Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 30 March 2023

Reviews: Desert Storm, Isaak, Heezer, Wasted Death (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Rich Piva)

Desert Storm - Death Rattle (APF Records) [Matt Bladen]

After 15 years of doggedly touring and recording four piece riff masters Desert Storm are now considered to be leaders in their field. The Oxford natives are a key part of numerous APF Records signees but it's Desert Storm that is the mothership for many of these bands, becoming the keystone of the Oxford scene. Having started life as grooving stoner rock band, Desert Storm now inhabit a denser, more progressive musical space, layered with space rock textures, sludge heaviness but always enslaved by a great riff. 

Starting with 2018's Sentinels and then becoming more pronounced on 2020's Omens the band have shifted their sound into something uniquely there own, casting off comparisons to bands such as Orange Goblin, Desert Storm now sound like Desert Storm and on Death Rattle they have again solidified their position on the UK metal hierarchy. Direct and to the point but with hidden layers that become audible with frequent plays Death Rattle is the most personal journey for the band yet but fuses this with some eclectic compositions. 

Perhaps more experimental than Omens, the break in their touring activities meant that the writing stage was both forward looking and retrospective as there's plenty of the 'new' Desert Storm but also some stompers that have been born from their early years, Matthew Ryan using both his snarling bellow and his cleaner warmer tones to great effect. The potent bottom end of Matthew Dennett (bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) untied together in groove, steering the tracks through their changes, as well as keeping things locked down tight when needed. Elliott's brother Ryan peels off the riffs, taking flight into orbit before grounding things again with lots of fuzz. 

The progressive nature of this particular beast means that nothing is off limits but they always root themselves in the stoner sound, just branching off it instead of detaching completely. As far as favourite songs go, personally I love the way Bad Trip uses repetition to hammer home it's riff, while Druid's Heath and the final part of Insomniac bring psychedelic wanderings, Melatone meanwhile has Floydian tendencies in the lead guitars. 

It's hard to imagine how Desert Storm will better this album as it's about as perfect as it gets for fans of proggy stoner metal. Death Rattle is nowhere near their last breath, it's proof that Desert Storm are still bursting with life! 9/10

Isaak - Hey (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Rich Piva]

The Italian stoner rock band Isaak is back and is bringing the riffs and songwriting on their third album, Hey. You don’t hear a ton about these guys, but their first two records are killer and now teaming with the monster stoner label Heavy Psych Sounds it’s time for the band to take it to the next level, and Hey delivers on that. The production on Hey is excellent and perfect for the band’s riff attack, which starts off right away with the instrumental stoner kick in the head Miracle B, which is an excellent track musically but inexplicably is three minutes of the Mircale Blade infomercial over said rock. I didn’t really get the joke, but sometimes I am slow...but what is not slow is the real killer opening track.

Hey, which kicks so much ass and is one of their best songs so far in their discography. So much upbeat rock energy on the track, which then steps it up even more with the next track, OBG, which is even faster. The vocals are perfect for what the band is putting out, and OBG is the perfect example. Under all the killer stoner jams are dare I say some serious melody. Oh, and did I mention the riffs? The fuzzy guitar on OBG is outstanding as well. A killer one two punch that will stand up to any other two tracks on a record that comes out this year. 

The next track, Except, slows it down a bit, but not much, and is more grunge than stoner, and oh yeah it rules. Rotten picks the pace back up and toes the line between stoner and grunge, and reminds me a bit of a Tad track, vocals and all, which of course is a really good thing. The background vocals on Rotten really add something to the track as well. Over The Edge is another excellent riff fest, but with that upbeat stoner gallop you have some cool psych guitars swirling about. This may be lyrically my favourite track on Hey. I can’t help but hear a lot of the second or third tier Seattle bands when listening to Hey (in popularity, not in quality) and tracks like Dormouse and Taste 2.0 are perfect examples. 

Fake It Till You Make It still has killer energy, but somehow turns down the heavy but in the best possible way. I don’t want to call this their version of a pop song but maybe let’s say if they were going to have a radio hit it would be this song, but by no means does this make this track weaker than the others, it just seems to float a bit more than the others on Hey. This is a compliment. The second half of Hey is just as killer as the first, closing strongly with the energetic and catchy Sleepwalker, which somehow reminds me of Stone Temple Pilots but tuned down a view notches (again, compliment and I may be crazy here...) and Goodbyes Are Always Sad, which is pretty deep lyrically and is the most emotionally heavy track on Hey

What a killer way to close out this outstanding album. Isaak have hit a home run with Hey. End to end, this record rocks, and the fans of the stoner/heavy grunge stuff are going to eat this up. I may have even thought about a 10 here if it were not for the strange choice of openers, but regardless this will be in the upper echelon of many people’s year end list for sure. So many riffs and perfectly executed musically and production wise, this is a must hear, but play it loud and try not to break stuff. 9/10

Heezer - Sungrinder (Argonauta Records) [Rich Piva]

There is no shortage of really good to great stoner/desert/grunge bands out there today and Fins from Heezer fall into this category for sure. Their debut EP from 2021 was excellent, so anticipation was high for me for their debut full length, Sungrinder. Well, the band did not disappoint, giving us nine catchy as hell 90s leaning alt/grunge with stoner leaning tunes that will leave folks who dig that vibe wanting more. I say 90s leaning but I think I mean more like 90s worshipping. I hear hints of STP, Gruntruck, Bush, Foos, and some of the other bands of that ilk, while incorporating some of the stoner elements and even some more of the straight-ahead alt rock of that time. A perfect example of this is the song 2009, where you get a bit of all those things listed above in above tied up in a nice three minute bow. 

The opener, Fourth Line, brings that catchy I mentioned and where I got the STP comparison from. Spacegod leans a bit more on the stoner side, but the riff reminds me of something Gavin Rossdale wrote when he was still writing good stuff, partnered with some nice layer vocals and that catchiness you get throughout Sungrinder. Dream Machine is where I picked up the 90s alt rock side of things, as this could have absolutely been played on the radio in 1997 right next to a Foo Fighters song, or for those who like good but obscure stuff, this sounds like something from Liars, Inc. Sorry for the deep cut, but musically they are a nice pairing as well as with the vocal harmonies. 

Heezer gets a bit more aggressive on the definitely more stoner leaning track Sunshine, with a killer riff and some low end goodness. This may be my favourite track on the album. Red Giant also brings the riff and more of the heavy, but never without being catchy with I think is attributed to the vocal stylings and pop sensibilities Heezer brings to the party. Mother Rain sounds like a My Sisters Machine B-side (a good thing) and I would not be surprised if these guys had some Therapy? CDs in their collection listening to a track like Growing On. I The Sun has some serious STP vibes as a closer, especially the drums, harking back to the closer on Core, Where The River Goes.

So why is this not higher than an eight? To me this record is a bit too 90s, in that it is too clean production wise. I would love some more filth from the band, because when they bring the heavy I really dig it, but this is a personal preference as I think every album released could turn down the production a notch or two for the most part. Sungrinder is going to be loved by many, given fans of what I listed above are always looking for more of what they loved back in the day. Heezer is not here for a retro party; these guys have put their own spin on some classic styles and produced a real winner with Sungrinder. Good stuff for sure. 8/10

Wasted Death - The Prequel To Evil EP (APF Records) [Matt Bladen]

No press, no warning just pissed off punk metal on this surprise EP from East London ragers Wasted Death. Having been formed in lockdown by Wayne Adams (Big Lad/Petbrick), Charlie Davis (Beggar) and Tom Brewins (USA Nails) their debut was released by APF in 2021 but they have now returned with some more ultra-violent noise. 

Davis' crazed vocals and abrasive bass are joined by the blasting drums of Tom Brewins and Wayne Adams attacks his guitar like it owes him money. A bit like Motorhead jamming with Napalm Death The Prequel To Evil has a simple but brutal beauty, the three tracks mixing crossover thrash with grind and snarling punk rock. It'll make your ears bleed I'm a good way. 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment