San Antonio’s Rites of Darkness III fest is only a few months away, and the big question everyone is asking (besides “who is the final band to be confirmed?”) is “who are you most excited to see?” Fortunately for prospective attendees, the San Antonio Heavy Metal Examiner has compiled a list of the top ten bands that you should see at Rites of Darkness III. Naturally, this doesn’t mean we’re suggesting that you limit yourself to ten bands, because just about everyone performing at Rites of Darkness III is worth your time, but limiting the selections to ten was the most logical thing to do (so if your favorite band isn’t on this list, don’t get angry). Despite the numbered nature of this list, this should be taken as one of those “in no particular order” lists, and readers are encouraged to weigh in in the comments section or via e-mail. Hope to see you all there!
Greek black metal band Zemial will be making their first U.S. appearance at Rites of Darkness III, and their thrashy take on Hellenic black metal promises to be a highlight of the entire festival. Apparently the band was an early influence on Absu during their transition from death metal to the black/thrash of “The Sun of Tiphareth” and “The Third Storm of Cythraul”, and a quick listen to early Zemial songs shows the linkage quite well. Potential devotees should check out the “Sleeping Under Tartarus” EP (released in 1992) or 1996’s “For the Glory of Ur”, although just about every Zemial release deserves inspection. It’s not known whether or not Zemial will ever return to the United States after this festival, so catch them while you can!
Vasaeleth delivered an absolutely stunning set at last year’s Rites of Darkness, and this year is looking to be no different. The band is one of many in the new wave of old-school-influenced death metal, and they stand head-and-shoulders above many of their contemporaries. The easiest comparison to make in terms of sonic components would be Incantation’s “Onward to Golgotha” album, which is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest death metal albums of all time, so anything recalling the album is bound to be great. The band’s performance at Rites of Darkness II was an explosive display of vile death metal that gave off an atmosphere of rotting sickness which is just what good death metal should do, so fans of the old-school will easily be satiated with their performance.
3) Ares Kingdom
Having witnessed the band firsthand when they opened up for Order from Chaos last year, this reporter can testify that Ares Kingdom are a force to be reckoned with in the live environment. Death and thrash metal are perfectly combined with an array of scorching guitar solos, along with a savage vocal style that is sure to excite fans of old-school extreme metal. The guitar playing is particularly exciting, and is accompanied by a solid rhythm section, so anyone in attendance for their performance should brace themselves for a wild ride of furious metal. The band has two full-lengths available, so acquiring at least one would be in extreme metal fan’s best interests. “Ironclad” is a good example of the Ares Kingdom style, so head on over to YouTube to check it out and decide if Ares Kingdom is for you. The band is playing the Pre-Fest that takes place on December 8th, so if you haven’t acquired your tickets yet, make sure to get them as soon as possible!
There are metal bands who take a more subtle approach to lyric writing, and then you have Nunslaughter. The absolutely evil “devil metal” band is a perfect fit for the Rites of Darkness III festival with their no-frills approach to blasphemous death metal, and the word around the grapevine is that their live appearance is nothing to slouch at either. The band has an absolutely epic discography that consists of dozens upon dozens of splits, EPs, full-lengths, and live albums, so bringing a considerable amount of money for merch would probably be well-advised. Their video for “God” has been making the rounds across social networks, so anyone interested in a typical Nunslaughter song would be advised to look it up, or anything from what this reporter considers the best Nunslaughter release, “Hex”. Ultimately, Nunslaughter is a band most suited for those who enjoy their death metal stripped of everything but the bare essentials, and Nunslaughter fulfill that requirement to a “T”.
The French black metal misanthropes will be making a rare appearance on U.S. soil (only their second ever) to grace San Antonio with their putrid presence, and on a personal note, they are the band that this writer is most excited to see. The visceral duo of vocalist MkM and guitarist Set, who also play in Aosoth, serve as two of the most reliable members of the orthodox black metal scene, so witnessing the two onstage together in the States will be nothing short of astounding. Anyone interested in a sample of the band’s recent live assault would be advised to view the following video of their attack on the Deathkult Open Air festival in Germany One thing is for certain: Their performance will not be for the weak of heart, but those who enjoy uncompromising, raw black metal (which should be just about everyone attending the fest) will be rendered ecstatic.
For more info: Part two will be posted tomorrow. The San Antonio Heavy Metal Examiner (along with a few other Examiners) will be in attendance at Rites of Darkness III and will be providing full coverage, so stay tuned for more!