(Festival Review) CHICAGO DOOMED & STONED FEST 2019
Written by: Mark McQueen
Hello readers, here is my worst to first list for the Chicago edition of Doomed & Stoned 2019.
I was able to watch 14 bands over two days, and although the fest was good overall, trimming it down to one day would not be out of line, in my opinion. Thanks to the many bands that came from all over to play, the promoters who set it in motion, and the staff at Reggie’s that made it possible.
14th: Uncouth 65/100
The fest openers tried to produce some energy to kick-off proceedings, but the production was underwhelming, and the voice was below average in power, clarity and range. Music was pretty elementary beginners Doom.
13th: Starless 70/100
Slightly better musically than Uncouth, Starless seemed to be going for the My Dying Bride sort of death/doom, but without the growling. Still, that’s a high bar to reach for and even with the addition of a female second vocalist, there just wasn’t enough power or range to bring the music up out of garage band-style material.
12th: High Priest 73/100
Stoner music was okay and the last number had some good fuzzy juice to it, but overall this band again lacked any “it” factor. I think I even nodded off for about half a song in the middle of their set which is just never a desired audience response.
11th: Forming the Void 75/100
The grade is reflective of the mediocrity. Not bad either musically or vocally, but nothing stood out either. Just a 40 minute forgettable set. Seems like these guys could be an opener on a larger three or four band type tour.
10th: Snow Burial 77/100
Sludgy stoner-music-with-angry-vocals is normally not my thing, but these guys got points for funny weed-based comedy lead-in’s and some decent audience interaction. I liked the effort and bumped them a few points as a result.
9th: Frayle 80/100
Some occult rock in the vein of Sabbath Assembly, or maybe The Oath, but without as good a singer. Still, I did enjoy the set and I think they were doing the best with what they had. One of the best acts of night #1.
8th: Wolf Blood 82/100
Seemed like in this band EVERYONE took a turn at vocals. My advice, go get an actual vocalist because musically you are not bad. Good jams and while that was going on I enjoyed this band, but what dragged them down was none of them were very good singers. Go get a vocalist and everyone else concentrate on playing music.
7th: Somnuri 86/100
3-piece band from New York made me think of the High On Fire kind of stoner sound. They also had some stuff that reminded me of Baroness, so really a pretty good band and set. Vocally they were weaker, with the screamy kind of lyrics, but that’s pretty much a personal choice as many people look for that kind of sound. Decent set though.
6th: Bask 86/100
These North Carolina doomsters let that southern drawl get into their music. Vocals were clear and the music was good, but it was just a bit like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles decided to do some stoner /doom stuff. Interesting, but not quite go-get-some.
5th: Witch Ripper 88/100
Sludge/doom from Seattle with muddy vocals. Why do I rank them so high, then? Musically they were REALLY good. Skilled, tight and impressive. The longer the set went, the higher their grade got in spite of the style and vocals. By the end, they got me for a shirt and a CD, so nice selling guys. You won me over and I rewarded you with my pocketbook.
4th: Wizzerd 90/100
If Jim Morrison’s Doors got really stoned…and we know damn well they did ... then decided to play doom metal ... which went mosh pit/bat shit crazy musically every once in a while ... then get right back into that Indian Stoner Peyote type groove (Ed: Huh?!) …. then they might have sounded like Wizzerd. Definitely interesting, and held my attention throughout. This effort also allowed them to get rewarded with a CD and shirt purchase too. Beer and bong money for the trip back home boys. Good Job.
3. Coven (Original) 92/100
Right from the start when 69 year old Jinx Dawson emerged from a coffin on stage to the liturgies of Satan, you knew the old witch still had some magic in her. With or without the mask over her face, Jinx proved she is occult rocks own Cher, spouting the blasphemes and shooting the devil horns which despite claims from Dio and Gene Simmons to the contrary, I am pretty sure Jinx was doing on stage before anyone else. Jinx and her band of robed acolytes powered through an hour of occult music as iconic as it was evil.
Hearing 50 year old songs like “Black Sabbath” (ironically written and released before there even was an Ozzy-led Black Sabbath to speak of), “Coven in Cherry Cross” and almost all the others from the great 1968 release Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, plus some newer…ha,ha... stuff like “Black Swan” and “Possessed by a Demon”, hearing the music performed live was a bucket list moment for me. Not to be outdone visually, by the likes of Manson or Ghost, picture the image of a man coming out on stage carrying a cross and climbing up on it only to experience Jinx climbing up the stage to reach this “crucified Christ” and then whipping him to her song. Finally, I learned that the song “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” was just Jinx creating a song that said F.U.C.K. back in 68 AND getting it released. Sadly, that went over my head these last 3-4 decades. In the end, a Long review but hey…50 years in the game merits you a longer review and Jinx Dawson deserves all of it.
2. Demon Lung: 95/100
Every festival has that “knock me out” surprise band. This time it was west coast occult rock band Demon Lung. Strong musically, vocally, and visually, this band hit on all the boxes. The songs were spooky and performed with just enough lighting to create an aura of evil. It was as if the white-robe-clad singer was standing in a moonlight-clearing invoking Lucifer into her musical charmed circle. Darkly beautiful, with just the right amount of heavy music behind it, this band got me to buy 2-CD’s, and plead for a photo with their high priestess who graciously allowed it. This band was a musical act and a horror play all in one. Very fun and awesome.
1. Blood Ceremony: 97/100
I could go on and on about Blood Ceremony, but suffice it to say they are my favorite occult rock band and any/every chance to see them is a treat for me. That magical sound of flute and keys, plus driving guitar and pocket-holding-rhythm-section, combined with some of the best multi layered darkly magical lyrical creations, continually make me love this band. I love the look, the sound, the lyrics, the imagery, in fact with the exception of King Diamond, Blood Ceremony is to me the best “evil” band of all time.