Live report: Stormbringer II (Part I)

As already announced on our social media channels, we want to look at the second edition of the wonderful Stormbringer Metal Festival. On July 14 and 15, 2023, numerous bands played in Worcester, Massachusetts, which have been a topic on the Epic Metal Blog in the past. We start today with the great epic doom band Concilium, who enchanted all genre fans in 2019 with their debut EP No Sanctuary. We spoke to singer Paris Thibault. Have fun reading!

André: Where are you from? And how long did you travel to get to the festival location? Was it your first time there?

Paris: We’re actually one of the few bands at Stormbringer this year who are local to the area. We’re from Boston, which is about an hour away from where the festival was held in Worcester. It’s definitely not our first time in Worcester or at Ralph’s since Ralph’s is a leading heavy music venue in New England. It’s rare that someone is involved in the heavy music scene in this region and hasn’t yet been to Ralph’s.

André: Which bands were your highlights at this year’s Stormbringer?

Paris: Before I begin, I’ll note that as a vocalist myself I tend to be both picky about vocals and also partial to bands who have great vocalists. So, the focus of my highlights and perspectives will largely be there. Although I couldn’t attend Friday, I watched footage afterward and my two favorites from that day were definitely Shadowland and Sonja. Tanya is an incredible performer with a killer voice and Sonja gives me Cauldron vibes which I’ve missed while they haven’t been super active these last few years. Saturday was a blur of vocal talent, so it’s difficult to pick any one particular performance. I think just due to being a fan of Visigoth for longer than the rest of the bands I might say they were my favorite. That being said, I really want to highlight that the vocalists of every band on Saturday performed extraordinarily well despite the crushing heat and humidity. It was an impressive performance day and I was honored to play alongside such strong talent in Chamber Mage, Adamantis, Sölicitör, Sanhedrin, Night Cobra, Savage Master, Traveler, and Visigoth.

André: How did you experience your own performance?

Paris: I think my own performance went extraordinarily well considering the obstacles I was up against. As I already mentioned, the room in which we all performed was extremely hot and humid and the fest was sold out. There was no air conditioning up there and the building predates modern regulation so it doesn’t have great ventilation amongst other things. Our drummer said it was, “like playing on Venus”. To be clear, I love Ralph’s and had a great time at the fest but I’d be missing a big part of the story if I didn’t mention what sort of environment we were all working in. I was wearing a long-sleeved velvet jumpsuit which was tough in that heat and humidity (shoutout to Christian in Night Cobra in his big wool coat and the dudes in Savage Master who still wore their hoods, too!). Additionally, I had a recurrence of sciatica on Thursday which greatly affected my mobility so it was challenging to move around as much as I wanted on Saturday. Luckily, I was still able to give a solid performance despite it thanks to a lot of stretching and 6 months of physical therapy, yoga, and weight lifting (this is my PSA: Take care of yourselves. Don’t ignore your body when it’s giving you warning signals). Otherwise, the crowd was super receptive and we drew upon that energy to fuel our performance. We could certainly feel the appreciation for true epic doom in that room.

André: What do you think of the location? Please also tell us something about the atmosphere.

Paris: I’ve already mentioned some elements of the atmosphere and location, but Ralph’s is certainly a unique and treasured spot. As I said, it’s an older historic building and with that comes a level of filth, neglect, and sleaze that lends itself to heavy metal. Walking into Ralph’s is like walking into 1987 again: You stumble up some rickety wooden stairs into an old diner car and ask the bartender for a burger. He takes 3 other orders after you but still remembers that you wanted cheese but no tomato as he cooks your burger on a grill forsaken by any and all gods. While you wait, you order a $2 beer and watch a Dio music video playing on a CRT-TV above the bar. You’re skeptical, but as you eat your burger it quickly becomes apparent that it was exactly what you needed at that moment and you’re so grateful to have hot food at a venue. As you head upstairs to catch the show, you see a neon sign telling you it’s “Time to Fuck“ in glowing pink. It’s an exceptional spot for a heavy metal festival and I’ll always feel at home there. Visiting Ralph’s is required if you’re ever in Massachusetts.

André: Which bands would you like to see next year?

Paris: Next year, I’d love to see Eternal Champion, Purification, Fvneral Fvkk, Procession, Bygone, Tribunal, Crypt Sermon, Lord Vigo, Scald, Savage Oath, or Sumerlands. Wouldn’t hurt to have Gatekeeper back, either. There’s plenty I’m sure I’m forgetting, but I imagine the next Stormbringer will have a great, varied line-up.

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