In the wake of their thunderous debut LP in last year’s Conduit, King Goat have bewitched their fair share of doom fanatics with their dramatic and captivating live show, and It’s fair to say they’ve earned their stripes and given the doom metal underground a lot to enjoy over the past twelve months. 2016 was a pivotal year for them in this regard, and the Brighton outlet are not ones to rest on their laurels, gearing up to release the deluxe edition of Conduit in December. Perhaps the biggest offering they have left for 2017, is the killer line-up at their upcoming one-day event, Riffmass.
As locals discovered at last year’s Riffmass and Mammothfest 2016’s doom stage, the dingy Green Door Store is the perfect locale for a day of doom, grooves, psychedelia and hefty riffs, and King Goat, having played the venue on numerous occasions, are no strangers to this. The day’s line-up is full of bands any riff-mad metalhead won’t want to miss out on, from Witchsorrow to King Goat themselves, but here are our picks for the top ones to watch at Riffmass 2017.
Fast becoming one of the UK’s most enticing sludge prospects, Croydon-bred riff-mongers Slabdragger provide a colossal form of metal, informed by a proclivity for prolonged track lengths. The band’s tracks seldom come shorter than ten minutes but frequently live up their lengthy runtimes, proving themselves composed compositions that revel in the monotonous nature of doom but change things up often enough to remain engaging. Anyone unfamiliar with their 2016 opus Rise Of The Dawncrusher will want to check it out before heading down to The Green Door Store on Saturday.
The Earls Of Mars
With a sound that borrows from jazz but largely stays rooted in the realm of the heavy, The Earls Of Mars are sure to provide one of Riffmass’ most eccentric performances. The band’s sound revels in a dramatic approach that sometimes plays out like a bizarre heavy metal musical, but there’s enough in the way of riffs to keep the more close-minded metal fan happy. These days, chances to hear bands that do something new are few and far between, so don’t skip out on the chance to see one.
The Moth’s set at Riffmass comes at the end of a UK tour with the event’s headliners, Witchsorrow, and will see them hammer out their overpowering form of sludgy metal. The Hamburg outfit’s fuzzed-out brand of brutality is unashamedly devoid of frills, joyously stewing in muscular bellows and gargantuan riffs that occasionally journey into thrashier textures – perfect for those hoping to fit some moshing into a day spearheaded by bands who prefer their guitars slow.
Bringing their cosmic riffs from the faraway land of Cardiff, Lacertilia, still touring in support of last year’s excellent We’re Already Inside Your Mind, are another one of Riffmass’ psychedelic propositions. There’s more to this five-piece than their hallucinogenic sonics, though, as Lacertilia are just as adept at launching into steamrolling, groove-fuelled riffs. Their sound offers a modern and energetic take on rock ‘n’ roll, borrowing elements from funk, desert rock, stoner metal, 70’s rock, 60’s psychedelic, blues and proto-punk.
This UK duo rather vaguely define their genre as “loud”, but it’s not a false categorisation. The band’s only release to date is the more helpfully titled doom/punk/blues EP, a DIY concoction that harks back to the blues-inspired world of early heavy metal, whilst infusions of doom and punk keep things fresh. Frontman Harry Armstrong (who also fronts The Earls Of Mars) has garnered a wealth of experience playing in riff-heavy bands over the past 25 years or so, and alongside drummer Kieran Murphy, is sure to provide one of the day’s most fun sets.
March The Desert
Favouring the hypnotic end of the doomy spectrum, March The Desert’s stonerisms and heavy-handed psychedelia are due to kick Riffmass off in trippy fashion. This crew, made up of lads from Reading and Brighton, released their debut full-length earlier this year after plugging away in the underground for a few years. Tidal Mind even received a positive review in the pages of Kerrang!, showing the enormous potential March The Desert have, not just in the dingy depths of the metal undergrowth, but in the rock mainstream.
Riffmass takes place on November 25th at Brighton’s Green Door Store. Get your tickets here.
Words: George Parr