The final day of this year’s Desertfest has, for the first time, an eye-catching venue up-grade with the iconic Roundhouse playing host. This will mean a leisurely 10/15 minutes’ walk from the festival’s hub centre of regulars and fine hang out boozer/venue the Our Black Heart pub, and The Underworld.
Starting with the Roundhouse, it hosts a selection of legendary bands from doom’s pioneering past of the 1980’s and influential bands of the 1990’s. But first, kicking off will be a second set of the weekend by Saturday night’s Underworld venue’s headliners Bongzilla. Back to the fold after a 10 years’ hiatus these Wisconsin dirty fuzzed up stoner rockers will kill or cure any of those cushioning cursed and dreaded hangovers.
Last year Trouble represented the 1980’s doom pioneers’ category honouring the throne of Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath. This year fellow legendary originators Saint Vitus bring their down-tuned power chords to the festival. Formed in 1979 it is with their 1986 Born Too Late album, which is regarded as their best and cements their place in doom’s Book of Legends. They have undergone several splits and reformations over the years but have been a constant entity since 2003.
The image of doom metal bands consisting of burly men living in darkened monasteries probably originates from Swedish doom metal veterans Candlemass. It has been at least twenty years since I heard their huge, long drawn out power chords in a live setting. Again, like most bands who have a long history they have been through several reformations, a hiatus, and line-up changes, but last year celebrated their 30th anniversary of the wonderfully titled debut album Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus. Expect massive dooooom!
And headlining this year’s Sunday’s extravaganzer is another 1990’s legendary act. Combining a stoner/doom sound it seems fitting to finish the weekend’s proceedings with California’s Sleep. Producing two seminally regarded albums with Holy Mountain and the hour long, one song, Dopesmoker. They disbanded in 1998 but reformed for a reunion in 2009 to play the All Tomorrows Parties festival in the UK.
There are a feast of younger bands currently ripping it up and giving the scene a healthy dollop of lure and promise. One of those bands is Elephant Tree. I have a friend who has seen them nearly 30 times and growing. So, I am rather looking forward to my debut viewing, and listening pleasure, of their blend of blues soaked stoner rock, hazy soundscapes and monstrous riff rock fusion.
Another band currently garnering a growing reputation, and even recently sampled a taste of daytime airplay by the Hairy Bikers on the usually nostalgic Planet Rock radio, is the psychedelic stoner noise exploding constructers, and Rocket Recordings signings, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, or Pigsx7 for short.
If you fancy trippy, megasonic sweeping psychedelic stoner rock instrumental jams then Yuri Gargarin offer flights to the outer skirts of the universe. And headlining the Underworld is the blues infused heavy pysch of Samsara Blues Experiment who one assumes will be promoting their soon to be released new album One with the Universe on May 12th.
Over at the more intimate Our Black Heart pub openers Wizard Fight bring their full-on sludge rage. These boys do not hold back and those bearing hangovers will feel like it’s putting their heads in a tightening vice. Improving with every performance they sure as hell will crank up the heaviness for the start of the third day.
In 2016 Metal Hammer proclaimed Wigan’s Boss Keloid as one of the hottest new bands as well as collecting glowing reviews across metal magazines and online websites. They will set out to demonstrate why with their big grinding, meandering, riffy sludge.
If any last year’s attendees enjoyed Canada’s Blood Ceremony performance, then this year Germany’s Wucan provide all things flutey driven, 1970’s retro rock. While building up a belting live reputation is fuzzy riff Stoner rock groovers Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters.
Remember, this is just a brief preview to set the scene. So, as always with festivals, it is always great to check out bands you may not have heard before and go with what suits your mood, with the many nuanced offering of all things fuzzed up, riffy infested, and monstrously heavy.
This promises to be a truly memorable Desertfest. So, enjoy the friendly vibe and have a great weekend or day out. For a full line-up and further general information, plus up to date ticket availability, then proceed without haste to the Desertfest website.