Ghost ticket give away

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Papa Emeritus and his band of Nameless Ghouls will be playing at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Wednesday, May 14th as Ghost returns to the DC area. This week we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this show to get you as excited about this show as we are! To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite Ghost song is. If you need help you can find their discography listed here. If you’re not a huge Ghost fan but are more into one of the other bands on the bill, then tell me what you favorite song by one of them is instead. At 5pm EST this Friday, May 9th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from right now for $26.50 from Live Nation here.

The anonymous Swedes of Ghost have their true identities shrouded in mystery but one thing is for sure, they know how to put on a killer live show. From their costumes, stage backdrops and lighting to their super catchy riffs and chorus lines Ghost is quite the musical spectacle to behold. They’ll also be playing with King Dude, a dark and moody rocker from Seattle, who should be great at setting the stage for Ghost. In addition, the opening act for this show of the tour only will be the Flying Eyes, a psychedelic rock band from Baltimore. Now check out these killer tunes by Ghost and King Dude and tell me what your favorite Ghost song is in the comments!

Ghost – Year Zero

Ghost – Ritual

King Dude – Fear Is All You Know

Ghost BC ticket give away

Ghost at the 9:30 Club

The mysterious Swedish band Ghost BC (they’ve been forced to add the BC for legal reasons) will be performing at the 9:30 Club on Monday, May 13th, 2013, in support of their new album, Infestissumam. Ghost is a very theatrical band live and DCHeavyMetal.com wants to make sure as many of you get to see this show as possible so we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this show! To enter just tell me your favorite Ghost song in the comments section at the end of this post. If you need help, you can see the track listings of their two albums here and here. At 5pm EST on Friday, May 3rd, 2013, the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of tickets to the show. If I don’t hear from the winner within 24 hours then I’ll randomly pick another person to get the tickets. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. If the contest is over when you read this or you simply can’t wait to find out if you win the contest you can buy tickets from Ticket Fly for $20 here.

Ghost made waves in the metal world when they released their debut album in 2010. Their sound is a throwback to acts of yore such as Blue Oyster Cult and Mercyful Fate. The band is completely anonymous and go on stage wearing costumes and masks that hide their identity. The Nameless Ghouls, as the band members are called, all dress the same except for their front man, Papa Emeritus II. His creepy stage presence is unmistakable and, combined with with Ghost’s music and imagery, conjures the feeling of some kind of evil church service. Their sophomore album was just released in early April and this will be the area’s first chance to see Ghost perform their catchy new material live. The supporting act on this tour is Ides Of Gemini, a haunting rock band from Los Angeles, California. This all adds up to a show that shouldn’t be missed! Now check out these recent Ghost videos below, as well as one from Ides Of Gemini, and enter the contest below!

Heritage Hunter Tour At The Fillmore Silver Spring Concert Review

Wednesday the 9th of May 2012 was a rainy day in the Washington, DC area, perfect weather for a mid-week, indoor concert. The Heritage Hunter Heritage Hunter TourTour brought the impressive line up of Opeth, Mastodon and Ghost to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, that night and I finally got a chance to check out this venue. The venue itself has some pretty cool art and design on the walls, the collage of upcoming (and past) concert posters around the main floor’s elevator was pretty cool looking, and the paintings in the stairways were trippy to say the least. The venue is laid out similar to the 9:30 Club with a second floor that is cut out so you can view the stage from that level. This was my biggest problem with the venue however, as the lines of sight on the second floor were not good at all unless you were on the rail, and even then they weren’t great. They had some concrete ledge/steps sort of like at the 9:30 Club, however they are so far back that you cannot watch the show from there at all, and I’m over six feet tall so it isn’t like I’m just too short. This was one of the few poor design choices I found at the venue and luckily this show wasn’t sold out because that would leave a lot of people wishing they could see. There is a VIP section with seats and tables on the second floor as well, and these ring the second floor’s edge, though they certainly block the view for regular ticket holders. I guess that’s an option if you Fillmore Artwant to be sure you get a good view, however something seems just wrong to me about paying extra so you can sit down to watch a metal show. They had several working bars around the place, even the basement bathrooms and coat check, with no view of the stage upstairs, had a fully stocked bar. The venue’s sound wasn’t bad at all and the stage lights were really great, particularly during the first two sets. They have a food menu (see it here) which even has multiple vegetarian options. The bar’s prices aren’t any better than at the 9:30 Club. Alcohol prices weren’t posted anywhere, I’d assume to get people to not realize how much they’re spending until they get the bill at the end of the night. To give you an idea of their prices, I saw a bottle of Heineken poured into a cup for $7 before tip. Anyways, enough about the venue, let’s get to the bands.

The mysterious band Ghost was the opening act for the night. Their last stop in the area was a sold out show at the Rock & Roll Hotel on January 19th and the lead vocalist, Papa Emeritus, sounded very poor then and Papa Emeritus of Ghostcouldn’t hit his high notes. This wasn’t a problem at the Fillmore show at all and the band performed very well. Ghost is a very dramatic band on stage with Papa Emeritus making all kinds of poses that, as a photographer, are totally fun to shoot. Ghost’s theatrics also made them well suited to the bigger stage and the excellent lighting rig the Fillmore provides. Ghost really put on a great show and the 30 minute set seemed to fit them well as they played most of Opus Eponymous, their debut album and only release, in that time.

The second band to play that night was Mastodon, who is probably the biggest band from Georgia centralized sludge metal scene. They were Troy Sanders of Mastodonco-headlining this tour with Opeth, apparently alternating which band headlined each night and this night we had Opeth playing last. I’ll be honest with you here and admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Mastodon, though on this night it seemed like their set’s focus on their latest album, The Hunter, didn’t go over that great with most of the audience either. They played the 9:30 Club back on November 27th to promote this album already, so you’d think they could have changed up their set list a bit by now. Midway through their set it just seemed like more of the same and you could tell people were waiting to hear the classic songs that made them fall in love with the band. When they finally started playing some of their older material the crowd really got into the show, but by then they were wrapping up their set. Kind of a downer to end that way but at least they weren’t the last band playing that night.

The final band to perform was the Swedish progressive metal band Opeth. Well, they are certainly starting to lean further away from being a true “metal” band though they do still put on a good show. Their set list wasn’t much Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opethdifferent from the one they played at Rams Head Live in Baltimore back on November 1st, although this time there was no legendary Bloodbath performance to end the night. They did play a shorter set this time as well, only about an hour and fifteen minutes long, though honestly that was probably a good amount. Opeth’s set list also weighed heavy on their latest album, Heritage, which is a bit controversial among fans because it only has clean vocal singing with no guttural growling. This takes an element away from their songs, and thus the live show, as one of Opeth’s strengths has always been the seamless weaving of the lighter and heavier aspects of progressive metal. In fact, I’d say their manipulation of dynamic contrast is a large part of the band’s overall appeal and one of the things that makes their sound unique. Even so, Opeth writes very good songs and it’s not like they simply suck now, it just seems like something is missing. This was really notable when they played Demon Of The Fall, one of the few older songs they performed, which I thought was their best song of the night. That was the Opeth I wanted to see. Those days seem to be coming to a close and at the end of their set I still just wanted to hear them play Bleak.

In all the show was a lot of fun for me. I thought all the bands were relying too heavily on their latest output (I suppose Ghost can get a pass since they only have one release) especially considering they had all played the area to promote those albums. I’m not saying the bands shouldn’t play new material, but throw your fans a few bones here! At the end of the show I saw a curious thing, the staff at the Fillmore was handing out tickets, for free, to see the Saints & Sinners Tour with Emmure as well as tickets to see Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated, both of which will be at the Fillmore later this month. Perhaps they aren’t selling that well, I don’t know, but that was kind of cool. During Opeth’s last song I headed outside to hand out flyers for DCHeavyMetal.com. Several people tried to speak to me but in the flood of people walking by, and with my hands full of flyers, I simply didn’t have time to to talk. I didn’t want to come off as “too cool” or something and usually I love chatting with fans of the site so the next time you see me be sure to say hi.A Nameless Ghoul of Ghost Also, if you like the photos I shot in this review you can see the rest of my photos from this show, including shots of the set lists, on my Flickr page here (some of my photos were also used in a review of the show written by Catherine Lewis for DCist here). Until next time, stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Meshuggah/Baroness and Opeth/Mastodon ticket give aways!

The new Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, hasn’t had a metal show since Anthrax and Testament played there in November, but they’ve just announced two killer metal concerts coming there in May. The Heritage Hunter tour with Opeth, Mastodon and Ghost on May 9th and the Ophidian Trek tour with Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated on May 22nd. Here at DCHeavyMetal.com we couldn’t pick which concert to give tickets away to, so we’re giving a pair of tickets away to both shows! All you’ve got to do to enter is make a comment at the bottom of this post saying which of these killer metal shows you’d like to enter to win tickets to. You can enter to win both if you’d like, but each concert will have a different winner. The winners will be picked at 4pm EST on Friday the 10th of February. One winner will be chosen at random with Random.org for each concert and they’ll win a pair of tickets to the show of their choice! Be sure you use a real email address you check regularly when you enter so I can contact you when you win, though your email doesn’t have to be in the comment itself. And don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or sell your info to anyone, I hate that crap too. Now, here’s a bit more info on these concerts.

The Heritage Hunter tour has quite a line up! Opeth is Sweden’s premiere progressive metal band and while their last trip through the area saw them playing mostly softer material with a focus on their new album, Heritage, word has it this tour will feature a more “best of” style set list. I suppose we won’t know for sure until they’re actually playing it though. Opeth sold out their last area appearance on November 1st at Rams Head Live in Baltimore. Mastodon is probably the most famous band out of that big Georgia metal scene. Their latest album, The Hunter, looks to make them an even bigger name in the world of metal and you can bet they’ll be playing material from it as well. They also sold out their last area appearance which was at the 9:30 Club on November 27th. The opening act on this tour is Sweden’s mysterious Ghost. The members of the band all cover their faces and hide their identities and so the rumors have swirled around them about who might actually be in the band and what other bands those people are members of. Regardless, their debut album, Opus Eponymous, has won over critics and metal fans alike with their clean vocals and simple but catchy songs, all in the name of Satan of course. And you probably guessed it, but they also sold out their most recent area appearance when they headlined the Rock & Roll Hotel on January 19th. That’s right, this tour is made up of three bands who all sold out their most recent area appearances. If you missed any of them before now is your chance to see them live! If you want to be sure you get tickets before it sells out (which it seems likely to do considering the line up) you can buy tickets online now for $29.50 here.

The other metal show coming to the Fillmore in May is the Ophidian Trek tour with Sweden’s popular tech metal band Meshuggah headlining in support of their new album Koloss. Everyone knows these guys can shred and this will be the area’s first chance to hear any of their new material played live. If that wasn’t good enough for you they’ve also brought along another one of the premiere bands from the Georgia metal scene, Baroness! Baroness should have a new album out this year, hopefully in time for this tour, but even if they don’t the material on their first two albums is fantastic live. I saw them play the Rock & Roll Hotel back in November of 2009 and while that show was excellent, it will be great to see them on a bigger stage. The opening act is Decapitated, a Polish technical death metal band that has reformed with a new line up after a tragic bus accident in 2007 left the drummer dead and the vocalist in a coma. And you know what Meshuggah and Decapitated on the same bill means, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear both Bleed and Spheres Of Madness played live at the same concert, hell yeah! If you want to get tickets to this show now and not have to worry about it selling out (you know, on the off chance you don’t win this contest) you can go ahead and buy your tickets online for $25 each by going here.

Well, those are your two choices. Check out these classic videos by the headliners and enter to win below!

Reviews of three Swedish concerts in one week

So this past week I saw three Swedish bands headline concerts in a row. I saw In Flames play on Saturday 14 January 2012, Graveyard play on Monday the 16th and Ghost play on Thursday the 19th. This was total coincidence as these bands aren’t label mates or anything like that, they just all happened to hit the area at once. So which of these bands kicked the most ass during this mini-Swedish invasion? Read on and you’ll find out.

Saturday the 14th saw me heading up to Baltimore for the first big metal show of the year in this area, In Flames playing at Rams Head Live! In Flames is probably the most famous of the Gothenburg, Sweden based melodic death metal bands from the 90s (other acts include At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, among others). In Flames is also sort of like Metallica in that their first few albums grabbed them a devoted fan base that was then completely turned off to the band when they changed their sound and found commercial success. Their 2002 release Reroute To Remain is akin to Metallica’s self-titled album (or the “black album” as most people call it) in that it greatly expanded their fan base but completely alienated most older fans with the simplified songs and flashy production. The band has been very successful though, and the reason they are playing Rams Head Live instead of smaller venues like Sonar or Empire (formerly Jaxx) is due to that change in sound. In 2010 the band’s founder, Jesper Strömblad, left In Flames which now has no original members. This didn’t deter them as the summer of 2011 saw them release their first album without Jesper, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, the album which this tour was promoting.

The audience at the show was a bit rowdy; they are the kind of band that draws metal heads as well as non-metal heads to see them. This often means that some people in attendance see the show as “the rare concert I go to that I can get crazy at cause it’s a metal show” which is cool to a certain extent but I wasn’t loving that as In Flames started their first song, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, and I was hit in the back of the head with a drink someone had thrown from the balcony. Got my camera wet and if I wasn’t so focused on getting some decent shots of the band I’d have been much more pissed about that. I saw drinks being thrown throughout the show, so it wasn’t just me either. Anyways, their set list was heavy on material from the new album, the first three songs were the first three tracks off of it. People who are fans of only their pre-Reroute To Remain material didn’t miss much, the only songs they played from before that were Swim from Clayman and The Hive from Whoracle (I shot video of them playing both of these songs, as well as The Quiet Place, that you can watch at the end of this post). I’ve also posted a photo of the entire set list here. The sound mix at the venue wasn’t great. The volume was very low for a metal show and the bass seemed to drown out a lot. It’s like the guy mixing it thought all metal bands want to sound like Korn or something, haha. Seriously though, the guitars, and particularly the keyboards, were hard to pick out of the mix at times because the bass drown them out. The stage lighting was really awesome though! The band was heavily backlit with lots of big lights and enshrouded in a lot of fog which had a cool looking effect. The band’s performance was alright. Nothing too wild or phenomenal really but not bad. Vocalist Anders Fridén made sure to high five and fist bump most of the crowd surfers though he does this thing where he bends over and screams into the mic like ten times per song. It was fine at first but after a while you’re sort of thinking, c’mon man get another move or two. Between two songs he made a comment about how it is hard making money on music sales now and he was glad so many people came out to the show to support the band. The band did well and seemed to enjoy performing, and the new guitarist, Niclas Engelin, especially had a lot of energy up there almost like he was trying to be sure he won fans over to his replacement of Jesper. I sure think he did! They ended their set with Take This Life and they did not play an encore. Overall it was a decent show, for fans of the modern In Flames at least. Old school fans who are bitter would not have liked much about the show but that isn’t really a surprise. You got what you thought you were getting at this show, there were no big surprises, and that seemed to be good enough for most people in attendance.

Two nights later I found myself at DC9 to see the Swedish rock band Graveyard play. Between songs they said the show was sold out though I’m not sure if that’s true or not. It was pretty crowded so it might have been. The opening act was supposed to be Daniel Davies, the son of Dave Davies who is famous for being in the Kinks, but he canceled at the last minute and was replaced by a band called Black Cowgirl. I didn’t get to the show in time to see them though, but I did catch some of the set by the other support band, Radio Moscow. They were a bluesy rock band with some interesting guitar work. Just a few days prior a video went around on the internet (here) of the guitar player and vocalist, Parker Griggs, throwing his guitar into the drum kit in the middle of a song. The drummer got up and threw the guitar right back at Parker and it hit him in the face so hard he needed stitches. This was on the same tour that was in DC this night, and while both the drummer and bass player had been quickly replaced, you could still easily see the cut on Parker’s forehead. Their set wasn’t bad, a good opening act really. There was a delay at one point in their set when one of the amps blew. It took several minutes to find another one and get it up on the stage. They played some more afterwards though and while I enjoyed them I was ready for the headliner.

Graveyard, also from Gothenburg but not related to the melodic death metal scene there, is a throwback hard rock/metal band that sounds right out of the 70s, however they’re a newer band and have only put out two albums. In the spring of 2011 their sophomore album, Hisingen Blues, was released to much critical acclaim in the underground music press. Honestly it took me a few listens to really get into it, but it grew on me and I was excited that they were finally coming to the States to support the album. I’m glad I gave the album an extra chance because seeing these songs played live was simply awesome! The band was really on point this night and put on a great show. If you were there that night you didn’t just see a good band play some good songs, you got a rare chance to see a good band really coming into their own as they hit their stride. They stepped up to the plate and really hit it out of the park, even with Joakim Nilsson having problems with the strings on his guitars. He swapped them out quickly and didn’t take much away from the set by doing so. Since the band only has two albums they played most of both of them. As most tight bands do, they played their songs with quicker tempos even faster live really tearing through songs like Buying Truth and RSS. That’s not to say their slower songs didn’t stand out as well. Their performance on Uncomfortably Numb, a personal favorite of mine, was executed perfectly coming across with a lot of power for such a personal song in a room of so many people. Satan’s Finest also sounded great and got quite a reaction from the audience. Graveyard stopped at the end of their set but the crowd didn’t budge so they played a three song encore, finally ending their 80 minute set with the song Hisingen Blues. I’m sure there will be more good things coming from these guys and I’m betting they will be playing a larger venue next time they play the area. They’d be great on a tour with someone like The Sword. This was simply a great show and one of the best I’ve been to lately. It was a hell of a way to spend a Monday night!

Three days after Graveyard played it was time to head to the Rock & Roll Hotel to see Ghost, from Linköping, Sweden, play there on Thursday the 19th of January 2012. This show was definitely sold out as they had a big sign on the door saying so. The band was not allowing any cameras to be used, not even on phones, which, as a photographer, I find to be really annoying. There was a bit of a snafu with the label getting me my photo pass and while some of the venue’s staff knew I was OK’d to shoot there some of them didn’t and they told me part way thru to stop shooting, even though they let me in with my big camera. Whatever, miscommunication happens sometimes and I did still get a shot that I liked. I arrived in the middle of the set by one of the openers, Blood Ceremony. They’re a female fronted doom band from Toronto that some people were really getting into at the show. Vocalist Alia O’Brien busted out a flute during some songs and really it just wasn’t my thing, though I was never a Jethro Tull fan and they were definitely a big influence on Blood Ceremony. Ghost hit the stage around 10:30pm, which seemed a bit early to me for a show in DC. The band of course came out in full costumes including masks hiding their faces. Their main gimmick is that nobody really knows who is in the band Ghost as they always hide their identities and mask their voices in interviews. The lead vocalist, who goes by Papa Emeritus, comes out on stage wearing a mask with skull face paint and an elaborate evil cardinal costume. It’s all a bit over the top but whatever, they have some catchy tunes that are a bit of a throwback to old psychedelic bands and definitely Mercyful Fate as well. However even on the record Papa’s vocals are not nearly as high pitched as King Diamond. This night was no exception either, Papa was not hitting his high notes, he wasn’t even trying to. Instead he’d just replace them with a similar, but lower pitch, note which leads me to believe he was either sick or his voice wasn’t doing so well singing every night on tour. I had seen Ghost perform at Maryland Deathfest back in May and he was hitting his notes then, so I know he can do it. I guess this just wasn’t his night. The sound mix at the venue didn’t help much either, the keyboards were non-existent in the mix throughout most of the set and the vocals needed to be turned up several times as well. I could see one of the roadies giving signals to the guy at the sound board (I was standing in the part of the crowd directly between them) and they were having a lot of communication problems as well. At one point you jarringly heard the keyboards get pushed up to the mix way too high, it was almost like they didn’t sound check before the show and were just trying to figure it out as the show went on. Ghost stuck it out and instead of throwing a tantrum on stage they kept playing. They only have one album out so they don’t have a lot of material. They did perform their haunting rendition of Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles, a Japanese bonus track that they did not play at Deathfest. Towards the end of their set the sound did get better. Their closing song, Ritual, sounded pretty good actually, aside from Papa’s weak vocals. Luckily Ghost is the kind of band people love to sing along with and it helped cover some of the faults with his voice. Also, during the same song they brought out communion wafers and I guess wine or something and maybe five or so people in the front row ate them from Papa Emeritus’ hands. That was pretty corny and not as awesome as when Lord Worm would feed people live worms from the stage during Cryptopsy shows. Anyways, I was hoping Ghost might play some new material as I have heard the band has been working on a second album before they started this short 13 date tour. They didn’t play anything new and the set only lasted about 45 minutes, intros and all. That was rather short for a headlining band and left me feeling like it was a bit of a cash grab but what can ya do, they ran out of songs. The venue kept the lights down for a minute or two then suddenly turned them back on with house music over the speakers to end the night in a rather anticlimactic way. This show could have been a lot better, and the no photo policy forcing the venue’s bouncers to constantly be pushing through the sold out crowd, jarring your attention to let them pass every time you started to actually get lost in the show, didn’t help at all. They will be opening on a tour with Opeth and Mastodon in May that will hopefully come through this area and I really hope they put on the kind of performance I know they are capable of then. The metal fans in DC deserve it!

Well, that’s the three Swedish concerts I saw last week. Graveyard was certainly my favorite performance of the three Swedish bands but I’m glad I got to see all three of them play. Thanks for reading another long concert review post. As always you can see more of my concert photography on my Flickr page here or you can jump to the set of In Flames pics here or Graveyard pics here. Now check out the three videos of In Flames that I posted below. I didn’t shoot video at the other shows because the lighting was too poor, well that and Ghost had that crazy photo policy so I wasn’t going to push it. Stay metal DC and go out to a heavy concert!

Ghost and Graveyard ticket give aways

Ghost and Graveyard isn’t some crappy Dungeons & Dragons knock off, they’re the names of two awesome Swedish bands that are coming to DC next week! Graveyard is playing DC9 on Monday the 16th of January and Ghost is playing the Rock & Roll Hotel on Thursday the 19th of January. To celebrate this mini Swedish invasion DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a pair of tickets to each concert! All you have to do to win is leave a comment at the bottom of this post naming which band you’d like to see most. You can choose both bands if you’d like, however you can only win a pair of tickets to one of them. At 5pm EST this Saturday, the 14th of January I’ll pick two winners, one for each concert, at random using Random.org. The winners will each get a free pair of tickets to the concert they chose. Be sure you use a valid email address you check regularly when you enter so I can contact you when you win, however the address does not need to be in the post itself. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any annoying email lists to spam you. Please note that the Graveyard show is ages 18+ only so if you are under 18 please don’t enter for that show because winning tickets here still won’t get you in the door. If you didn’t win or simply don’t want to wait, you can buy tickets to see Graveyard for $10 each here or to see Ghost for $15 each here. Both bands have a sort of throwback sound to their music, and they both kick ass, so I couldn’t hold a contest for just one of them! Keep reading for more info on both of these great concerts and remember you can click any of the band names and it will link to a site that streams their music so you can check them out.

Graveyard has caused quite a buzz in the underground rock world with their second album, Hisingen Blues. The album came out in the spring of 2011 but this is their first US tour supporting it. It’s full of catchy riffs and hooks and it should be pretty awesome getting to see some of these songs played live. They are also playing with Radio Moscow, a psychedelic blues band from Iowa and Daniel Davies who is the son of Dave Davies of the Kinks. This is his solo band but he has also been a member of Year Long Desaster and Karma To Burn. If you’re still not convinced to see this show, check out this video to hear the title track off of Graveyard’s second album:

Ghost is a mysterious band that took the underground metal world by storm when they released their first album, Opus Eponymous, in early 2011. They have a clean vocal delivery, something between Blue Oyster Cult and King Diamond, and they play a fairly simple, yet very catchy, style of music. The band members have never made public their true identities and always wear masks on stage with their singer, Papa Emeritus, in a full on evil pope costume. They are said to be working on a new album so maybe we’ll be lucky enough to hear some new material at this show. Ghost has only ever played two concerts in the US before this tour, one of which was their performance last year at Maryland Deathfest, and they had to drop off a tour with Enslaved and Alcest that came to Jaxx in September due to visa issues. Now they’re headlining this US tour and they’ve brought two good bands with them. Blood Ceremony is Toronto based doom band with a female vocalist who also plays flute in the band. The opening act is Ancient VVisdom (the W is really two letter V’s) from Austin, Texas and they play a very dark style of rock. Listen to the Ghost song Ritual if you haven’t heard them before (or even if you have!):

Maryland Deathfest IX Recap

I’m not doing a super detailed Maryland Deathfest recap this year because I missed all of day three, Saturday, so I could attend the wedding of a good friend. However, I was there for day one, two and four and I shot a ton of pictures and video footage, including 70 minutes of the Neurosis set and 82 minutes of Coroner’s set (that footage is below). Each band I saw gets a blurb and a photograph and a video and you can hover over any image to see which band it is if you just want to skip to the ones you like. You can click on any of the photographs to see more images that I shot of that specific band. I hope you all enjoyed Maryland Deathfest as much as I did, or at least enjoy checking out all this stuff I shot for ya. You can see all the other pictures and videos that I didn’t use one this post on Flickr (here) and YouTube (here) if you want more of those. So anyways, here’s Maryland Deathfest IX over Memorial Day weekend 2011 as seen through my eyes (and lenses).

Day 1 – Thursday

The first day of the fest was all indoors on the main stage at Sonar and it was the only day that sold out. Most of the early sets were grind bands. Miasmal was playing when I got there. I didn’t know anything about them but they really impressed me. I was too far in the back to get any decent shots though so my first pics and videos from the fest are of Southern California grind act Lack Of Interest.

Lack Of Interest at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next up was Flesh Parade, a reunited grind band from New Orleans. Their vocalist made a lot of anti-gay comments and talked about how he loved smoking weed between almost every song. Flesh Parade had a bunch of people come out in various costumes (Santa, a surgeon, a Teletubby, a ketchup bottle, etc…) and start a crazy circle pit that involved dozens of glow sticks and inflatable animals and penises being thrown around the audience and onto the stage. These characters, dubbed the Party Patrol (picture here), would show up during various sets throughout the rest of the festival.

Flesh Parade at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was grind act Extortion who came all the way from Australia to play Deathest and they were pretty intense stop and start grindcore. When they finished playing the vocalist for Lack Of Interest came out on stage telling everyone to give them a bigger hand because he liked them so much (and he told us we all should too!).

Extortion at Maryland Deathfest IX

Extortion was followed by North Carolina based stoner act Buzzov•en, quite a contrast from the previous acts. These guys looked and talked like they walked out of a backwoods scene in Deliverance! The band isn’t super heavy but more of a groove base, sorta rough around the edges and definitely southern in sound. They were a lot slower than the grind bands before them and it seemed they would have fit better playing just before the night’s headliners, Cathedral.

Buzzov•en at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next to play was Tragedy, a rare appearance by a band people had been waiting to see. They’re not really a metal band at all but a very aggressive punk band along the lines of Discharge or early DRI. The band is originally from Tennessee but relocated to their current hometown, Portland, Oregon. People were pretty psyched to get to see them live and the audience energy level was at a peak for day one while Tragedy played.

Tragedy at Maryland Deathfest IX

Finally the headliner of the first night was Cathedral. They are from Coventry, England and their lead singer, Lee Dorian, is a legend of the doom metal genre (he was also the original vocalist for Napalm Death). The band had recently announced their plans to break up at the end of the year and this one off concert would be their last performance ever in the US. They played a set with a lot of their old classics as well as some fairly obscure material for fans to commemorate the occasion. It was a good start to the fest, and although the last three bands weren’t grind it still felt like a pre-fest day instead of being part of the rest of Maryland Deathfest proper, mostly due to the single indoor stage I suppose.

Cathedral at Maryland Deathfest IX

Day 2 – Friday

Day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the first day to use the two outdoor stages. I didn’t get there as the doors opened so missed the early bands but I did get there in time to see the Norwegian blackened thrash band Aura Noir play. They didn’t bring along the former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer to play with them so they were a three piece. However Apollyon, the current bass player for Immortal, was there and he introduced the band as the ugliest metal band in the world! The set was fast paced and pretty straight forward and what you’d expect from them, just sold black thrash metal.

Aura Noir at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I watched was the Raleigh, North Carolina band Corrosion Of Conformity. Their sound is somewhere between stoner rock, southern rock, thrash metal and punk. The band has been around since 1982 and this was their classic line up of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin but they were noticeably missing Pepper Keenan (he has been a member of the super group Down for some time but is still considered an official member of C.O.C.). The band seemed to really enjoy themselves on stage, the drummer, Mike Dean, seemed to be smiling the entire show. I guess they had more time to play than they had expected because at one point they asked if they could do another song and they were told they had another 20 minutes left to play!

Corrosion Of Conformity at Maryland Deathfest IX

After Corrosion Of Conformity played the sky looked like it was getting ready to storm. I wanted to see the Italian grind act Cripple Bastards playing on the indoor stage but I skipped it because I didn’t want to lose my spot in the front row to see the day’s headlining act, Neurosis. The Oakland, California based band rarely plays shows due to medical reasons of one of the members, and this was their first east coast concert in 10 years or so. When they were supposed to start playing the sky opened up and a thunderstorm rolled through, but the crowd didn’t disparage and actually started chanting Neurosis. I was worried they might not play because the outdoor stage’s roof was leaking water onto all the equipment. Their show was delayed but they did come out and the rain soaked crowd roared with approval. The lighting during their show was poor, the big lighting rigs had been covered due to the storm, but they did have a projector displaying all kinds of stuff on the band and the stage. The set was really awesome, and the vibe in the air after the storm only enhanced their performance. This was by far my favorite set of all of Maryland Deathfest IX. Neurosis has never been a highly technical band, they’ve got a sound you just sort of experience and their mastery of mood manipulation was in peak form during this rare performance. It’s hard to describe but luckily I’ve posted about 70 minutes of footage of them performing, check it out below.

Neurosis at Maryland Deathfest IX

Although Neurosis headlined the day there were still a few bands left to play inside after Neurosis. Their set ran later than expected because of the rain so I didn’t get to see a lot of Kylesa‘s set, who was already playing indoors. I’ve already seen them twice this year so that wasn’t the end of the world for me. The spiraling lights they have on during their show looked really good on the black walls at Sonar. Next up was Exhumed, a gore grind/death metal band from San Jose, California. This was their first US show in six years! To start their show they held up the backs of their guitars with each having one word of “Gore Fuckin’ Metal” on the back of it. Their set was brutal, as to be expected. Quite a fun show really. They brought out a real chain saw on stage at one point and I laughed as the guy swung it low in the photographer’s pit, making them all duck to avoid the whirring saw! At the end of the set Matt Harvey decapitated some dummy Gwar style on stage that sprayed blood all over himself. A nice way to end the set!

Exhumed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band to play on day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the Swedish black metal band Marduk. The stage was very dark and I wasn’t close enough to get any decent photos of them but I did shoot some video. They played mostly newer material (read: slower) and as usual they didn’t play my favorite song of theirs, Infernal Eternal. Their new stuff isn’t bad, I really liked their Rom 5:12 album, and they did play a song off Panzer Division Marduk, but the band has lost a lot of it’s raw energy and aggression over the years. Still, they’re pretty tight live and since their set started late they ended up playing right up to 2am! The venue even put on their last call lights while they played their final song, which you can see video of below.

Day 4 – Sunday

I got to Maryland Deathfest on Sunday just in time to see Anaheim, California’s Gravehill playing on one of the outdoor stages. These guys love fake blood! They’d eat random fake blood capsules throughout the show and it got all over them. Matt Harvey was back on stage with these guys (he also played with Exhumed and Cretin at the fest) but he broke a string midway through the set and didn’t come back for a few songs. And although he dumped blood all over himself at the end of Exhumed’s set, he was the only member of Gravehill who wasn’t covered in it at the end of the set. Anyways, their songs were black and thrashy with a bit of a punk attitude thrown in and the vocalist’s self deprecating banter between songs was entertaining too.

Gravehill at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw perform was the Texas based death/thrash three piece act Nokturnel. They were alright though they didn’t really do much that stood out to me. Their lead singer/guitarist was saying he felt particularly inspired after seeing his favorite band, Voivod, play the fest the night before but still they didn’t really do that much for me. It was death/thrash alright but I didn’t really find much interesting about it. Maybe I’d have liked it more if I knew some of their material.

Nokturnel at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I caught some of the Czech punkish thrash band Malignant Tumour playing, again with the party patrol people in the mosh pit. These guys looked right at home with the party patrol, wearing ridiculous costumes, fake beards and wigs that seemed like they were taken from the set of a Cheech And Chong movie. Their bass player was running all over the stage and it was such a spectacle to see that it was hard to take your eyes off them when they were on the stage. These guys were really a lot of fun live!

Malignant Tumour at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I had a problem, there were two bands I wanted to see playing at exactly the same time. I decided to try to catch some of both of their sets, and I started by watching Orange Goblin play on one of the outdoor stages. They’re from London, England and I’m pretty sure this was their first US concert. They’re a doom metal/stoner band and I’ll tell you they were totally awesome live! The vocalist, Ben Ward, had a great charisma on stage and got everyone pumped when he jumped off the stage and ran up to the crowd yelling “Let’s start a fucking riot!” at the beginning of their set. They really blew me away live and I didn’t want to leave their set early but I did because I wanted to catch another band indoors.

Orange Goblin at Maryland Deathfest IX

That other band playing at the same time was the brutal death metal act Skinless from upstate New York. This was the band’s last concert ever and they were breaking up once the show was over. For this special show they had the original line up play. I missed the early part of the set to see Orange Goblin but I wanted to make sure I saw the end of their last set. They kept the intensity turned up to the max while I there and the lead singer even did a stage dive into the crowd, chorded microphone still in hand, and continued to grunt lyrics until he was pushed back to the stage. They finished up their last brutal set and then they thanked the audience for the fun over years and then they all left the stage for the last time.

Skinless at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw was the reformed hardcore punk band Citizens Arrest. I really only saw a bit of their set because I needed to head out and get some food so I could make it back in time to get a good spot for the night’s headliner, Coroner. They were ok but I didn’t really know much of their material but I could tell the punk fans were enjoying the chance to see them live.

Citizens Arrest at Maryland Deathfest IX

When I got back from eating I the 80s thrash band Nuclear Assault was starting their set on one of the outdoor stages as the sun was setting. They played some of their old classic songs mixed with newer material. Their bass player Dan Lilker mentioned he remembered playing in the exact same spot last year, though he was performing with Autopsy then. The set was good but I left early because I wanted to be in the front row for the night’s headliner, who was up next.

Nuclear Assault at Maryland Deathfest IX

The last night’s headliner was the Swiss technical thrash band Coroner. They had broken up 15 years before and though they had recently played a festival in Europe this was their first US concert in 20 years! The trio was the original line up, though they also had a guy playing keyboads on the stage but I don’t know what his name is as the band doesn’t list him as an official or even live only member. They were on the same stage Neurosis had been two nights before but they had all the cool lighting rigs working as well as fog machines. That stuff all helped set the mood for an awesome set by one of the legends of underground metal. Their set was never boring and they really killed it live. They performed two encores at the end of their set, one of which was a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze. I shot a lot of video of them live from up front, over 80 minutes worth actually, all of which you can see below.

Coroner at Maryland Deathfest IX





After Coroner finished their headlining set outdoors there were still a few bands left to play indoors. The first of these last three bands was the one I was most excited to see, the technical death metal band from Spain, Wormed. I never thought I’d have the chance to see these guys play live so this was pretty cool for me. They played what was the heaviest set I saw all weekend. Nonstop brutality from start to finish and just a crazy amount of energy. I’m really glad I got to see these guys tear up the stage, totally awesome!

Wormed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was the Dutch grind act Last Days Of Humanity. They were pretty damn intense but by this point I was starting to get a bit tired (it had been a long four days!). I shot a bit of video before I went and hung back a bit during their set in the hopes that I could rest my feet and get up closer later for the last band of the night.

Last Days Of Humanity at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band of Maryland Deathfest IX was the mysterious band Ghost from Sweden. Unlike pretty much any of the bands at Maryland Deathfest they sing all their songs with clean vocals. They aren’t very brutal and their sound lies somewhere between Mercyful Fate and 70s Ghost at Maryland Deathfest IXrock. The band stays anonymous though you could see members of In Solitude and Repugnant (both bands who played the fest this year) on the stage during sound check which would lead one to believe Ghost is made up of members of those also Swedish bands. Anyways, I thought the crowd for Ghost would be a bit more laid back due to their type of music as well as it being the end of the fest and people just being tired but I was wrong. The crowd was really psyched to witness the band’s first US concert and they became really rough, while at the same time singing along to every word. It was all a bit ridiculous really, and the costumes on stage just sort of added to that. Apparently Ghost has a rather ravenous fan base and I simply don’t care enough about them to deal with that just to see them up close so I ended up hanging a bit farther back by this guy in an elaborate Cthulhu costume. That’s right, hanging out with Cthuhlu was safer for all my cameras than getting fairly close to Ghost performing live, wtf? I was hoping the set would be more impressive but with the audience singing along so loud it was drowning out not only the singer, Papa Emeritus, but the rest of the band as well. The set was short too, lasting only around 40 minutes. They have released just one album and I was hoping they’d play maybe some covers or something to fill out the set list some but they didn’t (though they did play a Beatles cover two nights later in New York). For a band with so much hype I was hoping for a better show, but it was just OK.

After the show was over I quickly left the venue and got to my car. Apparently after Ghost played there was an incident with security guards beating someone and then pepper spraying innocent bystanders for whatever reason. I luckily avoided that and only read about it online the next day. A shame that the fest had to end on a sour note like that, perhaps they’ll have better security next year. In all the fest was fun as usual and while I missed seeing some of the bands on Saturday I still had a great time at this year’s Deathfest. I got some cool merch, drank some beers, got some good footage and ran into a bunch of friends all over the place. They’re saying that they are planning something really special for next year since it will be the 10th anniversary of the festival and I can’t wait to see what that entails (and don’t worry, I’ll pass on the info to you all too as soon as I find out). Sorry this post has taken so long to get up but I had thousands of pictures and videos to sort through to put this together. Thanks for reading it and stay tuned for more going on in the local metal scene from DCHeavyMetal.com

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