Doom in June metal, rock festival returns to Cheyenne Saloon with bigger lineup

It was one of those shows that you didn’t want to end, and in many ways it seriously felt like it wouldn’t.

The inaugural Doom in June festival, which took place at the Cheyenne Saloon around this time last year, was a 12-hour marathon of epic doom, fuzzed-out stoner rock, toe-curling retro jams, blackened sludge and more, all posited on gargantuan guitars and seismic groove.

It was one of best shows of the year, a diffuse mix of acts that somehow all made sense together, most likely due to the bands’ unswerving allegiance to the power of the riff.

This Saturday, Doom in June returns with an even bigger lineup of 17 bands, some from as far away as Finland, as the festival has clearly extended its reach this go-round.

“We had a good first experience, and we’re trying to do it again,” says Marco Barbieri, head of Salem Rose Productions, who puts on the event. “I’m taking baby steps. I could have bit off a lot more, but I thought, ‘OK, we’re stepping it up a little bit, we’re making the day a little longer, we’re flying some bands in,’ but we didn’t stray too far from the concept. A lot of people were asking for two or three days or to bring in this band from Europe or that band. That is obviously my goal, but I think if you look at a lot of successful festivals around the world, you take it slow and you let it organically build it up.”

With a third installment already in the works and a sizable audience coming in from out of town (last year, more than half the crowd was drawn from outside Vegas), Doom in June is on its way to becoming as much of a summer staple as tan lines, popcorn flicks and first-degree sunburns.

“It’s for real,” Barbieri says. “I think there’s a lot of people that have a dream, but my dream thankfully came true.”

The Doom in June lineup is deep and diverse, a blend of scene favorites and promising up-and-comers (see the full roster of bands at myspace.com/doominjune).

Here are but a few of the highlights:

Solitude Aeturnus. Its title, “Into the Depths of Sorrow,” is suggestive of serious despondency, and yet Solitude Aeturnus’ seminal debut counterintuitively elicited plenty of elation among metal classicists.

The album set the standard for American doom in the ’90s, with frontman Robert Lowe’s glass-shattering vocals — think of an opera singer getting nails pounded into his kneecaps — soaring high above the band’s lumbering, monolithic, baby-smashing riffs. (Note: Do not bring your baby to this show.)

The band deserves to be mentioned with Candlemass, Trouble, Witchfinder General, Pentagram and St. Vitus among the genre’s keystone acts.

This is doom defined.

Wino. Speaking of St. Vitus, the band’s frontman, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, will be performing a special acoustic set at this year’s Doom in June. “Wait a minute,” you say. “Isn’t this the heavily tattooed hesher who, in bands like The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, became known for riffs that rumble by like a herd of stampeding water buffalo outfitted with steel robot legs? Why would anyone want him to unplug?”

Well, because even though Weinrich practically sweats power chords, he also possesses one of the most expressive, pathos-drenched voices in the genre, and to hear it in a more stark setting only heightens its hair-raising power.

Hooded Menace. These horror-obsessed Finns, making a rare Stateside appearance, mine a particularly nasty niche in this expansive scene: death doom, which pairs death metal’s guttural, vomited vocals and unquenchable thirst for blood with the spine-numbing, slow and low rhythms and funereal atmosphere of doom.

It’s some crushingly heavy stuff. Think of an elephant stepping on a grape, with you being the grape.

Iron Man. They started out as a Black Sabbath cover band, hence their name. But over the years, Iron Man has evolved into one of dyed-in-the-wool doom’s better cult acts. Expect the expected: powerful, cleanly sung vocals, mountainous, New Wave of British Heavy Metal guitars and a love of tradition that rivals a drunk’s fondness for happy hour.

Stone Axe. These dudes are more evocative of the ’70s than Barney Miller’s sweet mustache. If Stone Axe had actually been around three decades ago, these boogie-rock hedonists would have gladly shared bong rips with Foghat, Grand Funk and Thin Lizzy.

Be forewarned: You will sprout some serious facial hair just being in the presence of this bunch.

Wo Fat. Wo Fat’s far out, enveloping jams are as bluesy as they are bombastic. Pairing an earthy Lone Star State swing a la ZZ Top with guitars that buzz like an amplified wasp’s nest, their sound is damn near as big as the belt buckles in their native Texas.

Dead Neon. This blackened, apocalyptic power trio sings of killing old ladies and traversing highways of bodies in a ravaged no man’s land of pestilence, death and decay.

They’re from Vegas.

They know that of which they speak.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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