Maryland Deathfest XII Survival Guide

Memorial Day Weekend is coming up again and that means another year of Maryland Deathfest is upon us! This is the twelfth year running for the festival and it continues to expand and evolve. This post will help you get through MDF XII as you navigate through all the bands, stages, venues and vendors and I’ll be updating it with info like food prices and photos of exclusive band merch once the fest actually gets going. You can skip to the updates by going here. The past few weeks we’ve been suggesting some lesser known bands that are definitely worth seeing at Maryland Deathfest. You can read those reviews and bios, each of which have songs you can stream in the post, by going here. Now to start off, here’s some info and links you will find useful if you’re attending Maryland Deathfest XII.

Maryland Deathfest’s official website: MarylandDeathfest.com
MDF’s official Facebook: Facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest
MDF’s official Twitter: @mddeathfest
MDF’s official Instagram: @marylanddeathfest

I put together these handy full schedules and band running orders for each day of the fest (they load quick so bookmark them on your phone).

Thursday: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday
Friday: http://bit.ly/mdffriday
Saturday: http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday
Sunday: http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)

MDF Edison Lot entrance address: 545 N High St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore SoundStage address: 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Rams Head Live Thurs & Sun address: 20 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Rams Head Live Fri & Sat address: 7 Frederick St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Sidebar address: 218 E Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Ottobar address: 2549 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218

Note that Rams Head Live will be using the back entrance on Friday and Saturday. This is because the front entrance to Rams Head Live is in the Power Plant area and it will have its own cover charge on Friday and Saturday night. To avoid that fee, use the back entrance (address listed above).

I put together this custom Google map that will show you all kinds of info such as all the venues involved, local record stores of note and where to get beer, cigarettes and food while you’re in Baltimore too. Just click the map image below to use the map.

Tickets

Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Edison Lot will have tickets available at the door all through the weekend, it is very unlikely the Edison Lot will sell out. You can get tickets at the door or order them online (and pick them up at will call) by going here, however online orders close at 2pm Wednesday.

All four days at Rams Head Live are completely sold out as well as all three days at the Baltimore SoundStage. If you’re determined to find tickets to these sold out parts of MDF I highly recommend using the Maryland Deathfest official forum’s ticket exchange thread which you can find here. If that doesn’t work you can try looking at the official Facebook event page (here) for people posting there as well.

The Wednesday pre-fest show at the Ottobar has tickets available here although the last I heard there were less than 50 left so this could sell out at any point. The pre-fest show will include a screening of the Welcome To Deathfest documentary, filmed during last year’s Maryland Deathfest. Unlike previous MDF movies this one focuses more on the people running Deathfest, and the fans and bands attending, than the actual live performances of bands. Please note that the Ottobar is not walking distance from the other festival locations this year. If you don’t have a car you’ll have to take a cab.

There are no advance parking tickets being sold this year, and overnight parking in the lots is not permitted this year either as the lot closes at 1am. You can park in the lot adjacent to MDF for $10 a day, although if it becomes full and you park on the street or in another lot nearby you will most likely have to pay a parking meter. The meters in Baltimore usually accept credit cards.

50 copies of the silk screened poster below will be for sale at the Ottobar Pre-Fest show on Wednesday.

New Info For This Year

This year the Sonar venue, now dubbed the Paparazzi Nightclub, will have nothing to do with the festival. The main festival grounds with the big outdoor stages and headlining acts will be in the lot that served as the main parking lot for last year’s fest. There will again be bands, mostly hardcore and grind, playing at the Baltimore SoundStage on Friday through Sunday. You may recall Baroness scheduling a tour date at Rams Head Live during last year’s MDF. That won’t be an issue this year as Rams Head has become the late night venue for Friday through Sunday, and the sole venue hosting bands on the first day of MDF. In addition, the Sidebar had several bands playing unofficial side-shows last year while this year they will be hosting several bands as part of Maryland Deathfest. You can get into the Sidebar to see any of these bands for free while MDF is running.

There will be a shaded area with several picnic tables for people to rest their legs at somewhere in between the two main stages at the Edison Lot.

Backpacks are permitted at all venues however if you enter Rams Head Live with a backpack you will have to leave it at the coat check. I am assuming this will cost a few dollars, probably not more than $5.

It has been suggested by MDF staff that if you’re posting to Twitter and/or Instagram that you use the hashtag #marylanddeathfest in your posts

There will be a few bands doing meet & greets at MDF and it does not cost extra to participate, though you will probably have to stand in line some. The schedule for this hasn’t been released yet but I will post it when it becomes available. So far the confirmed bands for the meet & greets are: At the Gates, Candlemass, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Taake, Sólstafir and Asphyx. There may be more bands added to that list as well.

Good To Know For Every Year

BRING AND WEAR EAR PLUGS

Re-entry is OK once you get your wristband. Wear comfortable shoes, sunglasses and try to bring a cheap parka in case it rains. You’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking so dress accordingly. Maryland can get very hot and humid this time of year so be careful wearing all black and drinking and moshing in the sun all day, stay hydrated. Crowd surfing is very much tolerated at MDF so if you don’t like being kicked in the head repeatedly, don’t get up front. Also, bring some sunscreen, not only will it keep you from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded! Cameras, including DSLR cameras, are permitted and you can shoot video too, however be aware that the closer you get to the stage the more rowdy the crowd can get, including moshing, circle pits and crowd surfers. At Maryland Deathfest pretty much every band will start a mosh pit, even more “laid back” bands that you wouldn’t expect this from like say Agalloch. The guy tearing it up in the mosh pit and wearing a full body chicken suit is known locally as the Chicken Man. He’s a local legend and comes to tons of the area’s metal shows to get mosh pits started and keep them going. He’s a real trooper and pretty friendly if you want to talk to him.

Bring cash! There will be a ton of vendors with tons of rare and obscure vinyl, CDs, merch, patches and all kinds of other stuff. There will be ATMs on site but I’m sure they will have long lines and shitty service fees so stop by the bank before you head up. Some of the stuff you’ll see will be Maryland Deathfest exclusives, and some of it will just be so rare you’ll probably never find it anywhere again anyways. Maryland Deathfest will have a booth with its own merch for sale at the festival (see it here) including t-shirts, pullover hoodies and women’s tanks. Preorders are now closed for the official MDF merch. This year MDF has a couple designs that incorporate some of Baltimore’s culture such as an Edgar Allan Poe mash up design and a “metal” crab design, as well as more traditional designs with zombies and such. Warlord Clothing will have a limited edition silk screen poster again this year that will be available for purchase at their booth (shown below). There is also a brand new book out by Jason Netherton (of Misery Index and ex-Dying Fetus) titled Extremity Retained: Notes From The Death Metal Underground which is a 480 page book on the history of death metal as told by dozens of the musicians themselves. The list of contributors is too long to list here but you can check out the details (and preorder it for MDF pick up) by going here. The book will be available for purchase at the Handshake Inc booth.

Here is the list of non-food vendors:

Acid Queen Jewelry, Bazillion Points, Black Mess, Century Media Records, ChopoBrujos, Crucial Blast Records, Dave’s Metal, Deathgasm Records, Decibel Magazine, Deepsend Records, The End Records, Five Point Records, F.O.A.D. Records, Forever Plagued Records, Handshake Inc., Haunted Hotel, Hell’s Headbangers, Helveta Vyotlag, Hype Ignition Printing, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Largactyl Records, Lock and Shock, Mexico Steel, Old Cemetery Records, Pizza Party Printing, Relapse Records, Salvation Distro, Season Of Mist Records, Sevared Records, Sunflower Glass Company, Unholy Anarchy Records, Useless Christ Records, Utterly Somber Creations, Vienna Music Exchange and Warlord Clothing.

Bands often bring their own merch to Maryland Deathfest as well. Popular bands, or just those making a rare appearance, can and will often sell out of their items early. Some bands will have their merch at the same booth selling all the official Maryland Deathfest gear. Many bands are often playing MDF as part of a tour and will take their merch with them after the day they play so check back each day for new arrivals (and if you see something from a band that you want, don’t wait, get it while it’s there). Other bands will have their own merch tables set up and a few others will have their merch available at their record label’s booth (assuming their label has a booth of course). There are always a few MDF exclusive items. I don’t know what they will all be (I’ll walk around and post photos of them though so be sure to follow DCHM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) however I’ll add updates at the end of this post as I find that information out. For now I can tell you that both Necros Christos and The Ruins Of Beverast will have exclusive MDF shirts for sale, which you can see below.

And this year there will also be free copies of the black & white official Maryland Deathfest Program found near the entrance. The booklet features bios of the bands playing this year’s Deathfest, a map of the venues, a schedule and Black Mess Records’ guide to Baltimore. It makes for some good reading if you’ve got a few minutes of down time. You can see what the cover looks like below so keep an eye out for it.

There is also plenty of on-site food at Maryland Deathfest. I highly recommend Zombie BBQ but there’s plenty of options for everyone including various ethnic, vegetarian and vegan options as well. If that’s not enough be sure to check the custom Google map I made (at the top of this post) which includes stuff outside the festival grounds like restaurants, record stores, liquor stores and convenience stores.

Updates

I’ll be adding updates to this post throughout the fest once it starts. Expect to see photos of food vendor prices as well as images of exclusive merch. Be sure to check back here before you head to Maryland Deathfest to help you get an idea of what to expect, and of course you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which I’ll be updating from my phone.

The most metal seamstresses at Kylla Custom Rock Wear will have 10 unique handmade MDF vests for sale at the official Maryland Deathfest merch booth. They look pretty bad ass (and will be available in sizes S – XL). They’ll even sew on any patches you buy at MDF onto the vest for you if you purchase one, how fucking cool is that? More details when you click on the below image.

Relapse Records will have two booths with merch (one at the Edison lot, one at the SoundStage) and they’ve released the short video below showcasing their wares at MDF.

I saw Ulcerate on Wednesday night and I shot a photo of their set list which you can view here if you’d like a preview of what they may be playing Sunday. They were incredible!

Unfortunately both Aeternus and Mitochondrion could not get into the US so they will not be playing MDF. Bolzer will be playing an additional set Friday (presumably during the time Aeternus would have played) at Rams Head Live. For more details read the official statement by Maryland Deathfest here.

MDF has posted details about meet & greets, which reads as follows:

Signs up for Meet & Greets start Saturday morning at the MDF Merch Tent (Edison Lot) when gates open (Sat, 11am & Sun 12pm)
At the Gates: Sign up @ 11am, Saturday for 2-3pm Meet & Greet
My Dying Bride & Uncle Acid: Sign up Sunday @ 12pm, 5-6pm Meet & Greet

Signings at the Century Media Tent (Edison Lot)
At the Gates – 7-8pm Friday
Asphyx- 4-5pm Saturday

Candlemass and Solstafir will be taking part in the Meet & Greet – stay tuned for specific times.

Below is a photo of the food menu at Rams Head Live. Below that are photos of the beer selection (I highly recommend the Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, the one with the deer on the tap). All beers at RHL, from cheap beer to craft, are the same price, $7. So don’t think buying a Bud Light saves you any cash, get something good!



Maryland Deathfest also has a few more items for sale at their merch booth that doesn’t including a beanie hat and a Baltimore Ravens parody shirt, check them out below.

Below are photos I shot at the Edison Lot of beer and food menus and prices. Note that a 12oz can of beer costs the same as a 16oz cup.




Here’s photos of some more exclusive merch at MDF for the bands Dark Angel, At The Gates and Sacrifice.

Here are the food and alcohol prices for the Baltimore SoundStage venue. The craft beers are only available at the bar to the left of the main stage. It should be noted that the Snake Dog IPA is being sold at the SoundStage for $8 but the main Edison lot has it for just $6.

Review of Aruagint by Sarke

Band: Sarke
Album: Aruagint
Release Date: 20 September 2013
Record Label: Indie Recordings
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 7:45 Saturday at Edison Lot A

Cover of Aruagint by Sarke

Maryland Deathfest XII starts next week! Our annual Maryland Deathfest Survival Guide will be up soon but leading up to the big post we’ve put together some reviews of albums by some of the less well known bands playing Deathfest this year that you will not want to miss seeing live. These posts have a lot of background on the bands to help you become an expert on them before you see them, and of course there’s a few songs at the end of the post that you can stream to get acquainted with the bands too. This is our fourth and final review but we’ve covered at least one band playing each day on the big outdoor Edison Lot stages (the main festival stages that will not sell out). You can check out the rest of our MDF XII coverage here but until then take a few minutes to learn why you shouldn’t miss Sarke if you’re at Deathfest on Saturday.

If you’ve heard only one thing about the Norwegian band Sarke you’ve probably heard that the band features Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone on vocals. This is true and since Darkthrone refuses to play live shows seeing Sarke at Maryland Deathfest is a rare chance to see one of Darkthrone’s two members in a live setting. What most people don’t know about Sarke though is that the band is actually the solo project of a guy named Sarke (his real name is Thomas Berglie). Sarke, the musician, is best known for being the drummer of Khold though he’s also the drummer for the (very underrated) black metal band Tulus. On the first Sarke album, Vorunah, he played all instruments aside from the vocals that Nocturno Culto recorded. These days Sarke only plays bass and has brought in other musicians to fill out the band’s line up, though he continues to write all of the band’s lyrics as well. While not as big of names as Nocturno Culto, the other members come from bands like Borknagar, Ihsahn and Lunaris, so the band as a whole has quite the resume.

As far as Sarke’s actual sound goes, they’re often described as black/thrash metal but that’s a bit off as they don’t sound much like the standard bands of that style such as Aura Noir or Absu. Sarke is slower than most thrash bands and sound something akin to older bands like Venom, Motörhead and Celtic Frost combined with a primitive style of early 90’s Norwegian black metal. The first two Sarke albums are a bit more thrashy than Aruagint but what their latest album lacks in overall speed it makes up for in coldness. This sense of coldness isn’t just the chill of the Norwegian winds that permeates their sound but also emotional coldness, neither happy nor sad, just empty. We’ve gotten this sense of cold from many straight up black metal bands over the years but Sarke is different, they have a certain groove to their sound. Calm and calculated they often raise the tempo to breathe life into a song when it is needed, such as on the track “Icon Usurper” where they use this technique perfectly. The band does a good job of keeping a sense of tension throughout the album and Nocturno Culto’s voice has no major effects done to it. The recording itself has the band sounding good without being overproduced. You can hear each instrument distinctly and the keyboards are in the background where they should be, but you’ll find no flashy studio tricks here. The song “Ugly” with its chorus line of “Cause I’m ugly/Ugly as Hell” and punkish main riff brings a bit of that dark punk vibe that Darkthrone has been doing lately and Nocturno Culto seems perfect for this song in particular.

Sarke isn’t the most technical band by any means but they do come up with some pretty fun grooves, combined with that sense of coldness, that makes it just plain fun to listen to them jam. Their songs are well thought out though and every note sounds like it is right where it should be. Their studio sound comes across as very rehearsed so I’m guessing they’ll be pretty tight when they play Deathfest. It will be interesting to see what kind of performance they put on live as Nocturno Culto doesn’t appear to be a very wild front man in most of the live footage I’ve seen of them, however he does seem to get more energy from the crowd depending on how energetic they are. This will be Sarke’s first ever live performance in the US so let’s hope everyone is as psyched to see them on Saturday as I am. Be sure to check out the following songs from Aruagint and start getting psyched for Maryland Deathfest XII next week!

Salvation:

Icon Usurper:

The Drunken Priest (live):

Review of Svartir Sandar by Sólstafir

Band: Sólstafir
Album: Svartir Sandar
Release Date: 14 October 2011
Record Label: Season Of Mist
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 5:55pm Friday at Edison Lot A

Cover of Svartir Sandar by Sólstafir

Here’s our third review in our series of album reviews leading up to Maryland Deathfest XII. These reviews are intended to help you get familiar with some of the bands you might not know about, but definitely don’t want to miss seeing, at this year’s Deathfest. They’re more than just album reviews though as they also shed some info on the band’s history and background. So enjoy this post about Sólstafir before they play both MDF and Empire in the coming week. This post was written by Tal and you can read more of her writing on her personal blog here. Be sure to stream the tunes at the end of this post too!

I was asked to write about “relatively unknown” bands playing Maryland Deathfest XII, but Sólstafir is actually not that unknown… unless you live on our side of the Atlantic Ocean. The band climbed the charts in Europe with their 2011 album Svartir Sandar, and “Fjara,” the single from that album, actually made it to #1 on the singles charts in Iceland, their home country. They’ve never appeared in the US before, though, and are still rather underground here.

Sólstafir’s sound is as if Sigur Rós (an Icelandic post-rock band) decided to play black metal, and threw in some chugging stoner riffs too, without abandoning haunting instrumental passages and the occasional dreamy vocals. The band itself defies any attempt to categorize, calling themselves “Epic Rock N Roll” and “New Wave Metal” (according to their Facebook page). They include Abba and Thin Lizzy among their musical favorites, and can often be seen sporting cowboy hats and boots.

The band was formed by Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (guitar and vocals), Halldór Einarsson (bass) and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason (drums) in 1995 and recorded two demos that year; one of them, Till Valhallar, was later re-released in 2002. Halldór left before the recording of the band’s debut album and was replaced by Svavar Austmann on bass. Although recording of their debut album Í Blóði og Anda started in 1999, the album wasn’t released until 2002; there were so many difficulties that the band “truly believed they were cursed” – everything from a break-in at the studio to 90% of their CDs being shattered in a car crash on the German Autobahn (source). Around the same time they recruited a second guitar player, Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson, to join them as they started playing live shows.

Their 2011 release Svartir Sandar met with critical acclaim in Europe. Svartir Sandar, which means “black sands,” is a double album of otherworldly guitars; hoarse, anguished vocals; and the occasional plunge into black metal fury or chugging riffage. One of the most distinctive aspects of the album is the vocals, which range from soft, ethereal singing to heartbroken screaming, as though through sobs – it’s a very emotional, stormy listen. Their guitar tone is also unique – although it’s sometimes very distorted, much of the time it’s quite clear and raw-sounding.

The first part of the album, subtitled Andvari, is a post-metal journey through soundscapes of loneliness, with layers of long, resonating guitar notes leading into heavier, riffier segments. I really adore the first track, “Ljós í Stormi” (“Light in the Storm”), from the sweeping, desolate guitar notes that start it off, to the distraught vocals, the barrage of drumming and the dreamy, uplifting guitars that rise through the storm like the name suggests. “Fjara” is another obvious favorite, with its catchy vocal melody that draws the listener from quiet grief into intense anguish, accompanied by flowing guitar and piano, with just a hint of discord giving them depth. If you really want to experience heartbreak, watch the video for the song at the end of this post.

The second part of the album, subtitled Gola, is quieter, with a more consistent rock rhythm and dreamy guitar passages, giving it more of a prog rock feel. My favorite piece is “Stormfari” (“Storm Wanderer”) not the least because it samples an Icelandic weather report (which starts in its intro, “Stinningskaldi” [“Strong Wind”]). I can’t understand more than that it seems to be talking about storms over the sea, but, accompanied by whirring electronic sounds and then dramatic guitar, it sets a mood of just barely contained danger for the song. Then the song launches into rocking, heavily distorted riffs and hoarse vocals that continue the sense of a building storm, before ending just as quickly as an August thunderstorm with a moment of atmospheric melody and a final distant crash. It’s the shortest song on the second half of Svartir Sandar; most of the others are 8 to 10 minute explorations of desolation and melancholy, though not without lovely atmospheric guitar, choirs and some softer vocals giving them a sense of light as well.

In 2013, Sólstafir re-released their debut album, Í Blóði Og Anda (In Blood and Spirit, originally released in 2002). Going from Svartir Sandar to Í Blóði Og Anda, it feels like an entirely different band – faster, harsher, with angrier vocals – but if you listen closely, you can hear the atmospheric soundscapes and prog/post-metal leanings in there as well. Behind the punkish screams that dominate most of the album, the frenzies of blast beats, fuzzy black metal guitar tone and moments so distorted they sound like white noise, there are long waves of atmospheric guitar or lovely acoustic guitar or piano interludes. Even back in 2002, the band seems to have displayed their unwillingness to be restricted to any one genre – one of the most accessible songs on the album, “Bitch in Black,” wanders from a gothic beginning with clean vocals (done by guest vocalist Kola Krauze of Dark Heresy) that drip heavy-mascara darkness, to tremolo-y black metal guitar work, to rocking riffs disguised in black metal techniques, followed by grotesque growled vocals, and then back again. Fortunately for us, Sólstafir can’t seem to make a simple song or stick to one genre.

Sólstafir will generally throw in enough groovy riffs and lovely melodies, too, for there to be something appealing for almost any metal head. For the stoner metal aficionados, check out “Love is the Devil” but prepare to be possibly disturbed by the video. For those who want aching proggy soundscapes check out “Fjara.” And for something of a mix, try these three tracks from Gola – the dreamy “Draumfari,” which makes me think of flying through clouds, plus the raging storm of “Stinningskaldi” and “Stormfari.” And if that’s not enough, you can even listen to Sólstafir on Bandcamp.

In late May, Sólstafir will swing through the area on their first North American tour before heading to the European summer festival circuit. They’ll actually make two stops in our area, so even if you aren’t headed to Deathfest, you can catch them at Empire in Springfield, Virginia on May 19 (with Junius from Boston opening for them). If you are headed to Deathfest, check Sólstafir out at 5:55pm on Friday on the outdoor Edison Lot stage A for a taste of their atmospheric wanderings and rock ‘n’ roll groove.

Oh, and if you really have to know, Sólstafir means “crepuscular rays” in Icelandic – you know, those rays of sunlight that sometimes seem to radiate through the clouds.

Fjara:

Stormfari:

Pale Rider (live):

Review of Deathwomb Catechesis by Pseudogod

Band: Pseudogod
Album: Deathwomb Catechesis
Release Date: 24 April 2012
Record Label: KVLT
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 3:40pm Sunday at Edison Lot B

Cover of Deathwomb Catechesis by Pseudogod

Here’s our second album review in our series highlighting some of the less famous, but must see, bands at Maryland Deathfest XII. These reviews feature more background about the bands than our normal album reviews and hopefully they’ll convince you to check these less known acts out at this year’s Deathfest. So read about Pseudogod, the final band added to the Maryland Deathfest XII line up (besides fill-in bands replacing cancellations) and be sure to stream their tracks at the end of the post to hear them for yourself.

The 2014 edition of Maryland Deathfest has no shortage of rare appearances by obscure metal bands from around the world. One of the more exotic bands this year is Pseudogod, a blackened death metal band from Russia. Unlike some of the (relatively) more famous Russian metal bands, such as Arkona and Korrozia Metalla, they don’t originate in the large city of Moscow. Pseudogod’s home is over 700 miles east in a city known as Perm located at the feet of the Ural Mountains. You may never get another chance in your lifetime to see a band from this region. So are they actually worth seeing at Maryland Deathfest? To put it bluntly, I think you’d be a fool to miss them if you’re going to be at Deathfest on Sunday.

Pseudogod was formed in 2004 but they had only released a demo and several splits until their only full length album, Deathwomb Catechesis, was released in 2012. The songs on Deathwomb Catechesis are punishing and exploding with riffs that will surely get the mosh pits at Deathfest moving. The band’s sound is a mix of black and death metal which makes some sense because half of their members come from a raw black metal band named Groth and the others from a brutal death metal band called Act Of God. Pseudogod’s guitar tone is certainly more black metal but the pummeling percussive aggression comes from death metal. The songs are almost relentless in their delivery of blast beats but several songs do have moments where they turn down the intensity and they show their range with slower, simple riffs that keep the setting dark but let you catch your breath. They make the most of these lulls by drawing you in with catchy rhythms only to have you jarred back into submission when the beating suddenly starts again.

The vocals throughout the album are coarse and guttural with thick reverb added to them in studio to make vocalist I.S.K.H.’s voice sound distant and haunting. Lyrically the songs are fairly standard Satanic fare focusing more on the mystical side of things such as prayers for “Malignant spears/To the womb of god!” The lyrics are primarily in English though one song on the album, “Encarnación del mal,” is written entirely in Spanish. You probably wouldn’t even notice this at first because of the growled vocals.

Pseudogod used to wear corpse paint during live performances but they seem to have stopped doing that at some point it appears, however they still wear upside down crosses and lots of leather on stage. Most of the live footage I’ve seen of them is at smaller bars and club venues, their performance at Maryland Deathfest might be one of the biggest stages they’ve ever played on. They go on fairly early Sunday, at 3:40pm on the Edison Lot’s outdoor stage B, but you should make time to catch them because you really don’t want to miss this rare chance to see them perform live.

Azazel:

Encarnación del mal:

The Seraphim Of Ultimate Void (live):

Photos of Black Label Society at the Fillmore Silver Spring

So after a miscommunication about my photo pass on Sunday, May 4th, 2014, I finally got to photograph the final band of the Revolver Golden Gods Tour’s stop at the Fillmore Silver Spring. I’m not going to do a whole review of the show here, though it was pretty fun. Guitar solos and pinch harmonics (those high pitch squeals you hear) were in high abundance but the band slowed it down some for a few songs as well. “In This River,” a tribute to Dimebag Darrell that had Zakk Wylde putting down his guitar and playing a piano that was brought on stage, was a nice lull in the energy that most of the other songs had. I’ve always been a much bigger fan of Zakk’s work with Ozzy Osbourne, but regardless of who he’s playing with the man can shred live, as evidenced by the extended guitar solo that lasted so long you could have chugged a beer between its start and finish. And did I mention the excellent lighting? What a fun band to not only photograph but just see lit up so well on stage. In all it was a really fun show, I just wish I had gotten into the venue early enough to catch Down, but that was beyond my control, unfortunately. You can check out some of my favorite photos that I shot at the show below, click on them to see them larger if you’d like, or just click here to view the entire set.

Black Label Society at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society

John DeServio of Black Label Society

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society

May 4, 2014 Black Label Society set list

The set list that Black Label Society played was:

Intro———————————————-
My Dying Time
Godspeed Hell Bound
Destruction Overdrive
——————————————————
The Rose Petalled Garden
Heart Of Darkness
Intro———————————————-
Overlord
Damn The Flood
-solo-
Parade Of The Dead
Fields Of Unforgiveness
——————————————————
Angel Of Mercy
In This River
Intro———————————————-
The Blessed Hellride
Suicide Messiah
Intro———————————————-
Concrete Jungle
Stillborn

Review of With Hearts Toward None by Mgła

Band: Mgła
Album: With Hearts Toward None
Release Date: 28 February 2012
Record Label: Northern Heritage Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 3:45pm Friday at Edison Lot B

Cover of With Hearts Toward None by Mgła

It’s already May and that means it’s almost time for the area’s biggest metal event of the year, Maryland Deathfest! Soon I’ll be posting the annual Maryland Deathfest Survival Guide but to get our MDF coverage started a little earlier this year we’ll be reviewing the latest albums by some bands playing MDF that aren’t the big headliner acts but are smaller bands you won’t want to miss. These reviews will cover a bit more background about these more obscure acts in their reviews and hopefully they’ll convince you to get into their music before heading to Maryland Deathfest XII. Sometimes at Deathfest bands come over that are a bit past their primes but Mgła is a band hitting their stride right now. Tal wrote this review and as always you can read more of her material on her own personal blog here. Be sure to stream the songs at the end of this post and start getting psyched for Maryland Deathfest XII!

Mgła is pronounced “mgwah” and means “fog” in Polish.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what they actually are – a black metal band from Kraków, Poland, known in underground circles for their melodic grooves, which don’t get in the way at all of being dark and Satanic. They were solely a studio act for the first twelve years of their existence, but have recently begun to perform live shows, and we’ll be lucky enough to see them appear at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, their first ever US appearance.

Mgła consists of Mikołaj “M.” Żentara on guitar, bass and vocals and Maciej “Darkside” Kowalski on drums, both of whom are also in the black metal band Kriegsmaschine (which is a bit heavier and less melodic than Mgła). Mgla was something of a studio side project for these guys, but the two bands switched roles in 2012. The band explained on their Facebook page (here), “Primary reason for playing live is will to perform music in complete band setting. Attempt was made after Kriegsmaschine essentially became a studio project; roles switched as KSM used to operate as ‘band’ and Mgła as ‘project’.” Since starting to tour, Mgła has found “much higher interest that anticipated” in their live shows.

This is undoubtedly partly due to their 2012 release With Hearts Toward None, which was enthusiastically welcomed by the underground black metal community. The band weaves together melodic leads, cascades of atmospheric guitars, blasting drums and crushingly evil growls into a mind-bending juxtaposition of beauty and light with darkness and annihilation. The album really gets good around the IIIrd and IVth track (the tracks don’t have unique names, but are just identified with Roman numerals after the album name), when the guitars get really groovy, without losing the atmospheric feel. Some may find it repetitive, but I could listen to these riffs wash over me all day. I also found myself frequently noticing the cymbals; they’re very distinct and Darkside uses them to create some unusual rhythms.

While there are some more aggressive songs on the album, such as VI and VII, which feature some segments of faster, driving guitars, most of the songs have gentler, flowing guitar work that contrasts strangely with the dark subject matter embodied in the lyrics. The atmospheric guitar work, which often makes me think of sheets of falling rain, isn’t quite calming since it’s generally accompanied by battering drums, raspy growled vocals or ominous rumbling bass. But it has a hopeful, upward momentum that’s at odds with what the band says in their lyrics. At first I thought this reflected a certain Satanic faith in the individual, which is what the first track describes:

I shall erect myself over transience
I shall ascend over flesh
Steadfastly tearing through aether
I shall rise to the beyond
I shall reveal heights
not yet imagined
I shall rewrite Summa de homine
I shall speak with tongues of angels
And I shall burn with pure light

In “III,” the contrast between music and lyrics is starker, as the lyrics describe a world of darkness and ruin, covered in gray ash and despair, and yet the guitars seem filled with light and hope. There was a ray of hope in the lyrics with the lines, “And you shall know perdition/And it will set you free.” By “VI,” though, this hope is no more; the end of the song calls for the day “Where all flesh dies/that moves upon the earth/And this rotten cesspool/is swept clean.” Gone is the supreme confidence in the self of the first song; nothing is worth saving. It’s like the worst moments of depression, when there is absolutely no point to anything. The last track seems to actually act out this nihilistic wish in a storm of destruction; the ten-minute song finishes with a couple of instrumental minutes, where the drums suddenly go into a frenzy about a minute from the end, faster and faster, the storm overtaking us, and waves of atmospheric guitars inexorably wash over us, until finally the guitar fades out as all is destroyed. I suppose to some the end of the world is beautiful.

Contradictions are inherent in almost everything in existence, though, and the tension created thereby makes the music more interesting – the melodic grooves are all the more enjoyable for being presented alongside loathing for society, humanity and existence.

Your chance to see Mgła rain annihilation live will be on Friday, May 23rd at 3:45pm at the Edison Lot’s outdoor stage B. They’ll probably also play material from their previous releases, which include one other full-length, Groza (2008) and several EPs. Based on YouTube videos and the band’s own comments, you can expect a very simple stage show. The band appears in leather jackets over hooded sweatshirts, grim but not overly theatrical, and the lighting is atmospheric but unvarying, evoking the fog their name refers to. There are no stage antics – in fact, hardly any movement at all. The band has commented (here), “Presentation of Mgła live is simple to the point of unattractive. We do not use any symbolism or other ‘hints’ how to interpret as most natural response is the most welcome. Everyone is encouraged to think for themselves.” A very Satanist approach, actually. And in fact, their appearance seems to create just the right amount of atmosphere for getting into the dark mood of their music, without distracting at all from experiencing the music itself.

Mgła was in fact the band that convinced me that I should attend Maryland Deathfest this year, so I hope you’ll join me as they bring down the end of the world on May 23rd. Even if you’re not a diehard black metal fan, their melodic grooves should get you headbanging.

With Hearts Toward None III:

With Hearts Toward None VII:

With Hearts Toward None I (live):

Ghost ticket give away

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

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

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

Ghost – Year Zero

Ghost – Ritual

King Dude – Fear Is All You Know