Get familiar with the bands pushing the agenda of heavy culture and leading the new generation of extreme music.
The third installment of Knotfest’s digital discovery showcase with the Pulse of the Maggots Festival is set to broadcast Friday March 11th via KNOTFEST.com.
Featuring 18-buzzworthy artists spanning the spectrum of heavy music, the festival brings together an ensemble of players that are all making a lasting impact in their respective lanes. From death metal to hardcore, black metal to post rock Pulse of the Maggots is as dynamic as it is diverse – offering a snapshot of the health of heavy culture.
To get fans familiar with the participating artists for the 3×22 edition of Pulse of the Maggots, the Meet the Maggots feature offers a concise introduction and highlights just why these artists are primed for the spotlight.
Though artistry and ability are always among the obvious reasons why a band stands out above their peers, there’s something about attitude that functions as almost a prerequisite.
For Swedish black metal contemporaries Dödsrit, coloring outside the lines creatively in a genre often weighed down by purism and tradition means existing as an outlier to music on their own terms. It’s precisely that defiance, that indifference to genre norms that make the band’s brand an shining example of modernity in the space of extreme metal.
Evolving into a full band from what was initially the solo effort led by Christoffer Öster, Dödsrit’s latest compilation in Mortal Coil serves as the outfit’s seminal work. Showcasing a skilled meld of D-beat intensity and atmospheric black metal the finished product is an audible blitz – a dominant show of force that offers tribute to their forerunners while blazing their all their own.
Set to unleash their molotov of catharsis with an appearance on Pulse of the Maggots, the band discuss how they balance their lineage of extremity with establishing their own lasting impression.
With Mortal Coil being the first collective recorded effort, has the songwriting process for Dodsrit become more convoluted given there are more contributors than the project’s first incarnation as a solo project?
It actually hasn’t. There’s quite a strong shared vision between Christoffer and Georgios when it comes down to creating music. We have to admit that at first we felt a little bit uncomfortable about the idea of getting involved in the songwriting of Dödsrit, since it started out as Christoffer’s solo-project, but in the end, we feel we couldn’t have wished for a better synarchy considering how Mortal Coil turned out, as well as on how it got received.
There seems to be a kind of disregard for the conventional troupes of black metal in your music – do you think that works in your favor?
I’m not sure if it works with or against us, but we honestly also couldn’t care less. In the end the most important part for us is to be able to create something that we can stand behind.
Given the band’s atmospheric lean, what are some of the non-metal influences that are shared throughout the band?
Musically it would be Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Giles Corey, and Pygmy Lush, but another big influence for these atmospheric passages has been nature.
Thematically, the band seems to explore more personal narrative than the typical nihilism and fervor of traditional, violent black metal. Are you finding that the landscape of the genre is changing and the old guard that indulged the more nefarious side of the sound are phasing out?
Of course, through the years the genre has gotten more diverse, and even though Dödsrit might explore an unorthodox forlorn and melancholic path, I still can’t deny most of us embrace violent and nihilistic Black Metal such as Katharsis and Craft. There is an undeniable beauty in the relentless nature of chaos that will always keep the flame for us burning, so no. I don’t think it’s phasing out at all.
For fans just getting introduced to Dodsrit via the Pulse of the Maggots, what should they expect on the broadcast?
FOUR STROKE BARON
Encompassing a broad range of elements derived from various subsets of rock, the duo of Matt Vallarino and Kirk Witt have spent that last decade defying classification as Four Stroke Baron.
While the band resonates on the prog end of the spectrum, the reality for the pair of innovators is more aligned with the intent of prog, and less about the methodology. The band’s 2021 full length Classics asserts as much, boasting the kind of eclectic collection of songs that evokes a sense of frustration with how damned good they sound.
In addition to the band’s deft execution and performative prowess as heavy music craftsmen, there is a articulate, healthy tone of levity in their work that is often missing in the space of heavier music. While conventional wisdom points to an emphasis on the nefarious, Four Stroke Baron flouts the norm with the kind compositions that dare to be fun.
Though many make claim of changing the game, the Reno-based cohorts have spent their entire career actually putting in the work to prove it. Ahead of their performance at the 3×22 edition of Pulse of the Maggots, meet Four Stroke Baron.
The visuals for “Sundowner” “Friday Knight” and “Khera” from Classics had a sort of levity – a dark sense of humor packaged in the narrative. How important is it to have fun with your craft and do you ever get considered that a little levity might undermine the serious talent that is apparent in your music?
Witt – We can’t do it unless we’re having fun with it, the focus is always the music and we take it all seriously, but if we were to do it any other way it would just be contrived and not have any purpose or meaning behind it. We don’t worry it will undermine anything as long as we put effort into the quality, and I think it’s important that people just have fun listening to the music and consuming any of our art. We’re happy if someone can just tell we’re being ourselves and not trying to rehash something we saw another band do.
Outside of your musical influences, how has being from Reno impacted your creative individuality? There has go to be some great people watching in The Biggest Little City in the World and it has to impact your creative headspace right?
Witt – Hard to say because we’ve always lived here, but it definitely involves a lot of late nights and dirt + sagebrush. We noticed everywhere else closes way too early.
Working as a duo, how has that streamlining benefitted the songwriting process? How has limiting the cooks in the kitchen served the band better?
Witt – Matt and I have been jamming for over 10 years, and the way we communicate is effortless and we get super amped. Any other person put into the middle of it just slows things down and creates another barrier to us just throwing our ideas out. And we’ve developed such a specific method of working, there isn’t much anyone else can input unless they just want to sit back and watch us freak out. We’re able to work way faster and reach more of our potential if we can just keep bouncing ideas back and forth without any outside influence.
The band gets the “prog” label a bunch. Do you feel like that is kind of a catch all term for the more accurate, “we don’t know what the fuck to label you”
Witt – We get why we fit into the prog label, but I think over emphasizing genres starts to limit the unique qualities of any artist. Instead of just being a band that sounds badass, it’s easier for people to pigeonhole it as “prog new wave alternative metal” or something like that. At that point it’s just an easy way to describe an approximation of the sound, but it’s not something we strive to fit into and we might evolve to not fit into that genre at some point. We just make whatever we think sounds cool at the time. And I think we could fit into many more categories than just a prog metal band.
For fans just getting introduced to Four Stroke Baron via the Pulse of the Maggots, what should they expect on the broadcast?
Witt – Drink 4 caps of ZzzQuil and try to listen to the entirety of Classics before you fall into a warm nightmare sleep.
Sharply ascending Manchester outfit Witch Fever are leading the charge with their unflinching brand of doom-tinged garage punk. While the band’s 2017 introduction Carpet Asphyxiation established the groundwork for the riff-heavy angst that lie ahead, the lockdown of an unprecedented pandemic allowed the collective to sharpen their blades.
Resurfacing with their 2021 EP Reincarnate, the band’s potent amalgam of punk antagonism and metallic heft has resonated in a way that has exponentially increased the band’s reach – earning the adulation and cosign of bands like IDLES and Bob Vylan.
Witch Fever’s timeless heavy sensibilities and their love of a good riff provide a powerful soundtrack for the band’s substantive stance. Taking aim at toxic masculinity and the subversive culture of counter culture’s status quo, the quartet have made it clear, that the only validation they seek is that of their own.
Set to take on The Pulse of the Maggots streaming festival with their raucous live show, vocalist Amy Walpole speaks candidly about the band’s trajectory, their gospel of good riffage, and finding a balance between having fun and calling out the bulshit.
The band is currently sharing the stage with IDLES. What has that experience been like and do you feel like the fans have been receptive to a bit of “doom punk”?
Walpole – It’s been such a fun time! It’s been pretty intense but such an amazing experience! The crowds have been super receptive thankfully, they clearly love a good riff!
Reincarnate has earned comparisons to some legendary likes – ranging from Black Sabbath to Bleach-era Nirvana. How do those kinds of talking points sit with you? How comfortable are you with those lofty comparisons?
Walpole – We’re into it! If that’s what people can hear in our music that’s sweet! We don’t write with the intention of replicating someone else’s sound but we can totally hear sabbath in what we do
The collective has talked about how the intent behind the band was never to be political, yet Witch Fever has really become a beacon for female empowerment and self-expression. Was there any reluctance in assuming that role?
Walpole – There wasn’t reluctance, but it can be frustrating to get pigeon-holed. First and foremost, we’re musicians and are doing this to have fun! It’s important to speak about issues within the industry that women and non-binary people face but the music always comes first for us.
Some of the members have also talked about how bands like Slowdive were among their favorites and yet… Doom Punk. What about the heavier spectrum of music is more appealing to you as a participant?
Walpole – We’re all into loads of different genres but we find anger and aggression in music to be cathartic. It speaks for itself. Plus we just love a good riff.
For fans just getting introduced to Witch Fever via the Pulse of the Maggots, what should they expect on the broadcast?
Walpole – A fun and heavy set, with a couple old songs and some new ones too. You’re in for a treat!
The wall of sound that blares from the tandem of guitarist Anxlea Baltar and drummer Violeta Mosqura in Spanish stoner-esque rock outfit Bala is a rattle impossible to ignore.
While the band has thrived as a regional sensation since their 2015 debut, their Century Media arrival in last year’s Maleza, ushered in a new era for the band and deservedly expanded their reach. A succinct, searing 24-minute entry, the band’s fretwork and frenetic energy is captured on record and translate as infectious.
A collision of stoner shred and doom-forward dominance, Bala’s merger of vintage sound and modern flair make for a collection of songs that feel classic and cutting edge simultaneously. Underscoring that fact is the footnote that the songs on Maleza were completed in 2019, and still flex the same fresh, effectiveness nearly three years later.
Set to storm Pulse of the Maggots Festival, the axe-wielding Anxlea Baltar discusses their definitive third album and how the songs have not only aged well, but have taken on a new light in finally being presented live.
Human Flesh (2015), Lume (2017) and now Maleza (2021) have all been fairly consistent in terms of the raw power and stoner fuzz that Bala is known for. Yet this record seems to be the one that people are gravitating towards – what do you feel is resonating with a wider audience?
Baltar – Human Flesh and Lume were the beginning of everything and they showed us the path we wanted to follow. But I think Maleza is the record which really has our essence and our strength. This album contains really different music styles and has some novelties that make it more special and we think people have liked that. For example, the collaboration of Bonnie Buitrago on bass and the different vocals on this record is something that gives Maleza a special personality.
Maleza was complete by November 2019. Given how long those songs have existed and how fresh they still feel, you have got to take some pride with how well the songs have aged right?
Baltar – We started to work on the album in March 2019. We didn’t play live that year because we wanted to focus on the album full time. When we recorded it in November we were very happy with the result and it was very difficult to have to wait so long to release it because of the pandemic. We also couldn’t get together to rehearse and each one played the songs at home… So when we were able to play it live it was wonderful. Even though the songs were already over a year old, it was as if everything was much more recent. And seeing the enthusiasm with which the audience received those concerts gave us a lot of energy.
What is the cultural climate of heavy music in Spain? Have you encountered any obstacles or push back being a female duo that plays stoner rock?
Baltar – There are many very good heavy bands that mix different styles in Spain and we recommend that you listen to some of them like Grima, Rosy Finch, MOURA, Derby Motoreta’s Burrito Kachimba.
And yes, sexism is still present today in music, especially in styles like this where most of the musicians are men. We often have to face certain prejudices or unpleasant situations, but we will keep on fighting and doing what we like.
What as it like to finally play the songs on Maleza live this last year? Do you feel like those songs only reached their full potential once you got to play them live?
Baltar – We always say that the stage is our favorite place. It is where we enjoy the most and where we most like to be. We have really enjoyed the Maleza presentation concerts and we have felt a lot of connection with the audience, it is a difficult feeling to explain. Now we are going to stop for a few months, but in summer we will start the second part of the tour and we can’t wait!
For fans just getting introduced to BALA via the Pulse of the Maggots, what should they expect on the broadcast?
Baltar – They will be able to listen to one Maleza song but also some from the previous album. We hope they enjoy them a lot, but we want to invite everyone to see us live someday to really share all the energy that we carry inside!