(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
With the ever-nearing events of the 2018 edition of the Riff Relevant-sponsored DESCENDANTS OF CROM less than a week away… what better time to roll out some of the acts I’m most excited to see live?!
With doing such as both my mindset and intention, I thought I’d toss a spotlight on five of the bands I am quite excited about seeing onstage for my very first time. I thought about subtitling this piece “Pat Riot’s 5-4-1” (get it?) but then I surmised that some might not… get it.
So, that’s the mission statement here, to delve into a few highlighted bands that have recently been resting upon my personal Bucket List, and that I intend to rectify such next weekend in Pittsburgh. Let’s start with a couple from the Day 1 (Friday, September 28th) roster, shall we?
When it comes to that particular day, make no mistake, it is all about the DOOM! Doom that starts with one of the weekend’s doomiest, too. Not just regular, run of the mill doom, either – no, no damn way.
YATRA are a trio that both embody, and epitomize, the new school of the globally recognized Maryland Doom spirit. The band – bassist Maria Geisbert, guitarist / vocalist Dana Helmuth, and drummer Mike Tull – wear their home state’s underground influences openly upon their collective musical sleeve. You can hear elements of the old school’s alumni in the recent, earliest offerings to surface from the band, but, with them come an abundant deluge of groove, along with subtle tinges of fuzz and sludge to boot.
Check out the two demo-quality singles that YATRA recently served up and are streaming here, “Hour Of The Dragon” and “Smoke Is Rising“. In them, in the depths of their sonic contents, you will hear the enticing heaviness that has sparked my own growing excitement about seeing YATRA live.
CURSE THE SON
Simply put and to the point, I have unfinished business with Connecticut’s CURSE THE SON – after being forced to miss them at Maryland Doom Fest back in June. That disappointing, unavoidable dilemma (on my part) has loomed like some dark cloud ever since. It’s festering like an open wound and by all that is unholy, there will be a reckoning in Steel City, USA!
I aim to break the curse, while I simultaneously experience CURSE THE SON in a live setting, similar to one like I was recently robbed of. As a long time fan of theirs (guitarist / vocalist Ron Vanacore, bassist Brendan Keefe, and somewhat new drummer Robert Ives)… well, “long time” might be a bit of stretch. Let’s just say that I have been a fan since they unleashed ‘Klonopain‘ in 2011, and followed it with 2013’s ‘Psychache‘ (streaming). Then I morphed into more of a CTS fanatic with 2016’s masterful ‘Isolator‘ (I discovered it last year, via its re-release in April 2017). So, hell yes, I am determined to exorcise my own inner aural demons when I / we all CURSE THE SON inside Cattivo’s soon.
COME TO GRIEF
One of the Descendants Of Crom Day 1 headliners is the New England region’s COME TO GRIEF, and they land in the #3 slot of my Must See 5. Remember when I quipped that this day was all about the doom? Well, there is none doomier, nor more abrasively caustic, or apocalyptically (it’s a word) empowered than the aptly named COME TO GRIEF.
Jesus H. Christ, the band’s name itself is an idiom that openly invites you to partake of so much distressful affliction, not to wallow in it, but perhaps embrace it, to revel within its liberating anguish. The quartet – guitarist / vocalist Jonathan Hébert, guitarist / bkg. vocalist Terry Savastano, drummer Chuck Conlin, and bassist Tim Simpson – are maestros executing a sorrowful symphony of utter destruction. Yes, indeed… you, I, and anyone in attendance on Day 1 of D.O.C. will COME TO GRIEF… and I will be doing so ecstatically.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, Day 2 of DESCENDANTS OF CROM will possess a whole other vibe for me, personally, in theory at least. That is due to the fact that I have been asked to emcee (MC) that day by the festival’s organizer, Shy Kennedy. Needless to say, I was, and am, quite honored and jumped at the opportunity without hesitation (Duh!). No-brainer there.
[Editor’s note: Pat was blissfully unaware that both Shy and myself were plotting to surprise Pat with her asking him to emcee on Day 2. While yes we were stealthy about it, we felt his undying appreciation for both the music and these bands would make it an all-out grand Descendants of Crom experience for Pat. Shy has faith that with his unwavering musical valorous enthusiasm, Pat would ensure each band receives a proper Hyborian introduction. ~ Leanne]
Among the roster of incredible acts appearing on Day 2, there are two bands that I am exceptionally enthused to see live for the first time, as well as introduce to the stage and Indiana’s WOLFTOOTH place #4 on my Must See list.
I like to think that I was one of the earliest people – from the realm of underground music journalism – to symbolically “enlist” in the WOLFTOOTH pack of supporters. Whether it is factually verifiable or not really does not matter to me though, I just know that when I got hip to this band, it seemed a lot of people were not yet fully aware as to what a kick ass unit this is.
The irony of things is somewhat amusing (not really) in the fact that, despite our home state’s of Indiana and Kentucky being neighbors, and oft-times rivalries in sports, I have not yet managed to catch WOLFTOOTH live. Now, a few years into my bond of brotherhood with guitarist / vocalist Chris Sullivan, bassist Terry McDaniel, guitarist Jeff Cole, and drummer / vocalist Johnny Harrod, as well as the critically acclaimed success of this year’s S/T full-length album release (which coincidentally was released on CD via Blackseed Records, it’s owner being Shy Kennedy), I will see them in vicious action in less than a week… finally.
FORMING THE VOID
Last, but not least in any sense of the word, is Louisiana’s FORMING THE VOID, and another act that I found myself on board supporting early on. I still vividly recall the very thing that was the catalyst for recruiting me to their camp, which was the mind-blowing official video for “Three Eyed Gazelle” from 2015’s ‘Skyward‘ album. Surely you all have seen that visualizer and if so, then you know damn well that this band are one of progressive psyche-metal’s more unique collectives.
Since that release, the guys – guitarist / vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker, and drummer Thomas Colley – have done the nearly impossible, for many bands anyway. Curious about what? I’ll tell you: they top… nay, they OUTDO themselves with each new recording venture.
The band has since released two more studio full-lengths with 2017’s ‘Relic‘ (streaming) and their shining latest, ‘Rift‘. Each one serves to document the next step in FORMING THE VOID‘s magnificent cycle of sonic evolution, and marks the band as one of the best active today.
Speaking of steps and activity, I have laid it all out here, step by step and band by band, as to why each of these identified acts hold particular significance to me. Though the biggest qualifier is, of course, my having never seen any of these five bands previously. I assure you, if it were not for that aspect, every band appearing at this week’s DESCENDANTS OF CROM event would be a Must-See band for me. Actually, they are… and should be for you, too!