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Desert-Rock Icon Headlines Slim's

By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the punishing drummer who helped propel seminal stoner-rock bands Kyuss and Fu Manchu to greatness during the '90s, Brant Bjork has earned a future spot in Valhalla's pantheon of rock percussionists alongside the likes of Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, Sabbath's Bill Ward and the Who's madman drummer Keith Moon. However, Bjork has also released a steady stream of albums as a leader, playing guitar and fronting a variety of groups under his own name as well as with the bands Che and Brant Bjork and the Bros.

Fans rejoiced back in 2010 when Bjork reunited with original Kyuss singer John Garcia and bassist Nick Oliveri to tour as Kyuss Lives! with Belgian guitarist Bruno Fevery filled the sizeable shoes of Kyuss founder and Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme. But when the group announced plans to record new material under the moniker, Homme and latter-era Kyuss bassist Scott Reader blindsided the band with a lawsuit that eventually forced the group to change their name to Vista Chino.

Despite the turmoil of the legal battle and not one, but two departures by Oliveri, Vista Chino would emerge triumphant with Peace in 2013, a stunning debut album on Napalm Records that lived up to the high standards set by Kyuss. The band would tour extensively with Corrosion of Conformity bass player Mike Dean filling in, playing the new material alongside Kyuss classics.

Bjork has since returned his focus on his own career. Last year, he recorded his latest salvo Tao of the Devil with longtime collaborator Dave Dinsmore on bass, second guitarist Bubba DuPree and drummer Ryan Gut. Continuing his exploration of soulful, heavy desert rock sounds, the collection stands as another solid addition to Bjork's ever-expanding catalog.

For this current tour that stops at Slim's in San Francisco Monday night, Bjork and company are joined by Atlanta-based hard rock outfit Royal Thunder. The veteran group fronted by powerhouse vocalist Mlny Parsonz recently released their latest compelling effort Wick that finds the band running the gamut from pastoral folk to hammering heaviness. Vancouver, B.C. band Black Wizard delivers their catchy brand of psychedelic metal in the opening slot.

Brant Bjork
Monday, April 10, 8 p.m. $19-$23

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