Words and photos by Noé Loyola
Northwest Terror Fest brings together the best of the metal underground for a wonderful celebration of chaos, darkness, and community. Below are photos and impressions from the fest.
Before attending Northwest Terror Fest, I was in a bad rut. I live in Seattle, city host to the festival. It is not a secret to most that it is rapidly transforming into the dystopia of our nightmares. Not the one that movies promised us with amazing neon buildings and badass robots, but lame electric unicycles and pretentious foodie joints.
At its core, Seattle is still a city filled to the brim with talented individuals creating wonderful metal. It is easy to forget this amidst the technological devolution. Enter Northwest Terror Fest (NWTF in short), an underground festival committed to making the heart of the city beat as loudly as it can.
On the first night of the festival, anarchist and anti-fascist band Dawn Ray’d gave a powerful speech about being the change we want to see in a world where everything seems to become more fucked up by the day. This was not only inspiring, but also made increasingly more sense to me as the festival went on.
The festival gathered 36 talented bands passionate about their art and very pissed off about the status quo. The event is small compared to other big name metal festivals, bringing in no more than a thousand attendees. This allowed NWTF to be a prime promoter of the underground, shedding light on smaller acts that might otherwise pass unnoticed.
My passion for metal was reignited thanks to the amazing curatorial effort of the organizers. Bands representing diverse genres such as heavy metal, grindcore, death metal, dark ambient, stoner metal, and math rock displayed impressive technical skills and wild creativity, often crafting truly unique musical experiences.
A refreshing and important statement by the festival was the amount of women that absolutely crushed it on stage. Bands like Immortal Bird, Closet Witch, and Vastum blew me away with the intensity of their performances, demonstrating that the term “female fronted metal band” is irrelevant.
The sense of community was also very strong. Band members sported t-shirts of other performing acts, gave shoutouts, and even made surprise guest appearances in other bands’ sets. Unlike many festivals where each performance seems isolated, NWTF felt like a breathing organism full of vital energy.
Energy is perhaps the quintessential quality of metal, and NWTF delivered that in spades. It had the maniacal performances of KEN Mode, POUND, and Gadget. It was also electrified by hundreds of fans that showed a wonderful sense of camaraderie. And seeing interactions between fans and musicians at the merch table always warms my heart.
The event was an absolute feast that left me utterly destroyed by Sunday morning. Despite my physical body being in pain, my spiritual self was illuminated and empowered. Even though the technological dystopia was still out there, I felt more inspired to do something about it.
Many things are out of my hands, but the experience of attending such a passionate gathering of talent reminded me that apathy is a draining and corrosive agent that should not drive my life. I feel grateful to form part of such a beautiful community, and I will try to give back to it as much as I can.