Full line-up for Northern Discomfort 2018:
Danish one-man black metal project Afsky is the brainchild of Ole Luk, perhaps better known as vocalist/guitarist in atmospheric black metal powerhouse Solbrud. In Afsky, Ole moves into musical territories more traditionally associated with depressive black metal, and the music is textured by something akin to rotting, maggot-infested skin, and the prevailing feel of Afsky is an almost exact approximation of its name (”Afsky” is Danish for ”Disgust”).
Hailing from Birmingham, the city where it all started back in the days, Alunah wear their Sabbath-worship on their sleeves and proudly ride the waves of acid-tinged retro. They deliver an ensnaring combo of delightfully heavy, fuzzy riffs while maintaining an otherworldly distance, not the least due to the vocals floating on top of the slowly writhing riffs. On later albums they channel a more folk-like feel, which suits the overall compositions very well, and a deep connection to forests and cycles of life can be easily felt within the music. Alunah will be bringing along new vocalist Siân Greenaway who replaced Sophie Day in late 2017.
Beltez from Germany have taken a quite different approach to the blacker metal arts than most of their contemporaries. Sonically they base themselves on a much more traditional heavy metal/thrash foundation, upon which they build inspiring compositions of bleakness and despair, all accentuated by some really amazing, hurtful shrieks by vocalist M.P. And the end-result is both rocking and shocking. And definitely black.
CHRCH from California brings an almost perfect amalgamation of black metal with funeral doom. This church reeks a lot more of Kali than of Cali, and listeners are slowly dragged into the abyss by the grinding, obliterating music – alluring as well as frightening, dark and devastating. Eva’s vocals creates an at times most interesting counterpoint to the deeply disturbing and downtrodden music, being almost angelic and ethereal, at times just more of a hint than a real presence.
Dawn Ray’d (uk)
Liverpool’s Dawn Ray’d creates a quite peculiar mix of black metal with a blend of exciting medieval-inspired folk-structures. Resulting in music that comes across as both expressing a great longing and sadness, and at the same time seems to bridge the gap between the doomy metal of the 80’es (Cirith Ungol comes to mind) and the extreme metal of today, while not displaying any of the light superficiality or simplicity often seen among many folk-metal acts. Add into the mix lyrics about struggle and revolution and you have a band intent on setting the world ablaze.
Elusive like summer clouds when it’s warranted, yet still packing a punch of fuzzy greatness. Domkraft from Stockholm combines the grand, repetitive riffs of stoney doom, with floating, hypnotizing psychedelia into a fascinating package of focused yet encompassing musicality. Add into this a measure of the more minimalistic parts of the kraut scene, and Domkraft feels like a winding river that will surely entrance the audience, sending minds on wondrous journeys through time and space.
Few bands crush quite like Fister from St. Louis. Their brand of dirty, crunching, bluesey sludge delivers a kick to the stomach followed by a sledgehammer to the face in a most satisfactory way, combined with the dry humor found in track-titles like Mazda Of Puppets, and the sheer ambition found in releases like the concept EP Violence. Repetitive riffs utilized to the fullest to create this sense of certain dread not quite found anywhere else but in the doomy vaults of the slower parts of metal while vocalist Kenny Snarzyk’s screamy growls adds that sense of urgency that gets you to look repeatedly over your shoulder.
Gnaw Their Tongues (nl)
Dutch one-man project Gnaw Their Tongues, the brainchild of Maurice de Jong (Mories), has long been one of the most interesting (and also most productive – with over 35 releases since 2006) entities in the experimental black metal/noise scene. Entering the world of Gnaw Their Tongues is like stepping into a nightmare, only to understand you are not sleeping, you are wide awake and this, this is real. A real-world picture by Hieronymus Bosch, torn, disjointed, demented. Existing somewhere between ambient noise, drone and black metal (think a combination of early Einsturzende Neubauten and later Mayhem), there is nothing pretty or mitigating about de Jong’s sonic tableaus at all – this is humanity stripped of any positive, self-glorifying varnish… seen as the ugly mass of degradation, torture, oppression and murder it really is.
Goatess from Stockholm was started in 2009 (at the time under the moniker Weekend Beast) by guitarist Niklas and singer Chritus (known for his work with St. Vitus, Lord Vicar and Count Raven) as a vehicle for creating a dreamy, slightly psychedelic stoner doom, with strong ties to the olden sounds of Sabbath and related. But also close to the stonier parts of for instance the Soundgarden catalog. Their music is groovy, rich in atmosphere, with riffs being allowed to slowly develop and envelop the listener, creating a unique meditative feel, with a sound that is fuzzy, warm and thick. They will descend upon Northern Discomfort with an as yet not disclosed new vocalist.
Danish Heathe from Aalborg play a quite unique blend of dark post punk and funeral doom with some blackened elements.
Creating an atmosphere of complete and utter desperation with their crunching, repetitive riffs and structures putting the listener into a dark trance, the soaring organ giving the proceedings an otherworldly character. Still, there is an inert beauty and majesty in the compositions that stays on the mind for some time afterwards. Created in the mind of Martin Pale, and brought to life by a live-collective, life will quite certainly not be quite the same after experiencing Heathe.
Rising from the mists of obscurity, on the back of an extremely strong 3-track demo released on the cusp of spring 2017 (prolonging winter with a few extra months), Konvent have in record time become a household-name, landing support-jobs and festival bookings all over the place. Stripping death and doom to the bare minimum, with some of the most frighteningly raw vocals around, Konvent seem intent on doing one thing, and one thing only: laying waste: to audiences, venues, surroundings. As devastating live as on recordings – Konvent are not to be missed!
Mares Of Diomedes (irl)
2 brothers (Shea and Jordan) constitutes the Irish duo Mare Of Diomedes, who very successfully mixes the angst and anxiety of post-hardcore with heavy, fuzzy, powerful doom riffing. There’s an urgency and desperation to their music that’s not often heard in modern doom, and the untraditional (for doom) vocals lend that desperation an almost tangible presence. Now, if Neurosis hadn’t decided to create a brand new genre – this could very well have been how they’d ended up sounding. Headbanging is mandatory.
Medicine Noose (de)
Slow, dragging and painfully desperate, the sludgy yet punked-up doom of Medicine Noose sounds exactly as their name implies: as some sort of medically applied strangulation slowly squeezing the life out of your body. With lyrics reeking of everything rotten in this world, this new Berlin-band will most certainly lay waste to your body and sour the beer in your throat. Crippling and fascinating.
With vocals sounding like they’re recorded straight from the entrance to hell, and music that firmly grips you by the throat and refuse to let go, Danish purveyors of filthy, violent doom/sludgecore Ordeal, brings their aggressive, unrelenting onslaught which will most certainly both destroy and create one of the few opportunities for a regular mosh-pit during this year’s festival.
Seminal Italian experimental noise/extreme metal duo started off doing improv of an almost free-jazz like style, and while the band’s compositions have grown ever more structured and song-like over the 15+ years they have been in existence, the core of experiments, noise and sparse instrumentation have remained and in some ways have become both more targeted and extreme. Drawing inspiration from both industrial, post-punk, goth, experimental death metal and much more, their compositions are often almost surgical stabs that leave the listener both confused, bleeding and with a sense of wonder and awe
Pissboiler, a droney doom band from Sweden, takes both speed and music down into the lower bowels of the underground, using dark, churning, repetitive riffs to full effect. They create a sinister, creeping almost trance-like atmosphere that sounds like a pending disaster is just around the next corner, lying in wait. And when you turn that corner the band have already prepared the next creepy invasion from the abyss, in a depressive downward spiral. Absolutely not for the faint-hearted
With a slow, almost dragging tempo, Slomatics from Belfast have excavated The Original, Primordial Riff and are expounding (and pounding it) beyond recognition, in the process laying waste and transforming minds. As showcased on their recent album Futurians: Live At Roadburn, Slomatics bring a massive, hypnotizing wall of fuzz, bringing riffs so huge they threaten to topple any man-made structures within a mile-wide radius. No one will be left unchanged when Slomatics sets Northern Discomfort on fire, with the perfect musical description of the dreariness of everyday life in an indifferent society of sheep, and at the same time the very remedy to set yourself free from this society and liberate the mind.
German progressive extremists Valborg have consistently released amazing material for the past more than 10 years.
Musically they are cut from some of the same cloth that gave us bands like Celtic Frost and Coroner, but never content to simply mimic others, their music remains solidly unique. Immerse yourself in Valborg, and you will invariably wake up with a shiver. The very involved musical compositions and the concise, succinct yet evocative lyrics entwine to create visions of angry bleakness; the world they view is not a pretty one, and the people inhabiting it are petty and vengeful.
Thanks a lot to Strange Beautiful Lifegiving for the kind words about the bands.