Review by By Matt Bacon From October 2014 Vandala Magazine READ MORE ARTICLES
Another night, another show, I’m going to three this week, and it’s time for me to step up and deliver. Tonight’s show saw me getting to check out Mount Salem and Bl’ast for the first time as well as seeing my favorite band in the world, SubRosa, yet again. As I ride home back to college and class in less than 10 hours, I’m trying to take a moment to reflect on the glory of what I have seen and the magic that was unveiled to me. This evening, the first night of the open air Uninvited Fest, revealed to me that this is what I was meant to do, worship the underground. As one tattoo I saw succinctly put it, “If we didn’t have this, we might as well be dead.”
The first band up was Mount Salem. Now I had been moderately familiar with them from their new record, but I had never seen them live before, nor did I know any of the band members. Yet I was very much impressed with their set, they delivered some hard hitting and groovy music that got me thinking of Pentagram and even Budgie. The only thing that let me a little down was the lack of a Black Sabbath cover, but I was promised “It’s coming.” See, Mount Salem are the kind of band who get at a much more primal state of rock and roll than most of their peers and it allows them to create something that will ring out for generations.
Next up was SubRosa. As usual they stole the show and set my heart on fire. They are in my opinion the best band in the world today, and I got to see them do two songs I’d never heard them do live before. The open air setting of the festival allowed their sound to ring out in a much different way than usual it became far more grand and triumphant. This band touch on something beautiful when they play live. There is a majesty to this band that few other acts can even dream of. At the same time though they manage to dwell on the basic humanity that runs through us all. Seeing fans cry is a fairly normal thing at a SubRosa gig. This band doesn’t mess around, they go right for your heart and force you to face all of the emotions you might have been too afraid to acknowledge.
The last band I got to see was Bl’ast. I had heard good things about these guys from members of Phil Anselmo’s Illegals, and I was very curious as to how they would go over. Suffice to say that their set was intensely interesting, it was awesome, if a little sad to get to see a hardcore punk band of such legendary status with only fifty or so people out front. Asides from a drunk punk couple, most folks just stood, enamored with the raw energy and infectious grooves of the band. These guys may not have really been playing to their audience tonight, but they certainly brought the rage. Harsh vocals and pumping riffs certainly got my heart racing.
In closing, all three bands that I saw tonight simply left me in awe. Mount Salem were as satisfying live as they are on the record, and I was left begging for more. Interviewing the singer afterwards showed me that these guys could be on the verge of something great. Meanwhile, SubRosa left me feeling satisfied and complete, the crushing dose of ritualistic glory helps keep my heart beating. Lastly, Bl’ast proved that hardcore punk will never die and definitely got me to crack out the ol’ two step a couple of times. This is the sort of thing that speaks to the glory of the underground, so if you have a chance, check out the next couple days of the fest, or at least find these bands live!
By sheer chance two days later I managed to find my way inside the Uninvited Fest grounds for another dose of heavy madness. I got to check out two bands before heading off to yet another show (Who said the life of a metal journalist was easy?) Both groups, Ruby the Hatchet and Order of the Owl. These two bands both brought something refreshing to the table and gave me a moment to ponder the complete and profound beauty of heavy music, not just as an art form but also as a pure and simple way of life.
Ruby the Hatchet were the first band I saw on that sunny Saturday. They play a distinct brand of psych rock that really got to me. The occult vibe was strong, but the drug one perhaps even more so. The bands dynamic front woman Jillian Taylor prances about the stage like a thing possessed. Her stage presence becomes a large focal point for the show, allowing all of the evil of the sound to come out through one crazed witch. Yet despite all this, the band has a distinctly forward thinking sound, and while they may hail past greats, they bring a lot of cool stuff to the table and left me begging for more. I may very well book them in the next few weeks.
The only other band I got to see at day three of Uninvited was Order of the Owl. Now this is a band who knows how to put on a pretty interesting show. They have a lot of very unique and occasionally disturbing elements to their sound. Songs like Hellrider demonstrate the crazed power of the band. The bands singer and bassist Brent Anderson of Zoroaster leans over the mic like a thing possessed. There is a glorious demonic beauty to this band and the high octane attack of these tracks immediately got to me. There is something strangely triumphant about these songs, they get into your head and then tear your ribs apart, metal madness for the crippled soul.
This third day of Uninvited was something of a blessed accident. The two bands I got to see unleashed sonic waves that reeked of the madness of the true cult. There is a glorious darkness to be found in this kind of music, and though Ruby the Hatched and Order of the Owl approach this darkness in completely different ways they both invoked darker emotions within. Watching these acts rip it up standing alongside the likes of SubRosa and Elder was a truly special experience. It’s the kind of thing that burrows its way into your memory and you hope will never be forgot.