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HEADLINERS HIGH ON FIRE TO IGNITE DESERTFEST 2018!

For 10,000(ish) years, you have asked us, begged us, pleaded with us and wished with us and now we are ecstatic to reveal that 2018 is the year the rumours of war finally come true: High On Fire will celebrate 20 Sunless Years when they headline Desertfest in Camden Town.

You all know the story. Californian legends of the riff Sleep split in 1998, leaving a void in the stoner ozone that would take significant time to refill. With Cisneros and Hakius now to the left of us and Pike to the right, we were now all collectively stuck in the middle with two very different post-Sleep entities. Whereas Cisneros and Hakius' Om embraced the organic, the spiritual and the natural flows of rhythmic enchantment, Pike's High On Fire opted instead for the breakneck, foot-down, exhaust-blazing approach to primitive piledriving like no-one had ever attempted before.

These experiments worked, of course. They both worked and then some.

Still hugely in love with the amps, the volume, the force and the grandiose nature of Sleep's sound and riff-laden approach, guitarist Matt Pike initially teamed up with drummer Des Kensel and bassist George Rice to find out what would happen if everything were to be sped up just a little. The early results via the commanding The Art of Self Defence and the utterly ferocious Surrounded by Thieves were enormously promising entry points, but few would yet be able to foresee at this stage that High On Fire would not only last the distance in the ring but go on to become one of heavy metal's all-time greatest heavyweight sluggers.

Switching Rice for Joe Preston shortly beforehand, the recording of Blessed Black Wings heralded a new dawn for the HoF; a righteous cacophony of doom-laden majesty that remains to this day some of their finest work. However, it was to be Preston's replacement in ex-Zeke four-stringer Jeff Matz who would ultimately complete this crushing inferno of a jigsaw. Through the near-perfectly calculated abyss of Death is this Communion, the execution of deadly precision on Snakes for the Divine, the dynamic, pounding intensity of De Vermis Mysteriis and the everything-faster-than-everything-else Luminiferous, High On Fire have only ever been very adept at recognising their strengths and building on them. Kensel has quickly developed into one of the heaviest hitting, rapid-firing drummers in world music, Pike has settled heroically into his towering frontman role, with riffs and scorching solos oozing from every pore whilst Matz has added incrementally to a rich, sophisticated rhythm base and bolstered the band's little black book of songwriting at each successive chapter.

The result? Arguably one of the most comfortable, complete and devastatingly powerful trios that heavy music has ever seen, right in the prime of their career, and with a back catalogue that doesn't offer even the slightest hint of filler from any angle. And this coming May, the High On Fire freight-train is coming straight at your face for Desertfest 2018. So from 'Fury Whip' to 'Frost Hammer' and from 'Baghdad' to 'Bloody Knuckles', get ready to grab your neck, your favourite Richard Pryor t-shirt and your ear protection... It's time to get High.

Words: Pete Green

THE OBSESSED RETURN TO THE UK AT DESERTFEST 2018!

Wino and Co exceeded the lofty expectations placed on them with their comeback album Sacred, so Desertfest is extremely proud to announce they will be visiting Camden next year!

Right up there with the fathers of US doom, such as Pentagram and St Vitus, The Obsessed shouldn’t need too much of an introduction here. Frontman, Wino, is the embodiment of the rock survivor, having been through all the highs and lows that this world can inflict. The Obsessed holds an eminent place in his history as its roots can be traced all the way back to 1976 with Wino’s first band, Warhorse, which became The Obsessed soon after.

Reid Raley (Ex- Rwake) is currently providing the low frequency rumblings and Brian Costantino (Spirit Caravan) is thumping the tubs, and by the time Desertfest rolls around the gang will be honed to perfection after their late 2017 run of US shows, including a killer bill along with Clutch and Devin Townsend.

So get ready to wallow in your Obsession this coming May and catch the underground veterans in the form of their life at Desertfest 2018!

Words: Rich Sheppard

Photo: Eriko Kagawa

MASTERS OF BRUTALITY CHURCH OF MISERY ADDED TO DESERTFEST 2018!

We are once again pleased to announce that Japan's greatest band, Church of Misery, will be bringing their dirty, distorted doom to Camden this May as they take to the stage at Desertfest 2018!

Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1995, Church of Misery were immediately a force to be reckoned with in the doom scene. Centred around constant member Tatsu Mikami - formerly of thrash metal band Salem fame - and a rotating lineup, the band have been bringing the hooks for over 20 years. Their Introduction to the wider world (via a sneaky bootleg of their, at the time, demo release, Vol. 1), whet our appetites and we've been craving the fuzzed out crushing swagger of Church of Misery ever since. Through their first official LP Master of Brutality to 2016's And Then There Were None..., the band has consistently delivered unparalleled savagery.

Although the pure brutality of their output is enough of a reason to have the world take notice, the aesthetic surrounding the music is what sets Church of Misery apart. The band's wall of noise is layered onto imagery and lyrics referencing some of the most grisly and gruesome serial killers of all time; from Kemper to Gacy to Shipman to Brady and everyone in between, one has to appreciate the irony of the band collecting serial killers like trophies.

Six dark, destructive discs in they continue to slay, as anyone who caught them back at Desertfest 2014 can attest. So make sure you don’t miss Church of Misery when they make their second coming to Desertfest London this May.

Words: Tom Geddes

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TAKE A STROLL DOWN DEATH ALLEY AT DESERTFEST2018!

Desertfest is proud to announce that Dutch retro-fuzzers Death Alley will be making a righteous appearance in Camden at at Desertfest 2018.

Founded in the dingiest venues Amsterdam has to offer in 2013, Death Alley have swiftly risen to the top of the retroactively fuzz-infused way-back riff-worship movement that has swept through Europe in the past decade. Setting themselves apart from artists such as Kadavar and Horisont with a liberal helping of pitch-perfectly judged psychedelia, Death Alley meander into floating jam diversions encouraging you to drift along with them.

Centred around Oeds Beydals, former guitarist of The Devil’s Blood, their 2015 full length Black Magic Boogieland set the underground alight, drawing comparisons to MC5 at their crunchier edges and BÖC at their spacious centre.

Always one of the most feelgood bands on any lineup, be sure to pass through Death Alley at Desertfest 2018.

Words: Tom Geddes

AKERCOCKE TO PLAY DESERTFEST 2018!

We like to mix things up at Desertfest every once in awhile, because as much as we love stoner and doom, sometimes we want something a little heavier; and boy have we gone heavier, as extreme metal quartet Akercocke join Desertfest 2018.

Formed in London in 1997, it’s easy to see why the band has maintained a loyal cult following. One of the few extreme metal bands to release an utterly flawless body of work, with every record – including 2016’s Renaissance In Extremis (Their first record since a four or five year hiatus) - garnering universal acclaim from scribes and fans of the genre.

Their first album Rape of the Bastard Nazarene was released on the band’s own label Goat Of Mendes, and immediately set the tone of their work. Intricate blackened death metal, with aspects of thrash and progressive metal with satanic themes and occasional outright misanthropy. Their 2001 sophomore record Goat of Mendes and third record, 2003’s Choronzon were the records that truly established their position as one of the most exciting and innovative extreme metal bands in the UK, with the latter going on to be voted Terrorizer’s number 1 record release of the year.

After 2007’s somewhat controversial Antichrist, long periods of inactivity finally lead to the group calling it a day in 2012 – but last year the band made the surprise announcement that they had reformed, with original guitarist Paul Scanlan coming back to the band. Last year saw new album Renaissance In Extremis release on Peaceville records; an incredible album, with complex progressive parts not unlike Opeth and King Crimson – and on the other hand the intense and downright miserable heavier stylings that have become synonymous with their work. It’s definitely well worth your time checking them out at this year’s festival in their hometown.

Words: Rich Harris

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PUPPY TO BARK AT DESERTFEST 2018!

London's Puppy are coming to Camden this May to prove that their bite and their bark are both to be reckoned with.

With an approach first and foremost defined in classic songwriting - perhaps more so than any other band on the Desertfest bill so far - the trio that is Puppy bring something a little different to Desertfest.

Hints of Smashing Pumpkins flow through the measured sound of Puppy, who don't forego heavier tones in their music, but they certainly don't allow themselves to be dictated by a necessity to shoehorn meaty riffs. Where Puppy do hit the heavy though, as evidenced by their track 'The Great Beyond', they show they can shred with the best of them, issuing a flawless solo to bridge together the single. More followed with 2016's Vol. II EP, with opener 'Entombed' offering up a meaty opening hook that grabs you straight in for the full album.

So, make sure you're a good dog and catch Puppy at Desertfest 2018.

Words: Tom Geddes

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WATCH THE WATCHERS AT DESERTFEST 2018!

Californian four-piece The Watchers will be making their Desertfest debut in 2018 when they bring their fuzzed out sound to Camden this May.

As you’d expect from a band boasting the talents of Orchid drummer Carter Kennedy, and SpiralArms members Tim Narducci (vocals) and Cornbread (bass), Sabbathian torrents of high-octane doom rock are the order of the day, laced with the nimble licks of heavy metal guitar wizard Jeremy Von Epp (Black Gates, Venting Machine). As a bunch of experienced Bay Area rockers, these guys have the chops and the moves to blast unwary listeners into submission.

Ripple Music picked them up for debut EP Sabbath Highway last year and they’ve been playing thunderous shows with the likes of Devil To Pay since then, so a trip to the UK is the next stage in their plan for world doomination. Like their hero Evel Knievel, The Watchers point the rock machine at the abyss, charge in with revving vocals and white-knuckle riffs, and to hell with the consequences! So, who watches The Watchers? You all will be next year at Desertfest.

Words: Rich Sheppard

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STRAIGHT OUTTA SUDBURY: OLD MAN LIZARD TO DESTROY AT DESERTFEST 2018!

Suffolk-and-proud trio Old Man Lizard remain one of the most underrated underground bands in the country so we’re especially pleased to be bringing them to Desertfest in 2018.

Formed in 2011, Old Man Lizard immediately set themselves apart from many of their contemporaries in the stoner, sludge, and doom scenes with a style that incorporated all of those genres but with an experimental and melodic edge, making them sound like Harvey Milk playing Jimi Hendrix. There’s a fluidity to the songs on their debut self-titled EP (which was recently re-recorded and released as an LP) which makes the heavy moments all the more refreshing and unexpected, while their 2014 debut album proper Lone Wolf vs. Brown Bear saw the band introduce progressive rock elements into the mix to thrilling effect. Having dedicated a large chunk of his time in recent years drumming for Slabdragger, we’re hoping that frontman Jack Newnham is making Old Man Lizard his focus in 2018.

So whether we’ll be hearing material from a new album or any of their back-catalogue, Old Man Lizard are a must for fans of Elder and Harvey Milk at Desertfest 2018.

Words: Tom McKibbin

BLACKWÜLF TO BRING THEIR PACK TO DESERTFEST 2018!

Composed of drummer Dave Pankenier , bassist Scott Peterson, guitarist Pete Holmes and singer Alex Cunningham, California’s Blackwülf stalk the domains of classic doom-laden metal, with the stoner rock attitude of newer times. We think it's a perfect mix, so we've got the pack together for Desertfest 2018.

Under black foreboding skies, they ply their trade in aggressive metal riffs with an earnest, bluesy dynamic. Occasional Zeppish acoustic passages highlight their love of haunting classic rock poetry, just before breaking into another maelstrom of roiling fuzz-filled grooves.

Since 2012, the band have created two LPs and the most recent, 2015’s Oblivion Cycle, garnered increased attention with its renewed focus on varied, expressive compositions and atmosphere. They have gigged with compatriots Freedom Hawk and Acid King, and their no-nonsense, raw power hits you from the beginning to end of every song.  A sincere band that pays homage to ‘70s rock gods, while not forgetting the great proto thrash of the early ‘80s, come witness the howl of the Wülf at Desertfest 2018!

Words: Rich Sheppard

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GET PIST AT DESERTFEST 2018!

As you can tell from their name, Pist like nothing more than a cup of tea with an episode of Bake Off, so we’re delighted to be bringing such well-behaved lads to Desertfest 2018.

Nah, just kidding. Since forming in Manchester in 2013, Pist have been tearing up the UK with their brand of pissed-off stoner-sludge and generally behaving in a drunk and belligerent manner wherever they go. After the release of their debut EP Riffology, the band went to Skyhammer Studios to record their debut album – the excellently titled Rhythm & Booze – with Chris Fielding and the result is something like a long lost Pantera-Orange Goblin collaboration.

With a restless desire to go out, play, and get drunk, Pist have amassed a loyal following across the UK and beyond so we decided it was high time we invited them to join the Desertfest party.

Words: Tom McKibbin

MORASS OF MOLASSES TO TREAD THE PATH TO DESERTFEST 2018!

Reading’s Morass of Molasses have been serving up deep pits of syrupy-thick riffs since their inception in 2013, so we thought it would be pretty sweet to have them at Desertfest 2018.

Appearing on seemingly every all-dayer worth its salt in the UK over the past few years, Morass of Molasses have steadily been gaining a reputation as one of the most reliably tight bands this country has to offer. Led from the front by the unmistakable vocal tones of Bones, MoM have become masters of the low end whilst still finding plenty of bounce to set themselves apart. Their 2017 debut full length, These Paths we Tread, introduced the wider world to a their sound, complete with the faintest subtle edges of lingering psych that really shines through on record.

So get ready for Morass of Molasses’ groove to rot the teeth from your head at Desertfest 2018.

Words: Tom Geddes

Photo: Simone Bureca

BLACK RAINBOWS RETURN TO DESERTFEST 2018!

Back in September of 2013, Black Rainbows were the first band we announced in the run up to our third Desertfest. This time around, we thought we’d wait a few months before telling you the Italian psyche-fuzzster trio will be returning at Desertfest 2018.

Sounding like the bastard child of 70s hard rock swagger and 90s stoner groove, these guys meet in the middle with all the stomp you’d expect. Hints of Black Sabbath, MC5 and Led Zeppelin fused in with liberal pinches of Nebula and Fu Manchu are peppered throughout their tasty hooks. When last they played Desertfest, the band were coming off the back of an immense split with LA’s Farflung and three barnstorming LPs, including the gloriously titled Supermothafuzzalicious; they’ve since added to that already spectacular catalogue with the rapid one two punch of Hawkdope and Stellar Prophecy respectively adding to an already tripped out and balls out back catalogue.

So get ready to sing a rainbow when Roma’s finest export hits up Desertfest 2018!

Words: Tom Geddes