It’s the final day of the first band of that is four piece Morag Tong who are playing at the Underworld. Their dynamic sound is huge with incredible, soaring but abrasive vocals from the drummer. The bassist and two guitarists head banging in unison all in a line adds to the hypnotic vibe of the music and soon the audience has joined them. They can no doubt also feel the rumbling bass emanating through their bodies at a low slow mammoth like pace which is then pierced by wailing guitar solos cutting through the fuzzy sludge.
Stockports self described “tentacle k hole nightmare” seems apt for the trio Under who are more eccentric and discordant – but in a kind of tight and controlled, pyschedelic, progressive chaos which really makes them a bit of a head fuck to describe. Mischievously toying with the rhythm and pace the are impressively much tighter than on record. The rising and tortured off key vocals that at times come from all three of them makes for a pretty epic sound which is well juxtaposed against the lethargic heavy as balls filth they also spew out.
From one cacophony to another the Dev is already packed and the air full of anticipation making it a challenge to squeeze through to the front to catch the sinister and foreboding quintet Wallowing. Adorned in dystopic looking black bee suits with eerie green lights and lazers they introduce the crowd crammed into the Dev to a Misery soaked psychotic soundscape with turbulent dual howling amidst blackened sludge which veers off into punk and piercing electronic noise. Every layer within the chaos is tight as fuck from the dynamic drumming to the speedy grinding guitars which then slow down to a desolate crawl. The mosh pit, which starts up makes for a more sweaty and cramped affair in the best way possible, and the cathartic nihilism of the band – combined with the knowledge that they are screaming about our fucked up society and dying world – results in emotionally gut wrenching moments. This all makes for an even more poignant experience.
Being a massive super fan of the double trouble that are Human Leather it’s a little hard not to be biased. It’s a tough decision to miss Eyehategod, but here’s to supporting the little guys! The punk/crust/sludge bassist/vocalist and drummer expand their short heinously sweaty set with ridiculous and honest banger which has the crowd laughing in between the short sharp and shocking bursts of deranged drumming, dynamic, chugging bass lines and frustrated, unsettling shouty vocals.
There’s a race to the Powerhaus which conveniently lies in between the Electric Ballroom and the Roundhouse to catch London Poseidon who today play as a trio. The predominantly doom act vary greatly in tone and rhythm. Starting out slow with waves of grooves that hypnotise the audience into a head banging trance, crashing drums and devastating riffs with tortured barking and howls cast us right down into the cavernous depths and the ebb and flow of the soundscape continues in this manner. The Soaring vocals build into aggressive howls and the gentle sludge (if that’s such a thing) is enhanced with drawn out screams and hypnotic spacey melodies.
Poseidons vocalist Yusuf Tary is doing double duties and appears on stage once again with his beat up bass guitar to demolish the Powerhaus- armed with his comrades in destruction on guitar and drums, the mighty Slabdragger. In between the sludgy riffs they weave groovy melodies with effortless drum fills and a trembling bass line. Finishing with “Dawn Crusher Rising” the power trio vigorously fill the allotted timeslot of an hour by even throwing in some inhuman black metal howls with sick guitar shredding. The hyped up crowd stir up a frantic mosh pit and crazed crowd surfers make it their current raison d’etre to hurl themselves at and off the stage as many times as humanly possible. Needless to say, it’s an absolute sludge infused riot and almost begins to make up for the heinous decision of missing Yob.
With a stacked lineup it’s already hard to choose who to prioritise or whether to run around pinballing from one venue to the next catching half sets of the high calibre of bands. There is however time to race to the Roundhouse for some Electric Wizard and then back to the Powerhaus for Bongzilla. The Wizard open up with the classic “Return Trip” from the revered Come My Fanatics and continue with “The Satanic rights of Drugula”. The fuzz laden riffs from Liz Buckinghams guitar and the evil vocals of Jus Oborn reverberate around the massive venue. They sound great, and it’s the usual Wizard show of ‘don’t give a fuck hostility and riffs’ – the crowd laps it up – but the again reformed Wizard bring nothing new to their performance so the first few notes of the honestly disappointing “Black Mass” signals it’s time to leave.
The Powerhaus is packed for Bongzilla who are out of this world heavy, even though they seem to be down a member. The humid, hazy air matches the dense mood of the bluesy sludge and they play as if in their own private jam session. There are very few vocals and it is powerfully entrancing as Muleboys thunderous bassline shakes the very bones of both the sweat drenched audience and Camden itself. Having himself challenged Electric Wizard to a smoke off earlier on and then inhaled two joints through eager nostrils while on stage Muleboy is in his world of of fuzz worship and this could explain the totally laid back whatever goes vibe but funnily enough, it works. WIth filthy sludgy break downs heavy enough for some relentless crowd surfing.
Mancunian quartet Ten Foot Wizard conclude the party back at the Underworld where it all began with an almighty Buckfast fuelled bang. Their energetic, funky cocktail of stoner rock with a twist of blues and some comical crowd interaction is the perfect end to celebrate ten years of Desertfest London, and long may it reign.
Words and Photography : Abi Coulson (Darktones Photography)