Most people going to this year’s Desertfest will know the discographies of the headliners inside out. But beyond the main stages there are lots of smaller acts who deserve attention. There are too many bands to pick. Choosing twelve was a nightmare that resulted in many smashed laptops. Okay, that might have been an exaggeration, but Desertfest (as always) put on a varied, well-balanced line-up which makes Camden an essential weekend stop in May.
Dopelord last year stole the show when they were the main support to Belzebong at the Underworld last year. This time they will get to headline the Devonshire Arms on the Friday alongside Tuskar, Lionize and Morass of Molasses. Poland’s Doeplord have a huge cult following on the internet and for good reason, their last album Children of the Haze was an absolute belter and one of my favourites of last year. A fine mixture of lengthy stoner epics and crowd pleasures like the infectious ‘Reptile Sun’, no doubt this band will pack out the Dev for their appearance at Desertfest.
Old Man Lizard are like a prawn mayonesse sandwich, always relaible and truthworthy, you can never go wrong with that band. They are a perfect band to open the Underworld on the Friday starting the festival in style. Playing stoner metal infused with country, blues and sludge elements thrown into the mix, Old Man Lizard are the perfect band to get your groove on to.
Warning are back! After amazing performances at Roadburn, Psycho Las Vegas and Damnation last year; they will finally play Desertfest to bring the doom to the Old Empire Stage at the Electric Ballroom on the Friday. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of their genre-defining album Watching From A Distance, Warning are making a welcome return to London. Patrick Walker’s vocal sorrows will make a performance that will no doubt leave everyone sobbing.
If you looked up survivor in the dictionary, you’d find Eyehategod in there. They’ve survived addiction, Hurricane Katrina, death and severe illnesses, yet thirty years later their resolve to play sludge metal is stronger than ever. With a strong sludge punk fusion on Jimmy Bower and Brian Patton’s guitar playing compliments frontman Mike IX Williams’ painful vocals to create a sound that is as fresh as it was back in the day. It’s not hard to believe that since forming in 1988 that Eyehategod are as relevant as ever, their music is perfect for the times we live in and when the likes of ‘Ruptured Heart Theory,’ and ‘Medicine Noose,’ kick in, you know the Ballroom is going to explode.
Napalm Death may seem like an odd choice for a predominently stoner festival, but like Desertfest, Napalm Death embody the spirit of underground metal perfectly. Waving the flag for all things extreme since 1981, Napalm Death will ignite the party at the Old Empire stage on Friday. In the age of Donald Trump and the rising far right, Napalm Death are as important as ever, and Desertfest is the perfect place to celebrate them.
Monolithian are one of the UK’s best underground bands touring today. The Cornish two piece are an elemental force like the spirit of an old warrior woken from its tomb. Releasing one of the albums of last year in ‘The Waning Moon’, Monolithian are back at Desertfest after playing it last year, but their music is of such great quality that they could play every year and no one would care, they’re that good. I just feel sorry for The Dev as when Sea of Trees drops, the venue will not survive.
If the Dev survives Monolithian, then we will be treated to a performance by Colchester’s Telepathy. Telepathy had an amazing 2017, they released their career-defining album Tempest, toured Europe (including appearances at Roadburn and Mammothfest) and won a load of fans. 2018 is going to be another incredible year for the band, having already made their debut in The Canary Islands and with more European tours on the horizon, their second apperance at Desertfest (first being 2016) will no doubt be one to remember.
Steak Number Eight are one of Desertfest’s best bookings of 2018. One of the best sludge bands of recent years who are on the cusp of something greater, Steak Number Eight will be headlining the Underworld on the Saturday and will no doubt deliver a performance that will be an energetic party blast required to end the night in style.
It’s only February and Solleme have already released a contender for album of the year. This Infinite Violence is a manic masterpiece that combines post-metal, sludge and hardcore to create a bleak, meloncholic album that is sure to win them multiple fans. Solleme will smash the Dev at Desertfest on the Sunday, be sure to catch them.
Suma are a new discovery for me but are already on regular rotation. Hailing from Malmo, Sweden, Suma play an atmospheric, foreboding type of post-metal that is oppressive and haunting at the same time. Suma have this outstanding quality to play music that is consistently challenging and evolving constantly, perfct for Sunday afternoon at Desertfest.
Denver, Colorado’s Primitive Man are one of the best bands in the American underground today. Playing a racket of sludge, doom and noise that is no nonscene and nihilistic, Primitive Man proved last year supporting Bongripper that they are an insanely powerful live force. Creating an unholy noise that would scare Satan himself (and that’s just the sound check), Primitve Man’s music sounds like bile coming from Ceberus’ mouth. If that doesn’t sell you then I listen to their latest album Caustic, one of the most impressive offerings of 2017.
Weedeater are so good they booked them twice, it would be rude not to. On Saturday at the Electric Ballroom it is business as usual but on Sunday they’ll be playing a special early years set at Desertfest in the nice cosiness of the Underworld. Weedeater are legends, with twenty years of drunken tales and riffs behind them they are an essential sight whether you are watching them in the Ballroom or the more intimitate Underworld.
Old Man Lizard
Steak Number Eight
Human Disease Promo
When Planets Collide