Duskwood ‘Desert Queen’ Album Review

So Duskwood are back with their new album ‘Desert Queen’ which is slated for release November 14th! Luckily here at String Buzz we have been allowed to review the record early; good stuff eh! So kick your shoes off, pour yourself a cuppah’ and let’s get right down to business…

I have one phrase that describes this group after listening to this album… ‘The re-incarnation of Black Sabbath’. Yes I’m going big with the positivity here, you know why? This album kicks so much ass! There were moments where I couldn’t tell whether I was listening to ‘Red Fang’ or ‘Wolfmother’ but no, it was Duskwood and damn do they have a right to be put into that category! As you may or may not know, stoner rock is definitely my second favourite genre, only narrowly trailing prog as my favourite, so having the chance to review this album came across like a breath of fresh air! Also the album is near an hour long, so you get real bang for your buck too; just from the properties alone I’m impressed. So let me deconstruct the album a bit further to explain to you why this album hit so well.

The production here for an unsigned group is unbelievably good. When you’re a reviewer and an independent group sends an entire record you initially think ‘ugh, this thing will sound pretty cheap and thin’, but here the production value is top notch! The guitars sound rough and aggressive, the bass deep and wholesome, the drums remarkably well balanced and the vocals cuttingly good. Sure there were a few little hiccups where the vocals could of been re-recorded and the odd metronome slug rumble (producer terminology, I don’t know how else to explain it), but they were secondary to the ideas on show.

This album has so many mouth watering riffs, like an insane amount.’Baroness’ springs to mind when I think of the style on show here; which again is high praise. The soloing too has some great impact and isn’t overtly technical; there is some emotion and passion on show rather than the newly over-used mechanical approach we see with modern metal groups. The drums are a straight up throwback to Bill Ward, finally his drum sequences are getting a revival (in my opinion Bill Ward typifies the best in British hard rock drumming). The fills are tasty, the beats thunderous and the overall performance really pulled the mix together well. I liked the amount of stadium tom work that was on show too, love me some stadium tom work. The bass is thick and fast, sounding like a young Steve Harris as section by section passes by. The vocal performance became borderline Rob Halford in some sections of the album which I loved. The lyrics were your typical metallic stuff but the delivery by the lead singer here allowed for them to really reach out and pierce the mix; some classic rock type stuff (close to my heart).

My favourite track on the record has to be ‘Hazy Eye’; it screamed Megadeth and early Metallica to me. The riff is exciting and almost intoxicating, the drums were reminiscent of ‘Children of the Grace’ which for me is a big plus, the vocal performance howling and tenacious; the track just hit hard with some fierce rock impact.

I also loved the track ‘Desert Queen’ too as it showed a really mature approach to music by Duskwood. It’s long, it’s brooding, it’s dark and it’s sure as hell powerful; the track puts some hairs on your chest, trust me. The soloing and development of each section felt exciting for me as a prog fan, the over reliance on common form is all too typical in modern rock music and these guys threw that away. With a couple more diverse sequences and a slightly higher production budget, I can see similar songs like this in the future being genre classics.

If you’re looking for a new rock group to really get into but are bored of what is being produced overseas at the moment, then the guys from Yeovil are your best bet, trust me. They are reviving the British invasion one step at a time and I have the utmost belief in them taking the globe by storm one day, they really have that potential. This is the missing link in modern music, some stone strong British hard rock; we’ve been waiting thirty years for this so don’t blow it!

G Rating: 7.5/10 – One of the best albums I’ve heard all month and it’s immediately got me routing for the group.

I Rating: 8/10 – Hard rock has a new frontrunner and it seems to look a lot like Duskwood.

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