This weekend, a certain smoky haze will descend upon Camden as some of the biggest name in doom, stoner and psychedelia will congregate for a yearly ritual otherwise known as Desertfest. Featuring the likes of Sleep, Slo Burn, Turbonegro and Candlemass, it’s fair to say the top end of the card is pretty stacked – but what about everything underneath? Here are a few bands that you should make the effort to see!
Playing: 5:45pm, Sunday – The Black Heart
If their debut album Fornjot is anything to go by, Mammoth Storm may in fact end up being one of the heaviest bands of the weekend. Much like a frozen deer carcass abandoned in the tundra, their riffs are both cold and meaty. The Swedish trio incorporate the bleakness of black metal into a back drop of slow pummelling that has the same speed as an arthritic donkey dragging a meteor across Siberia. Don’t let that fool you; for what they lack in speed, they make up for in brute force.
This gargantuan wall of noise is the musical equivalent of the wall that The Night’s Watch have sworn their lives to protect. A giant mass of huge, hulking riffs, frosty atmospheric undertones, and a haunting, yet soothing commentary smooths off the jagged edges of this juggernaut. If you live your life a lot slower than the common rabble, then this should be one of your priorities over the festivities.
Playing: 5:45pm, Friday – The Underworld
Imagine the scene: Jeremy Kyle has just stepped on stage, and he announces that stoner rock, punk and soul will be discussing who should have custody of a child. That child’s name is Vodun.
But to say that would be cutting the band short. Possibly one of the most aesthetically diverse bands of the weekend, this threesome push the envelope of riffy psychedelic, incorporating a very heavy western-African influence. The end is one of which is one of the most original and unique bands I’ve heard in a very long while.
There’s no way you can pigeon hole these guys: they’re on a plane which transcends genres; a cacophony of themes and ideas which shouldn’t work on paper, but somehow works when manifested into a more physical and spiritual form. Vodun are a special breed of band, one which is tied down by restraints of any one specific genre, rather they take everything around them and consume it like a black hole consuming the universe around it.
Playing: 4:16pm, Sunday – The Black Heart
Releasing one of my personal favourite albums of the year last year with Herb Your Enthusiasm, Boss Keloid are much more than your run of the mill sludge band. Building upon a sturdy foundation of chunky riffs, synonymous with the likes of Crowbar, the Wigan band bring a technical proficiency that takes you off the beaten track and introduce you to a world of intricacies that seldom take you to the same place twice.
It’s easy to see why they’ve carved out quite a nice little niche for themselves as of late, not only catering to a doom audience, but also prog and even tech to a certain degree. Their ability to satisfy such a wide spectrum of fandom, has seen their prominence rise to such a point, that perhaps they could potentially become flag bearers of an already thriving UK scene.
Playing: 5pm, Sunday – The Underworld
Having existed in one form or another since the early 00’s, the on/off side project of Jacob Bannon is a far cry from the intensity and barbarism from the band he’s better known for, Converge. Wear Your Wounds, whose album of the same name is out now, are more than just a band; they’re painters of lavish soundscapes which are not only painstakingly crafted with precision, but also invoke raw emotion. It’s a journey to put it barley mildly.
It’ll interesting to say the least in seeing how the album translates to a live setting; backing Jacob up are bandmate Kurt Ballou, as well as members from the likes The Red Chord, Trap Them and Hatebreed - all of which are the complete opposite to WYW, making this one of the most intriguing performances of the festival.
I think the great philosopher of our time, Vinnie Jones, put it best when he said ‘’it’s going to be emotional”.
Such wise words.
Playing: 3:30pm, Sunday – The Underworld
On the surface, you may mistake Elephant Tree to be just your run of the mill, cookie cutter doom band – but one cheeky look underneath the surface and you’ll see a rich tapestry of warm fuzz, angelic vocals and some of the most addictive stoner grooves going today. There’s an art form to riffs, especially in a world such as this, and to make the same riff seem interesting over such a long time is a very difficult to say the least, these guys however just laugh at such silly suggestions.
Now we at The Monolith do not condone drug use of any kind, but word on the grapevine is that once you’ve had that packed bowl (whatever that means), you’ll be lost within the band’s warm embrace. Its music made by stoners and for stoners, and if you do smoke the devils cabbage, Elephant Tree is the perfect soundtrack to lose yourself in a sea of green mist.
For more info on Desertfest 2017, including tickets, lineup and transport, head to desertfest.co.uk