Heavy Psych

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BLOOD CEREMONY The Eldritch Dark Album Cover The Eldritch Dark
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.67 | 22 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY Lord Of Misrule Album Cover Lord Of Misrule
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.62 | 18 ratings
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PURSON The Circle and the Blue Door Album Cover The Circle and the Blue Door
PURSON
4.83 | 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
4.57 | 6 ratings
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BLUES PILLS Lady In Gold Album Cover Lady In Gold
BLUES PILLS
4.41 | 9 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY Blood Ceremony Album Cover Blood Ceremony
BLOOD CEREMONY
4.29 | 21 ratings
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CAPTAIN BEYOND Captain Beyond Album Cover Captain Beyond
CAPTAIN BEYOND
4.26 | 25 ratings
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THE GROUNDHOGS Split Album Cover Split
THE GROUNDHOGS
4.33 | 10 ratings
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BLUES PILLS Blues Pills Album Cover Blues Pills
BLUES PILLS
4.29 | 9 ratings
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AVATARIUM Death, Where Is Your Sting Album Cover Death, Where Is Your Sting
AVATARIUM
4.32 | 7 ratings
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PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT Sound Of The Wind Album Cover Sound Of The Wind
PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT
4.39 | 5 ratings
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Ilion
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SLIFT
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SLIFT Ilion

Album · 2024 · Heavy Psych
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siLLy puPPy
Expanding the limits of stoner rock and taking it into the vastness of space, the final frontier like an episodic Star Trek journey into the unknown, the power trio SLIFT has continually been improving upon its unique concoction that borrows an ingredient or two from various strains of acid rock, psychedelia, space rock and the world of stoner rock / metal for eight years now. Having only formed in 2016, the band has unleashed a new expansive stylistic approach that ambitiously has reached into the world of progressive rock with its latest installment of the SLIFT canon called ILION.

One of the staples of the modern Toulouse, France underground, SLIFT featuring Jean Fossat (guitar, vocals), Rémi Fossat (bass, vocals) and Canek Flores (drums) has become one of those bands that has managed to retain the immediacy of its raucous garage rock days only now infused with the savoir-faire of a seasoned prog band on its latest album ILIION. Presumably the title is a reference to the ancient Greek city set to the 21st century and the ultimate adventures into the galaxy and beyond narrating the decline of humanity and the imminent rebirth as our species ventures out into the limitless expanses.

SLIFT’s musical palette has expanded this time around with the addition of three seasoned performers adding the saxophone, synthesizer and what they refer to as heavenly vocals, the extra icing on the cake that takes ILION light years away from the previous 2020 release “Ummon.” That release established the band in the greater world of modern heavy psych and general and pointed to the stars for new paths that once forged has culminated in the birth of ILION, the band’s most triumphant release yet. While only featuring eight tracks, the album’s playing time is expansive as its ambitious nature by creeping past the 79-minute mark. This is one for the most dedicated sonic explorer whose attention span can endure a majestic journey of this nature but highly rewarding for those who buckle up their seatbelts and take this rocket ship into the depths of space.

Starting out with the 11-minute title track, SLIFT displays its sophistication without hesitation as the musicians take the familiarity of the heavy guitar, bass and drum garage rock heft into more atmospheric realms. While the musical style continues what the band has established on its previous releases, the compositional fortitude has undergone a serious evolution in expansiveness and nuance as the tracks meander from the established guitar rock heft to soft sensual spacey moments reminiscent of 70s Gong or Pink Floyd. While the playing time may seem unfounded, it actually allows the compositions to pulse and flicker and seep slowly into your soul without feeling rushed. This is an album that requires patience as the repetitive nature of riffs and passages are designed to cast a hypnotic spell rather than bedazzle the senses with technical ingenuity.

SLIFT has crafted an amazing work with ILION. This album may be long but encapsulates a wandering journey through the myriad styles of space rock, heavy stoner rock and futuristic prog. Think of what King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard would sound like if jamming with Elder, Goat, King Buffalo and Earthless and you can get the gist of how SLIFT has slinked into a new chapter of their colorful career. Don’t let the freaky astro-aliens puking red spaghetti on the album cover throw you off. This is top notch space rock of the ages with more than enough creative mojo to justify the album’s 79-minute run and that’s saying something for yours truly who often shies away from album’s over 45 minutes these days. Exemplary work here!

BLOOD CEREMONY The Old Ways Remain

Album · 2023 · Heavy Psych
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666sharon666
If there is one thing that is disappointing about the latest album from Blood Ceremony, The Old Ways Remain, it's that is has taken so long to reach our ears. It was in 2016 that they delivered Lord of Misrule and, being the latest in a run of exceptionally strong albums, the band seemed like they were at the top of their game. But then they dropped off the map. While whispers of a follow-up started in 2019 with the release of the Lolly Willows single, it's taken until 2023 for the full-length album to materialise.

But since that's the only thing we've really got to worry about with The Old Ways Remain, it's safe to say that Blood Ceremony haven't disappointed with their comeback. In many ways this picks up where Lord of Misrule left off: folksy, flute-laden heavy psych rock that feels straight out of an earlier period of rock music history. They've often been described as sounding like the love child of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull and while they tend to lean more toward the latter for the last few albums compared to their earlier work, it's a comparison that still holds some relevance. If it actually had been released in the late 1960s to early 1970s, we'd most likely call it proto-metal.

This isn't an album that's going to shock anyone who has heard previous Blood Ceremony albums. Something that is new is that they have thrown in a bit of jazzy saxophone this time around, but mostly this is the fun, distinctive riffs, organ drenched, flute-laden heavy psych we know and love them for. And since they made us wait several years for it, the album goes down a treat. The Old Ways Remain indeed, still valid in the 21st Century.

DARK Round The Edges

Album · 1972 · Heavy Psych
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siLLy puPPy
More known for its status as having released one of the most expensive collectible records of the rock music era, DARK was a psychedelic rock band that was a bit late to the prog party by the time it delivered its debut ROUND THE EDGES in 1972 but nevertheless garnered praise for its innovative use of fuzz guitar that went beyond the usual one-trick pony wankery of the late 60s and used it in clever ways in its compositional fortitude. Formed in 1968 Northampton, DARK by guitarist Steve Giles who met guitarist Martin Weaver, drummer Clive Thorneycroft and bassist Ronald Johnson at their local school and set off to imitate American West Coast jam bands.

During its initial run from 1968-1973, DARK released only this one LP with a total release number of 64 copies recorded at S.I.S. Studios as a private release, many of which were given to friends and family thus making the album one of the rarest British releases of all time. Original copies have commanded hefty prices upward of £25,000 depending on the version and in 2016 was declared the 17th most valuable record of all time by New Musical Express (NME), a British music, film, gaming, and culture website. Although the original pressing has garnered a huge reputation with collectors of all things original vinyl, the album itself has been re-released several times and recently in 2022 with four distinct album covers (as well as numerous variations) including remastered versions.

Collectibility aside ROUND THE EDGES sounds more like an album that would have emerged in the late 1968, early 1969 timeline and to my ears sounds like that these tracks were written, performed and possibly recorded before 1970 and not released until the band saved enough money to do a proper release. For 1972 this jamming psychedelic rock is hopelessly outdated as it sounds more like Quicksilver Messenger Service than anything the year 1972 offered when progressive rock was at his peak of creative complexity. The original album features six tracks, three on each vinyl record side with the longest, "Live For Today" extending past the 8-minute mark. Compared to bands like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, DARK really doesn't sound like any other band i can think of as its a strange mix of jam band, hard acid rock and early proto-prog moments.

Very much the baby of Steve Giles who provides vocals and guitar as well as sitting in as producer, the description as the album being a vehicle to display angsty fuzzy hard rock soloing is fairly accurate. The vocals are fairly awful with a limited range and lower the enjoyability factor for my ears however the musical performances are satisfying with stellar instrumental interplay that finds a very talented drummer tearing it up behind a stellar fuzzed out heavy psych experience offered by the guitars and bass. The album itself offered extensive gatefold sleeves in full color, handwritten notes and an overall ambitious presentation seemingly more fussed over than the music itself. Although the band is primarily known for this one album, it has released numerous archival albums as well as reforming in 2011.

This is no nonsense heavy psych without any true prog bells and whistles. A few time signature deviations from time to time but basically this music takes you back to the late 60s and the band would've been perfect as an opening act for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer or Iron Butterfly. This band is surely only still relevant today due to its collectibility status but there is a world of difference between investors in previous goods and those who simply want to hear innovative music. There is no doubt that this is a decent record that is by no means as bad as some make it out to be but likewise there is really nothing on this album that truly stands out as original other than the fact that fuzz guitar was extended in its role which is significant but doesn't change the overall feel of the album. Certainly one for the history book and a decent spin but as a music lover hardly qualifies to shell out massive amounts of cash. A nice anomaly for 1972 but nothing more than a good side note.

BLOOD CEREMONY The Old Ways Remain

Album · 2023 · Heavy Psych
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Nightfly
The Old Ways Remain, the fifth album from Canada’s Blood Ceremony, has been a long time coming. Seven years in fact since the excellent Lord Of Misrule. Since then just a couple of singles to let us know they haven’t left us including the brilliant let It Come Down that I would have liked to have seen on here. If you want that it’s available online or on the probably now out of print 7” single. They say that great things come to those who wait and I’m pleased to say that’s certainly the case here.

Those who loved Lord Of Misrule will also love The Old Ways Remain as on the face of it is a very similar album in style and sound. The difference is firstly it’s an overall heavier album than last time around though it has to be said not massively so. LOM had its heavier moments of course but the nothing as sugary as Loreley here for example. There’s still no shortage of the strong melodies you’d expect to hear from Blood Ceremony though like their most recent single Lolly Willows and Powers Of Darkness. So as expected the sound is more the late 60’s to early 70’s heavy psych sound and little if any trace of their doom past. The Hellfire Club is a perfect riffy opener and they keep the momentum going on the equally compelling Ipsissimus. In fact there’s not a weak song present. The sound gets a bit more whimsical and mellow later on with the short Hecate and Mossy Wood along with album closer Song Of The Morrow, a beautifully haunting and trippy song to end with.

The production is quite dry but suits the songs pretty well allowing plenty of separation and clarity of the usual instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocalist Alia O’Briens flute. Everyone does a great job as expected but a special mention must go to drummer Michael Carrillo for his inventive often syncopated drum parts.

To this day, for me, The Eldritch Dark remains Blood Ceremony’s finest moment but all their albums apart from the eponymous debut (not bad by any means) come pretty close in quality and The Old Ways Remain is another essential release in the bands small (so far) discography. Fair enough, we have had the covid years, but hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for the next one.

TIME DWELLERS Novum Aurora

Album · 2022 · Heavy Psych
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siLLy puPPy
When i say the 70s are a gift that never stop giving, i’m not only referring to the seemingly endless supply of treasures that were recorded during a single decade but i’m also talking about the influence that modern artists still are lapping up in great abundance. Retro prog should be considered a whole new subsection of the progressive rock universe at this point with countless bands adopting the sounds, songwriting and ethos of classic era artists. Sweden and Scandinavia in general seems to be the new ground zero for retro prog and here is yet one more band, TIME DWELLERS that comes from the far southern city of Karlshamn.

Formed in 2017, this band is a trio consisting of Martin Fairbanks (guitar), Kristofer Stjernquist (vocals, synthesizer, bass, guitar) and Henrik Bergman (drums). The band’s debut NOVUM AURORA hit the scene in May of 2022 but i’m only getting around to it right after the turn of the year in early 2023. This band delivers the very essence of what retro prog dreams come true are all about. Sounding like they easily could’ve written and produced this in the early 1970s, TIME DWELLERS seems to take a cue from many bands of the English scene.

The heavy melodic rock that features tight harmonies accompanied by proggier than usual compositions brings the great Uriah Heep to mind especially around the “Salisbury” and “Look At Yourself” era although lead singer Kristofer Stjernquist doesn’t quite have the vocal range of the legendary David Byron. The opening track “Rising: Dawn / Awakening / Metamorphosis” whiffs of Emerson, Lake & Palmer with a robust keyboard riff but what’s immediately apparent is that this guys have thoroughly studied the melodic rock compositional approach of early 70s bands and mastered it thoroughly.

In addition to heavier bands like Uriah Heep and fleeting references to Black Sabbath, Wishbone Ash and Led Zeppelin, the band showcases slower tracks in the vein of Free, UFO, Stray and well countless other blues based hard rock bands of the era. What’s impressive about TIME DWELLERS is that they have incorporated all the elements of the era together so very well and make it sound like they were a phantom band of the era without ever releasing anything until now. Unlike many hard rock albums of the era, NOVUM AURORA has an impressive production that allows the synthesizers, mellotrons and other background sounds to mix perfectly with the guitars, bass and drums.

On the songwriting side of things, these guys have nailed that classic compositional structure with tight instantly catchy melodies without sounding cheesy or overly maudlin. The album is easily accessible upon a single listening experience yet has enough going on to keep you coming back. The music has an edge to it without eradicating the easy to follow hooks. Perhaps a little too tame for many modern heavy rockers but if taken as the retro band that they are, then i think TIME DWELLERS have done an excellent job at capturing the zeitgeist of an era gone by without sounding like a clone of any particular artist (that i’m aware of anyways).

While i wouldn’t call NOVUM AURORA a modern masterpiece of revisited retro prog in the same way that Wobbler has channeled past glories, i would call this an amazingly brilliant piece of late 1960s / early 1970s heavy retro psych prog that not only evokes the time of half a century ago in the music underground but also is a relevant listening experience for lover’s of melodic rock that alternates between heavier and softer passages. The musicians are all on the top of their game and the vocals are spot on for replicating these retro sounds. Very impressive. Looking forward to hearing how these guys progress. Sweden is a never-ending wellspring of fertile creative spirits!

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