Monday, 22 January 2018

DIRTY PAGANS ~ VOLUME 1 ... review


Musical tags can often be misleading especially when browsing the pages of sites such as Bandcamp, Spotify,and  Deezer . You can spend ages looking for something in a certain genre only to find a band, tagged as being in that genre, are something completely different to what they are tagged as. However this is not the case with Australian groovsters Dirty Pagans new album "Volume1". The legend tucked beneath the new albums page tags the band as occult. doom metal, hard rock, heavy metal, psych and stoner rock... and they are all of them!!


"Volume 1" begins with the sound of a stylus being laid on to vinyl and that brief crackling noise we all remember hearing before our favourite tunes erupted from our speakers, and like those favourite tunes of yesteryear first song "Armour of Satan" does indeed erupt, blowing out your eardrums with gnarled proto-doom riffage that begins with a brief nod to Sabbath's "War Pigs" then moves into its own grizzled stoner doom groove before easing off the accelerator and getting down, low and slow when the vocals finally make an appearance. Here is where we come to what sets Dirty Pagans apart from others ploughing similar musical furrows, Dirty Pagans don't take the road trodden by many of their contemporaries by just coating their grooves in gritty, half growled, half roared vocal dynamics, though they do utilise this style (among many others), they also go to the other extreme with rock god like vocal pyrotechnics soaring over swathes of  crunching riffage and constantly shifting pulverising rhythms, in other words old school metal vocals applied to new school grooves. Each  of the five songs on "Volume 1", "Armour of Satan","The Man Who Killed The Gods", "Visions","Down Below" and "Love In Your Eyes", feels like a mini rock opera with the band seamlessly criss-crossing across a variety of metal genres and sub-genres, cleverly blending elements of late 70's early 80's heavy metal thunder with a myriad of modern metal and hard rock styles to create an album that in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion is utterly mindblowing.
Check it out ...


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 21 January 2018

CRYPT TRIP ~ ROOTSTOCK ...review


From the very first note of Texas trio Crypt Trip's self titled debut album "Crypt Trip" it was fairly obvious that this was a band to be reckoned with, a band with something to say, a blues based band who were going to take this weary and tired genre by the scruff of the neck and drag it into new and exciting directions yet at the same time stay true to its roots. Then along came "Mabon Songs" a three song EP that saw the band step backwards in time eschewing the stonerized and psychedelic elements of their debut for a more organic blues rock sound that had an almost dated proto-ish feel. Clearly this was a band who were going to follow their own agenda's and not be shackled by others expectations. Two years after the release of "Mabon Songs" Crypt Trip, Ryan Lee (guitar/vocals/electric piano), Cameron Martin (vocals/drums) and Sam Bryant (bass), return with their latest full album "Rootstock" let's see where they intend taking us this time.


"Heartslave" opens"Rootstock" kicking things into gear with a funky wah drenched little number coated in clean melodic vocal tones that over the course of its 5:19 length more or less covers every beat, groove and dynamic ever explored within the fields of bluesy hard rock yet managing to do this without ever sounding anything other than original  The band follow this little beauty up with "Boogie No.6" and again we find the band shape shifting their sound to accommodate another smorgasbord of various bluesy dynamics that also include those of a more psychedelic hue. Next up is "Aquarena Daydream" and those lysergic hues briefly visited earlier come in to their own in a song that boasts dreamy, far away vocal melodies, Allman-esque guitar tones and a swathe of atmospheric keyboard flourishes before finishing on a pacey blues groove that includes all those hallmarks and elements we have come to expect from blues music born in the Lone Star State. "Rio Vista" finds Crypt Trip hitting the proto/retro trail with a scintillating blues workout, underpinned by Martin and Bryant's furious bass and drum work, again swathed in swirling organ ( courtesy of guest musician Brittany Garza) over which Lee delivers a stunning array of pedal effected fretwork. The next three tracks "Natural Child", "Tears of Gaia" and "Mabon Song" all first appeared on the bands EP "Mabon Songs" and lose none of their impact nestled here among Crypt Trip's newer songs, in fact they benefit from their new surroundings, the songs slightly re-worked/re-tweaked arrangements giving them a fresher more immediate feel that fits in perfectly with dynamics found in the bands newer material. "Rootstock" finishes its impressive journey with "Soul Games" a song that boasts an absolutely phenomenal performance from Martin , the drummer driving the songs lysergic groove with an unbelievable array of tribalistic beats and shimmering percussion that are superbly backed up by Bryant's mix of growling and liquid bass lines. Over and around this whirlwind of Santana-esque flavoured acid groove and hazy vocal melodies Lee delivers scorching guitar textures, tasteful soaring solo's, funky effect soaked chords and glistening arpeggios, the guitarist filling every available space with swathe upon swathe of  exquisite blues drenched guitar colouring. The song comes to a close with Garza returning to speak heavily phased narrative over a backdrop of shimmering percussion, liquid loose bass and heavily effected guitar colouring before fading out in to silence.


The blues is at the root of all of the rock music we listen to today be it crushing black metal, classic rock, heavily fuzzed stoner or swirling psych. If you take the time to look hard enough you will find it, sometimes glaringly obvious, sometimes hidden under a tsunami of heavy riffage. but its always there. Some bands celebrate their bluesy influences others prefer to deny them and some bands like Crypt Trip take them and use them as a launchpad into newer waters, twisting the blues around and around like an old flannel wringing out their essence to add to a melting pot full of other essences to create something new and exciting that although rooted to the past is not defined by it. "Rootstock" is an album born from that melting pot.
Check it out .....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday, 19 January 2018

DRYAD ~ REHEARSAL TAPE .... review


A rehearsal is a time when a bands members generally get together to hone their skills for an upcoming tour or to thrash out new ideas and work those ideas in to fully fledged songs. Bands occasionally tape these rehearsals to listen to later or ,in the case of more established bands, release them as bonus cuts to re-mastered albums and box sets but in most cases these rehearsal tapes rarely ever see the light of day, buried away somewhere and forgotten about. It's quite unusual that a band should release a recording of one such rehearsal for public consumption but that is exactly what Dryad have done with their debut EP, a four song tsunami of grizzled groove descriptively entitled "Rehearsal Tape".


Dryad, Sebastian (drums),Michael (bass/vocals) and Bjorn (guitar),  a trio from Wurzburg, Germany with a love of Kyuss, Mastodon, Black Sabbath and the MC5, are not pretending to be anything other than what they are and what they are is a damn good heavy rock band. If Desert Psychlist wanted to be a little more genre specific we could probably say that Dryad's sonic attack leans more towards the more proto metal end of the spectrum but that would then be dismissing the elements of modern heavy metal, stonerized doom and bluesy hard rock that also go a long way to colour their raucous and highly addictive sound. These elements, combined with the band's adept skill at mixing monolithic heavy riffage with strong throaty vocal melodies elevates Dryad's music from out of the realms of the ordinary into the realms of the extraordinary. The four songs that make up "Rehearsal Tape",The Advent Of Dawn", "Overload", "Gaia" and "Meghalaya", cover an array of morose and thought provoking lyrical imagery so one would expect the grooves surrounding those lyrics to reflect that imagery yet this is not the case, there is an oddly uplifting feel to the music Dryad envelope their lyrics with, where you might expect drudgery there is drive, where you thought you would find depression there is a joyousness, it's a feeling the band sum up perfectly in the lyrics of "Meghalaya.", "Life's a ride, there's sometimes fog, at times light".


"Rehearsal Tape" is just that , a rehearsal tape, yet it comes across better than some bands fully formed albums. Imagine what Dryad can do if unleashed in a proper state of the art studio!
Check 'em out ....


© 2018 Frazer Jones

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