It’s still light out when I arrive at the Cheyenne Saloon around 7 p.m., yet darkness hath long descended upon the bar, as it has once a year for a day known to its survivors as Doom in June. Now in its third year of menacing existence, the mini-festival already has the smoke-filled dive packed with fans, friends and fiends savoring some of the darkest bands spawned from the bowels of hell—along with a delicious chili booth. Double kick drums pound out ritualistic beats and guitars become axes as sweeping solos burn their metal mating call over headbanging fans wearing more black than you can shake a Necronomicon at.
Outsiders like me like to mock, but metal fans are die-hards, and those die-hards loved every shred of Doom. For them, Saturday was a hard-partying holiday, packed with bands like the night’s headliner, The Skull, featuring two original members of pioneering doom-metal group Trouble. Another notable band was San Antonio-based Las Cruces, whose mountainous drummer Paul De Leon not only slammed his set with authority but could also wail like Ronnie James Dio.
For me, the night’s highlight was LA outfit Ancestors. They feature a crypt-keeper-esque organ played over mixed-tempo drudge metal, burying vocals beneath driving bass and guitar—keeping the focus, always, on their instrumentation. Their songs average about nine minutes in length and frequently shift styles. Ancestors’ set actually felt like one continuous song, barely a moment spent without impressive sounds pouring from the speakers.
See you again next year, Doom in June ... if it so pleases the metal gods.