Resuming after a 17 year hiatus, organizers of the blitz in Birmingham, AL had such a fruitful 2021 return the festival banner has since been resurrected for good. The backstory to the hardcore and alternative festival in Birmingham, AL is one that makes the Furnace Festival a bit more distinguished than most.
The initial run of the annual event enjoyed a successful stretch of four years before going dormant for nearly two decades. Furnace Fest, existed only as a fond memory for 17 years before organizers galvanized to give it another go, despite having to make several adjustments in the era of Covid.
The 2021 edition of Furnace Fest made national heavy music headlines with the scope of its roster. The three-day event touted a comprehensive collection of marquee headliners, nostalgic favorites, and underground champions. From Underoath, Killswitch Engage, Knocked Loose, Converge, Terror, Turnstile, Comeback Kid, Counterparts, Touche Amore – the bill presented a diverse aggregate of hardcore, punk, and alternative in a way that was cohesive.
“Furnace Fest took a seventeen year nap before a group of us banded together with hopes of a one-time reunion,” organizers shared in a statement. “After countless difficulties (like a global pandemic and rescheduling three times) the ‘one-time resurrection’ went so well that we knew it was only fair to share the experience again. We’re beyond excited to share this first wave of artist announcements and are thrilled to welcome 90 total bands on four stages in one, if not the, most unique venues on the planet. To us, Furnace Fest isn’t a festival. This is a family reunion of the most epic kind.”
Looking ahead to the 2022 edition of Furnace Fest, Knotfest will be providing a comprehensive look at the action unfolding on all the stages. In addition, Knotfest will activate on-site with interviews with Colin Young and Bo Lueders of the Knotfest series, HardLore.
Forecasting for the weekend, here is the rundown of what bands that should be on your radar at Furnace Fest.
Touring in support of their most recent triumph, Diaspora Problems the release has been hailed as a critical success. Championed by revered voices like Stereogum, Consequence, Pitchfork, Revolver, and NPR, the band’s ethos of non-conformity and individuality ring apparent throughout the album. Embracing a sense of “no fucks given” are just part of why Soul Glo has become such a celebrated anomaly in the current landscape of hardcore. Combined with the band's live execution, expect fireworks when the Philly outfit takes the stage.
The metallic hardcore standouts have emerged as one of the most promising prospects in the new school of aggressive music. Spending their summer trekking along with Whores and Bummer, their most recent drubbing in the form of "Red Guillotine" underscores the band's frenetic pace and furious audio assault. Propelled by frontwoman Crow Lotus and the muscle of guitarist Tyler Harper, Capra's caustic meld of punk and power blur genre lines, pool from the best heavy music has to offer and craft something fresh, fiery and fantastic to watch happen live.
ONE STEP CLOSER
Repping hard for Wilkes-Barre, PA, the post-hardcore collective is on a skyrocketing trajectory fueled by the band's potent, Run for Cover Records debut, This Place You Know. Currently trekking with elites of their respective space in Movements and Angel Dust, OSC have established themselves as a unit steeped in the culture of hardcore and intent on making their own contribution to the culture. The band's brand of dynamic songwriting showcases creative maturity well beyond their years and in combination with their energized live set, position the band to become one of your unexpected favorites.
POISON THE WELL
Among the tenured veterans of post-hardcore, the incredibly rare appearance from the Floridian band is long in the making and arguably one of the most anticipated sets of the entire Furnace Fest weekend. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary reissue of the band's cult classic sophomore album, Tear From the Red, the core trio of vocalist Jeffrey Moreira, guitarist Ryan Primack, and drummer Chris Hornbrook remain some of the most respected names in their circles, with songs that have obviously stood the test of time. The breakdown for "Nerdy" will no doubt produce one of the highlights of Furnace Fest 2022 - bet on that.
A strong assertion of just how in tune the organizers of Furnace Fest are with their supporting community, the addition of Swedish rock stalwarts Blindside was the kind of wonderful curveball that makes massive festivals so fun. The added bonus of the band playing their seminal record Silence is full underscores that not only does the team at Furnace Fest know their crowd, they actually are with the shits themselves. Marking the 20th anniversary of the band's third album and major label debut, jams like "Caught A Glimpse", "Sleepingwalking" and the hit "Pitiful" are among the most enduring of the Y2K post-hardcore era and to see them live as part of the album play makes for a can't miss set.
To frame the kind of work ethic that fuels PNW hardcore collective Dying Wish, the band's 2022 touring itinerary should not only highlight their tenacity, but their versatility as a band just the same. Thus far, the band has been out on the road supporting Limp Bizkit, Code Orange with Loathe, recently wrapped their run with The Devil Wears Prada on their North American Zombie trek and has been confirmed to support Hatebreed for their 20th anniversary of Perseverance. Relentless on the road and onstage, the band's sound is just as pummeling, with vocalist Emma Boster leading the charge and asserting her rank as one of the genre's MVPs. Furnace Fest will soon understand why Dying Wish is becoming one of the community's favorite bands.
At the forefront of Sweden's new wave of melodic metal, Orbit Culture is currently riding a groundswell of momentum that makes them one of the band's to watch this weekend. Currently on tour in the states supporting genre forefathers In Flames, the band's most recent showing "Vultures of North" is a colossal showing of power and precision - the kind that leaves a lasting impression long after the track closes out. Among the standouts of Knotfest's Pulse of the Maggots discovery series, the expectation is that Orbit Culture will be massive sooner rather than later.
KUBLAI KHAN TX
If there was a particular region in the domestic US right now that is experiencing a renaissance of heavy music, there is room to argue Texas is most definitely the reason. A convincing part of that argument would be hardcore powerhouse Kublai Khan TX. Unloading arguably their most hostile collection of tracks to date in Lowest Form of Animal, the band's stock continues to rise. Led by vocalist Matt Honeycutt with the kind of venomous spew that proves commanding live, the band's musical muscle will almost assuredly make for one of the most volatile pits of the entire three day stretch.
Does this one really need an explanation? The band has been on a meteoric rise despite having to contend with a global pandemic. Spiritbox's 2021 Eternal Blue debut full length on Rise Records hit the world like a ton a bricks, delivering on all of the hype and then some, instantly launching the band beyond blue chip prospects and into the rank of top tier contributors. Earlier this summer the band unloaded a surprise EP with Rotoscope and further asserted their successful was no fluke. Among the very best in the game, Courtney LaPlante's live command is dominant and given the band's incessant touring schedule, Spiritbox is currently hitting their stride live.
It might seem like a lazy pick to go with a headliner as one of the can't miss bands of a festival, but the reality is Mastodon delivered arguably the best album of their celebrated career in 2021's Hushed and Grim. Knotfest writer Dan Franklin offered the following in his feature on the band,
Ultimately, is ‘Hushed And Grim’ too much? If it is, that’s the point. Metal is excessive. It overflows and overwhelms. As an album that mirrors the emotional intensity of these pandemic years, and a tribute to Nick John, it is universal because it is personal – and it aches. It is a dark mirror. It draws the emotion out of you. You can climb into this record and hibernate in it. ‘Hushed And Grim’ also happens to be Mastodon’s best album since… since nothing: it is Mastodon’s greatest album.
Watching Mastodon execute such mastery live is a sight to behold and for the fans lucky enough to bear witness, being that close to greatness is something well worth the price of admission.
Furnace Fest is set for September 23rd - 25th in Birmingham, AL. Tickets and info can be found - HERE