Photos: Joshua Ford
The third night of Southwest Terror Fest saw the largest turnout of the weekend, unsurprising when considering Neurosis’ appeal. With the event in full swing, the lineup for the evening was an eclectic mix that included post-metal courtesy of Phoenix, Arizona’s Sorxe, experimental machinations by Author & Punisher, bizarre doom metal from The Body and progressive sludge pioneers, Neurosis.
Sorxe opened with towering riffs that came crushing down, augmented by triumphant vocals that fluctuated from croon to snarl. Eyes forward, the musicians appeared lost in their music, riding every melody with the crowd, whose bloodthirstiness was only beginning to be quenched. With their introverted performance, Sorxe succeeded in a allowing their sound to speak for itself, in a similar fashion to Pelican’s set the night prior.
Author & Punisher, a drone-industrial project of Tristan Shone, stood out as one Southwest Terror Fest’s most unique performances. Shone poured every fiber of his physical and emotional being into bringing Author & Punisher to life. Surrounded by peculiar instruments of his own design, he appeared and worked like a shop teacher from hell. His hands operated switches, levers and spinning cylinders with the precision of a mad scientist electrocuting life into a monstrous creation. As Shone shrieked into his microphone, projections flashed in the background, the images ebbing to the music. From creepy nuns from ghostly convents to stationary wolves in a dying forest, these projections added an uneasy, appealing aura to Author & Punisher’s set.
Personally, The Body was the favorite act of the evening, with the Rhode Island duo unleashing their tormented sludgy doom with full fury. This was The Body stripped bare, bereft of the eccentricities of their recordings: electronic and folk sampling and the Assembly of Light choir, a staple on their albums All the Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood and Christs, Redeemers. A drum/guitar duo similar to the second night’s violent Eagle Twin, Chip King and Lee Buford remained purposefully distant from the crowd, channeling their wrath into bone-snapping sound.
By the time The Body finished their set, the crowd had grown in earnest, packing the Rialto Theatre from stage to entrance. Even the slightest hint of Neurosis‘ appearance caused a response: this was the set many had been anticipating. Neurosis wasted no time in setting the tone of their set, with their famous riffs flooding over the audience like a Biblical flood, sans the genocide. Each break between songs was met with applause that rivaled the band’s own output. As is their custom, Neurosis’ set soldiered from knee-popping heavy to starry elegance, never allowing their sonic artistry to stagnate. The crowd stood breathless as the band closed, as if having bore witness to gods fighting.
As with the second night, the main event was followed by an after show at The District Tavern, situated a block or two away from the Rialto Theatre, allowing the merry and drunken crowd an easy quest. The show opened with Windmill of Corpses’ bleak, rib cage churning doom that entranced those gathered into a mass, mournful headbang. Tucson locals, North, played a suffocating set that embraced all within its cavernous, isolating atmosphere that crawled its way into heads. Secrets of the Sky’s spearing riffs impaled and elated, complimented by keyboard symphonies that guided their set’s darkest parts into unexpected splendor. Primitive Man were the highlight of that night’s District show, slaughtering the earliest hours of the morning with a savage, tribal tempo that moved with a hunter’s grace, guitars that rose from the floor and predatory wails. With clawed hands raised in perverted salute, the attendees accepted the after show’s lineup with thundering applause. As Southwest Terror Fest’s third night ended, the sun was rising, promising the crowd the best was yet to drone.