(Live Review) PSYCHOFEST 2022, DAY 4 - Las Vegas, August 21/22


Review by: Mark McQueen


As day four begins, Johnny finally looks a little worse for wear. Taking an inadvertent elbow in one of the pits, Johnny’s sporting a nice shiner. He looks like “Nipper”, that dog next to the Victrola in Francis Barrauds1898’s painting. Still, his enthusiasm (if not his energy) is unabated, and he is ready to hit it again for the last day.

VIOLENCIA

Mexican death metal. Short set. Intense lyrics. Honestly, I only “heard” the set as I was in the room just outside the Rose Ballroom engaged in metal discussions with another fan. As I have nothing too new to report here. An average grade will have to suffice.

74/100


YEAR OF NO LIGHT

Very ethereal. Dark blue hues shadowed the members, (year of no light indeed).


Doomy rhythms and multi-layered musical constructs. This band is exceptionally good. They take you with them on their musical journey of doom and darkness.


A little slow for Johnny, but then he is a little slow today as well. The “Beard” however likes these guys.


Looking at the blue lighting during their music, I could envision a forest in winter twilight behind them. Good imagining but it made the set better to do so. This has been one of my favorite acts this festival. Going with a huge ...

95/100


Band three (for Johnny’s benefit) is downstairs for:


CREMATORY STENCH

Yes Johnny, now you get some death metal. Visceral vocals, but some slow doomy passages that flowed in between the double bass drum speed bursts. I did not hate it. Johnny loved it.

79/100


AMENRA

I guess you call this “experimental music.” It defies labeling. The best I can do for a description that makes sense to me is imagine a black metal band was being fronted by Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd fame circa 1968, when Floyd were really experimenting with soundscapes and heavy lighting.


Yeah, something like that.


Poor Johnny just stood there with his head cocked like a puppy that does not quite understand what you are saying to them but is trying to. This IS intriguing music and well performed but it takes some effort to get into it. I do appreciate something totally novel though, so I am going ...

86/100


SAMAEL

More synth than most of the other black metal bands this weekend. Particularly clever use of lighting. Best lighting for a “Show” rather than just ambiance.


Vocals were in-between, as compared to the other black metal bands. Less guttural than some. The most striking differences though were the keys and strings underneath.


This was a solid and unique black metal experience. Songs were well structured, and they told a story visually as well as sonically. Points for doing that.

93/100


WITCH MOUNTAIN

With singer Uta Plotkin back in the fold, the songs soar majestically again. Powerful female occult rock, and she is beautiful to boot.


Witch Mountain are ultra-powerful in lyrics and emotive songs. Man, they are so good. The Beard is such a mark for them with her back.


This is a near perfect set that I wish were showing on a larger stage with better lighting to accompany it. Still, best set I have seen thus far this weekend.

98/100


KATATONIA

Gothic Metal from Sweden. Soaring and nicely done but:

1. A drop in quality after Witch Mountain.

2. Sound issues harmed their overall grade.

3. Due to other main stage issues, their set got cut majorly short.

As a result: 82/100


PARADISE LOST

From the U.K - gothic symphonic metal. Clean vocals and layered music. Almost a heavy dance sound to it.


Catchy, but nothing about it makes me go absolutely crazy. Respect granted at the fact they have been around 35 years. I also enjoyed their droll sense of dry humor.


“We have about 130 songs and most of them have negative titles. Here’s one that’s more upbeat. "No Hope in Sight”."


Also, when they played an old one from about 1987 that had more growl to it, the singer goes “That was from back before we went “Hot Topic”."

Funny stuff. Points for doing what they do well.

91/100


HIGH ON FIRE

Matt Pike has been wowing Psychofest crowds every year with his brand of stoner guitar virtuosity. This puts him in the icon class (which means he needs to produce just to stay even with what I expect from him).


On the other hand, this will be Little Johnny’s first experience. So, maybe two vastly different grades are coming here.


Heavy set selection. Must be “bringing it” extra hard being slotted before Mercyful Fate. Some of the best drumming of the entire weekend by Des Kensel. The usual Matt Pike guitar hero material.

85/100 because of the icon rule.



Band ten is what everyone came to psycho for:

MERCYFUL FATE

The Beard first heard of these guys in high school back in 1982 when after-school tape-trading was a thing. For the younger fans who just said, “what’s a tape?” that’s the way we did it back in the day, kiddies.


Their sound was so novel. Sort of progressive metal, but with the most evil lyrics out there.


And of course, the vocal stylings of King Diamond and that amazing falsetto scream. There is an old story that an early edition Metallica and Mercyful Fate were sharing a sound studio and in the daytime James and Lars would sneak into Fates studio room to try and see what this high-pitched evil singing was all about.


Mercyful Fate are seminal icons, and part of the first wave of black metal in the 1980’s (along with Venom and Bathory). They are legends among the legends. This is the mountaintop moment of the 2022 Psychofest.


Little Johnny… THIS is the musical pinnacle of your existence so far on this planet.


Opening with “Don’t Break the Oath” and bedecked in a fantastic headpiece, the heavily face painted King showed everyone that even at 66 years old his falsetto remains in his arsenal, and no one is about to take his evil crown away yet. The voice is still there. Amazing.


And he had new stuff too??? Awesome!!!


Mercyful Fate ran us down the Brimstone highway into to the ninth circle of Hell and about 8000 Psychofest fans joyously accompanied him there. The response from the fans was electric and it never slowed or lessened. That Event Center moved.


There is a reason these guys are “icons.”


By “Melissa”, Johnny was weeping in joy at his new greatest vocalist of all time. “Come to The Sabbath” was a benediction shouted out by thousands, as phones lit the air the way lighters one did in olden times of concert going. The signs of the horns were upraised throughout and the rapturous joy this crowd had at knowing just what they were witnessing kept the energy at a fever pitch. The concluding “Satan’s Fall” displayed why Hank Sherman is an underrated guitarist that should be held much higher in the metal echelon.


This was THE moment of Psychofest 2022.

99/100




As the crowd poured out of the Event Center after the last notes had faded and the standing ovation and shouts of “King” and “Fate” were finished, the Beard beat feet double time across Resort World to catch the last few numbers of Band 11 ...


MONOLORD

Slow doom with ultra heavy long repetitive riffs.


Any other spot and these guys would have killed in the Beard's grading system. Unfortunately, slotting means you are the band that must follow Mercyful Fate. I am giving 90/100 because there is no doubt Monolord were playing a notable set. It is just tough scheduling that you are following a damn near perfect one.


THE DWARVES

A punk rock band originally from the Chicago area, now based in Frisco. Initially, I thought "Okay, punk", but there has been so much stellar music today, these guys just are not really resonating with me.


What do you think Johnny?

“They aren’t Dwarves! I thought they was gonna be actual Dwarves.”


Sorry little buddy. Let’s catch a couple of numbers and then head to the last band of the fest. Well, after a few more numbers we got quite the surprise as some creature, looking like she had been personally summoned up from Hell by Mercyful Fate's set, appeared on the stage.


This was as close to a Succubus as I think I ever want to see. Even Johnny took a couple steps backwards. That thing boosted this sets grade by a bunch.

83/100


ROTTING CHRIST

Seems an appropriate way to end it. Unlike the other black metal bands, Rotting Christ speak to the audience between songs. Probably a metaphor there, but I am tiring out, so brilliance was exhausted 2-hours ago. Now I am just hanging on to get to the finish line.


Good lights. High energy. Good set. Pool pit was explosive. Mosh pits near the stage were killer. But, once more The Beard was at the end of the energy ropes physically and mentally. This was a giant day of music and an entire weekend of exhaustive effort.


I looked at Johnny and witnessed the silly grin on his face. Black eye, hat cocked sideways, little arm hanging onto the rail for support. He raised his other hand and shot me the metal salute. We had reached the finish line.

(Ed: But what about a rating? They came all the way from Greece after all!)


This wraps it for a final long day and a long weekend.

Thank you, Johnny. Thank you, Bands.

Thank you, fans, followers, and readers.

Thank you MightyDecibel for giving me a platform.

The Beard has already secured 2023 Psychofest VIP tickets (Ed: Lucky bastard!) and looks forward to seeing everyone 365 or so days from now.


From The Beard and Little Johnny

Horns Up