Tuesday, 29 November 2016

DEAD OTTER ~ PATHFINDER EP .... review


Dead Otter hail from Glasgow, Scotland and are Scott Falconer (drums), Gav Riddell (bass), John Riddell (guitar/vocals) and Omar Aborida (guitar), four guys with a penchant for playing fuzzy stoner grooves enhanced by large elements of psychedelic colouring and proggish complexity all of which can be found on their brand new EP "Pathfinder".


The appropriately titled "Stoner Devil" opens "Pathfinder" with the band jamming a heavy dark doom-ish instrumental groove before fragmenting that groove with touches of prog -ish metal colouring and then spinning things in a completely different direction by going off into a heavy stoner blues jam overlaid with searing guitar pyrotechnics. "Open My Eyes...seen enough now" follows and continues the journeys into lysergic blues territory that informed the last half of the previous track but this time at a more sedate tempo and with the addition of vocals. John Riddell's vocals are clean, slightly hazy and sit perfectly within the psychedelic tinted grooves surrounding them. his voice sitting a little back in the mix allowing his guitar and that of his six-string partner, Aborida, to be the focus of attention, the two trading off solo's, licks and riffs over Gav Riddell's big funky bass lines and Falconer's dexterous percussion. "The Whangy" is another flight of instrumental fancy that once again sees the two guitarist up front and centre laying down swathes of fretboard fury around the differing foundations of rhythmic groove laid down by Falconer and G. Riddell. Title track "Pathfinder", another instrumental, brings the EP to a conclusion on a wave eastern  themed motifs wrapped around a core of desert rock rhythms that slowly shifts through the gears building in intensity and depth and that during its journey touches on elements of bluesy psych and swaggering spacey hard rock before ending in a swirling dark sustained effect.
If your a devotee of heavily psyched blues and your partial to swirling, swooping guitar interplay then Dead Otter have released an EP you just have to check out ......

Saturday, 26 November 2016

BEYOND THIS EARTH ~ UNIVERSAL FURY ... review

Seems to have been a while since Desert Psychlist was last extolling the virtues of the Greek stoner rock scene and the bands that populate it, maybe it's a result of the uncertainty of the Greek economy or the shock of  Greek heavyweights Planet of Zeus moving in a more mellower crossover direction but there has definitely been a lull in raucous sludgey stoner rock coming out from that country of late.


Livadeia's Beyond This Earth redress the balance with the release of their debut album, an eight track riff fest crammed full of swampy southern sludge and swaggering bluesy hard rock flying under the banner of "Universal Fury"


First track "Showdown" does not so much explode out of the speakers as rip them to pieces with it's gritty fuzz drenched stoner refrain before proceeding to stomp them to splinters with its gnarly pounding rhythms. If the listener is not already dazed and confused by this sonic onslaught then Akris Daskalos compounds the felony by coating the resulting grooves with a vocal that starts somewhere deep in his chest before erupting from his mouth in a deep grizzled throaty roar.
"Rock'n'Riot" is up next and begins with Paris Gatsios laying down a solid drum pattern before screeching feedback introduces the guitars and the song moves into a chugging hard rock groove.
Daskalos pitches his voice slightly lower here, his tone a touch less abrasive and warmer and sitting perfectly between the twin guitar attack provided by Chris Soad and Vagelis Katsampekis and just above Vfur Valantis' big booming bass lines. "Dizzy Stow" follows, its mix of stuttering stoner riffage and classic rock structuring underpinned by deft bass and drum work is further enhanced by a superb Daskalos vocal, the front man mixing it up between raw stoner bellow and throaty southern melodic. "Burn" is a retrospective heavy blues drenched lament that lyrically looks back on a life filled with guilt and regret and musically is a tour-de-force of emotionally charged rock swathed in a heavy cloak of dark southern groove. "Liberty" is next and sees Soad and Katsampekis trading off tasteful arpeggios and chordal colourings before taking off on a Cult-like guitar motif that leads into a crunch packed stoner chug. The song swings back and forth between both dynamics beneath a strongly delivered melodic vocal before finishing in a hazy psych drenched  mix of spacey ambience and bluesy hard rocking riffage. "The Martyr" has Beyond This Earth climbing back on the heavy stoner/sludge train they arrived on with a blistering mid tempo tune tempered with touches of swampy southern swagger. "The Fool" rocks a fuzz soaked atmospheric doom-lite groove that sees the band playing with elements of light and shade, Daskalos switching vocals dynamics over an atmospheric blend of chugging heavy riffage and ringing arpeggios driven by the excellent rhythms of Valantis and Gatsios's. The mood changes as the song approaches its conclusion with the band shifting through the gears and closing on a raucous wave of  hi-octane rock'n'roll. Title track "Universal Fury" is a glorious blend of punkish sludge and psych drenched doom and is almost two different songs stitched cleverly together, the first half an up-tempo and in your face stoner/sludge romp that has Daskalos bellowing punkishly over a strident fuzz heavy groove, the second a hazy heavy psych wigout that sees Soad and Katsampekis laying a swathe of lysergic guitar colouring over a hazy rhythmic backdrop.
Beyond This Earth have, with "Universal Fury", not only created an absolutely essential slice of heavy southern tinged, sludge tinted stoner/hard rock but have proved that Greece is still an important stopping off point for those looking for good "underground" rock.
Check 'em out.....
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

PURPLE KONG ~ PURPLE KONG ... review

Always pleasing when a new UK band appears on the "underground" rock scene especially when said band serve up the sort of kick-ass mix of hard rock and stoner/sludge that, London, based Purple Kong do on their self titled debut EP "Purple Kong"


Only three tracks long but with more power and grit than some bands pack into ten "Purple Kong" is an EP that demands attention and is one that promises much for the future,
First track "Village On Fire" begins with a thundering storm soundbyte that then segues into an even more thunderous heavy doom/sludge groove populated by deeply, and we are talking extremely deeply, distorted bass and titanic drumming over which howling guitar and powerful, cleanly delivered vocals are laid. Heavy as a truck load of hippo's wearing lead boots the track pins the listener to the wall with its sheer force and swaggering intensity.
"Cocaine Pentagram" begins with another movie sounbyte before screeching feedback leads into a rolling guitar riff  that is then joined by the bass and drums. This time the band hit a groove more akin to the proto-metal of the early to mid 70's ,albeit a lot harder and heavier, built around the recurring vocal mantra of  the songs title. As the song approaches its nadir the song moves into jam territory with scorching wah drenched guitar quacking and squawking over a wall of tumultuous rhythm .
"Getting Away With Murder" brings things to a close with a track that sees Purple Kong blending the sludgey riffage of the first track with the proto- metal leanings of the second. Vocals are pitched a little lower here giving the song a slightly classic/hard rock feel in places. Around the three quarters mark the song suddenly drops down a gear and moves into a drone -like groove with heavily effected vocals before exploding back into its Montrose-like initial refrain and then fading on a sustained and droning guitar note.
Like a whirlwind, "Purple Kong" is an EP that picks the listener up spinning him/her around until finally placing him/her down battered, disorientated, miles from the starting point but grateful for the ride.
Check it out .....

Monday, 21 November 2016

BLACK WITCH ~ SOLVE ET COAGULA ... review


Time to return to Brazil and visit a band who have graced these pages before.... Black Witch.
Black Witch,  Lorena Rocha (vocals/guitar), Rafaum Costa (guitar/vocals), Amilton Jr.(bass/vocals) and Fred Nunes (drums), wowed both Desert Psychlist  and the patrons of the doom/stoner/psych world with the release of their debut EP "Aware" (September 2015). The band pricked up many an interested ear with their mix of occult/doom and stoner fuzz, fronted by quite unique female vocals, so it is good to see the band return to assail our senses once again , this time with a full album flying under the banner of "Solve et Coagula"


When "Aware" was reviewed on these pages back in 2015 Desert Psychlist brought to listeners attention some reservations concerning Rocha's vocal delivery, reservations that probably did not endear Rocha or the rest of the band towards Desert Psychlist but then that is the nature of the humble review, you don't always read what you want to be written, thankfully on "Solve et Coagula" these vocals issues have been resolved. Rocha's vocals, here, are tighter, more controlled without losing any of their latent menace, her voice prowling around the dark downtuned heaviness Costa, Amilton Jr. and Nunes lay beneath her like a panther stalking its prey.
Two of the songs featured on "Solve et Coagula" "Necromancer"  and "Salem" first found their home on the bands debut EP "Aware" and are here given a crisper treatment with the heavy distortion of the original recordings just slightly toned down giving them a fresher, cleaner feel without compromising their intensity. Of the albums newer tunes "Solve", "Eyes Inside","Summerian Tongues" and the excellent "The Serpent And The Dove" stand out as highlights, the latter built around a scorching and darkly dissonant guitar motif . This is not to say that the rest of the album should be ignored, songs like the metallically manic "Chapter XIII-"Necromancy", the stonerized chugging doom of "Tzolkin" and "Sitra Ahara"  and the atmospherically demented "Coagula"are all equally enjoyable slabs of dark stoner doom peppered with elements of psych and occult rock colouring.
"Solve et Coagula" is an album of songs that sees Black Witch take the dissonant slurred riffs of Alice In Chains and blend them into the deeply downtuned and distorted doom grooves of today, resulting in a sound that is unique and all their own.
Check 'em out .....

Friday, 18 November 2016

DEJALOSANGRAR ~ VOL.2, HABACH/POLANCO/ROBLES .... review


Social media can be many things hurtful, controversial even threatening but it can also be damn useful too. Roberto Fuentes, contributing editor at La Habitaciòn 235 and admin at Stoner Rock Manifiesto recently contacted me via Facebook's messenger service to tell me about a band he was friendly with and thought Desert Psychlist might dig. The band Roberto was referring to are a three piece band from Santiago, Chile going by the name dejalosangrar and who recently released their second EP "Vol.2.. Habach/Polanco/Robles"


Eclectic is a word often banded about in the music world, usually when referring to bands who don't play by the rules, bands who criss-cross across genres picking up something from here something from there, bands hard to pin down. Jorge Habach (drums), Herman Polanco (guitar) and Rodrigo Robles (bass) play "eclectic" instrumental rock that although finds them floating in the riff heavy waters of the stoner rock scene are also a band unafraid to occasionally steer their ship into uncharted deeper seas.
"#22" begins our journey with Habach's crashing cymbals counting in a deep rumbling refrain dominated by Robles heavily distorted bass, his titanic tones akin to a Boeing 747 testing its engines next to your head. Polanco then enters, his guitar pitched lower in the mix, supporting Robles bass rather than trying to outshine it, colouring the groove with deft brushstrokes of  six string magic. The band together take the groove through a series of shifting dynamics and moods that at times roams into Colour Haze territory only a lot heavier.
"#23" is next and takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride through a series of differing soundscapes, one minute laying down a barrage of earthy, guitar and bass heavy groove, pushed by tumultuous drumming, the next delicately meandering through psychedelic skies on a carpet of shimmering guitar arpeggios, liquid low end and tinkling percussion.
Final piece(s), "#28/#27" , sees dejalosangrar drafting in two friends to help out on what is essentially two different songs seamlessly stitched together. The addition of Ayelén Berríos (piano) and Inti Berrios (saxophone) sees the band filling out there groove with  fusion type jazzy undertones that at times stray into the arena of the freer side of that genre but are reined back by Habach, Polanco and Robles commitment to the groove, steering their ship where they want it to go, not where it wants to take them.
Only three tracks but each one has the ability to soothe, brutalise and confuse, sometimes separately, sometimes all at the same time
Check 'em out .....

Thursday, 17 November 2016

MOON COVEN ~ MOON COVEN .... review


Well we all knew it would not be long before the pages of Desert Psychlist was once again featuring a band from the land of Vikings, saunas and fuzz drenched guitars, quality Swedish "underground" rock just seems to be one of life's constants.
Moon Coven are a five piece band with  a penchant for down tuned heavy riffage who hail from Malmo and Stocholm,Sweden and are a band untypical of the usual blues based Swedish stoner groups that seem to appear every other week, in that they come at the genre from a more doom/heavy metal angle, as can be witnessed on the bands full length, self-tiled debut "Moon Coven".


"Storm", the albums first track, begins with drones, tinkling bells and reverb soaked arpeggios before bursting, like an alien from John Hurt's chest, into a titanic stonerized doom refrain coated in Gregorian-like vocals supported by thunderous drumming and titanic spine crumbling bass, all combining to create a sound that is as atmospheric as it is heavy and thereby setting the tone for the rest of the album."Old Ground" rears its gnarly head next and wastes no time in getting down and dirty by exploding straight off of the starting blocks into a monumental mid tempo. head noddingly addictive groove replete with scorching solo's and superbly haunting vocals."Conspiracy" and "New Season" see the vocals shift from the monk-like chanting's of the previous tracks to a slightly more "shoegaze" delivery with a more melodic meter albeit still wrapped around those Sleep/Spelljammer-like grooves the band have made their home, and with the former containing a two guitar trade off that is just sublime. "Haramukh High" sees Moon Coven return to the vocal deliveries of the first two tracks but this time around a slower more doom orientated groove.while "Winter" has the band almost, but not quite, moving into  more occult rock territory. "The Third Eye" comes as quite a surprise after all that has gone before it's softer, laid back groove enhanced by mellow vocals and chiming guitars is probably the nearest Moon Coven will ever get to a ballad. "The Ice Temple"is an atmospheric noise piece that is so short (one minute forty seconds) it hardly seems to register before we are into the doomy depths of closer "White Sun", a blazing return to heavy-assed riffage, pounding percussion and ethereal vocals that concludes on a wave of droning sustain.
Heavy, dripping with atmosphere and boasting an excellent and quite unique vocal approach Moon Coven are a band you should most definitely check out .....

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

BORRACHO ~ ATACAMA ...... review


In 2011, Washington DC stonernauts Borracho released their debut album "Splitting Sky" a kick-ass album packed solid with fuzzy stoner rock grooves laced with scorching guitar solos, massive bass lines, gnarly vocals and thunderous percussion. The underground rock music scene, almost as one, immediately fell under the bands spell with journalists, bloggers and podcasters eager to heap praise upon their t-shirt clad shoulders. The band followed this up with "Oculus"(2013) and once again the undergrounds movers and shakers were all over it with one reviewer calling it "essential" and another "super addictive". Now three years later and after a couple of moderately well received split EP's,with Eggnog and Cortez and three songs on Ripple Music's "The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One"  the band are on the cusp of releasing their third full length album "Atacama"(2nd December 2016).


Any thoughts Borracho may be going through the notorious "difficult third album" syndrome are quickly dispelled when the blues tinted, fuzz drenched grooves of first track "Gold From Sand" come roaring like a steam train out of the speakers. Gritty whiskey soaked vocals roared over hard edged riffage supported by thunderous drumming, pummel the listener with the sheer ferocity of their deliverance. "Overload" follows, at over ten minutes it's the longest track on the album , and sees the band injecting into their gnarly mix of bluesy hard rock and dusty desert grooves, brief snatches of lysergic colouring, "Lost In Time" struts its stuff with a southern stoner swagger and ends in a wash of  feedback and noise that segues immediately into "Descent" an atmospheric doom laden instrumental replete with howling guitar solos, thundering bass, big, big drums and tolling bell. "Drifted Away From The Sun" begin with an array of effects backed by sympathetic percussion and is then joined by a liquid loose bass line and echo laden guitar arpeggios. This laid back and loose groove sits beneath the songs low mellow sung verses, moving to a harder stoner refrain in the songs catchy chorus with the vocal following suite, a refrain that is reprised for the songs final quarter and takes things to the close on a wave of gritty stoner groove. "Flower" is next up and sees Borracho showing glimpses of  their softer side with clean toned arpeggios and strings trading off with big fuzzed out riffage in a charming but slightly schizophrenic instrumental. Things return to normal with "Shot Down, Banged Up, Fade Away" an absolute belter of a track laced with gnarly heavily fuzzed guitar and bass riffage underpinned by massive pounding drums and coated in distinctive throaty vocals with a groove so grin inducing it should be on prescription. Borracho bring proceedings to a close with a delightful acoustic based "farewell/end times" song dominated by big sentimental and melancholic vocals conveniently titled "Last Song".


Have Borracho managed to avoid the curse of the "difficult third album"?...You betch'a "Atacama" is their best yet!
Check it out ...