Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

Glanville on Thee Facebooks

Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault makes the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Black Voodoo Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

Black Box Warning on Thee Facebooks

Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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Desert Storm Announce UK & European Touring; Sentinels Due March 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Hasn’t been that long since UK burldudes Desert Storm were announced as having signed to APF Records to release their next album, Sentinels, in 2018. Now in short order the Oxford troupe are back with word that not only will their fourth long-player hit on March 1, but that they’ll spend much of February and March on the road to support it, playing shows in the UK and mainland Europe throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine.

In fact, the band has gone even further and laid out appearances they’ll make all the way into next Fall, when they’ll make a stop at the end of September at the HRH Doom vs. Stoner fest in Sheffield. I wish I knew where I was gonna be next September. Or, you know, could remember what I was supposed to do this afternoon. Was it grocery shopping? Was it writing about riffs? No? Well then, I’m at a complete loss.

The PR wire has fodder for calendar-marking:

desert storm sentinels tour

DESERT STORM ANNOUNCE “SENTINELS” EUROPEAN TOUR 2018

DESERT STORM are delighted to announce details of their European Tour in the support of “SENTINELS”, their fourth album, which will be released worldwide and on formats by APF Records on 1st March 2018.

Desert Storm have been making a name for themselves since they formed in late 2007. From the beginning the band have worked hard…with 3 albums and relentless touring of the UK & Europe with the likes of Karma To Burn, Nashville Pussy, Peter Pan Speedrock, Honky and Hang The Bastard as well as support slots to the likes of Orange Goblin, Red Fang, American Head Charge, Weedeater, Crowbar, Mondo Generator, The Atomic Bitchwax and festival appearances at Bloodstock Festival, Hammerfest, Hard Rock Hell, Giants of Rock, The Bulldog Bash, Desertfest (UK/DE) & Roadkill Festival.

SENTINELS tour dates are as follows:

February
3rd UK – Manchester – The Bread Shed (headlining the APF Records Showcase All-Dayer)
17th UK – Birmingham – 02 Academy
22nd NL – Rotterdam – Baroeg
24th NL – Eindhoven – The Jack Café
25th NL – tbc
26th BEL – Antwerp – Kids Rhythm & Blues
27th GER – Berlin – Urban Spree
28th GER – Weimar – Gerber 3

March
1st GER – Dresden – Chemiefabrik
2nd CZ – Prague – Klub Baryton
3rd PL – Warsaw – Hydrozagadka
4th SK – Bratislava – Fuga
5th SK – Kosice – Collosseum
6th UKR – Lviv – Freda 61 Klub
7th PL – Wroclaw – Black Moon
8th GER – Cologne – Limes
9th NL – Zwolle – Jacks Bar
10th BEL – Brussels – Rock Classic

July
7th UK – Bradford – Underground

August
25th UK – Bolton – Alma Inn (Riff Fest 2018)

September
29th UK – Sheffield – O2 Academy (HRH Doom Vs Stoner 2018)

Desert Storm is:
Chris White: Guitar
Ryan Cole: Guitar
Chris Benoist: Bass
Elliot Cole: Drums
Matt Ryan: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/
http://twitter.com/desertstormuk
http://www.instagram.com/desertstormuk
http://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/
http://www.desertstormband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://twitter.com/apf_records
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Desert Storm Sign to APF Records; Sentinels Due March 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, this one makes sense. UK imprint APF Records has worked to make itself a home-base for some of its burliest countrymen acts, fostering the extremity, sludge and otherwise unabashed dudeliness of the likes of BongCauldronTronaldUnderBa’alDiesel KingNomad and Mastiff, among others. That they’d go ahead and pick up Desert Storm and add the Oxford five-piece to that roster feels like a next logical step to me. They’ll make for good company. APF clearly knows what it’s doing in wrangling the viciousness of these acts, and as Desert Storm look to follow-up 2015’s Omniscient (review here), they’re deserving of as wide attention as they can get, particularly after touring as they have over the last year-plus with Honky and Limb in the UK and hitting the European mainland earlier in 2017.

So while it’s not necessarily the hugest of surprises conceptually, I’ll say all the more kudos to group and imprint for the logical fit, and hope for more to come from Desert Storm as we move into the New Year. The band, who also had a split 7″ with Suns of Thunder (review here) out last year on H42 Records to mark their appearance at Desertfest, will release their new album, Sentinels, in March. I’ll get my testosterone supplements ready.

APF posted the following announcement to make it official:

desert storm

We are beyond thrilled to announce that Desert Storm have signed to APF Records.

Following on from Desert Storm (2008), Forked Tongues (2010), Horizontal Life (2013) and Omniscient (2015) we will be releasing the quintet’s new album SENTINELS worldwide and on all formats on 1st March 2018.

Welcome to the family, boys.

Desert Storm is:
Chris White: Guitar
Ryan Cole: Guitar
Chris Benoist: Bass
Elliot Cole: Drums
Matt Ryan: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/
http://twitter.com/desertstormuk
http://www.instagram.com/desertstormuk
http://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/
http://www.desertstormband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://twitter.com/apf_records
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Desert Storm Announce March 2017 European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Burl-loaded UK groove rockers Desert Storm will head out on a European tour beginning March 24. They’re starting in style with two shows in one day at Hammerfest and at Bristol’s storied Stag and Hounds venue, then kicking outward from there into the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and back to Germany for one more go on a no-nights-off run heralding the arrival of their fourth full-length, which may or may not be released to coincide with the tour but is definitely due sometime in 2017 according to the band.

When it drops, Desert Storm‘s next long-player will be the follow-up to 2015’s Omniscient (review here) and the H42 Records split 7″ with Suns of Thunder (review here) they released earlier this year to celebrate their appearance at Desertfest. Whatever they come up with for it, you can guess it will be the dudeliest thing you hear that day, as that’s kind of how it goes with the Oxford natives.

Dates and other info follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

desert storm euro tour

For Desert Storm, 2016 has been a year of musical contemplation with the 4th album in the process of being forged. Hammerfest, Desert Fest Berlin, Camden Rocks & Bloodstock amongst other festivals along with a 12 day tour supporting the mighty Honky, have marked the bands commitment to getting out there on the road and honing their craft.

Gazing into the future, 2017 will mark a decade of riff making for the band, celebrating this with the release of their 4th studio album, along with multiple tours in the works. Keep your eyes open.

Desert Storm European tour:
Fri 24th March – Hammerfest, UK
Fri 24th March – Bristol, Stag & Hounds, UK
Sat 25th March – Den Haag, Musicon, NL
Sun 26th March – Antwerp, Kavka, BE
Mon 27th March – Hamburg, Bar 227, DE
Tues 28th March – Berlin, Urban Spree, DE
Wed 29th March – Prague, Nad Viktorkou, CZ
Thurs 30th March – Kosice, Collosseum, SK
Fri 31st March – Katowice, Korba, PL
Sat 1st April – Dresden, Chemiefabrik, DE

Desert Storm is:
Chris White: Guitar
Ryan Cole: Guitar
Chris Benoist: Bass
Elliot Cole: Drums
Matt Ryan: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/
http://twitter.com/desertstormuk
http://www.instagram.com/desertstormuk
https://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/
http://www.desertstormband.com/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Buried in Smoke All-Dayer Set for Nov. 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

With 12PM doors and 13 bands on the bill, the Buried in Smoke All Dayer should most certainly live up to its name. The dirt-cheap and dirtier-heavy onslaught is set to take place Nov. 12 at The Bullingdon in Oxford, UK, and along with Desert Storm — who are also directly involved in putting the event and all of Buried in Smoke Promotions‘ shows together — the lineup boasts several noteworthy names out of the UK’s ultra-fertile underground heavy scene. Worth noting that Desert Storm fit right where they are in closing out the night, and to have them joined by Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Grifter, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters and Lacertilia at the top of the bill shows the utter strength of the scene in which this show is taking place.

No less encouraging, however, are the names toward the earlier part of the day: Morass of Molasses, King Goat, Mastiff, The Atrocity Exhibit, Black Skies Burn, The Darkhorse, My Diablo and Crimson Tusk. You’re doubtless already familiar with all of the above (also below), because you’re more in touch than I am and/or you live in the UK, but they would seem to represent a decent cross-section of underground rock and metal, and as always with this kind of gig, it’s as much about seeing the bands you don’t know as the bands you do.

At least that’s how it should work. Full lineup info and links follow here, as hoisted from the social medias:

buried in smoke all dayer poster

Nov. 12 – B.I.S. All Dayer

The Bullingdon
162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE Oxford, United Kingdom

Buried In Smoke promotions present:

Desert Storm
Trippy Wicked
Grifter
Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
Lacertillia
Morass Of Molasses
King Goat
Mastiff
The Atrocity Exhibit
Black Skies Burn
The Darkhorse
My Diablo
Crimson Tusk

Doors at 12pm
£10 on the door

https://www.facebook.com/events/1752579818352918/
https://www.facebook.com/Buried-In-Smoke-Promotions-152851731433057/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Desert Storm Post “Signals from Beyond” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

desert storm

UK heavy rockers Desert Storm will release their new split with Suns of Thunder next weekend at Desertfest Berlin. Released through H42 Records, the split 7″ (review here) brings together one track from each band, and for Desert Storm, follows up their 2014 third album, Omniscient (review here), it refines their burly take on post-Orange Goblin heavy grooves and brash riffing, booze-ready and sonically forceful. Crisp and clearheaded in its intent, “Signals from Beyond” nonetheless carries the swagger of Desert Storm‘s earlier offerings forward as it moves through its quick four minutes.

As a result, they sound like they know what the hell they’re doing. And well they should with three albums under their belt, an appearance last year Desertfest London, a tour upcoming with Honky (dates here), Berlin next weekend and so on, but it stands as a demonstration of what a few years of kicking around a busy scene can really bring out in a band. Desert Storm made their debut in 2010, and since then, they’ve worked steadily to progress their take across shows and albums, garnering a fanbase the old fashioned way: with songs and on-stage effort.

I wouldn’t look for that to change. Desert Storm seem to have found their niche and have set about developing in it. Not sure what they’re up to after their summer tour, but a fourth long-player for 2017 doesn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation.

Until then, enjoy “Signals from Beyond” on the player below, followed by more info on the Desertfest split from H42 Records:

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

Check out our new video for our track ‘Signals From Beyond’. This track is on our new split 7″ with our friends Suns Of Thunder which gets officially released at Desertfest on 29th April. Cheers to H42 Records and Winwood Media for the video.

Limited up to 350 copies
100 on clear ree vinyl with red artwork
100 on clear yellow vinyl with yellow artwork
100 on clear green vinyl with green artwork
50 on clear vinyl with blue artwork (DESSERTFEST Berlin edition and only available at the festival)

Limited Up to 350 copies (H42-031, H42 Records)
100 on clear red vinyl with red artwork
100 on clear green vinyl with green artwork
100 on clear yellow vinyl with yellow artwork
100 on clear vinyl with blue artwork (DesertFest Berlin Edition and only available at the festival)

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

Desert Storm/Suns of Thunder at H42 Records

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Desert Storm, Forked Tongues: A Bustle in Your Rock Fury

Posted in Reviews on March 2nd, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I’ve been back and forth for a while now with Forked Tongues, the second full-length offering from Oxford, UK, heavy rock outfit Desert Storm. The nine-song album runs through a host of American styles, mostly related to Southern metal and the conventions thereof, but ultimately comes across confused as to where it wants to be stylistically. Desert Storm, a double-guitar, single-vocal five-piece in the metal tradition, seem to have one foot in the riffy metal of Down and Black Label Society, and another in the groovy blues-based licks of Clutch, but there’s little to discern from Forked Tongues (which is released on the band’s own Buried in Smoke Records and follows a 2008 self-titled) that belongs to Desert Storm alone, and especially in the area of Matt Ryan’s vocals, there’s just too much coming down on the side of affectation to really be believable at this point in their career. The songs, mostly led by guitarists Chris White (lead) and Ryan Cole (rhythm), are well-constructed, but they’re constructed of material so familiar that, with a few exceptions, it’s hard for the tracks on Forked Tongues to hold my attention.

Those exceptions come mostly in the form of middle cuts “Smokes ‘n’ Liquor” and “The Jackal,” which, although straightforward in structure and not really innovative stylistically (which, as I’ve said before, isn’t necessarily a requirement for well done heavy rock), belong mostly to Desert Storm. “The Jackal” especially is a catchy, nod-worthy piece with an arrangement vocally that is unmatched throughout the rest of Forked Tongues. But to get to that point, one has first to wade through the rough opening trio of “Cosmic Drips,” “Ol’ Town” and “South We Roll.” “Cosmic Drips,” in its immediate impression, is about as close to Earthride as I’ve heard anyone come. That’s offset as the song progresses by a Down II vibe and the guest soul backing vocals of Lauren Hayes, who also appears on “Ol’ Town.” Ryan changes his vocals from “whiskey-soaked” to cleaner for the choruses, and I find the second to be a far more natural fit for both his voice and the song. As much as that song is drenched in swampy bayou waters, “Ol’ Town” follows the Clutch start-stop formula in the guitars – Elliot Cole on drums and Chris Benoist on bass doing their damnedest to keep things interesting in the rhythm section – and Ryan follows suit on vocals, channeling Neil Fallon’s throaty semi-spoken delivery à la Pure Rock Fury. With “South We Roll,” there’s a surprisingly metal turn, the guitar tones becoming heavier in the traditional sense and the drum sounds switching from the more natural sound of the first two songs to a more canned feel. Ryan growls over chugging riffs, and for the first time on Forked Tongues, but not the last, I begin to wonder what exactly Desert Storm are shooting for in terms of aesthetic. White pulls out a good solo following a breakdown and bridge, with Ryan repeating the chorus overhead, and there’s no shortage of action, but none of it is especially engaging.

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