“Your summer is dying, but for you the worst is yet to come.” That’s the statement that smacks you in the face on the flyer for one of tonight’s kickoff events for the seventh annual Skull Fest. If you’re in Pittsburgh tonight or this weekend, you have myriad shows to blow your face off and tons of ways to get a slew of cuts and bruises you’ll have to explain away at work come Monday.
Yes, there are four days of activities yet to come, but for someone who revels in doom and weirdness, tonight’s show at Gooski’s is the main event. Starting at around 10 p.m. (it’s always kind of a loose start time), you can witness Pittsburgh doom/Tom Atkins apostles CANT, fellow city dwellers and noise mongers Night Vapor, as well as the headliners we discuss today, funeral doom crushers Funerary and Italian sludge fiends Ooze. It just so happens those two bands have a new split album out (on Midnite Collective), and there’s a good chance if you’re in attendance tonight, they’ll treat you to the hammering new creations. It’s going to be loud, probably really hot inside, and a damn good night for those of us who like things metallic and even a little bizarre around the edges.
We’ll start off with Funerary, who likely won’t be phased by the heat considering they hail from moderately warm Phoenix. The band has been crushing souls since their formation just two years ago, and they delivered their first record “Starless Aeon” last year. The five-headed beast is comprised of J.A. on vocals, I.L. on guitars and vocals, E.G. on guitars, P.B. on bass, and S.M. on drums, and their deranged, drubbingly heavy style makes for the more grinding half of this split effort. The band is scary, slithering, and delivers two crushing songs that might leave you concussed.
Funerary get started with “Ascent,” an 8:08-long bruiser that has a grim opening and plods along from there in violent fashion. Terrifying shrieks are traded off for gut-wrenching growls, as pure menace is injected into the space this song inhabits, and the body just keeps lurching along. As you follow the trail of smeared blood it leaves behind, don’t be shocked to find more horrifying screams ripping out of each corner, a merciless drubbing, and a conclusion that lands in piles of ash. “Descent” begins with a harrowing doom riff that blows into Sabbath territory. The track devastates completely, with the shrieks raining down like razors, the band pounding heavily, and a brief cold reprieve followed by smothering anguish. From here, they drop tonnage on you, smashing and bashing in place while the vocals tear at your face and sickness is allowed to permeate. The song bleeds out in smoking fashion, leaving everyone in its wake choking teary-eyed.
On the other end come Ooze, an Italian quartet who have been in existence a couple years longer than their split counterparts and provide something a little bit different. The band debuted in 2012 with their EP “Sister Tank,” and they responded last year with their debut self-titled full-length on Totalrust. The single-named ghouls who make up this band are vocalist Andrea, guitarist Sino, bassist Ans, and drummer Stefano, and their approach is a little faster, just as dirty, and satisfyingly thashy. The band kicks in four songs that are a little longer combined than Funerary’s two cuts, and they should be a blast of fun to hear live as they rob you of your hearing.
Ooze bust out of the gate with some swagger, with grimy vocals leading the way, and killer riffs lighting fires. The atmosphere is thick and smothering, as the band comes at you with bursts of speed and monstrous intent. “Necrotopya” enters in a feedback hiss, with burly riffs breaking out of that and the band chugging heavily toward you. The vocals maim and encircle, while the band kicks up the savagery for good measure, slamming you face first into “Bridges Burned.” Here, they catch onto a muddy groove, with the vocals again coming off as abrasive (in a good way), and the rest of the group even howling back. Eventually a slow-driving tempo takes over, letting the punishment be dealt slowly, and it all ends in a skull-crushing fit and swarm of wild howls. Closer “Satanchia’s Will” lets noise spit like sparks rushing from an over-ripe socket, with the band at first taking calculated steps before letting the gurgly growls take over and the guitars to quiver hellishly. The music boils and lets off steam as it goes, punching and ramming its way toward its final moments, where feedback screeches rise to threatening levels before finally letting go.
This split album from Funerary and Ooze is a damn explosive document, and it’s great material to plaster all over their Skull Fest appearance tonight. Both bands do doom just right, each coming at it from a different approach. This record also is a fine way to introduce yourself to each band if you’re not familiar, or just a way to put yourself in a demented amount of pain. Enjoy Skull Fest, and try not to cry that your fun sunny days are dissolving before your eyes.
For more information on Skull Fest 7, including lineup, times, ticket info, go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/881990855223362/
For more on Funerary, go here: https://www.facebook.com/funerarydoom
For more on Ooze, go here: https://www.facebook.com/oozeband
To buy the album, go here: http://midniteclv.storenvy.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/midnitecollective