Interview with Scott “Wino” Weinrich of The Obsessed

This week The Obsessed, one of the oldest metal bands from Washington DC, is releasing their first album in 23 years, Sacred. Needless to say I’m pretty excited about this so I got in contact with the band’s main man, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, and conducted this phone interview with him on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17 of 2017. We talk about the new album and he has some great stories of being in a metal band during the hey day of the harDCore scene. The interview is a bit under 17 minutes long and you can stream it by clicking the orange play button below, you can download it as an mp3 here, or you can read the full transcription below. As always my words are in bold.

Scott “Wino” Weinrich has been in a lot of bands over the years: Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan and Shrinebuilder to name a few. However he is currently leading the revived version of the Obsessed who are releasing their new album, Sacred, on Relapse Records on April 7th [get it here]. It is truly an honor to have one of the legends of not only doom metal but [also] of our area’s metal scene with me on the phone today. So to start things off Wino, can you tell me why you think the time is right for the Obsessed to release Sacred, the band’s first album in 23 years?

I’ve done some reunion shows over the years and I’ve been asked to do quite a few but nothing really felt right until me and Brian Costantino reconnected after 30 years. When we first met he was our friend and our drummer’s tech and he helped us drive on the road and stuff. After the original Obsessed folded way back when, I didn’t see him for 30 years. In that interim he learned how to play drums, quite proficiently I will add, and through one weird circumstance or another we got a chance to jam and when we got a chance to jam the magic happened and that’s when the Obsessed was truly reborn because finally the chemistry is just perfect. So really the fact that me and Brian reconnected is really fucking amazing and so I feel completely re-energized and very inspired.

Is there a reason you decided to go with Relapse to release Sacred?

They offered us a really kick ass deal. We got a really, really good deal from them. All the people at Relapse now are completely behind us. A lot of fans, a lot of friends and they offered us a slammin’ deal and they have treated us wonderfully. I’m totally, totally satisfied with the deal and I’m very excited to top off this release of Sacred they’re also re-releasing the first Obsessed record, the self titled, in a couple months and we put together a slammin’ package man. All this cool live stuff, some demos and a bunch of really cool pictures and such. I’m really happy with the label.

Cover of Sacred by The Obsessed

Cover of Sacred by The Obsessed

So how do you think the band’s sound has changed since the release of The Church Within in 1994?

Well to be honest with you, I think that Sacred is actually the best sounding record that I’ve ever done in my career thanks to Frank Marchand, he’s also known locally as the Punisher for his live sound work and stuff. But, believe it or not, the record is [recorded] all digital and I think that Frank has an amazing command of the digital realm but also the digital realm has increased to where it’s just phenomenal now. It’s a combination of the old and the new because the whole record was recorded digitally but we used a whole crazy lot of really cool old vintage equipment like, Frank had, and his studio had, an arsenal of old Les Pauls. I mean it was like an orgy of Les Pauls man. And then he also had like all these killer, old like boxes and boxes of vintage foot pedals and vintage effects pedals. He had a vintage rotating speaker and not to mention the drums. He had so many cool vintage snare drums, we picked a [different] snare drum basically for sound for the vibe. It was pretty amazing.

I saw you had that EGC guitar you pulled out, with the aluminum neck, in a few shows. Did you use that on Sacred at all?

I did use that quite a bit on Sacred actually. That was one of my favorite guitars but it’s also my go to guitar. That guitar is just nothing short of amazing. It’s completely aluminum, all the way, it’s neck through. That was given to me as a gift for some production work I did with my friends from Tennessee in a band called Navajo Witch and I must say that’s actually one of the finest gifts that I could have ever received. I love that guitar. It’s my go to guitar. That guitar has what I call a slutty neck, haha. Man I’m telling ya, I really like thin necks as far as like the depth goes. It’s got a radial neck actually. It changes a little bit as it goes along but I’d say that guitar is perfect. That guitar I nicknamed Heavy Mama because it’s actually, it’s broader and heavier than an actual real Les Paul. So I call that guitar Heavy Mama, haha.

Wino playing Heavy Mama

Wino playing Heavy Mama

Now I know the Obsessed has gone through a lot of line up change recently. What exactly is the line up on Sacred and is that also the band’s current line up?

No. God, let me tell you what’s happening to dispel any confusion. OK. We were doing Spirit Caravan for a minute, you know a year or two ago, and after we dissolved Spirit Caravan, that’s when me and Brian reconnected and we decided to call the band the Obsessed, OK. So Dave Sherman brought his gear over and basically that was the line up that we did for the Obsessed. It was me, Dave Sherman on bass and Brian Costantino on drums. Ok so that was the line up on Sacred, me Brian and Dave, right? And then OK, through the one reason or another, there’s some issues in the studio and also some issues live, we decided to part ways with Dave Sherman. So then I tried a little experiment where I re-enlisted the help of Bruce Falkinburg, the bass player from the Hidden Hand, and my fiancé at the time, Sara Seraphim, on bass and second guitar, respectively. And it was actually pretty cool, we did four or five shows that I thought were pretty fucking good but when the touring commitment came up, the reality of what a rock and roll band really is, people showed their true colors pretty quick and when Bruce asked us to replace him, Sara left. So basically, I then called my old friend Reid Raley, which is what I should have done in the first place because he’s a true road warrior and a great musician, and I’m telling you what, the chemistry right now is fantastic. The band is me, Brian Costantino and Reid Raley and that’s the way it’s going to stay. This is absolutely, in my opinion, the best line up of the Obsessed ever. The best chemistry and man I’m telling you what I’m fucking feeling psyched.

That’s great man. So who was on the album then exactly?

The album was me, Brian and Dave Sherman.

Ok cool.

But we parted ways with Dave and did our little experiment with a four piece but now we’re back to a three piece with me, Brian and Reid Raley. And Reid Raley played bass in a band called Rwake from Arkansas and he played in a band called Deadbird but then he also played with me [in the Obsessed] in 2013 and we did like four or five shows. We played Maryland Deathfest. We played Power Of The Riff in LA. We played a couple Scion showcase shows and another club show in LA so me and Reid actually have some history but he’s a fantastic bass player.

The Obsessed at Maryland Deathfest XI

The Obsessed at Maryland Deathfest XI

Ok thanks for clarifying that for me. One other question I have with the line ups is now that Dave Sherman is gone, are you guys still going to play any of the Spirit Caravan songs live or are you just going to stick to the Obsessed material?

We will eventually, probably be working in some of the Spirit Caravan material because, one thing I want to point out is, when the Obsessed was signed to Columbia Records in the 90s and we did The Church Within, we never got our second record. But the songs that were going to be on the second Obsessed record [for Columbia Records] were the songs that were the bulk of the material that became [the Spirit Caravan debut album] Jug Fulla Sun. “Lost Sun Dance,” “Melancholy Grey,” “Fear’s Machine,” “No Hope Goat Farm,” those were all Obsessed songs because of the fact that we didn’t get our second record, you know with Columbia that, when I put Spirit Caravan together those songs kind of pulled over. So we’ll be working those songs into the mix. Right now what we’re doing is our live set that’s coming up in April, we’re going to be playing about an hour and fifteen minutes and we’ll play like seven new songs of the new record and then the rest is old stuff but you can definitely count [on hearing] some Spirit Caravan stuff I mean, we’re going to be doing eventually. Eventually we’re going to be doing “Brainwashed,” “Lost Sun Dance,” “Dove-Tongued Aggressor,” and stuff like that.

The Obsessed formed in the DC area in the early 80s and I’m really curious, what was it like being in a metal band, particularly a doom/stonery kind of metal band, at the time when DC’s music scene was really dominated by the rise of the DIY punk scene.

Well it’s an interesting and good question. Right at that time that I gone down to this little club in DC called Beneath It All and pitched the manager there, he was like an outlaw biker, pitched him on the Obsessed and so we were down in this little hole in the wall in DC playing three sets a night OK? Now during that time, that’s when I met Sab Grey from Iron Cross, John Stabb from Government Issue, Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins would all come down to see us. They loved our originals but they hated the fact that we were doing punk covers but I tried to explain to them, we had to play three 45 minute sets a night so you know, we were throwing in a couple of our favorite Dead Boys songs and shit like that to try to make up the time. The bottom line is, straight up, we had to prove ourselves. We had several high profile gigs where the Obsessed, actually we supported the Dead Boys on their first reunion tour, in DC. We supported the Bad Brains in the hey day of the green red ROIR tape. You know what man we really had to prove ourselves but I think we did. I can remember one stand out moment for me is when there was this punk rock hipster bar in DC in those days called Carmichael’s. And so there was a guy who ran a record store in town, he was a punk rock kid but he also came from a metal background, and me and him connected because he heard my song “Concrete Cancer” on Metal Massacre VI and he said, “oh man that song reminds me of Captain Beyond.” So me and him struck up a friendship and he was in a band called Lethal Intent. His name was Doug Caldwell. Unfortunately he’s passed away but Doug would always call me up to get the Obsessed on punk rock shows and so on any given day we were supporting the Exploited, I remember one time Dave Grohl’s band Mission Impossible supported us when they were all like skinhead kids. We played with Faith and we played with Scream a lot. But I remember like on this one occasion we were at this club called Carmichael’s trying to gig. We were supporting Iron Cross and the PA fails. So instead of stopping or crying, I just said “fuck it, let’s go” and I just screamed out the words with no PA and we just stepped everything up a notch a little bit pretty fast. That’s when you know the singer for Iron Cross came up to me and said, “Ok that’s when I knew you guys were real.” So we definitely had to prove ourselves. You know the way I looked back then I had more of a death/glam kind of look. At any given time I would be called Eddie Van Halen or take some shit but I’ll tell you what man I was there for the music and if somebody got in my face I was ready to fight. No problem.

Haha. Now I have heard a rumor that it was none other than Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame that put you in contact with the guys in Saint Vitus. Is that true? Did he actually introduce you to that band?

He didn’t actually introduce me to the band but he did mention them to me and put the seed in my head and so when they came through and played a little club called DC Space I went down to meet them and that sort of did set the ball in motion a little bit. There were some other circumstances but yeah. Ian MacKaye was very instrumental. He told me straight up, he goes, “there’s this band on SST called Saint Vitus. You’d love ’em,” and you know eventually I would join them. Ian MacKaye was the first person ever to use the term crossover. I remember he used to work at a record store called Yesterday Is Today and I used to go next door to get my hair cut all funky from this foxy ass hair cutter chick and then I’d have a couple brews probably and then I’d go next door to the record store you know. And Ian’d be in there working and the Obsessed first record had just come out and he said to me he goes, “man, you guys are really crossing over.” He said to me, he being a vegan, he goes, “man “”Forever Midnight”” man that song’s the meat and potatoes.” Coming from Ian MacKaye, to me, that was like the ultimate fucking honor.

Hahaha. That’s pretty cool.

Man I love that guy. I see him regularly. He’s a fantastic person. Ian MacKaye, I’ll tell you right now, has never wavered from his ideals once. Never once. All these other bands, you know all these other people I’ve seen them all falter but you know what? Ian MacKaye has never wavered from his core principles once and I have nothing but ultimate respect for him.

So this is in a different direction but is there any chance of any kind of Shrinebuilder reunion at any point? Do you think maybe new material or even just some live shows?

I told Al [Cisneros] and I also told Scott Kelly that I would always be up for it if they want. It’s really up to them. There’s a little bit of… ummm… there’s a little bit of bad blood that happened there for a minute, stupidly enough over money. One thing that I don’t really have much tolerance for [is] like arrogance or greed and I kind of think that with Shrinebuilder, I think that the desire to put money in one’s pocket kind of overruled what I thought should be the real core ethics of that band but that said I told both of those cats that I’m willing to do it if they are.

Cover art for Shrinebuilder and Adrift

Cover art for Shrinebuilder and Adrift

Back around 2010 I was actually going through some really tough times and your studio album Adrift actually really helped me a lot during a low point in my life so I’d like to say thank you for that.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

It meant a lot to me actually. Do you have any plans for any future solo releases?

Actually my main focus is totally on the Obsessed right now. I’m not in any other bands or anything. I’m not in Saint Vitus you know either, but I have been working on some acoustic stuff. I’ve actually got about four or five songs and hopefully in less than a year I would like to do another acoustic record actually. Yeah. Hopefully on Relapse but we’ll see. Hey listen, thank you very much for that though. I mean that’s to me, that was a very troubled point in my life too and Adrift was kind of me really letting off steam from some problems I was having and it’s way more rewarding to me to hear somebody say that the music helped them through than you know a bag of cash on the table you know what I mean? So I’m glad it helped you.

Yeah it really did. Now in 2004 another DC area guy had you guest on an album with him. You were on Dave Grohl’s Probot album on the song “The Emerald Law.” How exactly did that collaboration come about and did you know Dave already?

Yes. I knew Dave already and like I said before like, back in the early days Dave was in this killer punk rock band called Mission Impossible and we used to refer to Dave as the Kid. Everybody knew that the Kid was the premiere fucking drummer and he was fantastic man. But anyways, Spirit Caravan, I was on tour in Europe and I got a call from my wife at the time and she said, “Listen you know. Dave Grohl’s people just got in touch with me. They’re looking for you. He sent some music to you. He wants you to do something.” So I got back into town, I got the rough tracks for “The Emerald Law.” Ok it wasn’t titled, it was just the music. It was the basic tracks. It had a guitar track, drums and bass and basically then I talked to David and he said, “I’m doing a record with all my heroes,” and let me tell you I was very, very honored to be considered that and to be considered for the record. And as I listened to the song, it was right up my alley and he said he wanted me to title it, write words for it, sing it and play some leads. So basically, at the time I was deep into my research. I was really getting into some esoteric stuff about the Emerald Tablets of Thoth and stuff. So basically I put together the words and stuff and um, we were going to do it at Dave’s house with his studio but he left his studio machine on while he was on tour for six months by accident so [he] burned it out so he said, “hey let’s meet at Inner Ear,” the Dischord studio of legend you know where everybody recorded all their shit, all the DC bands. David came down with his producer friend and basically I showed him the lyrics that I had written for the song and the title “The Emerald Law” and he liked it. So I sang it and um, came time to play the solo and he was standing in the control room just going “more, more!” like that one part in “Emerald Law” I just hold that shrieking note you know. He’s like, “yeah! yeah! yeah!” He’s like totally enthusiastic right, but the end of the song there was just something missing at the beginning. So I suddenly realized, what I say at the very beginning of the song, the speaking thing. “I do not die but awaken to the dream I lived.” That is actually real, ancient Babylonian that was transferred from cuneiform by Zecharia Sitchin. I was reading a book by Zecharia Sitchin, one of the few people who could actually translate and read cuneiform, which is Babylonian writing on stones. So that’s an actual ancient Babylonian verse there that just fit so perfectly at the beginning. I get chills when I think about it man. So I was overjoyed to do that too, and honored. I really was.

So do you have any plans to tour or at least play in the DC area to support Sacred coming up?

Yes we start our tour on April 12th and we’re going to go from coast to coast and on the way back in May we are playing in Baltimore. The 20th we’re going to be in Baltimore. But we’re also doing a listening party for Sacred and I’m going to play a short acoustic set up in Philadelphia on the day after the release on Saturday, April 8th at Kung Fu Necktie where there’s going to be a DJ and then we’re going to listen to Sacred in its entirety and we’ll have a bunch of records to sell too. The new record and all and then I’m going to play acoustic guitar for 20 to 30 minutes and then we take off on our tour.

The Obsessed at the Ottobar

So are there any bands from like the DC area or this kind of region, maybe DC, Baltimore, Virginia area that you’re a fan of?

I really like that band Cavern. I like a local band from Thurmont [Maryland] called Faith In Jane. Of course I really like Clutch.

I’ve gone through just about all of my questions here and I do thank you for your time. I do appreciate it. I’ve been running the DC based metal site for about seven, seven and a half years now and you’re one of the guys I’ve always really wanted to interview on here. You really are one of the legends of our metal scene. It’s really cool to say that you’re from our area. So one other thing. Is there anything else you’d really like to say to the fans about this new album Sacred that the Obsessed is releasing on April 7th?

Well I’d like to say thank you very much to everybody who believes in, and who has supported not only my career but this style of music and I want to thank you man for carrying the torch. I mean it’s a really beautiful thing.

Alright well thanks a lot for your time and it’s really been an honor so thank you a lot.

Alright man. This was a fun interview. Thank you.

Alright have a good one.

Bye.

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.

Recap of January 2013 Concerts

Welcome to part two of this three part series attempting to catch up on my concert reviews of all the shows I’ve been going to this winter. For this installment I’ll be covering all the metal shows I went to in January. You can read part one, which covers late November and December 2012, by clicking here. And remember, if you’d like to see more of any of the bands in the photos below, just click the image.

The first concert I went to in 2013 was when I saw Swaath on Sunday, January 6th at a new venue in Baltimore called Club K. The venue seems to normally host DJ dance nights. It is attached to a small Korean restaurant and while the space isn’t fancy, it doesn’t even have a stage, it works fine for the DIY punk, hardcore and metal shows they have started to book there. The walls are painted with neon patterns and random zebra images and there are four TVs hanging from the center of the room in the shape of a square that are tuned to some Korean TV channel. There’s a dance party style spinning ball that projects different color lights hanging from that and it never seems to turn off. The beer at the bar is pretty cheap, but nothing a beer snob would want to drink. It’s basically a dive bar mixed with an Asian dance club. Anyways, I drove up to Baltimore to Swaath play. They’re a new sludge band that is from Portland, Maine, but they weren’t the first band of the night. That was Baltimore locals Barbelith. They’re a black metal band and while they didn’t have a bass player and could be a bit tighter they had some cool songs and were pretty good overall. The second band was some hardcore band from Philadelphia named Congenital Death. I wasn’t very interested in them as I’m not much of a hardcore fan, While there are some exceptions they just weren’t unique enough for me to really get into. After they played it was time for Swaath and they didn’t disappoint. They play a sort of atmospheric sludge metal with some stoner and doom aspects thrown in too. I really enjoyed their set and it was def worth the drive up. The final band of the night was another Baltimore local, Ophidian. They weren’t bad though going on after such a strong set can be tough. Plus being a local and going on after the touring band meant a lot of people left after Swaath played. I hope I get to see them in a better setting next time.

Barbelith:

Swaath:

Ophidian:

Two nights later, Tuesday the 8th, I headed over to the Black Cat in Washington DC to check out Jucifer on the venue’s smaller back stage. I missed local openers LTW but I’m sure I’ll catch them again as they open a lot of shows these days. Jucifer is a duo made up of husband and wife Edgar Livengood and Amber Valentine. They tour around the country in their RV with no permanent address. They’re basically always on tour. They’re known for having extremely loud shows due to the wall of speakers they bring with them, which were stacked to the ceiling at the Black Cat this night. I’ve seen them play before but this set went on longer than usual, lasting around 90 minutes! Their fuzzy set went through hazy highs and rumbling lows and even had some quiet parts. You get sucked in early and after a while you just find yourself absorbed into their show as though you’re staring into the obelisk in A Space Odyssey. As a side note, I actually met my girlfriend for the first time at a Jucifer show at the Black Cat a few years back and while that wasn’t a date or something, we sort of see their annual early January shows as something of an anniversary. Because of that I decided to relax a bit at this show and I didn’t bring my camera, so I don’t have any photos of Jucifer from this show, however I’ve posted a shot I took of them at a previous show below.

Jucifer:

The following weekend I saw a DIY show at The Lab in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday the 12th. The Lab is basically a rec room for some church but it has a nice stage and it holds a decent amount of people. I missed the opening band but to my understanding they aren’t a metal band at all but play some sort of electronic loops and such. The first band I caught was Grethor, a Northern Virginia based melodic death metal band. I had seen their drummer, Anthony Rouse, play with the now defunct Orgy Of The Damned. They had some cool songs but you could tell their frontman, Marcus Lawrence, was pretty new to this as he didn’t engage the audience much spoke in almost a whisper between songs. Still, that’s something that can be worked on. The next band to play was Cammo Shorts, a grind band from Manassas, Virginia that doesn’t have a drummer. The three piece was pretty damn entertaining with lots of funny song titles such as My Cammo Shorts, Your Girlfriend’s Floor and LSD Cures Cancer. They covered the Pantera song Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills which was probably the catchiest song of their set. They were good though a real drummer instead of just programmed beats from a laptop would probably fill their sound out more. Still, they were my second favorite of the five bands I saw that night. The next band to play was Acrid, a three piece death/grind band from Hagerstown, Maryland. While they had an actual drummer these guys lacked a bass player and honestly I think it really made their sound suffer. I’d heard their music online and I actually thought that sounded a lot better than they did live. Maybe it was just an off night? I dunno. The fourth band I saw that night, tentatively named Lucid Dream (until the band members agree on something better, apparently) was more of a rock band than anything. I liked what I heard but unfortunately their set was marred with several technical difficulties, including one of their amp heads crapping out. They asked if anybody in one of the other bands had one they could borrow, but apparently everyone from the other bands was outside. This lead to an increased delay as they looked to find someone that could help them. They finally played another song then abruptly ended their disjointed set. The final band of the night, and the main reason I came out to this show, was Fortress, a doom metal band from Hagerstown, Maryland. Let me just say that these guys were very fucking impressive live. Absolutely epic, crushing, heavy doom. Very loud, very intense, at times very slow but they knew just when to pick up the pace to keep it from getting boring. They put one one of the best performances I’ve seen from a DMV area metal band in quite some time. I was literally blown away and I know I wasn’t the only person in attendance who thought so. I cannot stress this enough: if you ever get the chance, GO SEE THIS BAND PLAY LIVE!

Grethor:

Cammo Shorts:

Acrid:

Lucid Dream:

Fortress:

I didn’t get to another metal show until 12 days later, on Tuesday the 24th of January. That night I went to DC9 in the U Street corridor of Washington DC and saw the so called super group Corrections House play. The band is Scott Kelly of Neurosis fame on guitar, Bruce Lamont of Chicago’s jazz influenced metal band Yakuza, Sanford Parker who plays keyboards in Nachtmystium, and Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod is the frontman. The opening act was Tone, a DC based instrumental rock band. They not really very metal but they’re not bad if you like instrumental bands. Corrections House has a sort of weird live set up and the band doesn’t just come out and start playing. Instead each member gets a segment to do a bit of solo material, and various other members come in and duck out at various points. They also all wear the same black button down shirts with the Corrections House logo embroidered on the sleeves. Their entire set was about 80 minutes long, although the first 20 minutes were just Sanford Parker looping drum beats and playing samples. A such, I didn’t particularly enjoy the start of the set. It did get better when Bruce Lamont came in with his sax though that only lasted five minutes or so before Mike IX Williams started reading some of his poetry. The high point of the show was definitely when the entire band was performing together. Their sound had a very improvy feel to it but they all seemed to work pretty well together for the most part. Corrections House was unpolished though and Mike IX Williams had to read the lyrics because I guess he hadn’t memorized them yet. About an hour into the set Scott Kelly broke a guitar string and ended up borrowing one from someone in Tone. I didn’t know what I was getting into with this show, and it did take a bit to start rolling, however once they all got in synch together I thought the show was really entertaining and I certainly don’t regret going. I’m curious how they will sound in the studio if they ever record anything.

Corrections House:

Corrections House:

Corrections House:

Two nights later, on Saturday, January 26th, I was at Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia for the long awaited return of local southern metal masters King Giant. Due to an injury in the band they hadn’t played since early 2012. They had a show scheduled in November to be a return to the stage but due to another injury to someone else in the band that date was pushed back until this night in January. King Giant always draws well, and this night wasn’t any different, though I know the fact that Graveyard was playing at the Black Cat the same night had to have affected the attendance at both shows somewhat. I’d have liked to have seen both but since I saw Graveyard at DC9 last year and I always like to support locals I decided to go to see King Giant. When I got there Richmond’s Fire Faithful was setting up. They’re a southern/stoner band but I wasn’t very impressed with their show. The crowd was still pretty thin when they hit the stage and perhaps that had something to do with it but they didn’t have much energy on stage at all. Their songs weren’t interesting enough be able to pull me in while hearing them the first time so some stage presence really would have helped. I liked the vocalist’s Windhand shirt though. Next up was Kingsnake from Philadelphia. I had seen them about a year prior at the Velvet Lounge and so I decided to hang back a bit and I didn’t get photos of them this time. Kingsnake is a very solid blue-collar metal band with some cool licks. Aside from their coincidentally similar names, they’re actually really a great opening act for King Giant as they have a very similar style without sounding redundant. Finally King Giant made the stage. There was a lot of fog this time and I was glad to finally see them playing live again. The place was pretty crowded by this point and you could tell all the members of King Giant were having fun playing in front of so many friends and family. At one point a bunch of people in the crowd all came out with fake handlebar mustachios in parody of King Giant’s bass player Floyd Walters and his iconic ‘stache. It really was a fun show and although King Giant’s sophomore album, Dismal Hollow, came out in early 2012 the songs from it still sounded pretty fresh since they hadn’t been played in a while. The show was a great welcome back to the stage for these guys. If you’re a fan of southern sounding bands like Down, Clutch and Alabama Thunderpussy then do yourself a favor and check this band out. They’ve got some great riffs you’ll get stuck in your head and songs that will stand the test of time. This isn’t some throwback band, they’re doing their thing and doing it damn well. King Giant is certainly one of the DC area’s best local metal bands and if you’re in this area and you’re sleeping on them then you’re fucking up big time.

Fire Faithful:

King Giant:

The sixth and final metal show that I went to in January 2013 was on the the last day of the month, Thursday the 31st. I traveled up to Baltimore to see Enslaved play at the Ottobar. When I got there the band Royal Thunder was playing, who, as stated in my previous post, I had just seen at DC9 the month prior. However this time they were missing their second guitarist and their sound was a bit thin because of it. Still, they put on a decent show and I thought they were a good prelude to the band I wanted to see the most this night, Pallbearer. Pallbearer is the hottest band in doom metal right now. Their debut album, Sorrow And Extinction, was released in February 2012 and is nothing short of excellent. The Arkansas based quartet plays some very downtuned, very slow songs with clean vocals. Unlike the clean vocals you hear from power metal bands that soar over the songs (think Dio and Iron Maiden), vocalist Brett Campbell has a very solemn and pain filled tone to his voice. These songs are often very slow and they take some patience to absorb, but there’s a reason that their album ended up in the top spot on many critics’ year end lists for 2012. This night they were very loud, even for a metal band. So loud that they were actually vibrating my camera’s lens enough to make it lose focus while I was trying to shoot them! The singer seemed to be having trouble hearing himself though and that made his voice sound a bit off. The audience was rewarded with a brand new song at the end of their set however and it crushed! I hear this song will be on an upcoming split from the band. After they played it was time for Enslaved, one of the old second wave black metal bands from Norway that has now turned into a progressive metal band. Personally, I liked the band the most when they were in that sort of transitional phase between being a black metal band and a prog band. They were unique then. They were this second wave band that actually learned how to play and wrote unique songs that were a blend of black and prog metals. Now they’re basically a progressive metal band and while they don’t write bad songs they just aren’t as interesting to me anymore. There’s other prog bands out there that are more interesting to me I guess. Enslaved’s live show was alright but having seen the set list I knew they’d play for about two hours, which was a bit long for me. Their set was plagued by technical difficulties which drained my patience and about an hour or so in I decided to start the long drive home. Unfortunately I got stuck in construction traffic which closed 95 South for a good 45 minutes so I should have just stayed longer! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll see Enslaved again, hopefully a bit closer to home if it’s on a week night.

Pallbearer:

Enslaved:

Well, thanks for reading this big recap of the metal shows I saw in January 2013. I hope to have my post covering February 2013 up next week, then I should be about caught up. Stay metal everyone and remember to support the scene you’re a part of!

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

On Friday the 19th of October 2012 I headed up to the Ottobar in Baltimore to see Pig Destroyer perform at their album release show. Their new album, Book Burner, is their first full length release in over 5 years and anticipation for the album has been high not only in the DC area, which the band is from, but in the overall world of metal fandom. I missed the opening act, Wargames, though they’re a Baltimore based hardcore band so they’ll probably be playing in the area again soon. Royal Thunder was the first band I saw play. They’re a slow paced hard rock/metal band from Atlanta and while I didn’t think they were all that bad, they were certainly out of place on this bill. The crowd who showed up to see a spastic grindcore band wasn’t really interested in seeing a drowsy southern rock band with clean vocals. Royal Thunder, along with Pig Destroyer, is signed to Relapse. I guess they were just trying to get Royal Thunder more exposure by adding them to this line up but they really sucked the energy out of the place. Luckily the next band, Baltimore natives Necropsy, came to the rescue with their set and got the mosh pits started. They play some catchy death/thrash and they are really fun to watch live. They’re all pretty young, I’m not sure if any of them are over 21, but they are certainly worth checking out if you haven’t seen them yet. They’ll be opening the first day of Maryland Deathfest next May. The next band to play was Washington DC’s own Ilsa. I’ve seen them a ton of times and as always they brought the heavy, chugging riffage doused in crusty filth. They started their performance off by throwing stripper glitter on the people standing close to the stage and I have to say that was rather unexpected. Just when you think you’ve seen it all at a metal concert… Anyways, Ilsa was in really good form, mostly playing songs from their upcoming album Intoxicantations which is due out on Black Friday (Nov 23rd) from A389 Records. I’ve got the set list posted here if you’d like to see it. They didn’t play the song Frostthrower, a personal favorite of mine, but it didn’t matter, they’ve got a lot of great songs and you could tell the audience agreed. They were loving the weight of the band’s sound and I’m sure Ilsa won some new fans with their performance.

After Ilsa’s killer set it was time for Pig Destroyer. They don’t play a lot of shows in the area and there was a good sized crowd out for this rare appearance by the local grindcore legends. Vocalist JR Hayes (who I recently interviewed here) was rather jovial between songs then like a light switch he would just turn on his pent up rage and funnel it through his throat. He was like a caged wild animal suddenly set free into the confusing world with his microphone as his only weapon. Guitarist Scott Hull stayed pretty cool on the left side of the stage, grinding out his bizarrely unique riffs as the songs jarringly started and stopped. This was the first time I had seen Pig Destroyer with with their new drummer, Adam Jarvis (also of Misery Index) and apparently it was his birthday as well. Even after taking birthday whiskey shots on stage he still ripped through those crazy Pig Destroyer songs with total precision. The band doesn’t have a bass player but they do have Blake Harrison who basically “plays” some sort of DJ console making noises and adding clips and samples to their songs. Since a lot of what Blake does is basically prerecorded he spends a lot of time on stage essentially acting as a hype man by helping pump up the crowd and keep them into the show. There were also a few guest appearances during the set. Kat Katz (vocalist for the now defunct DC doom band Salome) performed vox on a few songs and the Grindfather, aka Richard Johnson of Drugs Of Faith, did some guest vocals as well. Pig Destroyer’s set list didn’t include a whole lot from the new album though they did play a cover of a Void song. You can see their full set list here. Overall it was a great performance by one of DC’s biggest bands and it was awesome to see them in a local venue. During Pig Destroyer’s set I was up front trying to get some photos and videos and, unsurprisingly, the crowd was wild, hyper and just violent overall. I’m lucky I didn’t damage my camera but I think it was worth it to get some straight on, close up shots from this rare show. The videos are all the way at the end, I hope you enjoy them. Until next time, stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Royal Thunder:

Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder

Royal Thunder at the Ottobar

Necropsy:

Tyler Carnes of Necropsy

Travis Stone of Necropsy

Necropsy at the Ottobar

Sebastian Phillips of Necropsy

Sebastian Phillips of Necropsy

Ilsa:

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Garrett of Ilsa

Ilsa at the Ottobar

Orion of Ilsa

Pig Destroyer:

Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

Pig Destroyer at the Ottobar

Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer

J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer

Review of Proclamation gig at the Ottobar

On Tuesday the 9th of August 2011 there were several metal shows all around the area, quite odd for a random Tuesday. Queensrÿche was playing the 9:30 Club, Emmure was headlining a 14 band concert for the All Stars Tour‘s Baltimore stop at Sonar, and there was also a rare metal showcase at Jammin Java featuring local acts Iris Divine, A Sound Of Thunder and Timelord. However, I skipped all of those and decided to head up to the Ottobar in Baltimore to see Proclamation, a black metal band from Spain. I wasn’t too familiar with them but I figured this will probably be my only chance to see them play live and I’m not one to turn down seeing an obscure black metal band perform live. There weren’t a lot of people at this show though, maybe around 50 by the time the headliner was playing. The bands didn’t seem to mind and played very well regardless.

I get out of work kind of late in the summer and getting to shows in Baltimore on weekdays usually means I’m going to have to miss an opener or two, and this night was no different. I knew I’d probably miss the local opening act, Extermination Angel, but the other three bands on the bill were all touring bands. The first of those scheduled to play was Thantifaxath, a black metal band from Toronto. Apparently they were held up at the border and not allowed to enter the US (something to do with goat heads in their belongings I heard) so they weren’t on the bill. Instead excellent local Baltimore doom act Oak played. I got there just as they were finishing though, which kind of sucks because they’re really good but I’ve seen them before so I wasn’t that upset. When I arrived the door price had been lowered to $15 (even though the Ottobar website listed the show at $18 and said it would increase the day of). A nice surprise though they should have mentioned this and the line up change on their website. The next band up also has quite a mouthful for a name, Abazagorath, who are a black metal band from New Jersey. I’d never heard of them before but they put on a decent show. My main problem with them was their vocalist, a guy who goes by the stage name Nihilist. He seemed to spend half his time on stage hanging out back by the drummer, often not even looking forward at the audience. The vocalist didn’t have a great voice for black metal either, and I saw him reading lyric sheets he had placed on the stage during several of their songs. They were playing some new material for the first time during the set so perhaps that’s something of an excuse but it still isn’t something I expect from a touring band. The guy just seemed unprofessional and hell even the bass player had better stage presence than he did, the guy was decked out in spikes and leather. Regardless, this is black metal and the vocals aren’t the most important part of a band’s sound in this genre. The rest of the band was pretty good and they had some decent songs that got a mosh pit going for a while. There wasn’t a lot of variation in their songs but their sound was good enough that it wasn’t a bad thing really. One of the guitarists was playing an eight string guitar which is kind of weird for a black metal band and seemed a bit unnecessary. I wouldn’t have gone to just see them but they were a good support act on a black metal tour like this.

Next up was the headliner, Proclamation from Madrid, Spain. They’re a three piece black metal band and as far as I can tell this was their first US tour and this was the final stop on said tour. I hadn’t ever heard of them when this tour was announced and I checked out a few of their songs online leading up to the gig but they didn’t seem to stand out that much to me. I found them much more entertaining live I must say. Their songs weren’t overly long, they didn’t try to be ultra dramatic and epic, and their vocalist knew all the words (even while playing guitar). They were just straight up, pissed off Satanic black metal and they were pretty good at it. The band’s drummer really punched it the entire night, the guy just didn’t slow down! He was quick and really kept the pace and energy levels high for their entire set. On top of the relentless drumming, Proclamation had some great guitar riffs in there too. Several songs built up brutal momentum very well and their assault on the ears was quite an energy boost on this Tuesday night. There were no big surprises in their sound but they had just enough variation to keep their songs interesting and I can’t say I was bored at any point during their set. They all came out with sort of corpse paint on, they had black make up on their eyes but no white face paint underneath. They all had necklaces on with various things hanging off of them, bones and upside down crosses and the like. They played 15 songs and they all drank from their beer bottles almost in unison immediately after each song ended. They didn’t really address the audience between songs, other than to bark out the next song’s title. They played a Sarcófago cover and that seemed to please the largely Latin American crown. Otherwise Proclamation kept it straight forward, heavy and blasphemous. No frills and no big surprises but certainly high intensity throughout their set. They did not perform an encore after their set, even though the audience wanted one.

I’m glad I decided to check Proclamation out. The show was worth the drive to Baltimore, even on a week night. I’m going to have to go back and give their studio material a few more listens because I really enjoyed them live. Proclamation won’t change your opinion of the black metal sub genre nor blow your mind, but if you’re into black metal I recommend seeing them if you ever get the chance. As usual I posted photos of both Proclamation and Abazagorath (click their respective names to see them) and I posted some videos from the show below as well. The videos are all pretty dark but you should at least be able to hear the bands alright. I really need to get a new video camera but I don’t see that in my financial forecast any time in the foreseeable future. Feel free to donate one to me, ya know, for Satan or something.