CVLT Nation Scene Spotlight: FRESNO
Fresno is located in the heart of California. It is the fifth largest city in the best state in America. I spent over a decade living in the area. I dedicated a lot of time and energy focusing on building unity within the underground music community in the hopes of making a positive difference to inspire others to do the same.
I’ve always been into music, and my closest friends have always been musicians. I go out of my way to associate with creative and passionate artists. Throughout my time of living in the Central Valley, I was fortunate to meet many amazing artists and individuals through attending shows, building friendships, and planting seeds of hope for the future waves of artists to pick up on and to keep pushing music forward.
In the last few years, a lot of radical changes have begun to take place in Fresno, including the opening of two amazing music shops located in the Tower District called Dynamite Vinyl and Tower District Records. Both of these shops support the local DIY Underground community by carrying music from local bands, by employing locals and opening their doors up to host shows in Fresno. It is a good time to be living in Fresno thanks to the dedication, hard work and persistence of many.
This is a list of Artists/Bands from Fresno (((California))) that are worth knowing about.
Azathoth – Formed from the ashes of arguably one of the biggest Fresno Metal bands to exist in the 2000’s – Dead Elizabeth. Azathoth started out as an Atmospheric Black Metal band when they released their debut S/T offering. There was a time when you couldn’t book a successful Metal show in Fresno without Azathoth. They were the band that everyone was going out of their way to see. Rightfully so – they were the kings of the scene. Unfortunately, the main song writer for Azathoth got a terrible case of tinnitus that put the project on the shelf for several years. After corrective surgery, Azathoth re-emerged, morphing into a crushing force of Black/Death Metal. They recorded a two song demo that they released to the internet for free featuring some of the most pulverizing Metal to ever come out of Fresno.
Battleshok – Stench-ridden-Crusty D-eath Beat. One of my favorite bands from the Area. They have been punishing for nearly a decade. Battleshok is too punk to have released a proper recording since their inception, but now with a solidified lineup featuring the members of FIEND, they are working on a record and I am very excited about it.
Beastmaker – is a Doom Metal band that is about to take the world by storm. Having carved their niche in Indie Rock over the last decade, this band has figured out the perfect recipe for creating Old School Doom Metal. When I heard their demo, I was blown away and immediately got in contact with them to tell them I dug what they were doing. I wasn’t the only one either – Lee Dorian, from Cathedral and Napalm Death, also reached out to them. Beastmaker is now gearing up to record new music for their Rise Above debut.
Cease – if you dig on Heavy Hardcore, I highly recommend giving this band a shot. When I heard their debut recording, Humanity, I was thoroughly impressed. I got in contact with them to invite them to be featured on my label. Since they started out, they have had the opportunity to play alongside Eyehategod, Cro-Mags, Nailz and Gatecreeper.
Dead Elizabeth was an atmospheric Black Metal band that ruled Fresno from 2003 – 2005. I was fortunate to get to attend one of their first shows and several others. They had the craziest draw I have ever seen in the area. Hundreds of people would show up to see Dead Elizabeth perform. There was something about this band that just made people go fucking crazy. The music label Prosthetic was trying to sign them, but D.E.’s vocalist decided to move away to go to college and to pursue indie rock to the fullest. Their good friends in Light This City ended up swooping their spot on the Prosthetic roster, which in hindsight was probably better for D.E., as that label swallows artists. Seriously, fuck any label that tries to make you commit to more than 2 records. R.I.P Ryan Cowger
Fiend is a blistering Grindcore band. I personally love these guys. I have known them since they were the youngest kids at shows in Fresno and have supported them in all of their bands throughout the years. Fiend is my favorite Grindcore band in America; sonically, they are absolutely devastating, and they are the best dudes. I was extremely fortunate to get to link up with them to release their debut on my label, and since, I have watched them garner a rabid fanbase that makes me smile so much. I love seeing my friends succeed, and Fiend is without a doubt one of the Hottest Grindcore bands in the world right now. Full support!
Fierce Creatures is an indie rock band that was formed out of the ashes of Most Inspirational and a few other local indie rock bands. They were the first band from the Central Valley to get endorsed by Orange Amps. That in itself is pretty amazing, but this project put out some solid Indie Jams and did a lot for their local community.
Goreshack is a Death Metal band that is heavily influenced by Surf Rock and good times. Formed from the ashes of Thracia, Goreshack also shares a Drummer with Fiend. Led by a gnarly vocalist that is a behemoth of a man that stands over 6’7″ named Thor. I recently had the chance to catch up with them and to talk about the new music that they are working on and I’m definitely looking forward to what the future holds for this band!
Keeper is a Heavy Doom/Sludge band that has been getting a lot of attention in the last two years. In the video above, you will notice that the man behind the kit is also the destroyer in Fiend and Goreshack. This band has a revolving cast of members, except the one consistent member Jacob Lee. Jacob is responsible for recording many bands that are included on this list. Keeper is a band to keep an eye on.
Maggot Colony are kings of Central Valley Grindcore. They have been doing it longer than any other band from the area, and they are kind enough to show everyone the ropes. You can catch them opening for all sorts of bands in the Fresno area, but when they leave their local area, you can catch them opening up for bands like Carcass. Their drummer is a blind blasting maniac. If you are unfamiliar with this band, do yourself a favor and familiarize with them.
Midwest Moms is a Post-Punk Gothic Shoegaze band featuring members of Wallflower and Airs. Their S/T recording that came out in 2014 was one of my favorite releases of the year. Midwest Moms has enlisted the help of Jacob Lee from Keeper to do all of their recordings. This is a really fun band that I definitely recommend checking out.
Most Inspirational is the best Emo band to ever grace Fresno. Part of what made them incredibly special is the fact that their vocalist wasn’t just another squeaky whiny voice, Mathr is actually a very talented vocalist. To this day, I still get his infectious vocals stuck in my head. When Azathoth was the biggest Metal band in Fresno, Most Inspirational was the biggest Indie band. When Mathr was still in the band, they recorded a nearly flawless album called, Some Mistakes Will Never Be Enough. That record is without a doubt the best Emo record to ever come out of Fresno.
Mutant Itch is a vicious Raw Punk band that has been steadily building a DIY community for Punks looking to play in Fresno. Mutant Itch is responsible for bringing in tons of bands to the Central Valley, and they are one of the most active bands in the Area. Nasty Turbocharged Pogo Punk is the best way to describe their sound.
Reunion is a Positive Hardcore Youth-Crew band. Their most recent offering, True Values, is my favorite release of theirs thus far. I consider myself to be pretty negatively optimistic, but I dig this band’s conviction and passion.
Swamp Witch is a Doom/Sludge Metal band that formed in the Central Valley. Formed from the ashes of Vile and Gänod. This was a band that was strategically planned, as our bands before this used to play together a lot because we had a shared passion for Flower Travellin’ Band. Our initial goal with Swamp Witch was to get together and to take a bunch of psychedelics and to record on 09/09/09. We were happy with the results and decided to keep moving forward. I moved away to live in the Bay Area, but I would commute for practice every few months until we were ready to record. We recorded our first record in Oakland, and soon after, two more members moved to Oakland, while our guitarist moved away to Humboldt. We played our first show at The China Town Youth Center in Fresno, and more than half a decade later we are still moving forward.
Thracia was a Black Metal band that featured members of Dead Elizabeth and Goreshack. They played a punishing combination of Atmospheric Black Metal with Death Metal execution and Melodic Keyboards. In this video, I got an invitation to do guest vocals with them; I was always an outside loner, and after this performance I was finally embraced by the Extreme Metal community in Fresno.
Vile was a Psychedelic Punk band. Originally starting out as a Hardcore JCxHC band, one day the members began experimenting with psychedelics and started expanding their minds and began creating really fucked up dark Punk Rock.
Wallflower is the best Hardcore Punk band currently active in Fresno. They are heavily embedded in the D.I.Y. Underground and Upper Crust. Wallflower is one of the most important active bands in the entire Central Valley. I have an immense amount of respect for their drummer, Chris Perez – he has dedicated his life to D.I.Y. and has been involved in nearly every single Hardcore band that has mattered from Fresno in the last decade, not to mention he books shows and is an all around great guy. Their guitarist, Omar, is an incredible asset to Central Valley D.I.Y.; he has been in numerous bands throughout the years and some of my favorite memories of shows in Fresno involve his participation. Their vocalist, Corina, is ferocious as fuck –her screams and yells are impressively articulated while remaining super pissed off and meaningful. Highly recommended for the most radical of Punks.