San Marcos is a city that is halfway between Austin, the capital of the state of Texas and San Antonio, a city that attracts many tourists. It is said that it is the best kept Texan tourist secret, that its river maintains a temperature of 71 Fahrenheit all year round and that the population grows because there are more births than mortalities. That’s the city where Wake of Winter Fest first edition was going to be held, and believe me, that day, although temperature was not below zero degree, the coldness felt very uncomfortable and difficult to overcome by these tropical freaks.
We left from the headquarters of Scriptorium Magazine in Katy, around ten o'clock in the morning. Almost the entire Scriptorium crew made the trip, including Nico, the German shepherd who always accompanies us while we write or design the magazine in the Studio Room. When we arrived at the event site, the GPS sent us to make a right in a non-asphalted entrance, but since we made the turn, you could see the outside stage. It was part of the venue called Ragnar's on the Compound, where there is also a bar with an inside stage. We picked up our Festival Badges from the hand of one of the organizers, Analaura Hernandez, we thank her very much because she was responsible for our presence there.
After collecting the badges and taking a walk around the complex, we headed to the hotel to drop Nico off. There was a delay with our rooms and this made us miss WAR MONGER, a cover band on the inside stage and HÍJO DE PÜTÄ, a very eclectic metal band ranging from half-rapped phrasing to BRUJERIA type of songs.
We ordered the first beer when MAGGOT MESS was on the indoor stage. They are practitioners of a Death metal with a lot of attitude, they work as a fairly tight quartet and transmit good energy live. Personally I think that the vocalist needs to work harder on his voice, but those who were supporting them this did not care much about it.
From Ragnar's cavern we went to the outside stage light, although the afternoon was already falling and the Winter Wake was already being felt. 3RD WAR was playing a kind of Heavy metal with PANTERA’s type of groove, but saving distances. This other quartet showed mastery on stage, the only thing is that the crowd was much dispersed and I didn’t see much physical interactions, although the scattered audience never stopped clapping with each song. It is a band that I recommend checking after you finish this reading.
COMORBIDITY made the trip from Dallas to show their debut album "Dead, Infected Everywhere", very much in tune with the health crisis experienced recently. They intend to cultivate an European Death metal sound, but I feel that the Swedish school is the one that stands out the most. The vocalist and guitarrist Dave Tillery threw an album to the audience every time a song was finished. It is a band where Tom Araya plays bass (just kidding, ha-ha), but the resemblance is impressive. I think there is a future with this band and they should continue to evolve. I believe the best is yet to come with these metallers.
Back on the outside stage MUTE TX sounded. The music waved between a dark cut Heavy metal, depressive at times, but well elaborated. The poor outside stage sound system did not help them much and they were one of the less supported live acts and underrated. Maybe, they need to condense more all the influences and work in a more communicative and energetic performance.
Several bands had backed out from the lineup and this gave COPROLALIA more time to equalize, in fact, I thought they were not going to play for a moment. If with the previous band there was indifference and apathy, with this quartet of brutal Death metal the opposite happened. Not only the music is contagious and direct, but also its members know how to put on a sick show, with sordid theme recreation events like the Columbine massacre up to idolize a serial killer like Ted Bundy. I highly recommend this band live and the audience supported it passionately, the best in terms of physical response until that moment.
Already the night had fallen and outside IRON MAIDEN, OZZY OSBOURNE and more of the classic Heavy metal and American Rock repertoire sounded. All this came from UNDERCOVER KILLAS instruments. They are a cover band from San Marcos, a good local talent. They connected with the audience immediately, as a good band used to entertaining and giving the public a little of those other great legends and performers.
MIND DISSENSION was a group that impressed many by the high level of musicianship. They are a duo that defends a fairly classic Death metal, although for that show they play in a trio format and it should be noted that the new member, Calibur, on bass brings quality to the band also. The way of Jaime L. Azcarate (gtr and voc) introduced the songs and addressed the crowd reminded me of Tomas Lindberg in "Terminal Spirit Disease", saving the obvious distances; since very few vocalists growl at the audience nowadays. This is a band that you should not lose sight of and hopefully consolidate the line up with this new instrumentalist.
Some who made the weak outside stage PA system bleed were San Antonio Nu-metallers PIGWEED. They've been active since 2009 and they're quite well known in different Texan cities, and I think in a way, the crowd was waiting for them. Despite being a septet, they were quite energetic on stage and made the audience break the inertia quickly. This was something that was needed in San Marcos that night because the temperatures were sticking to Zero. In short, it was one of the best live I witnessed that night.
The darkest sounds came from the BESTEMMIAL AETERNALIS strings that night. This is a band that has been on the scene for many years, since 1999 according to their page. They are a mixture of Death and Black metal like BELPHEGOR, especially the most contemporary material. You could notice a difference between the most veteran players and the singer on stage. I do not know how long has he been singing with the band, but he did not show confidence, especially as a front man. However, they were well acclaimed, apparently the band’s trajectory is very well known in Texas.
CEREBRAL DESECRATION was one of the most expected host bands and their Death-Thrash sound immediately lit the fire since the first song. They have been around since 2010 and have three albums, the latest is "Further than the Bottom" from 2020. Those eleven years have been paid off. You can tell that is a band with tremendous performance and feeling on stage. These were others that made the not enough PA system cry. I strongly believe Death Thrash consumers should approach this act because there is quality in their music and it was another of the best live of the night as well.
When we entered the indoor stage the WULFHOLT sounded, another quartet with several years on their backs, since 2012, but with few official recordings under the burning Texan sun. Many label them as Heavy Metal, but not the old-school like JUDAS or MAIDEN. I would dare to recommend them as a band that plays metal and inserts very well different styles within their music. The main raspy voices are from Roberto Hoffman, although the drummer Michael Lopez sings along from time to time. It is a band difficult to catalog, with good compositions, tight live and that should also be checked.
The highlight came with the Houston Heavy-Speed metallers HELSTAR, although judging by the latest album "Clad in Black" they are closer to the Heavy metal like CANDLEMASS or JUDAS PRIEST, so that you have an idea where the bullets go. James Rivera's unparalleled voice remains the driving force and it’s a real luxury to enjoy it in a show. Honestly, the crowd congregated and stayed together in front of the stage from beginning to end, disregarding the cold hours. It's super gratifying that a band with so much history is still putting out records and giving very good shows.
And when we thought it was all, the organizers brought to the stage the rapper and composer Lil Boodang, to reaffirm that this event brings together different genres of music. We could not see this last performer live because we thought that HELSTAR was wrapping up and the prevailing cold temperatures made us pack quickly.
The festival was very well organized, everything flowed very professionally on both stages. Many thanks to Analaura Hernandez (Eminent Proclivity) for the invitation and attentions. I liked the idea that they put together several trends within metal. That variety allows to show the Texas scene in all its totality of bands and styles. I only have one suggestion for the next one and it is that the outside stage PA system should be more powerful. Apart from that, it was a great event. A greeting to all who bravely defy the prevailing cold. And as I told you initially, the festival has the perfect moniker.
Texts: Alex Sanchez
Photos: Michel Sanchez
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