All photos by Dave Creaney.
For months, Austin has been anticipating the sounds and sites of Austin Terror Fest, 2018. With a killer line up, 2 venues, over 30 bands, several metal and punk vendors, and only three jam packed days, it was a music fest not to miss. It was apparent that this fest was not created by a huge corporation and supported by giant beer sponsors – it was DIY and created by Dusty Brooks and Dorian Domi who not only support and care about the music community, they put in their own blood, sweat and tears to create something for their own local Austin scene.
With giant headliners such as Agoraphobic Nosebleed, a reunion of sorts from Exhoarder, bands from far and wide such as Yob and Bell Witch, it was a weekend that has been on everyone’s calendar since its initial announcement.
I tried to catch as many bands as possible, and it was definitely worth standing all weekend to catch a glimpse of all these bands. I regretfully missed a few, but here is my recap of the bands I did get to check out.
Christworm (Louisiana). This is what began my ATF 2018 journey. I came in right as they started to play. Regretfully, I missed CRAWL (San Antonio, Texas) and Communion (Austin, Texas), butI luckily have the opportunity to view locally again soon. Christworm was a great, sludgy start for me. I noticed that the two piece was a full sound, due to the hard hitting drums. Christworm was a bit of a short set, but it is a band I would seek out again to see live.
Tomb Mold (Toronto, Canada).I enjoyed this set. Grindy metal, similar to Disma’s death metal vocals. Hints of sludge. Drum centric. This is a band that I noted to check out more outside of the fest.
Of Feather and Bone (Denver, Colorado). I was super excited to see this band. Between the great drumming, deep vocals, and the blackened, the sludge breakdowns were so heavy. Lots of head banging from the crowd. Also, the band seemed super tight. It was a great set and I will be following this band from now on.
Pinkish Black (Fort Worth, Texas). Never a let down. I’ve seen Pinkish Black several times and this was the best set I have seen. It was also a must see for the audience. Everyone was glued to the stage. With the doomy, blackened electronic and vibrating drums, Pinkish Black was a great break in-between sets from the metal for the first night.
Bell Witch (Seattle, Washington). You could tell, the audience was stoked to see Bell Witch. It was emotional, slow, sludgy, and a bit religious for some. I noted at this point – it was hotter/more humid on the inside from all the bodies packed into the room, than the outside (during summer in Texas). But that didn’t discourage anyone. Every person was there in that room, sweating without a care and fixated on the gloom of Bell Witch. It was a long set, but a great segway from Pinkish Black into 40 Watt Sun. It really set the mood.
40 Watt Sun (London, England). My most anticipated band of the night. Excited to finally see them in Texas. After catching Warning a few months ago, both Warning and 40 Watt Sun have been on my mind. It is regularly played on my record player at home. It was mesmerizing and hard not to tear up during this set. I also geeked out on the EB3 Gibson bass. It was beautiful and perfect to round of the sound between the hard hitting drums and the woefully soothing vocals. The guitar was wonderful as the bass danced up and down the fretboard. They had an extremely captivated audience the entire set. If anything, the set was too short. It left us wanting more, but with our heart strings pulled, it very fulfilling.
Yob (Eugene, Oregon). Holy shit. I have seen Yob before, but there is no other live performance that I’ve ever seen that has ever come close to this. Heartfelt, powerful, inspiring…and so on point. What made it so amazing is the closeness of the audience from a small venue. The guitar sound is so original and unlike anything i’ve ever heard before. It must have been the hundreds of pedals plugged in – but it was like a masterpiece painting. Thought through carefully and gracefully. Between the on point drumming and the rhythmic bass, it was all extremely loud. It was remarkable and a fully passionate performance.
Ripis (Austin, Texas). This was the first day at the Barracuda venue. It was a nice change of scenery, and with two stages, you knew you were going to get double the action. And Ripis was such a wonderful way to start Day 2. Slow, sludgy, doomy, but clean vocals that were really beautiful. It was an early start for a show, but the audience was pleased with their performance.
The Munsens (Denver, Colorado). I only bought a few things from the fest, and the Munsens’ tape was one of them. High energy performance that was very heavy. Sludgy and deep low end bass. It seemed to be a mash up of Eyehategod vocals and slow parts, meets a bit of Sleep and their fast parts. It was a great live band that I was excited to see for the first time. You could tell they put their all into the performance. Well done!
Uruk (Austin, Texas).Time for Uruk. The blackened Hoard as they call themselves. “We are the blackened Hoard…and YOU are nothing…” as the singer cries out to the audience in the middle of his performance. Uruk never disappoints and has a keen attention to detail; so much so that one could almost miss their talent behind the theatrics. But when you look past the real sword swinging above your head, you realize what a solid band it really is. Drummer had two bass drums and it was LOUD in the best way possible. I am always a fan of their dueling guitars and insane bass lines.
CHRCH (Sacramento, California). A beautiful performance by Chrch starts with a heavy ritual of the singer drumming a beat to get the mood of the audience ready for their blackened sludge. It was a very dark performance, and was very captivating. Beautiful vocals from Eva Rose. Shrouded by her veil, Chrch was mysterious and heavy – a great live performance.
Goya (Phoenix, Arizona). First thing I thought was that the vocals were very similar to Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard, and very powerful. Great, energetic performance. Solid stonery-distorted guitar solos…perfect time for a smoke break outside near the stage. Goya has the type of sound that even if they’re not turned up all the way, it sounds like the speaker is going to blow out. I mean that in the best way possible. It was hard not to slow head bang to their set all the way through.
Cloud Rat (Michigan). Never a let down to see this band. Just a three piece of guitar, drums, vocals…yet one of the heaviest bands of the night. Intense, loud, heavy, fast grindcore. A bit of an organized Chaos performance. Cloud Rat captivated the entire audience and kept them in. Yes, it was humid and hot inside, but they were a sure crowd pleaser. All night I overheard folks talk about how they loved this band and couldn’t wait to buy their record.
Come to Grief (East Coast, USA).Super duper mid-tempo sludge. Previous known as Grief, this band that has been around for some time with a lot of history, really brought it. Their live performace was solid. I wrote down “Stonery with fast parts.” I think I was pretty blazed by this point in the game. Which was a perfect condition to watch Come to Grief. Some stoner bands are hard to listen to recorded, but watching CTG live, I just knew I’d be listening to them a lot more when I got home. And it was true! I highly recommend checking out this band if you haven’t previously.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed (Massachusetts, USA).Not my cup of tea to be honest, but it was definitely a crowd favorite. First song had a guest appearance by Carl Shultz, of Action! PR. Always a lively and chaotic performance, even without a drummer.
Cough (Richmond, Virginia). Cough’s set was highly anticipated as fans flood the inside stage from the previous Agoraphobic Nosebleed set. It was one of those bands that folks in the crowd had their Cough shirts on all weekend long. Uniquely, for certain songs they combine the creepy sound of a keyboard/organ behind a sludgy, doomy, dark sound. It creates a powerful aura that differentiates them from other bands of the night. I appreciate the emotion Cough brings to this type of music. It’s weepy in a soulful way. The entire band gives their all, and it is apparent when you watch. Cough is always a crowd pleaser.
Exhorder (Louisiana). Another band that was not my cup of tea. But so many people came to the show just to see Exhorder reunite. Watching the crowd during their set was a lot of fun for me. A lot of people knew every lyric and had the biggest smiles on their faces. I knew it was something special. But alas, I exited the show during their set.
Wayfarer (Denver, Colorado). Once again, I came in a bit late and missed Desist from Austin. But I started the final day with Wayfarer. One of my favorite bands to watch live as well as their other band, Blood Incantation. But Wayfarer had bass troubles. They went way into their set time and was unable to play more than 3 songs – and without a bass guitar. Fans were yelling and upset that they couldn’t get more time. But they improvised and showed true dedication with grace. It was still a killer set! Drummer was powerful and on point. All head banged in sequence (and yes, even the drummer). Bu as the set was cut short, they left us wanting more.
Badr Vogu (Oakland, California). Finally got to see Badr Vogu live! Their grimey sludge was always reminded me of a Super Stoner Electric Wizard meets Dystopia type sound and feel. Cool sound bites introduced almost each song, giving it that old school feeling (think Dystopia). Noothgrush vibes, but faster. Great live performance and I am excited to see them live again someday.
Un (Seattle, Washington). Beautiful, chuggy guitar parts. Dreamy breakdowns, blackened sludge. Pacific Northwest sludge at its finest. You can see the passion in this band as they played. Extreme vocals – I don’t know how else to describe it. If you like Of Feather and Bone, or any kind of darkened sludge, check this band out!
Fórn (Oakland, California & East Coast USA). Emotional. Powerful. Soothing and powerfully attentive guitars. Everyone in the room is paying attention. You could hear a pin drop between songs. I have heard they are amazing live, and they beyond lived up to that expectation. Heavy bass. So unique and unlike any band I’ve seen. Sludgy with clean guitars and passionate vocals. This set stood out to me after the fest was over. I knew they were going to be good – but they left me breathless and so stoked. I really hope I can see them again.
Krallice (New York). Chaotic.Bass fronted. Deep death vocals. High energy. Continuous, relentless drumming the entire set. Another highly anticipated band for the audience. I didn’t catch their whole set, but I noticed a lot of folks bought their merch and records, and was very happy to see them play at the fest.
Gnaw (New York). Gnaw took me by surprise. Insane drums. Noisey. Vocoder(?) with the vocals. Energetic. Different and fun. Another one of those bands that catch you a bit off guard, but you might know what you are getting into by listening to their records. But watching them live was completely an event. There was so much raw emotion, and a bit of chaos. You didn’t what sound/instrument was going to make a noise next. It was confusing in a delightful way. I came out knowing that I will be researching Gnaw a lot more after this fest.
Primitive Man (Denver, Colorado).So heavy, your eyes roll in the back of your head as you slowly head bang to the beat. It goes beyond sludge. Scary yet heartfelt and not for the faint of heart. Always thought they were immensely unique and do what they do extremely well. I appreciate this band so much. And the crowd was really into it – fists in the air, pounding away to the heaviness of the music. And the bass was OUT OF CONTROL. One of the best live bass tones I’ve ever heard. If you have not heard or seen Primitive Man yet…wake up and do it as soon as you can. I recommend it for anyone – especially any musician out there.
Acid King (San Francisco, California). What a way to end the fest. Acid King has amazing shredding guitar, deep bass tones, and drum fills like no other. The bassist is Rafael Martinez – the drummer from Black Cobra. Such a great team to form this live performance – all on point for a real cohesive sound. People were talking for weeks about Acid King playing at lost well, and they definitely did not disappoint. I’ve always really loved Lori’s vocals with her guitar playing. It’s as if it plays off of one another and is a perfect combination. I am so glad I was able to catch them. Acid King took you to another planet during their set. And as I listen to “Coming from out space” as I write this review – it is the perfect theme for today’s stoner metal. It is truly quintessential to it all, and such a great addition to Austin Terror Fest 2018.
Wayfarer (Second surprise set!). Holy. Shit. Everyone was incredibly stoked that they were able to play again to round out their set. It was incredible. This time, they were fitted with a bass. Their passion came through and it was the perfect way to end the weekend on a very high note. Another set where I teared up a bit (3 total for the weekend? Damn). My favorite part to Wayfarer is their sound. It is unique and unrelentless. And again…the drummer head bangs in sync with the rest of the band! It’s so good. Best performance of the weekend? Hard to tell with all the talent. Definitely one of my favorites. My perfect set to end the weekend, that is for sure.
All in all Austin Terror Fest 2018 was extremely successful from an audience member’s point of view. All I can recall thinking and saying by the end of night 3 was “Thank you”! I am so appreciative of the hard work it took to put this together from Dusty Brooks, Dorian Domi, Worshiper Cabs, Barracuda, the Lost Well, and of course, all the bands. It was a huge hit and I cannot wait to come out to more shows and support.
Check out the Interview I did with Dusty Brooks and Dorian Domi at Echoes and Dust: https://www.echoesanddust.com/2018/04/dusty-brooks-and-dorian-domi-from-austin-terror-fest/
Backline powered by Worshiper Cabinets. Check them out – definitely provided the heavy at this fest: http://www.worshipercabinets.com/
Austin Terror Fest returned for its second year at The Lost Well and Barracuda in Austin Texas. June 15 – 17th 2018. A heavy metal festival to remember forever.