Hey friends, this week’s edition of To Hell And Back is going to be a short one. In a few hours, I’ve got to hightail it to the worst airport in America (LaGuardia – show me the lie) and make my way over to Pittsburgh for this year’s edition of my favourite biennial underground heavy metal party, Migration Festival. The past few years have seen a significant rise in small-scale (boutique, even) metal festivals both here in the States and across the globe; I’ve been to a fair few of them, and while events like the Netherlands’ Roadburn and Iceland’s Eistnaflug will always hold an especially dear place in my heart, I’m awfully glad to see my North American pals stepping up to the plate and delivering some truly magical live music experiences, whether it’s via Migration or one of the other fests like Shadow Woods, Covenant, Northwest Terror Fest, or Fire in the Mountains that have popped up in recent years.
For one thing, North American metal fans deserve a damn break after staring wistfully across the ocean towards the Wackens, Hellfests, or Nuclear War Nows of the world; for another, especially at this point in time, I am thrilled to not have to whip out my passport and explain myself (and my blasphemous sartorial decisions) to a phalanx of po-faced border guards on my way to heavy metal hell.
This year’s Migration lineup is a corker, as anyone familiar with the two labels behind the enterprise (Gilead Media and 20 Buck Spin) might imagine and those who have been lucky enough to attend the festival’s previous incarnations in Olympia, WA and Oshkosh, WI would expect. I’ll be missing tonight’s pre-show at Cattivo because I only have so many vacation days and capitalism never sleeps, but Buildings, Slaves BC, Pyrithe, and Somafree Institute are sure to tear it up. Over the rest of the weekend, we’ll be treated to the likes of Zombi, Khemmis, Bongripper, Yellow Eyes, Derketa, Fórn, Couch Slut, Cloud Rat, Krallice, Pelican, Mizmor, Spirit Adrift, Deadbird, Ominous Circle, Mutilation Rites, Scorched, Immortal Bird, Panopticon, Mournful Congregation, Thou, False, HELL, The Cancer Conspiracy, Tomb Mold, Daeva, and my hometown homies Pyrolatrous. It’s going to be great, and I am also looking forward to wilding out at the Milkshake Factory – I remember coming across it on tour years ago, and have been dreaming about it ever since.
For the purposes of this weekend, I’ve made the executive decision to take some time off work and enjoy catching up with cherished friends; intrepid NOLA-based photographer and writer Teddie Taylor will be documenting the goings on for us, so look for that here on Noisey next week. In my line of work, it can be hard to attend an event like this purely as a fan (even though that’s really all I am at the end of the day); there’s always schmoozing to be done and connections to be made and interviews to be wrangled.
Migration is different, though; everyone there, whether they’re an artist, a label person, a media goon, on the production crew, or an attendee, is there in good faith and good spirits, with no agenda outside having a good fucking time with their friends. There will be no boneheads, no ass-kissers, no punishers, and definitely no Nazis. We call it heavy metal summer camp for a reason, and I’m so excited to take part.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go throw a bunch of black T-shirts in a backpack and blow this popsicle stand. If you’re going to Migration, come say hi – I’ll be the tall blonde with the terrible Jersey accent and bigass guillotine tattoo. If not, I hope you enjoy the below recommendations for your weekend listening (including a premiere of Backwoods Payback’s groovy new album, and tunes from a few of the more intriguing young bloods on the Migration bill).
These Pennsylvania lifers are back with another messy, fuzz-bombed slab of high-test stoner rock ‘n’ roll, and god bless ‘em for it. Future Slum is the kind of record that’s made for boozy late night bullshit sessions, long drives through half-dead suburbs, or sometimes, as with the wistful “Cinderella” or “Whatever” (which features guest vocals from Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder) heavy conversations about our broken world. It’s not a fun record, per se, but it’s one that’s hard to walk away from – kind of like Fu Manchu with a deathwish.
I wholeheartedly admire Inexorum’s commitment to that classic 90s melodic black metal sound, complete with frosty atmosphere, emotional fervency, and nature worship. While there’s not much information about the band out there yet, the fact that Gilead Media is releasing this record is ample reassurance that it was going to be good – and that it was birthed by Carl Skildum of Antiverse, Majesties, and Obsequiae just meant that it was going to be interesting. This is really compelling stuff.
Patience is a virtue often forced upon the discerning, devoted metal fan, and Arkansas doom legends Deadbird have certainly demanded their fair share from their acolytes. It’s been eight long years since we last heard a peep from their camp, but now, finally, the clouds have cleared, and a new Deadbird recording is on the horizon. They released a new song earlier this week, and it’s just as soulful, dark, and hopeless as any of us would want. I can’t say that I’ll end up getting all teary during their set at Migration this weekend, but can’t promise I won’t, either.
As always, Philly shreds, and Daeva’s dissonant, poser-crushing take on First Wave-influenced black metal comes underpinned with manic thrash and flecks of grimy rock ‘n’ roll. Also, their “Deathcrush” cover is fucking perfect, down to the blown-out vocals and ignorant guitar tone. So stoked to see how this shakes out live this weekend
Oakland punks can generally do no wrong, and Khiis are some of my recent favorites from that neck of the woods. “Blood” is just one solitary track, but it goes harder in two minutes than most extreme metal bands manage in an entire album. I’m gutted to be missing their NYC shows later this month – catch them on tour if you can.
I’m so upset to be missing Pyrithe’s set tonight. The Pittsburgh quartet’s lurching, noisy, sludgy, post-everything metal is a trip, and I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that vocalist V. Cee is an absolute demon live. They recently independently released their debut recording, WRCT, is a nasty piece of work with which I’m hoping to console myself (and freak out my seatmate on the inevitably horrifically cramped flight out there).
Horror-struck, gleefully warped old school death metal from one of the nation’s foremost vortices of existential dread (AKA Delaware)? Sign me the fuck up, please and thank you.
I honestly can’t believe I’m finally going to see Derketa – the original American goddesses of death – play live this weekend, after years of worshipping them from afar and covering their skull-crushing music. If you’re not hip to them yet, fucking sort it out.
Kim Kelly is Noisey's heavy metal editor; please don't yell at her on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey US.