Interview With Evan Harting After Maryland Deathfest XI

Maryland Deathfest XI ran from Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 through Sunday, May 26th in Baltimore and uncharacteristically there were some issues with the fest which left many people unhappy with the way things were run. I contacted Evan Harting, one of the two co-organizers of Maryland Deathfest, and he agreed to do an interview with me to address many of these issues. The following 30 minute interview was recorded in the evening of Tuesday, May 28th, 2013. My words are the ones in bold. You can listen to the interview by clicking the orange play button on the player below or you can download the 28mb mp3 of the interview by clicking here.

UPDATE: Ryan Taylor, the other MDF co-organizer, made a few clarifying comments about this interview on the MDF message board, which you can read here.

Hi, this is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and it’s just a couple days after Maryland Deathfest XI. The four day festival in Baltimore, Maryland every Memorial Day weekend is the biggest underground metal festival in the United States and heavy metal fans come from all over the world to see dozens of metal bands play. For the most part I had a great time though there were a few bumps in the road. Maryland Deathfest has a reputation for being organized and run very well though this year there were some issues that came up. Attendees took to social media sites and there was a lot of anger and negativity towards the fest sometimes for things well beyond their control. I’ve seen rumors and misinformation along with some issues that I myself witnessed all being talked about on sites like Facebook at Twitter. I love Maryland Deathfest. It is one of the highlights of my year every year and so I reached out to Evan Harting, one of the two co-founders of the festival, to help clear up some of the issues and complaints about this year’s festival in his own words. So hello Evan, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

No problem.

Now before we get into some of the heavier stuff I’d like to first thank you for bringing together such great bands year after year. Because of Maryland Deathfest I’ve gotten to see some bands perform live that I never thought I would see in my life and I’ve gotten the chance to check out some great up and coming bands as well. So my first question for you is: what were your favorite performances at Maryland Deathfest XI?

I didn’t get to watch any of them.

Alright, you were that busy.

Yeah. By far the busiest year for me.

Now ever since Sonar’s co-owner Daniel McIntosh was arrested and convicted on drug trafficking charges last year [details here] there’s been a lot of questions about where Maryland Deathfest XI would take place. It seemed like you and Ryan Taylor [the other co-organizer of Maryland Deathfest] kind of settled for Sonar this year, which is now rebranded as Paparazzi by their new owners, and the tent set up, which I don’t think many people were that happy about, seemed like you guys were just kind of trying to do the best you could with a bad situation. When exactly did you find out that Paparazzi did not have a suitable stage for Maryland Deathfest bands to play on?

We found out pretty late in the game. We were looking for new venue options and our head of security works with Paparazzi now and he came to us [and] said that the new owners would really like for us to have it there again and it seemed like some of the other options were kind of like falling apart and such. So we decided that we’d at least hear them out. Give them the chance to at least see what they had in mind. It seemed like it was going to work out fine [and we] might as well have it there another year. The biggest thing for us was just [that] we wanted to have an inside component and the proximity to the hotels is ideal for us. You know we want to have people near their hotels so they can just stumble home at the end of the night and not have to worry about it. Those are the biggest things for us so it worked out that way. And the new owners had lots of ideas of how we can expand and make it better and all this stuff so that’s what we decided to do. And they told us we can use the building the way we have in the past. Still have our inside stage and everything like that. So that’s what we were planning on and they did say that they were making renovations to the place and making it different but that was the extent of it. So we booked the entire festival and then we came down to the venue to check it out after the renovations had been made. And we walked into that room and were like, wow. We cannot use this at all. We are screwed.

Yeah. So how did the tent come up as a solution?

That was pretty much the only other option at that point. We couldn’t use the inside. We’d already sold a lot of tickets for Thursday’s [indoor only] show and the portion that was going to be inside and we didn’t want to have a completely outside thing. Certain bands count on having an inside show. That’s what they want. That’s a part of the agreement with them. Originally our first backup plan was [that] we were going to use part of the parking lot right there and kind of wall it in. So that would be kind of like a tented stage for us. But that did not come together and we didn’t know about that happening until kind of the last minute as well. So we, kind of at the last minute, decided we would have to put up an entire tent on the street.

Now was there any difference in regards to the fire code and noise curfew from the tent stage and the other outdoor stages?

No. It’s the same.

Are you considering holding the fest at the same location next year?

Absolutely not.

Many bands were cut off while still performing at the fest this year. Sometimes these were even the headliners. I saw Bolt Thrower, Kommandant, Pentagram, Venom, they all got cut off this year. What was the reason for this?

We have a very strict noise curfew. We have to abide by that. If we don’t then we get fined a lot of money. Venom knew about it and they continued to play so we literally had to pull the plug on them and it looked bad on our part but there’s nothing we could do about it. They knew they had to stop at that time but they decided to keep going. So when we pulled the plug, we’re the bad guys. So that sucked.

The one band I saw that didn’t get cut off was Sleep. They ran about ten minutes over so why weren’t they cut off?

I don’t really know to be honest. At that time I was in the middle of a million other things and I didn’t even know about that to be honest. But Venom also took their time setting up and I don’t remember exactly what the deal was but they should have gone on earlier.

I think everyone’s in agreement that the fest has really outgrown the streets outside of the Sonar/Paparazzi building. So what kind of options are you considering next year? Like maybe [the] Powerplant Live! area or a camp ground kind of set up or– I’m really hoping it’s not on a fucking cruise ship, that’s all.

Yeah it will be on a cruise ship actually… no. We don’t really know yet. You know we just wanted to get through this one before getting started on the next one. But we don’t give ourselves more than a week of rest before planning for the next one. Yeah we don’t really know yet. Powerplant area is unlikely just because there’s so many bars that have their own thing going on. It would be hard to work out a deal with that and also I know the people that are involved, the owners. I’m sure that they would want tons of money from us just to even have it there. I mean anything’s possible but I just don’t see that happening. And also it would be a lot smaller. Sometimes they do free shows in the outside area. It still doesn’t hold as many people as we would need. We could pretty much put it anywhere. A parking lot or park or something like that.

Maybe the parking lot between the two stadiums right there in downtown?

That’s one of the options we were looking at before deciding to have it at Paparazzi. So that’s also an option. We just have to weigh the options and decide which one will work out the best for us. Then we’ll have to deal with, are we getting shuttles to take people to and from the hotels because they won’t be able to walk to them any more? We really want to avoid that but I don’t really see any other way around it at this point.

Now I noticed that most of the security working the main festival grounds were some of the same team of guys who have been there, you know, the past several years. Many of them were wearing Sonar shirts which I thought was odd since Sonar doesn’t really exist any more. How exactly was the security team put in place for this year’s fest?

It’s the same security crew for the most part that we’ve worked with that worked for Sonar. The head of security, he’s awesome and he knows what he’s doing and his core group of guys, we’ve never had any problems with them. They know what they’re doing and they are, for the most part, very friendly to the people and everything. We enjoy having them. When he has to hire people from different venues and people that are not familiar with this at all, they are the ones we’ve had some issues with over the weekend.

OK so what happened with the no studded jackets or belts policy that suddenly arose early on Saturday? I had heard rumors that somehow Phil Anselmo of Down was involved in that or something. Is that true and if not how did that policy even get [put] in place?

It was basically a misunderstanding. It does have something to do with Down because they had a security rider that does enforce those things but I think that’s more for different types of concerts they’ve done. I have talked to their agent about it a while back and he said, “Don’t worry about it. We’re not going to enforce that at the fest it’ll be fine.” And then they get there and their security guy said that we need to enforce all of that and he didn’t know anything that I’ve worked out with the agent previously. So that’s why that was going on and we had to really talk to him about it and he eventually was like “It’s fine, at your discretion just do what you want” so we lifted that. But Phil himself didn’t seem to care about enforcing that at all so I’m not really sure exactly where that started.

Alright. Now one of the problems that affected almost everyone attending the fest at some point this weekend was the long lines, especially on Sunday. There seemed to be a lot of confusion about whether wrist bands got you into the venue without a wait, as they had previous years, or whether that did not happen. And this confusion wasn’t just among the attendees, it was also among the staff that were working the door. The security at the door seemed very under manned at many points throughout the weekend. I went to the SoundStage on Sunday to see Ilsa play and when I came back to the main grounds I walked over and there was this huge line wrapping beyond the parking lot down the street, and when I first walked up there were literally two people checking bags at the door, which I thought was probably the big bottle neck right there. Were there supposed to be more people searching bags and if so where were they?

Yeah there definitely should have been more people at the front handling that. There should have been people there earlier setting up a system and that did not happen. We seem to have an issue with that every year. As many times as we meet and reiterate how important it is that we get the line moving something always seems to go wrong and it just doesn’t happen when it’s supposed to. That’s just one of the issues that we know how we’re going to deal with it for the next year and that’s all we can really do with it at this point. Just learn from the mistakes and move on and know how to improve for the next [Deathfest].

Cause one of the things about these lines too is it made it very impractical to go back and forth between venues if you had the passes that let you. And it resulted in a lot of people missing a lot of bands because some of those bands were stacked very close to each other on that schedule. So you know you walk ten minutes and then you stand in line an hour and you’re missing stuff. I know you guys really trust, again, the security team but is it possible [that] like how Deathfest has outgrown Sonar that they’ve possibly outgrown the security team as well and is it time to bring in a new group of people that are used to bigger events like this?

Well one thing that we’ve briefly discussed even over the weekend and since the weekend is that we have to have a security company. We can’t just hire a bunch of our buddies to do it, there has to be a company. So we’re fine with having just a core group of guys that we’re used to. Just like, you know, even if it’s a very small number of them. We’re fine with that. But other than that, it’s likely that we actually are going to just hire our own people. People who actually know what’s going on and we know there won’t be any issues with.

OK have you considered maybe opening the doors earlier before the bands start? This year I think it was really underestimated how many people were going to be interested in seeing Speedwolf and they played very early on Sunday. They got that full page of worship, basically, written about them in the official MDF program and that probably got a lot more interest in them as well and it seemed like the door people were just not ready for that and with the door time being 1:15 and I think they went on about 35 minutes after that, there was just no way to get that many people into the venue that quickly so maybe earlier door times next year like before the first band?

Yeah, for sure.

OK cool. That’s sounds really good. One thing this year too, there seemed to be problems even just getting out of the venue, the main grounds at least, after the final bands played each night, especially after Venom played on Sunday. You heard people chanting, let em go, because they were just trying to leave. The way they had it set up was you could really only have two people standing next to each other, like a two person line, and people were trying to get out of there. This of course increased tensions and then this led to a lot of violence happening right outside the main gates as everyone was trying to leave. You’ve probably seen that video of the security guard choke slamming one guy out in the parking lot [see it here], it’s been going around. I’ve seen some other ones. You know it reminded me a lot of the pepper spray incident after Ghost closed the fest in 2011. So I’m wondering why didn’t security open up the gates and let as many people out as possible. Obviously nobody else was coming in at that point?

I’m not really sure what happened there to be honest. I heard that there was some kind of an incident and they had to wait to clear that up before letting people out. I’m not really sure. Normally either myself or Ryan are able to come and address issues like that as they come up throughout the weekend but we were just completely overwhelmed with everything over the weekend. We had zero down time. We were multitasking the entire weekend and it was just extremely stressful for us so we were not able to address all of these issues as they happened. Which was really unfortunate because [when] people are upset, it upsets us and we obviously don’t want any issues to arise at all.

I spoke with an actual off duty police officer who was attending the festival just as a fan and he was trying to video tape some of this and the security they told him that they were going to beat him down if he did not stop recording. That’s really weird to me. I can’t imagine that’s something the festival would actually endorse, telling everyone to turn off their cameras. Is that really the policy, that people should not be allowed to video tape anything like that?

No it’s not.

OK, good. I think a lot of people would probably argue that the biggest problem this year with Deathfest was the security however I would actually say that the biggest problem was the lack of communication with attendees. There was no official map or directions on how to travel between the venues, not even in the official program. There was no address given for the pre-paid parking lot entrance. There was no list of items that were banned from the festival. Nobody knew the signing schedule, or the location of the signing area, for Sunday until it was posted that morning on your Facebook page. I don’t think Broken Hope‘s signing session was even mentioned anywhere. On Thursday evening Carpathian Forest announced [here] that they would not be playing Deathfest but there was no official statement from you guys until Saturday. And then I think even that Facebook post was deleted at some point. There were other Facebook posts that were removed as well such as the photo of Down performing. Why were those posts taken down?

Just because of all the backlash that people were posting as comments. We were just completely overwhelmed. I know some things definitely should have been handled differently and we were just completely overwhelmed. You know it’s just us two dealing with this festival and it can be very overwhelming and we just were not prepared for all of this. Security, that kind of stuff, at least now we know exactly what we need to do and what we need to change. And I know some people left with a bad taste in their mouth after some of these issues and that upsets us just as much as them. All we can do is try to convince people, and assure them, that the next fest will be nothing like this. We know what has to change and we will definitely make sure that happens.

That’s really good to hear. Now the Maryland Deathfest Twitter account was reactivated shortly before the fest this year and I really hoped there would be a lot of up to the minute information coming from that and the Facebook page. These are really powerful tools that could have answered a lot of the questions I’m asking now, and they could have been answered in real time. That didn’t really happen and so I was wondering have you considered hiring a social media expert to handle this next year? Like someone that could just run your accounts for you and get information out and answer people’s questions.

Yes. That will have to be the case. Normally we have a lot more down time during the fest so we can do stuff like that but that was not the case at all this year. I had zero downtime. And I had no time to log on to Twitter and send updates. So yeah we’ll definitely have to get someone to do that kind of stuff for us.

Alright now why exactly didn’t Carpathian Forest end up playing Sunday night?

Well their singer was denied visa and one of the other guys was going to do it. The guitar player was going to do vocals but he also was not allowed over so three of the guys were there just hanging out but unable to play.

OK so why was Evoken moved from Thursday to Friday?

Because of work related stuff. It was something relating to work like they thought that they’d be playing later than that so they didn’t prepare for that and so they either would have to cancel or be switched to a different day.

OK so why did Vinterland end up playing at 10pm on Saturday instead of 5pm?

Because a couple of the guys had their flights canceled and had to fly in the next day and they didn’t even arrive until 8pm.

Oh wow. So they basically came directly from BWI [airport] and got on stage.

Yeah. Actually, quite a few bands had their flights canceled or delayed by a lot. So that was like a whole nother thing that we were dealing with all weekend. Just as an example, because of that stuff the shuttles were no longer there picking them up from the airport because their times changed. The hotels canceled their rooms because they didn’t show up when they were supposed to. It was just a whole lot of crap that resulted from that.

Is that why Tinner did not play at the SoundStage on Sunday as well?

No. Their tour fell apart or something so they didn’t end up coming. We hadn’t even heard from them in a while. We assumed everything was fine but then they wrote and said that they couldn’t play at the last minute pretty much.

Although it wasn’t really announced anywhere I thought it was really cool that you gave Speedwolf another set cause the lines had been so long Sunday and a lot of people had wanted to see them and by the time they got in they’d already played. Although their second set was during Sleep’s set. Is there any reason you put them on during that time slot instead of any other time in the festival?

That’s just when it worked out. We figured the least we could do was have them play again since a lot of people were in line before when they were playing but that just happened to be when we had that kind of time that we could slide them in during. And it’s unfortunate that it was during Sleep but it was all we could really do given the situation.

Also what happened with Golden West not being at the festival after they had been listed as a food vendor? I really like the food there a lot and I was looking for them and I never found them.

Yeah actually the girl that we have helping us, I don’t even know what to call her title exactly but, she’s like just under us, like she’s the only one helping us during the festival. She’s a manager over there and she got that together but I guess at the last minute they ended up not being able to do it. People were looking forward to having them there so that was unfortunate but they weren’t prepared for it and didn’t make it. A couple of them came for a few hours and set up in the VIP lounge and just made some tacos and stuff for some of the VIP bands that were in there but that’s it.

One other thing that I noticed about pretty much all three of the stages at the main grounds was there was a poor mix for a lot of the bands. The bass was often very high in the mix, particularly the kick drums for many of the bands playing. I actually left in the middle of Glorior Belli‘s set, a band that I was actually really excited to see, because it was pretty much unlistenable. I know some bands had their own sound guys like Pelican, who sounded great. Some of the bands due to their own sound could deal with the extra bass alright kind of like [how] Anhedonist did but you know when I’m watching a black metal band and all I hear is the bass there’s something wrong with the mix. Is there a reason so many bands were getting a mix that you’d expect of somebody like Obituary? Were there simply not enough high range speakers to counter the large amounts of bass coming out or was this something that was the sound engineer’s preference?

I don’t really know what happened there. They’re some of the same guys that have done it in past years. I don’t know what was wrong with the mix. I’ve heard conflicting stories regarding the sound as well, you know some people said that all of the bands sounded amazing and other people say that it was horrible so it goes back and forth but even any of the negative feedback, you know, we want to work to change it for the next one. So we definitely are taking all of that feedback under consideration. I mean we definitely want to make sure that bands get the best sound that they can. So even if some people thought that it wasn’t good that’s enough.

I think the main problem was it seemed like a lot of the bands were all getting the same mix regardless of what kind of band they were and that’s why [for] some of these bassier doom bands it wasn’t as much of a problem and then you see this black metal band and it should sound like a beehive or something not all kick drums and bass you know?

Right.

But these are people that have worked with you before and stuff, alright. Now this is something that actually kind of bothers me every year although this year I really noticed it a lot. Shots of the audience from the stage while major bands are playing at Deathfest. During many of the bands’ sets this year I saw photographer Aaron Pepelis of Return To The Pit shooting while standing on the stage itself with a professional camera flash repeatedly going off while the bands were playing. As a photographer myself I found this very distracting and also very unprofessional. Now I understand if you guys want a couple shots of the crowd like that during some of the bigger bands, whatever not a big deal. But I saw this going on throughout the fest at both venues. It was really frustrating and I’m wondering is it really worth the detriment to the show to be able to post a picture of Matt Pike’s coin slot on Facebook? Is this something we’re going to see more of in the future?

I’ve never heard anything about that so if it’s an issue it can definitely be addressed. That’s the first time I’ve heard someone express an issue with that to be honest.

Alright. Like I said there have been a lot of changes this year and we know that some people will bitch and moan about any change but some of them were actually very good. Which changes did you think worked the best this year at the fest?

It was great to have food there for one. I think a lot of people were happy just having more food options then there were in the past. Having a few less bands at the Sonar part made it easier for scheduling and stuff like that. Every little thing is planned you know, every little detail, so the things that come together and work out great and it’s awesome. But things that don’t are really hard for us to take.

One of the changes that I really liked was that you included the Baltimore SoundStage. I thought the venue had the best sound of all the stages at Deathfest this year and I don’t think I really heard any complaints about their security. Are there any plans to possibly work with them again or are you going to try to keep everything at one location next year so that people don’t have to go back in lines?

I think the line stuff and going back and forth could have been arranged a little better and that’s something that we definitely will work on but the whole concept behind it seemed to work out well and I did hear awesome things about the venue. The sound and everything. I wasn’t able to make it over there myself for anything but I’d be totally down to include them next year.

The biggest problem I actually had with the Baltimore SoundStage this year was the schedule. There were often several multiple hour long gaps between bands playing at the venue. And for people who had only purchased a ticket to one or multiple of the days at the SoundStage but not the main grounds, that must have been pretty frustrating. And it also would kill any momentum that say an opener band had started to build up with an audience because then you’re sitting around for two hours waiting for the next band. Why were there such large gaps in the schedule at the Baltimore SoundStage?

We just didn’t want to have certain bands playing during certain other bands’ sets at Sonar. There are some people that had tickets to only the SoundStage but not that many. Most people had both so we just were trying to avoid as much clash as possible especially with bands that are more likely for people to be into both that would hypothetically be playing at the same time.

Alright, while some of the food vendors this year were not that high quality there definitely were some great food options this year. The Zombie Barbeque was great. There was a half smoke sausage cart that was really good. Are you planning on getting more food vendors like this in the future?

Yeah, for sure.

Cool.

Yeah this was like the first time that we’ve really expanded to that whole thing. In the past couple years we’ve only had one because it was the owner of Sonar that owns a restaurant and we just kind of worked it out, a deal with him, that he would be the only food vendor to set up. They were there as well this year but obviously not the only one and I think it worked out much better that way.

OK now fans of DC Heavy Metal will know that I’m also a big fan of craft beer and instead of drinking these corporate Millers and Budweisers and whatever. I saw Flying Dog IPAs were available this year, but they were two dollars more than the corporate brands, and for a fan of dark beer like myself, I like stouts and porters, there was nothing available inside the venue, anything like that. Now Maryland actually has some great craft breweries like Heavy Seas, DuClaw, Union and even Baltimore’s own Brewer’s Art makes an actual Ozzy Osbourne beer which I’m sure would have sold well at Deathfest. Are there any plans to get some more local craft beers into the fest next year and possibly at a more competitive price point?

The reason why only those options were available is because the alcohol is completely up to the venue. We gave them suggestions many times, we should have this and this and this, but they don’t listen, they’re just going to do their own thing. We’ve had huge issues with these venue owners all weekend and that is really the icing on the cake that determines that we are definitely not doing it there again. Therefor, we’ll be pretty much doing all of this ourselves from now on. So we will have complete control over what kind of drinks will be served. So yes.

That’s great to hear. At a festival with so many of these just small, underground and independent bands it just kind of sucks to see all this corporate stuff going around when you’re looking at the beer you know when there’s so many small, underground and independent beers also in this area that could also be served there. So that’s good to hear. There were several bands that played Deathfest this year that also played shows in Baltimore during the festival such as Glorior Belli and Tragedy. Are you OK with bands doing this or are you considering having bands in the future maybe sign a contract prohibiting this or something?

We definitely do try to avoid that. The Tragedy thing was a last minute thing at the end. They asked me if it was OK and I was like “go ahead, it’s fine.” But the Glorior Belli thing was kind of a surprise. We knew about it before the fest happened but we were not very happy about it because we paid for their flights to play the fest exclusively. And then I saw they were not only doing a tour but also playing right around the corner from the fest on the same day as the fest. So yeah, we were not too stoked about that. We don’t care if bands do other shows and stuff but we just have to arrange that in the beginning. With bands playing the fest and then playing another venue in Baltimore that weekend is definitely is definitely something that we try to avoid.

The one thing from this interview that I’ve kind of heard over and over is that you and Ryan were both very overwhelmed all weekend. Do you have any ideas yet of what you’re going to do so maybe it’s a more manageable process next year so you guys aren’t just constantly overwhelmed?

Yes. A lot of it had to do with, we put too much faith in the new guys being able to help us out. They told us all along that they’d be able to like get us this and help us get this and etcetera. And they didn’t. All of that fell through so we were just not prepared for that. We put too much trust in them being able to make that stuff happen. So now we know that we cannot do that at all. We just have to take all the matters in our own hands and do things our way and not rely on anyone else to get things done. The specifics are yet to be determined because we’re still in full recovery mode right now but very soon we will start getting the gears in motion to plan for a better fest next year.

That’s great. Well thanks for answering all my questions here Evan. I really do appreciate you and Ryan Taylor bringing so many great bands to the area every Memorial Day weekend. So my last question for you is: when will you start announcing bands and a new location for next year’s fest?

Pretty much as soon as we have it confirmed. We don’t know. We’re going to start working on it pretty much immediately but we won’t announce anything until something is set in stone and we’re completely sure about it, and happy with it, so I don’t know when that will be. Regarding the bands, as many people know, we start booking pretty much immediately after this year’s fest so we definitely will start booking bands very shortly here and probably make our first group of announcements within a few months or so.

Alright cool, sounds good. Well thanks a lot for answering these questions. I know a lot of them weren’t the easiest and you’ve been really honest here and that’s awesome. I hope that you and Ryan do have a good little bit of time off. Actually relax and maybe get off your feet and have a couple beers or something you know?

Yes. That would be nice.

Alright well thanks a lot and I’ll be at the fest next year. Can’t wait for MDF XII.

Cool. We’re just stoked to basically now completely separate ourselves from a venue and everything and just doing… SoundStage thing is one thing but for the main festival grounds we’re just going to do it our own way and this will give us the freedom to do things exactly the way that we want. Every little thing can be premeditated and we can follow up on it and make sure that that’s the way it goes. I’m stoked to start a new chapter and I think it’ll be much better.

That’s great. Alright well thanks a lot and I’ll talk to you sometime soon.

Bye.

Take it easy.

Maryland Deathfest XI Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again, Memorial Day Weekend is coming up and that means another Maryland Deathfest. This is the festival’s 11th year and as usual there’s a ton of great bands on the bill from old classics to hot up and coming acts and of course some rare appearances by some exotic and/or obscure bands. There’s local and regional bands playing Deathfest as well as some coming from around the country and even other continents. I have been updating this post as MDF goes on with things like drink and food prices, photos of exclusive merch being sold by vendors, and anything else that might be of interest to those attending. You can skip to the updates by going here. If you’re only coming one or two days then check this post before you leave to know what to expect! Now to start things off, here’s some links you will find useful if you’re attending the fest.

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

I put together these handy full schedules and band running orders for each day of the fest (they load quick on phones too!)

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

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

MDF main grounds address: 407 E Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD 21202
MDF main grounds parking lot entrance address: The Fallsway & N High St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore SoundStage address: 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202

I made this custom Google map with things like the location of both venues, the path to walk between them, the closest places to buy booze and smokes, and other stuff. Just click the below image to load it.
MDF XI Map

New Info For This Year

This year there will be no bands playing inside the venue formerly known as Sonar (now it is called Paparazzi Nightclub). The main stage has been removed from inside the venue and the bands said to be playing “inside” this year at MDF will actually be in some sort of large tent on the street outside the venue. There will be bars and merch vendors inside the Sonar building however, and it is my understanding that the bathrooms will be open as well. Why did they put a tent outside instead of just making another outdoor stage? I don’t know, but I’m betting this is the last year they’ll be at this location. I’ll try to get a photo of it when I see it and add it to this post once the fest starts.

Also note, if you are just attending the main Sonar grounds, which means you’re not going to see any of the bands at the Baltimore SoundStage, then the fest ends earlier this year. The two main outdoor stages are all finishing up at about 10pm, and the tent “indoor” stage is wrapping up at midnight each night, and 11pm on Thursday. This may have something to do with noise ordinances but also to keep the headliners from the Baltimore SoundStage from going on at the same time as bands at the main Deathfest grounds. Note that the opening door times are the same at both venues on all all three days (Baltimore SoundStage is not part of MDF on Thursday).

This year will have a signing area where members of many of the Maryland Deathfest bands will hang out and sign merch and meet fans. This does not cost extra. How many bands have you seen charge ridiculous prices for a meet and greet VIP ticket package? Very cool that MDF is making this something anyone can do. They said they would post a schedule of when different people are doing the meet & greets, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll post it when I find out more info but right now all I know is that Bobby Liebling of Pentagram will be there at 4pm on Sunday.

There will be a FREE Maryland Deathfest XI program near the gates when you enter. You can see the cover image below so keep an eye out for it as you enter, the cover looks like this. It’s packed with info on the bands playing and other cool Deathfest related stuff and is great for passing the time between bands.

MDF XI program

Good To Know For Every Year

Wear comfortable shoes 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. 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 ya from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded!

Bring cash! There will be a ton of vendors with all kinds of rare and obscure vinyl, CDs, merch, patches and all kinds of other stuff. There’s usually a couple ATMs inside but I’m sure they have some shitty service fees so stop by the bank before you head up. Some of the stuff you’ll see here will be Maryland Deathfest exclusives, and some of it will be just so rare you’ll probably never find it anywhere again anyways. Relapse Records has put together a video showing some of their wares, including some MDF XI exclusive vinyl, which you can see below. There will be tons of other vendors with booths as well, which are: Acid Queen Jewelry, Bazillion Points, Black Mess, Century Media, ChopoBrujos, Dave’s Metal, Deathgasm Records, Decibel Magazine, Deepsend Records, Forever Plagued Records, Haunted Hotel, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Largactyl Records, Lock and Shock, Old Cemetery Records, Relapse Records, Salvation Distro, Sevared Records, Speaks Volumes Records, Thrash Corner Records, Vienna Music Exchange, Warlord Clothing, Willowtip Records

There will also be many food vendors, several with vegetarian and vegan options on their menus. The diner just across the street from Sonar will be open. The list of known food vendors is:Nader’s Bistro, Sangtawan Thai Food (curry, pad thai, spring rolls, etc), Golden West Cafe (variety of options, including vegan friendly food), Smokerhead Barbeque, McCabe’s of Baltimore, Heavy Metal Hot Dogs (vegan), Totally Hot Dogs, The Loaded Potato.

MDF XI

Other Metal Shows Going On

  • Wednesday the 22nd, the night before the first day of Maryland Deathfest, the Sidebar will be hosting a cool pre-MDF show with six bands total. Be sure to catch Raw Radar War (from Boston) and Wake (from Calgary). The Sidebar is just around the corner from the main Maryland Deathfest grounds, check the map (here) for its location. Full details on that show are listed here.
  • Also on Wednesday, there’s a show a little farther away at the Windup Space, which is actually a photo exhibit reception of Baltimore photographer J.M. Giordano’s photo series “Killer Angels: Faces Of American Death Metal.” Part Death and Coffin Dust will be playing that show, details are posted here.
  • On Thursday there is an early matinee show at Sidebar as a pre-fest warm up featuring the all female death/doom metal band Derketa. They put out a fucking sick album last year and you will be sure to find me there! This show will sell out so if you don’t have a ticket yet (online sales are closed already but they wanted to save some for walk ins) then get there early to be sure you can get one of the 50-60 remaining tickets. Doors are at 2pm, Derketa takes the stage at 3:30pm. Details on this show are here. It looks like they have posters made for this show too.
  • Friday night there is an “after show” (I use the term loosely since the doors open at 8pm, well before MDF ends that day) at the Sidebar which is being headlined by Coliseum, one of the best bands from the legendary Louisville, Kentucky hardcore scene. It’s $8 to attend however you can get in for just $5 (assuming it isn’t sold out) with an MDF wristband on your arm. Details on this show are listed here.
  • Saturday night the band Baroness will be playing at Rams Head Live, which is a few doors down from the Baltimore SoundStage. This is the first appearance by Baroness in the area since their line up change due to their awful tour bus accident. Also playing is the excellent Richmond band Inter Arma. It’s a great show, I would probably go if it wasn’t right in the middle of Deathfest. Details on this show are listed here.
  • Sunday there is a show at the Sidebar featuring Glorior Belli (who is playing MDF earlier the same day!), Krieg and Wolvhammer. This show is actually going on while bands are still playing at Deathfest, so you’d be missing Pentagram, Ascension, Venom and Carpathian Forest. Anyways, details are listed here.

If you know of any metal shows I missed, leave a comment on this post or email me at DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com and I’ll add them if I have enough info. There are often little makeshift after shows that pop up around the fest as well but I won’t list those here, I don’t want to get anything shut down by the cops or whatever. You’ll just have to talk to the right people at the fest to find out about those.

MDF XI

Updates

I stopped by the main fest grounds real quick and shot this photo of stage 3, the “inside” stage, which is really a big tent. This is looking east on Saratoga Street and that’s Sonar/Paparazzi on the right and the parking lot is to the left out of sight. I zoomed out a bit so you can get a sense of perspective. You can click this image to see it larger.

MDF XI Stage 3

It’s Thursday as I write this and all day the line to get in has been VERY long. They are taking longer than in previous years to get people through the door so get here very early if you want to make sure you see a band. I’d say at least 45 minutes before they are scheduled to go on, maybe even more time than that during peak hours. The lines might be worse on later days as the fest will have more people in at that point. Once you do get your wrist band you can skip the line though. They are being very meticulous about what you can bring into the fest this year and really going through everyone’s bag. However they haven’t hired any extra door people so the process is causing a lot of delays.

There aren’t many food and drink vendors set up yet, but here’s four pictures I shot showing prices. I’ll have more when I can on Friday. The first image is a list of the prices for the booze at the bars inside Sonar/Paparazzi. Click the images to see them larger.

MDF XI booze prices

MDF XI beer tent

MDF XI booze tent

MDF XI Headbangin Hot Dogs Menu

I went to the diner in the fest grounds and it wasn’t very good. They don’t have a full menu, in fact, I shot a photo of the entire menu which you can see below. I asked and they said this would be the same menu for the entire weekend.
MDF XI Diner Menu

It looks like Carpathian Forest is the first band to cancel their MDF appearance this year because of visa issues. They were set to play Sunday night. I haven’t seen an official schedule update from MDF yet but I’ll update the Sunday schedule once that announcement is made. You can see Carpathian Forest’s statement here.

Here’s more photos of some of the food vendors menus and prices.

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

Below is the food menu at the Baltimore SoundStage. They said the veggie burger is vegan. I asked but they said they didn’t have a menu with the alcohol prices on it.

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

Merch booths are a bit of a cluster fuck this year. Inside Sonar/Paparazzi I saw one vendor with a bunch of bins just on the floor selling CDs and DVDs. Outside there are some mud issues, as you can see in the two pictures below.

MDF XI Vendor

MDF XI Vendor

MDF XI Vendor

I looked around for the signing area but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Also, still no word on how Carpathian Forest pulling out of the fest will affect the Sunday schedule.

The signing area will be inside Sonar/Paparazzi’s smaller room (to the right as you enter the building). The signing schedule has been posted and I’ve updated the Sunday schedule to include it, which you can see here: http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

Maryland Deathfest X Recap

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

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

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

Day 1: Thursday
Rorschach
Dying Fetus
Absu
Eyehategod
Agalloch
Autopsy

Day 2: Friday
Macabre
Napalm Death
Godflesh
Unsane
Setherial
Nasum

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

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

Maryland Deathfest X Day 1: Thursday

Back to the MDF menu page here.

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

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

John Gallagher of Dying Fetus

Sean Beasley of Dying Fetus

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

Ezezu of Absu

Ezezu of Absu

Absu at Maryland Deathfest X

Ezezu of Absu

Vis Crom of Absu

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

Mike Williams of Eyehategod

Eyehategod at Maryland Deathfest X

Brian Patton of Eyehategod

Brian Patton of Eyehategod

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

Jason William Walton of Agalloch

John Haughm of Agalloch

John Haughm of Agalloch

Agalloch at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Joe Allen of Autopsy

Chris Reifert of Autopsy

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

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

Maryland Deathfest X Day 2: Friday

Back to the MDF menu page here.

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

Macabre at Maryland Deathfest X

Corporate Death of Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Corporate Death of Macabre

Nefarious of Macabre

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

Shane Embury of Napalm Death

Shane Embury of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Justin Broadrick of Godflesh

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

Chris Spencer of Unsane

Chris Spencer of Unsane

Dave Curran of Unsane

Dave Curran of Unsane

Unsane at Maryland Deathfest X

Chris Spencer of Unsane

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

Setherial at Maryland Deathfest X

Infaustus of Setherial

Alastor Mysteriis of Setherial

Infaustus of Setherial

Setherial at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Urban Skytt of Nasum

Jesper Liveröd of Nasum

Keijo Niinimaa of Nasum

Jesper Liveröd of Nasum

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Maryland Deathfest X Day 3: Saturday

Back to the MDF menu page here.

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

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

Dragged Into Sunlight at Maryland Deathfest X

Dragged Into Sunlight at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Paul O'Shea of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

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

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

Brian 'Hellstorm' Williams of October 31

Brian 'Hellstorm' Williams of October 31

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

Matt Ibach of October 31

King Fowley of October 31

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

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

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

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

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

Spellgoth of Horna

Infection of Horna

Qraken of Horna

Spellgoth of Horna

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

Fantasma of Brujeria

Brujeria at Maryland Deathfest X

El Brjuo of Brujeria

Brujeria at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

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

Nag of Tsjuder

Tsjuder at Maryland Deathfest X

Tsjuder at Maryland Deathfest X

Nag of Tsjuder

Nag of Tsjuder

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

Luisma of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

Ramón Checa of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

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

John Alman of Winter

John Alman of Winter

John Alman of Winter

Stephen Flam of Winter

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Maryland Deathfest X Day 4: Sunday

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

Coke Bust at Maryland Deathfest X

Coke Bust at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Bill Venner of Disma

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

Craig Pillard of Disma

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Demonical at Maryland Deathfest X

Widda of Demonical

Martin Schulman of Demonical

Widda of Demonical

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

Marc Grewe of Morgoth

Morgoth at Maryland Deathfest X

Harry Busse of Morgoth

Marc Grewe of Morgoth

Morgoth at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Christopher Terry of Rwake

Rwake at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Paul Kelland of Ulcerate

William Cleverdon of Ulcerate

Paul Kelland of Ulcerate

Ulcerate at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Tom Sutton of Church Of Misery

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Pentagram Chile at Maryland Deathfest X

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Juan Pablo Uribe of Pentagram Chile

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

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Saint Vitus at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Electric Wizard at Maryland Deathfest X

Electric Wizard at Maryland Deathfest X

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

Vainaja of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

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

Jürgen Bartsch of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

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

SC of Mortuary Drape

SC of Mortuary Drape

Mortuary Drape at Maryland Deathfest X

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Daniele Cagnotto of Mortuary Drape

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