Dozer Album Reviews

Not one, but three album reviews for you this week: Re-released by Heavy Psych Sounds, these three albums from Dozer are back and bouncing.  Here’s my review, as it originally appeared on Ever Metal and now here for your perusal:

Dozer – In the Tail of a Comet/Madre de Dios/Call it Conspiracy

Heavy Psych Sounds

Release date: 13/03/2020, 20/03/2020

Running time: 38 mins, 40 mins, 56 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10, 9/10, 9.5/10

Don’t you just love it when you find a new band to obsess about?  Music so awesome, so perfect that it just lights up your life.  Well, Dozer have filled that gap in my existence recently – I can’t believe how I endured without them before.  Though these three albums are all reissues from the early part of the 21st century, so fuck knows what I’ve been up to for the last 20 years.  Seriously, what was I doing back then that meant I missed out on this?

Hailing from the wonderful land of Sweden, a place which must have some kind of genetic master code for musical excellence, Dozer are a mighty stoner rock collective delivering heavy, intense and groove laden tunes.  I don’t know how or why the Swedes are so good at this – is it the long, dark winter isolation?  The never-ending day light in summer?  Agnetha Falkstog’s tight pants?  There’s something magical happening there, that’s for sure.

Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds have done the world a remarkable, philanthropic favour by re-issuing these three albums by the band.  And, praise Tony Iommi, on beautiful, sexy vinyl too.  This really is a wondrous, benevolent gift to bestow upon us.

So, what does the music sound like, you ask (at least you do if, like me, you were clueless enough to be unaware of Dozer previously)?  First album “In the Tail of a Comet” (8.5/10) erupts into beautiful, head nodding, rolling riffs from the off.  Layers of fuzzy, psychedelic invention and heavy rhythms usher us into their world.  A particular highlight is the finale, “High Roller”, where although the band take their foot off the gas a little, they create a trippy, vast soundscape to get lost in.

Nay-sayers may choose to point out Dozer’s obvious similarity to Kyuss; hell, even singer Fredrik Nordin sounds like a carbon copy John Garcia.  With their second album, “Madre de Dios” (9/10), that influence becomes less pronounced as their own creativity develops.  This second album seems more brutal, more aggressive.  It doesn’t take long, however, to reveal more textures and experiments with the formula – see “Earth Yeti”.  Album number 2 is a faster, heavier, punkier version of Dozer – yet still expanding on the desert rock template.

By the time we get to the final album of this reissued trio – the immense “Call It Conspiracy” (9.5/10) – Dozer have developed their own sound and personality yet further.  The Kyuss/FU Manchu influence is still there, but Dozer have grown into something of their own.  This album is the heaviest, most “metal” work – but still creative as it stretches those stoner boundaries into new, warped shapes.  Whether it’s full throttle rock’n’roll with lead track “The Hills Have Eyes” or groove laden head-nodder “Man Made Mountain”, there’s much to explore here.

Gushing praise, indeed: but if you, dear reader, are a fan of the crushing riffs, unrestrained groove and sonic washes of stoner/desert rock – these Dozer albums are highly recommended.  Tune in, turn on and explore these revived classics now.

Check out Dozer on Facebook.

Check out Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook and on the interweb here.

Brown Acid: the Ninth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 31/10/2019

Running time: 36 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7.5/10 

Archaeologists of rock from Riding Easy Records have once again delved into the depths of the forgotten to present this, the ninth instalment of their “Brown Acid” series.  They have unearthed yet more obscure gems from the past, in order to entertain and enlighten those obsessives who love to investigate the DNA of rock.

Call it heavy rock, proto metal, garage rock – whatever, these Brown Acid compilations offer a wealth of hard to find material.

The songs may be long lost relics, but they sure ain’t amateur.  In fact, it’s surprising how well they’ve cleaned up – and how well produced some of them were in the first place.  Take the first track, White Lightning’s “Prelude to Opus IV”, which is surprisingly grand and opulent.

I won’t play favourites, but Peacepipe’s “The Sun Won’t Shine Forever” has an almost Stooges like sound, filtered through Californian psychedelia.  Magi’s “Win or Lose” sounds like Grand Funk playing an MC5 song, while Stonewall’s “Outer Spaced” holds the most outrageous riff of the set, with perhaps a touch of Hendrix.

Elsewhere, the fantastically named Fibreglass Vegetables offer up a more laid back, groovy but still heavy song with “Pain”.  “Rebel Woman” by Erik (a simpler name, but that’s cool) is another superb rocker that demonstrates some real song writing and arranging talent.

Not as bluesy as Zeppelin or as heavy as Sabbath, the songs on offer are a fine example of rock’n’roll of the time.  It doesn’t take much to imagine the guys from Fu Manchu listening to these pre-stoner rock goodies, sat in their van waiting for the cry of “surf’s up”.

This 9th edition of the Brown Acid compilation offers retro quality, never kitsch or silly, with tons of infectious music.  It’s easy to wonder why some of these bands never became more famous.  At least Riding Easy have done the hard work for us, dusting off the artefacts and preserving them for all to enjoy.

Track list:

  1. White Lightning – “Prelude to Opus IV”
  2. Peacepipe – “The Sun Won’t Shine Forever”
  3. Magi – “Win or Lose”
  4. Fibreglass Vegetables – “Pain”
  5. Erik – “Rebel Woman”
  6. Stonewall – “Outer Spaced”
  7. Ice – “Running High”
  8. Spacerock – “Going Down the Road”
  9. Buckshot – “Barstar”
  10. 9 – “Paradiddle Blues”

Visit Riding Easy records on the interweb here, they also have a Bandcamp page.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

And don’t forget to check out Ever Metal, which is where this review originally appeared.

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf Album Review

And now, I present an album review I wrote for Ever Metal; a recording that became one of my favourites of 2019:

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf

Self Released

Release date: 09/04/2019

Running Time: 36 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

 

I’ve never been to Australia.  Don’t need to go there really, I know exactly what it’s like.  It’s like that David Bowie video where he’s inside a big concrete block in the middle of nowhere.  “Let’s Dance” – that’s the one.  Or it’s like Mad Max 2: all arid desert, people surviving on dog food and a struggle to exist without civilisation.

So, it’s quite apt that such a barren, isolated place has decided to gift us with an album that is, quite frankly, a masterpiece of desert rock.  Or outback rock, if you will.

This is “Giant Dwarf”, by the band Giant Dwarf, who hail from somewhere called Perth in Western Australia.

Right from the start, with opener “Golden Walrus”, the album bursts from the speakers like Gandalf after a month-long Charles Atlas course.  The songs are tough and uncompromising, yet cerebral.  “Black Thumb” and “Kepler” in particular will make you put your foot down on the accelerator and bang your head – whilst absorbing the intricate tapestry of the universe.

It’s all pounding rhythms and hypnotic, repeating riffs.  On first encounter, the album seems very – shall we say, inspired by – Kyuss and the first Queens of the Stone Age album.  Aaron Soppo (vocals) can even do a pretty convincing Josh Homme impersonation.  Which is no bad thing, in my book – in fact, it’s a sure fired recipe for success.

Further investigation reveals far more than this obvious comparison, however.  As well as a more fuzzed-up guitar sound – not unlike a particularly fried Fu Manchu – there’s a trippy, psychedelic sheen to the muscular groove.  There’s even sitar and didgeridoo on here, in wave after wave of glorious chunky riff and rolling beats.

“The Deluge” illustrates this breadth of feeling with a six minute plus track that undulates between exuberant rocker and introspective meander in just one epic song.

If I have one small criticism, I’d like to hear a track like “Strange Wool” – a mind melting instrumental track that’s quite brilliant – dragged out to three times it’s two-minute length.  Even more development and experimentation would really push Giant Dwarf further into a new dimension.  But keep the edge-of-the-seat rockers too, OK guys?

“Giant Dwarf” comes within a koala’s cock of perfection.  Powerful like the venom of a Death Adder, yet enticing like Natalie Imbruglia.  It really is that good: from out of nowhere, an album that will surely be in my end of year Top Five.

Find Giant Dwarf on Facebook and on Bandcamp.

Check Giant Dwarf out on Spotify here.

There’s some cool stuff on YouTube here and here, too.

PS: apologies for the dig at Australia, it’s just a joke.  I’m sure it’s nice there really.

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit Album Review

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit

Self released, Dewar PR

Release Date: 17/08/2018

Running Time: 51 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

“Have a listen to Spacetrucker!  I think you’ll like them,” came the recommendation from Rick at Ever Metal HQ.  So I did.  And he was right – the “Smooth Orbit” album is one of the most exciting listens I’ve had for a long, long time.

These psychedelic space monkeys have created a superb stoner rock classic that’s right up my space lane.   Throw in some fuzzy grunge and classic rock and Spacetrucker have achieved the almost impossible: put a huge, acid-warped grin on my ancient, grumbly mug.

First track “Sample of a Sample” warms the jets up nicely for take-off with a trippy lead and some bongos.  Yes, bongos!  Past the two-minute mark it erupts into a face-melter of a riff that had my cranium nodding like an Easter Island statue after some herbal refreshment.

Mike Owen (guitar/vocals), Rob Wagoner (bass/vocals) and Del Toro (drums) seem to be able to magically conjure up the grooves with uncanny ease.  “Meat Wagon” is another brilliant track with a pulsating, infectious riff.

In true lazy journo style (hey, I’ve had a few), Spacetrucker combine the stoner slouch of Fu Manchu and early QOTSA with classic Sabbath and Purple, mixing in some Mudhoney and Melvins fuzzy sludge on the way.  Perfect, in other words.  If any of those bands get your hyper drive firing, this is for you.

There are some Iommi-esque shorter numbers and experimental sounds that add a further dimension to the proceedings, constantly keeping the listener on their toes.  “Vanishing Point, Science of Us” has an almost Nirvana Unplugged vibe before bursting into a crushing rocker.  This is followed by another monster riff with “Pulling Teeth”.

Plus the final track, “Lost in the Sauce”, is over ten minutes long!  An extended jam floats in and builds beautifully, never rushing but enticing the listener along on every step.

This might not be the most critical review I’ve composed, but I don’t care.  “Smooth Orbit” is a triumph of an album and I love it.  The only reason it didn’t get ten out of ten is it needs more references to skateboards and 1970s muscle cars.  Other than that, I need a vinyl version, please.

If any of the above references to sub-genre labels and other bands resonates with you, I urge you do a Boba Fett and track this album down now.

All of this “space trucking” talk reminds me my days working with Deep Purple back in the early seventies.  I was working as the band’s roadie/driver when one time, in the middle of the night in the Arizona desert, we got a flat.  I left the Purps partying in the back whilst I went out in to the freezing, dusty highway to change the tire.  I was distracted for a moment, and I swear bling that I saw several lights zipping about in the sky at unbelievable speeds.  “UFOs!” I thought.

I rushed back onto the bus and dragged the band out to take look (all except Roger Glover, who was busy knitting).  Except when we got outside, the lights had vanished.  The Purps weren’t amused and blamed it on me overindulging in peyote.  Gillan was very gentlemanly about it all and even gave me a hand with the tyre.  Blackmore had a tantrum about the delay and docked me a day’s pay.  The bastard.

 

This review appeared on the Ever Metal website and is reproduced here for your enjoyment.  Click here to visit the Ever Metal website.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2018

2018 was a great year for music.  So much so, that I struggled condensing all those tasty new tunes into a top ten – and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.  There are several other albums that could have featured in an annual top ten, but for reason or other didn’t make the cut.

Anyway, those cool folks at Ever Metal asked me to put together a list of my ten favourite rock and metal releases for the year.  I did so, Ever Metal posted it, and I thought I’d share with my Virtual Hot tub readers too.

So here we go, in reverse order:

  1. Ghost – “Prequelle”
  2. Gama Bomb – “Speed Between the Lines”
  3. Orange Goblin – “The Wolf Bites Back”
  4. Earthless – “Black Heaven”
  5. 1968 – “Ballads of the Godless”
  6. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – “Wasteland”
  7. Monster Magnet – “Mindfucker”
  8. Corrosion of Conformity – “No Cross No Crown”
  9. Fu Manchu – “Clone of the Universe”
  10. Clutch – “Book of Bad Decisions”

Hope you did a Smashy and Nicey voice in your head whilst you counted that down.

Some classic albums there, in my opinion at least.  Honorable mentions are due for Sleep, High on Fire and Satan’s Satyrs (amongst others) who just missed out.  Who knows, next week I might have changed my mind.

Finally, a big thanks to the Ever Metal team for having me on board.  It’s a real honour to be part of the team, and writing for the site has been one of my highlights of last year. Here’s to contributing more in 2019.  Cheers!

Visit the Ever Metal site here and check out some cool music!

The Viking Halloween Horror Fest

Well Halloween 2018 is over, sadly.  But there are a few other movies I’ve watched in October as part of my Horror Fest, so here’s a quick overview of them.  I promise to keep this short and sweet…

The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966)

Is this even a horror movie?  I consulted the oracle of all things frightful, my old Horror Top Trumps, and YES – Fu Manchu is in there.  If he’s in that card pack then this counts as horror, as far as I’m concerned. 

Having said that, The Brides of Fu Manchu is more Indiana Jones style adventure than scary movie, despite some gruesome elements.

Fu Manchu is played by Christopher Lee (in make-up, the sort of Hollywood white washing that would quite rightly cause uproar nowadays).  The evil criminal mastermind is kidnapping the daughters of prominent scientists, to bribe them into helping him create a death ray.  It’s up to Scotland Yard’s Nayland Smith (Douglas Wilmer) to stop him.

The Brides of Fu Manchu is terribly dated.  But if we can all agree to be adults and appreciate that this film was made in another age, reflecting views of an even older age, then it’s quite a rip-roaring yarn.  Take it with a pinch of salt and watch it with a wary eye.

7/10

The Viking Queen (1967)

It’s Hammer, but it’s not really horror!  The Viking Queen is (very) loosely based on the story of Boudica in Roman Britain. 

Here we have the tale of British Queen Salina (played by Carita) and nice Roman leader Justinian (Don Murray) who plan on creating a fair land for all.  And they fall in love.  Predictably, there are grumps on both Briton and Roman sides that conspire to make a right old mess of things for the romantic couple.

On first viewing, I found the historical inaccuracies too much to swallow.  Further viewings have allowed my expectations to be lowered and I’ve begun to enjoy it more.  Not for the history buffs, but The Viking Queen is an enjoyable tale (with some nasty gory bits to remind us it is Hammer, after all).

7/10

Arachnophobia (1990)

It’s Jaws with Spiders!  New doctor in town Jeff Daniels is an arachnophobe, who just happens to move his family to a new town that’s about to become deadly spider central. 

I saw this film in the cinema and don’t think I’ve ever watched it again since.  So I was surprised that it was actually still quite good fun, with the sort of scares that force the viewer to move away from any possible spider hiding places in the living room.

Good fun and quite gruesome in places, it’s too scary for young children (as I found out), although completely obvious plot-wise.  Disconnect brain and enjoy.

8/10

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Much more suitable for your younger monsters, this animated feature from Dreamworks manages to entertain and pay homage to classic B-movie monsters from the past. 

Susan Murphy (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a meteorite that mutates her into a giant, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman character.  She’s whisked off to a top secret military installation and holed up with some other monstrous types.  Eventually the creatures are brought out of confinement to defend earth from an alien invasion.

Monsters vs. Aliens features a great voice cast including Hugh Laurie (a mad scientist/The Fly-like Dr Cockroach), Seth Rogen (as The Blob-like B.O.B.), Will Arnett (as the Missing Link, a Creature from the Black Lagoon specimen) and Kiefer Sutherland as the General in charge.  Rogen in particular is hilarious.

Lots of fun, great animation and a nice message if that’s your thing.  Monster vs. Aliens is a winner.

8/10

Random Bike Ride Playlist 2017 #1

It’s been a long, long time since I posted a random bike ride playlist.  My PC has had a few technical issues which impacted on my iTunes selection.  Oh, the joys of digital music.

Anyway, I went on a big cycle ride and left the music choice up to the iPod.  This is what I heard whilst on shuffle.

  1. Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry On Their Own”
  2. Municipal Waste – “Lunch Hall Food Bawl”
  3. Sex Pistols – “No One is Innocent”
  4. Napalm Death – “Born on Your Knees”
  5. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – “If I Were a Carpenter”
  6. Nancy Sinatra featuring Lee Hazlewood – “Jackson”
  7. PJ Harvey – “Good Fortune”
  8. Killing Joke – “S.O.36”
  9. Husker Du – “Wheels”
  10. Manic Street Preachers – “Motorcycle Emptiness”
  11. The Cult – “Wilderness Now”
  12. John Lee Hooker – “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman”
  13. Valient Thorr – “Problem Solver”
  14. Rocket From The Crypt – “Ratsize”
  15. Pearl Jam – “Footsteps”
  16. SNFU – “Electric Chair”
  17. Ramones – “It’s Gonna Be Alright”
  18. Van Halen – “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?”
  19. PJ Harvey – “Meet Ze Monster”
  20. Social Distortion – “Writing on the Wall”
  21. Solarized – “Chrome Shop”
  22. Thin Lizzy – “Silver Dollar”
  23. Beastie Boys – “Shadrach”
  24. Johnny Cash – “Daddy Sang Bass”
  25. Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”
  26. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Love Me Two Times”
  27. Anthrax – “I’m The Man”
  28. The Answer – “Evil Man”
  29. Judas Priest – “Here Come the Tears”
  30. Fu Manchu – “Missing Link”
  31. Jello Biafra & The Melvins – “Yuppie Cadillac”
  32. Clutch – “Ship of Gold”
  33. Jimmy Eat World – “Hear You Me”
  34. Stevie Wonder – “For Once in My Life”
  35. The Cult – “Full Tilt”
  36. The Byrds – “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
  37. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Love is Pain”
  38. Weezer – “Pork and Beans”
  39. Manic Street Preachers – “Suicide is Painless”
  40. Bad Company – “Seagull”
  41. The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
  42. Reverend Horton Heat – “In Your Wildest Dreams”
  43. The Monkees – “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”
  44. The Who – “See Me Feel Me”

Wow, I didn’t even know I had that Pat Benatar track!

There you have it – a mix of genres making a nice, eclectic mix of music.  Till next time…

Songs of the Week 07.08.2016

A lot of vinyl played this week.  Here are the top 5 songs from the last seven days:

  1. Fu Manchu – Evil Eye
  2. The Clash – Jimmy Jazz
  3. Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
  4. The Meters – Cissy Strut
  5. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Red Admiral Black Sunrise

In Memoriam – Sir Christopher Lee

Lee

Sir Christopher Lee

27.05.1922 – 07.06.2015

I was genuinely saddened to hear that Sir Christopher Lee had passed away.  Over the years Lee had become one of my favourite actors.  Perhaps my absolute favourite.  I certainly own more DVDs of his work than any other star.

My first encounter with Lee’s films would have been the brilliant, still unsurpassed The Three Musketeers (1973).  Or perhaps his turn as one of the best Bond villains ever – in one the best Bond films – Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun.

It wasn’t until my teens that I was able to catch up with his work for Hammer (and Amicus), when ITV started showing old horror films way past the witching hour with the advent of all night television.  I stayed up late, or recorded them all on the VCR to ensure I saw them all.  Those classic British horror movies captivated me – and still do. Whether playing Frankenstein’s Creature, Dracula, The Mummy – Lee was central to their success.

Monsters had always fascinated me.  I remember drawing them from an early age, though I wasn’t old enough to watch the films.  My early horror experiences came from Marvel comics, and a few movies such as King Kong and Boggy Creek.  Oh, yes – and the series of Fu Manchu movies shown on BBC2; again starring Christopher Lee.

The link to Hammer came from Star Wars.  I loved the cantina scene – still do – with its bizarre creatures; after all, I loved monsters.  Later, a connection from Star Wars would lead me to Hammer – I discovered that Peter Cushing wasn’t just Grand Moff Tarkin.  It was inevitable that I would explore the Gothic creations of the great British horror studio.  So I was understandably thrilled to find out that Christopher Lee would become part of the Star Wars family, as Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones.

Lee had something of a resurgence from the late 1990s.  He started to work with Tim Burton and seemed like he’d found a new home.  Sleepy Hollow (1999) was Burton’s love letter to the old Hammer movies, and Lee would return again and again to participate in the Director’s dark tales.

The fact that Christopher Lee found a new audience over the last decade and a half – with the Lord of the Rings films, even a return to Hammer with The Resident (2011) – is wonderful.  And gratifying for those, like me, who’ve admired his work for a long time.

Let’s not forget the many other talents Lee displayed.  How about releasing Heavy Metal albums in his nineties?  Check them out – they’re great.  And his wartime exploits (Google it) are worthy of a film in their own right.  A life time of incredible achievement.

I had hoped, as people often do, to one day meet my hero in person.  Unrealistic, I know – but Christopher Lee was always the top of my list for the old “three people you would invite to dinner” game.  I would have loved to tell him how big a fan I am of the films he’s helped create.  Alas, that will never happen now.  It’s sad that tiny bit of a dream will never come true.

Thank you Sir Christopher Lee.  Your constant creative progression is an inspiration.  The impact you have had on our imagination – both dreams and nightmares – is your greatest gift.

Horror Top Trumps

Dracula vs Fu Manchu!  The Creature from the Black Lagoon vs Godzilla!  The Wolfman vs Man Eating Plant!  Just a few of the fun confrontations that can occur with this classic Horror Top Trumps game!

Top Trumps is a card game, where the statistics of one card are pitted against another.  Surely you’ve played it?  The most usual sets were cars, aeroplanes or football teams.  There were occasionally sets that were a little more unusual, such as these Horror themed cards.

There were two Horror packs to collect.  Each card featured a different monster and broke down their stats to Physical Strength, Fear Factor, Killing Power and Horror Rating.  All the legendary monsters were present, plus a few others that were more obscure.  So in addition to the characters mentioned above, there were also the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, King Kong, the Thing and more. P_20140505_185808

As a monster obsessed kid, it was a great way to feed my obsessive thirst for knowledge.  I didn’t just play these cards repeatedly, I also studied each one.  For the majority of monsters, I had no idea what film there were from.  Over the years, and thanks to some old horror books I’ve collected, I’ve recognised the characters from published film stills.

Interestingly, though, the character names are quite random.  For example, the card named “Phantom of the Opera” is actually a picture of Dr Phibes.  Similarly, “The Freak” is actually the Reptile from the Hammer movie of the same name.

The artwork on the cards was often quite gruesome also.  There was a rumour I heard for many years that the Horror cards were banned in the early 80’s due to the graphic images.  I doubt that was the case, though illustrations for cards such as The Fiend and Venusian Death Cell were quite bloody.

I’m lucky enough to have collected both Horror Top Trump packs when I was a kid, and I’ve still got them.  They’re not mint condition, and I only have the title card for the second pack.  Never the less, they’re still played with, and bring a gory thrill…