Our site obviously isn’t an all-purpose outlet for metal news. We almost never post announcements of tours, festivals, line-up changes, or even forthcoming albums (unless there’s an advance track we like that we can share in a new-music round-up). We get dozens of such announcements in our in-box every day, and even if all we did was copy/paste those things into our page, there wouldn’t be time to do much else. Plus, there are tons of other sites out there which do the newsy copy/paste thing. Why would anyone need one more?
Having said that, the last few weeks have brought a flood of enticing 2020 festival announcements, and I thought it would be worth making a slight exception to our usual decision-making and collect some of those here today. Still, this collection isn’t intended to be comprehensive — most of what I’ve picked will take place in North America — nor is my memory photographic, so I’m sure someone will be irritated that we left them out. Apologies in advance.
ASCENSION FESTIVAL ICELAND
I’ve already expounded at length about how much I loved the first edition of Ascension Festival Iceland, which I attended earlier this year. Definitely one of the best festival experiences I’ve ever had — maybe THE best — and a fantastic successor to the Oration festivals that preceded it. All respect and appreciation to Stephen Lockhart and his partner Edda for making it happen — and even more gratitude and respect to them for bringing back Ascension for round two next year.
Ascension MMXX is scheduled to take place on May 21-May 23, 2020, once again venued at the Hlégarður community center in the charming Reykjavík suburb of Mosfellsbær. So far, the following bands have been announced, with more to come:
Grave Pleasures (FI)
Kælan Mikla (IS)
Ved Buens Ende (NO)
The first two phases of early-bird tickets have already sold out, but at least one more tranche will be offered in the coming weeks or months. Word has obviously spread about how wondrous this festival is, so advance planning is a good idea. To learn more about the fest and when to gobble up remaining tickets as they become available, keep an eye on the locations linked below.
P.S. I’m crushed that the 2020 edition of Ascension falls on the same days as Maryland Deathfest 2020. For a lot of years I’ve been part of a big group from Seattle who have attended MDF, and rendezvoused there with a lot of other old friends. It’s a tradition that I just can’t bring myself to break, despite how much I would love to return to Iceland to experience the magick of Ascension for a second time. Hopefully there will be another opportunity in 2021.
For the second year in a row, Migration Festival (a production of 20 Buck Spin and Gilead Media) will take place in Pittsburgh, after opening in Olympia, Washington for the first edition of the event. It’s scheduled to return for two days on August 1-2 at Mr. Smalls. Each day will feature performances by 10 bands, and there will be a pre-fest show on the night of July 31st at a smaller venue (details to be announced). Here are the confirmed appearances announced so far:
Falls of Rauros
Kowloon Walled City
Portrayal of Guilt
That is a hell of a great line-up so far, and I have no doubt the remaining bands yet to be announced will be of very high quality as well.
Migration has announced that a limited number of early bird tickets will be on sale January 30th, 2020 at a discounted rate via their website, so circle that in red on your calendars.
FIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS
The first edition of Fire In the Mountains took place this past summer in Grand Teton National Park just north of Jackson, Wyoming, and was met with rave reviews from both festival-goers (including personal friends of mine) and performers. Just last week, the festival made the blockbuster announcement that the second edition of the fest — set for July 11 and 12, 2020 — will be headlined by Enslaved in an exclusive North American appearance, and that Enslaved’s Ivar Bjornson will be the fest’s first-ever “guest curator”.
The curation will consist of “a selection of hand picked artists, as well as other elements to be revealed over time,” the theme of which will be “On Wings Over Utgard”, inspired by the thematics from the coming Enslaved album.
The Heart Six Ranch will be the site of this 2020 event, but at this point the organizers haven’t disclosed further details. To stay abreast of developments, watch these spaces:
NORTHWEST TERROR FEST
Now I’m going to put in a plug for an event that I and other current and former NCS collaborators, and lots of other good friends from Seattle and elsewhere, have been organizing for the last three years. The fourth edition of Northwest Terror Fest will take place on May 28-30, 2020, and as before will be presented on two alternating stages at the adjecent Neumos and Barboza venues in Seattle, with after-parties each night at Highline, which will include performances by two more bands each evening.
There will be 36 bands on the line-up in total, all of which we have locked down and confirmed. In my own completely unbiased opinion it’s a fantastic line-up, and probably the best so far in this four-year run. So far, we’ve teased people by announcing these four names:
Of course, we’ll be rolling out the rest of the names in the coming months, along with the official festival artwork.
This morning we launched an early-bird ticket sale (only 50 tickets), and they sold out in 13 minutes. We’ll make all other ticket options, including more full-fest passes, available on January 3, 2020. Hope to see you in Seattle next year in late May!
For the first three years of their existence, Northwest Terror Fest and Austin Terror Fest shared the “Terror Fest” brand, not because of any formal or legal connection but because both fests originated under the guiding hand of David Rodgers, who had been running Southwest Terror Fest for years. Though friendships among the producers of these two events still remain, Austin Terror Fest has decided to re-brand, and so the 2020 edition of the festival will bear the name Oblivion Access.
Oblivion Access will take place on June 5-7, 2020, at a trio of venues in Austin, Texas, and the first round of announced bands is damned good — and reflects a broadening of the festival’s musical range:
Lil Ugly Mane
Anna von Hausswolff
This is going to be a big event, with more than 40 more bands yet to be announced, and Austin (my old hometown) is always going to be a great place to experience live music. Full festival passes are already on sale HERE.
The sixth edition of this Canadian festival has just been announced for July 1-4, 2020, at The Wise Hall & Lounge in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. So far no band announcements have been made, only the preview that the event “will stand as a union of rabid legions from our past, present, and future … Before we go dormant to devour the World in 2022…” Since this seems to mean there will be a hiatus in 2021, making it to this one will have a special urgency.
Past episodes of Covenant have featured stellar line-ups for those with especially extreme tastes in the realms of black and death metal, and I have no doubt the 2020 cast of characters will be at least the equal of those.
Covenant has disclosed that tickets will go on sale December 2nd (Monday!), and that the first band announcements will appear on December 3rd.
SHADOWFROST AND SHADOW WOODS
Of all the festivals I’m writing about in this giant post, the ShadowFrost Music & Arts Festival is coming up the fastest. It’s set for February 21-22, 2020, at the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center in Frederick, Maryland.
This festival is presented by the same organizer who was responsible for the excellent Shadow Woods Metal Fest, which took place in Maryland as an outdoor camping event during the fall from 2015 through 2018. It seemed that Shadow Woods had been indefinitely discontinued (that was the announcement, and no SWMF took place this year). However, in a surprise announcement not long ago, Shadow Woods will be returning on August 28-29, 2020 (with a Thursday-night event at a brick-and-mortar venue at a location TBA).
No names have yet been announced for Shadow Woods 2020, but the ShadowFrost festival line-up includes these bands — and it’s a great group:
Alms — Baltimore Proto-metal
Arsantiqva – New York black metal
Barishi — Vermont prog-psych rock
Capitalist — New Jersey crust grind
Darsombra — Baltimore trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock
Deceased – three + decades of East Coast death metal
Doomstress – Texan heavy rock://doomstress.bandcamp.com
Fell Ruin — Detroit blackened sludge
Frost Giant — Philadelphia Viking Metal
Infinite Pizza — Baltimore Pizza-themed punk/grind
Leila Abdul-Rauf — Oakland, CA dark ambient
Magic Circle — Boston, MA traditional heavy metal
Mo’ynoq — Raleigh, NC based DSBM
Polemicist — Philadelphia blackened death
Radamanthys — MD tech death
Spiral Grave — MD/VA heavy metal
Vastum — Oakland, CA death metal
Volur– Toronto, Ontario ambient doom
Witching — Philadelphia blackened sludge
Yatra –MD Eastern Shore death doom
Tickets for ShadowFrost are on sale now at this location, and ticket sales for Shadow Woods 2020 will begin at this location on Monday, December 2nd, when SWMF will also announce the Saturday night headliner.
I started this collection of festival news with an event outside North America, and decided to bookend the post with two more.
Roadburn is one of many European festivals I’d dearly love to attend someday, and Roadburn might actually be at the top of the list — first, because I have an aversion to humongous crowds; second, because Roadburn’s curation has always been fascinating; and third, because I’ve always been mesmerized by the photos from the festival by a succession of talented photographers which we’ve been fortunate to share with you here for several years.
The 2020 edition of Roadburn will again take place in Tilburg, The Netherlands, and the dates have been announced for April 16-19. This is a four-day fest, and it’s jam-packed with performances. I’m copy-pasting what’s available now, which is already stupendous, but more bands remain to be announced:
Curator: Emma Ruth Rundle
Curator: James Kent (Perturbator)
Artists In Residence: Full of Hell, Lingua Ignota
James Kent (AKA Perturbator) & Johannes Persson (Cult of Luna)
Jo Quail presents The Cartographer
Vile Creature & Bismuth: A Hymn of Loss and Hope
The Flenser – 10th anniversary: drowse, Giles Corey, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Mamaleek & Midwife (AKA Sister Grotto)
40 Watt Sun (The Inside Room in full)
Alcest (‘Visions du futur’)
Bada (ft. Anna von Hausswolff)
Big ‡ Brave & Jessica Moss
Cloud Rat ( 2 sets)
David Eugene Edwards (solo / acoustic)
Dead Neanderthals (10th anniversary)
Die Wilde Jagd
DOOL (premiering new album)
Dynfari (The Four Doors of The Mind in full)
FÖLLAKZOID & Atam TM
INTER ARMA (Sulphur English in full)
Lana del Rabies
Mizmor (Cairn in full)
Oranssi pazuzu (new album in full)
PH (mr. peter hayden)
PRIMITIVE MAN (2 sets)
REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER
REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER X Hangman’s Chair
Rorcal (Muladona in full)
She Past Away (Disko Anksiyete in full)
Sum Of R (teaming up with teamed up with Jukka Rämänen and Marko Neuman of DBR)
TAU and The Drones Of Praise
TORPOR (Rhetoric Of The Image in full)
There may be a few full-festival passes left for sale — but as of yesterday 97% of them were gone. Individual day tickets will go on sale December 10th (at 18:00 CET).
SWR BARROSELAS METALFEST
I’m going to highlight one more European metal fest before bringing this giant collection of news to a close. This one, the 23rd edition of SWR Fest, will take place in Barrocelas, in the far north of Portugal, on April 29 – May 2, 2020, and I’m mentioning it because the line-up is already looking killer (and because I’d dearly love to visit Portugal!). Here are the first 15 names — and 35 more bands are still yet to be announced:
AUTOPSY | USA
MGLA | Poland
MORBID SAINT | USA
GUTALAX | Czech Republic
GOROD | France
HORNA | Finland
BIRDFLESH | Sweden
PUTRID PILE | USA
GRAVE DESECRATOR | Brazil
DERANGED | Sweden
VULTURE | Germany
MIDNIGHT PRIEST | Portugal
GAEREA | Portugal
EQUALEFT | Portugal
EXTIRPATION | Italy
An initial round of festival passes is on sale now.