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THE WARLOCKS

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United States


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The Warlocks biography
US act THE WARLOCKS were formed in Los Angeles in 1999, lead by Bobby Hecksher (vocals, guitar). After a period with members coming and going the band stabilized as a 8-piece outfit, with JC Rees (guitar), Corey Lee Granet (guitar), Jeff Levitz (guitar), Caleb Sweazy (bass), Laura Grisby (tambourine, organ and vocals), Danny Hole (drums) and Jason Anchondo (drums) complementing band leader Hecksher for recording of their self-named EP The Warlocks and the full length debut Rise and Fall - issued in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Shortly after the band is approached by Birdman Records, who wants to issue their next album. Line-up changes are in store however, as Sweazy leaves, replaced by Ben Ashley (bass); but shortly after Ashley as well as Laura Grisby are fired from the band. Mike Diaz (drums) hooks up with The Warlocks for a brief tenure when Danny Hole leave. Hecksher decides to take care of the bass himself for the forthcoming recording sessions, and the slightly ironically titled sophomore effort Phoenix is issued in the fall of 2002.

Their new album is given favourable reviews, but even so their line-up problems continue. In January 2003 Bobby Martine (bass) joins the band, Laura Grigsby returns - while Jeff Levitz calls it quits.

In 2004 the band starts planning a new album, and their line-up troubles are still an issue. Martine is out again at this point, while Jenny Fraser (bass) and Bob Mustachio (drums) are in. And during the year the planned 2004 album is pushed back for a 2005 release.

Eventually, Surgery is issued in the fall of 2005; yet again with a favourable reception from buyers and critics alike.

After touring, promotion and other happenings; as well as getting signed to Tee Pee Records, there's the now customary line-up changes in the band to deal with. Prior to the recording of the album there are only four members left; with Rees, Granet and Grigsby out.

This vastly downsized version of the band records Heavy Deavy Skull Lover, issued in the fall of 2007.

Two more years go by before any new material appears by The Warlocks, but in May 2009 The Mirror Explores see the light of day. Yet again with a new line-up; the band now consisting of Bobby Hecksher (vocals, guitar, keyboards), John Christian Rees (guitar), Ryan McBride (guitar), Jana Suzanne Risher (bass) and Bob Mustachio (drums).

During their 10 year long history the band, although always staying within a psychedelic rock ...
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Heavy Deavy Skull Lover (Dig)Heavy Deavy Skull Lover (Dig)
Tee Pee Records 2007
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THE WARLOCKS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE WARLOCKS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 2 ratings
Rise and Fall
2001
3.00 | 1 ratings
Phoenix
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
Surgery
2005
2.50 | 2 ratings
Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
2007
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Mirror Explodes
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Skull Worship
2013

THE WARLOCKS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE WARLOCKS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE WARLOCKS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE WARLOCKS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
The Warlocks
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Phoenix EP
2002

THE WARLOCKS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Warlocks by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2000
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Warlocks
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
3 stars Primitive

Released in 2000, this eponymous EP represents the d'but of Californian space rock band The Warlocks. Some of the six tracks on the EP were subsequently included on the band's d'but album 'Rise and fall', while all appear on the recent expanded version of that album; so the EP will now be of interest mainly to fans of the band.

The music of The Warlocks is founded in the psychedelic sounds of late 60's/early70's bands such as Hawkwind. The four lead guitars and twin drums included in the octet certainly guarantee a powerful delivery, but perversely they also signal a limitation in the overall sound.

Highlights here include the Velvet Underground tribute 'Song for Nico', a delightfully understated retro ballad and 'Cocaine blues', a song which could have been lifted straight from a 1960's flower power festival. The version of 'Song for Nico' here is slightly longer than that which appeared later of the first album. The most interesting track is the quasi- eponymous 'Jam of the warlocks', a more refined guitar jam which runs to over 12 minutes.

Among the other tracks, 'Jam of the zombies' is a basic lead guitar bash with little subtlety, while 'Caveman rock' is a primitive blues rock number with distorted vocals which segues into the similarity styled 'Angry demons'.

In all, an interesting prequel to the band's first album. The entire EP can now be found on an expanded re-release of that album entitled 'Rise and fall, EP and rarities'.

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 The Mirror Explodes by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Mirror Explodes
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
3 stars Heavy reflection

Two years after the disappointing "Heavy deavy skull lover", The Warlocks went through the usual line up changes before returning to the studio to record this, their latest album at time of writing. Back into the fray comes guitarist John Christian Rees, the number of guitarist being restored to three with the arrival of Ryan McBride.

The album is surprisingly brief, its 8 tracks running to around 5 minutes a piece. As usual, all the songs are written by band leader Bobby Hecksher. While he does not seek to take the band back to their most commercial period, there is a significant tightening up all round here, when compare with the previous album.

The opening "Red camera" is a heavy riff driven number with dreamy psychedelic vocals, the overall mood being rather Doors like. Lyrically, the song is morose, the wailing feedback on the lead guitars emphasising the depression. "The Midnight Sun" maintains the ponderous pace but the vocals here are buried in a cacophony of fuzz and feedback. The triple lead guitar orchestra creates a wall of sound which gradually engulfs the song all together; in its own way though it is rather effective.

"Slowly disappearing" offers no respite from the gloom, but here the guitars take on even more of a drone style, the simple four note riff which prevails throughout (sometimes in reverse) emphasising the monotone. While "There is a formula to your despair" is to all intents in the same mould, I found it to be refreshingly lighter and more melodic. At times the song feels like "Albatross" (Fleetwood Mac) with vocals, with a similar basic drum pattern.

"Standing Between The Lovers Of Hell" picks things up by a notch or so, the slight raising of the pace making the track seem positively frantic. The lead guitar here is more interesting, at times verging on a solo. "You Make Me Wait" seems to borrow riffs from Neil Young's grunge period, and this combined with the echoed vocals offers something pleasingly atmospheric. "Frequency Meltdown" is the only completely instrumental track here, and by far the best. Here, the doom is lifted in favour of a pulsating romp, with genuine lead guitar playing a fine melody, driven on by enthusiastic drumming. The album closes with "Static Eyes", a lighter semi-acoustic number with a decent melody which builds to a final crescendo.

Overall, a more satisfying album than "Heavy deavy..", but one which falls short of the band's best albums. The songs are essentially straightforward, distinguished primarily by extent to which they feature repetition, drone, feedback, etc. There is an overall feeling of quality to the album which the previous release lacked, but there is an overall lack of diversity here which is really only addressed towards the end of the album.

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 Heavy Deavy Skull Lover by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.50 | 2 ratings

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Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Fuzzy wuzzy sounds puzzler

Having moved in an increasingly commercial direction since their inception only to find themselves without a record label, band leader Bobby Hecksher took radical action. The line up was pared back to a quartet, devoid of the multiple lead guitars which were a feature of previous releases (strangely though the twin drums remain) and a new record label was found. Most significantly though, the search for a hit single was abandoned, with the Warlocks returning to the jam based style of their début album.

The opening "The Valley of Death" is distorted to the point of sounding faulty, but it seems both drummers arrived late for the session, neither being present on the track at all. The light picked acoustic guitar which accompanies a soft vocal gradually disappears in confusion of fuzz and feedback. At around 11 minutes, "Moving Mountains" is the longest track this time around. As with the opening track, the mix sounds decidedly suspect, the drums being too prominent in this monstrous dirge. The song is certainly far removed from the pop rock of "Surgery", but the fuzz and distortion are overplayed. Thankfully, a clean sound finally emerges later in the track, which redevelops as a post rock style builder.

"So Paranoid" leans towards Radiohead a bit (but without the Android!), the chiming lead guitar and understated vocal sitting rather well together. "Slip Beneath" retains the post rock dirge effect, with indecipherable vocals pushed back by melodic lead guitar phrases. I cannot help but feel that even here though, had the mix been cleaner, it would have sounded so much better.

The most noticeable thing about "Zombie Like Lovers" is the ridiculously off-beat rhythm, followed closely by the poor vocal. It is all a bit of a mess really. "Dreamless Days" is probably the most orthodox track on the album, the Radiohead style mood of the song being reasonably atmospheric. Quite what the band were thinking when they decided to reverse the entire "Interlude" to become "Interlude in Reverse" we can only speculate on. This though is an entire track recorded backwards; it must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the reality is it is dreadful! The album closes with "Death, I Hear You Walking", a loosely structured soft number with a concealed melody.

While we have to admire The Warlocks for their willingness to explore more challenging areas, by and large this album simply does not work. The high energy jams of the early days and the melodic pop of more recent albums are both absent. In their place we have songs which sound like they have not been recorded properly, and which lack anything interesting. Pass this one by.

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 Surgery by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Surgery
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
4 stars The drugs don't work

Following their 2002 album "Phoenix", the Warlocks underwent further complex line up changes, seriously delaying recording of their third album. While the lead guitar might of the band reduced slightly with the departure of Jeff Levitz, the number of members increased to seven through the appointment of a full time bassist and the re-establishing of a twin drums powerhouse.

If the first two albums had been inspired, both lyrically and physically by drug related themes, "Surgery" represents the results of those indulgences and the start of the rehabilitation. The lyrical themes here are starkly depressing, emphasising in no uncertain terms the inevitable consequences of substance abuse.

While the themes may be different, this does not signal a radical change in the sound, the album once again being founded on heavy repeating riffs and drones. The opening "Come save us" is a pulsating guitar driven retro number with slightly distorted vocals and a wonderful bass line. The "Come save us from ourselves" refrain perhaps indicates the swift infusion of a level of maturity in the band's collective attitude, the music having a notably more refined air to it.

"It's just like surgery" continues in an almost identical tone, the music being much closer to indie pop than any form of prog, indeed the work of Oasis comes to mind rather too readily. "Gypsy Nightmare" is if anything even more pop orientated, the light vocals being highly pleasant if somewhat familiar. Nice song though, especially the Neil Young like guitar solo to close. "Angels in heaven, angels in hell" is closer the the Spiritualized sound of the previous "Phoenix" album, while "We Need Starpower" is a less interesting plodder saved by some good heavy lead guitar licks.

"Thursday's radiation", the first of two longer tracks on the album is based around a post rock style strummed drone lead guitar. The track is more ambitious than most here, the ever building guitar orchestra getting decidedly out of hand! "Evil eyes again" is the shortest track on the album, this repetitive heavy pop song being largely forgettable. "The Tangent" boasts a delightful melody; the song sounds like a cross between a 60's US tragi- pop number and something by The Verve.

Laura Grisby's pleasing organ sound which opens "Above Earth" distinguishes the track from its peers here, this slow, moody song once again echoing the work of Spiritualized/Spaceman 3. "Bleed Without You Babe" is just a bit too miserable, the whiney vocals being too upfront in the mix to be avoidable. The album closes with "Suicide Note", the longest track here by far, at over 12 minutes. Lyrically very dark, the song is a cacophony of lead guitar dirges, emotional vocals, and pots and pans drumming. The main song actually ends after around 7 minutes, the remainder of the track being occupied by a hidden unrelated addition.

Overall, "Surgery" represents the Warlocks' best album thus far. While suffering at times from being a bit too samey, there is some very enjoyable material here, musically if not lyrically. By this time, the band have largely foregone any prog leaning they may have had in favour of a more commercial sound and style. Do not therefore come here looking for anything particularity challenging or original. Approach instead in the expectation of hearing some fine music.

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 Phoenix by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Phoenix
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
3 stars Spiritualized

Release a year after their album début, "Phoenix" finds the Warlocks already slimming down and refining their sound. Now down to just the one drummer, the band retain the four lead guitars configuration, but band leader Bobby Hecksher doubles up on bass as the number of members is cut from eight to five.

Sounding something like a cross between Death in Vegas and Spiritualized, most of the psychedelic influences and improvised jams are left behind this time around, to be replaced by a more direct indie pop rock sound. Tracks such as "Hurricane Heart Attack" and "Isolation" (not on the US release) have a dirge like quality founded on a heavy, plodding lead guitar base, with distorted vocals on the former offering a disquieting overtone.

Even the longer tracks, like the 9˝ minute "Cosmic letdown", remain fundamentally straightforward, its length being partly due to an extended drone to end the song. The most commercially orientated song on the album is "Baby blue", mainly due to the light melodic vocals and wispy lyrics. The upbeat "The Dope Feels Good" (a demo of which appears on the expanded version of the first album) leans heavily again on the style adopted by Spiritualized (Spaceman 3), the retro sound and catchy lead guitar making the song irresistible in a pop sort of way.

The closing track "Oh Shadie" is by far the longest at over 14 minutes. While on the first album such a track would inevitably have been a frantic jam, here it is a post rock style dirge which gradually builds through a repeated instrumental refrain.

Overall, a more accomplished album that "Rise and fall", but also a less distinguished one. Whereas the first album saw the band paying tribute to the past while ploughing their own furrow, "Phoenix", by being more contemporary, ironically lacks that feel of something different. A good album though.

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 Rise and Fall by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Rise and Fall
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars You shouldn't do that

Formed in California, USA in 1999 under the leadership of Bobby Hecksher, The Warlocks boasted an ambitious eight man line up including no less than four lead guitarists and two drummers. Released in 2001, this album represents the band first full album, a six track EP having been released the previous year. Most of the tracks on that EP are included here, but beware, there are at least three different versions of this album. The UK and USA versions have different running orders, and two tracks which are unique to each. The UK version also has an additional jam track. The expanded "EP and rarities" version includes the six EP tracks (most of which therefore appear twice), plus the missing tracks from each version, plus some additional otherwise unavailable songs.

If we assume the track listing of the US version, which is closest to the expanded release, the album opens with a 14 minute monster called "Jam of the witches". While not quite as spacey as "In search of space", this guitar driven psychedelic rush does have echoes of Hawkwind's material from around that time, "You shouldn't do that" quickly coming to mind. There are also strong similarities with bands such as Death in Vegas ("Dirge") and the likes. The hypnotic pounding riffs are accentuated by the intrusive post rock style drums. This instrumental piece makes for a great opener, so it seems somewhat strange that for the UK release, it is relegated to midway through the album.

If the opening track was "You shouldn't do that", "House of glass" is "We took the wrong step years ago". This 9 minute song changes the mood radically, opening with acoustic guitar and spacey effects. The song also has strong similarities with Pink Floyd's acoustic songs on "Atom heart mother" and "Obscured by clouds". Here we find the first vocals of the the album, Hecksher actually sounding a bit Gilmour like. "Skull Death Drum Jam" is a silly title (see also the band's fourth album!) for a superfluous drums solo; the best that can be said is that thankfully it is kept reasonably brief.

"Whips of Mercy" maintains the softer tones, this and the following "Song for Nico" gradually building the mood back towards the psychedelic tones of the opener. "Song for Nico" is of course a tribute to the late Velvet Underground singer who found fame in psych's heyday. "Left and Right of the Moon" is a song which is absent from the UK version. The song continues the mood of "Song for Nico", with repetitive soft pop vocals on top of a gentle melody.

"Motorcycles" is a pleasant strummed guitar based song but sonically this seven minute refrain has little to do with its title. The album closes with "Heavy Bomber Laser Beam", the other track missing from the UK version. This 9 minute dirge returns us to the Death in Vegas style post rock through a building jam which bookends the set nicely.

On the UK version, "Jam of the zombies" is an early track which first appeared on the début EP. As such, while it is frantic and infectious, it is a relatively unrefined jam. "Cocaine blues" takes us right back to the trippy days of the late 60's in a Traffic like dreamy pop song.

Overall, a good first album by The Warlocks, which returns us to the golden age of psych. The main appeal of the album is that retro sound, but at this stage we shall have to reserve judgement on whether a career can be made in the 21st century from such a full commitment to an old style.

The various rarities which are added to the expanded re-release are largely in keeping with the tracks on the EP (more than the album) the more interesting including the Neil Young like single B side "Dilauded" and the sweet pop of "Turn the radio on". Even the expanded version has different releases, the version I have including a further bonus jam "Jam of the druids" which is not mentioned on the band's website. The demo "Inside/Outside" is an early example of the dirge style on which the various jams would be based, although here the track benefits from an appropriate vocal section, not unlike that of the fine but sadly unheralded band The Music.

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 Heavy Deavy Skull Lover by WARLOCKS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.50 | 2 ratings

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Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
The Warlocks Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars I listened to this CD online out of curiosity. My first impressions were a cross between the vocal style of Muse and the musicianship of a hybrid of Hawkwind and The Jam.

The first track, 'The Valley of Death' begins with a clean acoustic picking style and a bass heavy fuzz guitar playing a different motif over as Hecksher's vocals drone on. There are no drums or percussion at all and the approach is generally minimalism. The sound is very heavy with the distortion turned up to the max. Towards the end of the track the time signature actually changes dramatically and is almost chaotic. It feels darker with the off kilter sonic guitars which squeal in pain till it ends abruptly. A great track which is the promise of things to come.

'Moving Mountains', the longest track clocking 11 minutes, begins like the previous track but the drums soon kick in and are played by Anchondo or Mustachio quietly as the loud clanging guitars ring out. The vocals are once again full of angst almost like Radiohead in fact. Hecksher wails over a slow meandering somber soundscape. It feels rather depressing in parts. There is a lot of feedback and at one point a droning like you might hear from Sunn O))), though it is far more accessible. The instrumental break is lengthy and slow, but somehow feels relaxing. The band take their time just moving from one chord to the next effortlessly. Fraser's bass is particularly fuzzed out. The track speeds up a bit with 2 strumming guitars in harmony to each other and a straight forward drum pattern. There is nothing fancy in the musicianship but it is played in a psychedelic framework, almost in a free form jazz improv style.

'So Paranoid' is more neo-psychedelia from the band, with an interesting sound of guitars ringing out with harmonics and a whispered vocal style is sung over top. The reverb on the guitars is mesmirising. It is noisy but somehow uplifting, even hypnotically trance like. The Hawkwind influence is evident. There are no pronounced lead breaks but more a shimmering droning chord on one guitar with variations played on another guitar that even sound like a keyboard at times. This is a highlight on the album.

'Zombie Like Lovers' is another psych rock track that pounds along faster than other tracks but the shimmering drone is still present. The laconic vocals reflect the alienation, and oppression of lost love and the longing and searching for meaning in love. The instrumental break is a wall of sound of sonic sadness, melancholia that never lacks punch. I never find it draining due to the innovative method of playing in such a relaxed, laconic style. I guess this is a reflection of the hallucinogenic 70s era that this music is based on ? Timothy Leary's infamous "tune in, turn on, drop out".

'Dreamless Days' is very dreamy in its approach, extremely slow, meandering along at a mind numbing pace. It reminded me of Sigur Ros in a way, though not quite as entrancing. But this track is essentially music to fall asleep to. Nothing wrong with that if you are in the mood but it is not easy to digest when you are not. However, the point is made ? The Warlocks are producing innovative music that makes you sit up and take notice. The feedback and spacey guitar effects work rather well on this track.

Space Rock or Psych Prog in its extreme form, The Warlocks are stamping their authority on the next wave of prog. The album did not feature all the members of the group as in fact every album has had a different lineup due to problems with the members or in fighting, however this stripped down version of the group works well enough. It is a very sad melancholy album with some great tracks but as a whole is mediocre in comparison to other Space Rock out there. It still is worth a listen and I trust the band will improve as they iron out the problems they have had. Kudos to them for lasting this long ? 10 years is admirable for any band these days, let alone Psych Prog.

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