Desertfest is coming to New York in 2019 and the first batch of bands have been announced. The stoner and doom metal fest features Windhand, Elder, Monolord, The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, Danava, Mirror Queen, Worshipper, Dommengang and more to be announced. Saint Vitus and The Well are hosting Desertfest NYC April 26th to 28th. Early bird tickets are on sale at the link below.
Stoner rock legends The Sword released their new album today, Used Future. The band also shared a video for the title track and announced a third leg of the tour promoting this release with direct support coming from The Atomic Bitchwax. Watch their new video below.
As a creature of the night, matinee shows have always confused me. What do you do with all of that extra time in your day? What is sunlight? That was future Aleida’s problem, present Aleida’s only concern was checking out some live music at one of her favorite venues, but enough with speaking in the third person.
I would like to give a special shout out to the traffic of Cambridge for adding on almost another half hour to my trip. I managed to make in time for The Under’s last song and a half or so, but what little I saw was fantastic. If what I have listened to since then is anything to go by, then I have every right to be bummed out that I essentially missed their entire set. I won’t make that mistake next time and I encourage others to follow suit.
Up next were homegrown rockers Goddamn Draculas who stood out from the rest of the line up due to the lack of stoner-y grooves in their sound. They were a little more red-blooded rock and roll with a touch of the eighties thrown in. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them at first but repeated listens have them growing on me. At the very least, I find myself intrigued by their brand of rock and roll and that song ‘Raise ‘Em Up’ is rad. I could throw that track on repeat easily.
This is a story about love at first at first riff. The boys in Against the Grain really made a great first impression and left me wondering how the hell I hadn’t heard about them sooner. Imagine taking some stoner-rock and stabbing it right in the heart with a needle full of adrenaline. Those riffs and grooves were calling my name from the very beginning. Can we just talk about the voice on that singer of theirs, Chris Nowak? The man’s got some serious soul. It’s been a long time since a band so new to me has grabbed me by the lady-nads like that and I highly recommend seeing them for yourself.
The Atomic Bitchwax has always been that one band that I’ve been wanting to see, but life always decides it has other things in store for me but not this time. I was supposed to be well out of state at a certain gathering of bizarre human beings in Richmond, VA, but last minute scheduling changes found me hanging around New England. Sometimes things just fall into place. It may have been a combination of sheer excitement and Chris Kosnik’s bass playing but I was in stoner rock heaven. If I’m to judge by the amount of hair flying around me, coupled with the applause, I’d say the crowd agreed with me. Studio recordings do not do this band justice. Yes, an album will still sound great, but it’s live where The Atomic Bitchwax really shine and have the chance to infect you with those grooves. You feel it in you bones and in your gut and listening to them after the fact simply cannot produce the same effect on a person. Get out there in the real world and see something amazing.
I may have missed this year’s GWAR-B-QUE, but it was an honor to spend an afternoon with some ridiculously talented musicians and I’m happy with how things turned out. As for future Aleida, she found herself at another show that very same night. All in a day’s work, kids.
WORDS BY ALEIDA LA LLAVE
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
Pulling together talent from bands such as Monster Magnet, Godspeed, and Core, psychedelic rockers The Atomic Bitchwax kick off the second quarter of 2015 with their sixth full length release, Gravitron (Tee Pee Records), and it’s one that you don’t want to miss out on.
The album’s opening track ‘Sexecutioner’ is short, but serves its purpose in catching the listener’s attention and preparing them for the riff odyssey to come. However, the hook for me came with Chris Kosnik’s bass lines in ‘No Way Man’. I was in and things only got better from that point. Bob Pantella’s drumming provides the heartbeat and when combined with the way that Finn Ryan makes his guitar sing, it creates something reminiscent of long road trips and Fourth of July barbecues. It feels very American in a way. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, ‘War Claw’ provides an excellent secondary example of this.
Things slow down a bit with the album’s closing track, ‘Ice Age Hey Baby’ but that is by no means a bad thing. It’s an extremely catchy tune and will likely go on to become a sing-a-long/crowd interaction staple during live performances. This is a good place to end the album on and even transitions well back into ‘Sexecutioner’ if you have it on repeat like I still do. I also just love how sad it sounds. I’m a sucker for the raw emotion that gets left behind when you strip away the parties and the sunshine and I can’t stop singing along.
This record is a great way to usher in spring after another long New England winter. It’s a great album but at just over half an hour long, I was left wanting more. Don’t leave a girl wanting more riffs, that’s just cruel. Length aside, The Atomic Bitchwax have released another fantastic record that was well worth the wait. Friends in Europe and keep an eye out for the boys on their tour through May.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE
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.
February 24th marks the release of Ruby the Hatchet’s latest work; Valley of the Snake (Tee Pee Records). Where a lot of bands compete for who is the loudest and the fastest, Ruby the Hatchet catches my attention for the opposite reasons. If you enjoy psychedelic and/or stoner-rock, then the Philadelphia, PA based outfit should be right up your alley.
One of the songs to really catch my attention from the very beginning was ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ with its heavy organ work. I’m not usually a fan of organs, keyboards, synthesizers or things of that nature because I feel that they tend to overpower the rest of the music but the balance just works in this context. It’s a beautiful track with an underlying feeling of hopelessness. This would be great paired with old horror movie footage. Possible video idea?
I will completely admit that I tend to dislike female singers and will usually write a band off completely if I can’t stomach them, but Jillian Taylor is brilliant. I believe the song ‘Demons’ showcases her talents quite nicely while making it difficult to keep still. Her soft, ethereal voice is like a living creature, calling out to the listener from a place just beyond their line of sight. I’m adding Jillian’s name to my lady crush list, right next to Kylesa’s Laura Pleasants.
Ruby the Hatchet remind me of a mix between The Sword and The Atomic Bitchwax with a woman’s touch. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this album overall and I recommend picking it up for a full bodied stoner/psychedelic rock experience. It’s definitely something that I can see myself having on repeat for a few hours and just getting lost to.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE
New Jersey riff rockers The Atomic Bitchwax (aka TAB) will release their sixth full length album Gravitron on April 21, 2015 via Tee Pee Records. The record was recorded at Shorefire Studios (Blondie, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi) in Long Branch, NJ and mastered by Alan Douches (Motörhead, Tombs).
Since its formation in 1993, The Atomic Bitchwax has inspired hundreds of developing rock and metal bands, but no group of musicians has come close to matching TAB’s unique style of fun, frenetic and formidable R’N’R! Now featuring TWO members of Monster Magnet — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella — alongside shred-tastic gunslinger Finn Ryan, the band has perfected its unique style of NYC “thunder-boogie” hard rock.
On Gravitron, The Atomic Bitchwax’s Rush-like riff mazes and carpal-tunnel-inducing riffs are on full display; every note bleeds with urgency. There’s far too much exuberant energy on the record to lazily tag this as “Stoner Rock”; this is high-octane, ’70s-based hard rock infused with stabs of psychedelia and landslides of Tommy Bolin-inspired guitar heroics! Gravitron is an A-level masterclass in bad ass Rock ‘N’ Roll and cements the The Atomic Bitchwax as an undeniable force in today’s heavy music landscape.
Gravitron track listing:
02.) No Way Man
03.) It’s Alright
04.) War Claw
05.) Coming in Hot
07.) Proto World
08.) Down With the Swirl
10.) Ice Age “Hey Baby”
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)