By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez
When it comes to music festivals in Southern California, the most popular of them revolve around pop/hip-hop (Coachella) and country (Stagecoach). There was one touring heavy metal festival called Rockstar Mayhem that came through So Cal, but it unfortunately folded its tents due to poor ticket sales on the last one in 2015. Fear not though, my metal brothers and sisters. Misfits frontman and horror comics’ icon Glenn Danzig has put together a brand new heavy metal/punk rock festival that themes around Danzig’s concepts in the music and comic world. It has been dubbed the Blackest of the Black Festival.
When my photographer Matt Martinez and I entered the camp grounds of Oak Canyon Park in Silverado, Calif., we were blown away by its magnificence. It had a stage that was split into two so the bands can go on and perform after each other immediately. The festival came with a mechanical swing that was radical, multiple booths with different clothing labels and food counters, and an actual freak show with performers doing all kinds of weird shit. I even saw one individual put a real fish hook in through his nostrils without even flinching, it was freaky.
The first two bands that kicked off the festivities were industrial metalheads 3Teeth and the ferocious groove metalheads Butcher Babies. 3Teeth just released their new album , <shutdown.exe> and the fans were ecstatic to hear the new stuff. Vocalist Alexis Mincolla has a voice that is very eerie, as if Marilyn Manson had entered the Matrix and come out with a techno style voice. Mix the vocals with rhythmic methods of guitarist Chase Brawner, keyboardist Xavier Swafford, and drummer Andrew Means, 3Teeth bring forth an ominous atmosphere sound that mesmerizes the fans. Their industrial sound was the best way to draw in the crowds.
Let the madness commence.
It has been six months since the Butcher Babies played their last concert, but frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey did not lose an inch of their viciousness. The way these two gorgeous ladies growl into the microphones was unprecedented. With Shepherd donning a white tutu dress and Harvey dressed in black, the group that has successfully combined thrash metal with metalcore and groove metal wreaked havoc on the grounds. They were armed with skull-crushing songs like “Monster’s Ball” and “Igniter.” This is my first time watching the band with new drummer Chase Brickenden, who was a great addition to the band. For over 30+ minutes, the Butcher Babies worked their magic to energize the crowd. Normally, I do not go into the mosh pit, but their music made me jump in on the fun. I have nothing but love for these women and their merry band.
Butcher Babies Slideshow
Up next was Riverside’s own Suicide Silence. The heroes of deathcore were ready to bring their deadly sound to the mix. Vocalist Hernan “Eddie” Hermida came charging out of the wood works with screaming perfection. During one of their songs, Hermida comes to the barricade and has the fans help him sing the chorus. The crowd was in a foaming frenzy as soon as the first chord was struck. They even bull rushed each other in the mosh pit during one of the tunes. Talk about fan loyalty. Suicide Silence recently released their self-titled album, which did not go over so well with the fans or critics. However, after hearing their new songs live, like “Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down” and “Run,” they actually sound really good live. Lead guitarist Mark Heylmun was sizzling with each new solo. They ended their set with their new ballad, “Conformity.” It was nice way to end their performance, helps the fans regain their energy for the next group. After the performance, rhythm guitarist Chris Garza starts knocking over amps and throwing his guitar up in the air. That is pure metal.
Suicide Silence Slideshow
Following the performances of black metal/shoegaze conquerors Deafheaven and hardcore punk rockers Discharge, the crowd was treated to Corrosion of Conformity. Hailing from Raleigh, N.C., the heroes of sludge/stoner metal rocked the evening away. I really dug their sound and the positive reaction the crowd was giving them. Vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan has this hypnotic voice that makes me get lost in the words. Combine that with lead guitarist Woody Weatherman’s red-hot solo work, C.O.C. engaged the audience. They had an array of hit songs that everybody loved, from “Vote With a Bullet” to “Paranoid Opioid” to “Clean My Wounds.” They plan on releasing a new album soon, and when they do, I will get it and get ready for a new adventure with Corrosion of Conformity.
Corrosion of Conformity Slideshow
The headliners for day 1 of Blackest of the Black took to the stage: Suicidal Tendenacies. The crossover thrash giants were just unbelievable that evening. Frontman Mike “Cyco Miko” Muir has this special connection with the fans. He could sing, rap, and scream with such gusto. Their new bassist Ra Díaz was a funk metal master up there, along with rhythm guitarist Jeff Pogan. Lead guitarist Dean Pleasants was a riff maestro that was firing on all cylinders. Suicidal Tendenacies recently put out their latest achievement, World Gone Mad, which the fans could not get enough of with songs like “Institutionalized” and “I Saw Your Mommy.”
They took to the new tunes like they were instant classics. If that was not cool enough, they had famous thrash metal drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer) join the band officially, where he just ravaged the drum kit. Muir even had some of the fans join them on stage when the performed the popular skater tune, “Possessed to Skate.” Two mosh pits formed during their performance, which I happily joined in. When they played their iconic songs “Trip at the Brain,” “War Inside My Head,” and “Pledge Your Allegiance,” I went nuts in the pits.
Suicidal Tendenacies Slideshow
The only other festival I ever attended was 2008’s Stagecoach. I can honestly say that Blackest of the Black tops Stagecoach big time. The stage, attractions, props, and fans made this festival worthwhile. Danzig produced a fine experience for every metalhead and horror fan to enjoy. From Suicidal Tendencies to the Butcher Babies, all the bands brought their “A” game. I only came to the first day, but Matt was able to shoot both events. Be sure to check his article on Day 2. It is safe to assume that I will be back for next year. This will be a night metal fans will never forget. To Danzig and company, I salute you. Horns up!!!