Desertfest Antwerp 2018 – Day 2
13th October 2018
Review and Photos: Ryan Whitwell / Shotison Media
After a very busy first day, I set out on a warm and sunny afternoon in Antwerp to Trix to see a whole bunch of top quality bands.
Blown-out, fuzzed-up doom blew a few cobwebs off to start Saturday. The big dark riffs were slow and low all the way. I made the great choice/mistake to stand right by the PA, and I soon realised my ear plugs couldn’t deflect volume of that magnitude! It certainly got me ready for the day!
A big dose of heavy stoner rock with a hint of psych at times. Massive dark sound was coming in here and there as the aggression in the vocals began to boil over, with the punishing down-tuned riffs matching the attitude.
I’ve already seen Black Moth a couple of times this year on smaller stages, but they worked great opening the huge main stage here. There were some wicked guitar solos as songs like Moonbow got plenty of admiration from the crowd.
They seem to have been busy this year, touring their most recent album at numerous festivals and venues, so it’s no surprise that they’ve gotten enough experience to give the main stage something to shout about.
Chilled and smooth, but with some nice technical guitar and plenty of bass. These guys from Bergen were instrumental and had a great tone that worked quickly to ease the crowd into enjoying the sounds entering the room.
Walking out wearing veils of some description, Wyatt E took up positions between a lot of equipment. The lighting led to some mysterious shapes on stage, which went well with some of the mysterious sounds the figures were producing. The whole ensemble culminated in a strange sort of funeral doom with some otherworldly vibes in there.
These veterans of the stoner rock scene didn’t mess around and delivered what fans down the front wanted: big heavy riffs right from the get go, and they seemed to have plenty more in stock. They smashed through the set, with plenty of headbanging on stage, and lots more in front of it. A brilliant set of full on hard and heavy numbers that didn’t let up.
Sonic Wolves didn’t mess about: plenty of fast and heavy numbers straight off the bat, like a stoner infused Motörhead. I’m a sucker for a sweet guitar solo, and Sonic Wolves have quite a few, a favourite of mine being the tremolo-loaded ear blaster during ‘You’ll Climb the Walls’. Some brilliant talent was present on the two 6 strings with Jason Nealy and Enrico “Ico” Aniasi.
The Norwegian metallers dropped in to offer something a bit more towards the viking/battle side of metal. Despite the shift in musical style, Enslaved still had plenty of fans in the stoner/doom orientated festival. Big riffs blasted out with a good mix of emphatic vocals and hard hitting music that got people moving down the front (as made evident by long hair whipping the back of my head when in the photopit)
Swedish Death Candy
London based upbeat rock was flung at the faces of a packed third stage. I saw them at the London Desertfest, and they packed out the Black Heart then too, and they produce some really good music so those packed rooms are well deserved. Great rhythms and an all-round punchy feel to each song. Fantastic energy too, with their bassist managing to stay still for about half a second at most.
If you like strobes and silhouettes, you’ll like the lighting for these guys. If you like despairing noise and macabre tones, you’ll love their sound! Mixing in slow and emotive phases with fast and black metal style anger, they’re a hard one to pigeon hole. They walk a tightrope between funeral doom and black metal, which is an odd combination, but works really well.
The big sounds just don’t stop. Touring off the back of their recent album release, Yob were one band I know a lot of people were looking forward to. Steady rocking and spliff toking vibes with some excellent vocals ranging from the old school heavy metal style to growling sludge.
It was easy to lose yourself in the headbanging. I liked how active the bassist was, moving forward and giving 100%, and lead singer/guitarist Mike Scheidt occasionally took himself away from the huge pedal board and microphone to lean out to the fans, although many seemed to be nodding along with their eyes closed, so probably missed him.
Oh yeah, I was really feeling this band. Amazing guitar solos, powerful vocals and some great progression within each song. The room was packed well before they began, which is a sign that many had been looking forward to this one. And I’m sure those in attendance were not disappointed: the mix in tones were brilliantly realised by the great vocal work and a touch of multi-instrumentalism from the guitarist/keyboardist.
These instrumental cosmonauts from Gothenburg, Sweden, offered a great slice of heavy psych and space rock. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw of their set and am getting into their recorded stuff now. It’s got a vintage psych vibe that is akin to the likes of Hawkwind, and the trippy sounds combined really well with the heavier tones from the other instruments.
High on Fire
If you don’t know High on Fire, then allow me to introduce you to them. They’re hard, heavy, up-tempo and down-tuned. A lot of people were crowding to the front of the main stage for this, possibly because Matt Pike is quite the living legend around the doom/stoner genre thanks to being a member of Sleep.
I saw them in London’s Desertfest at Electric Ballroom and, in my opinion, they sounded better this time. Playing songs from the great new album as well as some older numbers it was high energy stuff all the way and really went down well with the fans.
Villagers of Ioannia City
I briefly caught these guys on the third stage. It’s not every day you see a clarinet amongst the instruments of a metal band, and it certainly added a unique element to their sound.
Having seen them with Bongzilla and Sons of Otis in London earlier this year, I went from “fan of their records” to loving everything about this band, so excuse me if the fanboying gets too much.
The big dirty sludge sound was on point tonight, with huge amounts of distortion and bass punishing the fans upstairs at the second stage. Tonight we were graced with the presence of Julie, who was absent the last time I saw them, so we got the full Dopethrone experience, with foul guttural vocals emerging from Julie, giving Vincent Houde a bit more freedom to lean out to the crowd and encourage more movement from the pit.