Heavy Psych

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BLOOD CEREMONY The Eldritch Dark Album Cover The Eldritch Dark
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.64 | 18 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY Lord Of Misrule Album Cover Lord Of Misrule
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.64 | 16 ratings
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PURSON The Circle and the Blue Door Album Cover The Circle and the Blue Door
PURSON
4.85 | 6 ratings
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RUBY THE HATCHET Planetary Space Child Album Cover Planetary Space Child
RUBY THE HATCHET
4.67 | 8 ratings
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UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS Blood Lust Album Cover Blood Lust
UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS
4.61 | 5 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY Blood Ceremony Album Cover Blood Ceremony
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.28 | 18 ratings
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CAPTAIN BEYOND Captain Beyond Album Cover Captain Beyond
CAPTAIN BEYOND
4.25 | 22 ratings
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THE GROUNDHOGS Split Album Cover Split
THE GROUNDHOGS
4.33 | 10 ratings
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PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT Sound Of The Wind Album Cover Sound Of The Wind
PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT
4.43 | 5 ratings
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JEX THOTH Blood Moon Rise Album Cover Blood Moon Rise
JEX THOTH
4.32 | 5 ratings
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BUFFALO Volcanic Rock Album Cover Volcanic Rock
BUFFALO
4.22 | 9 ratings
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GRAND FUNK RAILROAD Closer to Home Album Cover Closer to Home
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
4.26 | 6 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY
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PURSON The Circle and the Blue Door

Album · 2013 · Heavy Psych
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Warthur
Purson is one of those bands which is essentially the vehicle for the creative vision of a particular purson - er, I mean person. That purson - sorry, person - is singer-guitarist Rosalie Cunningham, the band's only constant member, and she's set her aesthetic sights firmly on the heavy prog-psych sound of the early 1970s.

The Circle and the Blue Door is an occult-tinged visit to a time when heavy metal, psychedelic rock, and prog hadn't quite diverged into three entirely distinct musical streams yet - an era where it made absolute sense for a label like Vertigo to have acts as diverse as Catapila, Affinity, and Black Sabbath on it and describe them all as "progressive rock".

As time passed the meaning of that term evolved, moved on, and was redefined, as the prog scene focused more on technical wizardry and compositional complexity and the proto-metal scene got shaken up by acts like Budgie or Judas Priest injecting more speed and aggression into the style. Cunningham, however, clearly knows her musical history and understands that there was a time when a heavy psych album could skip its way through early proto-prog/proto-metal territory as the whim took it.

We've seen this before, of course - Blood Ceremony base their entire schtick on it - but this debut album delivers this style in masterful fashion. There's an ugly tendency, especially in prog or metal circles, to question the credentials of frontwomen and to attribute most of the musical and compositional proficiency of a band to male band members, but it's absolutely clear from her guitar's prominence and from her lead role in the songwriting that Cunningham isn't just there for aesthetic reasons.

No, this is clearly music she believes in passionately, and by the time you're done listening you'll be a believer too. With those drum rolls, fuzzy guitar, and production touches, you might even believe that Purson were right there in 1971 opening for Jethro Tull or Black Widow.

BANG Mother / Bow To The King

Album · 1972 · Heavy Psych
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voila_la_scorie
Bang! or BANG were an American heavy rock band in the early seventies. Their first album, "Death of a Country" was not released on account of it being a concept album. So the band went ahead and recorded another album and it was released as a self-titled debut in 1971. I got this album as a double album along with their final seventies release, "Music", which was pretty disappointing as the heavy, almost Sabbath-esque riff rock from the debut had been abandoned. "Mother / Bow to the King" sits snuggley in between and I always wondered which way it leaned.

Fortunately for us early seventies heavy rock fans, it's heavy enough to drop like an anvil on "Music" and totally crush that acoustic pussy rock sucker. Oh, sure, this album is not heavy through and throughout. The song "Mother" starts off the album with acoustic guitar and sounds a bit down home at first. It's all foot-stomping and hand clapping. That is until about 1:30 when it turns into a foot-stomper, hand-clapper with a rock out electric guitar. "Humble" leads in with some gentle, clean electric guitar but this song also soon goes heavy rock around 0:55. At times the lead vocals resemble Ozzy's voice when coupled with those heavy guitar riffs. But then this dude, I'm not sure if it's Frank Ferrara or Frankie Glicken, is able to belt out the lyrics with more power than Ozzy typical gave.

Side one simply gets better with "Keep On", a grooving heavy rock number, and "Idealist Realist", which also hints a bit at Black Sabbath when the riff gets darker.

Side Two begins with a cover of "No Sugar Tonight" by The Guess Who. It sounds quite pretty until we get to the hard rock, power chord chorus. The Guess Who version is a dual track combined with "The New Mother Nature". Bang just stick with "No Sugar Tonight" but they do a pretty cool job of it. "Feel the Hurt" is a bit more like heavy country rock like some Nazareth songs and "Tomorrow" takes us into melodic hard rock with a catchy chorus. The final song, "Bow to the King" is a clean electric track, slow like a ballad but about a boxing champion. It's okay.

Well, there are enough cool, hard rock/heavy rock tracks on here to make this worth picking up for my collection. The only complaint I'd have is that - like many old albums - it sounds like the CD was cut from a nice piece of vinyl instead of a master tape. I don't know if there are other versions out there with a better sound. It's not bad but with ear buds you can really hear the tiny scratches and pops which I think don't belong on CD.

PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT Sound Of The Wind

Album · 2017 · Heavy Psych
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Although their formerly shared their vocalist Virginia Monti with the doom metal band Dead Witches and the remainder of the band are also involved with hard rockers Magnet, Italians Psychedelic Witchcraft haven't up until this point been a particularly heavy band themselves. This is in spite of also being easily grouped with acts such as Blood Ceremony through the retro rock connection. With their second full-length album Sound of the Wind (2017), they're clearly set out to change this. This one's a real hard rocker!

With ten new tracks under their belt, the band, whose first album was mostly a straight psychedelic rock affair with the occasional heavier edge creeping in, have near enough fully embraced heavy psych on Sound of the Wind. There's the odd moment where things are dialled back considerably, including the title track which sounds as if it could be a lost Jefferson Airplane number. I'm very much reminded of that band's famous White Rabbit during it fact. Mostly though, this album is all about rocking hard but with plenty of psychedelic vibes throughout. It's even close to metal at points, in terms of heaviness if not technique, though there's a vague air of traditional doom if you listen closely enough.

An improvement on the decent but ultimately less interesting (especially to the heavy rock and/or metal fan) debut, Sound of the Wind is quick to assert itself as one of the best hard rock albums of 2017. Despite this I have to say that it's that title track that sounds out as it's crowning achievement, but it's a strong record from start to finish. Perhaps more to the point it stands out in the crowd of these female fronted psychedelic heavy rock bands that have been (justifiably) quite popular in recent years, thanks in no small part to the increased heaviness of the guitar riff. Along with this potent riffage, the use of psychedelic melodies really pushes the album up a level, as do the charming vocals from Virginia Monti, whose voice fits perfectly and is a real delight to take in.

Overall I'm very impressed by Psychedelic Witchcraft's change in direction to becoming a heavier band and hope to hear more work in this style from them.

HIGH TIDE Sea Shanties

Album · 1969 · Heavy Psych
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Warthur
About as heavy as an album could get in 1969 without being full-on proto-metal, High Tide's secret weapon on Sea Shanties are the nuanced violin performances by Simon House, who prog fans might have heard on albums by Third Ear Band or Hawkwind. This touch of gentle class amid the band's Atomic Rooster-meets-Hendrix whirlwind of acid-drenched fuzz creates an intoxicating mixture, like House is a lone violinist on the deck of a ship in the middle of a violent storm. The album structure might be simple - two comparatively shorter songs sandwiching a longer epic on each side - but the songs are engaging and vibrant and the longer pieces (Death Warmed Up and Missing Out) are incredible proto-prog offerings.

The album's been rather overlooked by prog historians, which is a shame because it's an intriguing point where the hardest of hard rock, the heaviest of heavy psych and the proggiest of proto-prog met up and created a truly unique sound.

ELDER Reflections of a Floating World

Album · 2017 · Heavy Psych
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adg211288
Active for a little over a decade now and US band Elder have certainly changed along the way. Starting life as a stoner/doom metal band and releasing the self-titled debut album Elder (2008) in this style, they've become increasingly more based in psychedelic and progressive sounds, which is the flavour of the day on the group's fourth full-length album, Reflections of a Floating World (2017).

Much like their last album Lore (2015), Reflections of a Floating World is a lengthy album made up of a short track list. Six tracks, each lasting for extended durations where the shortest offering is 8:39 long, with most surpassing ten minutes. The title track of Lore was longer than any of these here, but overall Reflections of a Floating World stands as Elder's longest record to date. With long running times like these it's obvious that the band wasn't writing with catchy tracks in mind, but something more atmospheric and intricate that requires the teeth to be sunk into and given several listens before it can really be appreciated.

Some elements of the band's earlier metal sound is still in evidence on the album, such as during opener Sanctuary, which starts off in such a way that you'd be forgiven for thinking nothing had changed since the debut, but mostly Elder have moved away from metal at this point and are better described as a heavy psych group with strong progressive rock influences in the structure of their compositions. They're still pretty heavy though. Plenty of vocals are used, but quite often there are extended instrumental sections, which prove to be the most interesting aspect of the band's music. Quite the range of different sounds can be heard within the same song from keyboard parts, clean tone guitars and metallic riffs. When the vocals are featured it's of note that frontman Nicholas DiSalvo's singing style has changed a lot since the band's early days, being much more melodic and in keeping with the more rock based music the band is playing now.

Reflections of a Floating World is certainly the kind of album that is a slow burn. There's a lot going on and a listener may be several listens deep before they've even started to get a grasp on the scope of the work Elder has created. It's pretty grand. The biggest issue facing the release though is that despite being very accomplished there isn't actually all that much to give the tracks identity from each other even after several complete listens. This makes it the kind of album that is best taken in a single sitting to get its full effect, but it's long duration may be a barrier to some listeners. The one track that really stands out as different is the much lighter and hypnotic instrumental Sonntag. Though the album as a whole can be described as an atmospheric work, that song takes it even further. Technically speaking though it's the least interesting of the bunch, slowly building and changing up small ideas in what's otherwise a fairly repetitive pattern. Fortunately it's the shortest song, but as mentioned earlier, that still makes it 8:39 long.

An intriguing album that I have to say does live up to its name in the way it inspires reflective contemplation in me, Reflections of a Floating World is not perfect by any means, but it's clear to me that the trio that make up Elder are a group of talented guys. They seem to still be in the transitional stage from their earlier stoner/doom metal sound though and haven't yet completely honed their new craft. For my part I find this album quite the pleasure while its running and can recognise the number of quality riffs found within, but after the event it's failing to leave too much of a lasting impression, and that's the kind of thing that is going to elevate Elder's music to the next level.

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