Heavy Psych

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BLOOD CEREMONY The Eldritch Dark Album Cover The Eldritch Dark
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.60 | 18 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY Lord Of Misrule Album Cover Lord Of Misrule
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.61 | 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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STRAY Stray Album Cover Stray
STRAY
4.44 | 5 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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BLOOD CEREMONY
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ICECROSS Icecross

Album · 1973 · Heavy Psych
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siLLy puPPy
Early hard rock and heavy metal was primarily limited to the British scene with obvious candidates like Black Sabbath and Budgie wresting control of the style away from its heavy psych origins however it didn’t take long for American bands like The Stooges, Blue Oyster Cult and eventually Van Halen to take the heavier aspects of hard rock into more demanding territories. One of the more interesting bands to emerge from this early blossoming of proto-metal was not from an English speaking nation at all but rather from the small nation of Iceland which found a power trio generating an excessively heavy sound for the year of 1973.

ICECROSS has been referred to as the first black metal band due to the album cover depicting a human skeleton, a monstrous counterpart along with a frosted over cross which represents some sort of anti-religious stance but despite the imagery forged in black and white evoking a future world that would adopt similar artistic expressions as a means of communicating more extreme misanthropic visions, ICECROSS’ sound was more akin to the early years of the NWOBHM which at 1973 was ahead of its time sounding as if the band’s sole self-titled album was recorded and released somewhere around the 1978-79 timeline. While borrowing from the early heavy psych of the 60s along with the heavier aspects of Leaf Hound, Sabbath, Pentagram and Uriah Heep, ICECROSS surprisingly developed an interesting early porto-type of metal outside the English speaking world.

The band consisted of the trio of Axel Einarsson (Guitar, Vocals), Ómar Óskarsson (Bass, Vocals) and Ásgeir Óskarsson (Drums, Vocals) and was something akin to an early Icelandic Rush without the Led Zeppelin influences. ICECROSS’s sole album is an amazingly confident ride through sizzling guitar riff passages, heavy percussive freneticism and distinct bass grooves that hinted at the influences from across the pond but offered a darker sound that took the gloomier moods of Sabbaths, a tad of King Crimsonian dystopia and melded it with the blues rock and heavier drives of bands like Elias Hulk, Iron Claw, Jerusalem. Dust and dozens of other early heavy rockers only ICECROSS increased the speed and volume creating a powerful display of early metal bombast.

Although hailing from Iceland, ICECROSS wisely selected English as the language for the lyrics and chose to craft all original tunes with no covers like many bands of the era outside of England were doing. The band was popular in Iceland but with a population of only a few hundred thousand found more success once they moved abroad to Copenhagen, Denmark where they recorded the sole album. Due to the band’s short existence the original album had become a desired collector’s item for decades before a long due remastered reissue emerged in the 21st century as interest in the early 70s material has risen. ICECROSS cranked out eight strong tracks that ranged from heavy metal rockers that incorporate blitzkrieg lightning fast guitar solos which wouldn’t become popular until the latter half of the decade. The band also crafted catchy bluesy rockers as well as darker doom laden passages that emphasized darker intent.

Everything is great about ICECROSS’ sole release. Heavy passages change it up with mellow more contemplative sections. Einarsson’s vocals are powerful and attack a wide octave range whereas the musicianship of the members is extraordinarily brilliant especially on the drums where Ásgeir Óskarsson delivered a more sophisticated style of playing not experienced in the heavy rock world at this stage. In many ways this band could be deemed a predecessor of the 80s scene except that probably nobody ever heard of them outside of Iceland and the Danish capital. While the heavy metal world may have caught up with ICECROSS without hearing their early powerful style of playing, this album has become a cult favorite for many seeking the origins of the metal universe and is not to be missed. While not exactly some long lost masterpiece, the album is surprisingly strong in its heavy metal stomp through an album’s worth of material. This is one band i wish would have stuck around longer.

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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adg211288
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.

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