Housecore Horror Film Festival was quite the success last year. This Phil Anselmo curated event immediately garnered special attention from the metal world. This was to be the festivals second edition, and it was poised to be bigger than ever. Four days of metal thrashing fun, Housecore proved to be quite the success. However I hope we never forget the man behind this incredible and almost mythical event, Corey Mitchell, sadly deceased mere hours after the festival wrapped up. The only redemption being that he drew his last breaths in the throes of a truly great triumph.
I got to the venue early, I already knew Saturday was going to be fairly brutal for interviews, and in fact I think I might have tied my one day interview record with something like 10 interviews conducted throughout the day. Before the first band even started I had cracked a beer and gotten to talk to Spencer from Archspire. It wasn’t even noon and the day was already hot. I knew that today would be punishing, but extremely rewarding, and by the time Acid Witch took the stage I was hungry for some good old doom metal.
I’ve been listening to Acid Witch pretty much since the first record came out, but I’d never seen them when I was living in Europe (Have they ever even played Europe?) Their set was monolithic and powerful, Acid Witch are aware of how silly they can be, and for me that’s part of what makes them so appealing. Big, epic, and majestic doom metal is all well and good, but frankly, this whole scene sometimes takes itself too seriously. It’s refreshing to occasionally hear songs written by guys who just love old horror movies. A highlight of the set was when the bands vocalist pulled out a plastic pumpkin, the type children carry with them to hold candy on Halloween. Any time a stoner-doom vocalist throws candy at a crowd while holding a silly pumpkin is a good time. These guys are a lot of fun to watch live, and heavy as fuck. I’m just excited to hear how they grow and where they take their sound next, there is too much potential here for them to fade into obscurity.
Archspire took to the stage next and they played with an incredible energy. When it’s that hot out and your music is that fast you have to be extremely dedicated to be able to pull off any sort of live performance, but these Canadians seemed to take it all in stride. Their music is wonderfully technical, yet it’s also easy to get in too. Season of Mist have been killing it with techdeath bands this year and it was cool to see that these guys can really deliver. The bassists constant windmilling and the guitarists stage antics kept the show exciting and fun. Further adding to the magic, I noticed multiple band members sport Archspire tattoos, these guys are in it for life, they are living their dream and at this point it seems like there is no backing out.
Of course now I had to run off and do more interviews, resulting in me missing Ringworm and Decapitated. It’s funny that I missed Ringworm for an interview, because that’s already happened to me at multiple other festivals, I suppose such is my fate, tis indeed a weird reality that metal journalists are expected to live in. Things seemed to be getting amped up though, there was a huge sense of anticipation for Macabre and Napalm Death. I bumped into my good friend Mitch Harris right before the Macabre show started and he was down a guitar, apparently the airline had failed to send it along with his other stuff. It’s this kind of thing that reminds me of how small metal really is, sure Harris may be a legend, but that doesn’t make airlines care any more about him.
Macabre took the stage and sprayed the audience with forty minutes of songs about serial killers and death. Their set was tight, and I really liked that the bands singer used a headset mic rather than one on a stand. It gave him a lot more freedom and helped to make this three piece a lot more interesting to watch. It’s kind of crazy to think that these same three guys have been making heavy music together for thirty years, over parts of four decades. It proves that metal,and friendship will never die, especially when mixed together. Another thing that made this set special for me was that it seemed like every other audience member was a significant musician. Next to me stood a couple members of SubRosa, behind me, KEN Mode. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Phil Anselmo rocking out and the drummer for Lord Mantiis watching from the side of the stage. These are the kind of things that make festivals legendary, showing us the eternal might of metal that should, and often does consume our very souls.
Napalm Death came on next and crushed it as usual. This was my third time seeing Napalm Death in just under a year, and I’m not lying when I say that the first time I saw them was simply life changing. They are as vicious as ever, and Barney still knows how to deliver vocals that are angry, political, and filled with an utterly sublimed hatred for what he refers to as ‘small minded things’. While they had some issues with guitar tone and mixing, they still played a tight set and were a lot of fun to watch. Mitch’s vocals seemed especially good during this set, his new freshly cut hair (Even shorter now) gives Napalm a slightly strange new look. Yet regardless of it all, they prove that anarchism and destruction will reign eternal. This is not a band to be easily underestimated or stopped, they will rage until they drop. They’ll be going on tour again in January and I’m already counting down the days!
Right as Napalm Death ended I dashed over to the Masters of Metal and Horror showcase at Emo’s. Moderated by the mighty Corey Mitchell this star studded panel was really interesting to watch. While it didn’t have that much direction, it was really cool to get to see guys like Randy Blythe discussing horror with legends like Leatherface. The fact that I was watching with my two favorite podcast hosts, Chuck and Godless from the Metalsucks podcast, only made the whole thing more special. At the end of the day though, this panel was incredibly unique and the kind of thing that could only possibly happen at this festival. I think with some fine tuning and adjustments to the way it’s run, this could become an awesome staple to the festival, as is, it was a truly memorable experience. It’s this kind of thing that makes me hopeful for what future editions will hold!
At this point there was something of a lull in the action for me at least. I needed ore of a break before I watched more death metal, so I went out to dinner with Chuck and Godless. Now this was a true honor, and speaks to the power of this festival. There was an incredibly high density of important figures in metal, from Sylvia, the red haired Australian promoter who works a day job at the University of Texas to the great Phil Anselmo. Every single one of them was friendly and made the experience memorable. For me festivals are special because they let you meet people, and Housecore perhaps does that better than any other major American metal festival I have been too.
Before I knew it it was time Author and Punisher to come on. I had high hopes for this one man project, I’ve heard a lot of good things, and though I haven’t listened to him in a while I had good memories of the music. The live show given by Author and Punisher is extremely unique and I think it was really good that he had a video projection going on behind him because his rather small set up probably couldn’t have dominated a stage that large. The music is really interesting to see played live especially because all of the instruments are totally unique to the band. My only complaint was that I wasn’t sure how much of it had been prerecorded. I don’t like not knowing whats live and what isn’t and it was a bit disconcerting. As a whole though, Author and Punisher provided an incredible and wholly immersive listening experience that I won’t soon forget. This guy is doing something truly unique and it’s a pleasure to watch him play live.
Neurosis had a tough act to follow up, but as expected they delivered with aplomb. Now, before this weekend I only had a fairly passing familiarity with Neurosis, I’ve heard all their records, but that’s about it. Their live set totally blew me away though, proving to me that this is a doom metal band who are, in a phrase “nothin’ to fuck with” Their music was incredibly heavy, and their stage presence ferocious. I hadn’t realized that the bands bassist, Dave Edwardson had kept his green hair and wild stage presence. As good as the music was, they were perhaps even more fun to watch. In a genre where most of the band members just stand still Neurosis put on a bit more of a show and keep things exciting and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of musical taste. By the time they were finished I was begging for more, but anticipation was rapidly climbing for GWAR and it seemed like the crowd was about to go absolutely nuts.
GWAR absolutely blew my mind. Unfortunately I never got the chance to see them with GWAR, (What can I say, they rarely play in Europe!) but I feel like this is how Oderus would have wanted this chapter of the bands career to begin. By paying a beautiful tribute to Oderus they managed to create something that moved many fans to tears. Yet within it all they were bloody, tasteless, and quite simply glorious. Everything about their performance was perfect, there is truly an art to a GWAR show, and Blothar has mastered it. These guys know how to perform at an extremely high level and I don’t think they’re going anywhere but up.
One thing that especially impressed me about GWAR’s performance was the addition of Vulvatron. Her piercing vocals gave the songs a distinct flavor and helped to keep things exciting and fun. Blothar nails Oderus’s vocal style, but I think it’s Vulvatron who is going to keep the band fresh for a new generation of fans. These guys are pumping out powerful and unique tunes that give a fresh twist on old gems. With hints at new material coming out in 2015 I feel like GWAR is only just beginning to achieve their full potential. This night proved to me that these guys will never stop, and centuries from now the almighty GWAR shall reign eternal.
As we drove home that night, laughing at the viscera that covered us, my buddy Mike and I simply reveled in the fact that GWAR had not died and would stay strong. Yet beyond that, we had passed one of the best days of our lives together, doing what we love most, going to shows and partying. Housecore managed in just a few days to create an incredibly comforting and loving atmosphere that transcended just the bonds of metal and horror. We were a group of people left fighting the world trying to find our own place in a turbulent universe that no one can truly make sense of.