and artists with a damn big sound, Desert Psychlist is thinking ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan here but that sonic largeness can also be heard coming from the many underground bands currently making their presence felt outside of  their Lone Star State home. Gypsy Sun Revival are no exception, these Texans have a sound that leans more towards the more polished psychedelic end of classic rock than it does the riff orientated stoner/hard rock usually associated with the underground rock scene, the band utilising keyboards, synths and even a theremin to fill out there sound, giving their grooves a more expansive classical rock sound. The band demonstrate this sound to great effect on their new album "Journey Outside of Time" (Nasoni Records)


Whooshing noise interrupted by fractured guitar chords introduces "Cadillac to Mexico" a song that mixes bluesy swagger with hues of a psychedelic nature, fronted by the clean yet grainy tones of vocalist, and occasional hand drummer, Mario Rodriguez. Rodriguez' strong, but not overly powerful, tones are the perfect fit for Gypsy Sun Revival's brand of acid laced rock his slightly cracked delivery giving this song, and that of the other six songs on"Journey Outside of Time", an authentic gritty edge. Rodriguez is ably supported by Will Weise whose bluesy guitar licks and solo's are an integral part of GSR's overall sound especially when they are combined with Tyler Gene Davis' swirling swathes of keyboard colouring, as on the excellent "Growing Shadows" a lysergic bluesy ballad that explodes into a heavy psych wig out in its final quarter. A band like a car/automobile  is only as strong as the engine that drives it and in Lee Ryan (bass) and Ben Harwood (drums and synth) Gypsy Sun Revival have a V8 beneath their hood, Ryan's liquid bass lines and grizzled low end riffs are big boneshaking affairs that with Harwood's deft mix of delicate and pounding percussion create the perfect platforms for Weise and Davis to launch their swirling sonic assaults from and for Rodriguez to wrap his distinctive vocals around. The album also benefits from a crisp organic production something not overly suprising as the band drafted in ex Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain for mastering duties and Wo Fat's Kent Stump to oversee engineering and mixing.


Not exceptionally heavy but with a nice balance of swaggering Texas blues and acid drenched psych "Journey Outside Of Time" is an album that should appeal to both the classic rock aficionados and those that like their grooves heady and trippy alike.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Monday, 8 January 2018

THE AGE OF TRUTH ~ THRESHOLD ... review


In an age of sex scandals, fake news and games of political smoke and mirrors its nice to come across music that still has an element of honesty and integrity about it. Ironic then, given these days when we can no longer rely on the media for those elements, the music in question comes from a band going by the name of The Age of Truth.
The Age of Truth, hail from Philadelphia, PA and are a band who, in their own words, "blend fuzz and diesel fuel with elements of heavy blues, stoner rock and psychedelia" a blend that can be head on their new album "Threshold". (soon to be released on vinyl on Kozmik Artifactz)


Growlers, groaners and those of a more demonic vocal persuasion all rightfully deserve their place in the vast  array of genres and sub-genres of the underground music scene but music with even a hint of the blues at its core demands strong powerful and relatively clean vocals to maximise its effect and The Age of Truth have ,with Kevin McNamara, found the perfect vocal vehicle for their grooves. McNamara's strong, gritty tones are a revelation throughout "Threshold" hitting Cornell-ish heights in the upper register, getting raw and gravelly in the middle and crooning bluesy and mellow at the lower end, his ability to go from one to the other in the blink of an eye giving songs like "Holding Hands Like Thieves" and the superb "Caroline" an especially pleasing dynamic. The other members of the band are no slouches either with stand in drummer Eric Fisher ( Scott Frassetto has since taken the drum stool) and bassist William Miller creating a plethora of differing rhythmic platforms on which the songs of  "Threshold" are constructed. Miller lays down some boneshaking  bottom end, locking in tight with the drums to drive the grooves from beneath with a mixture of raw power and intricate tenderness while guitarist Mike DiDonato layers over these diverse grooves crunching riffs, gently swept arpeggios and scorching bluesy licks and solo's filling the spaces the rhythmic pairing leave with swathes of colourful guitar texturing, perfectly framing McNamara's vocals while at the same time complimenting those exemplary rhythms.


"Threshold" is a massive album packed with gnarly hard rock/stoner riffage, moments of laid back bluesy swagger and touches of lysergic colouring delivered by a band who are truly on top of their game, forget the past welcome to The Age of Truth!



#Big thanks to Leanne Ridgeway at Mettle Media PR for promo and info

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 6 January 2018

THE MOTHERCRAFT ~ PILLARS ..... review


Canada's The Mothercraft, Geoff Keller (drums), Grizz Penner (bass/vocals) and Jordan LeMoine (guitar/vocals), have been playing cat and mouse with us for what seems like ages, teasing us with a track here, a video there, all the time promising us the release of something a little more tangible, something a little more full-bodied. With jobs and families to worry about it is not always easy, either financially or time wise, for a band to drop everything and go into a studio and record but thankfully The Mothercraft have managed get their shit together long enough to deliver on those promises with the release of their long awaited debut EP "Pillars".


So we've been patient , was it worth the wait? The answer is a resounding yes! Ok what The Mothercraft bring to the table is not a game changer or a re-invention of the wheel but those are not promises these guys ever made, what you do get is four tracks of rollicking good metallic rock'n'roll jam packed with unbridled spirit and freshness and delivered with gusto and passion. First track "Cosmic Nod" is a perfect example of a band enjoying what they do and it coming through in their music, you can almost feel the bands collective smile beaming out of the speakers as they hit into a pacey stoner/hard rock groove replete with neo classical shredding, fuzz laden bass riffage and pulverising percussion fronted by strangely feminine sounding, but totally effective, vocals. By the time you've passed through "Moonrider", with it's superb vocal melody and sludge-lite chorus, "It Follows" with it's call and reponse vocal interplay and addictive groove, and you arrive at the superbly delivered and executed "Sorceress in Blue" that smile you felt you heard coming through your speakers/headphones has transplanted itself on your own face, magical! (Oh and if you let "Sorceress In Blue" run into silence for a while after finishing you are confronted by a weird phone message from someone trying to book the band for a gig and mixing them up with a well known online game and calling them "The World of Mothercraft", hilarious!)


If your on the search for something intense,deep and thought provoking then my friend you have taken the wrong fork in the road. The Mothercraft pretend to be nothing more than a damn good rock band with a penchant for writing damn good, highly enjoyable rock songs and that is also something to be damn proud of
Check 'em out .....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 5 January 2018

WIZARD UNION ~ CEREMONIAL SMOKE .... review


Wizard Union, Samir (guitar/vocals), Aaron (bass/backing vocals) and Larry (drums), started off as a three piece band in 2012 then with the idea of working with similar minded local musicians added  "collective" to their name. This proved a little confusing to those outside of the bands immediate circle and so "collective" was dropped from their name and the band returned to being a trio, self releasing/promoting their own albums as well as those of their numerous side projects. The band are currently promoting their latest EP "Ceremonial Smoke" a four song opus  of doom laden sludge and punk.


If the heavily distorted guitar refrain that introduces "Swords Out For Crom" does not raise those little hairs on the back of your neck then Desert Psychlist suggests you quickly contact your doctor as you may be suffering from some form of sensory deprivation. Sounding like an angle grinder cutting through concrete and supported by big booming bass and solid, punchy percussion this is a riff that grabs you by the throat from note one and refuses to let go. If this is not enough to have you drooling and salivating like a zombie with a severed limb dangling before him then when the vocals kick in you soon will be. Low pitched, with an almost breathy delivery the asthmatic demon-like tones are perfectly in sync with the grinding raucousness of the groove and take the song to an altogether other level. "Spitting Venom" follows and once again the listener is plunged into Wizard Union's world of demonic rasp'n'roll with the band laying down a groove that although touching on the Sabbath-esque, with its shifts in signature and tempo, has a harder much more abrasive, blackened edge. Just as your starting to get really comfortable and digging deep into Wizard Union's take on doomic heavy sludge the band throw in a meteor sized curveball in the shape of "Give Me That Amulet You Witch" a startling but brief experiment in dissonance and angular groove that sees the vocals take on a punkier but nonetheless demonic edge. If you can imagine, late period Captain Beefheart, writing a song for a heavy sludge band then  this is what you might come up with. "Wizard Union - Ceremonial Smoke" finds Wizard Union returning to more traditional climes with a song that boasts a deliciously addictive chugging guitar riff pushed hard by grizzled bass and pounding drums and ends with what sounds, to Desert Psychlist, like a kazoo solo!


Bored rigid with stoner rock mediocrity, tired of those same old rock'n'roll clichés, want your metal to be more METAL?  Then don't delay join the Wizard Union today....
Check 'em out ....

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

FLY AGARIC ~ AMANITA MUSCARIA ... review


Most of you reading the pages of Desert Psychlist will be ardent worshippers at the temple of the riff and let's face it who in our community of metalheads, stoners and psychonauts doesn't get off on a big fat crunching powerchord reverberating with fuzz and distortion. Melody, in a vocal sense, however is an oft overlooked commodity within our scene, many of us becoming so accustomed to the raucous growlers, groaners and shouters that front a lot of the bands we listen to today that it is almost strange to hear clean harmonies and melodies at the forefront of those riffs we love so much.
Australia's Fly Agaric, Ralph Kynoch (guitar/vocals), Tom Learmouth (bass/vocals), Ned Cain (drums) and Jamox Frazier (guitar), are one band trying to redress that balance between the melodic and the demonic by fronting their raucous riffage with clean lead vocals and crystal clear harmonies, something that can be witnessed on their debut release "Amanita Muscaria"  an album which was released back in May 2017 but was only recently brought to Desert Psychlist's attention.


Fly Agaric borrow their dynamics from two separate musical worlds, the rockier end of grunge and the more raucous edges of the desert scene, intertwining them together to create a sound that is familiar but at the same time quite original. The band kick things off with "Meteora" a song that starts off laid back and bluesy then morphs into a chugging desert groove overlaid with cool clean vocals that tell a tale of approaching Armageddon. Over and around this story of destruction and impending doom and against a backdrop of grumbling bass and powerful percussion the two guitarists trade off a series of scorching solo's and licks eventually taking things to a close on a wave of scintillating guitar pyrotechnics. "What Is Said Is Done" follows and fully utilises Kynoch and Learmouth's harmonies, pitching them against a backdrop of gnarly desert riffage and punchy percussion. "The Mirror Doesn't Lie" and "Spare Me" follow a more heavy stoner-ish path with guitar fuzz pedals dialled to eleven and a mixture of lead and vocal harmonies laid over them, the former an out and out rocker the latter a more catchy, almost commercial affair, with a delightfully addictive vocal melody." We Will Be One" has a an alt/grunge feel while "What Goes Around" boasts a groove that straddles that grey area where 70's punk crossed over with the mainstream, a sound once referred to as "new wave". Finally "Black Clouds" brings "Amanita Muscaria" to a close with a song that draws all those threads, visited elsewhere on the album, and weaves them into one big tapestry of swirling lysergic groove.


Melodic but with a sting in it's tail "Amanita Muscaria" is an album that delivers on all levels, whether your a shorts wearing stoner, a leather clad metalhead or a classic rock loving weekend warrior there is something here for you all.
Check it out .....

© 2018 Frazer Jones