Ripplefest Texas 2024 Completes Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

This is one of the best lineups I’ve seen for a US-based heavy fest in the 15-plus years I’ve been running this site. I don’t know what else to say about it, honestly. For the fact that Ripplefest Texas is bringing Dozer over alone, let alone any of the other Euro acts involved who have, say, been to North America in the last 20-plus years, it’s astonishing. And not just bigger bands like Dozer and Truckfighters or Mars Red Sky and Belzebong, but Domkraft and Kal-El, bands you know if you’re into this thing but that haven’t been around as long and aren’t as ‘huge’ in the whatever sense that applies in underground music.

And it’s not like they’re skimping on within-US geography either. Of course the desert is well represented, and Texas has a significant presence as it invariably would, but with Gozu and Leather Lung headed out from Boston, Borracho traveling from D.C., Temple of the Fuzz Witch from Michigan, Robots of the Ancient World from Portland, Oregon, and so on, they’ve got all the corners and between pretty well covered. La Chinga coming from Canada. Demons My Friends giving Mexico a nod. It is extensive.

And quality. I don’t know that I’ll be there to see it, but I’d imagine that for most who get to be, it’ll be the stuff of legend. Congrats to Ryan Garney and Lick of My Spoon for bringing it into the world, and safe travels to all involved:

Ripplefest Texas 2024 poster sq

Here it is! The lineup for RippleFest Texas and the amazing art by Simon Berndt @1horsetown 🤘🔥❤️

We still have a few surprises left but this roster is stacked! Don’t miss your chance to see the world’s best heavy music at the largest family reunion of the year. Plus this is the ONLY premier festival that has absolutely ZERO OVERLAPPING so you can see every second of every band! Get your tickets now and we will see you in September!

Tier 2 tickets are almost sold out and the price increases on Monday so get your tickets now:



Plus the best light show in the business by @themadalchemistliquidliteshow

Mars Red Sky, Live at Rock in Bourlon 2023

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Quarterly Review: Megaton Leviathan, Merlin, Stonerhenge, Guiltless, MR.BISON, Slump & At War With the Sun, Leather Lung, Citrus Citrus, Troubled Sleep, Observers

Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan


So this is it, but before we — you and I, not at the same time but together nonetheless — dive into the final 10 records of this well-still-basically-winter-but-almost-spring-and-god-damn-I-wish-winter-was-over Quarterly Review, how about a big, deep breath, huh? There. In occupational therapy and other teach-you-how-to-keep-your-shit-together circles, deep breathing is spoken of like it’s a magic secret invented in 1999, and you know what, I think it was. That shit definitely didn’t exist when I was a kid. Can be helpful though, sometimes, if you need just to pause for a second, literally a second, and stop that rush in your brain.

Or my brain. Because I’m definitely talking about me and I’ve come to understand in time not everyone’s operates like mine, even aside from whatever I’ve got going on neurologically, sensorially, emotionally or in terms of mental health. Ups and downs to that, as regards human experience. There are a great many things that I’m useless at. This is what I can do, so I’m doing it. Put your head down, keep working. I can do that. 10 records left? Easy. You might say I did the same thing yesterday, and that was already my busiest day, so this is gravy. And gravy, in its various contexts, textures, tastes, and delivery modes, is delicious. I hope you heard something new this week that you enjoyed. If not yet, there’s still hope.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Megaton Leviathan, Silver Tears

Megaton Leviathan Silver Tears

I’ll confess that when I held this spot for groundfloor now-Asoria, Oregon, dronegazers Megaton Leviathan, I was thinking of their Dec. 2023 instrumental album, Magick Helmet, with its expansive and noisy odes to outsider experimentalism of yore, but then founding principal Andrew James Costa Reuscher (vocals, guitars, synth, bass, etc.) announced a new lineup with the rhythm section of Alex Wynn (bass) and Tory Chappell (drums) and unveiled “Silver Tears” as the first offering from this new incarnation of the band, and its patient, swirling march and meditative overtones wouldn’t be ignored, however otherwise behind I might be. Next to Magick Helmet, “Silver Tears” is downright straightforward in its four-plus minutes, strong in its conveyance of an atmosphere that’s molten and maybe trying to get lost in its own trance a bit, which is fair enough for the hypnotic cast of the song’s ending. The lesson, as ever with Megaton Leviathan, is that you can’t predict what they’ll do next, and that’s been the case since their start over 15 years ago. One assumes the new lineup will play live and that Reuscher will keep pushing into the ether. Beyond that, they could head anywhere and not find a wrong direction.

Megaton Leviathan on Facebook

Megaton Leviathan on Instagram

Merlin, Grind House

merlin grind house

They put their own spin on it, of course, but there’s love at heart in Merlin‘s take on the classic “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” jingle that serves as the centerpiece of Grind House, and indeed, the seven-song late-2023 long-player unfolds as an intentional cinematic tribute, with “Feature Presentation” bringing the lights down with some funkier elevator vibes before “The Revenger” invents an ’80s movie with its hook alone, “Master Thief ’77” offers precisely the action-packed bassline and wah you would hope, “Endless Calamity” horror-soundtracks with keyboard, “Blood Money” goes west with due Dollars Trilogy flourish, and the 12-minute “Grindhouse,” which culls together pieces of all of the above — “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” included — and adds a voiceover, which even though it doesn’t start with “In a world…” sets its narrative forth with the verve of coming attractions, semi-over-the-top and thus right on for where Merlin have always resided. Interpreting movie music, soundtracks and the incidental sounds of the theater experience, isn’t by any means the least intuitive leap the Kansas City four-piece could make, and the ease with which they swap one style for another underscores how multifaceted their sound can be while remaining their own. If you get it, you’ll get it.

Merlin on Facebook

Merlin on Instagram

Stonerhenge, Gemini Twins

stonerhenge gemini twins

After what seem to have been a couple more group-oriented full-lengths and an initial solo EP, Minsk-based heavy rockers Stonerhenge seem to have settled around the songwriting of multi-instrumentalist Serge “Skrypa” Skrypničenka. The self-released Gemini Twins is the third long-player from the mostly-instrumental Belarusian project, though the early 10-minute cut “The Story of Captain Glosster” proves crucial for the spoken word telling its titular tale, which ties into the narrative derived Gemini myth and the notion of love as bringing two halves of one whole person together, and there are other vocalizations in “Time Loop” and “Hypersleep,” the second half of “Starship Troopers,” and so on, so the songs aren’t without a human presence tying them together as they range in open space. This is doubly fortunate, as Skrypničenka embarks on movements of clear-eyed, guitar-led progressive heavy exploration, touching on psychedelia without getting too caught up in effects, too tricky in production, or too far removed from the rhythm of the flowing “Solstice” or the turns “Over the Mountain” makes en route its ah-here-we-are apex. Not without its proggy indulgences, the eight-song/46-minute collection rounds out with “Fugit Irreparable Tempus,” which in drawing a complete linear build across its five minutes from clean tone to a distorted finish, highlights the notion of a plot unfolding.

Stonerhenge on Facebook

Stonerhenge on Instagram

Guiltless, Thorns


Guiltless make their debut with the four songs of Thorns on Neurot Recordings, following on in some ways from where guitarist, vocalist, noisemaker and apparent-spearhead Josh Graham (also ex-Battle of Mice, Red Sparowes, Neurosis visuals, etc.) and guitarist/more-noisemaker Dan Hawkins left off in A Storm of Light, in this case recording remotely and reincorporating drummer Billy Graves (also Generation of Vipers) and bringing in bassist Sacha Dunable, best known for his work in Intronaut and for founding Dunable Guitars. Gruff in the delivery vocally and otherwise, and suitably post-apocalyptic in its point of view, “All We Destroy” rumbles its assessment after “Devour-Collide” lays out the crunching tonal foundation and begins to expand outward therefrom, with “Dead Eye” seeming to hit that much harder as it rolls its wall o’ low end over a detritus-strewn landscape no more peaceful in its end than its beginning, with subsequent closer “In Radiant Glow” more malleable in tempo before seeming to pull itself apart lurching to the finish. I’d say I hope our species ultimately fares a bit better than Thorns portrays, but I have to acknowledge that there’s not much empirical evidence to base that on. Guiltless play these songs like an indictment.

Guiltless on Facebook

Neurot Recordings website

MR.BISON, Echoes From the Universe

mr.bison echoes from the universe

The latest check-in from the dimension of Italian four-piece MR.BISON, Echoes From the Universe is the band’s most realized work to-date. It’s either their third LP or their fifth, depending on what counts as what, but where it sits in the discography is second to how much the effort stands out generally. Fostering a bright, lush sound distinguished through vocal harmonies and arrangement depth, the seven-song collection showcases the swath of elements that, at this point, has transcended its influence and genuinely found a place of its own. Space rock, Elderian prog, classic harmonized melody, and immediate charge in “The Child of the Night Sky” unfold to acoustics kept going amid dramatic crashes and the melodic roll of “Collision,” with sepia nostalgia creeping into the later lines of “Dead in the Eye” as the guitar becomes more expansive, only to be grounded by the purposeful repetitions of “Fragments” with the last-minute surge ending side A to let “The Promise” fade in with bells like a morning shimmer before exploring a cosmic breadth; it and the also-seven-minute “The Veil” serving as complement and contrast with the latter’s more terrestrial swing early resolving in a an ethereal wash to which “Staring at the Sun,” the finale, could just as easily be referring as to its own path of tension and release. I’ve written about the album a couple times already, but I wanted to put it here too, pretty much just to say don’t be surprised when you see it on my year-end list.

MR.BISON on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Slump & At War With the Sun, SP/LIT

slump at war with the sun split

You’d figure with the slash in its title, the split release pairing UK sludge upstarts At War With the Sun and Slump, who are punk-prone on “Dust” and follow the riff on “Kneel” to a place much more metal, would break down into two sides between ‘SP’ and ‘LIT,’ but I’m not sure either At War With the Sun‘s “The Garden” (9:54) or the two Slump inclusions, which are three and seven minutes, respectively, could fit on a 7″ side. Need a bigger platter, and fair enough for holding the post-Eyehategod disillusioned barks of “The Garden” and the slogging downer groove they ride, or the way Slump‘s two songs unite around more open verses, the guitar dropping out in the strut of “Dust” and giving space to vocals in “Kneel,” even as each cut works toward its own ends stylistically. The mix on Slump‘s material is more in-your-face where At War With the Sun cast an introverted feel, but you want to take the central message as ‘Don’t worry, England’s still miserable,’ and keep an eye to see where both bands go from here as they continue to develop their approaches, I don’t think anyone’ll tell you you’re doing it wrong.

At War With the Sun on Facebook

At War With the Sun on Bandcamp

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Leather Lung, Graveside Grin

leather lung graveside grin

They know it’s gonna get brutal, the listener knows it’s gonna get brutal, and Massachusetts riff rollers Leather Lung don’t waste time in getting down to business on Graveside Grin, their awaited, middle-fingers-raised debut full-length on Magnetic Eye Records. An established live act in the Northeastern US with a sound culled from the seemingly disparate ends of sludge and party rock — could they be the next-gen inheritors of Weedeater‘s ‘ I don’t know how this is a good time but it is’ character? time will tell — the 40-minute 11-songer doesn’t dwell long in any one track, instead building momentum over a succession of pummelers on either side of the also-pummeling “Macrodose Interlude” until “Raised Me Rowdy,” which just might be an anthem, if a twisted one, fades to its finish. I’ve never been and will never be cool enough for this kind of party, but Leather Lung‘s innovation in bringing fun to extreme sounds and their ability to be catchy and caustic at the same time isn’t something to ignore. The time they’ve put in on EPs and touring shows in the purpose and intensity with which they execute “Empty Bottle Boogie” or the modern-metal guitar contortions of “Guilty Pleasure,” but they are firm in their purpose of engaging their audience on their own level, and accessible in that regard. And as raucous as they get, they’re never actually out of control. That’s what makes them truly dangerous.

Leather Lung on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store

Citrus Citrus, Albedo Massima

citrus citrus albedo massima

A new(-ish) band releasing their first album through Sulatron Records would be notable enough, but Italy’s Citrus Citrus answer that significant endorsement with scope on Dec. 2023’s Albedo Massima, veering into and out of acid-laced traditions in what feels like a pursuit, like each song has a goal it’s chasing whether or not the band knew that when they started jamming. Drift and percussive intrigue mark the outset with “Sunday Morning in the Sun,” which lets “Lost It” surprise as it shifts momentarily into fuzzier, Colour Haze-y heavy psych as part of a series of tradeoffs that emerge, a chorus finish emphasizing structure. The Mediterranean twists of “Fantachimera” become explosively heavy, and that theme continues in the end of “Red Stone Seeds” after that centerpiece’s blown out experimental verses, keyboard drift building to heft that would surprise if not for “Lost It” earlier, while “Sleeping Giant” eschews that kind of tonal largesse for a synthier wash before “Frozen\Sun” creates and fills its own mellow and melancholy reaches. All the while, a pointedly organic production gives the band pockets to weave through dynamically, and melody abides. Not at all inactive, or actually that mellow, Albedo Massima resonates with the feel of an adventure just beginning. Here’s looking forward.

Citrus Citrus on Instagram

Sulatron Records webstore

Troubled Sleep, A Trip Around the Sun & Solitary Man

troubled sleep a trip around the sun

Two initial tracks from Swedish newcomers Troubled Sleep, released as separate standalone singles and coupled together here because I can, “A Trip Around the Sun” and “Solitary Man” show a penchant for songwriting in a desert-style sphere, the former coming across as speaking to Kyuss-esque traditionalism while “Solitary Man” pushes a little further into classic heavy and more complex melodies while keeping a bounce that aligns to genre. Both are strikingly cohesive in their course and professional in their production, and while the band has yet to let much be known about their overarching intentions, whether they’re working toward an album or what, they sound like they most definitely could be, and I’ll just be honest and say that’s a record I’ll probably want to hear considering the surety with which “A Trip Around the Sun” and “Solitary Man” are brought to life. I’m not about to tell you they’re revolutionizing desert rock or heavy rock more broadly, but songs this solid don’t usually happen by accident, and Troubled Sleep sound like they know where they’re headed, even if the listener doesn’t yet. The word is potential and the tracks are positively littered with it.

Troubled Sleep on Facebook

Troubled Sleep on Bandcamp

Observers, The Age of the Machine Entities

observers the age of the machine entities

I’m not sure how the double-kick intensity and progressive metal drive translates to the stately-paced, long-shots-of-things-floating-in-space of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Observers‘ debut, The Age of the Machine Entities, is sweeping enough to bridge cynical headscratching. And of course there were the whole lightspeed freakout and we-invented-murder parts of Arthur C. Clarke’s narrative as well, so there’s room for All India Radio‘s Martin Kennedy, joined by bassist Rich Gray, drummer Chris Bohm and their included host of guests to conjure the melodic wash of “Strange and Beautiful” after the blasting declarations of “Into the Eye” at the start, with “Pod Bay Doors” interpreting that crucial scene in the film through manipulated sampling (not exclusive to it), and the 11-minute “Metaphor” unfurls a subtly-moving, flute-featuring ambience ahead of the pair “The Star Child” and “The Narrow Way Part II” wrap by realigning around the project’s metallic foundation, which brings fresh perspective to a familiar subject in the realm of science fiction.

Observers on Facebook

Observers on Bandcamp

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Grim Reefer Fest 2024 Announces Initial Lineup; Tickets on Sale

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

I was lucky enough to attend the April 2023 edition of the Baltimorean all-dayer Grim Reefer Fest (review here), which featured Bongzilla as headliners and the likes of Sun Voyager and Holy Fingers, among others. Returning from last year’s bill for 2024 are Haze Mage, who are involved in organizing the fest — fair’s fair — and that’s it so far, though there are still two bands TBA, which tells me there’s probably a tour waiting to be announced or something like that. Sometimes it’s logistics as much as teasing with these lineup reveals.

But with the undebatable Weedeater in the top spot for 2024 backed by the atmospheric heavy rock of Black Lung, Yatra‘s we’re-the-death-metal-band-the-heavyheads-like extremity and Leather Lung‘s sludge metal party, along with High Leaf coming down from Philly, Foehammer up from VA and Bleak Shore, who just played their first show this past December, the day seems pretty packed even before you get to the two TBAs. It’ll be a fun one if you’re in the neighborhood on April 27, which you might consider being.

The announcement came down the PR wire thusly:

Grim reefer fest 2024

This April we return to the legendary Ottobar in Baltimore on Saturday April 27th for our 5th annual fest, bringing a very full day of the dankest & heaviest riffs around!

This year’s lineup includes:
Black Lung
Haze Mage
Leather Lung
High Leaf
Bleak Shore

Plus we’ve got a couple more to still announce! Stay tuned!

Once again, the amazing Golden Grillz food truck will be parked outside all day and night to take care of all of your munchie needs!

Tickets are now available here:

Early birds get your tickets now! Prices for tickets go up after March 1st!
More details at

Poster by John DeCampos aka @ghost_bat_

Facebook event:

Sun Voyager, Live at Grim Reefer Fest 2023

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Leather Lung to Release Graveside Grin March 15; “Spit in the Casket” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

leather lung

Boston party sludgers Leather Lung have left boozy trails up and down the Eastern Seaboard these last several years — Maryland Doom Fest this past June, Desertfest NYC in 2022, and so on — and it would seem they’ve at last distilled their crusty-weedy-good-time-aggro-nod down to putting together a debut full-length, which will arrive on March 15 through Magnetic Eye Records. Graveside Grin follows behind the 2022 EP, Dive Bar Devil Mixtape, which was a quick two-day session through which they tested out their new-ish five-piece incarnation. They’ve been at it one way or another for a decade now — I feel like I lost time in there somewhere — and are immediately conveying rowdy vibes with the LP’s first single, “Spit in the Casket,” for which you can see the video below.

Must be nice to have friends. Leather Lung took a whole bunch of theirs — including Naked Guy On Motorcycle and boozy ladies galore — for a duly raucous woods party that seems to have somehow turned into a cogent music video. It looks like fun, which of course is part of the point. The other part is the raw weight of the riffs and the bounce in their nod. I guess the benefit of being together for 10 years before you put out your first full-length is that you know what the fuck you’re doing, or at least that’s what it sounds like where Leather Lung are concerned.

I’ll admit that, not being much for fun or joy generally, I feel a bit distant from the spirit of what Leather Lung do, but they do make it easy to go along with harsh sounds. And look up there. These guys look like the best time 1994 ever had, and no, I’m not making fun of that.

The PR wire sent the following:

leather lung graveside grin

LEATHER LUNG release first video single ‘Spit in the Casket’ and details of forthcoming new album “Graveside Grin”

Preorder link:

Boston, Massachusetts quintet LEATHER LUNG unveil the first video single ‘Spit in the Casket’, the opening track of their forthcoming new album “Graveside Grin”. The sludge metal band’s first proper full-length is chalked up for release on March 15, 2024.

LEATHER LUNG comment on the single: “The opening track ‘Spit in the Casket’ is a middle finger in song form”, singer Mike announces. “It was written in the catharsis of leaving a toxic relationship. This song is dedicated to anyone that has ever disrespected you and lets them know that it won’t happen again. We play this track like we are kicking down your door with it. For that reason, we have chosen ‘Spit in the Casket’ as the first single and opening track off our new record ‘Graveside Grin’. This also happens to be our first full length release and first effort as a 5-piece band. It’s our beastly new form and we’re showing teeth. So better stay on our good side and blast the newest single as loud as it goes!”

1. Spit in the Casket
2. Big Bad Bodega Cat
3. Freewheelin’ Maniac
4. Empty Bottle Boogie
5. Guilty Pleasure
6. Macrodose (Interlude)
7. La La Land
8. Twisting Flowers
9. Headstone
10. Cornered Animal
11. Raised Me Rowdy

Let’s get this party started! The incorrigible headbangers in LEATHER LUNG have heard the pleas of their enthusiastic following to bring forth a new album of substance-fueled boogie metal, and have obliged at last with the raucous new full-length “Graveyard Grin”. The proper debut album from the New England five-piece has everything promised by their previous EP releases: a thick, chugging concoction of stoner metal, doom, and unrelenting sludge, blended into a refreshingly heavy brew with a catchy kick.

LEATHER LUNG are a wild bunch that know the meaning of fun. This is hardly surprising as the band sprang into existence out of friendship and the punk and hardcore scene of Boston in 2012. Starting as a four-piece, they quickly gained an excellent reputation in their local scene, as well as plenty of critical attention through a string of EPs, starting with “Reap What You Sow” (2014) and followed in regular intervals by “Lost in Temptation” (2016), “Lonesome, On’ry and Evil” (2019), and “Dive Bar Devil” (2022).

‘Dive Bar Devil’ is also the name of LEATHER LUNG’s own brand of lager beer, which has already sold out and been re-brewed multiple times. One may speculate that this is the liquid coming out off the can that the band’s Green Lady mascot of each of their record covers opens forcefully in the artwork of “Graveside Grin”.

Now a five-piece with the addition of a second guitarist, LEATHER LUNG are ready to take on the world. Following crushing live appearances at DesertFest New York and Psycho Las Vegas, the band return with “Graveside Grin”, a massive sign that these freaks from Boston are ready for the road and amped to get the global party going.

Recording & Mix by Chris Johnson at New Alliance Audio, Somerville, MA
Mastering by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, Portland, OR

Artwork by Mike Vickers
Illustrated by Ester Cardella
Layout by Mike Vickers

Mike – vocals
Zach – guitar, vocals
Ben – drums
Jesse – bass, vocals
Greg – guitar

Leather Lung, “Spit in the Casket” official video

Leather Lung, Graveside Grin (2024)

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Maryland Doom Fest 2023 Announces Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

It’s a big ‘un. And if you’re like me, there are a couple names that stick out from the poster below, particularly Earthride and The Skull. Both are tribute sets, of course. The Skull frontman Eric Wagner passed away in 2021 after complications from a covid-19 infection and the loss of Earthride‘s Dave Sherman just a couple months ago continues to be keenly felt in and beyond the confines of the scene he called home. Karl Agell (ex-C.O.C.) will step in for The Skull, while Scott Angelacos of Hollow Leg is set to front a rotating cast of players for Earthride. You would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting occasion for honoring one’s own, except perhaps this gig in a couple weeks.

Plenty of familiar, returning acts as well as newcomers. Hippie Death Cult and will travel from the Pacific Northwest, Switchblade Jesus and Doomstress make an appearance (not the first for either) from Texas, and Red Mesa come straight out of the capital-‘desert’ Desert. Meanwhile, Faith in Jane, Black Lung, Bloodshot, Mangog, Mythosphere, Thonian Horde, Spiral Grave and plenty of others represent the Maryland home team, High Leaf and Thunderbird Divine trip down from Philly, Curse the Son (CT) and Guhts (NY) come from farther north, Hollow Leg make the trip out from Florida, and Lo-Pan, Doctor Smoke and Brimstone Coven head over from the Midwest. That’s just off the top of my head. I’m not sure there’s ever been a MDDF pulling so many bands from different parts of the country, though of course international bands have featured in the past as well.

There are always some shakeup between the first announcement and the final lineup, but so far so good here. Any way it works out, Maryland Doom Fest has nothing to prove at this point. Guaranteed banger.

Here’s the poster (oy) and the lineup, the latter in alphabetical order:

Maryland Doom Fest 2023 sq


Maryland Doom Fest 2023

June 22-25 – Frederick, MD

We are proud to present to you The Maryland DooM Fest 2023 lineup roster and 2023 promotional art!!!!

We showcase over 50 kickass bands bringing you heavy riffs over these #4daysofdoom!!

The centerpiece art was created by Joshua Adam Hart (Earthride, Unorthodox, Revelation, Chowder, Stout, to name a few).

Josh is a career tattoo artist and is currently scheduling appointments at Triple Crown Towson Tattoo. Schedule to get ink from him at

The incredible flyer layout, coloring, and design is by our very talented Bill Kole (make sure to check out his band Ol’ Time Moonshine)!!

Above the Treachery, Akris, Black Lung, Bloodshot, Bonded by Darkness, Borracho, Brimstone Coven, Cobra Whip, Conclave, Crowhunter, Curse the Son, DeathCAVE, Doctor Smoke, Doomstress, Double Planet, Dust Prophet, Earthride, Faith in Jane, False Gods, Flummox, Fox 45, Future Projektor, Gallowglas, Grim Reefer, Guhts, Helgamite, High Leaf, Hippie Death Cult, Hog, Hollow Leg, Hot Ram, Las Cruces, Leather Lung, Lo-Pan, Mangog, Mythosphere, Orodruin, Red Mesa, Severed Satellites, Shadow Witch, Smoke the Light, Spiral Grave, Switchblade Jesus, The Skull, Thonian Horde, Thousand Vision Mist, Thunderbird Divine, Unity Reggae, VRSA, Weed Coughin, Wizzerd

Lo-Pan, “Ascension Day” live at Maryland Doom Fest 2019

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Notes From Desertfest New York 2022: Night 1 at the Knockdown Center

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

desertfest new york 2022 friday

Doors are in about half an hour. From the cursory reconnaissance I’ve done at this point, it’s easy to think the Knockdown Center could become a multi-year home for Desertfest New York. It’s big, which certainly helps, and there’s more space than is being used right now. The second stage room is tiny — the sense I get is that by the time Sasquatch go on that will be an issue, but no one’s here yet except for bands and I’ve got basically a warehouse room to myself to write this.

Got in last night at 1AM, woke up around 7AM, so not the worst night of sleep ever. I was destroyed last night by the end of that show. Utterly bludgeoned. But I made it home and I expect I’ll do the same tonight. Hydrate. Advil. Who wants to hear my litany of old man complaints about my plannar fasciitis in my right foot? Nobody, I know. But it’s there. A presence in my life.

Sasquatch are here, and Mothership, John Garcia and the Band of Gold are soundchecking. Geezer and Howling Giant and various others, some I know and some I don’t. It looks like a show. I still have no idea how I’ll cover it but I’ll write when I can while bouncing back and forth between stages and see as much as I can see. That’s pretty much always the plan anyway. With the support of the egg and cheese on chaffle sandwich The Patient Mrs. made me this morning and the bit of pecan butter I finished up on the ride in, I should buy myself a couple hours of go. After that, will need coffee.

But alas, one crisis at a time.

Leather Lung

Leather Lung 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They had some new songs and asked if there were sleazy motherfuckers in here or not. If not, I think the general humidity in this room should provide some before the night’s out. Leather Lung were one of the last bands I saw before lockdown, and their heavy swinging sludge-rock-plus-extreme-this-and-that remains as nasty as I remembered. They’ve filled the room and heads are nodding, more and more coming in. I can feel the rumbling of the low end in the concrete floor, so take from that what you will. The start of a fest like this is always nerve-racking. You have to find the groove of the place, the groove of the crowd, the groove of the timing and the groove of your own mindset. Fortunately, Leather Lung have plenty of groove to spare to aid that process, and their taking stage isn’t so much a wading into the river of riffs — the riffver??? — as a full-on crazy old-timey Southern church baptismal dunk. Who says you can’t have aggro songs about getting fucked up?

Black Tusk

Black Tusk 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this band before, but I’m also pretty sure it’s been at least a decade, if not longer. They’ve had their ups and some real-life tragedies along the way — like everybody — but they’re a pro-shop metal band and they play like it. First act on the big stage and similar to Leather Lung, The intent seems to have been to roll out with something meaner rather than a languid style. Hey man, mean works. They’re piping them outside to where the food trucks are through a separate P.A., and I guess if you want furious riffs with your souvlaki, that’s a go. I will abscond momentarily to the smaller room again for Howling Giant, whom I’ve only seen at Psycho Las Vegas, but whose shenanigans are already legion in my brain. I’ve been looking forward to it, as I’ve been looking forward to all of this. Black Tusk though, digging that ferocity. Pummeling. And very much in that way of bands who’ve spent forever touring that they could just plug in wherever and make that happen.

Howling Giant

Howling Giant 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

These guys are a riot. A lot of bands can goof off and visibly have fun while playing their songs. Howling Giant can do that, play at a humbling level, and base it around killer material. They might be the only even vaguely prog-leaning heavy band out there who balance that against not taking themselves too seriously, and they absolutely refuse to leave their audience behind. Yeah, it was pretty god damned packed in that little room — they call it the Texas Stage, which is a little ironic considering the proportions — but my reason for walking out before Howling Giant were done had less to do ultimately with the heat and humidity and more with the sudden, very powerful urge I felt to buy a Howling Giant t-shirt. So I did that. Then, because there was no getting in whatsoever as the space was slammed with hoo-mans, I scootched over to the main stage again and chatted to some folks about this and that. Trying to remember to do that. There’s something like 1,400 people here this weekend. I feel like everybody’s everybody’s friend. That’s easier to think while Howling Giant play.


Mothership 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Doesn’t matter who you think of from that infinite set of list ’70s heavy rock bands, Mothership do it better. Texas trio, trip on the ship, all that. Just a great time. I guess they’ve been off tour for a while — who hasn’t? — but they made the big stage feel small with just the three of them and a vitality that few in whichever microgenre can match, and that energy is infectious, particularly from Kelley Juett on guitar, who is the classic wildman on stage. I have seen them three times now, at Maryland Doom Fest, in Boston with C.O.C., and here, and in this big room and that small one, they filled the space with sound and a genuine feeling of celebrating rock and roll. Kyle Juett on bass and vocals is more subdued, and drummer Judge Smith sits back there like he’s about to start laughing his ass off any minute. And then he does. Even better. You gotta be doing something right when Orange Goblin are on this stage next and people are asking for one more song.


Geezer 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Seems silly because I’ve seen them a bunch of times over their years — not much recently, duh — but I was really looking forward to Geezer’s set. It’s okay to like a band, right? I feel like I know their new album, Stoned Blues Machine, pretty well, since I was there when most of the basics were recorded and don’t tell anyone but I’m streaming it this coming Wednesday, but it was nothing but a pleasure to hear those songs come to life on stage. “Cold Black Heart,” “Atomic Moronic,” “Logan’s Run.” That’s a good-ass time. And they seemed in high spirits, no implication intended as to lucidity. Kind of a release show for them, since the record’s out next week, but I still haven’t seen any merch from them around. So it goes. The smaller room — I’ve heard a few complaints; it is what it is; be earlier — has a kind of raised floor along stage left and I went up there for a bit and watched. They’re not quite hometown heroes in NYC, but they draw a good crowd and deliver to them. That made it a little extra satisfying to watch them kill as they did.

Orange Goblin

Orange Goblin 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Orange Goblin. I mean, what do you say about a band like that? This was my first time seeing them with Harry Armstrong — apparently also his first time in New York, as was declared from the stage — but come on, was there any way it was going to be anything less than stellar? My real question is whether Ben Ward will come out for a guest spot with John Garcia later. But I’ve been seeing this band live for well over a decade and a half and I’ve not once been underwhelmed. I’ve seen them here, in London, elsewhere, and all they do is rock and roll. I feel like there are so many other bands I don’t need to see because I’ve seen Orange Goblin, and that’s not a slag on anybody, but god damn. You never know when they’re not gonna come back (to take the living), so I feel like every set should be treasured, and this one certainly will be. That sounds corny as shit, but I mean it. I read they’ve got new material in the works too. How hard will they tour? How feasible is it? I don’t think it’s a question of how much they have in the tank, because watching them play, the answer is plenty, but with all they’ve done, the influence they’ve had, they still get on stage and bring it like a hungry band. They’re one of a kind, much to the chagrin of the many pretenders out there.

Holy Death Trio

Holy Death Trio 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It certainly did get dark in that little room. And I guess not so much with turning lights on. Okay, you make do. Holy Death Trio came up from Texas to play this show, and they played like a next-generation act, like they’ve got it together, have a plan when they go on stage and have put in the work to make their presentation as engaging as possible. One assumes it would’ve been even more so with lights on, but you know, sometimes it can be like a secret. Hey this band is super-cool but shh. Their record came out through Ripple last year in the label’s Blasko-curated splurge and if they’re going to tour for real life, it seems like they’re the kind of act where people are going to ask if you’ve seen them yet. I have now, and I’ll hope to again. They’ve got a party atmosphere — if you want to keep it to Austin bands, they’re like a less frenetic Amplified Heat — but they’re all the more exciting since they seem to be finding and still developing their approach. And make no mistake, asses were kicked. All I’m saying is that if they keep on the way they’re going, more will be in the years to come.

John Garcia and the Band of Gold

John Garcia and the Band of Gold 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A good mix of John Garcia solo stuff and the requisite Kyuss tunes. “July” from Slo Burn. How could you fit everything from such a career? He said from the stage that they hadn’t done anything in two and a half years. Me neither, dude, one YOB show and a couple outdoor Sun Voyager gigs notwithstanding. Perhaps the weekend’s most brutal conflict is John Garcia on the same time as Sasquatch. That’s a hard one to live through, though not like there’s a wrong answer, except leaving. “Whitewater” felt duly like a watershed moment, the band by then totally warmed up and killing it. I guess you’d say Garcia’s stage presence is quiet. He has his moves but doesn’t go nuts or anything. He thanked the crowd and the Desertfest crew though respectfully and even when Sasquatch went on in the smaller room it was packed. Less all-charge than Orange Goblin, because that’s the music they play, but they tore up that jam in “Whitewater” and earned that whole Band of Gold moniker, even before they kicked into an uptempo take on “Green Machine” to close out. I saw Vista Chino play that song. That was cool too. This is a drunk crowd. Maybe I’m not the only one for whom this is pandemic-breakout, which inevitably is more fun than an outbreak, also happening but let’s not talk about it.


Sasquatch 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I know it’s been a long day because I had to look up whether Sasquatch’s new album, Fever Fantasy, had been announced yet and I’m the one who wrote the announcement. You want rock and roll? There it is. That band. Keith Gibbs, Jason Casanova, Craig Riggs. Holy shit. They are the American heavy rock ideal, unstoppable in their momentum until they pull the rug out from under and lock in another killer groove. They opened with “Just Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” I fucking love “Just Couldn’t Stand the Weather!” How did they know? And I kind of feel like people holding up their cellphone flashlights when the band asked for more light on the stage was as close as the universe was going to come to doing me personal favors tonight, beyond simply being here. But Sasquatch have already been back on tour and they’ve got more in the works as I understand it, but god damn, just go see them. Just go. How many bands pass 20 years since they started and still deliver like that? There are a couple on the bill tonight, actually, but outside this building it’s far rarer. It was packed in the room 15 minutes before they went on, and the lights were low again, but whatever, it’s fucking Sasquatch. Bullshit need not apply.

Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They went on 15 minutes late, which, you know, so it goes when there’s no one else playing behind you. Plenty of Judas Priest to listen to in the meantime. By the time they were through the jammmy take on “Paranoid Opioid” that opened the set, Mike Dean starting it off quiet on bass — fucking rad — time didn’t matter. Plenty of the standards in the set, including “Vote with a Bullet,” which I wondered if they’d break out (Pepper Keenan said something about it on stage but I didn’t catch what), but I guess it’s been a year since there was an insurrection on the Capitol Hill, so, fair game. Highlight for me might’ve been “Born Again for the Last Time,” which will be stuck in my head forever and that’s just fine, but there was plenty of competition there, and I was just really, really happy to see them again. I wonder if they’ll do another record. That’d be interesting. They probably don’t need to yet, really — I don’t think there was anything from the latest album in the set — but I’d be curious what they came up with after a few quiet years and the road time they put in before and apparently after the covid era, such as it is. Bottom line though is new album or not, I’ve been listening to this band since before I hit puberty and every chance I get to watch them play I’m happy to do it. More so as time goes on.

Other Random Observations:

– Dude in the Ween shirt wins shirts. In general there’s a bit of deviance from the black-shirt-blue-jeans norm. I support that.

– I have good friends here, new and old. It’s important to remember that. I have been and continue to be pretty isolated in regular life.

– Lot of couples attending.

– Knockdown Center could have four stages going, easy, and that’s before you put anything outside other than the food trucks.

– I have hugged and been hugged more this evening than in the last two and a half years.

– I’m still not 100 percent sure if I’m in Brooklyn or Queens. Life, huh?

– Still feels a little weird being out, but I brought a mask and I haven’t felt compelled to wear it as yet, so that’s… progress?

– Thanks for reading.

More pics after the jump.

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Desertfest NYC 2022 Announces Lineup; Tickets on Sale Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

desertfest nyc 2022 lineup square

God damn, Desertfest.

Importing Stoned JesusGreen LungPlanet of Zeus and Orange Goblin (as much as the latter count as an import; they’ve certainly been here before) to play alongside BaronessHigh on Fire and Monster MagnetRed FangC.O.C. and Torche?

That’s a big frickin’ deal.

If Desertfest NYC 2019 was a testing of waters to see if such a think could succeed and be feasible over a longer term, Desertfest NYC 2022 is an immediate play to become the preeminent heavy festival on the Eastern Seaboard of the US. To be a genuine Desertfest, in other words, of no less scale than Berlin, London, or Belgium. I’m glad to see Sasquatch and Fatso Jetson will be coming from the West Coast — I’d expect Fatso Jetson will be touring with Planet of Zeus, as that was supposed to happen in the long-long ago — and Somnuri are sure to represent NYC well and Stinking Lizaveta and High Reeper likewise for Philly, while The Atomic Bitchwax headlining the Vitus Bar pre-show warms my Garden Stater heart no end.

There are more to be announced (I have a couple picks of my own, not that anyone asked), but already this is the best heavy fest lineup for New York City in recent memory. It will be something special to behold. I hope there’s a photo pit at the Knockdown Center.

Behold Arik Roper‘s gorgeous poster art below, followed by the announcement:

desertfest nyc 2022 arik roper art

Desertfest New York announces Baroness, High on Fire, Monster Magnet, Red Fang + more for second edition in 2022


Europe’s leading stoner rock collective Desertfest returns to New York in 2022.

Taking place in the unique arts space of the Knockdown Center from May 13th – May 15th, with an exclusive pre-party at Saint Vitus Bar on May 12th. Desertfest are firmly planting their feet back into New York’s underbelly with a mammoth line-up celebrating the very best of heavy music.

Welcoming home-grown talent such as BARONESS, MONSTER MAGNET, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY & TORCHE alongside acts from across the pond like Ukraine’s STONED JESUS, Greek groovers PLANET OF ZEUS & a debut US performance for English doom maestros GREEN LUNG, Desertfest NYC are pushing their second edition to new levels.

Saint Vitus kicks off proceedings as THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX, PLANET OF ZEUS, FATSO JETSON & DRUID warm up the engine for the weekend ahead. Followed by 3 monumental days as Knockdown Center hosts the likes of Grammy-award winning trio HIGH ON FIRE, British heavy metal icons ORANGE GOBLIN, a rock’n’roll bacchanal from RED FANG, insanity from INTER ARMA and much, much more.

4-day passes (includes access to Saint Vitus pre-party on Thursday 12th May) & 3-day passes (Knockdown Center only) are on sale now via the following link –

With more to be announced, including day splits, Desertfest are most certainly back with a bang. We highly recommend getting your tickets ASAP, don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Full Line-Up
Knockdown Center May 13th – May 15th 2022
Baroness | High on Fire | Monster Magnet | Red Fang | Corrosion of Conformity | Torche | Orange Goblin | Dead Meadow | Inter Arma | Big Business | Green Lung | Stoned Jesus | Left Lane Cruiser | Sasquatch | Silvertomb | Telekentic Yeti | Stinking Lizaveta | High Reeper | Holy Death Trio | Yatra | Somnuri | Leather Lung

Saint Vitus Bar May 12th 2022
The Atomic Bitchwax | Planet of Zeus | Fatso Jetson | Druids

Ticket link –

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Desertfest NYC 2020 Makes First Lineup Announcement with Corrosion of Conformity, Conan, Stoned Jesus and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Desertfest New York 2020 has made its first lineup announcement, with Corrosion of Conformity, Stoned Jesus, Bongzilla, Dead Meadow, Conan, Crypt Trip, Yatra, Toke, Leather Lung, R.I.P., Huntsmen, High Reeper and The Atomic Bitchwax confirmed. That’s a first North American appearance for Stoned Jesus, and I’ll be honest, I was gonna show up anyway after being there for the inaugural Desertfest NYC this past Spring, but even if I wasn’t, that would be enough to get me on board. Throwing in C.O.C.Dead MeadowConan and The Atomic Bitchwax, along with Bongzilla and, well, everybody, is a righteous bonus. One way or another, you got me early with this one, Desertfest. The calendar was marked. I’ll mark it again just to be safe.

Early-bird tickets are gone, but regular-type tickets are on sale now.

Just off the PR wire:


DESERTFEST NYC 2020 11th – 13th September 2020 | Brooklyn, NY, USA


Desetrfest returns to Brooklyn in September 2020, after a wildly successful first edition in April 2019 the globally renowned stoner and doom event solidifies its position in the U.S.A. Adding an additional day at Bushwick venue, The Well from Friday 11th – Sunday 13th September, whilst moving its already cult status pre-party at Saint Vitus Bar to Thursday night. Early-birds have sold out already, but regular 3-day & 4-day passes are now on sale, as the first 13 bands are announced for the second celebration of underground heavy music.

Desertfest NYC is pleased to welcome genre defining legends CORROSION OF CONFORMITY to proceedings, the masters of Southern boogie will bring their signature stomp and impeccable live show to The Well in September 2020. After the recent loss of founding member Reed Mullin, we can’t wait to show C.O.C some serious Desertfest love.

Joining C.O.C across the weekend will be psychedelic stoners DEAD MEADOW, dreamy trips into a galaxy of guitar laden fuzz and the melodic drawl of frontman Jason Simon puts the band in a league of their own when it comes to genre-bending rock’n’roll.
Making the trip from further afield we are pleased to welcome long-time friends of the Desertfest clan, Liverpool’s most revered doom band of the modern age, the battle-hammer of CONAN will make a mighty blow upon New York with the uttermost ferocity. Britain seems like the town next door compared to the distant lands of Ukraine, where STONED JESUS will make the pilgrimage for their long-awaited American debut at DF NYC. Heavily regarded as one of the leading bands in the stoner/doom scene in Eastern Europe, the bands defiant anthem ‘I’m the Mountain’ is close to perfection in eyes, and ears, across the globe.

After their unfortunate tour cancellation in 2019, we are pleased to welcome back riff-centric power trio THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX for a high octane set of thunder-boogie. Some of our favourite people to get loose with, Wisconsin premier party-starters BONGZILLA will fire off a sativa induced bacchanal of sludge. Street-walkin’ sleaze demons R.I.P have honed a sound, look and attitude that is entirely their own and will make no apologies or explanations for how utterly crushing it is. Whatever’s in the water in North Carolina seems to cultivate some of our favourite sounds and you’re damn right in thinking that includes TOKE, old-school 70’s worship comes in the form of doom metal quartet HIGH REEPER – a band who repeatedly turn our heads with their unique take on breaking new ground. Speaking of new ground, Americana doom pioneers HUNTSMEN have grabbed our attention with their fresh take on metal, an exceptional blend of Springsteen-equse melodies with crushing heaviness makes an otherworldly combo. Finally, to round off this excellent first reveal, we’re pleased to play host to the superb, CRYPT TRIP, YATRA and LEATHER LUNG.

3-day passes (The Well only) and 4-day passes which includes access to the pre-party at Saint Vitus, are on sale NOW via THIS LINK

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