Sunday, 25 September 2016

KHEMMIS ~ HUNTED ..... review

Denver's Khemmis caused many an ear to be pricked with their 2015 full length debut "Absolution", a stunning hybrid of two doom sub-genres that utilised clean and guttural vocals over a mix of thick sludge and traditional doom riffage. It's now been just over a year since "Absolution" and Khemmis are ready to release their much anticipated follow up "Hunted", due for release October 21st 2016  on 20 Buck Spin.

"Hunted" does not stray too far from the blueprint the band drew up with "Absolution", the massive down tuned and distorted riffage remains in place as does the variations in vocal styles, what has changed however is the enormity of the bands sonic attack, everything on "Hunted" sounds so much larger with a bigger focus on arrangement and musical content. First track "Above The Water" encapsulates perfectly this new found maturity, its epic/traditional doom core, punctuated with moments of thunderous sludge furiosity, is then garnished with progressive metal complexity, a theme repeated throughout the albums five tracks. Front man Phil Pendergast's vocals soar above these sonic onslaughts, his powerful gothic tinted tones recalling doom's early days when this form of vocalisation was the norm within the genre rather than the exception. Around Pendergast's impressive vocal outpourings the band jam grooves of atmospheric heavy metal replete with Judas Priest/Iron Maiden-esque twin guitar harmonies that are bolstered from beneath by gigantic drum and bass rhythmic patterns. Where Khemmis differ from the aforementioned bands is in the element of sludge like intensity and attack they bring to the table, guitarist /vocalist Ben Hutcherson's guttural and harsh bellowed vocals are a complete contrast to Pendergast's clean tones yet when the two trade off verses against a rich backdrop of prog-ish metal as on "Candlelight" and  Three Gates", it just seems to work.  "Beyond The Door"  sees Khemmis hitting a more straight forward traditional doom groove and sees the band adding an element of Thin Lizzy-like colouring to their sound with the twin guitar harmonies taking on a element of  Celtic flavouring in places. Khemmis are not a straight forward traditional doom band however and as the song approaches its finale the mood changes and the band segue into a sludge heavy metal groove with Hutcherson's throat shredding bellow tearing through the air like a thunderbolt. The album closes its account with the epic title track "Hunted" a massive thirteen minute plus journey of ever shifting musical moods and dynamics that although abandons the harsher vocal elements of the previous tracks compensates for this by ramping up the levels of atmosphere and intensity of their traditional doom core, diverse and delightfully dark it closes the album on an incredible high.
If ,like Desert Psychlist, you loved the diverse mix of doom styles Khemmis brought to the altar with"Absolution" and you were slavishly drooling for more of the same then "Hunted" will not disappoint, its everything "Absolution" was but much, much more
Check it out ......

Saturday, 24 September 2016


It may just be Desert Psychlist's imagination but there seems to be something about the music from the underground scenes of the Scandinavian countries that has about it something a little different, seeming more edgy, off-kilter and twisted (in a good way) than that of the rest of the world. Maybe its the fluctuations in daylight hours or maybe its the water but straight-ahead, four to the floor rock'n'roll seems to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to Scandinavian music.

Finland's DEEP are a perfect example of this edgy, left of field approach to music, the quartet of Karri Sutinen - Guitar/Vocals, Santeri Sihvonen - Guitar, Jimi Hiltunen - Bass and Matias Sivonen - Drums, from the eastern city of Joensuu blend hard rock bluster with stoner grittiness and sprinkle the mix with elements of doom, grunge and psych resulting in a unique and exciting sound that's totally their own and one that can be heard on the bands debut album "Color Of My Soul".

As the first strains of opening track "Color Of My Soul" smoothly drift out of the speakers the listener knows, almost immediately, that this is a band who are not going to beat you to a pulp with relentless riffage but are a band out to seduce you, tempting you in to their sonic world with subtle shifts in dynamic and tempo. If riffs are what you are looking for though there are plenty scattered around, "No God" and "Mistress" have enough fuzz drenched guitar action to please even the most discerning headbanging, mosh-pit loving metalhead,but they are tempered by mellow passages of  quiet-loud-quiet grunge -like introspection.
Slightly accented vocals are layered over these undulating grooves, throaty angst drenched tones that add to the songs on offer a certain gravitas especially when linked to the albums often downbeat lyrical content, lyrics that are peppered with darkness and foreboding.
The band really come into their own when they are given a bigger canvas to work on as is the case with the quite splendid "Doomsday Atmosphere" a sprawling doom tinted tome dedicated to the futility of our short existence on this planet and our unescapable fate, perfectly illustrated in its final lyric" we are just here killing the time", set against a backdrop of screaming guitars and ever changing rhythmic patterns. The band take things down a notch or two for final track "Night Is Calling", its fairly mellow groove enhanced by slightly lighter vocal tones and lyrics embellished with a slightly medieval renaissance vibe albeit with electric instrumentation.
Eclectic and diverse with something within its grooves for everyone  to enjoy "Color Of My Soul" shows a band moving on an upward curve of creativity, where this curve leads DEEP next is anyone's guess but the journey will definitely be interesting.
Check 'em out ...

# If you like what your hearing you may want to check out DEEP's acoustic album "Acoustic VOL.1", which can be found here

Friday, 23 September 2016


Well it didn't take long for Desert Psychlist to find itself back in Australia, not surprising really considering the wealth of talent coming out of that rather large island in the South Pacific Ocean of late.

Holy Serpent are from Melbourne, Australia and are four piece band consisting of  Scott Penberthy  (guitar/vocals), Nick Donoughue  (guitar), Dave Bartlett (bass) and Lance Leembrugen  (drums). The band recently announced their highly anticipated follow up to 2015's self titled album "Holy Serpent", the new album "Temples" will be released 30th September 2016 on RidingEasy Records.

Self titled debut "Holy Serpent" saw a band jamming a groove that although rooted in the doomier end of the stoner spectrum had about it an element of psychedelic experimentation, "Temples" continues that journey into lysergic territories with five songs of down tuned, brain bending acid doom guaranteed to blow your mind to smithereens.
"Purification By Fire" kicks things off it's heavy doom drenched riff dripping with a glowering menace that is strangely amplified by its clean, mellow and reverb soaked mantra- like vocals. Heavy,dense and with a Sleep-like meter it's brooding darkness is cleverly tempered by psychedelic guitar colouring and catchy vocal melodies.
"Towards The Sands" juddering riff fluctuates in pace, one minute mid-tempo the next brutally slow and heavily distorted and is enhanced by snatches of WAH soaked solo guitar and those unique vocals mentioned earlier. The songs final quarter sees the band hitting an altogether more stoner groove populated by furious drums, scorching guitar solo's and heavy, heavy bass before dropping back into the doom for its final bars.
"Bury Me Standing" enters with  guitars riffing and screaming, bass thrumming and drums crashing, combining to create an intro that has one foot in the delta and the other deep in a decomposing corpse, the heavily blues based groove serving as the launching pad from which the band take off into the songs doom drenched main refrain. With the intro out of the way the listener finds his/herself back in a world of lurching gloominosity with the band jamming an almost, but not quite traditional/epic doom groove, shaded with touches of psych, around a powerful and deliciously clean vocal.
"Sativan Harvest" ramps the doom and gloom up a notch or two with the band hitting a slow and jarringly distorted groove textured with searing, and at times Gilmour-esque, guitar colouring. Dark atmospheric and brooding the only criticism that could be levelled towards this song is that at over eleven minutes it does seem a touch overlong..
"The Black Stone" sees Holy Serpent once again dipping their toes into the murky waters of epic doom. Soaring vocal tones, that echo like Gregorian chants around a monastery, are surrounded by a gothic groove that would not have sounded out of place on a Solitude Aeturnus album. The two guitarists paint a plethora of six-sting colouring over a canvas of titanic bass and pounding percussion, adding to the songs stoner doom palette shades of epic metal majesty and gothic metal darkness.
Holy Serpent have, with "Temples", approached doom from a whole new angle but have done so by acknowledging the music's past and amalgamating that history into their own sound and groove and by doing so re-invigorated it for today.
Check 'em out ....

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Most of the bands reviewed on the pages of Desert Psychlist  have in one way or another been influenced by those scallywags from the backstreets of Aston, Birmingham UK, Black Sabbath. Some bands try to disguise their Iommi inspired grooves by drenching them in layers of psychedelic colouring, some play them at unbelievably sound breaking speeds, some play them so slow they almost stop and some like Freedom Hawk and Orchid just play them.
LA's Rare Breed are one of the latter, the Californian band make no bones over the influence Ozzy, Tony ,Geezer & Bill have had over their direction and sound, something that is glaringly obvious when listening to their latest release and first full length album "Looking For Today".

"Looking For Today" starts life with "Funeral Pyre" a short and quite serene keyboard and arpeggiated guitar piece, it's calmness and tranquillity the polar opposite of the maelstrom of sabbathian grooviness that is yet to come.
Normal service is resumed with next track "The Stranger", Oscar Del la Torre's chugging hard rock riff, spliced with squealing guitar breaks, is underpinned by Hernan Rojas' solid and unfussy drum patterns and bolstered by Joey Castle's big sounding bass and Ozzy-lite vocals, its  fuzz drenched groove hinting at late Sabbath while at the same time recalling in places the early grooves of some of the early 70's, so called, "second division" bands like Budgie and May Blitz
The Rare Breed, although inspired by Black Sabbath pay homage to their heroes not by recreating their sound, a mistake a lot of bands make, but by giving their own sound a "feel" of Sabbath. Songs like "Visions", "Witches Lore", "Rusted Diamond" and the aforementioned "The Stranger" are, when broken down, more akin to the proto-metal of Pentagram and Sir Lord Baltimore than they are to the famous Birmingham four, having a harder rocking feel and bluesier edge.. When the band do get close to their heroes, as on the excellent "Mountain of Dreams" and "Echoes," they do so from a more "Sabotage" era perspective as opposed to that of the first four iconic albums.
The Rare Breed are never going to escape the fact that many will just see them as another Sabbath sounding band, especially with Del la Torre's Ozzy-like vocal tones at the forefront, but if you take the time to dig a little deeper and really listen you will find a band with a lot  more to offer.
Check 'em out .....

Monday, 19 September 2016


Belgium, the home of the European Union and NATO, is also the home of Fire From Below, a four piece band from the Flemish municipality of Ghent consisting of Sam Nuytens (drums), Jeroen Van Troyen (rhythm guitar and vocals), Kevin Gernaey (lead guitar) and Bert Wynsberghe (bass), a band who seemingly appeared from nowhere and are now suddenly assailing the stoner/psych and doom communities with their stunning debut album "Viper Vixen Goddess Saint"

"Viper Vixen Goddess Saint" begins innocently enough with opener " El Viento del Desierto" (translation: The Desert Wind), a gentle acoustic number with a bluesy campfire swing before erupting  like a volcano into the psych drenched rock'n'roll of next track " Through Dust And Smoke" its heavily fuzzed groove coloured with touches of psych colouring and embellished with clean melodious grunge like vocals punctuated by a fist pumping vocal refrain of "Shut Up" shouted at the end of each verse. The rest of the album follows much the same course, hard fuzz drenched riffs that are pushed from beneath by complex percussive patterns and big booming funky bass lines and textured with scorching lead work that is then layered with moments of psychedelic tranquillity and ambiance giving the songs an hazy almost trippy feel. This feeling of hazy texturing and colour is never more evident than on the utterly mind-blowing "Universes Crumble", a slowly building melting pot of heavy psych and complex ambient space-rock salted with touches of desert grit and hard stoner fuzz and coated in hazy vocal harmonies, that tells an apocalyptic tale of impending cosmic disaster and is the perfect example of what Fire Down Below are all about both musically and lyrically. The band finish the album with "The Mammoth" an eleven minute plus opus that channels a little doomy darkness into, their up to now, quite brightly lit grooves. Heavier and a little more expansive than previous tracks the songs longer duration allows the band the freedom to stretch out and get a little loose and experimental using snatches of narrative to add atmosphere and filling out the crunching riffs with an array of heavily pedal effected guitar pyrotechnics, spine crumbling bass and pile driving percussion and in doing so finish a damn fine album in damn fine style.
Check 'em out ......

Sunday, 18 September 2016

THE RUINER ~ THE RUINER ...... review

Desert Psychlist has been inundated with requests from Australian bands of late, some good, some bad and some teetering in the middle but all with the same aim of trying to get their sounds out to a wider appreciative audience. One band to have come knocking at Desert Psychlist's chipped and battered door consist of five Melbourne guys plying their trade under  the collective name of The Ruiner.

The Ruiner, Jason V- Vocals, Ben Stokes- Drums, Adam Stokes- Guitar, Craig Westwood- Guitar and Jason PC- Bass had been playing together in one incarnation or another around Melbourne's live circuit for quite a while but it was not until 2012 that it was decided it was time to get serious and go out under the banner of The Ruiner. In 2013 the band released a couple of single tracks "The Bull" and "Cobalt Volcano" via Bandcamp but things went a bit quiet until the band announced this year (2016) the forthcoming release of  "The Ruiner" a self titled album available via Desert Highways.

The Ruiner come at you like a pack of rabid dogs slavering and drooling with manic wide eyed intent. Throat shredding vocals snap and snarl over a two guitar onslaught of distortion drenched crunching riffage and gnarly fuzz dripping solo's pushed into overdrive by bone shattering bass and thunderous drum patterns. On songs like "Hubble", "Fleshlight" and "The Bull" this sonic maelstrom of riff and rhythm takes on a sludgey EYEHATEGOD type vibe with the heavy grooves spliced with touches of deep southern swagger and swampy dark intensity but where things get really interesting is when the band step outside these grooves and get a little experimental as on the deliciously dark and atmospheric "In Dirt", a bluesy lament that mixes harsh and clean vocals together on a rollercoaster ride of differing musical dynamics and the schizophrenic "Volcano" with it's Edge (U2) type guitar intro. The band leave the best till last though with the mighty "Hanging", a doom drenched road trip through hell, it's thunderous groove leaning heavily towards the "epic" end of the doom spectrum that, apart from the larynx ripping vocals, has within its sludgey grooves a touch of Gates of Slumber and Pallbearer about it..
The Ruiner may not be quite the finished article yet but with this, their first album, they are most definitely on the right track.
Check 'em out ....

Saturday, 17 September 2016


Doom, a genre fragmented into a myriad of sub-genres.... traditional, epic, stoner, blackened and funeral are just a few of the differing styles vying for attention under its dark moody banner.
Massive,heavy, slow to mid-tempo grooves with incessant riffage are usually the norm to be found at the root of the music with often only the styling and delivery of the vocals the difference between one sub-genre and another. Using this analogy it could be argued that New York doomsters Clouds Taste Satanic should be categorised as pure doom as the band eschew the luxury of a vocalist and just concentrate on nailing down the groove.

Clouds Taste Satanic first came on to Desert Psychlist's radar via their 2014 "To Sleep Beyond The Earth" album, a two track affair containing forty four minutes plus of scintillating instrumental doom. The band followed this up the following year with "Your Doom Has Come" eight songs of doom drenched jams of  shorter duration but with equal levels of dark intensity. The band have recently been in the studio recording a new album " Dawn Of The Satanic Age" due for release Sept. 27th (2016).

Clouds Taste Satanic, Sean Bay ( bass), Christy Davis (drums), Steven Scavuzzo (guitar) and David Weintraub (guitar), have with "Dawn Of The Satanic Age" managed to sidestep the criticisms, levelled at them by some quarters of the internet press, for the sameness of their output by adding elements of light and shade into their titanic tomes of doom. Although still as heavy as tanker carrying a shipment of mercury and as dense as a desert night "Dawn Of The Satanic Age" sees CTS allowing little rays of light come shining through the doom, Where a song like "Retribution" would of once upon a time started off dark and gloomy and then slowly got darker and gloomier the band lighten up the mood by the addition of up-tempo eastern themed prog grooves into the mix, ok its still not puppy dogs and kittens but it does break up the despair and despondency and allows the listener a breath of air before diving back into mire.  Prog-ish and post-rock elements seeps into every song on "Dawn Of The Satanic Age"  with songs like "Just Another Animal", We Die We Live" and closer "Demon Among The Stars" all carrying a musicality and maturity that was, in places,maybe a little mislaid on previous outings.  There is a rumour that CTS started out as a post-rock band and then later moved into the heavy arena burying their original sound under a wave of  doom on the way, well on the evidence of "Dawn Of The Satanic Age" those post-rock leanings were never too far away and are once again starting to surface .... and that 'aint no bad thing!
Check 'it out ....