Friday, 16 June 2017
"Groovy Sexy Viking Funk Metal from Outerspace" is not a musical tag you're likely to come across too frequently but it is the description Pennsylvanian groovsters Almost Honest use to describe their brand of foot to the floor, no-nonsense riff'n'roll. The band, Shayne Reed (vocals, guitar),Seth Jackson (bass), Quinten Spangler (drums) and Zach Keiffer (lead guitar), whose influences include Red Fang, Mastodon and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, have been together since 2013 and have been pedalling their mix of funk, fuzz and sludge grooves around their home base and further afield ever since.. This year sees the release of their first full album "Thunder Mouth", ten tracks of quirky funk fuelled rock'n'roll available through their Bandcamp page (here)
"Thunder Mouth" is an album that, although possessing all the attributes usually expected to be found within the stoner/sludge and hard rock canon, sits slightly left of field of those expectations. Raucous riffage, shifting time signatures and thunderous pounding rhythms can all be happily ticked off as you move through albums list of tracks but there's an underlying, slightly off-kilter quirkiness permeating each and every song. The first indication of this left of field vibe can be found in Shayne Reed's vocals, the guitarist/vocalists slightly gothic/indie tones are clean, strong with a subtle raw edge and are pitched a little lower than what is usually the norm within the stoner genre giving them a startling unique feel. This feeling of uniqueness is mirrored by Jackson and Spangler's superb, ever shifting rhythmic bluster, the bassist and drummer combining with Reed's guitar to lay down a plethora of jagged groove, switching from funky metallic to hard and rocking within a heartbeat. Over, through and around these refrains and rhythms Keiffer's lead work shifts between bluesy swagger and neo-classical shred, ripping both complex and loose solos from his guitar that soar majestically above the grooves below like eagles riding warm thermal updrafts.
Quirky, funky, gritty and raucous all wrapped up in one bundle might may sound like a recipe for disaster but Almost Honest manage to pull all these threads together to create an album that is slightly different but highly enjoyable
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
Sweden's Vokonis, Simon Ohlsson (guitar/ vocals), Jonte Johansson (bass/backing vocals) and Emil Larsson (drums), made everyone sit up and listen with their debut "Olde One Ascending" the album stormed the "Best of 2016" lists of many of the stoner/doom scenes makers and shakers as well as appearing to take up permanent residence in those monthly lists of current listening and good taste "The Doom Charts". This year the band are back with a brand new album "The Sunken Djinn" and a brand new label "Ripple Music" so be prepared for history to repeat itself.
Title track "The Sunken Djinn" begins with a wash of sound, guitar chords and bass lines reverberating over a backdrop of pummelling percussion before the band fall into the songs main riff, a refrain that constantly ascends and descends and is enhanced by Ohlsson's clever use of colour and texture and is buoyed by Johansson's throbbing bass lines and Larsson's pulverising skins and shimmering cymbals. Ohlsson pours over this tumultuous barrage of heavy groove monotonic vocal tones his big, suprisingly clear bellows ,backed in places by Johansson, a perfect match for the monolithic grooves beneath them.
"Calling From The Core" follows, it's dark, prog tinted intro segueing into a throbbing stoner metal groove pushed hard by Johansson and Larsson's solid and tight rhythmic work. Ohlsson here delivers his vocals almost in staccato fashion while at the same time crunching out dark shards of chordal riffage and ripping swirling guitar solo's from his fretboard. A mix of prog-ish complexity and stoner metal brutality it is one of the highlights of the album.
"The Coldest Night" begins with Johansson's bass thrumming out a devastatingly distorted motif around which Ohlsson throws crunching powerchords then evolves into a low, slow to mid-paced stoner doom groove taken to the next level by it's sheer intensity and unrelenting heaviness.
"Blood Vortex" follows much the same path as the previous track but lifts the pace a few notches and sees Ohlsson adding a little more aggression and anger into his vocal approach.
"Architect Of Despair" sees Vokanis embracing their doom side and hitting a blackened stoner groove with Ohlsson's now trade mark vocals booming over heavily fuzz laden riffage and pounding percussion, the guitarist/vocalist also throwing in a series of searing guitar solo's
"Rapturous" like "Calling From The Core" utilises touches of prog-like atmospherics and texturing to make its initial presence felt and like that song slowly builds into grizzled riff-fest of bellowed monotone vocals, crunching refrains and thunderous groove.
"Maelstroem" closes the album in a whirl of taped effects, backward guitars and noise and is exactly what its title suggests it is.
Vokonis, have not sat idle bathing in the glory of their achievement with "Olde Ones Ascending", these hairy purveyors of the raucous and heavy have returned with an album that not only matches the intensity and heaviness of that album but one that surpasses it.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 11 June 2017
Vienna's TarLung have come a long way since meeting in 2013 and recording "TarLung" their debut album, an album recorded and released before any of them had even stepped on a stage together. The band, Clemens aka "Rotten" (guitar), Marian (drums) and Philipp aka "Five" (guitar/vocals) then went on to release an EP ,"Void" in 2016 and had by this time "popped their cherry" as a live concern supporting the the likes of Eyehategod and Saturnalia Temple to good reviews.
TarLung have recently recorded and released their second full length album "Beyond The Black Pyramid" available now on Black Bow Records.
TarLung describe "Beyond The Black Pyramid" as an album that " takes you on a hour long journey through strange tales of war, death and human misery" and you can almost feel that misery and despair oozing from every note and dark chord played throughout the albums nine low, slow missives of darkened, doom laden, sludge tinted metal. Heavy is a word that's been applied to many forms of music, heavy rock, heavy blues, heavy metal but never has a word been more appropriate then when applied to the blackened grooves TarLung bring to the table, songs like "It Waits In The Dark", "Prime Of Your Existence" and "Born Dead" are enveloped in swathes of cloying dank guitar riffage that reverberate menacingly over powerful and quite complex drum patterns into which are delivered low, gravel thick vocals that rumble like distant thunder beneath. It's not all doom and gloom though "Resignation" shines a brief light of quiet instrumental contemplation into proceedings and "Dying Light" almost hits a straight metal/stoner groove before ploughing headlong back into the doom.
On the whole "Beyond The Black Pyramids" is a weighty album of growling malevolence and despair built on devilishly darkened grooves played deliciously low, achingly slow and extremely heavy.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 10 June 2017
Desert Psychlist has spoken before of the political unrest that for many years stifled the emergence of the Chilean rock scene and although those times are thankfully long behind them it is only recently that music coming from that South American country is making its presence felt in the international rock markets.
Arteaga are one such band to slowly gain a foothold outside of their native home, the trio of Francisco Gonzalez, Sebastián Morales Munita , and Domingo Lovera Parmo have just released via Forbidden Records (USA) and South American Sludge Records (Argentina) their new album "Vol. II Dios Sol" as well as on their Bandcamp page (here)
Listen to "Vol.II Dios Sol" with heavy psych grooves driven by punishingly pulverising percussion over which throbbing refrains of chainsaw toned riffage are delivered and you might just get an idea why so many inside and outside of the South American continent are picking up on what these guys do . Add to this gloriously noisy maelstrom of desert tinted doom'n'groove a soupcon of howling feedback and a coating of slightly manic but powerful vocals (sang in Spanish) and you not only get the idea why, you'll know why.
Arteaga fill every nook and cranny of "Vol.II Dios Sol" with swathes of textured psychedelic colouring using elements of lysergic ambience to bridge the gaps between wailing guitar solos, hazy vocal melodies and heavily pedal effected riffage, it's heady, cruiser-weight grooves of acid laced stoner doom enhanced by a gist of textured space and psych is something well worth checking out ...
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 9 June 2017
Vasco Duarte (guitar/vocals), Sergio Pratas da Costa (guitar), Filipe Homem Fonseca (bass) and Catarina da Silva Henriques are LÂMINA a four piece Portuguese band from Lisbon specialising in lysergic laced stoner/hard rock grooves edged in doom and psych all of which can be heard on the bands debut album "Lilith"
LÂMINA's "Lilith" melds together aspects of late 60's psychedelic rock with those of the more fuzz orientated stoner/hard rock grooves of the 00's, wrapping them in swathes of swirling lysergic guitar colouring and shoegaze-ish vocal melodies underpinned by shifting rhythmic textures and patterns.
It is hard , while listening to the seven songs that make up "Lilith", not to be reminded in places of those, now sadly defunct, pioneers of the "new psych sound" Quest For Fire but where LÂMINA differ from those Canadian purveyors of swirling lysergic groove is in the harder edged, subtly shaded doom and stoner/hard rock bluster these Portuguese musicians bring to the table. Songs like opener "Cold Blood" and "Big Black Angel" plough a similar furrow to Quest For Fire, strident fuzz drenched grooves replete with wah drenched guitar solo's and deliciously addictive vocal melodies, but it is as we near the albums centre that things start to take on a darker hue. "Evil Rising" begins this descent into edginess by jamming a slightly upbeat proto-doom groove, its slightly Sabbath-esque refrain perfectly paving the way for the albums epic centrepiece "Maze" a twenty minute opus taking in elements of doom and psych as well as dipping its toes into the waters of both space and post-rock texturing and atmospherics.."Psychodevil" and "Education For Death" briefly lift the listener into Sabbath territory again, albeit with a psychedelic. acid laced twist, before once again diving headlong into the abyss with the schizophrenic and menacing "In The Warmth of Lilith" a low, slow doom laden lament, filled with achingly beautiful guitar colouring and mournful vocal meters, that closes the album.
Mesmeric and infectious "Lilith" is a fuzz drenched tome taking the listener on a journey from heady psychedelic brightness into the depths of dank doomy darkness, a trip well worth taking.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
Germany's Spocaine, Florian Rauch (vocals), André Stefan (guitar, slide guitar), Patrick Weber (guitar), Jorin Gundler (bass) and Tim Rauch (drums, percussion) first came to Desert Psychlist's attention when in 2013 the band released their self-tiled album "Spocaine" a nine song opus headed up by "Little Jimmy" one of the most infectious bluesy stoner/hard rock songs recorded that year.
The band return this year (2017) with "Solar Fuzz" a new EP consisting of three gritty slices of fuzz drenched stoner blues bookended by two brief but very interesting instrumentals.
"Intro" starts things rolling it's short sharp burst of solid drum beats and raked guitar strings and swirling effects seguing into a thrumming heavy rock riff underpinned with deep rumbling bass.
"Giants Walk" follows and finds Spocaine jamming a groove that recalls Maryland fuzzmeisters Clutch's bluesier moments but also those of Greece's Planet Of Zeus minus the hardcore vocals, jagged grooves of bluesy bluster taken to another level by Florian Rauch's big vocal tones, the frontman's bear-like growl tinged with stoner grit and southern swagger a dominant force as he roars over a gritty backdrop of gnarly fuzzed out groove.
"Solar Fuzz" explodes from the speakers on a wave of chainsaw guitar riffage, guitarists Stefan and Weber laying down a crunching heavily fuzzed refrain superbly backed up by Gundler's thrumming bass and Tim Rauch's persistent and pulverising percussion. Into this maelstrom of gloriously distorted sludge-like noise enters Florian Rauch, sounding like he's been gargling razors and smoking tree bark, telling tales of a sun "that blinds my eyes" as well as throwing an Ozzy -like "yeah" in here and there.
"Into The Light" sees Spocaine hitting a groove that sits comfortably between doom and southern metal with Florian Rauch's grizzled tones crooning over a bedrock of big resounding guitar chords, booming bass lines and military style drumming before exploding into a gloriously powerful proto-metal jam and taking things to a deliciously noisy close.
"Outro" wraps things up with a brief but quite delightful foray into experimental territory with hand played percussion the base around which big booming bass resounds and reverberates and heavily effected guitars add colouring and texture.
Three "proper" songs and two instrumentals is a little less than Desert Psychlist was hoping from Spocaine's latest release but beggars can't be choosers and what you do get is as good as some bands release on a whole album.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 4 June 2017
"Making music while having a beer and a laugh" is the statement of intent from Phe a band formed in Helmond, The Netherlands 2010 whose penchant for jamming fuzz drenched desert grooves flecked with psych, hard rock and bluesy elements can be heard on their debut album, the simply titled "Phe".
First track "Heaven's Hell" bursts into life on chugging palm muted desert/stoner riff embellished with occasional curly licks and fills complimented by thrumming bass lines and solid, tight drumming. Over these sand blasted grooves of desert splendour distinctive throaty vocals are delivered, the singers grainy, slightly hoarse but powerful tones a perfect match for the equally grainy music surrounding them.
"Hide" follows it's low, slow and heavy doom-like opening refrain gradually dropping away leaving the bass and drums to carry the groove beneath a superbly delivered vocal performance which the guitarist embellishes with reverb soaked guitar colouring.
"Grow Old" treads a similar path to the previous track, restrained atmospheric grooves sitting beneath strongly delivered vocals that sporadically burst into life on a wave of heavily fuzzed desert riffage.
"Rage Down" finds Phe introducing into their grooves subtle eastern edged motifs and themes, motifs and themes that are not only reflected in the guitars exotic Arabian feeling refrains but also in the songs excellently executed vocal delivery and structure.
"Up On The Mountain" blends alt/grunge like aesthetics into a groove that, in places, also travels into both blues and doom territories. Beneath a swathe of big resonating riffage and pulverising rhythms a mix of gritty stoner roar and gothic doom-like mellowness is delivered vocally giving the song a huge dark atmospheric feel that then segues, via a brief pause, into a big heavy psych blues jam with guitar wailing banshee-like over a backdrop of grizzled bass a tumultuous percussion.
If you like your desert grooves wrapped in a blanket of heavy fuzz tied up with a ribbon of bluesy swagger then "Phe" will tick all your boxes and is most definitely an album you should check out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 3 June 2017
"We're bound for Rio Grande" say the words of an old traditional sea shanty and so are we for that is where we will find The Experience Nebula Room, a Brazilian band who, inspired by music from a wide range of sources such as Captain Beyond, Soundgarden and QOTSA, have put together an album of instrumental jams that is at times truly breath-taking. The Experience Nebula Room consist of Rafael Rechia - (guitars),Eduardo Custódio (bass/percussion) and Nicholas Lucena (drums) ,the band have recently released their first full recording, an eclectic mix of prog, stoner and psych, flying under the collective banner of "Ouroborous".
"Ouroborous" delivers ten songs of complexity and intensity, an eclectic mixture of prog, psych and stoner grooves that along the way meanders in to the arenas of folk, post-rock and even a little funky Latin laced space rock. To say that these Brazilian musicians are on top of their game would be an understatement, the levels of musicianship delivered throughout the length and breadth of "Ouroborous" is at times staggering, acoustic guitar arpeggios trading off with electric rhythmic crunch, Latin American percussion going head to head with pounding hard rock drumming, swathes of clever and unobtrusive keyboard colouring and underneath it all titanic bassitude . These musicians pull all these threads together to create a sound that is both exciting and invigorating and one that anyone with a penchant for well thought out and well written and well executed instrumental music should immediately check out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 2 June 2017
Utrecht, The Netherlands can trace its origins back to the stone age, how apt then that Container a five piece stone-R band should hail from that region.
Container, Daan - (vocals), Boudewijn (bass), Rutger (guitar), Hayo - guitar and Erwin - drums, are fans of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, The Melvins and Black Sabbath and although there are definitely elements of all these bands surfacing on the bands debut album "Mountains Of Gaia" the bands sound seems to also owe a huge debt to the garage rock grooves of the MC5 and the Stooges.
First song "Circus" begins with that classic circus theme, a theme that has introduced circus shows across the world since the whole circus phenomenon began way back, joined by a tribal drum pattern and insidiously sexy circular bass line. The song then erupts into an undulating metallic stoner groove replete with swirling guitar attack and crunching riffage enhanced by Daan's sleazy garage toned vocal delivery, the frontman acting out the role of a demented ringmaster inviting you to a show you feel you might enter but never leave. The songs diverse mix of grooves is indicative of what to expect from the rest of the album and is an introduction to a band whose blend of gnarly, gritty hard rock/stoner riffage and garage/punk rock attitude is truly something to behold. Container are not a band who like to play by the rules, they are a band who like to confound and confuse their listeners, a band who are as likely to chill out their audiences with moments of tranquil beauty as to pin them to the wall with the force of their sonic aggression, and they do this over the course of eight of the most eclectic and addictive tunes your likely to hear this year.
Check 'em out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 1 June 2017
Finnish doomsters Sapata, hail from Tampere, Southern Finland and jam a deliciously dark occult rock groove that mixes prog-ish complexity with doom like atmospherics coated in strong, powerful vocal melodies. The band, Saara Šamane (vocals), TT Suosalo (bass), Felix Voltti (guitar) and Anttu Puutio (drums), were formed in 2014 under the banner of Satanibator before changing their name to Sapata and have been honing their chops on the Finnish live circuit and around Europe ever since. The band recently went in to the studio with an armful of fully formed songs and a ideas for a few more the result of which is the bands debut album "Satanibator"(Inverse Records).
Sapata plough a furrow seeded by likes of The Devil's Blood, Blood Ceremony and Witch Mountain, dark atmospheric grooves, that sit in a place between the proto-doom/heavy rock of Black Sabbath and Pentagram and the more traditional doom of Candlemass and Solitude of Aeturnus, a sound often referred to as "occult rock" but one Sapata prefer to call "mystic rock" or "doom'n'groove".
Sapata, have in Saara Samane a singer of rare quality, her strong vocal tones, edged with a metallic bluesy grittiness, soar and swoop, and in places whisper, over a backdrop of dark, dense heavy metallic bluster that sees Voltti ripping and shredding a mixture of soaring bluesy.and neo classical guitar colouring in and around Sousalo and Puutio's immense and impressive foundations of grizzled bass and powerful percussion. Songs like "Gobi", with it's North African themes and motifs, the metallic blues infused "Styx" and "Death Depression Life" with it's big epic doom vibe, are big atmospheric hard rocking tomes but the band can mx it up also with "MDD" and "Ararat" showing a slightly lighter, gentler approach, still as intense, but tempered by moments of dark serenity, all are played with a conviction and commitment that bands who have been together twice as long would struggle to match.
Superbly executed songs that are well written and arranged make "Satanibator" one of the best debut's of 2017 so far, check it out and buy it here
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Brazil's Dead Level are a bit of an anomaly among the current crop of South American underground bands currently making waves outside of their homeland, the five piece band, consisting of Uirá Seidl (vocals), Leo Venturieri (lead guitar), Aramys Souza (rhythm guitar), Paulo Siqueira (bass) and Alan Sampaio (drums), take their influences not only from the usual hard rock/metal gene pool but also from the more raucous grooves of the punk and garage scene, The band then confound things even further by throwing in a little hip hop colouring and rock/pop commerciality creating a sound that is slightly schizophrenic but highly enjoyable, a sound that can be heard on the bands self titled debut EP "Dead Level"
"Hellcome" opens Dead Level's account, an instrumental that sees Souza laying down a heavily fuzzed refrain supported by Siqueira's grizzled bass lines and Sampaio's cymbal dominated percussion over which Venturieri lays soaring lead guitar colouring, gradually building his solo's up layer by glorious howling layer.
"Dead Level" follows and builds from a deliciously grainy and distorted Siqueira bass riff, that is then joined by Sampaio's shimmering percussion, into a gnarly off-kilter stoner groove that introduces Uirá Seidl 's vocals for the first time. Seidl's voice adds a whole new dimension to Dead Level's overall sound his big voice, slightly accented with a penchant for rap style phrasing, roars, shouts and f-bombs all over the songs mix of eerily occult and slightly warped doom-like grooves, spitting out his lyrics like a lay preacher in bondage trousers.
"Cut The Crap" sees Souza chopping out fuzz drenched chords that splutter and stutter just above Siqueira and Sampaio's equally stuttering backdrop of rhythmic groove, the bassist and drummer locking in tight and laying down a bedrock of stop/start groove that as an almost hip hop metre to its delivery. Over this plethora of fractured rhythms and refrains Seidl serves up a vocal that mixes rap-like angst with cool mellow melodies which Venturieri compliments with curly little blues licks and solos.
"Birmingham Road" finds Dead Level mixing things up a little with mellow crisp, clean pop/rock vocal melodies sang over a rather laid back rock groove occasionally broken up by a circular refrain and overlaid with a swirling, seemingly,ever-present guitar solo. Slightly more commercial sounding than the previous three tracks it nevertheless shows there is more than one side to this band.
Dead Level are not the finished article quite yet but this EP shows there is enough potential here to make it worth checking them out.....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 27 May 2017
Kip (vocals), Cam (bass), Reece (guitar) and Sammy (drums) are Steak, a London,UK based quartet who, since their formation in 2010, have been steadily earning themselves a reputation both as well respected recording artists and as a kick-ass live band. The band, whose previous albums "Disastronaut" (2012), "Corned Beef Colossus" (2013) and "Slab City" (2015) were eagerly lapped up by both fans and critics, have recently signed with Ripple Music and have just released their fourth album "No God To Save"
Steak play rock, whether you wish to call it stoner rock or hard rock makes no difference these Londoners know how to lay down a gritty groove or ten. "No God To Save" is an album that grabs you from song one and won't let go until song ten fades into silence, the band hitting you hard with riffs, licks and rhythms that enter your body through every orifice and pore available to them causing involuntary head nodding, horn throwing and general body slamming, grooves so raucous and downright delicious they should carry a government health warning. Strong powerful vocals dripping with soulful grittiness are roared, crooned and growled over a variety of heavily fuzzed guitar riffs and motifs supported by deep thrumming bass lines and pulverising percussion all complimented by a superb clear production. It would be hard to single out particular tracks for attention as each and every one of the ten tracks that make up "No God To Save" are equally as strong as the next but if the push came to the shove then Desert Psychlist would have to opt for "Coke Dick" with its powerful percussion and its duelling vocal melodies or maybe "Mountain" with its insistent dusty desert guitar refrain but that's just DP's opinion and the listener will surely find his/her own favourites in time. Whatever those personal favourites turn out to be it can certainly be said that this album is definitely all killer, no filler.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Friday, 26 May 2017
Mushrooms or "shrooms" have long been associated with spirituality, shamanism and the occult. the humble fungi used as a medium to facilitate mystical journeys of enlightenment and spiritual awareness. It is no wonder then that Swedish exponents of hazy lysergic doom Void Commander use this hallucinogenic wonder of nature as the loose theme and concept around which they have written and recorded their debut album "Shrooming Widow".
If you had to visualise doom as a season then it is more than likely that you would opt for the stark, dark coldness of a long hard winter or maybe even fall/autumn when the leaves slowly die and fall to the ground, it is less likely that you would pick summer with it's brightness, heat and feel good factor for your minds eye's musical backdrop for what is essentially a very dark orientated genre. Sweden's Void Commander however do not buy into this concept, the trio from Karlskrona, consisting of Bobby K (guitar/vocals), Linus O (bass) and Jimmy J (drums), fill their acid soaked riffs of heaviness with a hazy lysergic vibe that, although ticking all the relevant boxes of low, slow and heavy riffage and pounding rhythm, possesses a warmth and glow that sits perfectly with long hot days of summer sunshine. Songs with titles like "Acid Queen", "Tongue Whip of the Alien Mothership", "Cough Medicine" and "Need More Wine" brim over with fuzz and wah drenched guitar colouring pushed hard by grizzled bassitude and complex percussive rhythms over which laid back mellow vocal tones and occasional bluesy harmonica are delivered, these elements all combining to create a sound and groove that although has Its feet planted firmly in the dark soil of doom has it's head in the heady clouds of the psychedelic.
"Shrooming Widow" is an album you can throw horns to, headbang to or even your stroke your beard in quiet contemplation to while sitting in the confines of your darkened bedroom, it is also an album you can relax to while lounging in the sun drinking beer, drawing on a big fat one and eating from a BBQ.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
USA President Donald Trump wanted to build a wall between the USA and Mexico, some say it was to stop the influx of drugs and illegal workers entering the country, but Desert Psychlist suggests it may well have been to stop Mexico's The Wicked Ones from corrupting the minds and ears of North America's youth with their ultra-cool retro grooves
The Wicked Ones hail from Mexico City and jam a groove that although owing a big debt to the hard rock and proto-metal of the seventies is very much born of the stoner/psych/doom of today as can be heard on their self-titled EP "The Wicked Ones"
First track "Rising Sun" begins proto-doom style, a Sabbath-esque riff, pushed by deep thrumming bass and heavy pounding percussion, rents the very air asunder heralding the arrival of strong distinctive vocals that sit somewhere between heavy metal powerhouse and classic rock soulful, balancing the two tones on a song that encapsulates both the heavy and at its conclusion, the gentle.
"From Lust Till Dawn" finds The Wicked Ones diving headlong into proto-metal waters, utilising bluesy guitar solo's, torch-like vocals enveloped in a groove that would not have sounded out of place on a best of the 70's compilation.
"Somebody To Love" follows and these Mexican stonernauts do a great job of covering Jefferson Airplane's iconic opus while at the same time adding a little spin and flourish of their own here and there.
"Hypnotised" opens with prog flavoured vocals sang over gently sweeping arpeggios slowly building in intensity and atmosphere before exploding into the gnarly heavy rock groove that takes it to its close.
"Morning Star" announces its arrival with a brief bass flourish then erupts into a hard/classic rock refrain enhanced by powerful soaring vocals, fuzz drenched guitar solo's and a groove that could make the dead dance.
This is not cutting edge or boundary pushing music, it's not going to change the world or make you politically aware, what it will do though, as the last note fades into the ether, is leave you with a big shit eating grin on your face.
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Saturday, 20 May 2017
America's West Coast scene was the place to be in the hippy, trippy days of the 60's, kaftans, beads and bell bottomed trousers were the uniform of the day worn by a youth movement revelling in a new found freedom that was further fuelled by freely available hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, mescaline and psilocin. The 60's also saw a major sea change in popular music with bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and The Electric Prunes all experimenting with sound, exploring new ground, mirroring those drug fuelled journey's through the windmills of their minds with a music that was devoid of boundaries a music that was full of possibilities.
Denmark's The Sonic Dawn were not around in the 60's and not even from the USA's West Coast but somehow or other these Danish psychonauts have absorbed those 60's ideals of musical freedom and experimentation and tweaked them for a 00's audience resulting in a sound that is informed by the past but targeted for the present, a sound that listeners can experience for themselves on the band's second album "Into The Long Night".
After a brief 33 second intro, interestingly entitled "Intro", featuring backward guitars, disembodied vocals and shimmering noise, we arrive at "Emily Lemmon" a stunningly beautiful mix of acid folk and psych rock enhanced by reverb soaked guitar colouring layered over a backdrop of sympathetic bass and drum rhythms around which Emil Bureau (vocals, guitar, sitar, recorder) wraps warm clean mellow vocals. The songs groove climbs and dips on a glorious rollercoaster of psychedelic dynamics that in places recalls John Cipollina's Quicksiver Messanger Service in others Roger McGuinn's The Byrds. "On The Shore" continues in much the same vein but this time around those Byrds vibes are pushed further to the fore. Jonas Waaben (drums, assorted percussion, backing vocals) lays down a funky jazz like backbeat perfectly supported by Niels 'Bird' Fuglede's warm liquid bass lines over which Bureau delivers a mixture of wah drenched and chiming guitar colouring as well as providing another warmly effective vocal. "As Of Lately" raises the tempo and sees Bureau getting a little grittier vocally as he channels the spirit of Dick Dale through his guitar, reverb drenched notes hanging in the air, dripping with echo over Waaben and Fuglede's insistent rhythmic foundation. "Six Seven" and "Numbers Blue" finds The Sonic Dawn finding their "mojo" and injecting a little bluesy swagger into their trippy acid grooves with the former a slow blues enhanced by subtle keyboard colouring (courtesy of Eric "Errka" Petersson) and the latter a psych drenched, acid tinted country blues taken to another level by a guitar solo not dissimilar to that of Roger McGuinn's on The Byrds iconic "Eight Miles High". Next tracks "Lights Left On" and "l'Espion" finds the band mixing introspective Lennon and McCartney type vocal melodies over mellow psychedelic grooves touched by elements of jazz-like fusion. "Summer Voyage" raises the mood and jams a groove that takes in influences from both eastern and western musical culture, the song taking off on psychedelic voyages of discovery with Bureau singing achingly beautiful melodies while swapping between sitar and traditional guitar, his stringed forays superbly backed up by Waaben and Fuglede's intricate rhythmic accompaniment.
Heady, trippy with a big 60's vibe The Sonic Dawn's "Into The Long Night" references that early "West Coast Sound" so loved by many but is not defined by it, the band add a 00's twist to those lysergic grooves of old and bring them up to date for a new generation,
Check 'em out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jomes
Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Boston's Summoner seemed to tap into something when they decided to change their name from Riff Cannon to its current title, why this is no one knows but it appeared to spur the band on to greater heights and saw them releasing two stunningly good albums in 2012's "Phoenix" and 2013's "Atlantian" both of which were warmly embraced by the underground press and fans alike
.The band are now back to entertain and amaze with their third album "Beyond The Realm Of Light" (Magnetic Eye Records).
So what do you get for your money this time around? Well nothing much as changed, Summoner are still slaying all before them with their addictive grooves of molten metallic stoner, still blending heavily fuzzed and distorted riffage with intense vocal melodies and still managing to sound fresh and vital. If there is something new to be found in Summoner's sonic attack it is that there is a little more focus, a touch more musicality and a stronger emphasis on arrangement to be found in their highly addictive sound. Songs like. the gloriously rifftastic. "The Huntress", the melancholy and prog-ish. "The Emptiness" and the epic and atmospheric closing track "Into Oblivion", although still retaining the intensity and drive of previous work are imbued with a newly found sense of adventure and experimentation, the band unafraid to go out on a limb on occasions, flexing their musical muscles, going off on a tangent here and there but never losing sight of the groove.
If you enjoyed "Phoenix" and "Atlantian" then your gonna love "Beyond The Realm Of Light", it's like someone buying you your favourite pizza opening the box and finding its got extra topping.
Check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Thursday, 11 May 2017
Austria's Savanah blew everyone's minds when in 2015 they released their debut album "Deep Shades" a stunning collection of grooves that garnered plaudits from bloggers, journalists and music fans from across the globe. Well two years after that iconic album Savanah are back ready to re-blow those minds and a few more besides with their second album "The Healer" (StoneFree Records).
"Intro" a short 51 second piece consisting of howling feedback and droning effects is used as a gateway into the next track
"Mind" is a stunning mixture of riff heavy stoner bluster and laid back psych all coated in warm clean vocal melodies, the band switching back and forth between the two dynamics and along the way visiting a plethora of differing grooves, tempos and time signatures.
"The Healer" follows, it's initial stoner doom groove of heavy crunching riffage and monotonic vocal tones is broken up by sudden bursts of feral energy with banshee-like guitar wailing, growling bass tones and ferocious drums all creating a raucous heavily psyched groove before the band dive headlong back into the murky doom to start the whole process all over again.
"Pillars of Creation" an instrumental, sees Savanah jamming a hazy desert/psych groove that builds layer by glorious layer until exploding into a heavy psychedelic freak out replete with soaring guitar solo's and dusty desert rhythmic splendour, it goes to prove those nights sharing stages with the likes of Colour Haze and Seven That Spells didn't go to waste.
"Black Widow" initially follows a similar sandy path to the previous track but then takes a sudden left into harder, darker territory with the refrains and rhythms getting a little menacing and the vocals taking on a darker more mournful edge. Leaning close to doom in places the song is pulled back from the edge of the pit by the band going off on delicious tangents into desert, psych and even a little lysergic funkiness.
"Panoramic View Of Stormy Weather" closes the album and finds Savanah fully embracing those Colour Haze influences touched on earlier with twisty liquid bass lines and intricate percussion laying a foundation for the guitarist to paint lysergic portraits with his six-string palette. This is not Colour Haze though, this is Savanah and its not long before they wrench the warmly fuzzed groove back and move it into darker, doomier regions, the band hitting into a crunching, stuttering doom riff overlaid with powerful gritty vocals enhanced by soaring guitar solo's over a foundation of grizzled bass and powerhouse drumming. Just as your getting down and dirty, nodding your head and throwing horns to the dark, dank doom Savanah once again pull the rug from under you and the listener is transported from the dank doomy darkness back into a multi-coloured world of lysergic splendour, the band taking the song to its conclusion on wave of intense psychedelic groove that sits somewhere between Earthless and Elder but still retains a sound that is wholly Savanah.
I could finish this review with a whole paragraph of reasons why you should buy/hear "The Healer" and none of them would do justice to the molten grooves of doom, desert and psych the band deliver on these six gloriously schizophrenic songs, so your just gonna have to hit the link below and check it out ....
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Monday, 8 May 2017
Ireland's Between The Lines description of themselves as "a diverse rock and heavy band from Galway exploring light and darkness", is one that is hard not to agree with, the bands blend of alt/grunge and heavy psych/stoner dynamics textured with post-rock complexity is a groove that most certainly has one foot in the shadows and the other in the sunlight, as can be witnessed on the bands self-tiled album "Between The Lines".
First track "Rumour" begins sparse and atmospheric with shimmering percussion, liquid bass and guitar arpeggios gently supporting a wordless choral melody before a circular fuzzed refrain appears slowly growing in volume until the rest of the band join in and the song takes off into a gritty hard rocking stoner groove that shifts up and down through a series differing riff fuelled dynamics coated in strong clean and effective vocals.
"All Free" is next up and jams a rolling guitar refrain backed by a massive drum and bass backdrop enhanced with clever touches of lead guitar colouring that erupts from the speakers with feral furiosity that only lets up when the vocalist finally bringing things to a close on the poignant and unaccompanied vocal line "You will"
"Sands of Time" sees Between The Lines embracing their prog-ish ,post-rock side while at the same time sprinkling elements of doom and space into the proceedings. Startling and atmospheric it's a fine example of a band who are not prepared to just live and die by the ferocity of their riffage but one who want/need to stretch out into other areas and are unafraid to do so.
"For Your Sanity" finds the band blending into their heavily fuzzed post-rock grooves a touch of alt/grunge dynamics, weaving them around truly stunning vocal melodies and harmonies underpinned by thunderous rhythmic backdrops and taken to another level by swirling guitar motifs and crunching riffage.
"Southern Steel" follows, it's crunching chords and swirling guitar motif's, delivered over a foundation of grizzled low bass and tribalistic percussion, are drenched in a swathe of gnarly eastern promise into which a mix of gritty and smooth vocal tones and harmonies are expertly woven.
"Shellshock" sees Between The Lines changing tack slightly and heading in a more stoner/hard rock direction albeit one informed by a darker more post-rock approach..
Lastly comes "Sleep" a song that sees Between The Lines once again dipping their toes into the waters of eastern mysticism. The song builds layer by layer with gently swept arpeggios, sitar-like guitar effects and intricate bass and drum rhythms supporting a smooth mellow clean vocal, the song gradually building momentum bothy musically and vocally until exploding into gnarled heavy psych groove in the last quarter and then fading out in the same sparse and atmospheric fashion the band used to open the album.
Melodic, metallic and marvellous "Between The Lines" is an album that deserves to be heard outside of the niche sometimes "insular" market of the rock underground, this is music and sound that has the potential to appeal to much wider audience, whether that will happen or not only time will tell.
Check it out ......
© 2017 Frazer Jones
Sunday, 7 May 2017
Northern Ireland's Baleful Creed have been strutting their brand of gritty stonerized hard rock and bluesy metal around the halls and clubs of Belfast since their formation in 2009 going on to release three well received EP's "Killing Time" (2011), "Buried Underneath"(2012) and "III"(2013) as well as one full album (consisting of remixed, re -mastered song from the two later EP's) simply titled "Baleful Creed".
The band, Fin Finlay (vocals / guitar), John Allen (guitar), Davy Greer (bass / vocals) and Dave Jeffers (drums) are about to release their second full length album "Seismic Shifter".
Baleful Creed state their influences as Danzig, Fireball Ministry and Black Sabbath and although elements of all three of those bands can be heard throughout "Seismic Shifter" the thing that hits you most is the bluesy undercurrent that flows beneath each and every one of the albums ten songs. From the southern rock tinted swagger of opener "Devil's Side" ,via the lascivious sexual innuendo of "Grind" and the groove laden bluster of "Memento Mori", with it's big grizzly bass line, to the epic closer " The Wolf", Baleful Creed coat everything in a swathe of bluesy hues.
Although "Seismic Shifter" is informed by the blues it would be wrong to call it a "blues album" nor could you class it as "blues rock" or even "heavy rock", a term that would imply there were brutish elements to be found, no what Baleful Creed bring to the table is good old fashioned "hard rock" with a strong leaning towards its stoner cousin, a sound bathed in fuzz and drenched in groove.
At the core of Baleful Creed's sound is the twin guitar attack of Finlay and Allen, the six-string duo lay down a barrage of crunching fuzz drenched riffage and soaring solo's, with the former's gritty rasp adding an extra level of stoner rock authenticity to the mix ,the pair pushed hard from beneath by Greer's luscious bass noodling's and Jeffers powerful mix of intricate and powerful percussion, the four musicians combining to create furiously addictive grooves that are not only highly enjoyable but rock so hard they could be registered on a Richter scale.
Over the years there's been some great music coming out of Northern Ireland, Gary Moore, Them, Therapy? and The Answer are just a few who have made considerable waves outside of their homeland base and if Baleful Creed play their cards right and all the planets align there's a chance they could do the same
Check 'em out ....