The waning daylight hours and the colder nights had marked the season for Denver’s annual Doom Fest. Once again Obsidian FogPromotions assembled a killer lineup consisting of local acts as well as artists from across the nation and even from around the globe. The two day event had no shortage of heavy, dark tunes and cool vibes from the bands and the crowd. This year’s event also boasted its own beer—a blackened grätzer—courtesy of Denver’s own TRVE Brewing company. Despite cancellations from Fister, Western Ritual, and The Flight of Sleipnir (congratulations to new father Clay Cushman), the event had an incredible roster that was deep enough to cover the unfortunate gaps. Brief, inadequate descriptions and bad photos ensue…
As with the previous year, work commitments kept me from getting to the fest on time and, again, I had to miss a couple of acts. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch either Whilt or Blighter.
First up, for me, was the misanthropic assault of Primitive Man. Their ugly, hateful dirges had intentions nothing short of decimating the weak. The three-piece constructed their set around a complete disregard for humanity and theirs was the sound of hate and fury. The band lived up to their namesake by bludgeoning the crowd with crawling tempos matched with occasional bursts of upbeat fury. Noise. Death. Doom.
Australia’s Lycanthia were the perfect follow up to the focused hate unleashed by Primitive Man. Though not completely devoid of aggression, Lycanthia’s use of keys and violin had a calming effect after what was arguably the most caustic set of the fest. The band’s gothic styled death-doom utilized both female vocals and death growls which produced a set that had moments of dark melancholia and beauty. The band seemed to have a great time playing in the US and stuck around for the second night of the fest. It was great to have them on board.
Closing out the first night of the fest, and one of my personal favorite performances of the event, was The Skull. The Trouble splinter group played classics from ‘Psalm 9’ through ‘Plastic Green Head’ and they fucking killed it. The classic heavy doom from their earliest releases and the stoner inspired rock of their later albums were equally represented. Not only did the band sound great, but they also seemed to be having a blast playing on stage and interacting with the crowd. An awesome way to end the first night of the fest.
Kicking off day two of the fest was Khemmis—a late addition to cover the gap left by the cancellation of Fister. Though I was bummed to hear that Fister had to drop out of the lineup, Khemmis were a fantastic replacement. They were tight, heavy, and had a head-nodding stoner groove that remained unrivalled for the rest of the festival. This band was a great surprise and I’m looking forward to hearing material beyond their ‘Sunrise/Sunset’ rehearsal demo.
BLACK ACID DEVIL
Continuing where Khemmis ended and pulling off one of the most energetic sets of the night was Black Acid Devil. The band dabbled in the same sonic territory as Khemmis, but took an adrenalized, amphetamine fuelled approach to their brand of stoner sludge. Fuzzed-out riffs and frantic solos punctuated every tune.
A gloomy, forlorn atmosphere and a killer, wide-ranging vocal performance were the highlights of Pendulous’ set. E.R.M.’s melodramatic stage presence was nothing shy of tortured and he effortlessly shifted between melancholic clean vocals and guttural wails. It was cool to see and hear the band live after checking out the band’s ‘Mirrored Confessions’ EP on their Bandcamp page following Steph’s killer review.
What’s better than an occult doom band with female vocals? Try an occult doom band with female vocals in triplicate. Yep, Denver’s own Dead Temple utilizes three vocalists to peddle their brand of old school doom. The band effortlessly combines traditional metal, doom, and theatrics into a memorable, hard rocking show.
IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS
The workhorse sludge/doom duo In the Company of Serpents never fails to deliver. The band is heavy-as-fuck and always gives 100% on stage and night two of the fest was no different. Their set was amongst the heaviest and the duo continued to tease the audience with tracks from their anticipated upcoming full-length, ‘Of the Flock’.
Shrouded in black, Salt Lake City’s Gravecode Nebula combined a killer set of blackened funeral doom with an ominous stage presence for one hell of a memorable performance. Acting as conduits, the band channeled eerie atmospherics from the darkest recesses of the netherworld. I’m totally looking forward to checking out more from this band.
Keeping with the theme initiated by Gravecode Nebula was Colorado’s own Stoic Dissention. The band killed it with their blend of black metal, doom, and sweeping post metal. Their set was equal parts blackened gloom and trippy atmospherics accompanied by tortured howls and chants. Definitely looking forward to the band’s forthcoming album…
Prior to performing, Boulder’s Velnias cleansed the stage with a bundle of sage and proceeded to play a candlelit set. The band’s music is moody enough, but the candles and darkness contributed to the overall atmosphere. Similar to the previous fest, Velnias combined moments of restrained intensity with outright blasts of blackened fury.
SHROUD OF BEREAVEMENT
One of the most interesting acts of the night was New Hampshire’s Shroud of Bereavement who mixed death metal and doom with a heavy focus on keyboards and piano. Add to the mix guttural growls wailed in unison with operatic female vocals and you get an idea of where Shroud of Bereavement is coming from. The band executed a killer set and were happy to be playing the fest. To top-it-off it was Steph Robinson’s (vocals/keyboards) birthday and the crowd was more than happy to sing her “Happy Birthday”.
What else can be said about this band that hasn’t been said before? Despite a few technical difficulties to kick-off their set, the band persevered and managed to pull off a crushingly heavy set of moody funeral doom. Evoken was able to match the epic, forlorn crawl of their recorded output and somehow make it heavier and more oppressive.
Words and photos: Steve Miller