Desertfest last day came with an absolutely severe running order and full of difficult choices. If there were who still doubted, it was with the opening of another stage, in the mythical The Koko, that definitely realized about the richness of this lineup. Early on opening, the first hard choice: WitchSorrow or Ohhms. The choice fell in the first ones, since they are owners of one of my last year’s favorite Doom records: No Light, Only Fire.
We arrived to the Electric Ballroom, on that day promoted to “The Old Empire Stage”, precisely when the riffs from “There Is No Light, There Is Only Fire” started being heard, and if we had fallen there without knowing, perhaps we couldn’t imagine what kind of band would be that one. Frontman’s outfit was typical Thrash Metal, with a vest full of band patches and a bullets belt, while on the other side of the stage was a bass player woman with an angelic image, with a smooth blond hair and glasses. It followed the hypnotic “Made Of The Void”, which definitely left the toughest shaking his head, and yet from No Light, Only Fire, the band gave us also “The Martyr” and “To The Gallows”. To end the act, and with the selection of the most recent album ended, WitchSorrow had reserved two more songs from prior works. Fully met expectations and no regrets about this first hard choice.
We ran immediately to The Underworld trying to catch a bit of Ohhms concert but it was too late, since when we arrived there, the band was already on goodbye mode. It will have to stay for another time. Therefore we went to the Black Heart for the last time to see one of the first live debuts of the new album from Sedulus. And what pleases me to say is that recent advertising spam that Sedulus decided to conduct on social networks in the prior weeks must have got some results: when we arrived to the Black Heart, the stage room was already at full capacity and there was a waiting queue in the acess stairs. If WitchSorrow and Ohhms are bands that already gives some taste to discover live, Sedulus act only felt like a typical opening gig. Any Desertfest regular attendee sure loves that kind of music but, in reality, there’s nothing there that we haven’t heard before.
Getting back to The Underworld, we found out that there was a schedule change and DŸSE took Stinking Lizaveta place on the running order. “Where are Stinking Lizaveta? I came to see them!”, asked someone on the crowd. German duo answered with some humor and was exactly that state of humor that marked all the interactions with the crowd, not missing one opportunity to make some people laugh. The drummer also introduced a song called “Number of the East, saying the name was due to his “friend” Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden and because they are from the east side of the world. Sadly we couldn’t stay and see this pleasant surprise until the end because The Koko was about to open and the expectation was for another striking act by Monolord.
And was exactly what happened. The Koko’s opening couldn’t had been better. We caught them before in the Desertfest Belgium, last October, and a week before in Portugal, but we couldn’t miss another chance to witness religiously another act of this power trio. Monolord opened and closed the concert with “Icon” e “Empress Rising”, respectively, songs from the album named as the same name as the last mentioned song. In between, the band gave us three obvious choices from the acclaimed Vænir and an unexpected new song, announced by Thomas V. Jäger as being called “Lord Of Suffering”. If it wasn’t the live debut, it was definitely one of the first live appearances. Immediately before that surprising moment, and just after the end of “Died a Million Times”, was time to get out of the photo pit and I heard someone on the front row saying: “Man, what a riffs”. I automatically and mentally added “Man, what a band!”. If after the end of “Cursing the One”, the general acclamation was well-visible, the noise was even louder with the subsequents first riffs from “Empress Rising”, song which would ended the gig.
Anticipating many “olympic pools to swim” throughout the night, and feet already being quite outworn due to mornings knowing the city and afternoons and evenings running between stages, we decided to stay at The Koko waiting for the highly anticipated Elder concert and trying to deal with the most heartbreaking schedule crush of all weekend. On the one hand, the concert which would be played my favorite last year’s record (Elder’s Lore), overlaping with half of the concert which would be played my favorite record of the current year (Oranssi Pazuzu’s Värähtelijä).
By that time, it was already felt the craziness of fans for the North-American band which, after the end of the concert, had all the t-shirts and Lore copies sold out at the The Koko’s merchandising zone. The concert kicked off full steam with two picks from Lore, the captivating “Compendium” first, which soon left the audience singing in chorus, then the track that gives title to the album, before of another moment that we were not expecting: the Boston based band decided to debut a new song. Song that caused great impressions not only to us, but to all audience, guessing by the noise and the loud applause it generated. For the second part of the concert, if we can call it that, Elder reserved a three songs raid on Dead Roots Stirring and an infernal spiral of psychedelic riffs that would end the concert.
Elder hadn’t yet finished “The End” and we already were near the exit of the labyrinthine corridors of The Koko, getting ready to run up Camden High Street to catch what was remaining from Oranssi Pazuzu’s act. As you can imagine a Black Metal scene, we found the Finns under a dim light in reddish tones, as if that were a living hell. Still time to let us immerse ourselves in songs like “Värähtelijä” or “Vasemman Kaden hierarkia” but the act would still sadly end before the scheduled time in the running order. The running was worth it but, at the end, this gig felt by little, since we missed great songs like “Saturaatio” or “Lahja”.
We went back down the street again to peek at the Trouble 30 years celebration show, a band that I honestly hadn’t heard ever before until now, and that were presumably booked to fill the place left empty by Church of Misery. Defined as one of the precursors of Doom, this band couldn’t captivated us, feeling a Black Sabbath “version for the poor”. Not took long until we got back to the street and use that short time for some dinner and get going to The Underworld, where minutes later Mothership would give us one of the largest Rock n ‘Roll discharges.
Even before the end of the Texan show, we momentarily left The Underworld for one last visit to The Koko, which almost only served to take some pictures from Electric Wizard act, the big headliner of the festival. Our luck was that mostly of Electric Wizard’s songs are long and took almost half an hour until they put us out of the photopit, givin us time to see “I, the Witchfinder”, “Dunwich” and even “The Chosen Few”, the first three songs of the show. Electric Wizard were equal to themselves, with a sound power out of the reach of most bands, and was with some sadness that we left The Koko but, as we had already seen Electric Wizard a few times in the past years, we had waiting for us Wo Fat for the first time.
The Underworld was fully packet by the beginning of Wo Fat‘s gig and the band helped us with the running order crisis. Wo Fat played all of the greatest hits from their carrer in the beginning and almost in a row, songs like “The Black Code”, “The Conjuring”, “Read the Omens” and, after a song from the now launched new record, “Nameless Cults”, a treasure song from Cyclopean Riffs, the Wo Fat and Egypt split album. Feeling already very satisfied, and loked to the remainding songs present on the setlist (new album songs that we expect do see live in a dedicated tour), we felt free to go see another great band for the first time.
We found an Electric Ballroom emptier than expected for a band like Godflesh, but still well-filled. British duo helped us with schedule crisis as well, since our arrival they played almost every song that I wanted to hear live: “Towers of Emptiness” from the newest A World Lit Only by Fire, and some (g)oldies like “Streetcleaner”, “Spite” or “Crush My Soul”. By that time the band abandoned the stage but soon came back again, for a quick encore with “Like Rats”.
With Godflesh end, the last act of the festival, what followed was exactly a remake of what we did last October in Belgium. We spent the rest of the night in the After Party waiting for transport that would take us to the airport still after sunrise. Directly from The Underworld to the upper world, flying back to reality. A 27 ºC degrees reality, at least.