Depending on the type of music you like, Des Moines probably has your taste covered. Indie rock, hard rock, country, jazz, blues and more are represented. Death metal? Not as much.
That changes this week with Sound the Slaughter Fest, featuring more than a dozen local and regional death metal and hardcore acts. The festival is being organized by Amass the Grave guitarist John Ira and friends Charlie Hoag and Mark Schmitt.
Don’t let the festival name scare you (it’s the name of Ira’s record label), or be put off by the concept of death metal. Ira, Hoag and Schmitt are looking to put on a fun day. Intense, and with a lot of black T-shirts, but fun.
“You can walk around the other festivals and just feel the energy in the air and people are excited to be a part of it” said Schmitt, 29. “But that kind of atmosphere doesn’t exist for metal in Des Moines.”
Amass the Grave had been on hiatus, so when Ira decided to bring the band back, he wanted to do it big. The band put out an album in the fall, “A Massacred World,” and the plan was to put on a show in a warehouse near downtown where Hoag’s trucking business operates.
“The plan had been to just have Amass the Grave play with two or three other bands, but overnight interest grew and suddenly we had 15 bands,” Ira, 27, said.
The increased size meant the festival had to relocate from the south-side warehouse to a lot on the north side of Des Moines.
The trio’s goal is for Sound the Slaughter to become an annual event covering multiple days and featuring camping. But for the first year they wanted to start things organically and put the majority of the focus on local talent. Slipknot has provided them with a shining example that aggressive, outside the norm metal can thrive in Des Moines, and they want to put the spotlight on a new generation here.
“We want to do this again, but we’re not a big time production company,” Hoag said. “We’re just three guys, but maybe this could be a springboard for local death metal acts. A band playing this year might not be known now, but after Sound the Slaughter there will be 400 death metal fans who love them.”
Sound the Slaughter Fest
Acts: Reaping Asmodeia, Amass the Grave, Micawber, The Curse of Hail, Shadow of Indra, Astral Space, They Will Repent, For the Empire, Too Cold for Spiders, Mors, Hours of Decay, Era of the End and more acts TBA
When: Noon-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Former Clarkson School lot, Sixth and Boston avenues.
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the gate