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Desertfest UK 2022: Day 2 - Featuring Orange Goblin, Earthless And Green Lung

Photo of Konvent

Band Photo: Konvent (?)

Following a fantastic opening day marking the tenth year of Desertfest in London, it was time to head back to Camden on the Northern Line for another day of doom, desert and stoner music, in a city which may not embody the aesthetics of the music, but provided an excellent area with quick access to most of the venues. After arriving on the tube and having a quick chat with the Socialist Workers booth outside the station, it was another descent into The Underworld to begin what would no doubt be another highly enjoyable day of rock and metal.

Not having the same advantage that Blind Monarch did the day before of being the only band on, Scottish heavy/doom metal band King Witch still drew an impressive crowd and once they began playing, it was easy to see why. Think about all the things you loved when you first discovered heavy metal music and you'll notice that King Witch has them all. Led by the Doro-esque delivery of vocalist Laura Donnelly, the quartet's take on traditional metal is a refreshing one, not drenched in denim and leather, but taking the melodies and darkness that made metal so challenging for the status quo to begin with and bringing them into the modern world. They looked like they were having just as much fun as the audience and it was so easy to like them. I also can't remember the last time I enjoyed the bass so much! A fantastic start to the day from a band who will surely be back at Desertfest and much higher up on the bill in the future.

Just like the day before, the decision was made to hang around The Underworld and wait for the next act, who also like yesterday, were a big factor in my wanting to attend Desertfest so much. Konvent, one of the fastest rising names in death/doom, released their sophomore album, "Call Down The Sun" two months ago and the positive responses have been growing ever since. It was a notably energetic performance, given that they'd just flown in after appearing on the Gefle Metal Cruise in Sweden.

While it was a shame that guitarist Sara Helena Nørregaard couldn't make it, Lake of Shamash did an excellent job filling in, while in the centre of the stage, it was hard to believe that Rikke Emilie List, the friendly and approachable vocalist I'd interviewed recently, was the same person, as on stage she becomes a snarling beast, growling out the tunes ferociously. Much like Blacklab, Konvent exceeded the high expectations and the rush to the merch stand as soon as they'd finished was a testament to how well they went down. Never has something so grizzly sounded so fun!

Time then to take a walk. First to get something to eat and then to the Electric Ballroom where the crowd was quickly growing to see Stöner, who I believe were performing their first show in the United Kingdom. For those unaware, the trio features former Kyuss members Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri alongside drummer Ryan Güt and the outfit aren't shy about their roots, as was evidenced by the inclusion of "Gardenia" and "Green Machine" in the setlist.

The Stöner songs themselves went down very well too and actually sound a lot better in a live setting than they do on record, with opening number "Red Stays Rad" being performed inch perfect and matching the mood of the festival wonderfully. The smooth and groovy tunes were paired with some real high energy tracks too, such as "Evel Never Dies" and a cover of "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." Even if you're not blown away by the band's albums, if you're a desert rock fan, you owe it to yourself to see Stöner.

Every now and then, one is lucky enough to be present for something special. It may be an event of historical significance or in this case, to see the rise of a band to future stardom. Over at The Underworld, people lining up around the corner to see local lads Green Lung, whose brand of seventies occult rock/metal has been winning them fans the world over and breathing new life into a style many thought consigned to history. Indeed, if it weren't for my press pass, I don't think I would even have been able to get in, the place was so packed!

But it was worth being crammed like a sardine in a tin to see the quintet from the capital, who set the place ablaze as soon as they began playing "The Harrowing" from their new album, "Black Harvest," which was represented by no less than seven songs during the performance. Of course, their debut wasn't neglected either, with songs like "Templar Dawn," "The Ritual Tree" and the title track all receiving a great reaction, while the final song, "Let The Devil In" was played so well it stayed in my head for two days! One has to wonder how much bigger Green Lung would be if the pandemic hadn't happened, because they were clearly one of favourites this weekend and as bright as their star shines already, it's only going to rise further.

Heading back to the Electric Ballroom, there was another band set to perform who have gained a large following, San Diego's own, Earthless. Instrumental rock and metal is not something I've ever had much interest in and in all honesty, if you don't either then it's unlikely Earthless will do much for you, but for those who love it, Earthless delivers everything they want in droves. A word I used a lot to describe the festival when talking to friends was "vibe" and Earthless fit right in with the vibe of the festival, providing a great soundtrack for Desertfest which saw a sea of people moving and shaking on the floor, as well as plenty of others sat around the venue, some with their eyes closed, just feeling the music and becoming part of the atmosphere. The band don't seem to ever stop, making their set feel like one long jam session for those who aren't familiar with their music, but again, they're in the ideal setting for this. Fans were happy, the uninitiated got something different and it all matched the tone. What more could you ask for?

Being thirty two and therefore basically a pensioner, I decided to stick with The Electric Ballroom, watching on as the place emptied to see one of the other bands on like Pissed Jeans, Greenleaf or Josiah, while I reserved my energy for a band who you always need it for, Orange Goblin. Also from London, these titans of British heavy metal have made a name for themselves as one of the country's best live bands, who seem impossible of putting on a bad show and of course, tonight was no exception. Walking out to the AC/DC staple, "It's A Long Way To The Top," the quartet took seconds to get the place jumping, quite literally, as their groove laden riffs tore through the air.

Frontman Ben Ward knows exactly how to work a room, no matter how big or small and make every gig feel like an intimate setting, chatting with the crowd in between songs, mentioning plans for a new album and how good it was to be back at a festival. Naturally, the music itself was the centrepiece, with cuts from their latest album, "The Wolf Bites Back" sitting comfortably alongside fan favourites like "Saruman's Wish" and "Scorpionica." It's been said that Orange Goblin have inherited the crown of Britain's great live band from Motorhead and anyone watching them would have to agree, as their good time style of heavy music delights all within earshot. Any day with an Orange Goblin set is a good one, but they were the icing on the cake this Saturday and were the perfect end to such an awesome day.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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