Desertfest Antwerp takes place this weekend in Belgium, at the legendary Trix Club. Named for the distinct cult style of California’s Palm Desert style of rock, doom, and psychedelic influences, pioneered in the 90s by bands like Kyuss, Acid King, Fu Manchu, Goatsnake, Monster Magnet, 60 Watt Shaman and more. The fest itself and its related other events represent the best in underground culture, with music ranging from stoner rock, doom, indie bands, and other styles to please fans of discerning taste. Ghost Cult’s Susanne A. Maathuis, who is covering the fest this weekend for us had some questions for Dimitri Vossen – one of the organizers of the fest. Continue reading
With a final salvo of bands, 2017’s Maryland Deathfest XV is set at last. Added to the final line-up are legends like Candlemass (Nightfall set), Tiamat (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Grave (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Root (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Oranssi Pazuzu, Acheron, GosT, Samothrace, and more. Continue reading
Saturday at Psycho Las Vegas was no less impressive and perhaps the best single day of the fest band for band, especially if you were still able to stand after the first few days. Starting off with the public première of the Melvins documentary, The Colossus Of Destiny, followed by a Q & A by the director, Bob Hannam; this set the tone for the day. Continue reading
Acid King today announced a headline run of tour dates this October, the first for the band in almost a decade. One of America’s most respected doom acts, the band released their new album Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere in April.
Acid King lead singer Lori S. commented on the tour:
“After touring Europe for the past several years we’re looking forward to traveling across the U.S. and seeing if the beer has gotten any better along the way!”
U.S. tour dates:
Oct 16 : Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
Oct 17: Complex- Los Angeles, CA
Oct 18: SW Terrorfest (Club Congress)- Tucson, AZ
Oct 19: Sister- Albuquerque, NM
Oct 21: Red 7- Austin, TX
Oct 22: Siberia – New Orleans, LA
Oct 23: Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA
Oct 24: Kings – Raleigh, NC
Oct 25: Saint Vitus – New York, NY
Oct 26: Middle East – Boston, MA
Oct 27: Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
Oct 28: Now That’s Class- Cleveland, OH
Oct 29: Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
Oct 30: Firebird – St. Louis, MO
Oct 31: Riot Room- Kansas City, MO
Nov 01: Hi Dive – Denver, CO
These days the London borough Camden is mostly just a tourist trap; full of tourists, and overpriced beer. It is, however, still home to some quality venues, and is the perfect place to let Desertfest UK take over for a weekend of stoner rock in all its forms. Special thanks go out to Jessica Lotti Photography for sharing her images of the weekend with our readers.
Opening the proceedings over at the Electric Ballroom is Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan. Boasting some decent rock star shapes on stage, front man/guitarist Óskar Logi Ágústsson clearly has an affinity for the late 60s/early 70s, delivering a boogie-filled set full of riffs and jams Jimi Hendrix and Cream would be proud of. A nearly full Ballroom is bouncing long before their set is over.
Over at the Jazz Café’s Prog stage, London five-piece Sumer aren’t afraid to show off their love of Tool. Clearly a talented bunch with a talent for combining thick riffs, vocal melodies and subtle dynamics all into one crunching ball. Unfortunately, while they fill the stage with numbers there’s not a lot of stage presence. But their debut album, The Animal You Are, is well worth checking out if you like your post/progressive metal.
The Black Heart boasts not only the best range of beers and ales Desertfest has to offer, but also the sweatiest venue. A tightly packed and perspiration–drenched throng squeeze in for the excellently-named Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus. The Swedish quartet deal in retro-psychedelic stoner and deliver an enjoyable set of classic rock, but their secret weapon is the wailing vocals of Karl Apelmo. Not a million miles away from the Scorpion Child’s Aryn Jonathan Black, he lifts decent music to something a lot more impressive.
Next up are Ten Foot Wizard, who deliver one the best sets of the weekend. Sporting some glorious Hawaiian shirts, the Mancunians take an already hot and sweaty venue into even wetter territory with their blend of dirty, fuzzy riffs and good time rock’n’roll. The band clearly know how to have fun on stage and that translates into one of the liveliest crowds of the entire festival. Mixing riffs of Clutch and early Queens of the Stone Age with a dirty groove of Alabama ThunderPussy, chuck in some megaphones, Theremin solos and songs about tits, and you’ve got a winning combo. TFW are a hoot and far better than their (fairly decent) debut record Return to the Infinite suggests.
After such a party, returning to the cool and spacious Ballroom for Brant Bjork is something of a comedown. The set is full of quality tunes drawn mainly from his latest album, Black Power Flower, but the chilled out desert rock vibe, combined with a fairly static performance from Bjork – with his Low Desert Punk Band in tow – is kind of underwhelming. Bjork’s solo material is severely under-rated, but the former Kyuss drummer’s laid back style fails to really the get juices flowing.
Opening Sunday is Belgian psychedelic rockers Moaning Cities at The Purple Turtle. Sporting funky dance moves and the only sitar of the weekend, this Belgian outfit combine hypnotic atmospheres with 60s psychedelic pop and still manage to make a lot of noise. Trippy, intense, loud, and not a bad way to start the Sabbath.
Over at Koko, we’re treated with back-to-back instrumental bands with Karma in their name, but very different approaches. German four piece My Sleeping Karma do their best to create an atmosphere; employing eerie visuals [which unfortunately didn’t seem to be working right for much of the set] with soundscapes that create a nice audio-visual experience that’s easy to get lost in. It’s almost the opposite of Karma to Burn’s approach. The US power trio only deal in thunderous noise, punching their way through sonically crushing set that pounds your eardrums repeatedly for 60 minutes. There’s no subtly, but it is invigorating and gets and keeps the crowd’s attention throughout. This is how instrumentals bands should be done; Guitarist William Mecum is a one man riff machine that’s few on words but has stage swagger that makes up for the lack of verbatim, while drummer Evan Devine is an absolute powerhouse.
It’s not all quality however. Despite hailing from Hampshire, XII Boar really, really wish they were from the deep south of the US. The trio’s bland brand of cowboy metal is a concoction of groove, whiskey-soaked “YEAAAH!”s and unsubtly-recycled Pantera riffs. The kind of racket you’d expect at a keg party in a Bam Margera video, it’s really, really, really dumb fun at best, and a poor man’s Hellyeah at worst. The Underworld, meanwhile, has been wasted as stage dedicated to originally NWOBHM bands such as Quartz and Angel Witch along with a bunch of thinly-veiled tribute acts. Londoners Amulet fall unashamedly into the latter category. Sporting tight denim, bad moustaches and the Iron Maiden riff-book, Amulet definitely aren’t cool, but they clearly don’t care. An over-abundance of enthusiasm and a decent selection of riffs & solos ripped off from the likes of Maiden, Diamond Head and Angel Witch means by the end of the set it’s hard to dislike them. Painfully original, but harmless fun.
Back at the Purple Turtle, there’s a double bill of Doom. Despite some initial sound troubles, Sweden’s The Order of Israfel combine classic Black Sabbath-esque 70s doom with an almost Thin Lizzy-like appreciation of twin leads and guitar solos to create something evilly epic on a medieval scale. The Wounded Kings, by contrast are a bit of a let-down. Despite being chronically heavy on riffs, they’re surprisingly light on songs. They might be able to rattle the foundations of the building with the same kind of Earth shattering reverb as Electric Wizard, but vocalist George Birch is lost in the mix and things never really go as far as entertaining.
It wouldn’t be a proper stoner festival without the riffs of the mighty Matt Pike, and with Sleep he delivers spades of them. The stoner legends were under-appreciated during their original run but a rammed Koko goes crazy for ‘Dragonaut’, while new song ‘The Clarity’ get a rapturous response. More involved in their own playing than the audience, the band stomp through barely ten songs with no encore in an hour and a half set, but there no complaints. The likes of ‘DopeSmoker’ and ‘Holy Mountain’; manage to be both crushingly heavy, yet at the same time hypnotizing. An appropriate ending for a weekend of Black Sabbath-and-bong worshipping.
WORDS BY DAN SWINHOE
With Roadburn having just ended last weekend, the season for European music festivals is here Joining the ranks of it’s better known sister festival in Germany, Desertfest UK is fast becoming one of the best events in the world. The event will take place from April 24th-26th at stellar venues in London such as: The Electric Ballroom, Koko, The Underworld, The Black Heart, The Jazz Cafe and the Purple Turtle Especially if you pray to at the altar of the riff almighty, the subsonic tones of sludge and just a rocking good time in general, this fest is for you. The weekend passes are already sold-out, further proving the attraction these line-ups will bring.
Friday kicks things off in the early afternoon with up and comers Torpor leading off. Likely the best afternoon band of any day of the fest will be Floor at the Electric Ballroom. Following them will be The Atomic Bitchwax, and headliners Electric Wizard and the mighty Red Fang. The Underworld is host to grimmer acts such as Dopethrone, Agrimonia, Black Cobra, Minsk, and Noothgrush. Also not to be missed on Friday are comeback kings End of Level Boss. They are always super fun live!
Saturday has a super doom and sludge infection in the form of Vintage Caravan, Sex Swing, Pale Horse, Black Pyramid, Lo Pan, Anthromorph, Obake, Ten Foot Wizard, Hang the Bastard plus Brant Bjork And Low Desert Punks. EyeHateGod continues their return to Europe, promising another brutal set.
Adding to the awesomeness of Saturday is the fests first prog stage, led by Amplifier, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, I am The Morning, Landskap and others. This is really momentous for the fest and hopefully it becomes a regular thing in years to come.
Sunday will bring things to a boil with more underground bands Amulet, Quartz Cancer, Sallie, Witch Hazel, SSS, The Wounded Kings, and Angel Witch amongst many others. Of course the headliner Sleep might be half the draw for the weekend, as well as Ufomammut, Karma To Burn, and Acid King. With official after show every night of the fest, this promised to be a non-stop jamming party the whole time.
The fourth edition of Desertfest Berlin has been confirmed at the Astra Kulturhaus from April 23-25, 2015. Confirmed artists for the event include:
RED FANG (USA)
ACID KING (USA)
BLACK PYRAMID (USA)
THE PICTUREBOOKS (GER)
MOTHER ENGINE (GER)
ORANGE GOBLIN (UK)
KARMA TO BURN (USA)
DIRTY FENCES (USA)
RIFF FIST (AUS)
BRANT BJORK & THE L.D.P. (USA)
MY SLEEPING KARMA (GER)
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (USA)
MOUNTAIN WITCH (GER)
TRAVELIN JACK (GER)
The idea that metal has lost it’s roots is nothing new. I’m sure you’ve heard it too. The complaints that metal has become way too polished and stylized these days. A sound which no layer of grit on your latest vinyl can compete with. I understand why bands do it too, but if these people would just quit their whining, they’ll realize there are plenty of talented bands out there that strive for the same dirty ascetic of their predecessors, who just happened to have limiting recording options. Take the first release from psych doom stoners, Wolf Blood from Burning World/Roadburn Records for instance.
Recorded at Sacred Heart by Jake Larson in Duluth MN, the band seems to be making waves in a cross section of scene, calling on the interest of outsiders from other niches. Result of hipster culture holding Wolf Blood in their filthy grasp? In this case, I say let them have it and hop on the Wolf Blood train with them.
I was in their neighboring Wisconsin recently, and trust me, the festivals that go through there and how it’s supposedly the origin of Thrash Metal in America according to some stoner dude I met on the street (not true at all,) Minnesota they can handle a lot more metal culture inside the scene and out.
A powerful portrait is constructed in the first track ‘Witch,’ of a vengeful woman, tied to a cross and set a blaze. Lighting the precedent for this psychedelic, pagan blend of doom, Wolf Blood let the bass groves hang low and heavy, keeping the vocals to a happy medium. The solitary instrumental track, ‘Ochro Ologo’s’ menacing force pummels it’s way forward, paving the way for ‘Black Moon,’ which contains my favourite riff of the album. When you hear it, you’ll know. That driving force is relentless. If played to a different tuning, it could have been a Razor riff.
‘Dancing On Your Grave’ was catchy as hell and remains my favourite on the album. Brian’s bass is prominent and playful. Jake’s wavering vocals sound semi-submerged as he handles the kit masterfully. Each guitar break leaves just enough space for the the next verse to flow or your head to bang in perfect rhythmic balance.
6 tracks long and an athame blade deep, Wolf Blood’s self-titled debut will fulfill your every need for raw, honest riffage, bass heavy mystery and properly recorded drums that don’t sound like plastic over everything else. For fans of Electric Wizard, Uzala, Mala Suerte, Acid King, Dopethrone and Demon Lung, check this band out! I have high hopes for them.
Wolf Blood on Facebook
Tapping into their British roots and pulling strands from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead, Orange Goblin’s 8th full length, Back From The Abyss (Candlelight Records) adds melodic guitar moments, roughened lyrics and driving beats to tell the listener a story, taking them under their arm like the newest member of the Hell’s Angels. Recorded in London, produced by Jamie Dodd (The Skints, One Night Only) and mastered at Turan Audio by Tim Turan, the album is refined to a roughened T. Out on October 6th, 2014 on Candlelight Records, Back from the Abyss is more of a rock & roll biker album than the metal force of their last record, A Eulogy For The Damned in 2012. Since their start in 1995, you can slowly see the accumulation of their influences, simmering into one metamorphic mixing pot to bring you this sleazy, speed filled injection.
Kicking off the album with ‘Sabbath Hex,’ rocking guitar hits you from the left, chasing up your groove to the brim, with the band kicking in from the right. Ben Ward’s retro, melodic vocals charm your pants off till you’re naked in the middle of your favourite rock club, swaying to the ever-changing rhythm. The centre bridge dips down in tempo, scavenging for energy to built the charge back up and storm back with a vengeance. The best part of the track is the last 35 seconds. Man, does Joe Hoare’s guitar ever wail. Smooth and bluesy, Martyn Millard’s bass injected life into the track, like a speedball never could.
‘Übermensch’ was a bit too far on the rock side of the stoner spectrum for me. A mid-tempo, triumphant and alcohol-fuelled manly anthem I can’t say I could relate to.
‘The Devil’s Whip’ snaps you into shape quick. A self-described “old school banger,” This rocking piece of rumbling momentum reminds me of the vigour I felt when I first heard Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ and it blasts through things just as quickly. A momentousus jolt of riffage, fired up from hell, with wailing guitar solos and rough, bad boy vocals.
Adding some psychedelia to the mix, for anyone into Acid King or Clutch, this might be the track to get you started. ‘Demon Blues’ presents the classic stoner rock persona morphed to fit today’s favourite monster. A vampire with speed in his veins and a loaded shot gun ain’t takin’ no shit. Sorry ladies but this rustic heart throb is a time bomb waiting to explode. The track’s lyrics are solid and tell an interesting tale, not to mention Joe Hoare’s solo at the end is killer.
‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ gets into a down and dirty groove that may just make James Brown rise from the grave. I feel the Hendrix in Hoare’s guitar work as vocals are lathered in whiskey. The bass keeps the groove low while the drumming is simple, yet powerful, leading the story forward into war. Just when you think the end has come, a surge flows back through their amps and their out of the gates again for another round.
Other notable tracks are ‘Bloodzilla’, with the intensity of a thrash band, yet matured and rough around the edges. From the speed of lightning fist pounding to the head nodding groove of a stoner outro, this track has everything you could ever ask for. ‘The Abyss’ is one that welcomes you in with caution. My favourite on the album, it adds mystique to the powerful, confident outlaw this album portrays and I can’t help but fall for the tale of such place which could draw you into the black.
It seems impossible for Orange Goblin to disappoint. Back from the Abyss keeps the power in your hands and a drink to your lips. As commanding as the stories they tell, any album of theirs could be a gateway drug into their world. This is a must listen stoner album for the year. Watch out for their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus starting October 9th in France.