Desertfest rolls into Camden Town yearly, bringing with it a ragtag of some of the heaviest and best bands in all of Stoner/Sludge/Doom. You've got old bands and the new breed standing side by side keeping a scene in heavy music well and truly alive. The monster of Desertfest grows each year and the 2014 event was potentially the best yet.


You wouldn't think it was 2.30 in the afternoon upstairs at The Black Heart on a weekday. The riffs and beers were flowing and the hugely impressive To The Bones (9/13) kicked the weekend off excellently. Much like the two or three bands after them, To Them Bones benefitted from the fact that at this point in the day both The Underworld and Electric Ballroom hadn't opened its doors yet so the venue was packed out. They didn't waste the opportunity as well, smashing through a set injected with adrenalin fuelled riffs, bouncy tracks and a real confidence which will see them placed higher on these kinds of bills in the future. Following on from this came another band showered in confidence, Death Ape Disco (9/13) who despite several tech problems delivered an excellent and at times mesmerising show. There was definitely a huge Alice In Chains vibe with this band, with big brash powerful vocals, and heavy slow chugging style with the riffs. They coped well with the technical issues they did have, using it as fuel for banter with the crowd, again highlighting the kind of confidence they hold in such an intimate venue.
Moving across to The Underworld, the Dutch three piece, Swamp Machine (10/13) sounded excellent as they brought the first full on dose of sludge to the festival. Similar to bands like Karma To Burn, the show was pretty much instrumental except for the odd bit of vocals here and there. They delivered this huge scaping sound with lengthy bass driven riffs, definitely became a crowd favourite on the day.

Next up on this stage Borracho (8/13) fell slightly victim to the power of the band before them. They were solid live, and as the set progressed they really began to hit the mark but needed more to stand out. Moving over to the Electric Ballroom the brilliantly named Sasquatch (9/13) drew a big crowd, and for good reason. Right from the off there was just this unrelenting power with people stomping around literally like Sasquatch. They bring an excellent 70's style to their rougher stoner edge, combining the two with brilliantly tight musicianship. Back over at The Black Heart, Zodiac (8/13) brought a great sense of swagger and a big classic rock feel. Solo wise they were absolutely on point, making those speakers work overtime through a huge sound in such a tight venue.


Saturday kicked off with another flurry of huge gargantuan riffs as Slabdragger (9/13) did superbly to blow away any of those hungover cobwebs lingering in the head. Something that was true of the whole festival really is just how good the sound was for a band so early in the afternoon. There was none of this saving 'saving the best sound for headliners' mentality, every band was treated the same. The band are quoted in saying ""Our band interests are jamming seemingly endless riffs whilst intoxicated on a mixture of beer and marijuana." and they're not wrong. Next up on this stage came a bizarre yet spectacular show from Arabrot (11/13) who mixed heavy storming riffs with eclectic noise rock moments. The front man looked like a Canadian mountain ranger but his presence more resembled that of a mountain bear. They were not just another Desertfest heavy band though, the whole show was unique, from erratic drum action to shrieking female vocals, they certainly left the crowd at the end looking at each other with joyful shock.

As the night went on, over on the Main Stage the whiskey sinking, riff bearing groovy motherfuckers in Weedeater (11/13) brought an absolute ruckus in the sub-headlining spot. They blend the some of the catchiest riffs heard all weekend with this heavy and savage menace, making it feel like at any moment Dixie will come down into the crowd and smash his bass over your face. A decent set length meant the band were able to pull material from across their discography keeping old and new fans alike all in the groove.

Following on from that came the set of the weekend from the mighty Norwegian machine that is Kvelertak (12/13). Even just looking at the line up before a single note was played, it was clear that Kvelertak were the stand-out name on there. The opener, with Apenbaring ringing out and front man Erlend Hjelvik just standing tall with an owl on his head is always a sight to behold, no matter how many times you've seen them. The Electric Ballroom just exploded into an absolute frenzy as Kvelertak launched into banger after banger covering their two albums pretty equally, highlights including Blodtorst, Bruane Benn and Mjod. Live they are a powerhouse beyond so many in heavy music at the moment, the constant intensity tonight had people talking about the show for the rest of the festival.


As the hangovers grew, and eyes were drifting, the patrons of Desertfest once again needed the heavy carnage that the festival brings to blow any cobwebs away. One band bringing that on in spades in their mid-afternoon slot at The Underworld were Grime (10/13) who just pounded away with their big fat, chunky riffs, injecting a degree of groove in here and there to make for a really awesome sound.

Moving over back to the Electric Ballroom, Radio Moscow (9/13) delivered a sprawling spectrum of psychedelic tunes. You'd be lured into a fall sense of calm and serenity before being smacked across the face with an absolutely roaring guitar solo and bouncy riff. They had an excellent 70's heavy blues feel to them which certainly went down well with the crowd and set up perfectly it seems for the excellent Elder (10/13) who followed. Elder are bringing a new dose of awesome to the Stoner/Sludge scene, and their set full of riffs big and small had the crowd standing in awe for it's entirety. The appreciation across the floor was expressed through open mouths and banging heads, and it was great to see a band make the kind of impact which meant people feel like they simply had to stay and watch.

Back at The Underworld came one of the absolute set's of the weekend from Eagle Twin (12/13) which was just an absolute game changer. This is a two-piece band and they played louder than anyone else all weekend. The sheer clout coming from Tyler Smith's drum kit was absolutely phenomenal. On record their twisted psychedelic Doom is very in your face, but live it feels like they've literally taken over your brain and consciousness. It is difficult put it in to words actually the kind of power you experience coming from Gentry Densley's guitar which is so down-tuned it felt like the floor would crack open any second and Satan himself would come up, grab a beer and join the crowd. Absolutely brilliant performance from a band who are more than worth checking out.

To conclude proceedings back at The Electric Ballroom, came Sunday night's headliners Boris (11/13) who, to say have an eclectic set of tricks up their sleeve would be a massive understatement. They knew their crowd though, dumping some of the other weird electronic stuff they've done in the past for the heavier, drone style riffs. They'd move from blazing through a groovier tune to a doomier track with what seemed little effort. They are a band who have absolutely perfected their craft; the tightness between them is absolutely stunning. For the vast majority of the show they appear as silhouettes amidst a smoke machine overload, adding to the mystery and excitement. Many wouldn't have had a clue about Boris before they were announced but rest assured the band departed the festival with a host of new fans, and brought down the curtain brilliantly on yet another heavier than heavy Desertfest Festival.