Aficionados of all things heavy rock and doom are descending on Antwerp Belgium this weekend for the coming second edition of Desertfest at the Muziekcentrum Trix venue for. Kicking off at 3 PM on Friday the 9th, Desetfest Belgium will continue the run of brilliant Desertfest shows, killer bands and just an overall cool vibe. Over 40 bands on three stages will turn it up to 11 and wail until the early morning light. In addition to the bands, the Trix venue has an art gallery and the “Hippie Market” for merch and other wares, and food options too.
Friday’s lineup features massively heavy Monolord as the headliner. Joining them will be likely impressive turns by Moon Duo, Dozer, Stoned Jesus, Wucan and a A DJ aftershow party.
Saturday is led by festival second headliner and Brit doom gods Orange Goblin. They are a can’t miss act live. Also appearing on the bill on this day are a plethora bands Greenleaf, Monomyth, and Belzebong on the main Desert Stage. Other bands to check out on Saturday USA Out of Vietnam, Mars Red Sky, Bathsheba, Sunder and Pendejo.
Sunday is positively stacked on the Desert stage with fest headline act Goatsnake, followed by Bongzilla, Ufomammut, Valient Thorr and Glowsun. Fatso Jetson, Child, 3rd Ear Experience, Sienna Root, and Maudlin are other bands you don’t want to miss.
Ghost Cult is proud to serve as a media partner for Desertfest Belgium. You can still get tickets at this link:
Straight from the barren wastes of the savage Orc Lands (a.k.a Connecticut) comes ORCumentary! Armed for battle and riding for glory with their new album, Destroy the Dwarves, Ghost Cult is proud to premiere the full album stream for at this link or below:
Led by keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Orc Adams, Orcumentary plays self-styled blackened comedic industrial/power/folk/melodic death metal. Another way to put it is they kick ass and have fun doing it! Adams has commented on Destroy the Dwarves which drops tomorrow, October 2nd:
“The album Destroy the Dwarves continues where “Orcs 1 Goblins 0” left off. Now that the Goblins are utterly obliterated, Orc Adams, hero of the orcs and wielder of the Keyboard of Mayhem, sets his sights on the Dwarves. Their king reaches out to him to sue for peace, as they don’t want to meet the same fate as the goblins. “Into Their Cavernous Hole We Plunge” is one of the middle chapters, where Orc Adams and six of his best soldiers first arrive at the entrance to the Dwarven mine. It’s an upbeat and straightforward song with great keyboard parts (like most ORC songs) that covers a lot of musical ground in just under 4 minutes. The final version of the song has a few surprises if the listener is already familiar with the demo (included in the “You Must Procreate!” EP).”
Swedish Post-Metal veterans Moloken make their long-awaited return this fall with their new album All Is Left To See (Temple of Torturous). Ghost Cult is premiering their new single ‘Subliminal Hymns’ which you can hear at this link or below:
All Is Left To See, which releases on October 23rd,is the first of a trilogy of albums based on a deep lyrical concept created by the band dubbed “Mörkrets Kärna”. Recorded by Pelle Henriksson at Tonteknik Recording (Refused, Breach, Cult of Luna, Meshuggah, Entombed) with artwork by Costin Chioreanu (Bloodbath, Paradise Lost).
Having stolen the best band name a gothic metal vampire act had never thought to use yet, Cape Of Bats have spent the last six years belching out a slew of independent releases and splits; fully espousing a DIY ethic and ethos before arriving at Violent Occultism (Broken Limbs), their debut full-length, a thirty-six minute speedball chaser of blackened punk.
On first impression, Violent Occultism is like being forced to endure a series of particularly noxious bottom burps in a small enclosed space, caught, every two minutes, in the ever-regurgitating waves of the putridity. At first it’s hilarious and more than a little impressive, but it doesn’t take many occasions before the joke, unlike the air, begins to wear a little thin and things turn a little stale.
But just when you feel you need a change of scenery and to get some cleaner air in your lungs, Cape of Bats drop another air biscuit of horrid proportions, but this time including some surprising flavours such as the Kveltertak-getting-done-over-with-studded-maces-in-the-car-park ‘Ultimate Evil’, or ‘Follow Me (To Death)’ with its early second wave of Black Metal riffs and atmosphere; the former followed up with the 37 second punk-blast of ‘Blue Hands’ as if to get things back on track, and the latter by the manic start of ‘Buckets of Blood’.
Cape of Bats deal in sloppy, aggressive raw music with black metal, crust and loose thrash permeating their riffs. Add in Francis Kano’s deranged yelps and throat-rips, Cassidy McGinlay’s drumming switching from D-beats to gakked out surf rock grooves, Matthew Geary’s B-movie carnivalesque keys sporadically appearing and some speed metal frantic soloing and Cape of Bats prove an uncompromising and coarse outfit who are particularly effective when they flirt with the more black metal side of their arsenal, and songs like ‘Damned To Sands’ and ‘Grand Evocation Of War’.
Cape of Bats take raw to other side of the lathe, sinking their filed teeth into still breathing vermin carcasses and expectorating abrasive, unrefined, spiky stabs of punky black metal. A fucking mess of chaos and feral as all hell, nonetheless, there’s something worthwhile in their uncultured savagery.
From what is effectively a rehearsal room within the confines of a relic to the greatest yet most environmentally destructive age of Man, it’s fitting that ultimate innovation continues unabated.
Lake of Snakes. Photo Credit: Paul Quinn
On a night made for the sax fiends among us promoter Dave McLean kicked us off with his funky Hardcore outfit Lake of Snakes: a staggering baritone enlivening a heavy groove, the sexy, minimalist ‘Machismo Lament’ the highlight of tracks graced by the harsh rhyming of Dave’s twin Lewis. This was extreme Jazz-metal at its tightest, from a fascinating and current ‘crossover’ band that deserve to be huge.
Dead Neanderthals Photo Credit: Paul Quinn
The sax genius that is Colin Webster took stage left for Dead Neanderthals, the Anglo-Dutch ‘Heavy jazz’ improvisation unit that, basically, defied description. The trio performed their single-track Prime (Gaffer) opus: a constantly squalling barrage of Freeform sound, Webster’s lowing baritone setting the riff while his fellow squealer Otto Kokke screamed with squalling acrimony alongside Rene Aquarius’ frenetic yet pulsating drums. Easy listening this wasn’t, but its vitality and relevance couldn’t be disputed, and to witness the phenomenal Aquarius perform in such close proximity was an utter privilege.
Orthodox. Photo Credit: Paul Quinn
Climaxing what is arguably the most intimate, insouciant gig I’ve ever seen, Sevilla’s finest leisurely pummelled this happy studio. It’s debatable whether Orthodox is the main draw tonight but the fulmination of Marco Serrato’s buzzing, earthshaking bass and Borja Diaz’ brutalising stickwork complemented the former’s unusual yet sonorous, oscillating vocal perfectly. Gone is the stage presence of former years, replaced by occasionally mystical soundscapes and profound, understated yet ground-moving adventurous melancholy. ‘Canicula’ was a snaking, rattling, cosied journey of Low-End freedom: Serrato’s warped, tuneful bass notes eliciting brutal pounding from his compatriot, joyously welcomed by the small yet increasingly devoted throng. ’Portum Sirenes’ was positively soul-dissecting: Marco’s warbles plumbing the soul whilst bass and drums slowly, steadily, eviscerated the collective internal organs; the build to the multi-faceted, pulverising crescendo unfathomable.
If there’s a greater expression of deep music, of emotive crush, than Orthodox are today, I’ve yet to experience it. And there’s bloody two of them. Where in God’s name were you all?!
It’s hardly a new observation, but one of the many effects of the home-production/internet release revolution was to completely change the expectations of what we can reasonably expect from a band at the stage of putting out their first album. There are many reasons to celebrate the death of the system by which labels were the sole gatekeepers of the power to record, but one thing we’ve arguably lost is the filter which used to block many amateur or poorly-conceived outings before they hit the studio.
Which makes it even more satisfying when a début album arrives so well-formed.
Every aspect of Fractal Generator’s aesthetic – from the name to their white lab-coats – tells us that this is that engagingly awkward nerd hybrid Science Fiction Death Metal. There are significant nods to Wormed and The Faceless in their sound, touches of first-album Cynic and even the odd distorted riff that Meshuggah would be happy with, but they’ve already started combining them into their own sound.
Apotheosynthis (Independent) doesn’t sound like the first self-released fumblings of a band who’ve skipped past the old gate-keepers and jumped straight to the album stage. One of the first things to catch your attention here is just how tight the performances are – a blinding blur of taut riffing, thunderous blasts and well-executed keyboard work exhibit a band with total confidence in their chosen style. They know what they’re doing, too, never allowing the more esoteric expanses of their sound to detract from the central task of writing powerful, urgent Death Metal.
Apotheosynthesis isn’t without its flaws, of course. It’s arguably longer than it needs to be, losing some of its momentum in the last ten-to-fifteen minutes, and though the production is crisp and crunchy it sometimes relegates the keyboards and spacey noises to sonic garnish, burying some of the atmospherics that the band are aiming for. For a self-released début, however, it’s an absolute revelation, and leaves behind several of the year’s more established Death Metal releases in its wake. Fractal Generator are not simply a band it’s worth keeping an eye on in the future, but one who deserve your attention right now.
Superjoint, the band risen from the ashes of 90s hardcore metal band Superjoint Ritual is currently on the road opening for Danzig’s “Blackest of the Black Tour”, along with Veil of Maya, Prong, and Witch Mountain. Superjoint was conceived of and is led by Philip Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals), Jimmy Bower (Down, EyeHateGod) and Kevin Bond (Christ Inversion, Artimus Pyledriver) and came to form a supergroup 15 years ago. They are currently backed by Anselmo accolytes José Manuel Gonzalez Jr. on drums (Warbeast, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals) and Stephen Taylor (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, Wovenhand, 16 Horsepower), on bass. In addition to tearing it up on the Danzig tour the band is heading toward the finish line of Phil’s 3rd annual Housecore Horror Festival. On the first night of the full tour at The Marquee in Tempe, Superjoint seemed energized from coming back and the reaction of crowd was vocal in their support. Unlike other bands trying hard to be clean and all prettied up, Superjoint is 100% no bullshit. Just ugly music for brutal music fans, who don’t need their riffs white-washed with interludes or overlong jams. The only breakdown you will hear is an emotional one, collectively from the crowd when all is said and done. Thanks to Melina Dellamarggio of Melina D Photography for being on point in the photo pit on this night.
The amalgamation of black and death metal (often referred to as blackened death) has been successfully utilized by many bands; Dissection and Behemoth perhaps the most distinguished. It’s an unholy union that blends the macabre frostiness of black metal with the tempo and technicality of death metal. Temple of Baal hail from Paris and evoke just that with their latest release, Mysterium (Agonia). Despite being active since 1998 they have only released five full length albums and a handful of splits, one of which being alongside the phenomenal black metal band Sargeist. Momentum really got going in 2003 with the release of Servants of the Beast (Oaken Shield) and from then on the band has become more and more prolific, releasing albums every couple of years.
Their chosen theme of spirituality and religiosity is immediately apparent through the track titles alone, with songs like ‘Lord of Knowledge and Death’, ‘Hosanna’ & ‘Holy Art Thou’ being somewhat of a clue. But fear not, this is no Christian metal atrocity as the band clearly state, “Mysterium can be seen as a collection of meditations and prayers over the mysteries of Faith, directed towards the gods of the left hand path”. This prominent theme is further enforced by ritualistic sections interspersed throughout the record, epitomized in ‘Dictum Ignis’ which is an ideal accompaniment to any satanic ritual.
Aggressive and forceful, ‘Lord of Knowledge and Death’ makes no apologies for its brutal onslaught, a devastating riff interrupts the atmospheric introduction and it’s full on chaos from here on out. The riffs are piercing and well layered for a full, thick sound. Temple of Baal are all about variation, not wanting to stagnate they inject their music with different styles and sounds. ‘Magna Gloria Tua’ begins with a disorientating swirl of noise before unleashing some pummelling death metal, whilst ‘All In Your Name’ employs riffs more akin to the black metal sound. ‘Holy Art Thou’ is bursting with malice; the lyrics “Holy Art Thou!” are growled with utter venom. Exceptional fretwork shines through on the album, and is without a doubt the most memorable component, crushing yet technical and melodic, each riff serves a purpose whilst adding vigour and captivating variation.
Mysterium is a spiritual journey down the left hand path of darkness and iniquity, a remarkable journey that is without doubt unforgettable. Bow down and worship at the Temple of Baal.
The legendary Kraftwerk brought their 3D experience to The Wang Theatre in Boston. Since their last studio album was released in 2003 this tour was not in support of a new musical work, but a retrospective set that spanned what they have released in the last 40 or so years.
With the crowd in their seats and the supplied 3D paper glasses securely affixed to their faces, the show started promptly at 8pm and wouldn’t be complete for a little over 2 hours. Now if you were expecting some high-end effects akin to a blockbuster movie, you would have been sorely mistaken; but quality of the effects made complete sense if you consider the band, their history and what they write about. Everything was cold and angular with a touch of humor and felt like it was created in a scientific laboratory rather than some big modern visual effects studio. That’s what made it work. As fun as they were, some of it was difficult to focus on and the effort needed to force my eye balls into submission was proving to be too much towards the end.
Even so, I can’t imagine the show without the effects. Some might say it detracts from the musicians, but they are notoriously reclusive, even using robots for official photo shoots in the past, and really don’t physically do more on stage than tap a foot here and there. I don’t think putting more emphasis on them as individuals would really do much for anyone. For a Kraftwerk show it really is just about the music and the visuals. Their music is still as vibrant and relevant today as it was when they first formed in 1970, arguably creating an entirely new genre of music as well as influencing countless musicians around the world. Kraftwerk in 3D was definitely something not to miss. I am glad I didn’t.
Despite much of the mass media largely ignoring such bands, or at least making little mention of them, the underground metal scene has proven to show an abundance of talent, amazing presence and pushing of boundaries. The survival and even the thriving of such bands is down purely to a greater weapon than print headlines and media has to offer: the word of mouth of the passionate music lover.
Formed in 1999, Italian psychedelic doom merchants Ufomammut may not be a household name to everyone, but they come with a reputation amongst those in the know as an unparalled live act, armed to the teeth with stunning screen visuals and bone-shattering riffs. Working on hard graft and underground buzz alone, it’s a triumphant sight to see that tonight’s gig is in the venue’s larger room opposed to the upstairs, cramped bar area as perhaps expected.
Sadly, the combination of your reviewer living away from London in the sticks and his general bumbling, country bumpkin behaviour means only the closing bars of opening act Sedulus are heard, going past the merch stands which includes, amongst the usual paraphernalia, a variety of stunning artwork pieces and a separate vinyl store (both tables are continuously too crowded to check out properly).
Candlelight marks the arrival of the mysterious Jex Thoth with a sense of anticipation amongst some that even rivals that of the headliners. Mostly static and minimalistic in the way of tricks and effects, the band’s presence ensures that all eyes are centered on Jex herself as she glides and stalks the stage with a menacing but graceful air. Mostly cloaked and at times with either candles or burning incense in hand, she gives the impression of being possessed, proving animated but almost entirely disengaged from the audience and more in a world of her own. Sadly towards the end of their set the influx of people more interested in trying to talk over the band than watching the set, which although doesn’t detract too much from their great performance, does leave a sour taste in the mouth.
Ufomammut take to the stage in a similarly low-key fashion: no intro tape or introduction, simply appearing on stage and kicking off with ‘Somnium’ off latest album Ecate (Neurot), its low, psychedelic rumbling builds up into heavier, crushing territory, accompanied by the sound of jaws hitting the floor. Once again stage interaction is kept to a minimum other than to receive rapturous applause in between sections and songs, a response the crowd never fails to give. Much more than just a doom band, aspects are interjected by Hawkwind like spacey effects and even aspects ardent prog fans will enjoy.
Accompanying this are on screen video footage of dark, at times harrowing and creepy imagery which proves a perfect match for their brand of colourful (comparative to many of their peers) doom metal, as the audience is enthralled and entranced throughout. Well that is for the most part, as once again the presence of groups choosing to natter away loudly instead of watching the band they paid to see proves a distraction at times. Fortunately even this doesn’t put a dampener on a monumental set which has both the visual and thought provoking side to it and the bulldozing force and sheer heaviness.
They may not be the darlings of the media, but Ufomammut are a spellbinding live act as the crowd is left completely mind-blown.
Neurotic November claim to be “Hood Metal”, which if their latest effort, second album Fighting Words (Victory), is anything to go by appears to be fairly straight (Metalcore flavoured) djent lightly seasoned here and there with some low-rent rap sections. I genuinely struggle to see why these guys have gotten such a bad press. I’ve certainly had a lot worse presented to me as genius. While they’re never going to set the world on fire, they at least have their own sound and no-one should in good faith paint them as The Worst Band In The World whilst brokeNCYDE is still a thing…
Fighting Words is a solid improvement on the last album – 2013’s Anunnaki (Victory) – featuring a fatter, tighter sound and more lavish production (from Joey Sturgis, the man behind the deck for Asking Alexandria and The Devil Wears Prada) . The song-writing is a lot better too with some nice guitar hooks, and half-decent vocal flows that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Stuck Mojo album.
‘The Truth About You’ is a synth-heavy start to the proceedings that is certainly decent enough to get the head nodding. ‘So Hollow’ is a Slipknot-inspired thrasher which leads us into ‘Everglades’ which features guest roars from King Conquer‘s James Mislow. ‘On The Come Up’ is the standout track on the album with the afore-mentioned Stuck Mojo similarities. ‘Rockstar’ bounces along quite nicely in an adequately average djent stylee through ‘2004 – present’ (more of the same) until we arrive at the quirky ‘Wasabi Anguish Pt. II’ which I have to admit I have a soft spot for; it’s basically a mashup of After The Burial and Eminem with some Die Antwoord influences.
So whilst Fighting Words isn’t great, it’s certainly not shit either. If non-mainstream rap metal’s your bag, it’s worth a look.
According to a published report, NHL Hockey’s New York Rangers‘ Defenseman Dan Boyle spent part of this past summer as a roadie for his favorite band, Faith No More. Boyle’s tenure with the band included their east coast dates of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and New York so he could continue to train for the 2015-16 NHL season. His responsibilities for the tour included carrying instruments, setting up the stage, and giving out VIP tickets. Boyle met the band and became friends with Mike Patton and others when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks.
Dan Boyle and Mike Patton, photo credit: New York Post
“They were my favorite band growing up. I told [the team’s] p.r. guy, ‘I don‘t care if I have to stand in the top corner of the venue, get me in there.’’’
“If I wasn’t a hockey player, I’d be the lead singer of a band,”
“We had a couple of beers, but it wasn’t sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Had I toured with them 25 years ago, this might be a different interview.”
Dan Boyle of the New York Rangers, photo credit: AP Photo/Winslow Townson
I’m still undecided as to whether Brian Ross‘s piercing scream which opens Atom By Atom (Listenable) is a surprising thing or not. On one hand, Satan were part of the now legendary NWOBHM scene and screaming vocals were sort of their thing. On the other hand, you have to remember this is a band who started life way back in 1979, so including lengthy hiatuses for transformations into other bands (Pariah, Blind Fury), and key members departing to form entirely new acts (Skyclad), they’ve been doing this for well over 35 years. They’re clearly no spring chickens any more (sorry, chaps), so the fact that this, their fourth full length release, begins with such a pointed statement of intent is not only refreshing but also, happily just a sign of things to come.
The speedy, yet surgically precise riffs come thick and fast as the album gallops along like a thoroughbred racehorse, the twin guitars of Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey locked in an endless, but perfectly timed, competition to get across the finishing line first. Even mid-paced songs like ‘Bound in Enmity’, ‘Ahriman’ and ‘Fallen Saviour’ appear to get frustrated by their own lack of athleticism and have to kick themselves into shape just to keep up.
It’s not all about lightning fast speed though. There are slow-burning riffs, riffs which twist and creep out of your speakers like long legged spiders, and riffs which sound like a knife-wielding maniac gave Ozzy Osbourne‘s ‘I Don’t Know’ an adrenaline shot and chased it down an alleyway. Yeah, okay. Speed is definitely a key element here. However, for all of its near relentlessness, the album never once feels cluttered or rushed. There’s always room to breathe, and even enough time for a choral section and brief spoken word passage.
When some previously defunct bands decide it’s time to try and grab a second bite of the cherry, there’s a tendency to come back with just a name and, if we’re lucky, two or three original members. A year or two down the line and the old problems which caused the band to split in the first place rear their ugly heads and everything begins to fall apart again. Thankfully, however, and much like fellow NWOBHMers Hell, Satan are not only more confident than ever but also still pushing themselves in what really should be their comfortable slippers and gardening years.
When Ross shouts “Ten Thousand Hiroshimas, it’s the end for you and me!” on album closer and mini-epic ‘The Fall of Persephone’ you can picture the scene with crystal clarity.