Most Metal Moments of 2012

2012 is coming to a close and I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the cool shit that’s gone on in the DC/Baltimore/Northern Virgina area’s metal scene this year. Rather than try to compile a list myself I decided to ask a bunch of people involved in our area’s metal scene in one way or another to do it for me! I asked some musicians and fellow music writers and a bunch of other people too, from record store owners to beer brewers to concert promoters. Each person was asked two questions: What was your favorite metal album of the year? And what was your most “metal” moment of the year? The answers I received were as diverse as the people I asked and I suggest reading all of them if you’ve got the time.

Richard Johnson, aka The Grindfather, is the main man of the Northern Virginia based grindcore band Drugs Of Faith and he also runs the ‘zine turned blog Disposable Underground.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Koloss by Meshuggah
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Arriving at the Pig Destroyer record release show in Baltimore in semi-dapper attire, I was invited backstage to go over details on Kat Katz (from Agoraphobic Nosebleed) and mine’s guest vocal slots in the Pig Destroyer set. The question as to whether I should wear my blazer on stage came up, with two voting for and two against.
When JR Hayes [vocalist of Pig Destroyer] introduced me onstage, I came on with the blazer to keep the opposition guessing, and slipped out of it. Scott Hull [guitarist of Pig Destroyer] immediately seized the moment and insisted on wearing it during the song I was singing. In other words, he stole my thunder.
When Napalm Death came around with Municipal Waste, Exhumed and Vektor, I wore the same blazer to the tour stop at Empire in Springfield, Virginia. I ran into Barney Greenway [vocalist of Napalm Death] soon after getting into the club, and, as a man of taste, he complimented me on it.
That blazer is metal!

Josh Schwartz is the lead guitarist of the Northern Virginia based power metal band A Sound Of Thunder and will gladly debate anyone about what is or isn’t considered heavy metal!
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Stalingrad by Accept
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: In September my band, A Sound Of Thunder, gathered a bunch of fans and friends at Omega Studios in Rockville, Maryland to record gang vocals for our new album and EP. We brought the “Thunder-Choir” into the main recording room (the big one that they use for orchestras) and arranged them in a big circle, with everyone facing inward. Everyone was set up with headphones and mics. When we got to the gang vocals for our song “Queen of Hell”, our producer Kevin Gutierrez called over our lead singer, Nina Osegueda, and had her stand in the center of the circle. He then directed everyone to summon their inner demon voices, and we proceeded to record the whole group chanting “hail, queen of hell” over and over again. If someone had walked into the building at that moment, they would have thought they’d discovered a coven.

Chris Penrod is better known to DC and Baltimore’s metal concert going regulars as the Chicken Man. Any time a brutal band comes through the area you’ll find him wearing his full body chicken costume while he’s tearing it up in the mosh pit and crowd surfing.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Reign Supreme by Dying Fetus
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: I’d have to say my most metal moment of 2012 was at Maryland Deathfest during Suffocation’s set. The crowd was in a complete and utter frenzy, Frank Mullen [vocalist of Suffocation] was on his A-game, and the icing on the cake was nailing that hardcore dancer in the center of his face with my left fist.

Chicken Man at Maryland Deathfest X in May 2012

Will Cook is assistant brewer at the Alexandria based craft brewery Port City Brewing Company and is the man behind the occasional Metal Night events held there. Follow him on Twitter at @PCBCBrewMetal
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Phantom Antichrist by Kreator
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: During a weekend blitz in mid-November, I actually had a continuous slew of metal moments that started with area metal-heads converging on my brewery during Metal Night to drink beer and listen to heavy metal. That night I met dozens of cool like-minded metal heads and beer lovers including band members of Yesterday’s Saints and A Sound of Thunder. The one and only Metal Chris helped me pull-off this event by giving away tickets to local metal shows and merch from the mighty King Giant! That night was an awesome sight and sound to behold! The very next day I went to see Sylosis, Hatebreed, and Lamb of God play at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Before the show, I got to meet fucking Hatebreed! To top it all off, my great friend Steve—fellow Jarhead and rabid metal head—drove all the way down from Connecticut to join the chaos all weekend!
The most un-metal moment of 2012: When some asshole walked off with the seven-string guitar belonging to Yesterday’s Saints guitarist Witt Black. They had to cancel the show.

Evan Harting is the co-founder and co-organizer of the annual Maryland Deathfest held in Baltimore over Memorial Day Weekend every year. MDF has become the biggest underground metal festival in the US and draws bands and fans from all over the world.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Effigies Of Evil by Hooded Menace
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: My good friend Dave Tedder died this year, and it crushed many people in the metal community. He wasn’t in a band or anything, but he was loved for being one of the most genuine, kind-hearted, and selfless people in metal, among many other great qualities. I’d have to say that the most metal moment for me was when people from all over the country converged onto Baltimore for his service, which consisted of only long-haired, bearded and metal-patch covered vest wearing folks. The service ended with everyone’s horns in the air and yelling “Hail Dave Tedder”, followed by a marching band leading to a nearby music venue, where metal bands played and people gathered to celebrate the life of our fallen friend. It was great to see everyone come together like that.

Todd Ingram, aka TI, plays guitar in the Northern Virginia based southern metal band King Giant. They’re playing at Empire on Sat, Jan 26th (details here) and you’ll be there if you like good times!
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: The Hunt by Grand Magus
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: September 30th at The Fillmore Silver Spring – It was Pentagram’s last tour of the US with original guitarist Victor Griffin. The crowd was electric and Pentagram was delivering a hot set full of favorites. They launched into “Relentless” and during the intro [Pentagram’s vocalist] Bobby Liebling seemed to be stumbling around and then started to unbutton his pants. I was thinking, “Oh no… this could all go horribly wrong right now.” But much to everyone’s surprise, Bobby delivered his Magic Mike moment and ripped down his pants to reveal what I can only describe as red pajama bottoms with Flying Eyeball graphics on them. It was hilarious. The crowd responded with a roar of approval. It was the epitome of a great Pentagram show, the band rocking out and Bobby bringing his own quirky, decidedly unserious sense of humor to DOOM Metal.

Bobby Liebling drops trou at the Fillmore in September 2012

Kim Dylla runs Kylla Custom Rock Wear where she creates custom clothing that you have probably seen worn on stage by members of bands such as Slipknot, Machine Head, Watain, Death Angel, Dragonforce, Dimmu Borgir and more! She can even make you custom clothing to wear on stage or to just bring out your inner rock star.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: With Hearts Toward None by Mgła
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Alexi Laiho [of Children Of Bodom] and I got locked into Harborplace Mall in Baltimore 15 minutes before he was supposed to go on stage at Ram’s Head Live. Alexi is a dear friend and client of mine, and we went to Hooters for dinner before the show. It took forever to get our food and we lost track of time, realizing shortly after we received our entrees that he was supposed to play in just a few minutes! We threw some money on the table and ran through the mall to the opposite end near where I had parked. The mall was undergoing renovations and we got all the way to the other side to realize the door we had come in was locked. We frantically ran up and down the hallways and every exit door we found was locked. We finally had to go back to Hooters and have someone let us out the staff exit onto the balcony. At this point there were 5 minutes remaining until show time. We ran to my car, and I was driving so fast that I failed to notice that the street I had pulled down by the back of the club was one way. A car was coming straight at us, and of course it was a cop car! I fishtailed up into a driveway across from the buses, assuring everyone watching that I had taken good care of their star. Whoops! Luckily the Baltimore cops have better things to worry about than people driving recklessly the wrong way down one way streets.

Toby Gomez is the man behind the Monthly Metal at Balls Bluff concert series showcasing local, regional and national metal bands each and every month at Balls Bluff Tavern in Leesburg, Virginia.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Dark Roots Of Earth by Testament
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: In August my mother broke her hip and I, being her only full time “care giver,” was scheduled to be out of the country during her recovery. My band at the time, at least one member, didn’t share my zeal for never selling tickets and loving to play shit bars and small audiences and I was getting some really shitty emails. My most metal moment was choosing my mother, family, and the girlfriend that was helping me to be a nurse and a father over a band that I was not good enough for (not my opinion). My most metal moment was picking Monthly Metal at Ball’s Bluff and the scene that I love over part of a band that thought they were too good for it. My most metal moment was standing by what I have always said I believed in and cared about, kicking three years of lyric writing and performing to the curb. All that and taking my daughter to her second Iron Maiden show.

Mark Hensch is a Washington Times digital editor and freelance reporter writing about heavy metal, MMA and D.C. nightlife. Check him out at and
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Book Burner by Pig Destroyer
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: My most metal moment in 2012 was seeing Pig Destroyer play a record-release show in October. Taking place in their hometown of Baltimore, the crowd was rabid, the energy furious. As far as sets go, it violently summarized an extraordinary career in grind metal. Every song, old or new, was played with mastery of craft. Watching the band cast their magic was like seeing Michael Jordan race towards a slam dunk. It was at that level. As a long-time fan, it was a memorable experience witnessing heavy metal history firsthand.

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar in October 2012

Pat Trainor runs the Arlington based metal record label and distro Australopithecus Records.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Sickness Will Pass by Stoneburner
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: A few friends and I went up to Baltimore in September to see The Atlas Moth and Altar of Plagues [play upstairs] at the Ottobar. After the show we were hanging out front talking to The Atlas Moth guys when they realized the short bus they tour in was blocked in by a van belonging to the shitty power metal band playing downstairs. Altar of Plagues had 20 minutes to get to the bus station to catch a bus up to NY where they were flying out of. Next thing I know there are two drunk (and remarkably tall) members of an Irish black metal band in the back of my car and we’re having a discussion on gun violence in America while I’m navigating through Baltimore to the bus station!

Josh Sisk is a photographer who shoots all kinds of bands around the Baltimore and DC area, including tons metal bands. You can see some of his work here. He’s also recently become the heavy metal columnist for the Baltimore City Paper.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Vanitas by Anaal Nathrakh
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: It’s hard to pin this one down… Seeing Sunn O))) play in an opera house at the stroke of midnight in Raleigh? Watching a kid crowd-surf while eating a slice of pizza at A389 Fest [at Sonar]? Slipping in blood while taking photos of Ghoul? No… the most metal moment for me in 2012 had to be at the end of Maryland Deathfest, under the overpass. I had stepped out to see what things were like out there, ran into a guy who was bare from the waist up and covered in cuts. I asked if he was okay, he said “I’m okay but I think my car is dead.” I looked over and realized that his car looked like the Hulk had jumped up and down on it. The whole cab was smashed in, smooshed down like a huge weight had been dropped on it, glass everywhere… and I was like “Shit, man, who did that to your car?!” and dude looked up at me (he was getting medical attention by this point) and said “Who did that to my car? I DID!”

Hannah Clancy-Thompson works as a promotions/new media assistant at Relapse Records. She also works with various unsigned local metal bands through her Baltimore based management company Break Open Management.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Autotheism by The Faceless
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: One of my favorite metal moments was at Maryland Deathfest this year: As usual, the weather was gloriously hot… So hot that you had to alternate Gatorade between beers to survive. I was helping out the sales team at Relapse Records’ merchandise booth, drenched in sweat. Finally, Electric Wizard came on stage around 9:30 pm and we could relax and watch their set. Wouldn’t you know it but that was the moment for the heavens to open and pour with rain. “Cover the vinyl” we yelled as we ran back to the tent drenched again, but at least the merch was saved.

Brandon Skall is one of the two co-founders of DC Brau, the first beer brewery actually inside Washington DC since 1956. They make some great craft beers and often have some pretty metal beer names and bottle label artwork.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Timing Of The Void by Eagle Claw
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: We were sponsoring the recent The Sword/Eagle Claw/Gypsyhawk show at Rock & Roll Hotel. I had not heard of Eagle Claw before the show. I was standing up front with John Solly from Solly’s U Street Tavern. Eagle Claw took the stage and proceed to play an incredible seven minute long opener of just killer instrumental madness. Then the second tune… no vox. As they started the third song I leaned over to Solly and said, “I think were about to get a whole set of instrumental metal!” We did. It ruled. Oh yeah and also when I puked all over Rory from Warchild at Ice Co. That was pretty metal too.

Lars Gotrich writes about heavy metal, and some less heavy genres of music, for NPR. You can check out his full list of 2012’s top metal albums on NPR by going here.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Sorrow And Extinction by Pallbearer
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Jucifer at the Black Cat on January 20th – What is it that compels Jucifer to tour with a literal wall of amps like they do? It’s both empowering and limiting at once, with a volume and intensity like no other, but what band wants to to ride along for that set-up? In the end, it’s Jucifer’s passion that gets the best of them, spreading the distorted sludge gospel. But on the Friday night that D.C. literally froze over, the nomadic duo played to a small, yet devoted crowd at the Black Cat. I don’t remember what was going on in my life, but I NEEDED THIS SHOW. My entire being and thus my entire body raged to every downbeat, literally slamming my torso to the stage. At one moment, Amber Valentine and I locked eyes/spirits/hair. My body was in pain for a week.

Jucifer at the Black Cat in January 2012

Rockin Ruby is the managing editor at Underground Web World, a website that focuses on underground culture such as metal music, biker culture, science fiction art, photography and tattoo art.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: As Above, So Below by Angel Witch
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: So you want to know my most metal moment of 2012? Well I must say this was definitely a tough one to choose because there were many awesome events this year. I’m going to have to narrow it down and say my most metal moment was from Maryland Deathfest. This year’s lineup of bands were the best I’ve ever experienced, mainly because I’m a huge fan of the metal classics. Seeing bands like Hellbastard, Artillery, Morgoth, Morbid Angel, Morbid Saint, Anvil and October 31 on the bill (which were the main bands I wanted to see) really made the year for me. The highlight of the festival was being able to meet [vocalist] Pat Lind from Morbid Saint right after his performance. After 20+ years, they still kick ass! I thought I would never see this band live. Seeing [Morbid Saint’s album] Spectrum Of Death played live in its entirety was a dream come true.

Jo Gonzales runs Black Mess Records in Baltimore, a record store specializing in extremely underground heavy metal from around the world. They’ve also got patches and other merch that you just can’t find anywhere else in the area.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: The Doom Skeptron by Desecresy
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: Hmmm that’s a tough one there were so many!!! I mean Maryland Deathfest had an array of fantastically ridiculous as well as crucial not to be missed metal moments… I mean Pentagram from Chile slayed as well as well as Bethlehem and of course Sargeist!!! But what destroyed all else was seeing Imprecation from Texas play with Mortem from Peru at El Caracol in Silver Spring!!! That was truly the most metal moment of 2012 for me!!! Thanks to Chris of DCHM and keep an eye out for some releases due out in 2013 on Black Mess Productions!!! WE also have a few killer shows in the works for 2013!!!

Simon Callahan books DIY metal shows in Washington DC and manages to get some great underground bands from around the country to play with top local metal talent through his Metal Squad Party Force. He also plays guitar and sings in his band Midnight Eye.
Favorite Metal Album Of 2012: Eremita by Ihsahn
Most Metal Moment Of 2012: I saw and played a bunch of great shows the past year, but the most metal moments for me were probably: getting to do sound and fog for Sunn O))) when they played the Black Cat; falling off of the couch while hanging out with Nashgul after their show at Ras Hall (and asking them impressively annoying drunk questions, like whether they understand sarcasm or listen to Judas Priest); and playing at JR’s in Philly, with Rubbish, a.k.a. “the worst band in Philadelphia.” Oh, and my band also drove to play a Richmond show in a hybrid while eating sushi, so I guess that kind of negates everything metal I mentioned here.