This year’s Desertfest, in north London’s Camden promises to be something quite special. Not only expanding in size (both in terms of more venues, bands, and in vision) they have excelled themselves by providing a weekend line-up which caters for those in thrall and allure to the almighty distorted, big fat riff. And this year, it covers every nuanced nook and cranny as the diversity on offer is quite staggering. But keeping in the yearly E&D Desertfest preview tradition, let’s first have a look at the opening day, which is spread across five venues.
KOKO sees Swedish psychedelic, stoner hard-rockers Graveyard take a break from recording their, as yet, untitled new album to top the bill, and they’re sure to bring us plenty of seductive early 70’s retro grooves. Raising the doom-metal horns are Maryland’s power trio The Obsessed, who will be sure to unleash tracks from their 2017’s Sacred album. Earlier on in the day Planet of Zeus and Zeke will take the stage.
If instead you are want to kick-start the weekend with an even heavier girder-demolishing form of metal, then The Old Empire stage takeover at The Electric Ballroom hosts none other than the legendary Napalm Death – a band who ripped up the rule book back in the late 80s and, many, many years ago, nearly got this reviewer kicked off an about-to-depart ferry after non-appreciative passengers’ complaints about the playing of (if I remember correctly) their 1987 Scum album. In the second-headline slot, the bruising, wild sludge merchants Eyehategod return to Camden after their 2015 festival appearance. Also on the bill earlier on in the day are Warning, Five the Hierophant, Winterfylleth and ADCX.
Over at the Underworld there is a more melodic flavour for those who like their fuzzy stoner riffs built around stonking tunes. Headlining is the atmospheric psych rockers Jex Thoth, while taking to the stage beforehand is Radio Moscow who deal in wild, riffy early 1970’s proto-metal. Stoner-rock hair inducing, flaying and grooving is sure to be had with Virginia’s Beach’s Freedom Hawk offering lean-and-mean air-guitar enticing riffs aplenty. While the return of Black Moth, whose expansive, and potentially career-defining third album, Anatomical Venus, should be finally released when they hit the stage to demonstrate how far they’ve come since their last bespoke festival appearance, back in 2013. Expect fully loaded, monstrous heavy riffs, mouth-watering twin-guitar leads, and quality metal tunes. Also playing on this stage are The Black Wizards and Old Man Lizard.
The Quietus stage once again takes place at the The Black Heart pub and is sure to stretch and blow minds. Opening up proceedings are the acid-fried, rip-roaring rockers Swedish Death Candy who no doubt will plough through last year’s rather fine self-titled debut album. Extending psych possibilities even further is the far-reaching sound blasts of Casual Nun, while explosive noise-psych freak-outs will be duly provided by Melting Hand, a band which features members of Bong, Terminal Cheesecake and Luminous Bodies. The festival is never complete without at least one act on this stage offering some big bleeps and electronica dance grooves, and this year Snapped Ankles are the providers. Also appearing are Ghold and headliners, White Hills.
Over at the Devonshire Arms, headliners Dopelord bring bong-inspired slow-nodding riffs and grooves to the proceedings. Equally riffy, but armed with a Hammond organ, are Washington D.C.’s Lionize continuing their support of last year’s career-best album – Nuclear Soul – think Clutch inter-twined with early Deep Purple. Also in attendance are Morass of Molasses and Tuskar.
Whichever stage you look at, Friday’s line-up has all the ingredients to get the festival party well and truly underway. Check the Desertfest website for day and weekend tickets.