(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker*, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
The most recent Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S. – specifically Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2 – would see the inaugural Heavy Mountain Music & Beer Festival get underway in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina.
Over the span of those two days, in two different venue locations, The Mothlight and The Orange Peel, bands of varying genres would share their aural wares. I found myself in Asheville, as I often do, present and prepared for these back to back days of underground music.
The following is a brief take on those events, which began with a sold out Day 1 at The Mothlight featuring the bands BASK, TOKE, TEMPTATION’S WINGS, and GREEN FIEND.
First to take the stage this evening before a standing room only crowd would be Charlotte’s GREEN FIEND, a band I was admittedly unfamiliar with prior to this show. My naïvety would not matter, for good music is always the ideal ice breaker, is it not?
This crossover metal quintet were more than ready to kick things off, diving right into things with a furious set of metallic genre-mashing mania. Taking bits from such stylistic stables as thrash, doom, hardcore, and sludge, GREEN FIEND fired the crowd up and set the bar high to reach for the night’s remaining acts.
Check out the fan-filmed video clip below (courtesy of Tym Ghoulston) of a GREEN FIEND original, “Weed And Speed“, and a follow-up that finds them sludge the crap out of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine“.
Next up were AVL’s own TEMPTATION’S WINGS and tonight’s gig was one I was especially interested in, because it would be my first time seeing the band since they recently mutated into a quartet. Though I did not know it at the time (but did half suspect), I was about to be super damned impressed.
Now possessing a dual guitar set up, that arrangement has resulted in a much fuller, thicker overall sound for the guys. It also allows for a lot of interplay between the guitars and is clearly a step in the right direction for the former trio. In the pictures shared here, you will notice a burlap sack on a stand that is eventually revealed to be the “decapitated” head of Medusa during their playing “Lair Of The Gorgon Queen“.
The guys also debuted a handful of new songs, revealing that they seem to be exploring some intense psychedelic elements in their current song crafting. It will be quite interesting to see and hear where their next album musically goes, after the breakthrough success of 2017’s powerful prog-doom effort, ‘Skulthor Ebonblade‘.
Until then, check out this video of the entire TEMPTATION’S WINGS live set – courtesy of Will Bouton & FUGO Films:
With two down, there was now two to go, and next to commandeer the stage was Cape Fear’s own trio of amplified stoner doom ‘n sludge, TOKE. Always delivering dense, foreboding music with malevolent contents, the guys quickly unleashed an avalanche of crushing riffery.
Backing that onslaught was the plodding battery of the band’s rhythm section, one that pummeled and jarred every soul in the joint. TOKE wailed and wahhed away as only they do, slowly and with deliberate, harshly delivered drug worshiping lyrical themes and occult vibes.
Dig the live video rendition of “Legalize Sin” from TOKE‘s 2017 ‘Orange’ album streaming here.
Next up to bat were the night’s headline act, another local act that I personally believe are one of the most underrated / overlooked bands of them all in today’s scene, BASK. This Asheville-based band are one quartet that does not get the due recognition that I think they deserve, their music is just simply freaking amazing.
That said, we were now being treated to a blend of alluring progressive rock merged with a psychedelic profoundness that changes you upon the hearing of it. Grandiose and epic in scope, the dynamic spectrum of emotion and touching qualities of this band’s music is something that is not easily malleable into words. Attempts to do so miserably fail to relate the enthralling sonic journey that these songs are able to take you on.
Whether live or on album, BASK never fail to astound and impress me, and their set ending Day 1 of the Heavy Mountain Music & Beer Festival was no different. They provided the perfect capstone to this evening’s other live presentations from GREEN FIEND, TEMPTATION’S WINGS, and TOKE.
Check out the live video of BASK performing “The Lonesome Sound” below – courtesy of Garrett Williams.
Make sure to check out our wrap up of Day 2 [LINK], it will include photo galleries for that day’s bands – EXMORTUS, YOUNG WIDOWS, INTER ARMA, BLACK TUSK and co-headliners, OBITUARY and HIGH ON FIRE – plus, check out an interview with OBITUARY guitarist, Trevor Peres [HERE]!
*All photos and Temptation’s Wings live video courtesy of Will Bouton – FUGO Films & Photography