Primordial, While Heaven Wept and Cormorant at Empire

Primordial‘s tour came through town and Wednesday the 12th of September found me back at Empire in Springfield, Virginia just two days after seeing Obituary, Broken Hope and Decrepit Birth there (see my post on that show here). The first band I saw Wednesday was Cormorant, a sort of proggy, melodic metal band from San Francisco. They played a long set but since there were no local openers for this show I suppose they had the time to. They were pretty good live and I liked how they mentioned that one of their songs, Blood On The Cornfields, took place in Virginia as it was about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion and subsequent execution in 1831. Like the other bands on this tour their songs were long, but they kept it interesting and I wasn’t bored at all. The second band to play was While Heaven Wept, which is loosely based in the Northern Virginia, however some members live outside of the area. They drew the biggest crowd of the night probably due to their friends coming to see them play since this was their first area appearance in many years. I’m not sure how to describe their sound, it had some elements of power metal and prog and even some thrash and goth parts. I didn’t mind the music so much but frontman Rain Irving’s voice just didn’t do it for me. I’m sure there are some people that really like that style of clean singing but personally, it isn’t my thing. I’ve got a video of them from this show posted below so you can make up your own mind. It should also be noted that, according to the Metal Archives, While Heaven Wept’s guitar player Tom Phillips was once a member of the NSBM band (that stands for National Socialist Black Metal, aka Nazi black metal) Grand Belial’s Key. I refuse to cover or promote bigoted bands on this site and I don’t think While Heaven Wept are a bunch of racists but I thought it should be noted that at least one member of the band has ties to that nonsense. I don’t know the guy personally and maybe he has changed his ways, or perhaps the Metal Archives are simply incorrect but that’s the info I have.

UPDATE: Tom Phillips replied in the comments below, which I will quote here as well, to clarify his association with GBK and I’m inclined to believe him. I hope this makes things more clear for everyone.

Woah dude. Let’s get something clear immediately; yes, I was once involved with the first version of Grand Belial’s Key backing them up on keyboards…this was during the demo era, which was strictly LaVeyian/Anti-Christian Black Metal; that version of the band ended in the early 90′s when Lord Vlad left to join Ancient…the band was done/over/defunct. Fast forward several years and Gelal formed a new version of the band that had more extreme views and lyrical content. I personally had nothing to do with this 2nd incarnation, and it should be noted that While Heaven Wept is neither religious nor political in any way at all; all of our lyrics for the past 23 years are based upon real-life experiences and emotions – and it would be greatly appreciated if this were made clear. Metal Archives does not know or tell the whole story, and while I am proud to have been part of one of the first American Black Metal bands, neither myself nor anyone in WHW have anything to do with NSBM or fascism of any kind. – Tom Phillips

Anyways, let’s move on to talk of the headliner…

Primordial is an Irish folk/black metal band that has some truly epic songs that, to me at least, really separates them from the less serious mead chugging bands that seem to be dominating the folk metal genre these days. Primordial’s set list (see it here) featured a lot of material from their latest album, Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand, which was fine by me since I love that album. This was my first time seeing Primordial and the band’s frontman, A.A. Nemtheanga, was a true showman. He kept the audience constantly into the show and he seemed to always be up to something on stage, be it posing dramatically or walking right up to the audience and sharing the mic. Unfortunately the crowd thinned out considerably after While Heaven Wept finished playing when most of their local friends left. Sucks for them because they really missed a hell of a performance by a band that doesn’t tour the US very often. The show ended on a very high note with the entire crowd going crazy and singing along with the chorus line on their closing song, Empire Falls.

I’ve posted lots of photos and a few videos of each band that played the show below. Some of you might have noticed that Arkansas based doom metal band Pallbearer was playing at the Rock & Roll Hotel the same night Primordial was at Empire. I knew I couldn’t make it to both shows on the same night so I caught Pallbearer at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia last Saturday (the 8th). They were very heavy live but if you asked me which show was better now that I have seen both I would definitely have to say Primordial. September is a busy month full of some great metal concerts so be sure to check the upcoming concert calendar, get out to a show and support the scene you’re a part of!

Cormorant:

Nick Cohon of Cormorant

Matt Solis of Cormorant

Arthur von Nagel of Cormorant

Arthur von Nagel of Cormorant

While Heaven Wept:

Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept

Rain Irving of While Heaven Wept

While Heaven Wept at Empire

Rain Irving of While Heaven Wept

Scott Loose of While Heaven Wept

Jim Hunter of While Heaven Wept

Primordial:

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Ciáran MacUiliam of Primordial

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Pól MacAmlaigh of Primordial

Primordial at Empire

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial

Heritage Hunter Tour At The Fillmore Silver Spring Concert Review

Wednesday the 9th of May 2012 was a rainy day in the Washington, DC area, perfect weather for a mid-week, indoor concert. The Heritage Hunter Heritage Hunter TourTour brought the impressive line up of Opeth, Mastodon and Ghost to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, that night and I finally got a chance to check out this venue. The venue itself has some pretty cool art and design on the walls, the collage of upcoming (and past) concert posters around the main floor’s elevator was pretty cool looking, and the paintings in the stairways were trippy to say the least. The venue is laid out similar to the 9:30 Club with a second floor that is cut out so you can view the stage from that level. This was my biggest problem with the venue however, as the lines of sight on the second floor were not good at all unless you were on the rail, and even then they weren’t great. They had some concrete ledge/steps sort of like at the 9:30 Club, however they are so far back that you cannot watch the show from there at all, and I’m over six feet tall so it isn’t like I’m just too short. This was one of the few poor design choices I found at the venue and luckily this show wasn’t sold out because that would leave a lot of people wishing they could see. There is a VIP section with seats and tables on the second floor as well, and these ring the second floor’s edge, though they certainly block the view for regular ticket holders. I guess that’s an option if you Fillmore Artwant to be sure you get a good view, however something seems just wrong to me about paying extra so you can sit down to watch a metal show. They had several working bars around the place, even the basement bathrooms and coat check, with no view of the stage upstairs, had a fully stocked bar. The venue’s sound wasn’t bad at all and the stage lights were really great, particularly during the first two sets. They have a food menu (see it here) which even has multiple vegetarian options. The bar’s prices aren’t any better than at the 9:30 Club. Alcohol prices weren’t posted anywhere, I’d assume to get people to not realize how much they’re spending until they get the bill at the end of the night. To give you an idea of their prices, I saw a bottle of Heineken poured into a cup for $7 before tip. Anyways, enough about the venue, let’s get to the bands.

The mysterious band Ghost was the opening act for the night. Their last stop in the area was a sold out show at the Rock & Roll Hotel on January 19th and the lead vocalist, Papa Emeritus, sounded very poor then and Papa Emeritus of Ghostcouldn’t hit his high notes. This wasn’t a problem at the Fillmore show at all and the band performed very well. Ghost is a very dramatic band on stage with Papa Emeritus making all kinds of poses that, as a photographer, are totally fun to shoot. Ghost’s theatrics also made them well suited to the bigger stage and the excellent lighting rig the Fillmore provides. Ghost really put on a great show and the 30 minute set seemed to fit them well as they played most of Opus Eponymous, their debut album and only release, in that time.

The second band to play that night was Mastodon, who is probably the biggest band from Georgia centralized sludge metal scene. They were Troy Sanders of Mastodonco-headlining this tour with Opeth, apparently alternating which band headlined each night and this night we had Opeth playing last. I’ll be honest with you here and admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Mastodon, though on this night it seemed like their set’s focus on their latest album, The Hunter, didn’t go over that great with most of the audience either. They played the 9:30 Club back on November 27th to promote this album already, so you’d think they could have changed up their set list a bit by now. Midway through their set it just seemed like more of the same and you could tell people were waiting to hear the classic songs that made them fall in love with the band. When they finally started playing some of their older material the crowd really got into the show, but by then they were wrapping up their set. Kind of a downer to end that way but at least they weren’t the last band playing that night.

The final band to perform was the Swedish progressive metal band Opeth. Well, they are certainly starting to lean further away from being a true “metal” band though they do still put on a good show. Their set list wasn’t much Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opethdifferent from the one they played at Rams Head Live in Baltimore back on November 1st, although this time there was no legendary Bloodbath performance to end the night. They did play a shorter set this time as well, only about an hour and fifteen minutes long, though honestly that was probably a good amount. Opeth’s set list also weighed heavy on their latest album, Heritage, which is a bit controversial among fans because it only has clean vocal singing with no guttural growling. This takes an element away from their songs, and thus the live show, as one of Opeth’s strengths has always been the seamless weaving of the lighter and heavier aspects of progressive metal. In fact, I’d say their manipulation of dynamic contrast is a large part of the band’s overall appeal and one of the things that makes their sound unique. Even so, Opeth writes very good songs and it’s not like they simply suck now, it just seems like something is missing. This was really notable when they played Demon Of The Fall, one of the few older songs they performed, which I thought was their best song of the night. That was the Opeth I wanted to see. Those days seem to be coming to a close and at the end of their set I still just wanted to hear them play Bleak.

In all the show was a lot of fun for me. I thought all the bands were relying too heavily on their latest output (I suppose Ghost can get a pass since they only have one release) especially considering they had all played the area to promote those albums. I’m not saying the bands shouldn’t play new material, but throw your fans a few bones here! At the end of the show I saw a curious thing, the staff at the Fillmore was handing out tickets, for free, to see the Saints & Sinners Tour with Emmure as well as tickets to see Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated, both of which will be at the Fillmore later this month. Perhaps they aren’t selling that well, I don’t know, but that was kind of cool. During Opeth’s last song I headed outside to hand out flyers for DCHeavyMetal.com. Several people tried to speak to me but in the flood of people walking by, and with my hands full of flyers, I simply didn’t have time to to talk. I didn’t want to come off as “too cool” or something and usually I love chatting with fans of the site so the next time you see me be sure to say hi.A Nameless Ghoul of Ghost Also, if you like the photos I shot in this review you can see the rest of my photos from this show, including shots of the set lists, on my Flickr page here (some of my photos were also used in a review of the show written by Catherine Lewis for DCist here). Until next time, stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Meshuggah/Baroness and Opeth/Mastodon ticket give aways!

The new Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, hasn’t had a metal show since Anthrax and Testament played there in November, but they’ve just announced two killer metal concerts coming there in May. The Heritage Hunter tour with Opeth, Mastodon and Ghost on May 9th and the Ophidian Trek tour with Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated on May 22nd. Here at DCHeavyMetal.com we couldn’t pick which concert to give tickets away to, so we’re giving a pair of tickets away to both shows! All you’ve got to do to enter is make a comment at the bottom of this post saying which of these killer metal shows you’d like to enter to win tickets to. You can enter to win both if you’d like, but each concert will have a different winner. The winners will be picked at 4pm EST on Friday the 10th of February. One winner will be chosen at random with Random.org for each concert and they’ll win a pair of tickets to the show of their choice! Be sure you use a real email address you check regularly when you enter so I can contact you when you win, though your email doesn’t have to be in the comment itself. And don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or sell your info to anyone, I hate that crap too. Now, here’s a bit more info on these concerts.

The Heritage Hunter tour has quite a line up! Opeth is Sweden’s premiere progressive metal band and while their last trip through the area saw them playing mostly softer material with a focus on their new album, Heritage, word has it this tour will feature a more “best of” style set list. I suppose we won’t know for sure until they’re actually playing it though. Opeth sold out their last area appearance on November 1st at Rams Head Live in Baltimore. Mastodon is probably the most famous band out of that big Georgia metal scene. Their latest album, The Hunter, looks to make them an even bigger name in the world of metal and you can bet they’ll be playing material from it as well. They also sold out their last area appearance which was at the 9:30 Club on November 27th. The opening act on this tour is Sweden’s mysterious Ghost. The members of the band all cover their faces and hide their identities and so the rumors have swirled around them about who might actually be in the band and what other bands those people are members of. Regardless, their debut album, Opus Eponymous, has won over critics and metal fans alike with their clean vocals and simple but catchy songs, all in the name of Satan of course. And you probably guessed it, but they also sold out their most recent area appearance when they headlined the Rock & Roll Hotel on January 19th. That’s right, this tour is made up of three bands who all sold out their most recent area appearances. If you missed any of them before now is your chance to see them live! If you want to be sure you get tickets before it sells out (which it seems likely to do considering the line up) you can buy tickets online now for $29.50 here.

The other metal show coming to the Fillmore in May is the Ophidian Trek tour with Sweden’s popular tech metal band Meshuggah headlining in support of their new album Koloss. Everyone knows these guys can shred and this will be the area’s first chance to hear any of their new material played live. If that wasn’t good enough for you they’ve also brought along another one of the premiere bands from the Georgia metal scene, Baroness! Baroness should have a new album out this year, hopefully in time for this tour, but even if they don’t the material on their first two albums is fantastic live. I saw them play the Rock & Roll Hotel back in November of 2009 and while that show was excellent, it will be great to see them on a bigger stage. The opening act is Decapitated, a Polish technical death metal band that has reformed with a new line up after a tragic bus accident in 2007 left the drummer dead and the vocalist in a coma. And you know what Meshuggah and Decapitated on the same bill means, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear both Bleed and Spheres Of Madness played live at the same concert, hell yeah! If you want to get tickets to this show now and not have to worry about it selling out (you know, on the off chance you don’t win this contest) you can go ahead and buy your tickets online for $25 each by going here.

Well, those are your two choices. Check out these classic videos by the headliners and enter to win below!

Queensrÿche ticket give away

Queensryche at the 9:30 Club

Here’s another ticket give away for readers of DCHeavyMetal.com! This time you can win a pair of tickets to see the old school power prog metal band Queensrÿche play the 9:30 Club on Tuesday 9 August 2011 with opening act The Voodoos. To enter just tell me what song you’d like to hear Queensryche play from their albums in the 80s. If you don’t know any of their songs from back then, you can see their discography here (just click an album title to see it’s track listing). I’ll randomly select a winner to get the tickets from all eligible entries at 5pm EST on Friday August 5th 2011. Be sure to use a valid email address you check regularly when you enter (the email address does not have to be in the post itself) so that I can contact you if you win. If the winner does not respond within 24 hours I’ll pick another winner at 5pm the next day. And don’t worry, I won’t put your email on any lists or spam you, I hate that crap too. Don’t be a jerk and enter multiple times or I’ll disqualify all your entries. If you just can’t wait to get your tickets or the contest is already over when you read this, they’re available from Ticket Fly for $35 each here.

Queensrÿche is a progressive metal band from Washington state and this is their Washington DC area stop on their 30th Anniversary Tour. The band still consists of four of the original five members, so you can bet they’ll be playing some of their old material for this anniversary tour. Unlike many bands from the 80s, they weren’t forgotten once the grunge wave hit in the early 90s because these guys were actually writing music with some substance to it. The fact they’re playing large venues like the 9:30 Club shows that the band still has a strong following, even after all this time. They just finished a string of gigs in Europe opening for Judas Priest on their farewell tour and now they’re coming to the states to headline. Enter the contest in the comments below then check out this recent backstage video interview with Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate.

Maryland Deathfest IX Recap

I’m not doing a super detailed Maryland Deathfest recap this year because I missed all of day three, Saturday, so I could attend the wedding of a good friend. However, I was there for day one, two and four and I shot a ton of pictures and video footage, including 70 minutes of the Neurosis set and 82 minutes of Coroner’s set (that footage is below). Each band I saw gets a blurb and a photograph and a video and you can hover over any image to see which band it is if you just want to skip to the ones you like. You can click on any of the photographs to see more images that I shot of that specific band. I hope you all enjoyed Maryland Deathfest as much as I did, or at least enjoy checking out all this stuff I shot for ya. You can see all the other pictures and videos that I didn’t use one this post on Flickr (here) and YouTube (here) if you want more of those. So anyways, here’s Maryland Deathfest IX over Memorial Day weekend 2011 as seen through my eyes (and lenses).

Day 1 – Thursday

The first day of the fest was all indoors on the main stage at Sonar and it was the only day that sold out. Most of the early sets were grind bands. Miasmal was playing when I got there. I didn’t know anything about them but they really impressed me. I was too far in the back to get any decent shots though so my first pics and videos from the fest are of Southern California grind act Lack Of Interest.

Lack Of Interest at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next up was Flesh Parade, a reunited grind band from New Orleans. Their vocalist made a lot of anti-gay comments and talked about how he loved smoking weed between almost every song. Flesh Parade had a bunch of people come out in various costumes (Santa, a surgeon, a Teletubby, a ketchup bottle, etc…) and start a crazy circle pit that involved dozens of glow sticks and inflatable animals and penises being thrown around the audience and onto the stage. These characters, dubbed the Party Patrol (picture here), would show up during various sets throughout the rest of the festival.

Flesh Parade at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was grind act Extortion who came all the way from Australia to play Deathest and they were pretty intense stop and start grindcore. When they finished playing the vocalist for Lack Of Interest came out on stage telling everyone to give them a bigger hand because he liked them so much (and he told us we all should too!).

Extortion at Maryland Deathfest IX

Extortion was followed by North Carolina based stoner act Buzzov•en, quite a contrast from the previous acts. These guys looked and talked like they walked out of a backwoods scene in Deliverance! The band isn’t super heavy but more of a groove base, sorta rough around the edges and definitely southern in sound. They were a lot slower than the grind bands before them and it seemed they would have fit better playing just before the night’s headliners, Cathedral.

Buzzov•en at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next to play was Tragedy, a rare appearance by a band people had been waiting to see. They’re not really a metal band at all but a very aggressive punk band along the lines of Discharge or early DRI. The band is originally from Tennessee but relocated to their current hometown, Portland, Oregon. People were pretty psyched to get to see them live and the audience energy level was at a peak for day one while Tragedy played.

Tragedy at Maryland Deathfest IX

Finally the headliner of the first night was Cathedral. They are from Coventry, England and their lead singer, Lee Dorian, is a legend of the doom metal genre (he was also the original vocalist for Napalm Death). The band had recently announced their plans to break up at the end of the year and this one off concert would be their last performance ever in the US. They played a set with a lot of their old classics as well as some fairly obscure material for fans to commemorate the occasion. It was a good start to the fest, and although the last three bands weren’t grind it still felt like a pre-fest day instead of being part of the rest of Maryland Deathfest proper, mostly due to the single indoor stage I suppose.

Cathedral at Maryland Deathfest IX

Day 2 – Friday

Day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the first day to use the two outdoor stages. I didn’t get there as the doors opened so missed the early bands but I did get there in time to see the Norwegian blackened thrash band Aura Noir play. They didn’t bring along the former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer to play with them so they were a three piece. However Apollyon, the current bass player for Immortal, was there and he introduced the band as the ugliest metal band in the world! The set was fast paced and pretty straight forward and what you’d expect from them, just sold black thrash metal.

Aura Noir at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I watched was the Raleigh, North Carolina band Corrosion Of Conformity. Their sound is somewhere between stoner rock, southern rock, thrash metal and punk. The band has been around since 1982 and this was their classic line up of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin but they were noticeably missing Pepper Keenan (he has been a member of the super group Down for some time but is still considered an official member of C.O.C.). The band seemed to really enjoy themselves on stage, the drummer, Mike Dean, seemed to be smiling the entire show. I guess they had more time to play than they had expected because at one point they asked if they could do another song and they were told they had another 20 minutes left to play!

Corrosion Of Conformity at Maryland Deathfest IX

After Corrosion Of Conformity played the sky looked like it was getting ready to storm. I wanted to see the Italian grind act Cripple Bastards playing on the indoor stage but I skipped it because I didn’t want to lose my spot in the front row to see the day’s headlining act, Neurosis. The Oakland, California based band rarely plays shows due to medical reasons of one of the members, and this was their first east coast concert in 10 years or so. When they were supposed to start playing the sky opened up and a thunderstorm rolled through, but the crowd didn’t disparage and actually started chanting Neurosis. I was worried they might not play because the outdoor stage’s roof was leaking water onto all the equipment. Their show was delayed but they did come out and the rain soaked crowd roared with approval. The lighting during their show was poor, the big lighting rigs had been covered due to the storm, but they did have a projector displaying all kinds of stuff on the band and the stage. The set was really awesome, and the vibe in the air after the storm only enhanced their performance. This was by far my favorite set of all of Maryland Deathfest IX. Neurosis has never been a highly technical band, they’ve got a sound you just sort of experience and their mastery of mood manipulation was in peak form during this rare performance. It’s hard to describe but luckily I’ve posted about 70 minutes of footage of them performing, check it out below.

Neurosis at Maryland Deathfest IX

Although Neurosis headlined the day there were still a few bands left to play inside after Neurosis. Their set ran later than expected because of the rain so I didn’t get to see a lot of Kylesa‘s set, who was already playing indoors. I’ve already seen them twice this year so that wasn’t the end of the world for me. The spiraling lights they have on during their show looked really good on the black walls at Sonar. Next up was Exhumed, a gore grind/death metal band from San Jose, California. This was their first US show in six years! To start their show they held up the backs of their guitars with each having one word of “Gore Fuckin’ Metal” on the back of it. Their set was brutal, as to be expected. Quite a fun show really. They brought out a real chain saw on stage at one point and I laughed as the guy swung it low in the photographer’s pit, making them all duck to avoid the whirring saw! At the end of the set Matt Harvey decapitated some dummy Gwar style on stage that sprayed blood all over himself. A nice way to end the set!

Exhumed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band to play on day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the Swedish black metal band Marduk. The stage was very dark and I wasn’t close enough to get any decent photos of them but I did shoot some video. They played mostly newer material (read: slower) and as usual they didn’t play my favorite song of theirs, Infernal Eternal. Their new stuff isn’t bad, I really liked their Rom 5:12 album, and they did play a song off Panzer Division Marduk, but the band has lost a lot of it’s raw energy and aggression over the years. Still, they’re pretty tight live and since their set started late they ended up playing right up to 2am! The venue even put on their last call lights while they played their final song, which you can see video of below.

Day 4 – Sunday

I got to Maryland Deathfest on Sunday just in time to see Anaheim, California’s Gravehill playing on one of the outdoor stages. These guys love fake blood! They’d eat random fake blood capsules throughout the show and it got all over them. Matt Harvey was back on stage with these guys (he also played with Exhumed and Cretin at the fest) but he broke a string midway through the set and didn’t come back for a few songs. And although he dumped blood all over himself at the end of Exhumed’s set, he was the only member of Gravehill who wasn’t covered in it at the end of the set. Anyways, their songs were black and thrashy with a bit of a punk attitude thrown in and the vocalist’s self deprecating banter between songs was entertaining too.

Gravehill at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw perform was the Texas based death/thrash three piece act Nokturnel. They were alright though they didn’t really do much that stood out to me. Their lead singer/guitarist was saying he felt particularly inspired after seeing his favorite band, Voivod, play the fest the night before but still they didn’t really do that much for me. It was death/thrash alright but I didn’t really find much interesting about it. Maybe I’d have liked it more if I knew some of their material.

Nokturnel at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I caught some of the Czech punkish thrash band Malignant Tumour playing, again with the party patrol people in the mosh pit. These guys looked right at home with the party patrol, wearing ridiculous costumes, fake beards and wigs that seemed like they were taken from the set of a Cheech And Chong movie. Their bass player was running all over the stage and it was such a spectacle to see that it was hard to take your eyes off them when they were on the stage. These guys were really a lot of fun live!

Malignant Tumour at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I had a problem, there were two bands I wanted to see playing at exactly the same time. I decided to try to catch some of both of their sets, and I started by watching Orange Goblin play on one of the outdoor stages. They’re from London, England and I’m pretty sure this was their first US concert. They’re a doom metal/stoner band and I’ll tell you they were totally awesome live! The vocalist, Ben Ward, had a great charisma on stage and got everyone pumped when he jumped off the stage and ran up to the crowd yelling “Let’s start a fucking riot!” at the beginning of their set. They really blew me away live and I didn’t want to leave their set early but I did because I wanted to catch another band indoors.

Orange Goblin at Maryland Deathfest IX

That other band playing at the same time was the brutal death metal act Skinless from upstate New York. This was the band’s last concert ever and they were breaking up once the show was over. For this special show they had the original line up play. I missed the early part of the set to see Orange Goblin but I wanted to make sure I saw the end of their last set. They kept the intensity turned up to the max while I there and the lead singer even did a stage dive into the crowd, chorded microphone still in hand, and continued to grunt lyrics until he was pushed back to the stage. They finished up their last brutal set and then they thanked the audience for the fun over years and then they all left the stage for the last time.

Skinless at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw was the reformed hardcore punk band Citizens Arrest. I really only saw a bit of their set because I needed to head out and get some food so I could make it back in time to get a good spot for the night’s headliner, Coroner. They were ok but I didn’t really know much of their material but I could tell the punk fans were enjoying the chance to see them live.

Citizens Arrest at Maryland Deathfest IX

When I got back from eating I the 80s thrash band Nuclear Assault was starting their set on one of the outdoor stages as the sun was setting. They played some of their old classic songs mixed with newer material. Their bass player Dan Lilker mentioned he remembered playing in the exact same spot last year, though he was performing with Autopsy then. The set was good but I left early because I wanted to be in the front row for the night’s headliner, who was up next.

Nuclear Assault at Maryland Deathfest IX

The last night’s headliner was the Swiss technical thrash band Coroner. They had broken up 15 years before and though they had recently played a festival in Europe this was their first US concert in 20 years! The trio was the original line up, though they also had a guy playing keyboads on the stage but I don’t know what his name is as the band doesn’t list him as an official or even live only member. They were on the same stage Neurosis had been two nights before but they had all the cool lighting rigs working as well as fog machines. That stuff all helped set the mood for an awesome set by one of the legends of underground metal. Their set was never boring and they really killed it live. They performed two encores at the end of their set, one of which was a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze. I shot a lot of video of them live from up front, over 80 minutes worth actually, all of which you can see below.

Coroner at Maryland Deathfest IX





After Coroner finished their headlining set outdoors there were still a few bands left to play indoors. The first of these last three bands was the one I was most excited to see, the technical death metal band from Spain, Wormed. I never thought I’d have the chance to see these guys play live so this was pretty cool for me. They played what was the heaviest set I saw all weekend. Nonstop brutality from start to finish and just a crazy amount of energy. I’m really glad I got to see these guys tear up the stage, totally awesome!

Wormed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was the Dutch grind act Last Days Of Humanity. They were pretty damn intense but by this point I was starting to get a bit tired (it had been a long four days!). I shot a bit of video before I went and hung back a bit during their set in the hopes that I could rest my feet and get up closer later for the last band of the night.

Last Days Of Humanity at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band of Maryland Deathfest IX was the mysterious band Ghost from Sweden. Unlike pretty much any of the bands at Maryland Deathfest they sing all their songs with clean vocals. They aren’t very brutal and their sound lies somewhere between Mercyful Fate and 70s Ghost at Maryland Deathfest IXrock. The band stays anonymous though you could see members of In Solitude and Repugnant (both bands who played the fest this year) on the stage during sound check which would lead one to believe Ghost is made up of members of those also Swedish bands. Anyways, I thought the crowd for Ghost would be a bit more laid back due to their type of music as well as it being the end of the fest and people just being tired but I was wrong. The crowd was really psyched to witness the band’s first US concert and they became really rough, while at the same time singing along to every word. It was all a bit ridiculous really, and the costumes on stage just sort of added to that. Apparently Ghost has a rather ravenous fan base and I simply don’t care enough about them to deal with that just to see them up close so I ended up hanging a bit farther back by this guy in an elaborate Cthulhu costume. That’s right, hanging out with Cthuhlu was safer for all my cameras than getting fairly close to Ghost performing live, wtf? I was hoping the set would be more impressive but with the audience singing along so loud it was drowning out not only the singer, Papa Emeritus, but the rest of the band as well. The set was short too, lasting only around 40 minutes. They have released just one album and I was hoping they’d play maybe some covers or something to fill out the set list some but they didn’t (though they did play a Beatles cover two nights later in New York). For a band with so much hype I was hoping for a better show, but it was just OK.

After the show was over I quickly left the venue and got to my car. Apparently after Ghost played there was an incident with security guards beating someone and then pepper spraying innocent bystanders for whatever reason. I luckily avoided that and only read about it online the next day. A shame that the fest had to end on a sour note like that, perhaps they’ll have better security next year. In all the fest was fun as usual and while I missed seeing some of the bands on Saturday I still had a great time at this year’s Deathfest. I got some cool merch, drank some beers, got some good footage and ran into a bunch of friends all over the place. They’re saying that they are planning something really special for next year since it will be the 10th anniversary of the festival and I can’t wait to see what that entails (and don’t worry, I’ll pass on the info to you all too as soon as I find out). Sorry this post has taken so long to get up but I had thousands of pictures and videos to sort through to put this together. Thanks for reading it and stay tuned for more going on in the local metal scene from DCHeavyMetal.com

Review of Agalloch at Sonar

So Monday the 21st of March 2011 saw the Portland based dark metal band Agalloch come to Sonar in Baltimore. They put out an album late last year, Marrow Of The Spirit, that as per their usual won a lot of critical accolades and was put on many best of 2010 album lists. I did like it a lot though I have to say I prefer some of their older material more. Still, it does have some really good songs on it and is another quality album in their back catalog. Agalloch has quite a devoted following and their fans tend to know every song, not just a few ‘hits’ or whatever. This show saw a lot of people in the local metal community come out. It’s always nice to see a strong turn out for underground metal bands. The smaller Talking Head Club stage was used for this concert though it was rather cramped in the room by the time Agalloch hit the stage and they probably could have put this show on the larger main stage.

When I first got to the show some band named Vindensång was playing. They were awful but I missed all but the last few songs of their set so it wasn’t that bad. The next band was Worm Ouroboros, a three piece with Agalloch drummer, Aesop Dekker, and two women playing guitar and bass who also both sing. Aesop has another non-Agalloch side project, named Ludicra, that is pretty good and since I hadn’t heard anything by Worm Ouroboros going into this show I was hoping for something that might be on par with that. Unfortunately, and contrary to what just about everyone else I spoke with about them thought, they were awful. Their sound was very slow, atmospheric and it sorta seemed like a lullaby trying to put me to sleep. That would be OK perhaps if it was the intro song to their set or something, but the music never picked up. The women’s voices were singing very softly and they didn’t seem very in tune with each other at any point where they were both singing simultaneously. There were a couple of times where it seemed the music was starting to pick up, but it was a trick, just more soft and slow music would follow. I realize headliner Agalloch isn’t the most brutal band in the world and their opening acts aren’t going to cover Napalm Death, but this was still a fucking metal concert! When Worm Ouroboros was playing I couldn’t help feeling that I was watching a band on the second stage at the Lilith Fair. I didn’t bother shooting video of them because I didn’t want that on my YouTube page so if you want to check them out you’ll have to do that somewhere else. When they finally finished (and took their Christmas lights with them) much to my bewilderment the audience gave them a great response. Am I some elitist narrow minded prick who only listens to metal, the more extreme the better? Hell no, I listen to a lot more than metal, of various levels of speed and all sorts of moods. This was just bad and made me wonder what everyone else saw in them. Perhaps I should have been drinking more?

I felt like I was waking up out of a coma before Agalloch’s set, so I really hoped they were going to keep it interesting. As if in an effort to wake everyone up, after the taped intro they opened the set with Into The Painted Grey which starts off with one of their faster riffs. They went right into Falling Snow and then played one of their new songs, The Watcher’s Monolith, which just happens to be my favorite on the new album. By this point I was pretty into the show with any thoughts of poor opening acts far from my mind. Agalloch’s very dramatic atmospherics and epic, well polished riffs have always been present in their sound. It’s the details that seem to change the most from album to album. More acoustic guitars used on one, female back up singing on another. They are very good at writing songs that go through a lot of changes in tempo but always seem to feel like they flow perfectly from the highs to the lows and back again. This was even more apparent live where the faster parts had more energy and the grand build ups to those great riffs just seemed more powerful. Their set list was a good mix of tunes spanning their career, three songs from Marrow Of The Spirit, three from Ashes Against The Grain and a song each from their older full lengths and they even played what vocalist John Haughm identified as the fourth song they had ever written, Of Stone, Wind And Pillor. I was hoping they would play my favorite song of theirs, Hallways Of Enchanted Ebony but they didn’t. People were calling out for the band to perform that song’s album, Pale Folklore, in its entirety as an encore but they only played two songs (I have video of the entire encore posted below). The band didn’t seem too cramped on the small stage, at least not from where I was. They used the fog machine a lot and the lighting was pretty low the entire set, and they had members of Worm Ouroboros going around the crowd telling people to stop using the flash on their cameras (that was annoying) but whatever, the songs are good enough that they made this show excellent regardless. I, and the rest of the audience, probably could have stood there and listened to them play their entire back catalog if the band had wanted to. After the set guitarist Don Anderson got on the mic and asked who had stolen one of their three cauldrons from the stage. I have no idea who did, but that’s kinda metal that it had to be asked. Agalloch does not tour a lot out here on the east coast so I’m glad I got the chance to see them as they came through the area. This is a band highly recommended by critics and my opinion is the same, see them live if you have the chance, just get there late to miss the openers. Now, check out my videos of Agalloch at this concert below and feel free to look at the rest of the pics I shot of them that night on my Flickr page here.