Well Maryland Deathfest VIII is over, and it was a great 3 days of heavy metal. This was the third time I’ve been to Maryland Deathfest, though this was the first time I went for all 3 days. I got to see lots of bands I never thought I’d have the chance to, and got to check out some bands I’d been wanting to for a while. Talked to lots of metal heads from all over the place as well as from the DC area and I shot about 1,000 photographs as well as 34 videos of 19 different bands. I kept myself busy! Luckily it didn’t rain at all while I was there. Sunday got really hot, not sure what the temperature was officially, but it was even hotter in the middle of those huge crowds I’m sure. Overall it was a lot of fun, so much fun that I wanted to write down as much as I could remember of it here. It’s a long post so I broke it up into sections. I’ve got lots of videos posted at the bottom of this post. And now, here’s my recap of my time spent at this year’s Maryland Deathfest.
Day 1: Friday 28 May 2010
I had checked the weather for Baltimore before I drove up for the weekend. It said that it was supposed to rain some Friday and Saturday. While it did rain during my drive up Friday, it was clear by the time I got there, and it didn’t rain again during the fest, the metal gods must have been smiling! I got to the venue a bit later than I had planned since the rain made traffic a bitch and I was running a bit late because of it. On top of that the line to get into the venue was huge, they were definitely understaffed at the door on the first day. Originally I wanted to get there in time to see Tombs at 5:30, but they were already done by the time I got in. Malignancy was about to play on the side stage when I did get there. Though I saw Nazxul‘s first US appearance on the outside street stage, the outdoor stages weren’t really in much use Friday as two of the members of Possessed missed their flight so they were rescheduled for the next day. Also, black metal band Watain requested to play indoors instead of on an outdoor stage. Their set will probably be most remembered for an incident where the bass player from DRI (who played later that night on the same stage) jumped on stage in the middle of the set and starting goofing around and mock headbanging on stage. Apparently the members of Watain didn’t like this as he was promptly knocked down and was kicked by Pelle Forsberg, mid-song mind you, until security pulled him off the stage, though I didn’t see him actually get kicked. People were talking about that for the rest of the festival. They closed their set with a cover of the Bathory song The Return Of Darkness And Evil. Once they were done I moved outside to see Gorguts, who was the first day’s headliner. They put on a good show. Two of the guys from Dysrhythmia, a personal favorite band of mine, are now members of Gorguts and it was cool seeing them play up there in such a different style band. They played a great set of classic death metal songs that were pretty awesome. Afterwards I grabbed some overpriced crappy food from the lone food vendor inside the fest. That was the last time I ate there, I got a cold burger and a bag of Lays chips for $7. What a rip off. They were selling bottles of water for $3, the same price as the bar only feet away had 16 oz cans of PBR. Guess which one I bought? After eating and talking to people for a bit I moved inside to catch DRI’s set. Raining Blood came on over the sound system while they were setting up and people were singing along and even started moshing a bit to it. When DRI came on I was kind of hoping someone from Watain would jump on stage, but that didn’t happen. They did get a crazy pit going though, best indoor pit I saw all weekend, though admittedly I spent most of my time watching outdoor bands (and I’ve got the sunburn to prove it!). They had some technical problems midway through their set, which seemed to happen a lot this weekend to various bands. The sound wasn’t that great at the fest either. Lots of bass drowning out the high end seemed to be a recurring problem. DRI was the last band of the night and so I headed back to the hotel to charge batteries and start transferring media off my memory cards so they’d be empty for day two. Friday was a good start to the fest, but really just seemed like a warm up.
Day 2: Saturday 29 May 2010
Saturday came around and I was fucking excited. There were several bands playing that I really wanted to see. I decided the first band I really wanted to see was Jucifer, and this time I had no problems with traffic or lines and got there a bit early in fact. I caught a few songs by Total Fucking Destruction and then headed inside for the second half of Obliteration‘s set. They impressed me with their performance, certainly won me over in the short time I got to watch them play. After they finished Jucifer started setting up. They brought out some of their trademark “wall of speakers” but I don’t think it was all of them. They only had 15 minutes to set up so that might be why. The last time I saw Jucifer they didn’t really stop between songs, they just sort of kept playing, going through highs and lows. Here at MDF they were playing clear cut songs with actual starts and endings. It was interesting to see them at such a festival and I could tell they won some new fans after talking to a few people in the audience after their set. I walked out of the black fog filled room and back into the daylight. Mexico’s The Chasm was playing on the side stage so I headed over there to catch the end of their set. Luckily they were running late so I got to see them play a few songs before their set ended. They were told to stop when Sadistic Intent/Possessed started playing the other outdoor stage, but they still played 1 more song, even though the crowd was thinning out. Sadistic Intent split their set time with Possessed, which makes sense because all the members of Sadistic Intent are also current members of Possessed. It was cool to see Possessed play old classics like The Exorcist and Burning In Hell as well as newer songs. I haven’t seen Possessed before but I’m glad to see Jeff Becerra was still headbanging from his wheelchair on stage. He took a moment between songs to mention some of the people in metal who have died recently, and got a chant for Dio going too. When their set ended I browsed some of the shops that were set up, bought myself one of the red posters for sale with the big demon on it and all the band names, as well as a Melechesh shirt. I was really excited to see Melechesh so I dropped my merch off at my car and decided to get to the Melechesh stage early so I could get right up front. I also wanted to see Verbal Abuse play indoors at the same time, but I’d been waiting to see Melechesh for years, ever since they canceled their 3 tour dates with Sigh in July 2007. I got in the front row just off center (I don’t like dead center as the microphone stand always seems to block their faces in my pictures). They played a killer set, mostly made up of songs from their albums Sphynx and Emissaries. The crowd surfers were going over my head but that didn’t stop me from shooting lots of video. At one point security just disappeared and people were falling onto the asphalt in front of the stage. A member of the stage crew saw this and tried to help catch people the best he could until security decided to stroll back into place. The band played a great set but since they started a bit late due to technical difficulties, they didn’t have time to play their final song, and just sort of walked off stage anticlimactically. That kind of stunk, but still, it was awesome getting to see their first US gig ever up close. I took lots of pictures and videos to remember it by, though I doubt I’ll forget as this was my favorite set of the festival. When they were done I made my way over to the side stage again to see Incantation, though walking by the open grill reminded me that at some point I’d have to eat, and looking at the schedule I wanted to watch bands play thru the rest of the night. Incantation also mentioned the recent death of Ronnie James Dio and decided to play a couple of tribute songs in their set. They played The Mob Rules by Black Sabbath and Stargazer by Rainbow back to back, quite odd hearing these songs grunted out. The rest of their set was as brutal as you’d expect from these pioneers of death metal. After they finished I decided that even though I wanted to see some of Repulsion, I had to get food in me. I did catch a bit of their set, but I wanted to be sure to be back in time to catch Asphyx. I found an excellent sandwich shop about a block and a half behind the street stage, and had a great dinner there. I headed back to the fest feeling recharged. I got there in time to catch most of Asphyx, which was cool, but I left a bit early to make sure I could get fairly close for the long awaited return of Autopsy. This was the main act of the night since Sodom had pulled out of the fest (and I think people wanted to see Autopsy more anyways). I know this was their first gig since they reunited, and people have been waiting 15 years to see Autopsy play live. I found a decent spot to shoot from and really enjoyed the show. After shooting a few videos my camera’s cards were all full from all the awesome bands of the day. Not good! I moved back a bit into the crowd to shoot with the camcorder (it can’t handle the loud volumes that close to the speakers). My memory cards being full posed a problem though, because Portal was playing tonight and I wanted to make sure I could get at least some pics of them, since they’re from Australia I doubt I’ll get another chance to see them again any time soon, if ever. As soon as Autopsy finished I headed back to my hotel and emptied my memory cards onto my laptop, then returned to the venue in time to catch Portal. I contemplated just staying at the hotel but I’m really glad I didn’t. They put on quite an intense show! The band members were all wearing black, even covering their faces, and wore rope nooses around their necks. With the black walls, dim lighting and heavy fog machine smoke, it was pretty hard to see anything clearly on stage. The vocalist came out wearing all black robes and a black hat similar in shape to a Catholic cardinal. This stage setting really fit the mood of their unique and intense style of atmospheric death metal. Such an awesome show to see, it was really out of this world and a great way to end the second day of Maryland Deathfest.
Day 3: Sunday 30 May 2010
The final day of Maryland Deathfest VIII again had several bands I wanted to see. I got there around 1:45 pm (got great parking this time) so I could catch Krallice. I wanted to see them when they were supposed to play the 9:30 Club with Mayhem and Ludicra earlier this year, but the tour was cancelled when Mayhem couldn’t get into the US. Ludicra, Krallice and Tombs re-booked another tour without Mayhem, but they didn’t come to DC on that tour, unfortunately. So this was my chance to finally catch these guys live. They didn’t let me down either! For some reason they set up and played on the wrong outdoor stage, which threw people off a bit. Those paying close attention noticed that the bass player for Gorguts, Colin Marston, is the guitarist for Krallice too. They played almost all new material, and it was pretty awesome to get to watch them play live. It was a really great set that left me wanting more, and a kick ass way to start off the day. The next band played on the same stage, and I stayed to watch the first few songs by the French band Gorod. Though one of their guitarists had a Motley Crue shirt on (trying to be ironic?) they put on an impressive show of their high energy tech-death prowess. The singer was jumping around on stage and had a lot of energy, and the bass player had a lot of stage presence too, not something you see too often in metal. I decided now would be a good time for lunch as there were many bands coming up back to back that I wanted to watch, so I headed to the diner just outside the venue. I got back in time to watch Sinister play, which was pretty cool. I’ve never seen them play live before, but I always liked their older albums like Hate and Diabolical Summoning. Their line up was drastically different than back in those days though, the only member left was the drummer, but he had now moved off the kit to take over the lead vocals. Still, it was cool to see them play some of those older songs that I enjoyed so much, even if it wasn’t the same Sinister. They still had a few songs left to play when I decided to move back to the side stage so I could get up close for Necrophobic. This was their first US show, and I certainly wanted to get some good pictures and video footage of it. It was a pretty damn entertaining show I must say, though it’s always weird seeing black metal bands play in the daylight, especially on such a hot day. This was definitely the hottest day of the festival and I sort of felt bad for them wearing all the black leather and spikes and stuff, that had to be pretty damn miserable. Regardless, they didn’t let it show and performed very well and had some great poses for taking pictures too. This was quite a highlight of the day for me. After they finished, Eyehategod was starting on the street stage. I wasn’t too interested in them, so after finding the tent with $1 bottles of water, I headed back to the side stage to rest my feet a bit and get a good spot for Pestilence. I also wanted to see Black Breath, who were playing indoors at the same time as Pestilence, but I got such a good spot for the Pestilence set I couldn’t just leave. They were too fun to watch live. This was their first US show in 16 years, and they had been scheduled to play the Maryland Deathfest the year before, but they couldn’t get into the country due to visa issues. The crowd was pumped to finally get their chance this year, and so was I. I thought they’d have Tony Choy (also of Atheist and Cynic) playing bass with them, but instead they had Jeroen Paul Thesseling playing a fretless 6 string bass. Needless to say, he was pretty damn good, as is the rest of the band. When their set ended I headed over to see Nirvana 2002 play (billed as N2002 I suppose for legal reasons). I didn’t know much about them, apparently they only ever put out a few demos from 1989 to 1991 before breaking up. I heard they had only ever played like 5 concerts before, so even though I didn’t know much about them, I figured it was worth checking them out. They weren’t bad, sounded along the lines of those older Swede bands like Entombed, Unleashed and Nihilist. They played a cover of the Kreator song Pleasure To Kill, which was the only song I recognized of their set. After they ended I walked over to the side stage to catch a bit of Pentagram‘s set. It was good to see this DC area band playing to such a large crowd, and they were eating up Bobby Liebling’s crazy on stage antics. I decided now was a good time to grab a bite to eat before Entombed hit the stage, so I headed out to find a sandwich. I got back in time to get a decent view of Entombed’s set. During their second song, Out Of Hand, someone threw a bible on stage and their singer, LG Petrov, ripped it in half mid-song. At one point he told the crowd that they don’t like circle pits, they want to see a real mosh pit going. They mostly played their more recent material, I was hoping they’d play more from Wolverine Blues and earlier, though they did close the show with Left Hand Path. Next up was Sunday’s headliner, Obituary, on the side stage. They played a great set full of their classic songs and got what was probably the largest area mosh pit going I saw all weekend. People were just going nuts for them, and they put on a really fun show. They had so many people crowd surfing that security was having trouble keeping up with them. Their set ended and I quickly moved indoors to catch the end of the local grind act Magrudergrind‘s set. They were pretty intense, as grind bands tend to be, and really had the audience going. I enjoyed catching the end of their set and it was a great way to end the fest. I didn’t see the final two bands play and Converge was supposed to be the closing band but they asked to play earlier and went on during Obituary’s set. That’s ok though, I got plenty of metal in over the course of 3 days and my arms were getting sore from so much picture and video shooting. I did run into a few people from local bands, one of the guys from Orgy Of The Damned and also someone from Gravewürm, very cool talking to both. It was quite the metal weekend and a killer concert experience that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to find out who’s going to be playing next year, but I’ve got my fingers (upside down) crossed for Morbid Angel and Von. And congrats for getting to the end of this post, the longest one I’ve written yet. For your time I reward you with a shit load of videos I shot at the festival. I’ve got more from MDF on my YouTube page if this isn’t enough. Stay brutal!