“In a dissociative world, we must move through art and self-expression to channel our frustrations, pain, and confusion into a beautiful representation of what it means to be alive.”
Intoxicating stuff – especially in the service of a music festival. But Oblivion Access is a particularly heady – and heavy – event.
Rebranded and returning after a two-year pandemic-enforced absence, Oblivion Access is set to challenge Texas audiences with a clashing mix of bands and genres, music and art. More than 100 bands and artists take part in the festival, which is spread over four days at seven venues in downtown Austin.
Austin music veteran Dusty Brooks founded the festival with co-conspirator Dorian Domi, initially with a different name and narrower focus: the festival’s first outing in 2016 as the Austin Terror Fest featured many names familiar to fans of extreme metal but did not expand. far beyond these parameters. As the festival grew to encompass multiple days, venues and genres, they felt a name change was in order.
As the first Oblivion Access took shape, the pandemic struck. “The 2020 lineup that continued was kind of a year of transition…from strict heavy metal to branching out into other genres,” says Brooks.
This downtime has allowed the pair to plan an even bigger comeback, combining most of the headliners scheduled for 2020 with a slate of additional bands and attractions. These additions to the festival run the gamut from art and screen printing for transgressive LGBTQ performance artand experimental composers like Guillaume Basinksi, whose “Disintegration Loops” became a musical elegy for 9/11. Other headliners include well-known artists from the indie rock world (blonde redhead) and underground hip hop (Danny Brown).
But because of the festival’s roots, extreme metal – death metal, hardcore punk and their host of unclassifiable offshoots – make up the lion’s share of the festival.
“We are passionate about exposing people to new and exciting things and seeing their old favorites,” said Brooks. Nowhere is this truer than the Saturday lineup featuring death metal creators Autopsy – which contributed to the birth of the genre in 1987 – with Blood Incantationa critically acclaimed cosmic death metal band whose last album turned out to be a synth-based ambient record. A rare appearance from the branch of Blood Incantation Spectral voice – even rarer for their daytime appearance – is indicative of the rare reservations Oblivion Access strives to offer. “Having them play is a rarity in itself,” says Brooks. “Make them play a one-day show – you’ll never see that again.”
Oblivion Access runs from Thursday, May 12 through Sunday, May 15. Below, watch Brooks break down some of the bands and genres featured at the festival and talk about how metal is more than music with KUTX Host Ryan Wen.