Snowy Dunes live in Amsterdam February 24th 2016

  • Snowy Dunes live Amsterdam The Cave 2016

Ah, The Cave. The last of the metal dive bars in Amsterdam, rich in atmosphere and history. This evening saw a double headline show of Snowy Dunes and Skraeckoedlan, this review will focus on the first. I have gone on record stating my love of this Swedish band before  and I was thrilled to see them live again.

Snowy Dunes was founded in 2013 and released their self-titled debut last year, to critical acclaim. A new album is forthcoming and some buzz has been generated by this month’s advance release of the Atlantis EP.

The band kicked off their set with vocalist Niklas on a bluesy mouth organ on Atlantis, a song that managed to grab the attention of the crowd immediately. The groove got turned up a notch for Watch Out, drawing the public closer to the stage. With the stage set it was time for behemoth Desert Cold, a song so great and intense it electrified the band and crowd alike. An audience recording of the performance can be watched here. At this point in the show it’s clear how much this band has grown in the past weeks of touring, they are clearly at the top of their game tonight. Turn Around is a very fine tune and it was played with a lot of heart. Tranquil Mountain Lake mesmerized the public, with a beguiling rhythm and ominous vocal work. Dawn returned the sound to a Desert vibe, before the show concluded with the preview of a new song from the upcoming album, Testify. I was already looking forward to this release very much and if this sample is anything to go by it’s going to be truly amazing.

I am sure more than a few new fans were made on the evening, it was a truly inspired performance and I feel privileged to have seen them so up close and personal in this form. The tour has almost concluded, I hope we’ll see them back on tour with the new album soon.


Watch Out For Snakes
Desert Cold
Turn Around
Tranquil Mountain Lake

Holyphant – Black Flames review and interview


Holyphant are a power trio from Italy. In 2014 they released their first EP, ‘Black Flames’, and I took this for a spin.

From the bluesy, bass-heavy intro with a gentle guitar into the fuzzy main riff the anticipation builds with Ghost Mind, and when as it starts shifts tempo to full gear proper you’re aboard the Holyphant train. With Cold Shiver you can almost see the acid color plates in the background in your mind’s eye, it’s a Psychedelic Bluesrock masterpiece, complete with twin guitar riffage. Centerpiece 8-min behemoth The Circle shifts the vibe a decade or so, with some wonderful riff-heavy power metal that should put a smile on the faces of any true rock fan. Halfway it shifts back to Floyd-meets-Chtulu over some very pleasing guitar tunes. This song is diverse enough that it could have easily lasted another 5 minutes without boring the listener, ending very strong as well. My absolute favourite track of this EP. Titlesong Black Flames cements the heavy psych sound (with some effective cow bells, might need more!), continuing the strong musical identity of this band all through this release. Closing track Heart of the Sun shifts back to a trance-like mood, invoking a desert vibe to gently lead the listener away after the preceding heavy riffage.

I was very impressed by this release and I hope there will be more to come soon from this talented bunch. I managed to get vocalist/guitarist Bale to answer some questions:

Tell me a bit your background, how did you guys meet and form a band?We met at a local show. We were playing with different bands at the time, and shared our passion for 70’s hard rock bands and dark raw sounds. So we decided to start a band with the same mood.

Black Flames was released in 2014, what can you tell me about recording and releasing this?
“Black Flames EP” is , for us, a sort of “business card”. After a little period of songwriting, we went at the Velvet Recording Studios, near Venice. Well, it’s a direct recording, with no overdubs, except for the vocals and the guitar solos. We wanted a raw sound, not digitally processed, to grasp the essence of the band. We recorded it in one day.


The Nordic countries have held the candle for rock music through some pretty dark times, lately there’s a lot of interesting new stuff coming from the South. What can you tell us about the environment for bands in your area and in your country.
Great bands come from Northern Europe, but here in Italy the stoner/doom underground is alive and kicking! There are very good bands with great ideas. It’s very difficult to be heard, if you don’t have big money, there are few clubs to gig. But the passion for this kind of music is definitively alive and growing.


I read you are writing material for a full album, is there any concrete interest from a label already? We are considering some proposals, we want to choose the best for us

In your new material, will you continue the same themes of exploring the dark side of the human mind, and if so why does this inspire you?
Yes, We will try to speak about the Man and his sensations through metaphors. I think this fits very much with the feelings of our music. But there will be also other stories influenced by our condition, philosophical writings, 70’s horror directors such as Argento, Fulci and Avati, that we love.
How would you describe your band/style/music?
If I have to to find some words to describe our sound, Retro/psych/doom rock
What are your immediate ambitions?
We wish to play live as much as we can, showing our emotions through the music and getting good vibes from the audience, wherever it will be. And writing good material, of course.
Any shows or tour lined up?
We will play at some local gigs here in Italy, but we are planning a little tour abroad for the future. It’s not easy but we believe we can do it.


Thanks a lot for the interview Bale, good luck to you and the rest of the band. I hope to hear more from you guys soon!