Article by: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist ‡ Edited by: Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor
The 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 Fest get underway in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina.
After surviving the sold-out Day 1 with Bask, Toke, Temptation’s Wings, and Green Fiend at The Mothlight the day prior [LINK], things now moved over to The Orange Peel for Day 2.
It was a necessary move, too, and I was there and ready for what, well, actually WHO would soon take the stage. It was an impressive roster of acts from differing styles of metal, a roll call riddled with bands both older and newer, and all sure to astound. Keeping to my intended approach to this festival’s written wrap-up, to keep things brief, yet informative, here is my rundown highlighting these participants: HIGH ON FIRE, OBITUARY, BLACK TUSK, INTER ARMA, YOUNG WIDOWS, and EXMORTUS.
Yes, “Just the facts, man”… making their point in so many words or less, but are accompanied by spectacular live images courtesy of Will Bouton and FUGO Films & Photography. Things launched with a late addition to this festival – and OBITUARY‘s own concurrently running Redneck Run 2 Tour – as California’s classical music inspired speed metallers EXMORTUS began the sonic onslaught.
They delivered a frenzied set of metal, structured around the band’s remarkable guitar superiority. Dizzying, rapidly fired fret runs, accompanied by thunderous drumming and aggressive vocals, had all in attendance transfixed.
Kentucky’s YOUNG WIDOWS were up next, a band that I was not at all familiar with, and that alone is a bit odd. Odd because we are both based in The Bluegrass State and all that, but I found their darkly tainted grunge / noise rock leanings to be quite alright. In truth, the guys were a breath of fresh air, one that I ended up digging nicely by the time they were done.
Next up were RVA’s purveyors of bleak, ominous outersound density, INTER ARMA, and their malevolent constructed doom. Emitting an almost injurious discharge of abrasive heaviness in their music, the quintet battered away at those that now stood transfixed by this oppressive example of apocalyptic sludge. These harrowing heavyweights heaved wave after wave of primordial psych-impacted audio at us, and we embraced it without question.
Savannah’s BLACK TUSK were the next band up, one that has kept the roads hot lately. They just wrapped a tour of their own, and have now been named as one of the acts on the upcoming Metal Alliance Tour 2018 [HERE] but today, none of that was relevant.
Always a crushing live act, BLACK TUSK hammered away with their genre-warping avalanche of punk-infused sludge and stoner metal. High energy and an IDGAF attitude has never sounded quite so good as when handed out by BLACK TUSK.
The time had now come for one of the evening’s most legendary acts to dominate the stage, and that is exactly what death metal deities OBITUARY proceeded to do. Now 30 years into their career, these pioneers of the Floridian extremity that the global underground reveres, are absolutely merciless in a live setting. Possessing a signature sound rooted in downtuned riffs, bludgeoning drums, and one of the most recognizable voices in metal, OBITUARY had the crowd going insane.
A mosh pit had opened up like a subterranean sinkhole, as bodies swirled and convulsed within its confines. All the while, Tampa’s terrible tempest of true metallic savagery subjected us to the unquestionably finest in U.S. death metal.
[FYI – Make sure to check out the interview I had with OBITUARY guitarist Trevor Peres prior to their set, HERE. Plus, Riff Relevant‘s David “Sunshine” Lamay recently caught the Clifton Park, NY date of OBITUARY‘s “Redneck Run 2 Tour” and you can read his recollection of those events HERE.]
The ultimate power trio in abrasive sludge metal were up next, the last act of the evening and the festival itself – HIGH ON FIRE! This was my second time seeing the band over the years and well over a decade since my first time, because damn, I believe I may have been ill-prepared. The living embodiment of caustically crucial aggression and the subsequent discharge of substantive low-end sonic salvos, HIGH ON FIRE were now causing jaws to drop all over the place.
Much like a chainsaw that has gotten loose from its handler, the trio were constantly a’ buzz with a flurry of aural fury. Riff after riff, rhythmic pulses one after another, pulverizing drum kit renderings, it all merged into a singular weapon of mass destruction and we were its willing casualties.
Yes, all in all, the first-ever Heavy Mountain Music & Beer Festival in Asheville, North Carolina was an overwhelming success, in my opinion. Great bands and equally great times, what more could one ask for? Let’s keep our collective fingers crossed that this is only the beginning…