10 must-see concerts at SonicBlast Moledo 2018
August is a month of strong heat and elevated emotions. It is also the music festival high season, the period of time where there are festivals of all shapes and sizes, for every occasion and for every palate. But there is one that is very dear to our hearts, a festival that explores the intricacies of stoner and psych rock and couples that with the feeling of belonging to a community and a beautiful beach. We are talking, of course, about SonicBlast Moledo, a weekend-long party that will take place at Centro Cultural de Moledo on August 10th-11th. And a party it is. Hell, it even has a pool next to one of the stages, what’s not to love?
Even more so when you consider the line-up for this year. Bands like Earthless, Naxatras and Samsara Blues Experiment will fill the air with fuzz and otherworldly melodies, while bands like Conan, Ufomammut and Mantar will bring everyone to their knees with their constant and heavy barrage of doom and sludge. And since we are only three weeks away from this happening, we decided to write a few words about a few of the bands that will be playing the festival and that we think you shouldn’t miss. Read along.
Quite possibly one of the most recognizable names of the whole psychedelic rock genre today, Earthless are a band like no other. Hailing from San Diego, California, the trio of guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba play what could be described as a semi-improvised blend of psychedelic rock, krautrock and jazz, all tightly served and played with a tint of classic rock for good measure. Proof of that is the band’s fifth opus, Black Heaven, released on March 16th via Nuclear Blast, and one they will be presenting to us live on stage in what will most certainly be a memorable performance.
Another highly recognizable name in the psych rock scene is Berlin’s own retro rock trio Kadavar. Last year, the band released its best record yet, Rough Times, which features grand slam songs like “Die Baby Die” and “Tribulation Nation” and continued the band’s journey through the vast desert of 70s hard rock and heavy metal. And after having cancelled their presence at last year’s SonicBlast due to familiar responsabilites, we will finally be able to hear this new record live on a performance like no other, that also marks the band’s return to the festival five years later.
For some, Nebula are one the most anticipated bands of the festival, if not the most. And for good reason. Created back in ’97 after drummer Ruben Romano left Fu Manchu, Nebula have been regarded by many as the fathers of the stoner rock movement, alongside Kyuss and Sleep, with classic records like Heavy Psych and Atomic Ritual still being revered to this day. After a 7-year hiatus, the band returned to the stages with full force and a stop at SonicBlast couldn’t be any more perfect. A celebration of two decades of fuzz and psych is upon us.
Samsara Blues Experiment
Samsara Blues Experiment are no strangers to the Portuguese audience and even less so to that of SonicBlast. The trio of vocalist/guitarist Christian Peters, bassist Hans Eiselt and drummer Thomas Vedder have walked the shorelines of Moledo before and their comeback to the festival has long been a desire of many. This year it will finally happen when the trio steps onto the stage to present their latest record, One With The Universe, which continues the band’s tradition of combining psychedelic rock with folk music, namely indian raga, something that works and sounds really well.
If there is a band that has grown exponentially in the past decade, its Ufomammut. Ever since the release of the twin Oro records, Opus Primum and Opus Alter – which marked their signing to Neurosis’ own record label, Neurot Recordings -, the band has been on the rise, releasing the enormous Ecate in 2015 and proving that their doom mixed with psychedelic vibes is a force to be reckoned with. Last year, they released 8, a magnificent record filled with grooves, astronomical soundscapes and distorted voices which conquered a place in almost every end of the year “Top Ten” list. And with their minds already shifting into the creation of a ninth opus, the band will stop by the beaches of Moledo to give us a taste of what has come to pass and what is still yet to come.
Naxatras are a relatively new band in the stoner rock scene. Slow and steady, they have been conquering the hearts of many, moved by the will of mixing the nuances of a dreamy hard rock with a peaceful psych rock, as evidenced by the band’s latest outing, the highly praised III. At SonicBlast, we expect nothing more than a pure and unadultered trip through the cosmos when the Greek power trio present themselves on stage to play songs not only from the aforementioned III, but also I and II, their two first records that deserve as much praise as the third one.
Caveman Battle Doom is how the folks from Conan describe their monolithic and barbaric sound. Drawing inspiration from classic fictional characters like Conan the Barbarian and Krull, as well as Norse mythology and videogame RPG’s like Skyrim and World of Warcraft, the Liverpool doomsters practice a sound that invokes war and tells stories of blood, glory and betrayal. Their upcoming record, Existential Void Guardian, is set for release on September 14th and continues that tradition of slow and steady groove discharges that the band has accustomed us to. And since Conan will be roaming the beaches of Moledo a month prior, you better ready yourselves as SonicBlast will soon become a field of battle.
Chaos and rage are key components of Mantar’s extreme sound. Fueled by an intense hatred for mankind, this no bulshit and no gimmick duo from Hamburg set out to do one thing and one thing only when they formed back in 2012: erase everything and everyone and set the world on fire in the process. In August they will be releasing their third opus, aptly named The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, and will stop by SonicBlast to show all present what they mean when they say they are all about the joy of destruction. So you better have those fire extinguishers at the ready, Mantar will surely set the stage and Moledo aflame.
The Black Wizards
There are bands that just come out of nowhere and impress us so much, that they deserve to be on every must-see list. And that’s exactly the case with The Black Wizards. Formed sometime around 2015, in the city of Porto, this quartet has been making rounds around Europe, especially this year where they went on a successful tour that included a stop by both London and Berlin’s editions of Desertfest. Their latest record, What The Fuzz!, is as much of a psychedelic rock album as it is a blues one and the band mixes these two genres together brilliantly, complementing them with a very Sabbath-inspired vocal section by Joana Brito. In August, they will feel right at home when they play their heavy fuzzadelic sound to the audience of SonicBlast. A can’t-miss show, for sure.
A chance meeting sometimes breeds unexpected results and in Talea Jacta’s case, it brought together two of the finest musicians Portugal has to offer. The duo of Pedro Pestana (10000 Russos, Tren Go! Sound System) and João Pais Filipe (HHY & The Macumbas, Sektor 304, Paisiel) was formed after they were asked to jam together in an improvised gig in Porto, under a series of “unlikely duets” organized by Favela Discos. Said gig went so well that the duo decided to record together under the moniker Talea Jacta and the result was their debut record, I, one of the most interesting releases this year and one that combines Pais’ ethno-techno polyrythms and Pestana’s guitar-driven martian soundscapes, eternally looping on themselves. At SonicBlast, the duo will be playing this very record in a highly improvised fashion, which fits them and the festival like a glove.
Words by Filipe Silva