September 10, 2015

Festival Spotlight: Shadow Woods Metal Fest

Shadow Woods Metal Fest "the new mid-Atlantic, open-air, camping-based metal fest" has really piqued my interest. Not because of the camping bit; frankly I'm feeling a little too old for that (there will be cabins available though). There's also the minor problem of the festival being in Maryland, and me being in Denmark...

Shadow Woods Metal Fest "the new mid-Atlantic, open-air, camping-based metal fest" has really piqued my interest. Not because of the camping bit; frankly I'm feeling a little too old for that (there will be cabins available though). There's also the minor problem of the festival being in Maryland, and me being in Denmark... No of course it's the lineup of bands of that got me interested. But before we dig into that, let's get some of the practical information out of the way:

"The inaugural installation of Shadow Woods Metal Fest, kicks off on September 25th - 27th, 2015, in White Hall, Maryland, about 30 minutes north of Baltimore. There will be ZERO ticket sales at the gate for - advance presales to those 21 years of age and older is the only way into the fest, which is also BYOB. There are only 350 tickets in total to be sold, and three-quarters have already been snapped up."

And as for the lineup; there's bona fide Metal Bandcamp favorites like Falls of Rauros, who released what was probably my all-round favorite album last year. And Immortal Bird who released one of the best albums of this year. Metal Bandcamp stables like Anicon and The Flight of Sleipnir. Exciting newcomers like Dweller in the Valley and Snakefeast. And of course Midnight who I'm sure will be good clean satanic fun for the whole campsite family.

The Shadow Woods Metal Fest website has complete details and links to tickets and the fest merch store There's also Bandcamp links to nearly all the bands involved. But if you're interested in reading a few words about some of them, here's ten bands from the lineup that we have covered previosly. Enjoy, and if you get a ticket and go, have a fantastic fest.

Falls of Rauros.
As much as this album is a loving showcase of guitar compositions, nobody in this band is slacking off. The drums are fierce, restrained, and intricate at the same time, and the interplay of the bass with both the guitars and the drums is incredibly well done. You can hear all of this because the album is mixed in a way somewhat unusual for metal--all of the instruments and vocals are more or less at the same level. It's the kind of production more common to jazz albums, but it works amazingly here, letting each individual instrument room to breathe. Read more.

Immortal Bird.
Rae Amitay's vocals remain a fantastic centerpiece. Yes, they're raspy, screaming goodness, just like you'd expect and hope for, but they also bleed with emotion, be it rage, sorrow, or despair. One could probably argue that most metal vocals are packed with emotion, but it's no small feat to clearly convey such a depth and breadth of feeling while you're screaming like a banshee. Read more.

Anicon are Owen Rundquist and Nolan Voss from New York. They make dense, melodic black metal in the vein of Inquisition, albeit with a vocal rasp that is less distracting than Dagon’s. Their debut self-titled EP is produced by the ubiquitous Colin Marston, resulting in a sound that is not over-polished but enunciated, particularly in the gut-punch of the drums. Read more.

The Flight of Sleipnir.
On the band's latest album—the 12-track, fittingly titled Saga—melodic and smoky doom riffs form the base of many tracks, and, as the title implies, this is their most adventurous album yet. It continues the fundamental musical themes the band have always explored, and in that respect the mist-shrouded fjords it evokes are welcomingly familiar. However, it's not so much the terrain itself but a deeper exploration thereof that sets the new album apart. Read more.

There are many words that get used to describe metal bands, especially of the black or blackened variety: evil, demonic, twisted; but Hivelords manage to pull off something I find more rare: deep, ominous, creeping, oozing, existentially threatening. Their sound suggests a maturity far beyond their years. Most musicians toil for years before they find such a perfect union, but Cavern Apothecary manages it all. Read more.

Black Table.
Simply put Black Table's Sentinel is post-black metal. For a more in-depth description I would go with black metal mixed with the grime of sludge, the angular riffs of hardcore, and the melodies of post-rock. A smorgasbord of heaviness. Black Table are talented musicians, and their sound is intricate. But Sentinel is not filled with progressive noodling; there are brilliant riffs aplenty and the songs, especially opener Heist, are quite catchy. Read more.

Dweller in the Valley.
Younger Dryas is raucous and raw, belligerent and blackened beyond saving. Dweller in the Valley play with a driving energy that's impossible to ignore. All facets of their blackened death metal gleam in their own way despite their light swallowing qualities. Dweller in the Valley are already a potent force and could very well establish themselves as a name to be remembered in the American black metal scene. Read more.

The atmosphere created on these 5 songs make them feel as though they are played outside by the light of lit torches. Beautiful acoustic passages give way to foreboding DOOM dirges before crashing into chaotic Black Metal. Never jarring in it shifts but rather pieces in a puzzle that were meant to be put together. Vocals are deep raw shouts. Guitars buzzing and raw. Drums holding pace with the rise and fall of the tempo. At times coming across as a rawer version of Agalloch. But by no means a copy. Read more.

The unusual line up of instruments for this album alone arouses my curiosity… vocals, bass, drums, cello, sax… and unusual is the listening experience that the quartet from Baltimore/MD called Snakefeast offers us with its debut The Pythoness. It could roughly be called progressive blackened sludgy jazz, but it combines so many different stylistic elements, that it forcibly resists to be pigeonholed. Read more.

The compilation contains 21 tracks of their blistering blackened heavy metal, complete with '80s-style solos, devastatingly fun hooks and Athenar’s signature blasphemous, raspy vocals. While it of course doesn’t feel as whole or flow as smoothly as a proper full length, it fits the band’s raw and in-your-face style perfectly. Read more.

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