Milwaukee Metal Fest Summary Part 1 of 4: A Metal Odyssey

So, here is the thing about documenting a festival in photos. You will see many bands from the front of the stage and you will need to remember their set times more concernedly than normal. But you also have to understand and accept that if you intend to see multiple bands play, you are likely only going to see part of their performance and have to leave to shoot another band before you’re ready.

Also, good intentions will almost always fail. I had intended to see and shoot photos of more bands, but unfortunately I was kicked in the head by a crowd surfer on Saturday. I was able to recover enough to finish out the weekend, in no small part thanks to my friend Katy of Suspiria PR who granted me the opportunity to share these photos with you all. 

In my first summary article about Milwaukee Metal Fest, I’m going to highlight my favorite sets from throughout the weekend. The Jasta band set during the pre-party was a highlight as well, but that will be touched on in my second article. It can be difficult to summarize such a packed weekend into words, but I think between the music readily available by these great artists and my photos, you’ll be able to understand a bit of the whirlwind experience that was Milwaukee Metal Fest 2024.

Many thanks again to Katy of Suspiria PR, Jamey Jasta, Sound Talent Group, the staff at The Rave/ Eagles Club and their security as well anyone I may not be aware of that worked to see this last weekend happen along with the many bands that played. I’m curious what next year will look like.

Uada (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

The first two bands also happen to be finishing a tour together as I write this and are both from the Pacific Northwest. Showcasing two different sonic signatures of black metal, I started day 1 with the welcome fourth time of seeing Uada and was blown away as I saw Bewitcher for the first time.

Uada was the very first set I saw during the primary three days of Milwaukee Metal Fest and while that meant they had a shorter set time; the precision they brought to the stage showcased how a band listed as an “opener” can perform like they are the only band on the lineup. Whenever Uada returns to Milwaukee or the Midwest in general, I have a feeling more than a few people will show up based on this powerful set. 

Bewitcher (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Similarly, Bewitcher hit the stage with their hellish sounds instantly getting many in the crowd head-banging to their music. They just recently premiered their new single, “Starfire Maelstrom," on their upcoming Century Media release titled Spell Shock, which is due for release on the 27th of September. 

Bewitcher (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Along with finishing their tour with Uada this week, they have plans to do another full US tour this fall as well as a European tour and have already announced they will be taking part in Sweden’s House of Metal festival this November in Umeå. 

The third favorite of the festival also from day one was by Doro. As I explained to a few people over the weekend, Doro Pesch is the first female metal vocalist I can recall hearing after seeing a music video on television when I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old. It was an unexpected privilege to see Doro perform live and an honor to be able to document the set by her current band of live musicians. 

Doro (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Day 2 brought the black metal back to my attention early and through one of my most anticipated sets for the festival, Morbikon. A newer band formed by Phil “Landphil” Hall of Municipal Waste and also featuring his bandmate Dave Witte on drums.

Morbikon (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

They recently welcomed a new singer, but the chemistry in the band was no indication. Morbikon has had me as a fan since the release of their first single, “Universal Funeral,” in 2022 and I’m grateful to have been able to document them early on their time as a touring band. They are currently on tour with Exhumed and Skeletal Remains until June 16th at Madame Lou’s in Seattle. 

Day 2 was complicated by my getting kicked in the head during the first of two sets by Death to All. It was another one of my most anticipated sets for the weekend and bummed me out to miss it due to not being sure if I’d be able to shoot the rest of the day.

As I attempted to steady myself, I managed to make some photos of a band that I was grateful to revisit after seeing them twice in 2019: Atlanta’s Cloak.

Cloak (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Their dark music seemed to gather one of the larger crowds I was part of for the entire weekend at the Dunable Guitars-sponsored stage. The smell of candles burning was a welcome relief to my still foggy mind and they gathered my focus back to my surroundings. They have recently signed with Metal Blade Records and along with working on new material, they have announced a summer of European dates throughout various cities in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Poland, and Germany including two festival appearances at Burning Q and Party San Open Air.

Cloak (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Along with autumn festival appearances in a return to Europe that will bring Cloak to The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany; their Holy Darkness will be heard far and wide. 

Finally, on the third day, my favorite set of the entire festival was also one of the last sets I saw. Due to some scheduling changes, I rushed up multiple flights of stairs to see Lacuna Coil had already started the first song of their delayed set due to the band before them running.

Lacuna Coil (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

I recognize that Lacuna Coil may not be the expected band to be featured on No Echo, but if this truly upsets anyone, ask Carlos to have the festival covered by someone else. I’ve listened to Lacuna Coil for close to 20 years but I hadn’t had the opportunity to see them live in 15 years. It means a great deal to me to have documented their set at Milwaukee Metal Fest as they ended their Ignite the Fire tour.

Lacuna Coil (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Their latest single, “In the Mean Time,” featuring Ash Costello of New Years Day brought me to tears that night. As I stood there uncertain of whether I had yet another concussion and having a hard time feeling the will to keep going, it was incredibly motivating to see a band I have great respect for play a powerful set. I’m not sure when their new record will be announced, but I know I’m eagerly waiting to pre-order it. 

Lacuna Coil (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

The three remaining articles to follow will feature the various artists I saw including Overkill, Profanatica, Autopsy, Soilent Green, Death Ray Vision, Skeletal Remains, I Am Morbid, and more. Thanks to Carlos for allowing me to work on this project of articles.

Tagged: cloak, morbikon