Photos: Joshua Ford
Since 2012, Tucson, Ariz. has served as an unholy bastion to which the depraved and devout flock. This migration is owed to the Southwest Terror Fest, a weekend-long worship of heavy music in its many forms. This year, the event’s third iteration, consisted of four nights (Oct. 16 – 17) of music varying from sludge metal to powerviolence, a metalhead’s paradise where storms were crushing riffs and rain was liquor. David Rodgers, of local heavy-hitters Godhunter, was the man responsible for ensuring this monolithic fest made it to light, personally receiving thanks from many of the bands mid-set. Monolithic best describes Southwest Terror Fest III and its expansive performances by headliners Goatsnake, Neurosis and Sunn O))), respectively. Taking place jointly between the District Tavern and the much larger Rialto Theatre, the fest featured the main acts in the latter, allowing space for their sounds to consume the audience. The District served as the venue for the first night’s sole show, a night of sludge and doom made possible by -(16)-, Oryx, Twingiant and Conqueror Worm.
The second night was the terror in full swing, opening with Godhunter’s punishing, hardcore-punk tinged sludge, stirring a thirst in the slowly growing crowd for the heaviness to come. Eagle Twin followed with their brand of ominous doom smothered in sludge and drowned in drone. The riffs hit the Rialto’s high ceiling, avalanche down to the shuddering quake of the drums. As their set trudged further towards its conclusion, the drum kit itself was ripped apart as if it were a trophy carcass, with bare fists pummeling the floor tom, sending a fleshy thud through the audience. Pelican served as the penultimate act, an energetic set where the playing spoke for itself, painting with colors of varying temperatures. Their set was a clear favorite of the night, with the throng reacting positively to every solo and thoughtful passage, which contrasted the direct ferocity of predecessors Godhunter and Eagle Twin. In speaking with other patrons, it was learned their reception was deemed somewhat surprising, considering Pelican’s progressive styling over brute force. Each act was met with unanimous applause, hoots and appraising drunken slurs.
The main event was crowned by an enthusiastic performance from Los Angeles’ Goatsnake, with vocalist Pete Stahl meeting the audience with a boisterous presence, welcoming them with near-operatic serenades. His flamboyant, commanding presence worked in tandem with Greg Anderson’s earth-moving and sky-scraping riffs, inducing a headbang that ranged from low-hung to neck-snapping. Their atmosphere was made a bit lighthearted by the occasional use of a harmonica, waved victoriously above the crowd and relieved from Tucson’s local Chicago Music store. Fueled by whiskey worship, the crowed raised glass and beer bottle to Goatsnake as they brought one of the more colorful performances and attitudes of the evening. “Fuckin Goatsnake,” indeed.
The after-show was a more intimate affair, taking place in the narrow District Tavern. Bolstered by the efficiently bad idea of a $3 beer/whiskey shot special, the house was full of camaraderie rooted in a mutually-held love for the music. Headphones and mp3s were passed around as favorite bands were swapped. Cigarettes were bummed without guilt. As Spiritual Shepherd took the stage in full fury, coaxing the crowd into the venue from wall to front door, carrying over the energy from the Rialto with ease. Take Over and Destroy seized the evening with black teeth, necromancing the remains into reanimation. Sludge gods The Atlas Moth closed with aching riffs complimented by cold-hued lasers, haloing doomed screams that echoed off into the darkness, ending night two with the promise that it wasn’t over, further punishment was to be delivered…
AMIGO THE DEVIL
DESTROYER OF LIGHT
CVLT NATION CHIEF CORRESPONDANTS JOSH & BRUCE:
TAKE OVER AND DESTROY
Stay tuned for Day 3 & 4 coming soon!