Sunday, July 19, 2015

Stardust V Fest: Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn NY Fri-Sun, June 26-28 2015

Despite many set-backs, such as headliners Taake and Bethlehem being unable to perform, this festival still managed to have a great line-up and be a fun, intimate experience. I only was able to attend the Friday and Saturday shows, so I missed the second sets of material that the bands slated for Sunday performed as well as Mutilation Rites' performance. I must admit that the only bands I was familiar with on the final line-up were Black Anvil and Tombs, so I was excited to hopefully experience some cool new bands.

Friday's lineup consisted of Anicon, Fell Voices, and Wolvserpent. Anicon played some very competent Black Metal with some interesting melodious parts reminiscent of mid-90's Sweden. Fell Voices, however, was remarkable and provided the most memorable set I witnessed all weekend. The guitar and bass style created huge, grim, walls of sound while their drummer pounded away mechanically. The drumming was easily the most remarkable part; while not terribly technical for this set, Mike displayed unbelievable endurance, essentially maintaining a blast beat for an entire set, with few fills in which to rest. He was incredibly intense, too! The whole set felt like a ritual extirpation of pain; all vocals were shouted, sans microphones. Upon the countenances of all band members, despair and rage gave way to transcendence as the set closed, demons exorcised (or should I say 'exercised'?). Also, the Sisters Of Mercy levels of fog added to the performance, I'm still unsure how the band could even see their instruments. I really like their incense too, I couldn't quite place the scent but it was meaty and woodsy. Wolvserpent closed the night with some heavy Blackened-Doom. I appreciated that both band members were multi-instrumentalists (drums and violin, guitar and electronics) who would switch as needed during songs. This was a challenging set to play live and loop stations were used brilliantly.

Saturday Vorde opened our journey to the stars with Burzum-heavy Black Metal riffs, again featuring the inimitable Mike of Fell Voices on drums. Very exciting riffs here, I can imagine this band's name carried far on ashen winds. Svart Crown from France took stage next, playing some brutal, technical Death Metal NYC style, with lightly-blackened elements (crispy croissant death metal?). They were enjoyable and energetic, but were eclipsed, for me, by openers Vorde. Next up was Black Anvil whose set was cut short for technical issues. They had a projector with some interesting images of mostly flash-animated medieval woodcut-like stills. While the set was energetic, what was played was light on material from Black Anvil's debut album (also my favorite one) Time Insults the Mind. Tombs took stage next and finished out the night (and for me, the fest) with a set heavy on their second LP, Paths of Totality, with a track or two from (my favorite) Winter Hours, and many from 2014's Savage Gold. Readers of my blog may recall that in my review of Savage Gold, I felt something was lacking. That something was found for this set in the many talents of Fade Kainer (Batillus, Theologian, Statiqbloom, etc.) who played keys/electronics and added backing vocals. Fade's addition of textured atmospheres and keys really filled out these songs, as well as Saint Vitus' always excellent and perfectly balanced sound system. I can only hope a live album for Tombs materializes, as this was an excellent performance and fans who haven't experienced this line-up NEED to see it. I hope Fade Kainer remains a member of Tombs and that we can look forward to some album material with his contributions.

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

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