Including this year's installment, Danzig has taken the “Blackest of the Black” tour on the road six times: 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, and in 2010. Past outings of the several-band package have included a cross-section of supporting acts, both old and new movers in the metal underground like Marduk, Toxic Holocaust, Possessed, Behemoth, Mortiis, (the criminally overlooked) Withered, Skeletonwitch, and Moonspell, to name a few. This return of the brand after five years is no exception.
Portland’s Witch Mountain will kick things off with their excellent take on contemporary doom metal of the blues-driven variety. The band formed in the late '90s and self-released some material under its original incarnation before going inactive for most of the '00s. When vocalist Uta Plotkin joined in 2009, and her arresting reach and versatility on vocals initiated an ongoing run of full activity. On the strength of a second self-released album, 2011’s South of Salem, Witch Mountain secured a deal with the best underground metal label going, Profound Lore Records, and followed with two more full-lengths, 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild and last year’s great Mobile of Angels. Though Plotkin departed after that release, Witch Mountain remarkably found a suitable replacement (after vowing to wait as long as it took to do so ) in January of this year: The 19-year-old Kayla Dixon, front-woman of Cleveland metal band Demons Within and a stage singer since age 5. Let’s hope that Witch Mountain don’t suffer from the sound-and-volume challenges that seem inherent to first-slot bands, or the meager turnouts.
Veterans of heavy hybridization Prong will anchor the evening’s bill with its kitchen-sink metal/hardcore/industrial/groove riff volleying. Emerging from NYC’s mid '80s anything-goes scene with a metal, hardcore and soon enough, industrial flair to its unique sound, Prong released a run of records that eventually lead to a modicum of popularity in the early-to-mid-90s. Centered around ringleader guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Tommy Victor (also part of modern Danzig lineups), Prong went in and out of active status in the late '90s and early '00s but reemerged over the last ten years with full-lengths of new material as well as the band’s most recent release, Songs From The Black Hole, an album of cover versions.
Chicago's Veil of Maya is a popular name within the realm of impossibly-complex progressive death-metal/deathcore and appropriately part of the Sumerian Records roster. The band is sometimes associated with the “djent” movement, so named for the sound of a riff (say it out loud) that could only come from a guitar with a minimum of eight strings and a neck that resembles a fence plank. Like many bands of this ilk that have road-dogged it for a stretch before reaching a certain level of success/exposure, Veil of Maya has seen a revolving door of members across its discography (now five full-lengths strong), including the addition of a new vocalist on this year’s Matriarch who brought clean singing into the fold, though the constant sonic element throughout this band's set will no doubt be drum triggering.
Superjoint Ritual, now known simply as Superjoint, was formed in the early '90s by then-Pantera front-man Phil Anselmo as an early (if not the first) outlet to more some of the more underground forms of metal of which he has always been a rabid supporter and participant. Superjoint Ritual originally featured longtime Anselmo associate Hank Williams III on bass and was named after a lyric by black metal legends, Darkthrone. Sporadically active while Anselmo weathered a notoriously difficult and chaotic narrative during the '90s and early '00s run of Pantera, and overshadowed by the better-known Down (another of Anselmo's countless bands over the years), Superjoint Ritual released two full-lengths of lurching, black-metal informed sludgy nihilism in the early '00s and then went inactive. The band reformed last year for Anselmo's 2014 Housecore Horror Film Festival in Austin TX but has remained active (touring-wise) since.
What to say about the headliner? Well, I wouldn’t expect any Misfits or Samhain songs in the set but some renditions of other people’s songs might be on the menu as per next month’s release Skeletons, Danzig's album of cover songs. As the band's 10th studio full-length, Skeletons features Prong’s Tommy Victor and Type-O- Negative drummer Johnny Kelly, and versions of songs by ZZ Top, The Everly Brothers, Black Sabbath, The Litter, and The Troggs (it was previewed last month by a now-out-of-print “Devil’s Angels” 7”, a cover of the theme song from the late-60s cult biker film of the same name). But the cover version Memphians can expect more than any other will likely be Danzig’s version of Elvis’ “Let Yourself Go”, also on Skeletons (as if an album of Danzig covering other artists would make any sense without an Elvis song).
Note: Danzig concerts are known for strict rules when it comes to the omnipresent elevating of phones into the air or usage in general, but these days it's not like the absence of this is unwelcomed or needed. Regrettably, no footage could be found of Danzig addressing a concertgoer with “Homeboy, if I see you with your Go-Pro again, it's on,” as was reported from a Houston TX performance earlier this summer, but above is a full set from 2014's Rock Fest. Doors at 6:30, Show at 7:15. Tickets are $35 - $38.