I met Joe Nally around seven years ago on the biggest UK Metal tour there had been for an age. He was the frontman for Chapters, a progressive metal outfit that is still, to this day, the best opening act I’ve ever seen on a tour headlined by Sylosis but showcasing everything that was great about fiery yet accessible UK metal. Continue reading
Atmosphere was the key word at Damnation Festival and back over on the Eyesore Merchandise Stage as Portuguese act Sinistro unleashed a sonic tour-de-force. Though a relatively new act its members hold combined decades of performance experience, and there was something of the avant-garde about this set. Vocalist Patricia Andrade was as forceful in her dancing as she was elegant in her singing, and to top it off she was the beneficiary of carefully arranged lighting that ensured she was almost floodlit while her band mates moved behind and around her in relative shadow. Continue reading
An army of metal heads descending upon the University of Leeds Students Union on a freezing, overcast morning can only mean that it’s time again for the annual earthquake of Damnation Festival. Now in its eighth year at the same venue, and a third year of hosting acts on a total of four stages, this cult event is growing. Unfortunately, its expansion coincides with the revamp of the building it has called home for so long, making this one of the more hectic and claustrophobic episodes in the festival’s history. Continue reading
Although all metalheads seem to love Halloween, I’m sure our friends in the UK and beyond can’t wait for next weekend to get here. That’s because Damnation Festival 2016 s is coming next Saturday November 5th to Leeds University Union, and it’s sure to be a banger. Get prepared with our preview: Continue reading
The premiere UK music festival for the underground, dark, and extreme bands, Damnation Festival has announced the final additions to their lineup, taking place Saturday, November 5th, at Leeds University Union. Continue reading
Bless the Earth With Fire (Static Tension) is a relatively short first album from Rochester UK quintet Allfather but, my God, is it an utter brute. Played at a largely sedentary pace, the Sludgy sensibilities are offset by Hardcore-flavoured guitars which boot the monstrous bedrock squarely up the arse at frequent intervals.
Opener ‘Raskolnikov’ is the first of four fairly brief tracks which nevertheless crush boulders whilst fired with a rampant anger: its howling solos giving the bone-grinding, occasionally shredding riffs some emotional substance and lightening the slurring emphysema of vocalist Tom. The repeated roar “I’m a murderer!” is truly nerve-twanging, the rhythm and squall rising in turn to give the full threatening effect.
It’s a sound that brings to mind the bludgeoning hostility of Hang the Bastard, whilst possessing more invention and vitality. Follow-up ‘The Bloody Noose’ displays more vicious weight before dancing buzzsaw riffs awaken a marauding monster, sure to whip up pits everywhere. The Hardcore Thrash of ‘Mouth of the Beast’ subsequently rips along yet retains a remarkable heaviness, its colossal coda terrified by manically squealing leadwork; whilst the diseased Stoner of ‘Dark Actors’ attracts comparison to High on Fire, almost matching the Californians’ mammoth intensity with a mid-section of pulverising riffs and drums.
The rather splendidly-titled, eleven-minute closer ‘Death, and Hell Followed With Him’ is an epic which again displays the full flourish of the band’s creative hand. Wonderfully emotive and often atmospheric without ever losing potency, and with a perfectly timed quickening, it does however highlight the slight flaw in the make-up. Tom’s unflinching scour is often suited to the task yet sometimes appears tired and limited, always seeming more effective when the scream is employed – which is all too briefly. Thankfully here it’s overshadowed by marvellous instrumentation which gives fans of all Metal persuasions something to revel in.
The Bandcamp version has a bonus track, ‘Blood Red Sunset’, which barrels along at a medium pace, its devilishly groovy riffs and wailing solo ensuring rambunctious fun. Altogether Bless the Earth With Fire displays Allfather’s near-ideal balance of Goliath’s size and David’s lightning-quick devastation to the full.
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He was so deeply huddled under a blanket that it took a while to locate the source of the voice hollering my name. Eytan Wineapple, curator of the rumbling beast that was the NOIZ All-Dayer, initially celebrated its second incarnation looking like death warmed up. After a long couple of days, with Wineapple escorting eventual headliners Dukatalon to Sheffield and back, they eventually bedded down in today’s venue. “They got here around 3 a.m., and I tucked them all in!” joked Rebellion manager and event collaborator Hayley. Five minutes later, the flat-capped Wineapple was bounding around like a madman: putting to serious shame Ghost Cult’s scribe who, twelve hours later, and still nearly three hours from the denouement, interviewed said host in a rather weary and addled fashion…
NOIZ is not your average festival. Displays of album-style art and guitars in various stages of completion (one of which is raffled off later in the day) stand beside the S.O.P.H.I.E. merch stall in the upper level of the club-style venue. A dedicated handful, meanwhile, witness the pulverising Industria of openers Khost: looking for all the world like a couple of local scallies bumbling about on a stage, yet laying waste with a mystical power which deserved a better slot and much more attention. The Birmingham duo’s ambient, crushing set, its implosive chords and guttural scours blending with a wonderful and passionate line in Middle-Eastern vocal samples, ended bang on time: a courtesy that some of the festival’s other performers could have tried harder to match.
Saturday 2nd April sees the latest all-day event to grace the UK city of Manchester. The NOIZ All-Dayer is the brainchild of Eytan Dorron Wineapple, a popular and passionate figure of the local Metal scene, and this third such event sees an incredible Low-end bill decorated with other displays, including an art exhibition. While Brit heavyweights The Wounded Kings, Witchsorrow and Hang the Bastard are arguably the biggest names of the fourteen bands on show, of equal note is Israeli outfit Dukatalon’s first appearance on these shores.
Despite the predominance of the monolithic chord, the packed lineup shows variance: Birmingham Industrial duo Khost and Psychedelic Heavy Soul trio Vodun make mouth–watering appearances, whilst the occult groove is also present in the form of Sussex-raised Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. It’s a bill reflecting Eytan’s love of crushing strings, but also reflects his desire and devotion to bring the best acts to his local area: “Yeah, I’m really happy with the lineup”, he says, “It totally delivers on our promise of big riffs and heavy tones.” It seems the inclusion of the fabled Dukatalon, meanwhile, is a testament to networking and to the curator’s dedication and hard work: “This is their first UK tour. I got in touch with the band through a mutual Israeli friend and went from there.”
So does the strength of the bill create headaches for future events? Eytan doesn’t think so. “I wouldn’t say it adds any pressure. It’s just a natural thing to want to make things bigger and better than previous times. For sure this lineup is bigger, and the production will be slicker. No doubt the same will be said about the next one, however, so no, there’s no pressure.”
Encouraging words for the future, then. This is a festival with something a little different: a host of visual and audio delights to ensnare the senses, smack-bang in the centre of Town, and at £12 a ticket it’s as good as a free gig. You know what to do…
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.