Promoting their new album, Inside the Skull, Californian horror doom rockers Beastmaker are currently on tour. Backed by a trio of awesome local bands at the quaint yet grungy Voltage Lounge, their Philadelphia stop was poised to be awesome. Each band delivered despite the awkward timing of a 5pm – 9pm show.
The show kicked off with local psych rock group Holy Smoke. I saw them last year at this same venue and wasn’t really impressed by them. They felt like a so-so local outfit at the time, but now they’re a power house of a band. Guided by singer Dave McNally juxtaposingly dressed in a skirt, tiger shirt, and baseball cap, they up’d the heaviness and the trippiness of their sound. The five piece grooved through a set that mixed the mellow with the doom and gloom in a satisfying way. Definitely an enigmatic Philly band to follow. I’m excited for their upcoming EP for sure.
Free Weed (formed from the marijuana ashes of Heavy Coughin) jammed next. I witnessed the earlier incarnation of the two piece band a couple months ago, and they killed it. I’m not usually into harsh vocals, but lead man Les Shultz‘s growls fit well over the intense instrumentals. They opened with “Sacred Herb,” a track that sounds like a huge deadly monolith slowly floating through space. That track rivals some of the best stoner metal numbers out there. The duo did a lot with a little on only bass and drums. Free Weed played a mix of Heavy Coughin songs from their EP “You Gotta Cough to Get Off” and a few new tracks. They ended their set with the bouncy “Easy City Woman,” a track with an old-school rock vibe, through a sludge metal filter of course. I really appreciate the variety the band exhibits: fast hardcore and slow and low riffage.
I’ve seen Heavy Temple a number of times over the past year and a half, and they kill it every time. The group is one of my favorite Philly bands. They’ve been playing their new EP in its entirety as their set recently and it’s a total banger. The trio wield a unique blend of hard acid rock and punishing doom metal. Finishing their set with “In the Court of the Bastard King” is always a great choice; the manic psychedelic grooviness of the second half gets me going every time. With delicious melodies and a crushing tone, Heavy Temple is definitely going places. They can only get bigger from here.
Beastmaker finished the night correctly. They played mostly material from their new record, which just came out the day before. I wasn’t that into the band when I listened to their debut LP a while ago, but their new record and this show solidified me as a convert. They have that old-school ’70s metal vibe without being slavish to it. Their devilish and lurking riffs are consistently enjoyable. Highlights from their set include “Inside the Skull,” “Nature of the Damned,” and “Clouds in the Sky,” all of which show off the strength of their horror-based rock. The horror film samples they had before each song were fun, and set the mood properly. Beastmaker finished the show with a Danzig cover, “Am I Demon,” which is interesting after frontman Trevor William Church told me Glenn Danzig is one of his heros.
This concert was a healthy display of strong local groups and a great touring band. The doom/stoner/psych scene is alive and well in Philadelphia, and that makes me so happy.