Desertfest Belgium 2018 is taking place 12-14th October at TRIX, Antwerp’s finest rock venue in the northeastern district of Borgerhout. The line-up so far is looking brilliant, so to get you hyped for a weekend of stoner, doom, sludge, psych and everything in between, here is a brief rundown of all the bands currently on the bill for Desertfest Belguim 2018.
Desertfest Belgium 2018 tickets are now available via this link: www.desertfest.be/tickets
ACID KING (US)
However sporadic their discography may be, every single release by Acid King has been hailed as a classic in the genre. Precisely because they take the rulebook and bend it to their own needs, in the process creating one of the most distinctive sounds in the doom scene. They may or may not show up at Desertfest Antwerp with new material, but one thing is certain: their appearance will be one for the books.
ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL (UK)
The last of a dying breed of Grease Rock Bastard musicians! Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell proudly carry on the lineage of golden age British heavy rock – Budgie, Sabbath, early Motorhead, Quo, Lizzy etc., with a healthy chunk of U.S. and Aussie proto-metal and a swirl of bad trip psych. They were fantastic opening the 2nd day of Desertfest London, so expect another set full of fuzzed out rock in October.
When it comes to heavy music in Belgium, there is no equal to AMENRA. More than just a band, they have evolved into something of a spiritual movement that transcends the influence of sludge and post-metal, into a realm that is entirely their own. Their performances are ritual spectacles that engage all the senses, in order to carry the audience into the mystical realm they call Church of Ra.
When Ancestors debuted ten years ago with their 2-track, 40-minute album ‘Neptune With Fire’, their blend of post-metal and stoner doom truly stood out. Coming back after a six-year hiatus (after 2012’s ‘In Dreams And Time’), they have put together a piece of work that they consider to be their best and most focused recording yet. ‘Suspended In Reflections’ is out in August, and it is to be expected that their new live show will be an equally powerful statement from a pioneering band.
BLACK MOTH (UK)
An unearthly concoction of 60s garage rock, head-spinning psychedelia and ‘1991-The-Year-Punk-Broke’ grit, Black Moth rose from the Leeds underground scene, taking their trash culture fixations and their love for Stooges squalor and Sabbath sulphur to create an onslaught of monumental riff sorcery and serpentine grace. On their new album ‘Anatomical Venus’, they sound bigger and badder than ever, which those who visited London Desertfest this year will have got an earful of already!
From the beginning, Blood of The Sun has aimed to carry on the tradition of the classic rock style of the Seventies. Featuring Saint Vitus drummer Henry Vasquez and a revolving door of great musicians, they’ve released a steady stream of albums ever since their inception in 2002, notably on the fiercely independent Brainticket label. This is Texas boogie at its finest!
CASTLE (US)Rising from the sinister underbelly of San Francisco, Sabbathian power trio Castle returns to Desertfest Antwerp after their killer show in 2016. Song titles like ‘Hammer and the cross’ or ‘Flash of the Pentagram’ may be par for the course for any doom act worth their salt, but Castle stands high above the crowd with their classic songwriting clearly derived from a love for 1970s rock. Their live reputation is equally solid, and we can’t wait to get under their bewitching spell once more.
It must be the abundance of desert plains in Australia that inspires so many blues-inspired rock bands to spring to life there. Such is the case of Child, who has a deep-rooted feel for the original blues that oozes from all their jams. With just the right amount of jamming, this is one tight outfit that recalls the glorious sound of cult acid blues bands like Cactus and Blue Cheer.
CROWBAR (US)The long and twisting story of Crowbar is now nearly thirty years in the making, and involves a cast that includes a lot of characters from the NOLA heavy scene. But the central figure is and always remains Kirk Windstein, weaving his Biblical tales of suffering and redemption into ever-so-heavy anthems of pure and unadulterated Southern sludge. The kings will rule the Fest!
With 20 years and 7 records on the counter, Dead Meadow can truly be considered venerable veterans of the scene. With their most recent album ‘The Nothing They Need’, the DC band has made a glorious return 5 years after the previous outing. By now the ingredients might be familiar – heavy proto-metal riffing and long psych workouts – but once again the band proves no one cooks up a stew quite like they do.
With influences ranging from doom metal to classic rock, Dead Quiet seeks to meld melody with catastrophe as they weave through a dissonant landscape of crushing metallic riffs and sombre choral musings.
Anyone fortunate enough to witness these guys at London’s Underworld, Camden, earlier in the year will tell you these sludge slingers are well worth seeing. A foul Canadian mix of yellow snow, crackhead diarrhoea, blood, tears and broken dreams. Their new album ‘TransCanadian Anger’ pushes all the wrong buttons with sleazy bottom-heavy riffs and the usual mix of topics including booze, satan, sex and random violence.
Eagle Twin have a stern DIY approach, even building their own guitars, tube amps and cabs. With just two members, they create epic compositions drawing upon the collective unconscious, their own brand of heavy music overflowing with animistic riffs and myths. Their 2018 album ‘The Thundering Heard’ may be their most shamanistic outing yet, even incorporating some heady throat singing!
Elder is the definition of a work in progress, as the group continues to meld the familiar sounds of Sleep‘s colossal riffage with their ever-evolving vision of soaring melodies and sonic soundscapes. Listeners will find themselves locked into the trio’s lengthy epics, which toe the line between the chasms of classic stoner metal and mindblowing psychedelia.
Rooted in the 90s Scandinavian black metal scene, Enslaved has long since expanded on the sound to include psychedelic rock, folk and even jazz into a mesmerizing whole. Their ambitious concept albums of the last decade weave a tapestry of exciting new takes on Norse folklore traditions, and the universal acclaim for the band is still only growing, far beyond the core fan base.
FRAYLEFrayle’s “lullabies over chaos” approach to songwriting allows them the freedom to explore what is possible with heavy music. They strive to balance the heaviest of riffs with Gwyn’s haunting vocals, telling stories of heartbreak, anger, hypocrisy and resolution.
Formed in 2014 of two native Germans and one wandering Australian, HEADS. infuse their powerful noise rock with influences from shoegaze, post-metal and postrock. With a straight-up, no-frills approach, and influences as diverse as Total Control, The Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard and Shellac, this trio are much more than the sum of their parts.
HIGH ON FIRE (US)
Too much is never enough for High On Fire, Matt Pike’s frenzied vision of what exactly stoner thrash should be. And so it is on their upcoming album, where Lemmy gets dubbed the ‘Electric Messiah’ and the infernal riffs cast Thunder and Fire. This Desertfest, there will be One Pike to rule them all!
Formed in Berlin in 2014, Johanna Sadonis created Lucifer with the aim of channelling her love of the dark and bewitching heavy rock of the late ‘60s and ‘70s from Black Sabbath and Deep Purple to Heart and Fleetwood Mac. After their exciting debut, the new album Lucifer II is the sound of a great rock’n’roll band mutating and expanding into something unique and extraordinary.
Blending dark ambient drones with vintage heavy occult doom and mesmerizing female vocals, Messa uses an extreme diversity in musical background to construct a singular sound: Prog, black metal, punk, dark ambient, jazz, blues and doom… all these influences have been channelled into a sonic cauldron that the band describes as “Scarlet Doom”.
From their foundation as a heavy psychedelic jam band, Naxatras has refined their sound over the course of three albums to create an intense atmosphere with a skilful blend of genres and supreme musicianship. The band incorporates elements from psych and progressive rock, stoner and blues, but also funk, jazz and oriental music and top it off with a psychedelic video show for full sensation stimulation. Highly recommended!
Spinning new yarns out of those evergreen rock and roll stories about love lost, hate found, relationships built and lives trashed, homes wrecked, Sasquatch has a clear-cut approach to songwriting approach, always keeping the focus on the hook. Influences range from 70’s metal and rock, to psychedelia, but it’s all boiled down to just the meat and potatoes.
Clermont-Ferrand in the heartland of France may sound like an unlikely place to produce the vilest, ferocious and foul noise-rock you can imagine, but Sofy Major has been delivering just that for nearly ten years now, over the course of three albums. Fans of Harvey Milk, Unsane and the Amphetamine Reptile output will find much to love here – and by “love” we actually mean “indulge in the relentless aggressive display of hate”.
A nasty psychedelic doom rock super band of sorts, Sonic Wolves features Vita from Ufomammut on drums and Kayt Vigil (Pentagram & The Hounds Of Hasselvander) on bass and vocals. After releasing a couple of demo’s and singles, their first full-length since the inception in 2012 (and a name switch in 2014, from Tsutar) is expected to drop somewhere in 2018. In any case, a live spectacle not to be missed.
Swedish Death Candy (UK)
Let it be known that this will become one of your most cherished discoveries of the festival. After seeing them at London’s Desertfest this year, it’s clear they are deserving of your attention. Take the classic melodies straight from the Beatles book of songwriting, throw in a heavy Sabbathian riff, and drench in all the feedback and weird space effects you can squeeze out of a stuffed pedal board – what do you get? By the end of the year, your answer will unequivocally be “Swedish Death Candy”!
Around the turn of the ’70s, rock’n’roll was at a musical crossroads. It got experimented with, it expanded and became almost unrecognizable. It is out from this musical mud The Devil and the Almighty Blues have found their inspiration. Their music is slow, heavy, melodic and raw, all without losing the almighty blues out of sight!
Founded in 2012, The Skull is a fairly new band with a long heritage. Chicago-based Trouble was one of the holy trinity of American doom pioneers in the eighties, along with Candlemass and Saint Vitus. Three of its members have now got together to continue the saga – so you can expect some old Trouble-era classics, but mostly fresh heavy doom from the upcoming sophomore album ‘The Endless Road Turns Dark’, coming this fall!
Austin-based power trio The Well redefine heavy rock by merging massive riffs with sophisticated melodies. Their progressive sound stems from a nostalgic desire to blend different musical styles as diversified as Joy Division to Blue Cheer. As fans of cult horror films, they embrace the sinister, revel in dark themes and find inspiration in haunting echoes.
Timestone will guide you through the “Sky Valley” with the “Desert Cruiser” and an “Albino Rattlesnake” on your shoulder! That should give you plenty of clues on which corner of the vast musical landscape they reside in. Although Timestone hails from Linz, Austria, you’d swear they have spent considerable time holed up somewhere in the desert with a generator. In any case, rock doesn’t come any more desert than this!
There’s something in the water of the Southern States that makes even the ugliest, most vicious noise sound bluesy and groovy. Such is the case with WHORES, who take the template of the whole Amphetamin Reptile noiserock catalogue from the nineties and wrangle it into a monster sound that just punches you in the nose, repeatedly and without remorse. Bonus points: singer-guitarist Christian Lembach has all the best stage banter.
Wiegedood got its infamy coming up with a disturbing band name that translates to “crib death” in Dutch. But soon it turned out that this was no mere gimmick: the band’s music is effectively as unsettling and grim as the name suggests. They have now released 3 episodes in their ongoing series ‘De doden hebben het goed’ (“The dead are well off”), and lovers of desolate hard-hitting black metal should look no further.
With over 10 years of service, Dallas-based Wo Fat is still exploring their very own Southern fried psychedelic riffage with a side serving of jazzy improvisation. Their last album ‘Midnight Cometh’ arguably perfected the form, revealing Wo Fat as seasoned veterans that still rule the scene. Their previous show at Desertfest Antwerp 2016 was one of that year’s highlights, and one we’re sure they seek to top on their return trip!
Few bands embody the spirit of Desertfest more than the mighty YOB: intense and heavy, yet full of love. Last year, frontman Mike Scheidt went through hell and back with a near-fatal surgery, and he bounced back in the best way possible: by coming up with a new album, ‘Our Raw Heart’. Out on Relapse records in June ’18, it will be a new highlight in their stellar career.
When you name yourselves after the first human to travel into outer space, you can only really play the most out-there interstellar space rock, right? These Swedes definitely deliver that, but luckily they never forget the lessons learned from doom and acid rock: the riff must remain the foundation of it all. After the massive mindbending sets they performed at Desertfest London and Berlin in 2017, plenty of people are over the moon (pun intended!) to welcome Yuri Gagarin to the Antwerp stage in 2018.
Want to see all of these bands in Antwerps finest music venue? Click the link and get a ticket before they sell out!