November 2nd and 3rd marked the American debut of Prophecy Fest. The German label Prophecy Productions, have held festivals inside a huge cave in Germany in the past, and after finally having a US West Coast office/presence, they turned to The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn for their first festival stateside. Some highlights:
FRIDAY November 2nd: Volur from Toronto, a burst of beauty augmented by punishing riffs yet trance inducing at the same time. A trio featuring electric violin and male & female vocals, they were expressive and powerful with a level of authenticity that made them seem hungry, but in a good way – certainly not malnourished!
Xasthur played their acoustic set to an unsettled crowd that was really a little too loud for the subtlety of the instruments. A trio built around Scott “Malefic” Connor, their unplugged presence invited closeness, and played crisply through a set of compositions that shared a blackened timbre with the Xasthur of the past, but felt stripped of abandon and negated by the audience.
Kayo Dot featured their heavy layers and varied atmospheric melodies woven between two drummers, entranced the audience. Their sometimes glistening and experimental, sometimes depressive goth sounds took the audience on a mid-evening experience that kept on giving.
The most recent Prophecy label signing closed out Friday night’s performances. Novembers Doom from Chicago opened with 2 songs off their most recent release – Hamartia, and closed with 2 tracks that went back to 2007 – not their origins by far, but a really good cross section of their work over their 20+ year history. These death/doom rockers were a good conclusion for the evening, with their heavy melodic doom pushing the evening to a final culmination.
SATURDAY November 3rd: 1476 from Salem began the evening with a dark, atmospheric and sometimes uneven presentation. They could be likened to Current 93 meets The Cult, but that would probably not help anyone determine what 1476 sounded like. I was dying for the Les Paul to be turned way UP during the show, although it’s lower volume seemed deliberate. Their more rock oriented parts cried out for more attention, and their chilling moments were reserved for distance. The variation in style and tempo was overall cool and surprising, but made it difficult for this novice listener to determine whether or not I would enjoy their works as a whole. Check their Bandcamp for yourself.
Prophecy Fest was near the end of a 3-week tour for Seattle’s Year Of The Cobra, but they were nothing but energized. The 2 piece mastered doom, sludge, and kickassdom in one shot with their ferocious set. Although consisting of bass and drums in physical instrumentation, Amy’s vocals bring melody and pull the entire package together. Boldly refreshing, focusing on the stoner and doom vibe, look for a Jack Endino produced release from them in 2019!
Eye of Nix created an atmosphere that was anguished as it was eclectic with their psychedelic blackness. They had more of a noisy element onstage than I’ve heard on their recordings. I found them to be passionate and at times thrashy while still holding the feeling of bleakness, alongside Joy Von Spain’s fervent vocals. They had the least amount of lighting of any of the performers, and I really would have liked to have seen more of their darkness!
From almost absolute darkness to subtle musical darkness, France’s Alcest closed the festival. One of the best known bands on the Prophecy roster, they played all of 2016’s Kodama in it’s entirety. Neige and his band were precise, on and energetic, bringing their blackgaze style to crescendo after crescendo throughout their set. They took very few breaks and blazed through a fan fulfilling collection with their grandiose atmospherics and doom tinged style.
Label head Martin Koller embodied the passion of the Prophecy label in response to my question: Who are you looking forward to watching tonight? – His answer was an enthusiastic two or more sentences about every single band. That’s the kind of label you want to be on if you’re an artist. Welcome to America, Martin!