At the Desertfest, concerts end a bit early, comparared with portuguese reality. In the night before, Corrosion of Conformity ended at 11.30pm, what gave us some margin to wake up early in the morning and go to London’s downtown to discover the city. It was our first time in London and we didn’t missed the chance to, at least, pass at some sightseeing locations. Returning to Camden, and because Monomyth didn’t cause us great impressions in Antwerp, we took the opportunity to lunch at Camden Lock, overcrowded of people enjoying such sunny afternoon.
This festival day would become a very introspective one, once all that Doom from hell, combined afterword with a dense and emotional Post-Metal would take us in a mind journey capable of making us expunge even the greatest distresses. At least for me, personally, that’s how I experienced those sounds live. At the end of the night, The Black Heart won again with another huge surprise.
Ahead. Our second day on Deserfest started at The Underwold with Fleshpress, precisely the band who, there in that dungeon, opened the gates to such hellish state of mind. With one and a half drum sets, this Finnish band proved to be much heavier live that can we expected, while held their dark atmosphere, built not only sonically but with that harrowing vocals. Very interesting the way they can switch from a very low Doom to heavy and fast sludgy riffs, sometimes approaching black metal or even hardcore.
The battle would gain more strength already in Electric Ballroom. We saw Conan in Portugal less than a week before, already playing their new songs, and was so astonishing that we really had to repeat. Conan evolved their Doom adding a demolisher sludgy heaviness (Ufomammut aren’t alone now) and, if Revegeance alone are one of the best albums of this year, combined live with their previous material, you can imagine what a mind blowing gig they can offer. And that’s exactly what happened, new and older songs in an hour so intense that as if we didn’t had spoilers. And I think it would have been the same if we saw them again on the next weekend. At the end, I opened my eyes and thought: What? Is this over already? Where was I?
Was not entirely over, since we quickly went down to The Underworld where Slomatics were starting to make floor reverberate. Surprisingly in a Sludge/Doom band, this Bristol guys exchanged the bass over two very low-tuned guitars, but that doesn’t make them less heavy. With vocals at drummer’s care, one of the guitar player was free to move over the stage, sometimes taking the guitar just right in the face of the first row. Their moves and way to act quickly reminds us Mika Häkki, Monolord’s bass player, and was with a smile and without any surprise when we noticed Monolord’s patch on his guitar strap.
After some minutes, we headed back to Electric Ballrom, expecting a big slap on the face given by Truckfighters, slap which make me wake up from that introspective imersion that such great sludgy doom made me dive in. And it started to happen. “Mind Control” opened the show and soon Niklas “Dango” Källgren started his running and characteristic jumps. But, perhaps they got involved with the previously slow riffs and chose to play mostly not so fast tracks. Also time to thank Desertfest crew for another invite to this festival, which they consider their “second home and the best stoner festival in the world”. For an unexpected encore would be kept “Desert Cruiser”, the one that everyone was expecting. “Are you running out of fuel or what?”, enquired Ozo. The crowd, kinda asleep almost all concert, answered rapidity, with beer flying and finaly some movement since “Desert Cruiser” first riffs. Truckfighters better speed up in the upcoming visit to Portugal.
Closing the evening in Electric Ballrom were two bands a bit out of the usual on Desertfest. They were very well received by Desertfest crowd and the bet was fully won. First Pelican, following that immersive state of mind, now with an emotive and epic texture. The start of a dawn after the darkness. Forever Becoming (2013) was the most in-focus album but they gave, at least, one sample from every record. Highlight for “Immutable Dusk”, the most powerful and, possibly, acclaimed song of the concert, not counting the huge ending applause. After “Strung Up from the Sky” Trevor de Brauw (guitar) said that they hadn’t played with Russian Circles over more 10 years, although both being from Chicago, and thanked the opportunity to make that happen again. Then they pulled to a final straight with “Last Day of Winter”, “GW” and the heavy “Mammoth”. After a while, Russian Circles took the stage facing a still well-composed and enthusiastic crowd, offering a most fingering and crystal-made sound. Between songs like “Deficit”, “Geneva”, “1777” or “Mlàdek”, they also show some new songs that we all soon meet in their upcoming album.
Right after Russian Circles end, we ran to The Black Heart, afraid of the possibility of not be able to enter on the little stage room. If before I was wondering why have they put Mantar on such small stage, after the concert the only thing that pleases me say is thank god they did. The room was obviously full, like a vulcano about to erupt, and didn’t get long for german duo Erin and Hanno to transform that little space into the biggest sweatbath. Their new album, Ode to the Flame, was played almost interely, with some songs from Death by Burning mixed in the middle. That night, Mantar’s blackned sludge was Punk and we all were on a 70’s Camden Punk Club. Everyone should be able to see a concert of these, by a band like this, once in a lifetime. It was human-music relationship in its purest state.