The Nomad World Pub played host last night to an evening of real-deal midwest metal. Aptly named The Rites Of Spring, this event was the perfect showcase for some of the area’s heaviest musicians, just in time to knock the last bits of ice loose from our collective bones.
If you have been listening to KFAI’s Roar of the Underground you were privy to a little preview of what this concert had to offer. That being said, seeing is always believing and I highly encourage you to check out any of these bands, should the opportunity arise.
Kicking off the night was the Duluth three-piece The Great Unwilling. Self-described as “Tundra Rock,” this group’s sound piles slow, thick, and fuzzy guitar and bass riffs on top of steady booming drumming.
With just a dash of vocals from Jesse Hoheisel, the band’s guitarist sits above the fray, adding a psychedelic note to the mix. When all elements are combined, this band puts out a big wooly sound in which it is easy to get lost.
If you are a fan of desert rock titans Kyuss and are looking for some hometown heroes to get behind, you will be happy you gave The Great Unwilling a listen.
Living Through Ghosts was second to perform. It was this band’s first time at the Nomad and they did not disappoint. If you are looking for a shining example of what modern doom metal is, you need look no further.
This five-piece band puts out a bludgeoning wall of sound. Huge layers of dual guitar riffs, thunderous bass, and crashing drums, mixed with snarling vocals that occasionally switch to spoken word, all set to a snail’s pace.
If you have ever seen the movie The Fog, think of Doom Metal as the sonic equivalent of that. Living Through Ghosts creates a sense of dread and unease that is unshakeable. It is like being lost in a storm knowing something is watching you. No matter how much you try, you can’t escape it.
During their set, they announced that the band finished its first full-length album and it is set to be released in the next few months. So if you can’t get enough of their 2016 EP Wake The Gods you are in luck. More Doomy goodness is on its way!
Up next was Droids Attack.
If Living Through Ghosts sounded akin to a broken washing machine full of molasses and cinder blocks, then Droids Attack is a space mammoth shot full of adrenaline.
Within the first two songs, it was glaringly obvious why this Madison, Wisconson based band has been asked to perform at the North By North East Festival, South By South West festival and open for acts like High on Fire and Torche.
These three dudes crank out some seriously speedy, groovy, stoner metal.
Big looping guitar and bass riffs, fuzzy enough to have you sprouting hairs, are held together with powerfully athletic drumming. Seriously, the drummer broke two sticks in the first half of their set, all with a smile on his face I might add.
If you are at all a fan of Clutch, Red Fang, or the Melvins, do yourself a favor and give Droids Attack some attention; you might just discover your next favorite band.
Last up was Witchden.
The quintet crowded the Nomads small stage dressed to the nines in full death metal regalia. With a call from the lead singer to cut the house lights, the room went black except for two small green lights in front of the guitarist’s stack of amps.
Without introduction, the band let the room settle for a moment before droning into their first song. The crowd had thinned by this point so that only the most eager were left to enjoy what was next.
As the feedback wailed, the band broke into their first song, and from there the brakes were off. Full-tilt sludgy death metal engulphed every corner of the darkened room.
This band flat-out rocks, and they manage to combine all of their inspired genres into a unique sonic experience. You get all of the power and groove from sludge and stoner metal melded with the blistering ferocity of death metal.
Before starting their last song, lead singer Blake Reed broke his between-song silence. He said normally he doesn’t banter between songs but this one was different. Not because it was a new song (it was), but because the lyrics of the song were inspired while he was sitting with his father on his death bed.
Blake’s father had recently passed away, and today was his birthday. The song was being played as a tribute to him. “Happy Birthday, Dad,” Blake said, and the band kicked into gear.
As the song neared the last verse, Blake left the stage and the band finished out the song, letting the ending notes fade back into howling feedback.
If you consider yourself a heavy metal fan in the slightest, you need to listen to Witchden. This is a local band that is going places and it is only a matter of time before they receive national recognition and start selling out larger venues.