Cold, gray, and rainy days don’t exactly scream “festival season,” but they’re the perfect backdrop for Torment Is Flesh. The local fest’s second installment keeps its gaze fixed on the ugly, grimy side of the extreme metal and noise underground, but this year organizers have expanded its reach.
“I guess the goal is to successfully put together something that really isn’t going on with other festivals,” explains the Torment Is Flesh organizer who simply goes by “R.” “Yes, it is more DIY and smaller, but ultimately that is kind of the point. We want it to be a festival for those who really care about these kinds of music to seek it out as a destination.”
The motivation behind the first installment of Torment Is Flesh was to offer a small, focused showcase of harsh noise and black metal from across the Pacific Northwest. That ballooned into a three-day event featuring acts from R’s own Vrasubatlat record label and the noise imprint Unseen Force.
This year’s partnership with the Canada-based label Blud Auk underscores the wider scope of Torment Is Flesh, Vol. 2, which will welcome artists from across North America. Sonically, though, this is still the same beast—an amalgamation of experimental sound art and DIY-informed punk and metal.
“To us, Torment Is Flesh feels like the festival that we would want to see: an array of acts under one banner that feels like it ‘makes sense’ from a sonic and artistic standpoint,” R explains. “We take pride in the fact that our festival is tightly curated and aesthetically cohesive without pulling acts from what feels like the typical festival circuit.”
To that end, the lineup includes the bestial black metal of Ululatum Tollunt, Human Agony, and Methgoat, grisly hardcore from City Hunter, the blackened punk of Devil Master, nihilistic noise-rock from Rectal Hygienics, the grim death metal of Siege Column and Cerebral Rot, and a wide gamut of power electronics and harsh noise from HHL, Mass Marriage, and Subklinik.
You aren’t likely to see any of these names splashed across a summer festival marquee, but that’s part of the draw. These are underground heavy-hitters who, in some cases, might be playing one of their only shows of the year, which will attract subterranean tape-traders from well beyond Portland. And while R’s own death metal outfit, Triumvir Foul, won’t perform this year’s festival, the event will be your only chance to snag the pre-release version of their EP, Urine of Abomination, which is due in March.
“This is meant to feel like an event for those who don’t give a shit about fitting into one particular scene or social circle,” says R. “It is a grouping of bands that don’t really participate too much in the annual festival circuit and may only play Torment Is Flesh and nothing else for a long time. Having the people who really want to see those acts and those acts alone would make TIF a success to us.”