The desert has always been a source of artistic inspiration. Though the heat creates an inhospitable environment, there’s a certain irresistible charm in its landscape, and that mysterious energy has influenced artists for hundreds of years. The desert’s energy frequently appears in Stoner Rock and Stoner Metal—scenes we sometimes refer to as “Desert Rock” to encapsulate everything in one swoop.
While the terms aren’t always interchangeable, Lost Dutchman is certainly a Desert Rock band, with every element of Stoner Rock and Stoner Metal intact—as well as the heat, wind, sand, and grit of the desert.
Their debut EP, The Desert Snuff Film Sessions, is a powerful four-pack of heavy, trance-inducing grooves with some surprising instrumentation. If this EP is a hint at what’s to come in an eventual full-length release, Lost Dutchman is one Stoner Metal band worth keeping an eye on.
About Lost Dutchman
Lost Dutchman was formed on July 23, 2020 after the dissolution of another Phoenix-based Stoner Metal band—Stripper Witch. With a desire to remain socially conscious while celebrating the Arizona desert, guitarist Ben “Benriz” Ivey and drummer Mike “Opie” Cakebread started Lost Dutchman.
The Lost Dutchman lineup is:
- Billy Ray Powell – Vocals, Harmonica
- Ben “Benriz” Ivey – Guitars/Vocals
- Blake Carrera – Guitars
- Vincent Bertolani – Bass
- Mike “Opie” Cakebread – Drums/Vocals
The Desert Snuff Film Sessions was recorded, engineered, mixed, and mastered at Sonic Piranha Studios, with engineering and mixing spearheaded by Darren Baum.
The Desert Snuff Film Sessions EP Review
EP Release Date: July 30, 2021
Track One: Hillbilly Invocation
Originally a Stripper Witch song, Lost Dutchman brings “Hillbilly Invocation” to life as their opening track. True to the classic Desert Rock vibes found in the energetic guitars, you’ll find a nod to Fu Manchu’s No One Rides For Free when Powell cries out, “Ass, gas, or grass, baby, nobody rides for free!”
Powell also adds a layer of harmonica to this song, which is a surprisingly fitting touch. The shrill delivery of the harp works well alongside the twang in his vocals, and the whole concoction boils down to a heavy Stoner Rock song with Appalachian Stomp vibes.
Track Two: Desert Van Jam
As the name suggests, “Desert Van Jam” roars along the desert highway, kicking up sand, grit, and wind through your speakers. Slower than “Hillbilly Invocation,” “Desert Van Jam” is best appreciated with your speakers cranked so you can get every single pulse of the low ends.
Track Three: Woe Is Me
“Woe Is Me” features an interesting songwriting tactic typically reserved for the likes of Nu Metal and Industrial Metal: Play a quick and furious palm-muted riff, ride out the bass, then repeat the formula with vocals. Tucked within the Stoner/Doom scene, Lost Dutchman adopts the technique and makes it work—almost. Here, the low ends are missing and the gain isn’t quite high enough the produce the scratch you’d hear from bands like Pantera or Down.
Bottom line: As with “Desert Van Jam,” you should crank up the volume on “Woe Is Me” for maximum appreciation.
Track Four: Requiem For Terra
“Requiem for Terra” is the heaviest track on the album. Much of this is a direct result of those growling, guttural vocals—a sudden about-face compared to the rest of the EP. It’s a ballsy track, and it also features some of the most dramatic guitar work.
Final Score: 7.5
Standout Tracks: “Hillybilly Invocation” and “Requiem For Terra”
Pros: Lost Dutchman is here to honor the Desert Rock and Stoner Metal heroes before them while adding their own flair to the mix. With their high energy, massive grooves, and unique vocal presence through Powell, Lost Dutchman should remain a compelling group to watch over the next few years.
Most intriguing are the harmonica within “Hillbilly Invocation” and the growled vocals within “Requiem For Terra.” Both are rarities within the Desert Rock/Stoner Rock/Stoner Metal spaces, and Lost Dutchman shows they’re clearly comfortable writing these elements into their songs.
If they can continue to push the envelope and manage to wrap these ideas into well-written songs and cohesive albums, Lost Dutchman could become a very exciting act.
Cons: The variety and ambition within Lost Dutchman’s sound is also the band’s downfall—for now.
As with many bands, the vocalist here will make or break your appreciation for The Desert Snuff Film Sessions. Billy Ray Powell isn’t the world’s best singer (and few vocalists within this scene are), nor is he trying to be. His voice is better for storytelling and spurring emotion, which seems to be his primary focus.
There are also the deep, growled vocals of “Requiem For Terra.” While these are well executed, their presence is surprising on an EP that has spent the last 17 minutes carving its own Desert Rock-influenced home in the Stoner Metal scene.
This, then, brings us to the biggest weak point in The Desert Snuff Film Sessions: This is an ambitious little EP, but some of the experiments could be tied together better. “Desert Van Jam,” for example, seems like an uninspired tag-along when compared to three tracks that all have their own dose of innovation propelling them forward.
If a full album is in Lost Dutchman’s future, I fully expect all four of these songs to appear. Each song is strong and deserving of an album appearance in its own right, but I think the band will hone some of the rougher pieces to really make these tracks shine.