Last weekend, I had the opportunity to head down on a mini road trip to sunny Santa Barbara California for four days of stage dives and sing alongs with Sound And Fury, an annual hardcore, punk and metal music festival. I had visited the fest before, back in 2007, but it was held at a venue called The Alpine in Anaheim. While there were tons of incredible bands schedule to play, the two out of forty bands I was most excited to see over the weekend were Earth Crisis and Xibalba. The new Xibalba album, “Hasta La Muerte” is absolutely crushing, blending groove-tastic doom, crushing hardcore and riff heavy death metal into a thunderous SoCal burrito of awesomeness. I couldn’t wait to hear the songs live. As far as Earth Crisis goes, they’re just downright one of the forefathers of metalcore, bringing the heaviness wherever they roam.
After a 16 or so hour drive, which was fueled by two stops at a SoCal staple – In N Out – we made it to our hotel just in time to unpack, take a quick dip in the pool, then head on over to the Sound and Fury pre show. It was awesome to see two Tacoma bands getting some California love, both Wreck and Oblivion had killer sets that showed SoCal how the NW does it. But it was New Jersey’s Suburban Scum that completely leveled the room, setting the pit off in a major way with their huge, stomp-worthy riffs. My body was already aching as I headed back to the hotel, and it wasn’t even day one of the fest yet. I made sure to get a solid nights rest, as there would be plenty of pitting in the next few days.
It would be near impossible for me to sit here and recollect all the bands that played great last weekend, so I am just going to share a few of the moments that really stood out to me from the 3-days.
The first day started with a band called Disgrace doing a badass cover of Machine Head’s classic jam, “Davidian”, which got the kids wild in a frenzy. From there, I took a bit of a break, but made it back in time to check out one of the Northwest’s most solid and hard working hardcore bands today, Ill Intent. If you haven’t checked them out, get on it. While their slot was early in the day, they had the biggest reaction up to that point. Alongside there bouncing New York-hardcore influenced riffs, their vocalist, Jake, killed it, as he unleashed his vicious yell to the dozen or so kids singing along and grabbing the mic.
As I previously mentioned, the first band I was extremely excited to see was Xibalba, and goddamn, they sure didn’t disappoint. I had seen this band play a handful of times up in the Northwest, but there’s nothing like seeing a band in their hometown, truly playing in their element. The pit was a nonstop frenzy as they slowed down the pace of the fest with mammoth riffs and hammering double bass. I shot video of the entire set up until they played “Cold,” when I had to stage dive and jump in the pit and sing along.
For me, Saturday was all about Earth Crisis, Bane, Terror and H20. After falling straight on my back and elbows during a botched stage dive during the killer set from LA’s Nomads (specifically during their cover of Sepultura’s “Biotech Is Godzilla), I decided to take a little time to myself to recuperate, eat some of California’s best burritos and prepare myself for the warzone to come.
It was a good idea to take a breather before Earth Crisis, because the full-on-metallic onslaught of that band was enough to knock the wind straight out of me. Back with a 2-guitarist lineup, Earth Crisis sounds full, heavy and as strong as ever. It was rad to see a true 90’s institution in hardcore play to such a feverishly excited room, yelling the words and destroying the room as they ended with their classic, “Firestorm.”
Here’s an interview I conducted with vocalist Karl Buechner a few hours before their set.
Watching Bane is always refreshing to me. Since the mid 90’s, this melodic hardcore band has been writing anthemic sing-along worthy songs and they are showing no signs of letting up. While sets at Sound and Fury are somewhat short, varying from 25 to 30 minutes, Bane used all their time wisely, igniting a sea of pile-ons and stage dives as they played both classics like “Can We Start Again” and new jams like “The Bold and The Beautiful.”
I’ve been watching Terror play insanely high-energy sets since I was 17 years old (10 years), but, much like Xibalba, there’s nothing like seeing them play in their hometown. Terror plays a solid mix of crossover thrash with a straight up in your-face hardcore style. These guys bust their asses year round on tour and it truly showed last Saturday, as the band played a ridiculously tight set that was mostly comprised of fan favorites like, “Keepers Of The Faith” and “Stick Tight.” Vocalist Scott Vogel is truly the man, as he commands the crowd with a presence matched only by motivational speakers.
Next up was New Yorks’ own H2O, a band that I’ve been listening to for a long long time. I had just seen H2O for the first time ever at Rain Fest in Seattle back in May, so I knew what I was in for, a great time! Vocalist Toby Morse’s little kid, Max, came out and introduced the band, “For those who don’t know, H20 GO!” From there, it was all smiles and stage dives.
By far, the highlights of Sunday for me were Harm’s Way and Black Breath, two killer bands that blend metal and hardcore together flawlessly. After a solid day of beaching it up, I made sure to be standing side stage as Harm’s Way warmed up. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the violence about to occur in that pit. For 25 straight minutes, Harm’s Way bludgeoned the audience with straight up meat-and-potatoes brutality.
It’s no secret that Black Breath stood out like a sore thumb at the festival. Rocking long hair, metal shirts and huge beards, as opposed to mesh shorts and crew cuts, these dudes showed up to party – and party is exactly what they did. Playing jams off both their full lengths, “Heavy Breathing” and their newest effort, “Sentenced to Life,” Black Breath charged the audience full of metal fury with their Entombed-esque buzzsaw guitar riffs!
Like I mentioned before, there were so many amazing bands that made up last weekend’s Sound and Fury, most of whom I didn’t even mention. If you ever have the opportunity to head down to California and check out a killer fest, make sure you give Sound and Fury at least a second thought. With lineups that spanned all genres of underground music, S&F 2012 is a fest I won’t soon forget.