With Lucifer releasing albums of a consistent style at a workman’s pace, it’s easy to overlook the underlying trajectory that’s been gradually in motion. There’s not much of those Occult Doom roots left on Lucifer IV(Century Media Records) as the band has seemingly completed their transformation from female-fronted Uncle Acid to what sounds like Karen Carpenter singing over KISS riffs. Fortunately, it’s hardly a drastic change as Johanna Sadonis’ sultry croon and the freerolling grooves remain as common denominators.Continue reading →
Bongzilla’s fifth album comes with an interesting set of curveballs, being their first full-length release since 2005’s Amerijuanican as well as their first to be recorded as a trio. However, very little has changed about the Wisconsinites’ vision in the sixteen years they’ve been away. As evidenced by an appropriately dumb but endearing title like Weedsconsin (Heavy Psych Sounds), the Sweet Leaf remains the focal point of their aesthetic and their Stoner-Sludge sound is as potent as ever.
Desertfest New York has unveiled its first thirteen acts for its 2020 concert this coming fall! Corrosion of Conformity, Dead Meadow, Conan, Stoned Jesus, Toke, High Reeper, Yatra, Stoned Jesus, Atomic Bittchwax, Bongzilla, R.I.P., Crypt Trip, Huntsmen, Leather Lung and more! Desert Fest NYC takes place 11th – 13th September 2020 at The Well in Brooklyn New York, with a pre-party at Saint Vitus. More bands to be announced soon. Check out Ghost Cult’s 2019 coverage of the fest! Continue reading →
Matt Pike (solo) of Sleep and High on Fire is the final artist added to the Magnetic Eye Records’ Black Sabbath Tribute,Vol. 4 Redux, the latest in their Redux series of reissues. Pike joins a star-studded Doom Metal genre list of bands including Zakk Sabbath, Thou, Spirit Adrift, The Obsessed, Bongzilla, Whores., Haunt, High Reeper, and Tony Reed. Artwork inspired by the classic Sabbath Volume 4 artwork is Alyssa Mocere. You can pre-order the album at the link below. Continue reading →
Austin Terror Fest has announced their full lineup for 2019! Lighting Bolt, Pig Destroyer, Goatwhore, TR/ST (Canada), Alcest (France), Panopticon, Bongzilla, Bongripper, Church of Misery (Japan), Full of Hell, Dalek, Black Cobra, Street Sects, Unearthly Trance, Dorthia Cottrell, Machine Girl, Pyrrhon, Genocide Pact, Dreadnought, Crowhurst, Echo Beds, Temple Of Angels, Mountain Of Smoke, Terminator 2, Deep Cross, and Taverner. Austin Terror Fest (ATF) takes place Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9 in Austin, Texas, Three-day GA badges are on sale now for $150 through ATF’s Official Facebook Event page, below.
Desertfest’s 2017 London edition kicks off this Friday, April 28th and is set to shake music fans to their very souls. Headlined by the almighty SLEEP, Desertfest London also features Candlemass, Turbonegro, Slo Burn, Wolves In The Throne Room, Saint Vitus, John Garcia Band, Bongzilla and more. Tickets are running out for all venues fast and are expected to sell out. Get rolled up, dipped, and ready to blaze with Ghost Cult’s festival preview. Continue reading →
Sadly, here is where we start reaching the beginning of the end, the last day of Maryland Deathfest. After icing my foot, I hurried off with a friend over at the fest because we had another friend who had their car short out and we were coming to the rescue. Conveniently for them at least, they were parked right in front of the Edison Lot, so when their problem was dealt with, we power walked inside to catch the opener for the day, Australia’s Denouncement Pyre. I had been a huge fan of them since I had heard Almighty Arckanum in 2013, so when they were announced for MDF, I made their set a priority, and it was well worth the struggle of waking up early on a Sunday. From there came the band Shed the Skin, featuring members of Incantation and Ringworm, and other Australian black metallers Nocturnal Graves. During these bands, I went around on another food hunt, and found a stand in the lot that was selling deep-fried dumplings filled with different things. I spent almost the rest of my food budget on food just from this place, those deep-fried cheesesteak balls were some of the best food I could find during the fest.
Wombbath, by Hillarie Jason
Once I devoured those, I went up to the barrier to get a good spot for Wombbath to get my daily dose of Swedish death metal, and their début album Internal Caustic Torments was one of the first old school death metal records I heard, so I was very happy to find out they not only reunited, but were playing MDF! These guys haven’t missed a beat, I would not have been able to tell that they had broken up with how well they sounded and performed. When they were done, Desaster came thrashing out of the woodwork to the pleasant surprise of many, putting on a fantastic set and not missing a beat with their song. Around this point in the day, clouds began to form and the rain began to start, but that didn’t stop Bongzilla, or as frontman Mike Makela said during their set, “Weedeater without the Weedeater”, from busting out the fuzzy stoner metal that had been lacking from the fest since Thursday. We were then treated to even more delectable death metal courtesy of Sweden’s Interment, whose eerie guitar tone and almost d-beat style drumming makes the band sound like they could be the soundtrack of a horror movie, which is something I can really dig.
Phobocosm, by Hillarie Jason
Once Interment finished, the rain began to really pick up, and instead of sticking it out, I decided to head over to the Soundstage, where I happened to catch Putrescence, some quality Canadian grindcore. I didn’t know much about him, and they put on a pretty decent performance, but unfortunately I went on to find out that MDF was their last performance as a band, so I’m kind of glad to have caught them when I had the chance. After them came Test, who were a two piece grindcore band from Brazil. They honestly blew me away with their performance, because it was so unique for a band like them. One minute they would just be noodling around and seeming like they were going to do some sort of an indie song, then the drummer would just start blasting as fast as he possibly could with the guitarist following suit. They would just flawlessly mix from sounding so light and smooth into relentless, muddy, disgusting metal, and it sounded just incredible. They definitely won over the crowd with their set. I proceeded to pound back some water and walk over to Rams Head to see Phobocosm setting up for their set. Even though their sound was a little muddy from the overbearing bass, they still put on a hell of a performance.
Mitochondrion, by Hillarie Jason
Once they were done, I went back to Soundstage to catch one of my most hyped sets of the weekend, Tragedy. Now, I have been a Tragedy fan for years, but unfortunately missed every chance I have had to see them when they have come around, so I was not letting this opportunity slip through my fingers. When those first notes to ‘Conflicting Ideas’ came in, I knew I was gonna be in for a rowdy time. After getting out my elation in the pit, I left to Rams Head, because they unfortunately had to put Mitochondrion on at the same time, and I’ve been waiting to see them even longer than I have wanted to see Tragedy! Mitochondrion were destructive, and somehow sounded even cleaner live than on record, which for their style of death metal, is rather impressive to pull off. Once their set ended, I decided to finally have dinner at the most illustrious of establishments: Subway. Once I got my fuel, I went to Soundstage to prepare myself for the crust overlords Doom to take the stage. As soon as they started, the whole front area turned into mass chaos, with beers, bodies, and objects just flying all over the venue, the pit turning into an ice rink from all of the spilled drinks. Mysterious odors aside, Doom’s set was incredible and probably the funnest of the weekend. Once they finished, I went to Rams Head to catch the last band of the weekend, Brazil’s own Mystifier. Mystifier falls into the category of bands I have heard of before, but know nothing about musically that blow me away, which is something that MDF seems to have a plethora of. Their fast and angry style of black metal is the type that is always right up my alley, and even though I was absolutely exhausted, I got really into their set.
Doom, by Hillarie Jason
Excel, by Hillarie Jason
Zhrine, by Hillarie Jason
Venom, by Hillarie Jason
Maryland Deathfest 14 crowd, by Hillarie Jason
Demolition Hammer, by Hillarie Jason
Testament, by Hillarie Jason
With the last note of Mystifier’s set, MDF XIV had officially come to a close. This year, they had a post-show matinee as well, but for many of us, that was the end. At least until next year, for the 15th anniversary of Maryland Deathfest! I can only wonder who they are going to book for next year, but regardless of who they get, I’m gonna work my hardest to make my way down again, and I encourage anyone to do the same. If you even have the thought “Maybe I should go down this year…”, just do it, it’s worth the trip.
Saturday we kick things off with Beelzebong, who give us the swamp soaked heavy slur of stoner doom riffs we’ve been so craving. These guys know how to his the sweet spot of heavy and oppressive, yet hypnotic. They turn the crowd in front of the Desert stage into a sea of bobbing heads, a sight that makes for great start to the day.
Monomyth, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
Since we get some rare sunshine in the beginning of October, we decide to recover from last night’s first day in the brittle warmth of the autumn sun in the outside seating area, and catch up with some friends.
Monomyth, these masters of the hypnotic cadence are not new for me but a lot of people were happily surprised by their prowess. Their gigs tend to sound like one long jam, and amazingly don’t get boring while they weave on and on in an almost circular way, pulling you deeper into the trance-like state their music conveys. While these guys make some really spacey psychrock, the usually omnipresent guitar noodling is quite minimal and has a more rhythmic notion with this band, repeating and embroidering on the same pattern, building layers and layers of spacey goodness.
After the enjoyable Monomyth set we catch a quick glimpse upstairs in the Canyon stage of Vandal X, these Belgian noise rockers pick up the tempo and shake us awake. Distinctly punky, yet a little heavier and stranger than punk, these guys kick you straight in the teeth. Having apparently inspired such bands as Raketkanon according to the booklet these forefathers of the no-nonsense, bash your head into the wall kind of noise rock are living up to their title. Noise Noise Noise, indeed.
Greenleaf, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
After the rude awakening with Vandal X we go downstairs to see Greenleaf. The moment the band starts the grove is amazing, the thick heaviness is there, and everything sounds incredible, if a bit stripped down to make room for what we assume is going to be vocal driven Stoner. Pinching just a little too much I get the distinct feeling the vocalist is trying to sing a way that doesn’t fit him naturally, and the rest of the music just isn’t intricate enough to be able to ignore a less than impeccable vocal performance.
Thankfully the guys from Mars Red Sky are there to cheer me right up again, with their 70s infused doom. Their groove is one of the best and most catchy of the festival. In a genre often drowned in fuzz and distortion the use of oftentimes clean bass lines is refreshing and really hitting that spot. Soaring guitar lines coupled with remarkably light vocals with just enough echo to make their music sounds quite otherworldly. The contrast of heavy and light, floating and sinking make this band a fascinating experience well worth listening to.
Orange Goblin by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
Now I have the hard task of writing a review of Orange Goblin… OrangeGoblin is one of the heavyweights in the genre, and seeing them live is nothing short of spectacular. They clearly have that oh so British touch in their approach to metal that takes a lot of influence from punk and just a general slow burning anger at the world no other nationality has quite mastered, maybe it’s the weather. The riled up crowd starts milling in front of the stage in an enormous moshpit that doesn’t let up until the set is over.
To kill the time before Earth start and not just hang around chatting to the many wonderful people this fest attracts, we go catch a few songs by Causa sui. The trippy background projections are pretty cool, but sadly the band evoke a distinct feeling of trying too hard to fit into the psychrock box. The whole thing feels a bit formulaic, and instead of expressing the joy of letting a trip come over you as good psych does, they just leave me with a vague sense of emptiness.
Earth, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
Earth have the honor of headlining today, and I’m quite interested to see how they do. The band is known for it’s super slow and heavy laid back instrumental drone, and while this is in itself wonderful music, it’s something that is really hard to get into when you’ve been on your feet all day and have just seen Orange Goblin destroy the Desert stage with a vengeance. This is a band you definitely need a chair and a good dose of substances for to really get into, but for me, at that time of the day, they just were a bit too slow in their heavy. About midway through, the after party starts, at which we get a second dose of Orange Goblin madness, but this time behind the dj set.
Tangled Horns, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
Sunday, lazy Sunday. We start things of with a local Belgian band who’ve clearly not lost any steam over the weekend. Tangled Horns pretty much tangle us in their horns. Fast paced with a franctic frontman who will climb anything makes for a great show. There is a definite raunchy twist in the stoner these guys make, that does definitely remind of 90’s grunge and even a punky atmosphere. Definitely a band worth catching live.
Next we keep the pace up just as high, with the party band extraordinaire Valient Thor. They are one of the few bands on the bill to really get people moving and have banter between songs. As it is a time-honored tradition in the stoner and doom scene to stare at your shoes and mumble thank you, it is refreshing to hear a man remind us we’re all really descendant from space dust in a hilarious way before linking it to the next song and setting off another bout of frantic, happy party punk. These guys would do well at any festival.
Ufomamut, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
After grabbing dinner at one of the many food carts, we go watch Ufomammut. Over the last few years this group has made a reputation for being transcendent and while I see why people love them and where this reputation comes from somehow it just doesn’t hit that special place that makes the experience more than just music for me personally. They still were good but I didn’t see the magic others clearly see in them.
Sometimes there are bands that do everything right and still miss something, and just don’t work. Usually this is personal taste thing and hard to put your finger on, but with Bongzilla I feel I know exactly what was missing for me. These guys make standard sludge, and they do it well, but it’s all a little too clean. Sludge for me needs to be dirty and redneck and Louisiana swamp infested. It needs to feel wild and a little dangerous, heavy and sticky like the sweat is running down your back into your asscrack and the mosquitoes are eating you alive. Sadly this little bit of swamp of dirt and grit is exactly what was missing with Bongzilla.
Child, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photogaphy
My disappointed mood was quickly turned when friends I’d made urged me to stay downstairs and skip Fatso Jetson in favor of the Australian band Child. We got treated to a three-piece making some of the heaviest blues I’ve heard in ages, with a groove that was utterly unparalleled by any band on the bill, and most of all a voice that will melt the polar icecaps. The remarkably heavy main riffs get broken up by beautifully soulful blues guitar lines creating a refreshing contrast.
To conclude our stay in Antwerp I use the last of our coins to buy a few of the excellent cocktails at the little cocktail stand outside, and head upstairs for the final after party, not getting home until five in the morning, exhausted, charmed and satisfied. Until next time, Desertfest Belgium.
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: