Interview with Chicken Man Chris Penrod

Chicken Man at Maryland Deathfest X

If you have been to many heavy metal concerts in Washington DC or Baltimore in the past five years then you’ve probably seen the infamous Chicken Man crowd surfing or slamming in the mosh pit. At concerts where wearing black shirts with illegible band names is the status quo a guy in a bright yellow, full body chicken suit is certainly one of our metal scene’s most colorful characters. He’s sort of our metal scene’s brutal version of the San Diego Chicken and definitely one of the people who makes our metal scene unique. So who is this Chicken Man? Why did he start moshing in a chicken costume? Which bands does he think get the most brutal mosh pits? These questions and more are answered in the 12 minute phone interview I conducted with him on Tuesday, June 26th, 2012. You can read the full transcription of the interview below (my words are in bold) or download an mp3 of the audio (here) for free or click the orange play button below to stream it from Soundcloud or if you’re really feeling crazy you can read along as you listen. I’ve tried to add as many links as possible in the transcription below so you can tell what bands, venues, concerts or other things we’re talking about if you don’t know them already. This is the second interview on DCHeavyMetal.com, my allergies had me a bit stopped up but I hope you all enjoy it regardless.

Chicken Man at the 9:30 Club

All right this is Metal Chris here and I’m here talking to one of the more recognizable figures in the heavy metal scene in the DC and Baltimore area. Most people know him as the Chicken Man. His real name is Chris Penrod. I’ve got him here to ask him some questions. First I’d like to know, how did you get into the whole chicken suit thing and why did it start?

Ah well it all started as a giant, giant stoner moment about five years ago on the Eastern Shore. Me and a couple buddies of mine were all getting ready to go see Lamb Of God and my friend got a chicken suit and a gorilla suit so it kinda went from there.

Haha. So did your friend wear the gorilla suit?

Yeah he wore the gorilla suit but he only wore it for that night. It got way too hot. Full body suit.

Well that’s pretty funny. And what was that in like 2007ish?

Yeah it was the summer of 2007.

Is that the only chicken suit you have? Is that the same one that you’ve been using all this time?

No, no. I’ve gone through about four of them now.

Oh wow, huh. Is there one that’s been like really resilient or anything like that or they just kinda get worn out?

Actually one of the ones I’ve had for the longest time just lost one of the red flaps at [Maryland] Deathfest this year. It got ripped off in the pit for Brujeria.

Oh yeah, yeah that was a pretty wild time for them man.

Yeah it was awesome.

Have you seen the new Dying Fetus video [for the song From Womb To Waste (that you can see here)]?

Yes I did, haha.

Yeah I saw you made a few cameo appearances in that thing.

Yeah.

Did you know that they were going to include you in that?

Actually, believe it or not, after their set at Deathfest I was talking to John Gallagher and he said “Yeah we’ve got a bunch of shots of you. We’ll see if we can put that all throughout the video.”

That’s pretty hilarious.

I’m pretty stoked about that.

Yeah that’s pretty cool. It’s a cool video too. It’s all shot at Sonar at the Deathfest.

Yeah all the first day. Ah it was amazing.

So that thing gets pretty fucking hot doesn’t it man?

Yeah. Oh my god you have no idea but like I’m used to it by now in all honesty. I’m going to school for welding so that’s pretty much nothing.

There ya go. This summer’s been pretty hot as it is anyways though. Man those outdoor shows, oof.

Yeah, that’s kind of in all honesty another reason I’m not too sure about Mayhem Fest [on July 29th] just cause I know the temperatures are going to get hawt.

Yeah, yeah. Have you ever thought about switching to another kind of costume, like a different animal or a different anything?

You know, actually the same friend who I got the original idea with; I work at a seafood market and he visited me at work one time to drop off the chicken suit and I showed him the lobster I was pegging and his girlfriend flipped out and then they called me lobster for a while now.

Haha.

So they wanted me to wear a lobster suit once and I was like no dude I can’t.

Hahaha. Well you are kind of “The Chicken Man” now.

Oh actually I won two tickets to see the System Of A Down show [on August 7th] and I got a buddy of mine who’s going to dress up like Peter Griffin, if you see where this is going.

Yeah, yeah. So you guys are going to basically beat each other up in the mosh pit?

We’re going to straight beat the hell out of each other. None of this fake fight, we’re like broken nose, black eye, and even when the cops get there and ask if we want to press charges we’re just going to be like “eh nah we’re good.”

That sounds pretty entertaining. What do you dress up as on Halloween?

Funny thing, usually I’m working. I did go see Dethklok on Halloween at the Patriot Center a couple years back and I wore the chicken suit. I feel like if I wear the chicken suit for Halloween though it’s taking the easy way out.

Hahaha. So where exactly are you from around the area? Are you in DC? Are you in Baltimore? Are you in Northern Virginia? Where are you at?

I actually live in Annapolis. There’s not too much around here, just water and a lot of expenses.

I see you around DC and Baltimore a lot you know.

That’s the one thing I like about Annapolis is that it’s just smack dab like 30 minutes away from both of them.

I’ve been to lots of shows and I’ve seen sometimes the guys in the bands on stage, they’ll give you a shout out or something like that. What’s the coolest thing you’ve had a band say to you from being on stage?

One time I went and saw 3 Inches Of Blood with Gwar at the 9:30 Club and that was a long time ago but the dude from 3 Inches Of Blood couldn’t get enough of me. He was just like “Yeah I want to see that head on the floor with the chicken dude still running around!” I’m like oh my god these people are going to kill me.

Haha, that’s kind of hilarious. So have you ever had like a band get really pissed off or anything at you?

Huh yeah. At Deathfest Black Witchery got really pissed off at me.

Oh yeah, what did they do?

The singer thought that I threw a stuffed baby doll on stage.

I’m assuming you didn’t actually throw a doll on stage?

No it was some stupid bitch next to me. And he got all mad and then I went crowd surfing up and then I got to the front like past the barricade and he fucking kicked me.

What the fuck?

Yeah people were like “oh he kicked him in the head!” I’m like “no he just kicked me in the arm dude.” And apparently everyone else that saw that just got really angry at him. Like I heard people coming up to me after the show they’re like “Dude fuck them! They’re god damn coke heads!” I’m like oh my god dude. It’s a death metal festival, get over it. I got over it.

Chicken Man at the Ottobar

So what bands do you think get the best mosh pits?

Oooh, oh man that’s a hard one. Like at Deathfest or just in general in the area?

Anywhere ya know cause I’ll generally say Slayer pits are kinda the craziest but what’s your idea?

Aw I want to go see Slayer so bad. That’s like the one band I haven’t seen yet.

Oh man, gotta get out to Mayhem Fest.

It’s like them and Anthrax at the same show and I’m like oh my god and I’m missing it. Actually, in all honesty, out of all the pits that I’ve been in it’s a really close draw between Lamb Of God and Suffocation. I’ve seen Suffocation’s pits get way out of control. Actually nope, I’ve got one that tops it. It was at the Ottobar [in] 2010, 2009? I know it was Whitechapel and Job For A Cowboy that headlined but the pit during Whitechapel was out of control cause they had Cattle Decapitation opening and it’s just two really different crowds mixing in one tiny, tiny place. I love the Ottobar it’s so tiny. Like the smaller the better with me. It’s more up close and personal but I know a lot of fights broke out that night.

Yeah, yeah I’ve definitely seen that happen at a few shows too. But I figure you’re probably all up in that most of the time. Usually I’m just trying to keep everybody from smacking my camera ya know?

Right, hahaha. Oh I saw a lot of that going on during Deathfest.

Ah it’s what happens though man, just comes with the territory though.

Morbid Angel was pretty wild.

Yeah I had some chick land on me when I was shooting video [during Morbid Angel’s set]. She just dove off of like one of the speaker piles or whatever and just landed directly– I didn’t even see her coming. The next thing I know someone’s like landing on my head, like blindsided me. Ya know that’s Deathfest for ya you know?

Yeah and then there’s the crusties and I’m just not even going to get into that.

Well, it depends on the band I’ll tell you. Deathfest is a little weird too in some of that like, you know…

Like The Devil’s Blood? Like ehhh what?

Well it’s not even that it’s just like the way people react to bands there is different than they would any other time, I mean.

Than any other place yeah.

Yeah, yeah it’s like people there are circle pitting to Agalloch and stuff.

I know right? There was a lot of circle pits at Deathfest, I was surprised about that. It was like circle pit central.

Yeah I remember a couple of years ago Entombed was playing one of the big outdoor stages and they stopped their show and they were like “We don’t do circle pits! We only do mosh pits!” heh.

Yeah haha.

I didn’t know you cared that much.

If it was me on stage I’d be like they’re moshing dude, I don’t care. You wouldn’t happen to know any grindcore projects that are looking for a vocalist do you?

I have no idea. I mean you can always just start one.

Oh no I’ve got everyone we just need a drummer. That’s the problem.

I don’t know off hand. I don’t know. My best bet would be to go out and check out some of the local grind shows and stuff. You know Chris Moore, the drummer for Magrudergrind, he puts on a lot of shows and helps people promote local DIY shows and a lot of it is local hardcore and grind stuff. Check out some of his shows and stuff. [Facebook group here]

I definitely think that if I started performing though I’d be able to use the chicken suit as a gimmick.

There ya go. I’m sure you could man.

People would be like “What this dude’s in a band? They must be brutal.”

Hahaha. That would be kinda cool actually.

Oh yeah have a band with me in it opening up for just some ridiculous grindcore band, Suffocation or Aborted or something.

There ya go man. So do you have any feelings on Chick-fil-A?

Delicious. I’m all for cannibalistic chickens.

Haha. What did you say your next big concert is going to be? Are you going to Iron Maiden this weekend [on June 30th]?

Aw I can’t I gotta work all weekend.

Aw that sucks.

I think the next big concert I’m going to is Summer Slaughter [on August 4th] though.

Cool.

Actually I got a VIP pass to that one.

Sweet.

Yeah.

Do they really make you wear the pass in the chicken suit?

I don’t care. I’m just going to be like, you guys know me. Security there knows me.

I mean there’s generally not a lot of other people walking around in chicken suits that need to be identified as different than you.

Well actually it’s really funny because, I’m only 20.

Oh yeah, yeah, man you’ve been doing this since you were a minor.

Yeah I’ve been doing this since I was like 15.

Wow.

Yeah. But it’s funny because at Sonar this past Deathfest Thursday night I guess they were like keeping a tight rein on everything since it wasn’t outdoors cause they carded everyone. But then Friday, Saturday, Sunday when I went they were like “Hey what’s going on Chicken Man?”

That’s weird.

Especially like Sonar of all places with everything they’ve been going through lately with the new owners and the liquor license and all that stuff.

Yeah. You ever have any problems getting into any venues in your costume or anything like that?

Nope. Only thing that I will say though is that Rams Head Live hates it when I crowd surf. They’ll kick me out on the first time.

Oh really?

Yep, they hate it.

I wonder why.

Well I mean you know I’m a pretty big dude.

I know but still I mean, I don’t know it’s a metal show.

Exactly, like what they hell are you expecting?

Yeah. I don’t know. But you know honestly Rams Head isn’t my favorite venue anyway, so.

Yeah I definitely feel you there.

You going to go see Lamb Of God up at Pier Six [Pavilion]?

I haven’t been hearing too many good things about Pier Six.

Yeah it’s run by the same guys as Rams Head.

Ah it’s not even really who’s running it but the set up, seats only, and then the field.

Yeah I’ve never been there. I don’t know.

That’s all I’ve been hearing is that where the pit section would be it’s all seats.

Yeah I wonder if they’re going to have to change some of that for the show. Maybe I’ll try to call someone there and ask. [I did call later and ask, no pit section, only assigned seats up front and GA lawn in back for this and all other Pier Six shows].

You should find out cause that’s what’s keeping me from going. I’d already have pit section tickets if it wasn’t for the fact that it was at Pier Six.

Yeah I just wonder if they’re actually selling seated tickets of if it’s just GA anyway.

Ah I don’t know. I’d have a feeling it’s just GA first come, first serve but then if it’s seats only then I’m just going to hang out in the field the whole time, ya know?

Yeah, yeah. Do you ever get like recognized anywhere else for being the chicken man you know when you’re not in the costume?

Ahh, no I can’t say that’s happened to me. Yeah I can’t say that’s happened to me.

Well you gotta get a chicken man license plate or something.

Well actually I’ve been thinking about painting my car, whenever I wind up getting a new one that’s not a piece of shit, and I was going to paint my old one yellow with red trim and just drive it to concerts and that’s it.

Hahahaha.

I’ve been really thinking about it.

That’d be kind of ridiculous. I like that idea.

I know right.

Haha. Have you got any favorite local bands you like checking out?

Oh yeah. It’s a draw between Visceral Disgorge and Loculus.

So the real brutal bands.

Oh yeah.

Haha, that’s awesome.

I’m not for the whole hardcore thing. I absolutely despise hardcore dancing. I wanna burn em all alive.

Aw man, drives me nuts. I see people doing the hopping at shows too sometimes.

Oh my god. No there was actually this one dude, this old hispanic dude during Suffocation at Deathfest and he just kept trying to do that and I remember I just got shoved into him with all my force and just left handed drilled him right in the center of his face into the side of the crowd. And security saw it all and they were just like laughing at it. I will say though that security at Sonar and clubs in DC, they love me. Like the 9:30 Club, I can get away with almost anything I feel like. Yeah and I’ve seen it happen at the 9:30 Club like ya know, guys will be hardcore dancing and there will be a random crowd bystander [who] just shoves him over and security will be like “Oh no, no, stop. We’ll take care of it” and then when I do it they just laugh.

That’s always good.

Yeah.

There anything, there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

All the metal heads that keep this shit real.

Hell yeah dude, hell yeah. Alright man well thanks for talking to me and taking a few minutes here. I hope you like checking out the site once in a while and stuff.

I’m all over the upcoming shows.

Sweet dude. I put a lot of work into it. I always feel like I’m always behind on it cause there’s always more being announced as soon as I put stuff up.

Right. Nah you’re doing a great job though keep up the good work.

Yeah thanks man, and you do too man.

Haha.

Keep it real out there man.

Alright it was nice talking to you. I guess I’ll let you go then.

Yeah I’m sure I’ll see you at a show again here soon.

Oh yeah.

Alright man, take it easy.

Alright, peace.

Chicken Man and Metal Chris

Maryland Deathfest X Recap

Maryland Deathfest is the area’s biggest metal event every year and while it has taken me a few weeks to get through the mountain of photos and videos I shot at Maryland Deathfest X but I’m finally done! There’s so much stuff that I’ve actually broken this post up into several posts, this one and then one for each of the four days. You can see all of my MDF X photos and videos, including things that aren’t posted here, by going here for photos and here for my videos on YouTube. Also, I came across a site run from Las Vegas called Total Fucking Mayhem (check it out here) and they’ve got some quality video footage, sometimes much better than mine, that they’re are allowing me to use in this post as well. They also have some from bands I didn’t see so check out their YouTube page for those videos here.

Keep in mind I didn’t get a press pass for the fest so all the footage I shot was from the audience, moshers and crowd surfers going overhead just like everyone else. I did a lot of waiting to get up front for specific bands so I could get some good shots, but even so there are some I simply couldn’t get up close for since I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once. Also, I was pretty much stationary so I had to shoot whoever was on the side of the stage I was most of the time. Some bands I took more time to shoot for whatever reason, usually because they are a personal favorite of mine, and for some bands I don’t really love any of my shots of but hey when you shoot this many bands at once some are going to be much better than others.

I had a lot of fun at this years Maryland Deathfest, it was great meeting some fans of the site and handing out stickers, meeting people from all over and talking metal with them, and of course getting to see some rare and just plain kick ass performances. If you’d like to read the whole post you’re awesome and please start here, but if you’d just like to skip ahead to any one day you can do so below, or you can even just click on a band’s name below to read my paragraph about them and see my photos and videos of them as well.

Day 1: Thursday
Rorschach
Dying Fetus
Absu
Eyehategod
Agalloch
Autopsy

Day 2: Friday
Macabre
Napalm Death
Godflesh
Unsane
Setherial
Nasum

Day 3: Saturday
Looking For An Answer
Dragged Into Sunlight
Hellbastard
October 31
Morbid Saint
Archgoat
Horna
Brujeria
Morbid Angel
Tsjuder
Haemorrhage
Winter

Day 4: Sunday
Coke Bust
Disma
Demonical
Morgoth
Rwake
Ulcerate
Church Of Misery
Pentagram Chile
Saint Vitus
Electric Wizard
Sargeist
Bethlehem
Mortuary Drape

Maryland Deathfest X Day 1: Thursday

Back to the MDF menu page here.

When I arrived at MDF on the sold out first day, Thursday, the band that was playing was Rorschach. They’re an old school hardcore band from New Jersey that broke up in 1993 and didn’t reform until 2009. I didn’t get close enough to get any decent photos but I did shoot this video of them covering King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man. They were good but I didn’t really get into the show until the next band.

The next band to play was Maryland’s own death metal kings Dying Fetus. Their set wasn’t super long but they did play two songs from their upcoming new album, Reign Supreme. The band recently released a music video for the song From Womb To Waste featuring live footage shot at Maryland Deathfest that you can see here. I happened to shoot video of the same song, posted below, so think of it as a sort of preview for the official video. The song is good but really picks up at about 2:42 into the video when they launch into one of their famous break downs. I’ve seen Dying Fetus several times and while this set was a bit short it was still enough to get me into the whole MDF weekend mode.

John Gallagher of Dying Fetus

Sean Beasley of Dying Fetus

The next band to play was Absu, a black metal band from Texas and one of the staples of American black metal (or USBM for short). Their drummer, Proscriptor, is the main man of the band and it always cracks me up a bit how he constantly uses his “metal” voice on stage, even when addressing the audience between songs. Regardless, they put on a good show but were really just a small tease of the epic black metal that would be coming up later in the weekend. I shot a video of them playing Earth Ripper, the first song off their 2011 album Abzu.

Ezezu of Absu

Ezezu of Absu

Absu at Maryland Deathfest X

Ezezu of Absu

Vis Crom of Absu

Next was the New Orleans based sludge metal band Eyehategod. The crowd had been turning over a lot as I stood on the rail for band after band, and when Eyehategod was coming on the black metal heads made way for the crusties who got really rowdy for this performance. It was fun to be in the middle of but hard to shoot much so I didn’t get a lot of shots off. The show was good but I don’t think they played anything special really. I shot the first two videos below but the next two are from Total Fucking Mayhem.

Mike Williams of Eyehategod

Eyehategod at Maryland Deathfest X

Brian Patton of Eyehategod

Brian Patton of Eyehategod

The next band to play was Agalloch, from the Pacific Northwest, as they put it, though I think they’re from Portland more specifically. I thought their performance was the best of the night, and their set list was mostly songs from their first two albums, which was great if you ask me. The only real problem I had with their set was that John Haughm’s clean vocals were just off. Regardless, they played one of my favorite songs of theirs, Hallways Of Enchanted Ebony, and they also played You Were but a Ghost in My Arms for the first time ever live, even though it is from their second album, Mantle, that was released in 2002. I’ve got video of both of those songs below, so check em out. They certainly weren’t the heaviest band playing MDF but they got people moshing anyways.

Jason William Walton of Agalloch

John Haughm of Agalloch

John Haughm of Agalloch

Agalloch at Maryland Deathfest X

The final band of the night was the headlining act, Autopsy, a death metal band from the Bay Area. They had their reunion show at Maryland Deathfest two years prior, but since that show they aren’t a touring band and only play one off gigs here and there. I’m sure there were people who came out Thursday just to get to see them. Unfortunately there were technical difficulties that led to them starting their set 45 minutes late. They ended up getting cut off by the venue before their set was done, which was pretty shitty. The delay was pretty unprofessional, the MDF guys should have any and all back up gear ready for a headlining act so this lengthy of a delay doesn’t ever happen. However, they wouldn’t be the only headlining act to be delayed over the weekend and it was probably my one big complaint with the fest this year. Anyways, check out the four videos I shot of them below, as well as one more by Total Fucking Mayhem.

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Joe Allen of Autopsy

Chris Reifert of Autopsy

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Continue to day 2: Friday here.
Back to the MDF menu page here.

Maryland Deathfest X Day 2: Friday

Back to the MDF menu page here.

Friday I got to the venue and picked up my pre-ordered merch and went around taking photos of things like food menus and exclusive merch items that were available for my MDF X Survival Guide. I had to head back to the hotel to upload all that stuff and post it to the site. When I got back to the festival the first band I caught was one of my favorite bands, Macabre! I hadn’t gotten to see them in years and it was awesome seeing them play on one of the big outdoor stages. They’re always entertaining live. They tell stories between songs of the various serial killers their lyrics are about and for this show they even had some extras come out on stage for a couple songs. A guy dressed up as the Zodiac killer (video of that below) came out with pistols aimed at the audience and on another song there was someone wearing an Albert Fish costume who was being chased around by some woman on stage with a stick. Glad to see they’re keeping their show as uniquely bizarre as their music. I love this band and seeing them was definitely one of the highlights of Maryland Deathfest X for me. I’ve posted three of their more interesting videos that I shot of them below, including their cover of Venom’s Countess Bathory, but I’ve got more on my YouTube page here.

Macabre at Maryland Deathfest X

Corporate Death of Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Corporate Death of Macabre

Nefarious of Macabre

The next band I caught that day was British band Napalm Death, one of the fathers of grindcore. They always put on a great show and this was no exception, even if the sound mix wasn’t very good for them. They attempted to play a song from each album, but I know they didn’t play anything off of Fear, Emptiness, Despair for one, and probably not some other albums either. Still, they did play some old songs they don’t usually play any more and even played the song Scum with a guest appearance by Dan Lilker on bass. They included their Dead Kennedys cover of Nazi Punks Fuck Off in the set too, which made me wonder how many NSBM fans were in attendance at MDF and if any were paying attention. Anyways, Napalm Death put on an excellent grind show that was going to be tough for anyone at the fest to top, or so I thought. Again, I shot a lot more video than I’ve included below on my YouTube page here, and I have also added the three videos that Total Fucking Mayhem posted for you to enjoy as well.

Shane Embury of Napalm Death

Shane Embury of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band to play was the day’s headlining act, Godflesh. They’re an industrial two piece who are also from England and I don’t think they had played the US since reforming in 2010 until this show. I’m really not a huge fan of theirs, or industrial in general, though I know they are one of the most influential bands of the genre. For many people this band was the main reason they came to Maryland Deathfest this year. I shot very little of them, just a couple courtesy photos and a video of one song, however I’ve also got more footage from Total Fucking Mayhem posted below for those that are more into them than I am.

Justin Broadrick of Godflesh

While Godflesh was keeping everyone mesmerized outside, I decided to head indoors so I could get a good spot for the final three bands of the night. The first of these was Unsane, one of the pioneers of the noise metal genre. I don’t really know a whole lot about them, other than they are from New York City, but they were entertaining and I didn’t mind checking out their performance. I shot a couple videos of them from early in their set though they finished with a cover of the Flipper song Ha Ha Ha, which you can see video of below thanks to Total Fucking Mayhem.

Chris Spencer of Unsane

Chris Spencer of Unsane

Dave Curran of Unsane

Dave Curran of Unsane

Unsane at Maryland Deathfest X

Chris Spencer of Unsane

The next band to play was Setherial, a black metal band from Sweden. They were the first of several foreign black metal bands that were making appearances at this year’s Maryland Deathfest and I was glad I had staked out a spot in the front to watch them from. The song selection was pretty good and I felt lucky for the chance to see them play live, though they seemed like they would have fit better with some of the bands on the next two days. Still, it was nice to get some black metal in on each day of the fest. I shot three videos of them that you can check out below.

Setherial at Maryland Deathfest X

Infaustus of Setherial

Alastor Mysteriis of Setherial

Infaustus of Setherial

Setherial at Maryland Deathfest X

After Setherial finished it was time for the final band of the night, Nasum. Nasum is a Swedish grindcore band that broke up when their vocalist/guitarist, Mieszko Talarczyk, died in the giant tsunami in 2004 while he was vacationing in Thailand just after his 30th birthday. They decided to reunite in 2012, the band’s 20th anniversary, to do a special tour of farewell shows with Keijo Niinimaa of Rotten Sound doing guest vocals. This show was part of that tour and while I knew Nasum was a very influential grind act I simply wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed that night. They put on what was absolutely one of the most intense performances I’ve ever seen any band metal perform, regardless of genre. I don’t say that lightly, I’ve seen A LOT of extreme heavy metal bands over the years and this was definitely one of the most crushing shows I’ve ever seen. They had a couple come out in a suit and wedding dress, both wearing gas masks, while an air raid siren played to start the show but once they left the stage and the band started it was pure brutality from then on out. They had Jason Netherton of Misery Index come up on stage and help out on vox for a few songs with them (I’ve got video of that below) and Travis Bacon, guitar player for the band Grudges, jumped up on stage to do a song with them as well. The pummeling was relentless until Nasum left the stage, however they came back and did a couple more songs as an encore. I cannot stress enough how impressed I was by their show, it was definitely my favorite of the entire festival. I walked out of there feeling like my hair was sticking straight up because I’d just been struck by lightning and I fucking liked it.

Urban Skytt of Nasum

Jesper Liveröd of Nasum

Keijo Niinimaa of Nasum

Jesper Liveröd of Nasum

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Continue to day 3: Saturday here.
Back to the MDF menu page here.

Maryland Deathfest X Day 3: Saturday

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The first band I caught on Saturday was Looking For An Answer. Usually I’m wary of bands with that many words in their name, but these guys were actually pretty good. They’re a grind act from Spain and I have to say they were pretty impressive live, plus I was still in a mood for grind after last night’s killer Nasum performance ended the night. This wouldn’t be the last nor best grind act from Spain I’d see that day though. I wasn’t really close enough for good pictures but I did shoot a video of them live that I highly recommend watching the whole way through as it gives a good perspective of what their sound and live show were like. There’s also a video by Total Fucking Mayhem here too, enjoy!

The next band I saw was the UK based Dragged Into Sunlight. I had heard good things about these guys but they exceeded all my expectations. If I had to pick a band that I was unfamiliar with that most impressed me at Maryland Deathfest X it would be this band. I guess they’d be called a black metal band but they were pretty unorthodox musically. Also, the entire band faced away from the audience pretty much the entire show, and all the lights were turned way down except for a strobe that would go off in time with the music sometimes. It was a creepy effect that really helped set a mood that fit perfectly with their sound. I was very impressed and they were a great way to start what was the most black metal loaded day of MDF X. I shot a decent video of the first song of Dragged Into Sunlight’s set that should give you an idea of what they were like live.

Dragged Into Sunlight at Maryland Deathfest X

Dragged Into Sunlight at Maryland Deathfest X

I caught part of Hellbastard‘s set next. They’re a crust band from the UK and in fact they are the band that coined the term “crust” to begin with. This band was highly entertaining, mostly due to frontman Scruff Lewty’s wild stage presence and overall enthusiasm to be playing. This man is passionate about his music and it really showed! They were also really fun to photograph live as he was constantly running around on stage making faces and doing all kinds of shit like, uh, biting his guitar. I’ve got video of them playing but Total Fucking Mayhem posted footage of the same song so I’ve posted that video instead because it is higher quality than mine.

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Paul O'Shea of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

The next band I caught was October 31, a band from Northern Virginia and featuring King Fowley of Deceased fame on vocals. October 31 plays a more traditional style of classic heavy metal, though they certainly have some thrash elements as well. Sticking with the Halloween theme, King even threw candy at the audience during their set, among various other goofy stage antics. They were entertaining but I think Deceased would probably have fit on the bill better, although this was the same day Anvil was playing so perhaps the MDF organizers put October 31 on this day for Anvil fans who probably didn’t know a lot of the other bands playing this year. I shot a video of October 31 playing a couple songs and I’ve also posted a video from Total Fucking Mayhem.

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

Brian 'Hellstorm' Williams of October 31

Brian 'Hellstorm' Williams of October 31

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

Matt Ibach of October 31

King Fowley of October 31

Next up was Morbid Saint, a thrash band that only ever officially put out one full length album, Spectrum Of Death, though they did have another that was never released make the bootleg rounds after their break up in 1994. Morbid Saint is from Wisconsin and they reunited in 2010 though really it’s only the singer and one of the guitar players who are still the same from the old days. Regardless, their 1988 release is considered an underground classic of thrash metal and for this show at Maryland Deathfest they played it from start to finish. They put on a pretty damn good show and the band was tight, however I think they mentioned their merch being for sale about 1,000 times between songs. Check out these two videos I shot of songs they played early in their set.

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

The next band I watched was Archgoat, a black metal band from Finland. With a name like Archgoat you sort of know what to expect, and while they were pretty grim and kvlt and all that, and they had some cool songs, I still felt they were the weakest live performance of the black metal bands I caught at this year’s Maryland Deathfest. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they sucked, but they weren’t that spectacular and didn’t really do anything that stood out much or really grabbed me. They definitely had the typical imagery down, they wore corpse paint, they had fake blood dumped on themselves, however they didn’t really play anything that stood out or really grabbed me that much either.

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

After Archgoat I kept my place on the rail so I could be sure to see another black metal band from Finland up close, Horna. I had wanted to see this band play live for years and I’m glad I finally got the chance, however I wasn’t expecting that at the beginning of their song Piina that vocalist Spellgoth would squat on the stage, whip out his dick, piss in his hands and then wipe it all over his face and hair. The band kept playing and the audience didn’t seem to even notice much, but I’ve got video of it posted below (the second video). All watersports action aside, they did put on a great black metal performance and played some of my favorite songs of theirs too.

Spellgoth of Horna

Infection of Horna

Qraken of Horna

Spellgoth of Horna

After Horna I went outside to catch Brujeria, a Mexican metal band that has two vocalists reciting Spanish lyrics about stuff like running drugs over the border and revolutionary politics. The band all wears bandanas on their faces to hide their identities, and while they are said to be from Mexico most of the “mystery” members are actually from England, including Shane Embury of Napalm Death, Jeff Walker of Carcass and Nick Barker of, well, too many bands to list here. They’re a band I used to listen to back in my high school days and I never thought I’d ever get to see them live. It was pretty fun, even if I was getting a Mexican flag whipped in my face most of the time while I was trying to shoot! They seemed to mostly just play older classics, which was fine by me since those are the songs I know. Check out the two videos I shot of them below.

Fantasma of Brujeria

Brujeria at Maryland Deathfest X

El Brjuo of Brujeria

Brujeria at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band I saw was the day’s headliner, Morbid Angel. They’re one of the big three American death metal bands and they haven’t played on the east coast in quite some time. The last time I saw them was in 2006 for their big tour when David Vincent had just rejoined the band. I suppose a long of younger people have never gotten the chance to see them play live, and even though their last album was laughably terrible, they still got the audience to go crazy. Well, at least for the three or four songs I was there for. The crowd got really rough during their set and as I was shooting video of them playing Rapture a stage diver landed directly on my head which I didn’t even see coming. So I didn’t get a lot of great footage of them but I decided I’d get inside to get up front for the final three bands of the night. Besides, I’ve seen them play before and I didn’t want to taint my memories of Morbid Angel live by catching them play any of their new material. I heard guitarist Trey Azagthoth had a rockstar moment and after an equipment failure during their second to last song he walked off the stage leaving the rest of the band to play their final song without him. Also, their set started about 20 minutes late due to more technical issues. At least this time there was some hilarious banter from the head sound tech yelling at the guys on the stage who were supposed to be “fixing” the problem.

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

After waiting by the rail for a while during Morbid Angel’s set I was ready to see yet another black metal band I’d been wanting to see for many years play, Tsjuder! This was the only actual Norwegian black metal band at MDF this year, and this was their first US show ever. The three piece was fucking excellent live, and played a set with plenty of my favorites from their album Desert Northern Hell, the album they are probably best known for as well as my personal favorite of theirs. The three piece was pretty entertaining on stage, the guitar and bass players switching sides of the stage multiple times. They ended their set with two covers, which seemed a bit excessive since they have plenty of good original material to choose from. The first was Sacrifice by Bathory and the last was Deathcrush by Mayhem (video of that below). They didn’t really add anything special to the songs so I don’t know why they felt the need to play two typical songs for black metal bands to cover but whatever, they were still fun crowd pleasers. Despite the double cover ending, I still think they were my favorite set to watch on this day of the fest.

Nag of Tsjuder

Tsjuder at Maryland Deathfest X

Tsjuder at Maryland Deathfest X

Nag of Tsjuder

Nag of Tsjuder

After Tsjuder ended the day’s excellent black metal line up, the next band to play was Haemorrhage, a goregrind band from Spain. They put on a hell of a show, coming out in their various medical themed costumes: a surgeon, a nurse, a doctor and vocalist Lugubrious played the blood soaked patient. It has been a long time since Haemorrhage has played in the US and fans of the band were psyched to see them. They played a lot of songs from their latest album, Hospital Carnage, as well as some of their classic older songs, which was fine by me as I like most of their material. The show was a hell of a lot of fun to watch and you can see that for yourself in the footage I’ve posted below.

Luisma of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

Ramón Checa of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

The final band of the night was Winter, a recently reformed doom band from New York City. They broke up in the early 90s after releasing just one album, Into Darkness, back in 1990. It wasn’t until they had broken up that they gained a cult underground following, meaning most of their fans had never gotten to see this band live. For this show they played the album live from start to finish, and overall it is a very slow paced ordeal. I can get down with some ultra slow and heavy doom but by this point in the evening, well after midnight, the amount of time I had been spending on my feet the past few days was starting to take its toll. I did enjoy their set but unlike the night before’s Nasum set, it didn’t leave me with a lot of energy. Still, I wasn’t about to walk out on such a rare performance. Vocalist John Alman seemed surprised that so many people had stayed around to see them play, which was kind of funny. I think they’d have been a better fit somewhere in Sunday’s killer doom line up and not at the very end of the night, but I’m still glad I got to see them. Check out this video I shot of their opening song.

John Alman of Winter

John Alman of Winter

John Alman of Winter

Stephen Flam of Winter

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Maryland Deathfest X Day 4: Sunday

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Sunday’s band line up was one of the best gatherings of doom and stoner bands I’ve ever heard of. However, the first band I saw that day was Coke Bust, a DC based grind band featuring members of Magrudergrind. They put on a fun show and even when the main microphone stopped working mid song they just started using one of the back up vocal mics instead. The vocalist said they hadn’t played in front of such a big crowd before as they usually play in places like people’s basements. I’m glad I got to see this fun local grind act play before all the doom started. Check out the video I shot of them below.

Coke Bust at Maryland Deathfest X

Coke Bust at Maryland Deathfest X

After Coke Bust played I headed outside to see Disma, a death/doom band featuring members of Incantation, including vocalist Craig Pillard. The band had been kicked off of the Choas In Tejas festival (article here) shortly after that festival’s line up was announced back in December because of Craig Pillard’s former Nazi ties, particularly him being in the openly antisemitic band called Sturmführer. Now supposedly he has recanted his racist ways but still, it makes me a bit conflicted about supporting the guy. Him wearing an iron cross on stage at MDF didn’t help either. Now I know an iron cross doesn’t make one a Nazi, it’s not a swastika, but if you’re trying to distance yourself from your Nazi past why would you wear that on stage? Their set was pretty crushing though, I have to give the band that, and you can see for yourself in the video I shot below as well as the great close up footage provided by Total Fucking Mayhem in the second video.

Bill Venner of Disma

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

Craig Pillard of Disma

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band I caught was the Richmond based doom band Cough, who was great, but I didn’t get close enough to get any video footage or decent photos of them so I’ll just skip to who I saw after them, a Swedish death metal band called Demonical. Demonical was alright. I wouldn’t call them bad, but compared to some of the death metal heavyweights that were also playing the fest they certainly weren’t a must see band for me. They were just OK I guess, and about half way through their set I went to the other outdoor stage so I could get up front for Morgoth. I do have a video of Demonical posted below, as well as two more from Total Fucking Mayhem, so check them out if you’re interested in more about Demonical’s set. At a metal festival with this many rare and special performances they just weren’t up to par for me.

Demonical at Maryland Deathfest X

Widda of Demonical

Martin Schulman of Demonical

Widda of Demonical

Next up for me was Morgoth, a German death/thrash band. This performance was their first US concert in almost 20 years so as you might imagine fans of the band were pretty excited to get a chance to see them. They had a couple of albums that gained a cult following in the underground from back in the early 90s before they changed their sound and put out a rock album in what I’d guess was a bid at hitting the mainstream. It didn’t really take off though and they broke up in 1998 and didn’t reform until about 12 years later. Luckily they didn’t play anything from the rock album and stuck to their heavier material, which was pretty good. They were certainly more entertaining live than Demonical was. Check out the two songs I’ve posted below as well as another from Total Fucking Mayhem though the audio is a bit overloaded on that one.

Marc Grewe of Morgoth

Morgoth at Maryland Deathfest X

Harry Busse of Morgoth

Marc Grewe of Morgoth

Morgoth at Maryland Deathfest X

Next I went inside and caught about half of Rwake‘s set. They’re a sludge/doom band from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I’d heard good things about them but I hadn’t ever seen them before. They were really impressive live, certainly one of the bands that I went in wanted to see and left being really impressed by. One of the things that sucks about Maryland Deathfest is that sometimes there are just too many good bands playing and you can’t see complete sets by all of them. I really wish I’d gotten a chance to see more of them, and even though I didn’t catch their entire set I have to say it was a highlight of the fest for me. Also, vocalist Chris Terry puked on stage during one of the songs which led to someone near me at the time mentioning one of my favorite quotes from MDF X: “I like it when they puke on stage because you know they’re giving it their all”. Haha! Anyways, footage of that is available from Total Fucking Mayhem in the second video below around 2:20 into it.

Christopher Terry of Rwake

Rwake at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band I saw was the death metal band that I was most excited to get a chance to see at Deathfest this year, Ulcerate. They’re a tech death band from New Zealand with a drummer that’s pretty insane behind the kit. The band’s show wasn’t anything too wild, mostly just the band members standing there playing their songs in lighting that was dim and didn’t really change much. However the songs were incredible to see live and that band plays them very tight, it was quite impressive. Just check out the footage I shot below and the second video shot by Total Fucking Mayhem to hear what I’m talking about.

Paul Kelland of Ulcerate

William Cleverdon of Ulcerate

Paul Kelland of Ulcerate

Ulcerate at Maryland Deathfest X

While I might never get another chance to see Ulcerate live I had to leave their set early to catch the tail end of another band I wanted to see that I may never get to catch again either, Church Of Misery. They’re a doom metal band from Japan with a heavy old school Black Sabbath influence and if you know me at all then you probably know I love Black Sabbath so that definitely appeals to me. Church Of Misery, like Macabre on Friday, also writes most of their songs about infamous serial killers. In all, I just had to make sure I’d at least catch some of their set while I had a chance. I really enjoyed their show, even though I got nowhere near the front. I took a few shots and a video but none of it is that close up, however you can see two videos of them that Total Fucking Mayhem shot from close up below as well.

Tom Sutton of Church Of Misery

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band to play was Pentagram Chile, an old school death/thrash band from, you guessed it, Chile. They formed in 1985 and only ever put out a few demos and an EP before breaking up, however those recordings were enough to gain them an underground following even after their demise. They’ve gotten back together, added Chile to their name to end confusion between them and the legendary doom metal band Pentagram, and said they are going to finally release a full length album. While I’d heard of them I’d never listened to them much because their recordings were so scarce, but they were a hell of a lot of fun live. Totally mosh-friendly metal that was catchy and aggressive at the same time. Also, vocalist Anton Reisenegger did something I’ve never seen a band do before. Instead of shout out the wrong name of the city he was in he actually introduced his band with the wrong name! He said they were Criminal, another band he and the bass player are in together, and the rest of the band all started glaring at him until he corrected it, haha! I shot two videos of Pentagram Chile, the second of which shows them performing a song so new they didn’t even have lyrics for it yet. There’s also a super close up video by Total Fucking Mayhem.

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Pentagram Chile at Maryland Deathfest X

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Juan Pablo Uribe of Pentagram Chile

At this point I had to make a tough decision and decided it was time for me to get some food. I wanted to see Yob and Suffocation, who would both be playing soon, but I also needed to eat and there wasn’t another band the rest of the day/night that I would want to miss. I decided to go find food during those bands’ sets because I had seen both within the past 12 months, so I figured that if I have to miss someone, at least it is bands I’ve seen recently. I heard Yob played some really rare like 20 minute song they never play live so that was a bit frustrating, and Suffocation is always killer live, but again, I had to eat. I made it back and Suffocation was still playing on one of the main stages but I decided to get up close for Saint Vitus who would be playing on other outdoor stage next. Wino, their singer, has roots in Maryland so it was cool getting to see them play one of the big stages at MDF. They’re one of the most influential doom metal bands ever and it was great seeing them play a bunch of their classic older songs mixed with some of the material from their new album, Lillie: F-65. They really put on a great performance that was a perfect lead in to the next band playing, Electric Wizard, and you can check out my two videos of Saint Vitus that night below, as well as one more from Total Fucking Mayhem.

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Saint Vitus at Maryland Deathfest X

Next was Electric Wizard, the headliner of the final day of Maryland Deathfest X and a major draw for the event. For a lot of people, the chance to see this band was the main reason they came to the festival, and MDF later announced (here) that they played to the largest crowd in Deathfest history. There was a bit of rain as Saint Vitus was finishing up and I started to worry there might be another big delay but the rain passed quickly and Electric Wizard went on to perform a killer set. The band hasn’t played in the US in 10 years or so and while the line up has changed a lot since then, they’ve only got one original member left, they still put on a near flawless performance of doom. People were going crazy and I’ve never seen such a wild mosh pit for a stoner/doom band that wasn’t named Black Sabbath. The crowd was far too violent for me to get up close and get great footage, however I did shoot a couple songs of their excellent set, including my favorite song of theirs, Satanic Rites Of Drugula. Total Fucking Mayhem got some great close up footage though and I highly recommend you check that out as well.

Electric Wizard at Maryland Deathfest X

Electric Wizard at Maryland Deathfest X

Since I wasn’t that close up for Electric Wizard I was determined to get up front for the final three bands of the fest starting with Sargeist, another black metal band from Finland. The band shares two members with Horna, who played the day before, and Behexen, who wasn’t playing at the fest. Sargeist did not have anyone whip out their dick and piss on themselves, however they did play a great set of black metal to the people trickling inside after Electric Wizard finished. The band came out in black robes and vocalist Hoath Torog had this bizarre look on his face most of the show, like he was engaging in some sort of creepy staring contest with the audience. Also, he was walking around barefoot on that stage which is something I would not have done considering all the piss and puke I’d seen on it earlier in the weekend. Anyways, their set was great but by the time they finished I could really start feeling the festival coming to an end. Check out the videos I posted of them below.

Vainaja of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

The next band to play was Bethlehem, a dark/black metal band from Germany. The band is very influential to the suicidal/depressive black metal scene consisting of bands like Xasthur and Shining, and in 1998 Bethlehem released their magnum opus, Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen irreligiöser Darbietung. The band playing this night only had one of the members left from those days, the bass player Jürgen Bartsch, however they still put on a very disturbing performance. The band’s vocalist, Rogier Droog, put on quite a show for those close enough to see him. He shifted through a very wide range of facial expressions going from horror to pain to shock to loathing and too many more to list here. His shrieks, moans and wails were haunting as well. He really stole the show for this band, which is sort of surprising since he has only been in the band since 2011. I’m glad I got to see them close up, it was a unique show and one that definitely stood out at this year’s fest for me. Check out the three videos I shot of them below. They’re probably a bit too dark/small to make out his face that much however it should give you an idea of the mood set by their performance.

Jürgen Bartsch of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

The final band of the night was Mortuary Drape, an old school black metal band from Italy. This is a band I really wanted to see heading in to the fest and even though they would be the last band to play, I was still was excited to see them live. They were supposed to be one of the headliners at the big Rites Of Darkness festival in San Antonio last winter, however like several other bands they pulled out when they realized that the festival organizers were in fact not organized and they didn’t have all their money together right either (more info on that here). This also made Mortuary Drape cancel their short tour which was scheduled to have a date in Baltimore that I had planned on attending. So this performance was one I’d sort of thought would never happen, and they didn’t disappoint either. The band is not really the band they once were, frontman Wildness Perversion is the only original member of the band and the only one who has been with them since before 2011 even. That didn’t really bother me though because it’s not like I was going to get a time machine to see these guys in their glory days and it was fun getting to hear many of their old songs live. While the previous two bands had vocalists that stayed pretty stationary and used very dramatic facial expressions Wilderness Perversion was very active and mobile on stage, often engaging the audience directly. The rest of the band were draped in red robes with black hoods as he worked the audience from every angle of the stage. Check out the video I posted below to see what I’m talking about, I only shot one of them but it is over 12 minutes long. Mortuary Drape put on a really fun performance and ended Maryland Deathfest X on a high note for me. Also, nobody was pepper sprayed this year after they finished playing!

SC of Mortuary Drape

SC of Mortuary Drape

Mortuary Drape at Maryland Deathfest X

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Daniele Cagnotto of Mortuary Drape

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