In what has become one of our favourite annual events, Desertfest is all set to roll in to Camden Town once again this coming weekend, bringing with it riffs, riffs and then a few more riffs. Our preview of the event this year will stretch across two features, with the first having a core focus on the huge double header of Corrosion Of Conformity and Crowbar on the Friday night. The rest of Friday will also be previewed and we’ll dabble in to a bit of the history of Desertfest as well. This is their fifth year so we’ll be looking back at some of the highlights from previous years (because there’s been a lot!). Please send us your own Desertfest highlights from over the years via Twitter or Facebook!


Corrosion Of Conformity (22:00 - 23:15) & Crowbar (20:15 - 21:15)


The reason we’ve bunched these two together stems from the fact that both are leading lights in the American South’s invasion of the Stoner/Sludge/Doom scene. Both bands present traditional Southern Sludge with a sound which pioneered and lit the way for most of the other bands on the Desertfest line up. With Corrosion Of Conformity, the band originated in North Carolina, but it wasn’t until Mississippi born Pepper Keenan joined the band that things really began to kick off for them. Both Deliverance and Wiseblood in the mid nineties raised the bar within this particular circle of bands with both being records that influence so many today.

Southern Sludge brothers Crowbar, born out of New Orleans, followed a similar trail as Corrosion Of Conformity albeit with far less commercial success. Led by the formidable Kirk Windstein, Crowbar’s attitude since their inception has always just screamed of “we’re going to be louder and fucking heavier than you are.”

Both Windstein and Keenan were united in the Southern super-group Down, together being pushed to beyond the limits of their talent to record some of the heaviest and important albums in heavy music. Down ended up serving as a brilliant gateway band for all of those not particularly familiar with both Corrosion Of Conformity and Crowbar with both having subsequently seen their fanbase swell within a new generation - something which will be evident at Desertfest come Friday night.

In late 2014 Pepper Keenan rejoined CoC who had reformed without him some years prior. In the same year Windstein left Down in order to focus on Crowbar and their impending 25th anniversary. In returning full time to both CoC and Crowbar, we’ve now got two bands who are displaying some of the best form of their careers. Good luck to The Electric Ballroom, this double header is going to be huge.

The Underworld

Rotor (20:45 - 22:00)


If the Southern slab of Sludge on the ‘main stage’ isn’t quite cutting it for you, there is something of a slightly different flavour over at The Underworld. Rotor are a German Instrumental Rock band who deliver delicate doses of heavy with a moody atmospheric feel. The band have been going since 1988 and have a reputation mainly built on their live performances. Wildly popular in their homeland, Rotor have a real job on their hands going up against the main two in The Electric Ballroom but there’s absolutely no doubt they’ll deliver.

Raging Speedhorn (19:15 - 20:15)


On a line up filled to the brim with Stoner and Sludge Metal, Raging Speedhorn bring something slightly different. Whilst they do have tracks with bring those elements to the fore, Raging Speedhorn excel in the Thrashy, Hardcore mayhem which makes you want to pummel your face through the speakers rather than light up a smoke and chill out. The band reunited in 2014 after a six year hiatus, and are set to release their first album since this comeback in July this year. The fact that we’ve got new music on the horizon adds another level of excitement for this performance from one of the most underrated British Metal bands around.

Lionize (17:45 - 18:45)


We’ve been big fans of this band ever since Clutch brought them over to the UK in 2014, and their interesting and fresh sounding breed of Rock music continues to grow and grow each year. As a band they’re not afraid to bring in new elements. You’ll go from bone crushing heavy riffs to spiralling Jazz infused intricacy in a heartbeat. As a band they’ve always recorded music on their terms, recently moving in to producing shorter EP’s rather than full length albums. They sound good on record, but everything really begins to make sense when you actually catch them live - on seeing them live you’ll really understand why they’ve got such a huge backing within the scene.

The Black Heart

JK Flesh (21:45 - 23:00)


This will be the first of two opportunities to see one of the founding members of Godflesh across the Desertfest weekend, with JK Flesh being Justin Broadrick’s solo project in which he has utilised a really heavy Electronic element mixed with huge swathes of Dub, Bass and Techno. We’re sure you’ve probably read that and thought “what the fuck are you talking about?” But in all seriousness, whether you’re looking at the Napalm Death/Godflesh side of things, or Broadrick’s time working on Jesu, you are looking at one of the most talented and adventurous musicians in all of heavy music. He couldn’t care less, which as an attitude is frankly admirable in a music world where so many feel they have to conform to what everyone else is doing. We’re certain this’ll be a unique performance in itself, and it’s generally excellent that across one weekend you’ve got the chance to see Broadrick in both Godflesh and as JK Flesh.

History of Desertfest: The Early Years


So as we noted earlier, this will be the fifth Desertfest event to roll in to Camden Town (and let’s not forget Berlin as well), and for five years now it has grown and sustained itself as one of the most impressive events across the whole festival calendar. From the start, the festival did brilliantly in bringing together legendary acts and up and coming bands in to a whirlwind of chaos. The very first event was headlined by a band whose dedication to the wider scene alone meant they were the perfect choice. Orange Goblin led a festival including Karma To Burn, Corrosion Of Conformity (pre re-joining with Pepper), Valient Thorr, Church Of Misery, Black Corbra and so much more, with Desertfest smashing it’s way on to a festival circuit in impressive fashion.

With any new festival, the difficultly is being able to replicate things going in to the second year. There were a few repeat bands lower down on the line up, but once again they smashed it out the park with some of the bands at the top. Desertfest were able to snap up one of the pioneers of Doom Metal in Pentagram and the rest was history. Pentagram arrived at Desertfest in 2013 and headlined a line up which, it’s no exaggeration to say, they’d help spawn through their influence over the years.

In these first two years, Desertfest as a festival had both identified the real need for an event like this, and truly delivered with it. There are only a handful of festivals like this across Europe and its placing on the festival circuit is both unique and interesting. As a festival it reaches deep in to a scene crowded with hugely impressive bands who yearly have the opportunity to play on this platform which elevates them from smaller shows they’d already be playing across the year.