“It’s time to Sab out on y’all,” said the Yeti-sized longhair covered in more ink than the Sunday New York Times.
The dude is question was John Fitterer, frontman for L.A. metallers Crowned in Fire, and the "Sab" he was referring to was Black Sabbath.
It was a telling statement early on at the Doom in June fest Saturday at the Cheyenne Saloon, where the aforementioned Brit metal pioneers loomed almost as large over the event as the monster riffs that defined the day.
Crowned in Fire, who took the stage a bit before 2 p.m. on a show that would last until past 1 a.m., set a tough-guy tone with their burly, bottom-heavy jams about cobras, vultures, witches, guns and booze. A marathon of bands, beer and power chords that registered right in the sternum would follow.
Some of the most dense and devastating riffing came by way coed power trio Of The Horizon, whose repertoire was by turns hypnotic and confrontational. Their frontman rocked so hard, the guy had to take off his glasses and set them at his feet at one point, lest they fly off midsong.
There were several stellar power trios on the bill, including White Witch Canyon, who came with awesomely overdriven grooves powered by super loud bass lines and a singing drummer, and the female-fronted Terminal Engine, whose head-bobbing jams included an ace cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Revenge of the Vera Gemini.”
With three guitarists, Meth Leppard brought some levity to the proceedings with tongue-in-cheek thrash ’n’ roll abetted by a refrigerator-sized frontman whose personality was almost as big as he was. He was like a cross between Grizzly Adams and Clutch’s Neil Fallon, and when he’d open his eyes wide, which he did often, they looked like sweaty cue balls.
Elsewhere, many of the bands were indebted to the fuzzed-out glory of the ’70s, like Stone Axe, who sounded like a badder Bad Company with their bluesy bombast and a singer possessed by the ghost of Bon Scott. Meanwhile, Texas’ Wo Fat, with some greasy slide guitar action, recalled the glory days of ZZ Top at certain moments.
All the way from Finland, Hooded Menace brought some crippling death doom in the form of a monstrously heavy, elephantine crawl that rumbled like tectonic plates colliding.
Maryland’s Iron Man followed, overcoming some drummer troubles (they had to play with a replacement) to wow with their upper-register, trad metal classicism.
Scott “Wino” Weinrich made the acoustic guitar sound electric during his unplugged set, which he ended by walking into the crowd.
And then there were headliners Solitude Aeturnus, who quickly demonstrated why they were perched atop the lineup.
Frontman Rob Lowe’s effortlessly operatic vocals were damn near powerful enough to shatter the many pint glasses in the house, riding high atop cresting guitars that harnessed feedback and distortion into a sledgehammer of sound.
The band played the fan favorite “Opaque Divinity” early on in their set, and fittingly so: For doom lifers, it was a moment that at least approached the divine.