Mollie Black (Clea Cutthroat) from local shock rockers Hot Pink Satan emceed what would be yet another decathlon for Steel Town hessians, her risqué, dominatrix image and hip-wiggle giving Descendants of Crom III a fun, classy, Midnight Special vibe. She was the hostess with the mostest for sure and was the siren who led us to our collective doom.
Chris Tritschler from local trad metal stars Lady Beast opened the first official day of Descendants of Crom with an experimental, instrumental one-man project he calls Old Dream at the upstairs Blackseed Records stage. The performance included samples and tastes of his classic rock solo prowess, giving us a quiet -before-the-storm appetizer that ended with a foreboding Black Sabbath gallop.
Coma shook the basement Riff Relevant stage with a localized High On Fire-inspired blast upside the dome, the quartet rumbling away cobwebs in between softer, introspective moments and grim, grimy thrash outbursts.
Pittsburgher’s own Action Camp gave us a somnambulant set of sultry, sparkling, slinky, poppy doom that was equal parts Black Sabbath, Bella Novela and whatever indie darlings the hipsters are into these days. Vibrant, sweet, elegant, cocktail party vocals punctuated each song along with solid musicianship. St. Vincent and Saint Vitus alike would be impressed.
Night Vapor nuked the cellar with radiation emanating from Life Sex & Death and Voivod. Bizarre, spastic, and mentally sick, Night Vapor wafted us away to another dimension with their progressive, outsider, science-fiction stylings. Post-rock madness isn’t for everyone, but Night Vapor doesn’t care. They force-feed it into your cranial circuits as if it were shock treatment and hallucinogenic therapy combined into one disturbing protocol. Inhale and melt into the floor and allow poisoned minds to take hold to go was all one could do.
Pillars were a tenacious blizzard of shrapnel, their death/trash/doom chimera that recalled Dream Death and Hyborian smashing any doldrums that may have lingered. Unrelentingly mean, Pillars are killers. Stone cold and cold-blooded they were.
Tines from Buffalo had a jangly 70’s sound that recalled Lucifer and Blood Ceremony, Joplin-proud vocals complimenting Mountain-influenced, Jake E. Lee/Slash chords and MC5 raucousness. Graveyard also came to mind, punching soul and groove into our heads with a touch of Quartz to go with their blues, carving and charming their way into our psyches.
New Yorkers Witchkiss summmoned thunder and rain with their particularly steamy, prehistoric beast take on doom. Like a number of bands on the bill, drumming came to the fore, acting as an engine, driving Witchkiss deep “into the void” if you will.
Two-piece Potslammer took doom into agonizingly bleak territory that was almost black metal in nature. Quite ponderous, Mournful Congregation was a vague parallel. Percussive to a glorious extreme and spirit-shattering, Potslammer’s kitschy name belies tombstone heaviness and life-stealing forces.
Sun Voyager were straight from a Quentin Tarantino film, gangsters with a Jonesboro Jones for surf rock, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, and Budgie. It wouldn’t be surprising if they arrived to Pittsburgh in a Cadillac with a corpse in the trunk.
Kingsnake were venomous rednecks I would have assumed hailed from Amarillo instead of Philadelphia, but in listening to them I heard Brand New Sin, Lamont, Molly Hatchet, and American Dog in them there riffs that rolled on down the highway like an outlaw trucker haulin’ moonshine. Clutch and Monster Magnet could be tasted as well, their proving spirits angry, intoxicating, and reinvigorating.
Baltimore’s Foghound made a return DOC appearance after a senseless tragedy that had befallen the band. Taking a route similar to that of Kingsnake, sinister Southern notes fried and crackled the air like succulent hot fat cookin’ posers to a golden brown delicious stage as if they were slabs of pork belly.
I’ve seen them numerous times, but Argus were as epic as epic gets yet again, their harmonized guitars flowing like so much magical elixir, frontman Brian Balich roaring with dragon’s fire. Just three long tracks made up their set, and we wished they were endless, Argus melding Swedish doom to British metal like no other band has. They are not underground legends but should be. May they capture that brass ring.
Hailing from Horsemen country (Greensboro, North Carolina! Whooo!), Irata took parts of Mastodon and Voivod and built their own robot with it. Tribal, rattlesnake drumming and schizoid stutter riffs, this inventive act also downloaded some Inter Arma into the program, tender respites turning into cosmic blowouts, hurtling us hapless patrons into asteroid belts. Tool is another easy comparison, but quite frankly, Irata is making far more engrossing music without the big venues and platinum records.
Gravely overdue for a new album, DOC veterans Valkyrie previewed some masterful new songs that have yet to be recorded along with the chestnuts we doomlovers roast over coals and savor and devour. Those Wishbone Ash/Black Sabbath licks tugged heartstrings with precise riffs and melodic might as we highly anticipate new studio material from these talented gents.
The Obsessed, a last-minute change-up after the original headliners bailed, saved the day with their Steppenwolf/Nazareth/Motorhead/Pentagram ride, carbons blown out, black smoke trailing them, Scott Weinrich possessive of an underground mystique that can’t be taught no matter how many guitar lessons one has. Exceptional bass playing held the band together despite the boys knocking our teeth loose with those uppercut riffs and Billy Gibbons solos, tales of life gone astray and getting back on the road inspiring and mesmerizing us.
Thus ended Day One. Weary and buzzed, we bangers marched home to prepare for DOC III’s final chapter which commences today at 4pm at Cattivo in Lawrenceville. Tickets can be had at the door. Be there if you dare. Promoter and incarnation of Hecate Shy Kennedy is very much for real, and her fests are as well-run as they come, and come and worship you must.
Photos by Amanda Baker.