Has doom metal fallen to hipsters? What should we do about this blasphemy? As long as they play it like they mean it, perhaps we should nothing. But if they come off as being “ironic,” perhaps it’s no-holds-barred.
Anyway, our correspondents (if you’ve been reading our Hellfest 2013 coverage, then you know I’m loving this term right now), once again delivered three exceptional performance reviews. This time, we’re heading into the retro ’70s that’s been making a huge resurgence as of late. Enjoy.
Procession is doom metal, with a strong emphasis on metal. It’s all about denim and leather, not flares and platforms. There’s a definite ideology seeping through with spite. Retaliation for the current doom fad of throwback ’70s occult-rock seems to have exploded in the last few years. There’s none of that here. Singer Felipe exclaims on stage that they are on a crusade against “hippy shit” as an explanation for their latest album “To Reap Heavens Apart.” That’s gotta ruffle a few feathers; with Procession directly followed by Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Witchcraft.
The sound was absolutely phenomenal: the drums pounding away forcefully, the guitars chugging along mightily, heavily, and strongly; the vocals ringing out clearly, powerfully, and emotionally. It was, frankly, the best sounding thing at the festival. I can only imagine that this is what it might have been like to see Candlemass back in the late ’80s. Completely crushing and epic. And to see a much younger live band with that breed of epic doom and that kind of force behind them and full of energy is really something to behold. There were no gimmicks, no bullshit. Pure. Doom. Metal.
Procession at Hellfest 2013 (PICS)
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
There’s something that irks me about this band. I came in hopeful and expectant, having enjoyed the music I’d heard of theirs on record. The guitars were overblown to hell and slightly grating, just a little too distorted in the wrong way, but besides that they sounded pretty good. Their vocals were much like on record; almost reminiscent of The Beatles and the rest feels a bit like a mix of stoner doom with a healthy helping of retro styling. Maybe it was the choice of clichés apparent. It’s something I’m a little cynical of because in just the last few years there have been countless “’70s” bands coming out of the woodwork in doom metal.
On stage they come across, quite frankly, as a bunch of hipsters straight out of some music class in college – too cool to be there. Their musical gameplan felt like it was right out of a textbook on how to milk the genre… OK, that’s a little harsh. Their sound is fairly unique, many of their riffs and choruses are catchy stuff and the crowd enjoyed it. It just felt a little pretentious for what it was and more often than not, just a little dull.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats at Hellfest 2013 (PICS)
Despite being a pioneering and influential American power metal band, Manilla Road never really hit the mainstream. In the world of underground metal, however, they are gods.
Mark “The Shark” Shelton is and has always been the primary songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of the band. He’s also the only remaining original member, and nowadays offloads a lot of his singing to Brian Patrick. It works surprisingly well given the Shark’s trademark coarse and nasally style. Brian sings very faithfully to the originals with all the vigour and presence that you’d want from a frontman.
Manilla Road delivers a complete no-bullshit show. It’s back-to-back metal, like they’re trying to fit the most they can into the time they have. With the exception of a hiatus in the ’90s, Manilla Road has been a very prolific band so this makes a lot of sense. Their bases were mostly covered, from the very start to their iconic album “Crystal Logic” through their later, heavier albums and along to their latest offerings.
It all sounds great; new and old they delivered a powerhouse performance. With such consistency, it shows why they have such a devoted following and why Manilla Road is not something to be missed.
Manilla Road at Hellfest 2013 (PICS)
All photo credits: Eden Meure