Old Empire Return to Desertfest, Bigger and Better than Ever

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After years of bringing some of the most exciting, unique and diverse acts in all of heavy to Desertfest, this year the Old Empire stage is back and bigger than ever; taking over the main stage for the very first time. Before we run down this year’s killer lineup, we asked Josh from Old Empire for a few words straight from the horse’s mouth.

"Old Empire are honoured to be welcomed back to Desertfest 2019 with a special line up for the hallowed spot of main stage at The Electric Ballroom on the Friday.

The past few years we have played host to an array of artists that we not only work with regularly, but also have a strong admiration for. To be able to blast you Desert dwellers with the same bands that get our heads banging at Old Empire HQ is the ultimate privilege.
Hopefully you’ll discover something new, hopefully something weird and just maybe a new favourite.

None More Black"

We couldn’t be happier with Old Empire’s first pick, Desertfest 2019’s opening headliners, the incomparable, spiritual force of stoner drone that is Om. Formed in 2003 as one great band drifted off for a decade, Om - then consisting of the two-part assault of Sleep’s Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius - brought with them an extension of the hypnotic heavy first hinted at on Sleep’s Jerusalem/Dopesmoker. Achieving more with just vocals, bass and drums than most can dream of with a packed out stage, the opening one-two punch of Variations on a Theme and Conference of the Birds serves as a revelation to many; stripped-back power that cleans the cobwebs from your brain with reverberating blasts of droned-down stoner-doom.

By 2007’s Pilgrimage - the last full-length to feature Hakius on drums - Om had begun to lean more and more heavily into spiritual themes and Eastern tones, bringing about a new definition of what exactly heavy is; because let’s be clear, Om are heaviness incarnate, just not in the traditional sense. Through God is Good and their latest LP, Advaitic Songs - their first as a trio and surely one of the finest put to record this decade - Om continued down a path of hazed out perfection. It’s a testament to the importance of the band that, even as Sleep woke up, Om persist, ready to send you into a trance at the pluck of a bass. Be sure to catch Om when they headline the Old Empire stage - and Desertfest at large - on Friday 3rd May.

Joining our mighty Friday night headliners as main support are the incredible Wovenhand. Labelled many things over the near two decades they’ve been kicking around, from alternative country, to neofolk, to Southern-gothic, Wovenhand are simply low and slow, oozing with an atmosphere of gloom. Music torn from the heart and soul of David Eugene Edwards (ex-16 Horsepower), Wovenhand are a deeply personal experience that you won’t want to miss.

But that’s not all for the Old Empire stage, who offer up three more treats for Desertfest 2019; firstly, a slice of black metal in the shape of Wiegedood, whose Die doden hebben het goed trilogy serves as a granite slab of brutality. Featuring members of post-black metal heroes Oathbreaker, as well as being part of the illustrious Church of Ra collective - a handful of acts tethered by a DIY ethic - Wiegedood will bring heaviness as we traditionally know it to the stage.

The jazz-inspired, ominous soundscapes of HHY & the Macumbas bring an exploration of the apocalypse to proceedings. Showcasing why they’re one of the most inimitable acts in the Portuguese, or perhaps even European underground scene, HHY are ordered chaos, wielding a twin attack of percussion and horns, tied together with a thin spine of drone.

Rounding off this year’s Friday’ main stage are the desolate, minimalist sonic mantras of Louisville’s Jaye Jayle. Revelling in the simplicity of a “Less is more” philosophy, Jaye Jayle build tension with their barely crawling musical progressions and stitch it all together with the gruff, semi-spoken vocals of Evan Patterson.

Yet again, the Old Empire stage looks set to be one of the most exciting places to be over the whole of the Desertfest weekend, bringing both the darkness and the light. Be sure not to miss this mammoth lineup at The Electric Ballroom on Friday 3rd May when Old Empire takes over the main stage at Desertfest 2019.