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Desertfest – Sunday – 26/04/2015 | Live Review

We wrap up our Desertfest diary, taking in the likes of Karma To Burn, Desert Storm and the almighty Sleep. Read on.

Sleep

Source: Graham Berry

And so three whole days of fantastic riffs ring to a close, and Desertfest 2015 comes to an end. But not before one last gasp of stoner goodness roars across Camden. Expectation is high (pun intended) for the ‘main event’, the genre’s godfathers Sleep closing the show, but before that there’s still plenty to wrap your ears around.

Germany’s My Sleeping Karma open things up at the Koko, and their journeying into the astral planes via instrumental psychedelia is gripping stuff. Their atmospheric, driving riffs draw you in, and the adept and intuitive bursts of fills and soloing dazzle. They slowly build up tension through repetitive, winding, complex passages and occasional snatches of heavy, but their shifting dynamics keep things on the ‘epic’ side of things. Their stop-motion, claymation backdrop video is eerily beautiful, and fits their uplifting, cosmic tones. They are incredibly grateful to be here, as they repeatedly inform us, and we are incredibly grateful to have them.

Karma 2 Burn

Source: Graham Berry

As the moody bass of Peggy Lee’s 1958 classicFever’ drifts over the PA, everyone knows it’s time for Karma To Burn to rip things up. They jam in fast and hard, and as was evident from the deafening soundcheck moments before, they have rarely sounded heavier or louder than this. Evan Devine’s tom heavy drums sound massive, and his cowbell rhythms are great. William Mecum prowls the stage throwing down huge riffs, and their driving instrumental stoner grooves get the crowd going with ease. Good karma.

Desert Storm

Source: Graham Berry

Over in the Purple Turtle Oxford’s Desert Storm are absolutely fucking rampant. Matt Ryan’s booming, gravelly tones fill the space, and their slick Southern rock stylings whip the crowd into a frenzy. They generate some massive riffs, the likes of ‘The Jackal’ and ‘Queen Reefer’ sounding colossal and triumphant. Drummer Elliot Cole batters the daylights out of his kit, and Chris White’s guitar solos are fantastically bluesy. They are a good fucking time, and stand out as one of the best of the fest. Neck wrecking stuff.

Back at the Koko Acid King throw down with some absolutely massive tones. Joey Osbourne’s drums are colossal, tom heavy and pounding. Their lumbering, almost rhythmic riffs are hypnotising, Lori S’s vocals are like a clarion call, drenched in reverb, drifting across the immense, swirling void their music creates and penetrating the dreamy haze of riffs.

Italians Ufomammut have made real waves with their latest release Ecate, and the venue is pretty packed with excited fans. They suffer some pretty debilitating technical problems right out of the gate, however, with Poia’s guitar almost entirely inaudible, causing them to stop and attempt a fix. The crowd gets a little fractious and uneasy during the wait, and despite recovering with consummate professionalism, it leaves them on the back foot, and there’s an definite air of frustration. The set is (obviously) heavy with material from Ecate, and Vita’s kick drum is so huge that it knocks pints off tables. They are still huge, doomy and heavy, but there’s the nagging sense they can be much, much better than this. Shame.

Cancer

Source: Graham Berry

Back in the Underworld the crusty faithful roll out for thrash/death legends Cancer. Their frantic riffing marks them as the most furious band of the day in terms of tempo, and their sound is underpinned by a substantial, Carcass-esque groove. Songs like ‘C.F.C (Cancer Fucking Cancer)’ and ‘Death Shall Rise’ are short and sharp. An odd fit compared to some of the other acts on Sunday’s bill, but a welcome addition.

Koko is obviously fucking rammed, as one would be loathe to miss the stoner overlords that are Sleep. This is a historic event, like seeing Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin in their heyday. The sounds of a NASA mission drift intermittently over the PA, and when the screen goes up, the band are welcomed like royalty. The first, fuzz laden notes of Jerusalem (Pt. 1) ring out, and soon every head nods along in unison to Jason Roeder’s steady, deliberate drum work. Matt Pike grins from ear to ear, effortlessly conjuring the iconic riffs from ‘Holy Mountain’ and ‘Dragonaut’ that we all know so well. Their tone is flawless, truly colossal, and through the pall of weed smoke (seems like every third fan lights up a spliff) Al Cisneros’s vocals drift languorously, narrating their cosmic journey. They encapsulate the spirit of the festival, and of their own legend, and it is an almost religious experience for everyone involved.

Roll on next year.

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