Maryland Deathfest XIII Survival Guide

This Thursday is the start of another Maryland Deathfest! This is the thirteenth year running for the festival and it continues to expand and evolve. This post will help you get through MDF XIII 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. To start off, here’s some info and links you will find useful if you’re attending Maryland Deathfest XIII.

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

MDF has made an iCal feed for the schedule that will work in Google Calendar, iCalendar or Outlook calendar. More info on that here.

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 (Pre-Fest only)

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 inside 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 and use the menu on the left side to select and toggle different locations.

Tickets

Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Edison Lot (where the main stages are) will have tickets available at the door all through the weekend, the Edison Lot will not sell out. You can get tickets at the door or order them online (and pick them up at will call) by going here. As of this writing, Friday night at Rams Head Live has not sold out yet either. Tickets are $25 and the bands that night are Aeternus, Darkened Nocturne Slaughtercult, Drawn And Quartered and Vattnet Viskar.

The other three nights at Rams Head, and all four days at the Soundstage are sold out. If you’re determined to find tickets to these sold out parts of MDF, or need to sell your tickets last minute in a pinch, 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 about tickets there as well.

The Wednesday pre-fest show at the Ottobar has tickets available here and you can see that show’s line up by going to the Facebook event page for it here. 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 or use Uber.

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 (it cost $10 a day last year, not sure what the cost is this year), although if the lot 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.

New Info For This Year

The set up for this year’s Maryland Deathfest should be pretty similar to last year’s, however there are some improvements this year.

There will be official Maryland Deathfest merch sold at all of the venues this year.

Several coolers with free water will be located near the Maryland Deathfest merch tent in the Edison Lot. They will be filled throughout the weekend so if you don’t want to pay for bottled water you can still get some water to cool off.

There will be lockers and cell phone charging stations at the Edison Lot as well. They can be used with a debit/credit card (not sure on the cost per day/hour yet though). MDF organizers have said that “Each locker will have charging cables compatible with most smart phones” which I would guess means iPhones and anything using a micro USB (like most Android phones).

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. Also, bring some sunscreen, not only will it keep you from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded! 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. There is a free Maryland Deathfest program available near the entrance of all the venues, it includes bios on every band playing (and I even wrote a few of them) as well as other useful into too. 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. You can bring in bags and backpacks, but they are subject to search. Note that if you bring a backpack to Rams Head Live they will have you check it at the coat check, which will probably cost $5 or less. There are picnic tables in a shaded area that you can rest in at the Edison Lot. Note that there is not a public Wi-Fi at Maryland Deathfest.

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 Neurosis. 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.

Merchandise

Bring cash! There will be many 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 to save yourself some time and money. 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. If you see something you want don’t hesitate, items often sell out so buy it when you see if it you want to make sure you go home with it.

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. Warlord Clothing will have a limited edition silk screen poster again this year that will be available for purchase at their booth. Some of the bands playing the fest will have their merch for sale at the official Maryland Deathfest booth, some will have merch available at their record label’s booth (assuming their label has a booth) and some bands will have their own merch booths set up in the tent at the end of the row of merchants. Different bands will set up merch at different times, there is no schedule for this, and the MDF booth will have different band merch on different days as bands arrive and leave the festival throughout the weekend. You can also get a hand made, one of a kind Maryland Deathfest vest from the official Maryland Deathfest merch booth. They’re made by Virginia based Kylla Custom Rockwear and only a few are made to be sold at MDF.

The full list of non-food vendors at the Edison Lot are: Acid Queen Jewelry, Black Mess, BWE, ChopoBrujos, Crucial Blast Records, DabLizard, Dave’s Metal, Decibel Magazine, Deepsend Records, Five Point Records, Forever Plagued Records, Gilead Media, Handshake Inc, Hells Headbangers, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Largactyl Records, Lock and Shock, Metalpeer, Mexico Steel, Necronomicharm, Nuclear Blast Records, Neurot Recordings, Pizza Party Printing, Relapse Records, Salvation Distro, Season of Mist, Sevared Records, Thrash Corner Records, Unholy Anarchy Records, Useless Christ Records, Utterly Somber, Vienna Music Exchange and Warlord Clothing.

The Salvation Distro booth will have a small number of shirts with MDF XIII written on them for the bands Primordial, Bulldozer, Aura Noir and Twilight Of The Gods. You can see those exclusive shirts here. Thanks to some comments on this post, you can also see exclusive MDF shirts for Lock Up (here) and Aeternus (here). Adversarial is also going to have an exclusive shirt (here), but it doesn’t look like it mentions MDF on it.

Usually there are other booths have some exclusive “MDF” branded band merch as well and I’ll be taking photos of this stuff and adding it to the “Updates” section at the bottom of this post once the fest starts.

Food & Drinks

There is plenty of on-site food at Maryland Deathfest. this year the on site food vendors include: a deli sandwich vendor, a fruit smoothie and coffee vendor, the all vegan HeadBangin Hot Dogs, an Indian food vendor, Pork Lord Tacos, a standard fare vendor with typical fair food like burgers, chicken tenders, gyros and fries, a Thai food vendor and Zombie BBQ. Vegan/Vegetarian options will be available at the deli sandwich vendor, Indian vendor, Thai vendor, Headbangin Hot Dogs and Zombie BBQ, and apparently a vegetarian/vegan food only vendor is going to be added as well. If that’s not enough food options for you then 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.

It should be noted that the Pratt Street Ale House, which is walking distance from most of the downtown hotels, is giving 10% off your entire check to anyone attending Maryland Deathfest this weekend. I highly recommend this place as they have some great food and some killer beers any beer snob will be excited about.

As for booze, the Edison Lot will have Budweiser, Magic Hat #9 (pale ale), Natty Boh, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stella Artois, Tröegs IPA and “Deathfest Ale” by Philadelphia based Yards Brewing. Apparently the Deathfest Ale is an English dark mild ale at about 4.3% and will be something similar to the Brawler Pugilist Style Ale that Yards already puts out. The Edison Lot will also sell standard hard liquor such as vodka, whiskey, rum and Jägermeister.

Please note that Rams Head Live and the Baltimore Soundstage will have their own food and drink menus. I’ll take photos of those and add them to the Updates section once I see them.

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.

There is some additional Maryland Deathfest merch that was not available for pre-order on the site. You can get a baseball hat, a winter beanie hat, a coaster, stickers and a blue koozie. You can see them below with their prices (click the image to see it larger).

Black metal band Tsjuder also has a MDF exclusive shirt (available in red or ash) that you can see in the photo below.

Below you can see the food and alcohol menu at the Baltimore Soundstage. Notice that the excellent Snow Pants stout from Baltimore brewery Union Craft Brewing is only $6 while the watered down stout Guiness is $8! Let’s hope they don’t run out of those! You can click the image below to see it larger.

Below is the food menu for Rams Head Live, nothing too special really. Under that you can see the different beers they have available. All the beers at Rams Head Live cost $7 EXCEPT for Natty Light and draft pours of Double D IPA, which both cost $3. That’s right, Double D IPA is the best bet at RHL this weekend! Click any of the below images to see them larger.

Note that while the below images says “cash only” this was taken at a beer garden near the restrooms in RHL. The bars do take credit/debit, the beer garden this was next to only takes cash.

Live photos of Electric Wizard

On Wednesday, April 1st of 2015, UK based stoner/doom metal band Electric Wizard played to a sold out crowd at the Baltimore Soundstage. The place was crowded, I’ve never seen it so packed before, but the band put on great show and played those super fuzzy riffs for about an hour and a half. The band had a video projection behind them for the entire show, which mostly showed clips from old exploitation films of nude blond women dancing around with psychedelic patterns superimposed. I didn’t get there in time to shoot locals Satan’s Satyrs, who are opening for the entire tour, but it was cool getting to see their bass player, Clayton Burgess, perform with Electric Wizard. The last time Electric Wizard played the US was also in Baltimore when they headlined Maryland Deathfest in 2012, and they didn’t tour the US around that show, it was a one off performance. Combine that with the fact that Electric Wizard hadn’t played in the US for many years prior to MDF due to problems getting visas, and people were hungry to see these guys in action. Considering that, it isn’t much surprise that their merch sold out very quickly, only a few Electric Wizard tote bags and black light posters remained by the end of their set and all of the t-shirts were long gone. They played a lot of their classics that night, like “Dopesmoker” and “Satanic Rites Of Drugula” and I think most people left pleased with the set list overall (you can see the entire thing here). Whether you got to attend this epic show or not, I hope you enjoy the photos I shot below. If you’d like to see more of them just go here.

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard at the Baltimore Soundstage

Electric Wizard ticket give away

Electric Wizard at Baltimore Soundstage

You may have heard that Electric Wizard is returning to Baltimore, this time to play at the Baltimore Soundstage on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015. And you may have heard that this show is already sold out. These things are true but we here at DCHM wanted to give everyone one last chance to get into this show so we’re giving away a pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what was the best sold out concert you’ve ever been to. At 5pm EST this Friday, March 20th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to enter using 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 within 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. This is your last chance to get Electric Wizard tickets so don’t put it off!

Electric Wizard last played in Baltimore in 2012 as a headliner at that year’s Maryland Deathfest. It was the UK based stoner/doom metal band’s first time in the US in many years. They’ve finally put out a new album since then, last year’s Time To Die, and now they’re finally coming back to the US for a tour. This will be our area’s only stop for the tour and as you can imagine, it sold out pretty quick. The opening band for the tour is actually a local band from our area, Satan’s Satyrs. The throwback band has become a favorite of the guys in Electric Wizard, so much so that Satan’s Satyrs bass player Clayton Burgess is now also playing bass for Electric Wizard. If you’re looking for a night of down tuned fuzzy riffs then you don’t want to miss this concert! This show is going to seriously kick some ass so check out these videos by the bands playing and leave a comment below telling me what your favorite sold out concert was!

Electric Wizard – Satanic Rites Of Drugula

Electric Wizard – Black Mass

Satan’s Satyrs – One By One (They Die)

Napalm Death + Voivod ticket give away

Napalm Death and Voivod at Baltimore SoundStage

One of the original grind bands is teaming up with one of the original Canadian thrash bands when Napalm Death and Voivod join forces for the Through Space And Grind Tour! The tour’s only stop in our area is on Saturday, January 31st at the Baltimore SoundStage and because this show is going to be so sick we’re going to give away a pair of tickets to one of you loyal DCHM readers! To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me which band on the tour you want to see the most (choose from Napalm Death, Voivod, Exhumed, Iron Reagan, Black Crown Initiate or Ringworm). At 5pm EST on Wednesday, January 28th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to enter using 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 Ticket Fly for $18.70 here.

UK grind gods Napalm Death always put on a great live show and Voivod haven’t played the area since they played Maryland Deathfest in 2011! In addition there will be sets by the Carcass inspired gorey death meta band Exhumed and crossover thrash by Richmond’s Iron Reagan, a wild band featuring the vocalist and bass player of Municipal Waste! Black Crown Initiate will be playing their proggy death metal and Cleveland based thrash-core band Ringworm will get the mosh pits started early! You’ve got to admit that’s a hell of a line up,l and for under $20 too! Now check out these videos by the bands on the bill and let me know which band you’re most excited to see on the 31st at the Baltimore SoundStage!

Napalm Death – When All Is Said And Done

Voivod – We Carry On

Exhumed – Coins Upon The Eyes

Iron Reagan – Miserable Failure

Black Crown Initiate – The Fractured One

Ringworm – Used Up Spit Out

Gwar ticket give away

Gwar at Baltimore SoundStage

The Scumdogs of the Universe known as Gwar are currently touring the world searching for their missing leader Oderus Urungus! On Saturday, December 13th they will be at the Baltimore Soundstage slaughtering recruiting new slaves and to help them with this task DCHM is giving away a free pair of tickets to this show! To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to see Gwar at this show. At 5pm EST this Friday, November 14th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. Be sure to enter using 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 Ticket Fly for $17 here.

If you’ve never seen Gwar live before then get ready for a truly religious experience! Our alien masters are known for putting on the goriest live show in the universe and you’ll be covered in blood, bile and worse by the time it’s over, a truly epic baptism by mosh pit. And while Oderus may be missing, we will get to see new Gwar members Blothar and Vulvatron in action for this final show of the tour. Before Gwar even takes the stage though there will be sets by other bands as well. Corrosion Of Conformity is a southern sludge band from North Carolina and they’re supporting their latest album, IX, with this tour. American Sharks is a high energy punk rock band from Austin that mostly writes songs about beer and partying. Now check out these awesome music videos by the bands playing the show, leave your comment letting me know why you want to go, and fear Vulvatron’s boob spew!

Gwar – Let Us Slay

Corrosion Of Conformity – Albatross

American Sharks – Overdrive

Live photos of Arch Enemy and Kreator

Thursday of last week, October 23rd, I headed up to the Baltimore SoundStage in, you guessed it, Baltimore, Maryland to catch Arch Enemy and Kreator. Starkill and Huntress also opened the show, but I couldn’t get up there in time to see them. In fact, German thrashers Kreator were already two songs into their set when I walked in. I did get a few shots during their third song though. Their set wasn’t bad, pretty typical for Kreator really. A mix of older classics with more popular modern songs thrown in. They had a ton of fog up there and their light show was very bright as usual. I ended up buying a Kreator bottle opener but the merch girl didn’t give me any change back so I ended up paying $10 for something that should have cost $3. After arguing with her about it for a few minutes (and failing to get my change back) the negative experience took me out of their show. They didn’t play their song “Flag Of Hate” either, which was a bummer, but otherwise the set was good overall.

Next up was Arch Enemy. This was the Swedish death metal band’s first US tour with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz fronting the band, and not only that, the Baltimore show was the first date of the tour. I wasn’t sure what to expect, the band’s previous vocalist, Angela Gossow, left some pretty big shoes to fill. Arch Enemy was around before Angela joined in 2000, but they really rose to prominence once she joined the band. She was one of the first women to front any kind of death metal band, and she wasn’t just up there as eye candy either, she was really good at it. She could growl and had great stage presence and it earned the band many fans over the years. I didn’t love Alissa’s performance on the new Arch Enemy record, War Eternal, her voice seemed very flat and digitally tinkered with in the studio. However this night she really was incredible live. She had excellent stage presence and great energy, fans reacted immediately to her charisma, and her voice held up really well throughout the entire set. While she is certainly the main focus while the band is on stage she still made sure to step back and let guitarists Michael Amott (of Carcass fame) and Nick Cordle (a Virginia native) draw the audience’s attention from time to time. You could tell she had studied old Arch Enemy live footage as she used many of the same moves that Angela did, but Alissa had plenty of her own too. It was really fun photographing her not only because of her model-like looks but because she was always doing something on stage and I never felt like I was getting the same shot twice. The one thing I really didn’t enjoy much was when she instructed the audience to start pogo hopping in place, something you usually see at a pop punk show, not a metal show. I have to admit I was impressed overall though, and I think Arch Enemy fans are going to love seeing Alissa front the band for some time.

Below are some of my photos from the show. You can see these photos much larger, and many I didn’t even use here including both bands’ set lists, on Flickr by going here.

Kreator:

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy:

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Maryland Deathfest XII Recap – Part 2

Part 2 of my Maryland Deathfest XII recap will cover the final two days of the festival, Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of May 2014. You can read part 1 here where I cover what happened on Thursday and Friday of the fest. If you’d like to see more of my MDF photos you can do that here.

If Friday was the black metal day of the fest I think Saturday was the thrash metal day with performances by Sacrifice, Tankard, Sarke and Dark Angel all on the schedule. However I decided to get start the third day of Maryland Deathfest with helpings of grindcore and whiskey shots at the Baltimore SoundStage. I caught the Czech band БУТ perform first and they were pretty good. Their set was short, as grind sets tend to be, but they were fun. The next band I saw was Sick/Tired from Chicago. These guys were impressive with how terrifying their sound was. The audience wasn’t exactly huge yet at the SoundStage at 3:30 in the afternoon but they still brought it anyways. After they played I took a short boozing break before heading over to see Nocturnus AD at the main grounds of the Edison Lot.

Nocturnus AD is a spin off band of a now defunct death metal band from the early Tampa Bay, Florida scene known simply as Nocturnus. I remember these guys mostly for an album their classic 1990 album The Key. Apparently a few Nocturnus members secretly copyrighted the name Nocturnus then kicked out drummer/lead vocalist Mike Browning, the only founding member left in the band. Mike Browning then formed a band called After Death and together with the members of this band they performed for us at MDF as Nocturnus AD. It appears that they knew most people wanted to hear them play songs from The Key and they played the album from start to finish then closed their set with a crowd pleasing cover of the Morbid Angel classic “Chapel Of Ghouls.”

The next band to play was the German thrash band Tankard. These guys had a lot of energy on stage and musically they are beer fueled party thrash, basically the old school version of Municipal Waste. The audience reacted well and if nothing else Tankard gave us a good excuse to cool down with a few beers during their set.

Tankard:

Sacrifice was the next band to play and I was excited to see them. This was the Toronto thrash band’s first show in the US since 1993! They had their entire line up back together and they didn’t disappoint. Sacrifice expertly played their aggressive songs and I thought that this was the show that Coroner should have given us when they performed a rather lackluster headlining set at Maryland Deathfest in 2011.

Sacrifice:

The next band to play the Edison lot was Sarke. Originally started as an eponymous solo project by the band’s bass player, they’re more known for being fronted by Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone fame. Sarke is called black/thrash but they aren’t really as fast as bands like Aura Noir and Abigail. Their sound is pretty straight forward and cold. The band didn’t play the full amount of time they were allotted but I don’t think most people minded since for their final song, after covering Celtic Frost, they did what everyone watching the show hoped they do: cover a Darkthrone song. For those who don’t know, Darkthrone refuses to play live so Nocturno Culto performing “Too Old, Too Cold” with Sarke at Maryland Deathfest is about the closest any of us will come to seeing Darkthrone live.

Sarke:

It was getting ominously dark by the time Unleashed hit the stage. One of the first death metal bands from Sweden was called Nihilist and after a few legendary demos they parted ways with Johnny Hedlund and reformed as the band Entombed. Johnny Hedlund didn’t disappear though, he quickly formed Unleashed, a death metal band that over the years has gotten more and more into viking history and mythology. I tend to think of modern Unleashed as the more authentic version of Amon Amarth. It’s not every day you get to see one of the founding Swedish death metal bands play in America and while Unleashed’s set was pretty damn good, they didn’t play anything off of their legendary debut album Where No Life Dwells, which was a bit of a bummer. I realize they want to get people into their more modern material, and it actually is really good stuff overall, but some fans only know that album and even just a one or two WNLD tunes in the set list would have been nice.

Unleashed:

Next up was Saturday’s headliner, the long awaited return of Dark Angel. The band appeared with their complete Leave Scars line up, including the Atomic Clock, Gene Hoglan behind the kit. Their set list was a good mix of songs from each of their four albums. Dark Angel really put on a great show, despite the dim stage lighting and light rain that began midway through their set. Ron Rinehart’s voice was in good form and he did well on the Don Doty era songs too. They had a lot of energy, especially for an older band, and I think they really fed off the strong audience reaction. They ripped through their final song of the night, “Perish In Flames” and I could have watched them for another hour if they’d have played that long. Dark Angel was definitely my favorite performance of Day 3 of Deathfest.

Dark Angel:

After Dark Angel played I headed over to Rams Head Live to see Schirenc. They’re named after Martin Schirenc who is also known as Don Cochino, guitarist/vocalist of the Austrian band Pungent Stench. Originally billed as The Church Of Pungent Stench they were apparently forced to change the band’s name due to a court order by other former members of Pungent Stench. Regardless, Schirenc played a set consisting solely of old Pungent Stench material. I enjoy their bizarre take on death metal which has a macabre sense of humor to it, and I recognized several songs in their set list, but with only one member there it just wasn’t the same and it felt about as authentic as watching a modern “Guns ‘N’ Roses” concert.

Pungent Stench:

I walked the block over to the Baltimore SoundStage to catch their headliner, Excruciating Terror, a grindcore band from Los Angeles. This was something of a reunion show for the band which released all of their material in the 90s. They’re also noted for being the first band that Fear Factory and Divine Heresy guitarist Dino Cazares was in, though he was not part of the line up this night. Simply put, Excruciating Terror lived up to their name. Their songs, while short, were intense and ferocious bursts of grind and their energy level was through the roof. The audience went crazy of course and after their performance I was a sweaty mess as I walked back to Rams Head Live.

Excruciating Terror:

The final band to play Maryland Deathfest XII on day three was Asphyx. They’re a death/doom metal band from The Netherlands fronted by the legendary Martin van Drunen. Their old school approach to death metal combined with their muddy riffs and Martin’s on stage charisma was a hit with the Deathfest fans. Their set list covered crowd pleasers like “We Doom You To Death” and “Death The Brutal Way” but I think the highlight for me was hearing them play their crushing song “The Rack,” an old favorite of mine. As they finished I headed back to the hotel knowing that Sunday was going to be a marathon of excellent metal that I would need my rest to make it through. We can’t have the guy who writes the MDF Survival Guide not surviving can we?

Asphyx:

I arrived at the Edison lot early enough on Sunday to catch the first band of the day, Windhand. They’re a female fronted doom metal band from Richmond that I’ve been a fan of since their days of playing basement shows. It was just awesome seeing them on that big outdoor stage with all that power behind their ultra heavy riffs. They’re definitely one of my favorite rising bands these days and their performance was one of my top favorites of all of this year’s Deathfest.

Windhand:

The next band to play was Bongripper, and instrumental band from Chicago that plays, you guessed it, stoner metal. I wasn’t really familiar with them going in but they were really great live, definitely a surprise find for me as I tend to avoid bands with names focused on drug use. They played a solid thirty minute set that didn’t seem to have any downtime between songs and Ronald Petzke’s aluminum necked EGC bass guitar really brought the heavy to their songs. At one point the Chicken Man was held up high in the crowd holding a banner that read Hippie Killer, the title of one of Bongripper’s albums.

Bongripper:

Back on stage B of the Edison lot the Portland based sludge metal band Graves At Sea took the stage. I didn’t love these guys as much as the previous two bands, they were tough acts to follow though. I didn’t think they were bad, just nothing outstanding I guess. Some people were really into them though. I ended up wandering off to buy more merch midway through their set.

Graves At Sea:

The next band to play the Edison lot was Maryland’s very own Misery Index. The local death/grind band was the first high speed band of the day and they really woke up the audience. It was great to see Jason Netherton playing with the band again, the sole founding member was absent the last time I had seen Misery Index play. He seems to have turned over much of the vocal duties to Mark Kloeppel but the band was still really tight live and as usual, very fun to watch.

Misery Index:

Next the Maryland Deathfest audience was treated with a rare appearance by Pseudogod, a blackened death metal band all the way from Perm, Russia (although Impurath of Black Witchery was filling in on bass). They took the stage covered in blood and really brought the brutality. Their set was an unforgiving aural beating which seemed extra intense in the sun’s unrelenting heat. Their devastating set closed with a cover of “Blood War III” by French black metal band Antaeus (who happened to play Maryland Deathfest in 2013).

Pseudogod:

After Pseudogod played it was time for Wrathprayer, a blacked death metal band from Chile. They were ok I guess but didn’t stand out to me that much after the intense set by Pseudogod. The three piece didn’t seem accustomed to performing on a big stage either as they didn’t move around much up there and seemed a bit awkward. I think they would have been better on a smaller stage. After four or five songs I figured I had gotten the gist of what they do and I decided to hang out in the back more and get some cold beer.

Wrathprayer:

The next band to play was the two piece black metal band Inquisition. Originally from Colombia they are now based in Seattle and they’ve become pretty popular in the past few years. However there’s a bit of controversy around them of late for possibly being racists and honestly it’s a bit ambiguous whether they are or aren’t. They have some catchy songs and the crowd seemed really into them but I hung out in the shaded picnic table area after I finished shooting them cause I’m not clear if they’re bigots and it’s really not worth my time figuring it out when I can just move on to something else.

Inquisition:

Soilent Green took the stage next and this was something of a reunion show for the band who hadn’t played together in several years. Based in New Orleans, several of their members have moved onto more famous bands such as Eyehategod, Crowbar and Goatwhore. They play a mix between sludge and death metal that comes across much more catchy than you’d probably expect that to sound. The audience went crazy for them and you could tell the band really fed off that energy.

Soilent Green:

After Soilent Green played I made one of those tough decisions you’re sometimes faced with at Deathfest. I decided to skip seeing Gorguts, who I had just seen with Carcass a month prior, in favor of heading over to the Baltimore SoundStage to see Death Toll 80k. They’re a grind band from Finland and while I didn’t really know what to expect of them I figured this was my one chance to ever see them live. My gamble payed off, they were fucking great live! Intense, brutal and fun is how I’d describe them. They were probably my favorite band of those that I saw at the SoundStage during MDF and though my feet were sore walking back to the Edison lot after their set there was no doubt in my mind that the pain was worth it.

Death Toll 80k:

It was a total shift in gears when then next band I saw was Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats from England. They play a very catchy, and fuzzy, style of 70s inspired stoner metal. This was their first US show and a lot of people had come just for the chance to see them. They were really fun live, full of energy on stage and those infectious riffs sounded great booming out of those big speakers. Even Deathfest needs a bit of down time to let everyone catch their breath and Uncle Acid was the best chill out music you could ask for.

Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats:

Next up was the Swedish band Candlemass. I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of their gothy doom sound which often has power metal elements to it. They were pretty entertaining on stage though and their new vocalist Mats Levén seemed to be a hit with the fans who were getting their first chance in years to see Candlemass perform live in the US. I ended up leaving early to try to catch Australian grind band Pneumatic Slaughter at the Sidebar. Unfortunately we were told at the door that they had dropped off the bill (I later caught up with their vocalist, who is also the vocalist of Whitehorse, and asked why they pulled out and he said they had told the MDF promoters several weeks prior that some of the members wouldn’t be able to play). A bit of a bummer but not the end of the world. I wasn’t very excited to see the doom metal turned goth band My Dying Bride headline, even if it was their first US appearance since 1997, so I headed over to Rams Head Live early.

Candlemass:

After a bit of down time New York City based Mutilation Rites played a short but sick set of black metal. The audience was pretty sparse but they still brought the heavy for the entire time they were allotted. If you missed them don’t worry, they’re playing at the Pinch in Washington DC on July 14th (more info on that here). The band was pretty tight live and handled the big stage at Rams Head Live well.

Mutilation Rites:

Next up was the first of two bands from New Zealand that I’d see this night. Diocletian plays very aggressive blackened death metal and uses a lot of medieval military style imagery as well. This band wasn’t fucking around though, they brought the punishing riffs with almost nonstop rage. Diocletian also played at the Edison lot early on Saturday before I arrived but they were given this set as a bonus because Mitochondrion couldn’t get into the country. Both of Diocletian’s guitar players were wearing Mitochondrion shirts on stage in recognition. Anyways, I ended up leaving a little early because I wanted to catch a bit of the headliner a block over at the Baltimore SoundStage.

Diocletian:

Over at the Baltimore SoundStage the legendary Brazilian thrash/hardcore band Ratos de Porão was causing a ruckus by the time I walked in! People were going crazy stage diving, crowd surfing and just losing their shit. Formed in the early 80s the band, whose name translates to Basement Rats, still has two members from those days with them, and the drummer has been there for over 20 years now too. I first became aware of this band when I was in high school because Sepultura covered their song “Crucificados Pelo Sistema” but I never figured I’d actually get the chance to see them live. While I didn’t really know most of their material it didn’t matter because it was just damn fun watching the band and the audience just go crazy together. At one point between songs their bass player requested the audience boycott the World Cup (which is taking place in Brazil right now) stating that it is just a big scam for the rich to make more money while ignoring the country’s poor. He’s probably right but this is America, we’re already boycotting soccer with our apathy toward the sport.

Ratos de Porão:

After leaving the sweaty Baltimore SoundStage with a big grin on my face I returned to Rams Head Live to see Ulcerate. The New Zealand based three piece tech death band puts out some great albums but they’re simply incredible live. Their drummer, Jamie Saint Merat, steals the show and rightly so, he very well may be the best drummer in all of metal right now. I didn’t mind missing part of their set because I had just seen them at Empire the night before Deathfest started, but even so their performance was no less jaw dropping the second time around.

Ulcerate:

Next it was time for the final band of Maryland Deathfest XII, Immolation. I felt bad for them having to play after Ulcerate, there was no way they were going to top that. The old school New York Death Metal band had a very influential album in 1991 called Dawn Of Possession and the highlight of their set for me was when they played “Those Left Behind” off of it. It seemed like the band didn’t want Deathfest to end any more than the audience did as they played right up to the 2am cut off time. Finally Maryland Deathfest XII had come to a close.

Immolation:

I can’t stress enough how much fun this year’s Maryland Deathfest was. As usual there were tons of great bands as well as metal brothers and sisters to watch them all with. Security was excellent this year, they treating fans with respect while also not escalating situations. They all deserve high fives for their good work this year. The MDF organizers will be announcing the bands for next year’s festival soon so keep your fingers crossed that your unrealistic metal concert wish list will become a reality.