Monday, 18 September 2017

SWAMP RITUAL ~ SUNCHASER ... review


Whether its the economics of touring with just two members that has been the catalyst for the current glut of rock duo's to assail our ears Desert Psychlist does not know, but bands, stretching right across the many genres and sub-genres of the underground rock scene, from Year of the Cobra to Telekinetic Yeti, seem to be finding an audience eager to lap up their stripped down grooves.
Montana's Swamp RitualDustin Fugere (bass, vocals) and Sid LaTray (drums, vocals), put their own twist on this two members, two instrument phenomenon and it's a twist listeners can witness for themselves on Swamp Ritual's brand new opus "Sunchaser".


The bass guitar is a lot more than just a prop to anchor a groove and in the right hands it can be a weapon of mass destruction with a vast array of sonic possibilities. Swamp Rituals's Dustin Fugere understands this and uses every inch of his fretboard in an attempt show the instrument in a new light, employing his four stringed guitar as both a lead instrument and as a means to drive the groove, combining with Sid LaTray's pulverising percussion to fill every song on "Sunchaser" with a mixture of deep rumbling undertones and dark swirling dynamics. LaTrey meanwhile, on drums, seems destined for, at the very least, a spell in some sort of recovery unit such is the force and power he brings to the table with his percussive contributions.. Fugere and LaTray  also share vocal duties throughout the albums five songs and hereby lies the twist spoke of in this reviews intro. the pair do not approach dual vocals in a "traditional" sense as in say lead vocal/backing vocals and not even in a twin harmonies sense but more of a two men roaring at you in unison style, the resulting effect, at times,  coming across like the raucous voices found singing on the terraces of a British football/soccer match, something that works especially well on the slightly throwaway party song "Lawnmower" with it's "I mow the lawn when I'm high, Take some shrooms, put on some doom" lyric. It is, however, when Swamp Ritual get down and seriously doomy that they really come into their own and shine as on the epic instrumental "The Bearded Dragon"with its mixture of low slow dynamics and moments of manic furiosity, and the moody psychedelic tinted closer "Malacastria" a place "Where dead walk ghouls have their home" and "Spectres sneer and the phantoms moan", sang/shouted over a backdrop of growling stoner doom groove.


Swamp Ritual describe themselves as "a couple of scuzzballs who needed to play something loud" and with a need to create a sound that "can always be felt as well as heard". Well with "Sunchaser" it seems those needs have been well and truly met..
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 17 September 2017

MOTHER ENGINE ~ HANGAR .... review


When the stoner/desert scene exploded into being in the early 1990's it was pretty much split into two camps, one camp, which included Kyuss. Fu Manchu and Unida, came from a more hard rock/punk background the other which was championed by the likes of Yawning Man, RotoR and Colour Haze took a more experimental approach to the music, often taking off into long extended jams with minimal vocals (if any at all).
Germany's Mother Engine hail from the second of those two camps and have to date released two well received albums "Muttermashcine" (2012) and "Absturz" (2015), the trio, Cornelius Grünert (drums), Chris Trautenbach (guitar) and Christian Dressel (bass) are just about to release their third album "Hangar" (Heavy Psych Sounds Records).


The album continues the bands loose theme of cosmic journeying that informed the bands first two albums with four songs split into movements that flow seamlessly into each other and sees the band shifting gears through a smorgasbord of differing dynamics, tempos and dramatics using not only melody as the basis for their grooves but also dissonance and atonality, moving from harmonious and pleasant to discordant and ugly in a heartbeat. Funky in places, hard rocking and raucous in others the music shifts back and forth between serene ambience one minute, fuzz drenched riffage the next, never sitting still long enough for someone to lay a musical tag or label on, the band even throwing in a little modal jazz colouring on "Tokamak".


"Hangar" is an immense album which was two years in the making and the time and patience put into this project has well and truly paid off. Instrumental music can be a little one dimensional in the wrong hands, sometimes just a vehicle for one member (often the guitarist) to show off his or her musical prowess, not so with Mother Engine, each member brings to the table not only a high level of individual skill but also an ability to play off of each other with no one musician dominating proceedings, the trio playing as an ensemble and creating a sound that is the sum of its whole as well as a sum of its parts..
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 15 September 2017

STARBURNER ~ STARBURNER EP ....review



Intricate, complex music is all well and good when your in the mood for some deep thought and reflection but there are times when you just want to kick over a few tables and throw a chair or two around and for that you need some good ol' in your face, aggressive grooves. Well if that describes your current state of mind and musical need then look no further than Starburner's self titled debut EP "Starburner".


Anger is often a short lived emotion bursting forth suddenly from somewhere within and then dissipating almost as soon as it has been released, much like the four songs that make up "Starburner", Starburner (the band) deal in short sharp blasts of molten stoner metal that hit you hard and hit you heavy, blasts laced with elements of doom and hard rock fronted by raucous larynx tearing vocals. Songs like "Palms", with it's addictive chorus, powerful drumming and wah drenched solo's, "GTI", with its pacey hard driving groove and "Slow Obsession", with its swinging vocal line are delivered with a feral ferocity that at times is overwhelming but are balanced out with little subtle touches of bluesy/hard rock guitar colouring. Even when the band  ease up on the ferocity, as on the relatively slow, low and doom drenched penultimate title track "Starburner", such is the undercurrent of simmering malevolence boiling just beneath  its surface that the listener is left with a feeling that this  song could at any minute explode into another onslaught of anger and aggression.


Powerful, short and to the point and heavy without being overly brutal  "Starburner" is an EP that smacks the listener hard round the face, leaving an imprint that'll take a long time to fade and will leave a lasting memory.
Check it out ...
.
© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 14 September 2017

DR. COLOSSUS ~ THE DANK ..... review


Imagine waking up in an operating theatre to find yourself surrounded not by white suited surgeons trying to save your life but by three hairy stoners trying to slay you with their raucous fuzz drenched grooves, frightened and alone you then scream for a doctor only to see all three turn as one and utter the words...."Yes!". Sound like a scene from "The Simpsons"? Well you could be closer than you think!
Dr. Jon (guitar/vocals), Dr. Love (bass/vocals) and Dr. Johnston (drums) are Dr. Colossus a trio hailing from Melbourne, Australia who use America's yellow tinted dysfunctional cartoon family "The Simpsons" as the inspiration  for their brand of fuzz drenched riff'n'roll, something that on paper sounds a little ridiculous but in reality strangely works. The band have just recently released their latest album (or should that be episode) "The Dank"(Death Mountain Records).


"Thrillho" opens things with a slow throbbing doom riff over which reflective, woe is me type lyrics are sung from the viewpoint of Bart Simpson's long suffering best friend Milhouse. Dr, Jon's clean, strong vocals ooze with a knowing resignation of goals unattainable as he sings "My best friends sis, wanna kiss her sexy lips" against a backdrop of (Jacques) Brel-like vaudevillian melancholy and fuzz drenched stoner swagger.
"Future Bart" struts straight out of the starting blocks on a swirling circular guitar refrain supported by Dr. Love's spine-crumbling bass and Dr. Johnston's pulverising percussion. The song's doom desert groove and vocal refrain of "I wash myself with a rag on a stick" harks back to a Simpson's episode where Bart is shown his future and finds sister Lisa has become President of America and Bart is a failed musician forced to eek a living playing gigs at a beach bar.
"It's Still Good" echoes the mantra Homer voices as he chases a pig he was cooking  all over Springfield on a mobile barbecue after vegetarian Lisa has pushed it downhill. The song sees Dr.Jon and Dr, Love trading off vocals over a crunching stoner groove and has an almost "pop" feel to it owing to its addictive chorus and fresh bright dynamics.
"Dr. Colossus" follows and sees the band veering towards darker territory telling the story of Springfield's very own mad scientist over a soundtrack of menacing low slow grinding riffage and pulverising rhythms coated in a mixture of low,sinister and clean, roared vocals.
"Excellent" is an ode to the Simpson's resident all round not so nice guy "Mr.Burns"set to a backdrop of crunching desert groove taken to an epic close on a swathe of discordant guitar riffage.
"Holy Driver" utilises a throbbing, heavily distorted bass line as the anchor for a growling stoner riff fest that along the way references the great Ronnie James Dio in snatches of melody and phrasing.
"Lemonade" with it's "Eat my shorts" vocal refrain and totally addictive groove is one of the highlights of the album, Built around a rumbling bass and guitar refrain perfectly supported by Dr. Johnston's tight economic percussion the song rolls along with an understated menace yet retains that tongue in cheek humour that colours all the bands work both on this album and their previous work.
"Dr. Tongue" closes the album with a doom flecked ode to lust, loss and infatuation edged with a bluesy swagger and contains the immortal lines  "I don't believe it but now my pants are chaffing me" .....pure poetry.


Some might see Dr. Colossus's Simpson's themes  as being a tad gimmicky but with so many bands writing songs about a cloven hoofed man with horns and a forked tail, who also only appears in books and on screen, then that argument falls a little flat. Desert Psychlist's advice is to just listen with an open mind and enjoy.
Check 'em out ...

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 10 September 2017

THE BLACK WIZARDS ~ WHAT THE FUZZ! ..... review


Portuguese fuzz'n'rollers The Black Wizards will be no strangers to those who prefer their grooves a touch psychedelic, a touch fuzzy and a whole lot bluesy. The quartet of  Joana Brito (vocals, guitar), Paulo Ferreira (guitar), João Mendes (bass, acoustic guitar) and Helena Peixoto (drums, congas, backing vocals) have previously released one very impressive EP, "Fuzzadelic" and one equally impressive album "Lake of Fire" both of which were very well received by critics and fans alike. The band are now hoping for a similar reaction for their second and latest album "What The Fuzz!" (Raging Planet).


The incredibly short and noisy "Side by Side" is the intro by which you enter into The Black Wizards world of bluesy torch songs, raucous riff fuelled rockers and fuzz drenched jams and it's a world you will want to dwell in for some time. From the achingly beautiful "Freaks and Geeks" where Brito's majestic vocals soar and swoop over a backdrop of searing slow blues groove. through to the country edged gospel feel of  "Everything Is Good Until Trouble Comes" the listener is treated to a masterclass in fuzz edged delta groove and bluesy vocal pyrotechnics. Brito's vocals throughout "What The Fuzz!" are revelation, the guitarist/ vocalist's natural vibrato adding a unique edge to her powerful tones, the singer using it as a tool to add extra layers of texture to each songs lyrics coming across at times like a female version of (British 70's rock band) Family's vocalist Roger Chapman but a whole lot easier on the ear. The Black Wizards are not all about one members vocal gymnastics however and beneath that voice the listener will find a band of musicians who are wholly on top of their game. Ferreira compliments Brito's vocals and crunching powerchords with scorching lead work, his solo's and riffs filled with emotion and feel taking off soaring flights of fancy one minute laying out with intricate fills and licks the next. Every band needs a good rhythm section to drive its grooves and The Black Wizards have a superb one in Mendes and Peixoto Mendes holding down the bottom end with a mixture of bone shaking distorted riffs and liquid clean lines and motifs while Peixoto brings a natural Latin swing to both her drumming and assorted percussion, the pair together laying solid foundations for Brito and Ferreira to build upon.


"What The Fuzz!" is a fine album delivered with a high level of musicianship and packed with a range of blues rooted songs that run from the stonerized to the countrified, paying homage to the genres history while at the same time giving it well needed shot in the arm.
Check it out ...

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Saturday, 9 September 2017

OWL COVEN ~ COSMIC VOID EP ... review


Slow, low and heavy is the dynamic that many of us associate with the genres of sludge metal and doom, these more sedate tempos and lower tunings somehow amplifying the music's intensity and depth in a way that standard tuning and brighter dynamics would struggle to emulate.
France's Owl Coven know a thing or two about dynamics, the Nantes quartet use them to create huge monstrous rumbling grooves of sludge tinted doom flecked with pinches of psychedelic colouring and occult texturing, two examples of which can be heard on the band s debut EP "Cosmic Void"


"Wanderer of the Cosmic Void" opens with the obligatory narrative soundbyte lifted from some classic horror movie, something that seems to be mandatory these days, beneath which a reverberating guitar arpeggio is gently and slowly picked. As the song slowly evolves the guitar is joined by sporadic bursts from bass and drums embellished with Gregorian-like vocal chanting before guitar, bass and drums all come together and the songs drifts into a low, slow heavy doom groove with the vocals shifting from monk like to demonic. Now there are those that rail against harsh vocals but here mixed low down amidst a tsunami of swirling, psychedelic morosity they work perfectly and give the song a feeling of epic magnitude.
"Dying Mammoth" begins with swirling wind like effects then segues into a sludge heavy desert groove over which glistening shards of chordal guitar colouring sporadically erupt like lightning illuminating a black sky. Buried within this maelstrom of sound rasping, chanted vocals tell of  "Mountains made of concrete" and "Modern altars built to ancient demons", a damning verdict ,set to a soundtrack of unrelenting heaviness, bemoaning  mans unstoppable quest to destroy his only habitat. The song then takes flight into an extended jam with bluesy guitar solo's swooping and swaying over a foundation of earth-shaking bass and pummelling percussion before finishing with another soundbyte, this one very apt and simply stating "One day, sooner or later, you will remember my words"



Atmospheric and strangely spiritual "Cosmic Void" is a superb debut from a band who are unafraid to bring a little social commentary and self analysis to a genre of music renowned for its obsessions with the macabre and dismal, and that alone deserves our applause.
Check it out....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 8 September 2017

COMACOZER ~ KALOS EIDOS SKOPEO ... review


Sydney, Australia's Comacozer raised the bar high with their 2016 release "Astra Planeta" an instrumental album brimming over with eastern tinted mystic vibes and swirling heavy psych grooviness, the albums scorching guitar fuelled grooves scoring a minor triumph for non-vocalised rock music.  The problem with releasing an album with such a strong sonic impact is that its always going to beg the question "how are we going to follow this?" Well with the release of their latest album "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" we are about to find out.


The first thing the listener will notice when giving "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" a spin is there is an undeniable heaviness to the proceedings, a heaviness that although present on previous outing "Astra Planeta" here seems to be magnified. Whether the band have been listening to a steady diet of Ufomammut and other bands in that vein, Desert Psychlist knows not, but there is definitely a grittier, more intense feeling to be found amongst the four epic sized grooves that make up this new album. This heavier feel is most evident on the albums opening track "Axix Mundi" a hypnotising doom tinted slow burner, briefly broken by a deliciously lysergic mid section ,that gradually grows in depth and intensity, adding little subtle layers, as it wends its way to its noisy fuzz drenched climax.  Ambience and tranquillity, however, are never far behind in the world of Comacozer  and these two elements are used to great effect on the superbly eclectic "Enuma Elish" a track that sees guitarist Rick Burke laying down a swathe of psychedelic textured  six-string colouring around Frank Attard's swirling array of synthesised keyboard effects ably supported by Rich Elliot's deep booming bass lines and Andrew "Pana" Panagopoulos's complex drum patterns that then erupts into gnarly fuzz drenched refrain that the listener will not want to end.
Between these two tracks of essential heavy psych reside "Nystagmus" and "Hylonomus", the former a moody eastern flavoured piece that finds Burke gently picking effect pedalled arpeggios over Pana's intricate jazzy percussive patterns that are perfectly underscored by Elliot's thrumming bass motif and Attard's swooping synthesised effects, the latter a lysergic romp through the cosmos that suddenly takes off into a stratospheric space/psych jam that in places recalls the more rockier moments of British psych/prog/rave exponents Ozric Tentacles



The Eastern/North African themes Comacozer explored on "Astra Planeta" are still in evidence on "Kalos Eidos Skopeo" but this time around the band have edged them with an element of gritty darkness, the band finding a balance between the exotic and the brutal that is both intoxicating and exhilarating.
Check it out....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 3 September 2017

RED MOUNTAINS ~ SLOW WANDER .. review


Norway has always been a source of the slightly left of centre, the quirky and the unusual when it comes to music something that becomes glaringly evident when you delve into the nations diverse and varied rock scene. Whether its because of the strange array of  midnight sun and short daylight hours, that is the countries norm, or that there are still strands of Viking Bezerker running through the peoples DNA Desert Psychlist is not sure but there is something about Norwegian rock that is just that little bit different.
Red MountainsSimen Mathiassen (Drums), Sverre Dalen (Bass), Jostein Wigenstad (Guitar) and Magnus Riise (Guitar / Vocal) , from Trondheim are no exception to that particular rule, the quartet bringing to the table a blend of lysergic grooviness and desert swagger, overlaid with clean, clear vocal melodies, that although easy on the ear has an element of dissonance and disharmony bubbling just beneath its surface,  the band creating a strange and exhilarating mixture of the sweet and sour that can be both soothing and jarring in equal measure, as can be witnessed on the bands latest opus "Slow Wander"


"Slow Wander" is a very apt title for an album that does exactly what it says on the tin, songs like opener "Home" with it's superb lilting vocal delivery underpinned by solid thundering percussion, the atmospheric "Acid Wedding" with it's slow plodding doom-ish undercurrent  and "Endless Ocean" with it's prog meets indie psych groove and lysergic guitar textures, are paced not at a stoner gallop but at a more sedate gait allowing listeners the time to fully appreciate and absorb the subtle shifts in tempo and time, colour and texture the songs take on their respective journey's. Mathiassen's mix of intricate and brutal percussion and Dalen's thrumming bass lines are the foundation around which Wigenstad and Riise lay a plethora of six-string colouring, the guitarists using a variety of tricks and effects to fill the spaces the rhythm section leave for them. It is this guitar pairing that is the secret to Red Mountains sound, the two guitarists unafraid to use atonality and disharmony as tools with which to colour their riffs and solo's, mixing them in equal measure with melody and harmony to create a sound that is slightly off kilter and wrong but at the same time is melodic and right. Add into this slightly off/on musical equation Riise's perfectly pitched clean vocal tones and the whole thing all comes together perfectly.
Check it out .....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 1 September 2017

OLDE ~ TEMPLE .... review


Toronto's Olde, the brainchild of guitarist/producer Greg Dawson, came into existence not as a bunch of friends who decided forming a band would be a good way of getting women and drugs and not either as like-minded musicians who bumped into each other on a regular basis and decided to do something together, the truth is these guys had never even set eyes on each other before, not even when recording their parts for the bands debut "I", the musicians coming separately to the studio to add their contributions on the strength of the demos Dawson had sent out to each and every one of them. The  prospective members, Ryan Aubin (drums), Chris Hughes (guitars), Cory McCallum (bass) and Doug McLarty (vocals) eventually met on guitarist Dawson's driveway and thankfully hit it off, and so Olde, as a proper living breathing collective, were born. The band followed up "I" with "Shallow Graves" a four song EP that cemented them in peoples minds as a band on a mission and a band with something to say and have recently recorded and released their second full length album "Temple" (STB Records).


Olde describe what they did on "I" and "Shallow Graves" as "an exercise in force and restraint" and in the most part this stands true of "Temple" as well but that's not to say there are not elements of subtle progression and musical muscle flexing to be found amongst the seven songs that make up "Temple". The bands modus operandi of short sharp bursts of hardcore tinted doom are stretched a little further here with Aubin and McCallum laying down swathes of  pulverising bass and drum driven groove over which Dawson and Hughes adorn with dark crunching downtuned riffage and searing non-indulgent guitar solo's ,all topped off with McLarty's gruff, larynx shredding vocals. From the in your face, pacey aggression of "Subterfuge" to the slow ,low and grindingly menacing refrains of "Castaway" there is hardly a moment for the listener to take a breath as the band lurch from one gnarled refrain to another managing never to repeat themselves while maintaining a level of intensity that at times can feel exhausting yet at the same time exhilarating. The band do step out of their safety zone on occasions as on "Now I See You" with it's proto-doom/metal-like groove and addictive vocal meter and on the excellent "Maelstrom" which uses clever touches of bluesy guitar colouring to make its presence felt, on the whole though its the full on, foot to the pedal, fuzz drenched stoner metal and intense sludge tinted doom played with intensity and passion that makes listening to "Temple" such a worthwhile audial experience.
.Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 31 August 2017

BEASTMAKER ~ COVEN BORN ..... review


Touring can be an expensive business, you often have to speculate to accumulate and the returns for that speculation are not always immediately forthcoming, it may be a while before you recoup on your investments with those returns often coming in the shape of album and merchandise sales something that cannot be usually gauged until the tour is over. With the slow demise of the "traditional" record companies it is now often the band/artist who has to find the means to fund, not only, the initial layout for touring but also for recording and releasing their material.
Fresno's Beastmaker are planning to tour Europe and in order to help fund this excursion the band are, with a little help from Rise Above Records and Branca Studio, releasing an EP of tunes that for one reason or another didn't quite make the cut for their "Lusus Naturae" album (2016). The EP "Coven Born" will only be available digitally and only for a short period of time.


The first thing that hits the listener about the four songs that make up "Coven Born" is the quality of both the songwriting and their sonic impact, these are not songs left off an album because they were not good enough these are strong, powerful tunes that may have missed the cut only for the fact other songs that did were, at the time, deemed just that bit stronger.
Title track "Coven Born" opens with keyboards playing an eerie horror film inspired motif before Trevor William Church announces his arrival with a similarly eerie guitar refrain backed by John Tucker's huge grizzled bass and Andres Alejandro Saldate's punchy drums. Church, who also provides vocals, is right up front in the mix his clean, slightly gothic tinted, tones combining with his undeniably deft guitar skills to give the song an epic doom feel that leans more towards the altar and grave outpourings of Candlemass than the usual Sabbath comparisons that are often thrown the band's way.
"Killing Spree" follows a similar path to Sabbath's iconic song "Black Sabbath" in that the songs narrator is visited by an apparition while lying in his bed only this time the perpetrator of this visitation is a female with intentions a little more gruesome than just pointing a finger. Nicely paced with a chugging groove interspersed with clever little hooks it is hard to understand why this has never saw the light of day before now.
Tolling bells herald the next track "Amongst The Buried" the song again utilising a bedrock of  gnarly distorted bass and pulverising percussion for Church to decorate with his distinctive vocal tones and fret melting guitar pyrotechnics.
"Whitewood" closes the EP and finds Beastmaker still working within their chosen field of horror inspired grooviness but  shaking those grooves up with little touches of lysergic colourings and textures as well as throwing in a few well chosen soundbytes lifted from classic horror movies Church also lays down some truly incendiary neo-classical shredding expertly backed up by Tucker and Saldate.


Beastmaker have stated that as soon as their proposed European tour is over "Coven Born" will no longer be available to the general public so do yourself a huge favour and snag it now before its too late, you will not regret it!
Check it out ....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

THE STONE EYE ~ THE MEADOW ..... review


The Stone Eye, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, certainly know how to make a tuneful and  very powerful noise ,especially when you consider there are just two guys in the band. Jeremiah Bertin (drums) and Stephen Burdick (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard) are The Stone Eye two guys who take their rock influences from a broad spectrum that stretches from Dinosaur Jr. through to Ghost.
The band are about to release their third full length album "The Meadow" ( September 02) and its one that sits very nicely on the ears.


The Stone Eye throw all their influences and inspirations into one big melting pot, alt/grunge, stoner and hard rock can all be found juicily bubbling next to elements of psych and post-rock in one big gumbo of groove made even more palatable by Burdick's slightly slurred, slightly gothic tinted vocal tones. Burdick's warm clean voice, tinged with world weariness, dominates the twelve songs that make up The Stone Eye's new opus "The Meadow". the vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist conveying a myriad of emotions and moods in his delivery without having the need to go overboard into vocal pyrotechnics, his voice and his instrumental prowess both pushed hard and benefiting from Bertin's sympathetic and, at times startlingly intricate and complex rhythmic patterns.


The alt/grunge tag mentioned earlier is probably the one closest to describing what The Stone Eye bring to the table musically but that is not to say that there is not more to be found here if you bother to dig a little deeper and "The Meadow" is an album well worth digging into, from the stoner-ish hard/classic rock of "Farewell Lady" through to the wah drenched loud/quiet/loud aesthetics of "The Heathen" listeners will find more than enough hooks to hang their respective tags/labels/descriptions on. Desert Psychlist's advice however would be to be stick "The Meadow" on a sound system of your choice and just bathe in the brilliance of it's strong songwriting and addictive catchy hooks and  grooves.
Check it out ...


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 25 August 2017

NIGHT GOAT ~ CHICKEN EP & EGG EP ..reviews


This is a first for Desert Psychlist, reviewing two simultaneously released EP's from the same band on the same page! The band in question are a vocal (Kat), drum (David) and guitar (Brad) trio from Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia going by name of Night Goat, the EP's in question released under the cryptic titles "Chicken" and "Egg" (Lint Music) and as the band say on their Bandcamp page " it is up to you to decide which one came first"




Let's start with "Chicken"..
"Romanes Eunt Domus" opens "Chicken" with shimmering guitar arpeggios swept over solid and intricate drum patterns gradually growing in intensity until finally exploding into a heavy doom hued groove with those arpeggios making way for thick downtuned riffs and the drums taking on a heavier pounding approach. This sudden wave of heaviness then subsides to make way for the vocals and we, the listeners, get our first taste of what makes Night Goat tick and sets them apart from the usual doom drenched suspects. In a genre dominated by guttural howls and demonic harshness Kat's vocals come as a revelation, her warm smoky tones with mellow jazz colourings  ooze and soar over Brad's dark doomic guitar tones and David's diverse rhythmic patterns floating majestically above them like dark glistening oil sitting on a stormy blue sea.
"16 Ounce World" ramps up the jazziness with Kat crooning heartfelt lyrics of pain and despair over a backdrop of gently picked guitar complimented by sympathetic and understated percussion. Intense, emotional and achingly beautiful it's only fault is in the brevity of its length.
"Norwegian Blues" begins with Brad chopping out a lone and darkly distorted blues tinted guitar refrain before being joined by David's drums, the pair taking off into a thrumming heavy blues groove that although having its roots in the delta has, courtesy of Kat's mellow dark vocals,Brad's low menacing guitar tones and David's powerful percussion,  at least some of it's branches dangling menacingly over the cemetery gates of doom. 

"Egg" is next...
"Egg" leans a little heavier towards the blues than "Chicken" with Brad and David bringing an element of swagger and strut to proceedings, albeit an element tinged with a large quantity of doomic darkness. This is most evident on opening song "How To Make Soap" where David opts for a guitar tone and delivery more akin to that of Led Zep's Jimmy Page in his darker moments than the Iommi-isms that are usually the norm when dealing with doom flavoured music. This bluesier approach pays off nicely when combined with David's Bonham-esque drumming, the pair coming together to lay a huge swathe of riffage and rhythm for Kat to counterbalance and decorate with her smoky jazz tinted vocal tones.
"Nebuchadnezzar Blues" continues the delta toned theme but this time approaches from a more "traditional" heavy blues direction and sees Kat briefly dropping her jazzy vocal inflections for a more straight ahead vocal styling. The song takes a turn towards the more metallic as it approaches its nadir with the Brad and David hitting a chugging stoner/doom groove to take things to a close.
"Have I Joined a Cult?" moves slightly away from the crossroads of Robert Johnson and finishes the EP with an atmospheric and moody jaunt that takes in elements of shimmering psych and moody doom  all coated in Kat's warm emotive vocals, the song bringing "Egg" to a close with style and finesse, leaving the listener with the unwavering feeling he/she has just heard something utterly unique and special.


Two EP's, three people, one great groove
Check 'em out.....



© 2017 Frazer Jones

Thursday, 24 August 2017

THE ARATACA STONED FARMERS ~ TALES FROM ARATACA - CHAPT- 03 .... review


The Arataca Stoned Farmers met by happy accident and from that accident a friendship formed, not content with just being friends the four guys took their friendship  one step further by forming a band! Angelo Bracht (guitar), Fernando Schmitz (vocals), Arthur Luciano Gunther (bass) and Gustavo Hansen (drums) hail from Joinville, Brazil a  metropolitan region where many of the population are descended from European stock.
The band, who have previously released a couple of two track affairs titled "Tales from Arataca" and "Tales From Arataca - Chapt. 2" respectively, have this time  gone to the previously unprecedented lengths of releasing an EP with a whopping three tracks on it, an EP that flies under the, not so surprising, banner of  "Tales from Arataca - Chapt. 03"


Those European roots mentioned earlier raise their heads at the start of "Melting Paintings" the song introduced by what sounds to be a soundbyte lifted from a German movie (Desert Psychlist is no linguist so this could well be another language) before exploding into crunching, fuzz drenched stoner groove replete with grumbling bass and pounding percussion over which are roared gritty clean vocals. Vocalist, Schmitz,  although not the most powerful you'll ever hear, compensates for his lack of rock-god vocal pyrotechnics by delivering good clean tones  phrased with a throaty grittiness that sit nicely within the songs mix managing to make their presence felt without the need for vocal showboating. Bracht's dark downtuned guitar tones and palm muted refrains give the song an almost proto-doom feel, the guitarist utilising touches of Iommi-esque colouring in his solo's, neatly pulling them off yet managing to avoid the pitfall of dragging the song into the realms of Sabbath worship by adding his own twist on them..
"The Harvest" follows,  a gnarly assed short sharp hard rock/stoner outing laced with metallic undertones pushed hard by Hansens' insistent percussion and Gunther's grizzled bass lines. "Mother Nature was my giver" sings Schmitz against a backdrop of crunching riffage and pounding rhythms before manfully roaring "It's harvest time" the songs addictive call and response chorus.
"Bullfrog" closes "Tales From Arataca -Chapt.03" with a fuzz soaked desert/stoner groove played at almost thrash-like tempo with Gunther's bass booming and growling beneath Bracht's swirling bluesy guitar riffs, licks and solo's expertly supported by Hansen's titanic drums. Schmitz pitches his vocals a little higher to match the songs furious pace the singer telling his tale of the humble bullfrog with clean clear but grit tinted conviction.


It seems The Arataca Stoned Farmers idea of releasing their music in short sharp short, sharp jabs that hit their listeners fast and hard is one that works well for them, leaving their listeners battered , bruised and breathless, not sure what as just happened to them but desperate for the next chapter.
Check 'em out ....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

BLUES FUNERAL ~ AWAKENING .... review


Progressive rock exploded into life in the 1970's, the genre utilising influences from a broad spectrum of musical styles that included classical music, psychedelic rock, folk and hard rock, blending these styles into complex musical arrangements that had an almost orchestrated feel about them. Musicians who played this music were mostly highly skilled technicians who were masters of their chosen instruments and although this resulted in some of the most exciting music of its time it was also the downfall of the genre. By the late 70's and early 80's prog had become a bit of a joke, the complex arrangements had become overblown and overindulgent, with prog bands releasing confusing "concept" albums that often had no basis in any sort of reality, and with musicians who were often more interested in displaying their technical prowess than playing for the song. The genre was slowly losing it's audience and by the time punk exploded in 1976 it was almost all over for prog!

Not quite though, there will always be musicians who strive for more in their playing, and so a new breed of musicians evolved, musicians who wanted to stretch themselves musically but at the same time keep at least one foot in the mosh pit, finding a balance between complexity and groove without compromising their ideals.
One such band to walk the line between hard rocking swagger and cerebral musicality are Texas quartet Blues FuneralJan Kimmel (guitar, Nord, vocals), Maurice Eggenschwiler (guitar, vocals), Cory Cousins (drums) and Gabriel Katz (bass), four guys with a penchant for complexity and metallic bluster who, last year (2016) caused a small tsunami of  appreciation to ebb their way with the release of their debut album "The Search". a wonderful blend of prog, hard rock and stonerized blues rock, This year (2017) the band follow up that album, striking while the iron is still hot, with a new opus "The Awakening"


From the opening bars of first track "Shadow of the Snake" it's fairly obvious that Blues Funeral take their muse from a time far removed from the harshness of today's doom and stoner scene, the songs classic rock groove. driven by Cousins and Katz's sterling drums and bass work. is wrapped in swathes of swirling Deep Purple-esque keyboard colouring, courtesy of Kimmel, and enhanced by Eggenschwiler's crunching riffage, soaring solo's, Kimmel and Eggenschwiler sharing  vocal duties, both distinctive and powerful. This one song, on it's own, tells you everything you need to know about what Blues Funeral bring to the table, the band injecting a freshness and vitality into a genre of music, that those of us old enough to remember, thought had lost its lustre.
A mythical tale told in a mix of lone and harmonized vocals, title track "Awakening" sees Kimmel and Eggenschwiler trading off solo's and riffs around a crunching hard rock groove with Kimmel providing occasional tasteful keyboard flourishes while Katz and Cousins keep things tight and solid beneath.
"Illusion of Reality" finds Blues Funeral adding a touch of pop sensibility and hard rock swing into their groove. Easy on the ear and boasting killer guitar solos and an absolutely infectious singalong chorus the song shows this band are as quite capable of reaching a more mainstream audience as they are of pleasing those of a more discerning underground bias.
"Firedrake" heads back into classic/prog rock territory with Kimmel's keyboards pushed to the fore touching on classical themes and motifs along the way. There is an underlying doom-ish feel to the proceedings here, not in a modern brutal way but in a more traditional prog orientated direction, a feeling made even more prevalent by its lyrical content...  "Do you envy the dead? Gods cry when even Death feels sorrow".
"Casimir" sees the band exploring eastern themes and motifs over an ever shifting rhythmic backdrop, excellently provided by  Katz and Cousins, with Kimmel and Eggenschwiler trading melodies and harmonies both on guitar and vocals.
"Gathering Dust" ramps up the bands prog factor to eleven and sees the band switching seamlessly between differing time signatures and dynamics while at the same time retaining those doomish-hues hinted at in previous track "Firedrake". Atmospheric and emotive it is a fitting finale to a fine collection of songs.


Prog is alive and well, it maybe not as you remember it back in the days of capes and dry ice but Blues Funeral, with "Awakening", have shown that you don't have to be overblown and overwhelming to show off your musical chops and that "there is still life in the old prog yet"
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones

Sunday, 20 August 2017

THE NECROMANCERS ~ SERVANTS OF THE SALEM GIRL ... review


Tom Cornière (Vocals, Guitar), Robin Genais (Lead Guitar), Simon Evariste (Bass Guitar) and Benjamin Rousseau (Drums) are collectively known as The Necromancers, a quartet from
Poitiers, France with a penchant for progressive tinted metal grooves sprinkled with a modicum of hard rock/stoner fuzz and a soupcon of psych and post-rock texturing. The band recently signed with those arbiters of good taste and all things fuzz shaped, Ripple Music, and have just released their debut album "Servants of the Salem Girl"


"Salem Girl Pt.I" opens innocently enough with Cornière laying down  a lone slow, low doom-ish guitar motif which, with a few minor alterations, is mirrored by Genais' cleaner six-string tones. This innocence and post-rock serenity is shattered when without warning when Evariste's grumbling bass and Rousseau's powerhouse drums join the party and the song explodes into a strident metallic stoner groove overlaid with a mixture of Maiden/Priest-esque guitar harmonies and crunching stoner riffage pushed hard by the aforementioned drummer and bassist.. Over and around this maelstrom of galloping NWOBHM and stoner/hard rock bluster are wrapped Cornière's powerful vocal tones, the singer's throaty mixture of bear-like roars and gritty clean croons taking the songs intensity and the bands sonic impact to a whole new level.
"Lucifer's Kin" is up next and sees Rousseau utilising all sorts of percussive tricks and effects to create a hellish atmosphere beneath which Evariste lays a slow, achingly sinister, bass motif that is then joined by Genais and Cornière's guitars in a groove that has a distinctive epic/traditional doom feel. The song then takes a left turn into Sabbath-esque proto doom territory with Cornière crooning tales of the horned one over swathes of grainy cantering riffage, the song swinging back and forth between these two dynamics of doomitude broken only by a short lysergic section where Genais lets loose with some truly scorching lead work before diving back into the traditional/proto groove to take the song to its screeching guitar fuelled epic finale.
"Black Marble House" opens with a palm muted guitar riff beneath chiming arpeggios then, after a brief moment of lone drumming, segues into deliciously addictive stoner/hard rock groove replete with little catchy guitar and vocal hooks. Cornière's vocals  here take on a more melodic vocal tone. slowly growing in graininess and grittiness as the song progresses, roaring like a wounded bear by the time the song reaches it's noisy pummelling climax. It's truly difficult to convey in words how damn good this tune is!
"Necromancers" is one of those tunes that despite its dark subject matter and chorus of "Hey Lucifer" has an undeniable feel good factor that will have the listener smiling like a demon with a new possession well before it reaches its sudden full stop. It's party time in Hades everyone, grab a pitchfork and boogie on down!
"Grand Orbiter" explodes straight out of the speakers on a wave of caustic wah drenched riffage and pulverising rhythm coated in melodic vocal harmonies then shifts down the gears into a slightly less abrasive groove with chiming arpeggios echoing over bone crumbling bass and intricate percussion with Cornière adjusting his vocal tones accordingly. The song moves through a series of shifting time signatures and rhythmic patterns without once losing its focus and finds Evariste and Rousseau laying down solid backdrops of diverse rhythmic groove for Genais and Cornière to embellish with superb guitar texturing and vocal colouring.
"Salem Girl Pt. II" ramps up the bands doom factor to eleven by opening with a low, slow and heavy refrain that sees Genais and Cornière crunching out heavily distorted riffs over a backdrop of titanic drumming and earth shaking bass. Not a band who like to overstay their welcome on one groove it is not long before The Necromancers move things along and take off on a tangent. raising both the tempo and temperature by heading into a more stoner metal direction fragmented by moments of post-rock/prog texturing. Cornière roars like an angry bull on the more aggressive sections dropping to a clean melodic tone in the songs quieter moments, his diversity of vocal styles matched by his equally diverse array of rhythmic guitar tones, but it is Genais' scorching lead work that is the cherry on this particular cake, the guitarist excelling in his choice of notes and chord progressions, exploiting spaces within the music to unleash searing guitar solo's that tear through the songs darkened groove like lightening tearing through a night sky, breathtaking at times.


There has been some talk of late along the lines that the stoner/hard rock/psych and doom scene is  getting a little stale and old hat, saturated by an influx of similar sounding bands with a lack of originality all vying for the attention of what is essentially still a relatively small fan base. There may be some truth in that train of thought but while there are still bands seemingly appearing from nowhere to assail our ears with albums as good and as exciting as The Necromancers " Servants of the Salem Girl" then we shouldn't worry too much.quite yet!
Check it out .....


© 2017 Frazer Jones

Friday, 18 August 2017

TURBOBOBCAT ~ PENTASTAR ROCKET RIDE ... review


Turbobobcat, a quartet from Catania, Sicily consisting of Federico 'SaturnFaun' Indelicato (vocals/rhythm guitar), Davide 'Mr. White' Guardo (lead guitar), Martino 'Mr. Firebird' Razza (bass guitar) and Pietro 'Pyt' Leanza (drums) were formed as recently as 2016 but immediately gelled as a musical force, the four musicians finding  common ground in their love of Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Motorhead and Orange Goblin, the band fusing elements of their heroes into their  own sound,  a sound soaked in a profusion of rhythmic bluster, heavy fuzz and devastating  distortion. Turbobobcat, not wanting the grass to grow too fast under their feet wasted no time in formulating their ideas into songs and were soon committing those songs onto tape, the result being this their debut EP "Pentastar Rocket Ride"


"Pentastar" erupts into being with wave of circular guitar riffage and howling feedback then explodes into a bruising desert/stoner groove with Leanza's powerful drum beats the anchor around which Indelicato's rhythm guitar and Razza's bass lay down a swathe overdriven groove. Indelicato as well as his rhythm guitar duties also supplies vocals, his clean, edgy tones roaring tongue in cheek lyrics telling of "smoking shitty rays of light" amid "stoned distorsion, engine combustion" and " Weedian spacecrafts". Around these tales of cannabis tinted space and time Guardo adds dark swathes of gritty guitar colouring, filling in the spaces the others leave behind with scorching solo's, spacey licks and clever fills, the lead guitarists contributions the icing on a very tasty cake.
"TURBOBOCAT" follows, a song that can be perceived either as a story of a bunch of desperado's robbing their way across the country or as a not-so veiled celebration of being in that ultimate of gangs...a band. Born out of one of those rolling refrains that early stoners Fu Manchu were famous for the song has a distinctive 90's desert feel, a feel further enhanced by its heavily fuzzed chainsaw guitar tones and its furiously driven bass and drum groove.
"Bigfoot (Ruler of the Shire)" opens with the voice of a park guide welcoming you to Yellowstone Park and to "Walk in line, hold tight onto your cameras" before we are thrown into a chugging rhythmic guitar refrain supported by solid drums and bass over which Guardo adds deft touches of fuzz drenched six-string colouring. Over this gamut of blues tinted groove and fuzz soaked riffage Indelicato takes on the role of narrator and principle character lifting his voice into powerful rock god mode for the former and dropping down into guttural growling for the latter shifting between the two styles with consummate ease and giving the song an almost cinematic feel and closing the EP on a strong and very enjoyable high.


Italians are well known for their stylish fashion sense and exquisite food, what they are less known for is their hard rock/stoner riffage and raucous rhythms but that might all change once the world catches an earful of Turbobobcat's  "Pentastar Rocket Ride"
Check it out ....

© 2017 Frazer Jones