Review of Slayer at Jiffy Lube Live

On Sunday, June 10th of 2018 the Slayer farewell tour came to Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. The tour was supported by some other great bands as well. Testament started things off, then Poland’s blackened death metal band Behemoth played (it was the band’s main man, Nergal’s, birthday) followed by Anthrax and then Lamb of God was direct support. I’m not going to get into all of their sets mostly because this post is about Slayer and secondly, I got there during Anthrax’s set. However you can see a few clips at the end of this post from Behemoth’s set that they posted on social media. Anyways, this is a concert review so of course the big question is, how was the show?

First off, like all Slayer performances, the show was a lot of fun. Slayer did a sort of career retrospective set list, which is a bit different than a “best hits” style set list in that it contained songs off 11 of their 13 albums. Only Diabolus in Musica and the mostly punk covers album Undisputed Attitude weren’t represented in the set list (see the full set list here). They left a few classics off, most notably “Spirit in Black,” “Die by the Sword,” and the medley of “Altar of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves” that has been a staple of their live set for decades. However they did play “Blood Red” which hasn’t been in their touring set list in many years.

It seemed like almost every metal head from our area was at the show to see Slayer one last time. I ran into some of the dudes from Darkest Hour, Ant Scot was crowd surfing in his wheelchair throughout the day and Randy Blythe even brought out local politician/metal head Danica Roem on stage for a moment during Lamb of God’s set. It seemed everywhere I turned I ran into another regular from the local scene, and I still didn’t see half the people I know were there from seeing their posts on social media after the show.

Most of the bands played in the daylight but it was dark by the time Slayer took the stage after 9pm. They had some great pyro effects including open flames that lit up metal Slayer logos on stage, and giant fireballs that would shoot up behind them in time with the music. While the current line up is only half of the original members, Tom Araya and Kerry King, I had seen this same Slayer line up with Paul Bostaph on drums and Gary Holt of Exodus filling Jeff Hanneman’s shoes twice before. Once in November 2013 (read our review of that show here) and again in March 2016 (read our review of that show here), both times at the Fillmore Silver Spring. What blew me away at those shows was how tight the band still was despite the line up changes. Slayer is probably best known for having written some of the most classic songs of the entire heavy metal genre but they are also known as a band that is incredibly well rehearsed and tight live. They rip through blisteringly fast songs totally in sync with each other and they make it seem easy because they have practiced them so many times. It was impressive that they could keep that up with two new members, something many bands that have that kind of well rehearsed chemistry fail to do after major line up changes. However that tight chemistry wasn’t quite there this Sunday night in June. Gary Holt had some technical issues and had to swap his guitar out a few times, including during the beginning of “Hell Awaits” which left what might be Slayer’s best intro riff sounding off. Most glaring however was Tom Araya fudging or possibly completely forgetting the lyrics to some of the songs. I might give this a pass if they were songs off the later albums but, for example, in “South of Heaven” he repeated a verse that doesn’t repeat and in “Angel of Death” he completely missed an entire verse of lyrics. This didn’t ruin the show by a long shot, it certainly didn’t make me suddenly stop loving those classic songs but it was the first time I’d ever seen Slayer so out of sync live. I’ve seen them live many times before. At the 9:30 Club, the long gone Nation/Capital Ballroom, the Baltimore Arena and the previously mentioned Fillmore Silver Spring. I’ve seen them before at Jiffy Lube Live on Mayhem Fest and even back when it was still called Nissan Pavilion I’ve seen Slayer play there as part of several Ozzfests. This Slayer performance was the first time I had seen a tiny crack in the foundation starting to grow.

Slayer played for about 90 minutes with none of that lame pre-rehearsed encore nonsense. They just got up there and ripped for an hour and a half straight while everyone went nuts. Gary Holt was sporting a “Kill The Kardashians” shirt and brought out his guitar that is painted in his own blood a few times (backstory on that here). However the most memorable part of the show might be what happened after it just ended. After the end of the set Tom Araya wandered around on stage just soaking in all the fans still screaming wildly for the band despite the set being over. He eventually found a mic and thanked the fans for all the memories. I’m not sure if he did that at every stop on the tour or just ours, but it was quite a touching moment, not something Slayer shows are generally known for. Still coming down from the adrenaline rush of a live Slayer performance, it was a sobering reminder that this was the last time we’ll be seeing Slayer in our area.

I am sad to see Slayer go, but this performance showed us why they are retiring. It seems like Tom Araya’s heart just isn’t in it any more, something that has been hinted at in interviews in other metal publications. I’d rather see them go on their own terms than just become a sloppy caricature of the incredible band they are. I did thoroughly enjoy the show though, despite its flaws. I’ve long held that no metal head can sit still while songs like “Raining Blood” or “Angel of Death” are playing and this show was certainly no exception. Bang your head, throw the horns, jump into the mosh pit, you just gotta go crazy for Slayer! But it is the end of an era, the first band of the Big Four of thrash metal to retire. I love this area’s metal community and it is always bittersweet to see one of the legends bring everyone out to headbang to their tunes for one last time.

Below you can see the photos I shot of Slayer from the photo pit (click them to see them larger) and below those are some images and videos of Behemoth that were posted to their social media, including the audience singing “Happy Birthday” to Nergal.

Slayer at Jiffy Lube Live 6/10/18

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya of Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya and Kerry King of Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

Ant Scot crowd surfing

Bonus photo I shot of Ant Scot crowd surfing into security

Bristow, Virginia. We are in the middle of the set. The show is fuckin' intense… I see a guy on the wheelchair crowd surfing! There's a moshpit from the very start of the show and ppl r totally INTO it. Obviously we feed on that energy and return it with twice as much strength! Ryan, our tour manager suggests that he goes Instagram live for the new song "Wolves ov Siberia". I agree, why not, right? He follows me into the stage and I'm announcing the song yet I see him standing behind my back regardless. Weird. As I approach the mic music dies and there's a robotic announcment coming from the speakers all over the place: "Ladies and gentlemen this is not time for "Wolves ov Siberia". Not yet. Today is the day to celebrate your fuckin' birthday, Nergal"! And then Gary Holt, Randy Blythe, Kerry King and the boss of all bosses, Mike enter the stage with a bottle of Jagger serving shots! Holy fuck! It took me few seconds to realize what's goin on… From the speeakers I can hear "Stoooo lat" from the legendary movie "Rejs"… Randy encoured ppl to sing "Happy birthday" and shortly after 10.000 ppl are chanting along the theme. What can I say? I was blown away and hyper-surprised and it was worth waiting 41 years for THIS haha !!! Would love to send regards and massive thank you to my band mates and Wolfpack crew for making this all happen! BEST wishes EVER!!! Love u ALLfuckers!!!! @drandallblythe @behemothofficial @garyholt_official @orion669 @brovarius.victorius @slayerbandofficial @slaywhore @paulbostaphofficial @shark_________________________

A post shared by Adam Nergal Darski (@nergal69) on

The same video as above, but this version is longer and includes the “Happy Birthday” song.

Thank you sooo much for last nite Bristow!!!!

A post shared by Behemoth (@behemothofficial) on

Municipal Waste ticket give away

Municipal Waste at 9:30 Club

Municipal Waste is coming to the 9:30 Club on Sunday, December 17th! This Krampus miracle of a show has one hell of a line up as we’ll also get to see sets by Nails, Macabre and Shitfucker. In fact we’re so excited that we’re going to be giving away a free pair of tickets to the show to one of you lucky DCHM readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite metal song for the holidays is (I’m going with “Holidays Of Horror” by Macabre!). Then this Friday, December 8th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $20 here.

Richmond’s Municipal Waste is known for their wild live shows full of crowd surfers and stage divers, their hilarious lyrics about partying and of course those sweet thrash metal riffs! Nails is a grind band from California that really broke out with their punishing album You Will Never Be One Of Us, definitely one of the best albums of 2016. Macabre is a bizarre band from Chicago that has been a personal favorite of mine for years. They somehow blend death metal and nursery rhymes and almost all of their songs are about actual serial killers. Between songs during live performances they tell stories and often quote the various serial killers before launching into each track. Opening the show is Shitfucker, a Detroit based band that blends blackened speed metal with high energy punk. This is one epic line up you don’t want to miss! Now check out these videos from the bands performing and let me know your favorite metal song for the holidays is in the comments!

Municipal Waste – Breathe Grease

Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us

Macabre – Scrub A Dub Dub

Shitfucker – Graveyard Revels

Review of Slash ‘Em All by Omnislash

Band: Omnislash
Album: Slash ‘Em All!
Release Date: 9 June 2017
Buy as mp3s ($8.91) from: Amazon
Buy on CD ($10) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Slash 'Em All! by Omnislash

DCHM writer Tal is back with this in depth review of Baltimore based traditional/thrash metal band Omnislash’s sophomore album. Be sure to check out the video game inspired music video at the end of the post when you’re done reading.

We’re pretty spoiled in the DC area with a good number of local bands that sound like pros, and yet somehow I’m always surprised when I find another one. Omnislash is one of those bands. I had heard of them for possibly years, but had never been in the right place at the right time to actually see them live. Their recent album Slash ‘Em All! convinced me that I need to change that ASAP.

If Iron Maiden was a little faster and thrashier, that might describe Omnislash’s sound. They’re melodic like Iron Maiden, with mostly cleanish vocals, anthemic choruses and an upbeat vibe, but given to blistering thrash rampages. They at once claim to combine “the best elements of glam, thrash, power metal, death metal, hair metal, and classic rock” and to represent traditional heavy metal from “a time before the metal scene became fragmented.” I suppose if we hearken far enough back into the 80’s, it might be possible to do both at once. Certainly, Omnislash seems to combine all those diverging genres into one cohesive whole – thrash outbursts flow into expansive choruses, the vocals go from gritty to near operatic, and heavy riffs give way to melodic bridges or speedy solos, in such an organic way that nothing sounds out of place.

After an acoustic/neoclassical intro, the album starts off with rocking riffs with just a little thrash dirtiness, and a vicious scream from vocalist Jeremy Phoenix. True metal, all right. The first song, “Empires Fade,” is exemplary of the album – at once melodic, groovy and touched with thrash grittiness, and impossible to sit still for. The vocal style, clean yet forceful and sometimes rising into a scream, is reminiscent of harder power metal bands like Iced Earth. In another parallel to Iced Earth, there seems to be a historical theme to the song, which I first noticed with the line “Rome controls the Nile.” In an interview in Shockwave Magazine, Jeremy indicated that the song is about “that moment in time when it could have been the Egyptian Empire but it became the Roman Empire.” The wailed, “Run for your life” in the chorus can’t help evoking Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills,” as well.

There are several catchy songs you’ll be rocking out to in your mind long after the album’s done playing, but the catchiest has to be the title track (and band theme song?), “Metalliation Revengeance (Slash ‘Em All).” With the racing, driving rhythm and insistent, somehow danceable lead guitar, you won’t be able to help starting a toxic waltz wherever you are. Then it goes into a horn-throwing, sing-along chorus and bridge, complete with “woah’s” for the full metal experience. But don’t take my word for it; check out their hilarious video at the end of this post. I can just imagine this as the climactic closing song of their live show.

This is just the middle of the album, however, so the songs keep on coming. The most aggressive songs are in the second half: “Nuke the Moon” and “Not One Step Back,” the former about Project A119, a US Air Force project from the 1950’s that planned to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon, and the latter about the Battle of Stalingrad. There’s also a ballad of sorts, “Gothenburg,” if a song with pummeling thrash percussion and machine-gun guitars can be called a ballad just because it has more drawn-out and emotional vocals. “Blood Feud” is a song with furious aggressive verses and a catchy chorus that oddly reaches its anthemic height at the end of the chorus. Since I just finished reading Hillbilly Elegy, I can’t help wondering if the song has anything to do with Appalachia, since that book’s author, J.D. Vance, had some not-so-distant ancestors that took part in some pretty violent blood feuds in that area.

The band’s lyrical themes are another parallel to Iron Maiden, with a more historical bent than most thrash metal, although they still focus on typical thrash themes of war and violence.

One downside to the album, which might have been out of the band’s control, is that the production quality isn’t as good as I’ve become used to for some of our local bands. Some might argue that this is part of the band’s 80’s thrash vibe, but for me, it’s a detriment to the album. For instance, the furious beginning to “Nuke the Moon” sounds like a mess. It would be much more effective at showcasing the band’s technical virtuosity – not to mention more enjoyable as a thrash barrage – if I could hear everything going on. The rest of the album isn’t that bad, but it’s still poor enough that this is one of the rare cases where a pair of good headphones doesn’t help, and actually takes away from enjoyment of the album, since the sound quality issue becomes so distracting.

Sound quality aside, Slash ‘Em All! is a great album, putting Omnislash among the ranks of stellar local bands in the DC area.

Local metal head Danica Roem wins election!

We here at DCHeavyMetal.com are very proud of local metal head Danica Roem! Yesterday she was successfully elected to Virginia’s House Of Delegates to represent the state’s 13th district, which covers Manassas Park City and parts of Prince William County. Her historic win has garnered her headlines across the nation and world. While I’m totally psyched to see the first person from our area’s metal scene elected to office, the reason this grabbed headlines is the fact that Danica is transgender, and now the first ever transgender person elected to office in Virginia. I stopped by her victory party last night to join in the celebration (and make sure our area’s metal heads were representing!) and snapped the photo above. Danica gave a moving victory speech (embedded below) to the packed room and even gave a shout out to metal heads at the beginning! Though she ran on fixing traffic on Route 28 and paying teachers more, her win was important to many outside of her district as well.

It’s really awesome to see one of us making headlines and causing change in such a positive way. Arch Enemy frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz even made an Instagram post (here) about how she used to crash on Danica’s couch back in the day when she played Jaxx/Empire. Be sure to check out the party thrash band Danica fronts, Cab Ride Home, by streaming their 2017 album Crash The Gate below.

Review of Exodus and Obituary at Baltimore Soundstage

Tampa took on San Francisco when the Battle of The Bays Tour came to Baltimore last weekend. DCHM contributor Metal Nick was there and he wrote this review of the show and shot all the photos and videos posted here as well.

On Saturday September 16th, 2017, the Battle Of The Bays Tour came through Baltimore, Maryland, at the Baltimore Soundstage. Power Trip, Obituary and Exodus make up the tour’s line up. Dust Bolt were scheduled to open the tour but, according to their statement, they were forced to cancel the first few shows due to Hurricane Irma delaying the German band’s travel plans.

First up was crossover rising stars Power Trip who are based out of Dallas, Texas. They are are currently supporting their latest album Nightmare Logic which came out in February of this year on Southern Lord Records. This is a great tour for these guys because, as they stated numerous times on stage during their set, they are huge fans of both Obituary and Exodus. They opened with the new record’s first track “Soul Sacrifice.” They played several older songs as well. When the breakdown during “Heretic’s Fork” hit the crowd certainly reacted in a good way for them. The band themselves had a lot of stage energy and their performance was on point. Right before Power Trip played their final song of the night, “Manifest Decimation,” you could tell that they had won over this Baltimore crowd already as a “POWER TRIP” chant had started up. This set was much better than the last time they played Baltimore Soundstage back in March during their headlining tour, mostly because their sound was lot better this time around.

Next up was Tampa Bay death metal legends Obituary. This was my fifth time seeing Obituary live and I must say, I feel they have revived their career over the last two albums they have released. On this tour Obituary is supporting their self titled release that came out on Relapse Records back in March. They opened their set with “Brave” the first track off that album. There was a lot of energy coming from the crowd as soon as Obituary started to play which made it easier for them to perform. Most of Obituary’s set consisted of songs of the self titled album, but as soon as they started to play “Chopped in Half” the pit opened up and there were bodies flying around. I felt that they have never sounded so good live. Maybe it is because Joe Cincotta was doing sound for them. Joe has done live sound for bands like Suffocation and Body Count and runs Full Force Studios. You know you are in for a good show if you see Joe doing sound. The crowd roared when Obituary started to play “Slowly We Rot” and a very large smile came across the face of vocalist John Tardy. All in all I feel this was the best performance I have seen from Obituary. I can’t wait to catch them on a headlining tour. Hopefully they will play more Cause of Death songs next time.

Last up was San Francisco Bay area legends Exodus. Drummer Tom Hunting hit the stage wearing a Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant jersey. Tom quickly stood on both his bass drums hyping the crowd up before the rest of the band took the stage. Much to my surprise Gary Holt took the stage next. I know sometimes he has to skip Exodus tours due to his latest gig in Slayer, but it was great to see him with the band he started. One by one the other members took the stage and the band kicked right into “The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles” off their album Exhibit B: The Human Condition. The Baltimore crowd greeted Exodus with loud roars and plenty of head banging and crowd surfing. The crowd did not hold back at all from showing their love and support for Exodus on this night. When the the song “Blood In, Blood Out” was being played the crowd was singing along for the entire chorus of the song. I love to hear stuff like that at a metal show. It shows that metal is still alive and well in our scene. This was only my second time seeing Exodus live so I am not sure if they play this song often, but they played “War Is My Shepherd” and that was another tune that the Baltimore audience was really into. The second to last song they played was one of my favorites, “The Toxic Waltz.” When I was a kid I would see that video on Headbanger’s Ball and I always remember the scene where a fan did an inverted stage dive. Unfortunately there was a barrier up tonight so no stage dives. When the bridge to the chorus of “The Toxic Waltz” came up the crowd was at their loudest singing every word with frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza. My only complaint about their set was that they did not play “Piranha” which is easily my favorite Exodus song, but I guess they can’t play them all. Their sound was great, I feel like they didn’t hold back at all for this rowdy Baltimore crowd. I loved their performance and wish I could catch this tour every night.

This was an amazing tour package. You had three bands that each had a different sound ranging from hardcore/crossover thrash, death metal and thrash metal. I had a great time at this show. It is very rare that I leave a show and say that all three bands sounded and performed great, but last night was definitely one of those times.

Power Trip – Crucifixation

Power Trip – Conditioned To Death and Heretic’s Fork

John Tardy of Obituary

John Tardy of Obituary

Donald Tardy of Obituary

Donald Tardy of Obituary

Trevor Peres of Obituary

Trevor Peres of Obituary

Tom Hunting of Exodus

Tom Hunting of Exodus

Gary Holt of Exodus

Gary Holt of Exodus

Steve 'Zetro' Souza of Exodus

Steve “Zetro” Souza of Exodus

Exodus and Obituary ticket give away

Exodus & Obituary at Baltimore Soundstage

Thrash masters Exodus are teaming up with death metal legends Obituary for the Battle Of The Bays co-headlining tour this fall and they’re coming to the Baltimore Soundstage on Saturday, September 16th for the tour’s only stop in our area! DCHM is so excited that we’re giving away a pair of tickets to see this killer line up play in Baltimore. To enter just leave a comment on this post with your favorite metal band from either the San Francisco Bay Area or Tampa Bay metal scenes is. Death, Dark Angel, Morbid Angel, Death Angel, any band from one of the two bays is a valid entry! This Friday, September 1st, at 5pm EST a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to this awesome show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $23 here.

Exodus is one of the oldest bands from the Bay Area thrash metal scene of the 80s. Kirk Hammett famously left the band to join Metallica though Exodus has continued to crank out awesome thrash albums long after Metallica ceased to be a thrash band. Obituary is one of the original bands from the infamous Tampa death metal scene. As if that line up alone wasn’t enough to sell you on this bill there’s more! Two of the best up-and-coming thrash bands around are providing support on this tour. Power Trip from Dallas, Texas, is touring to support their awesome new crossover thrash album Nightmare Logic and you don’t want to miss Dust Bolt, German thrashers who are totally sick shredders. Check out all four bands in the videos below and leave a comment telling me your favorite band from either the San Francisco or Tampa areas!

Exodus – The Toxic Waltz

Obituary – Ten Thousand Ways To Die

Power Trip – Executioner’s Tax (Swing Of The Axe)

Dust Bolt – Soul Erazor

Maryland Deathfest XV Non-Survival Guide

MDF XV Pre Fest at Metro Gallery

OK guys I’m not doing the normal MDF survival guide this year, so now it’s the non-survival guide. Since there are no outdoor stages this year and the fest will only be at Rams Head Live and the Baltimore Soundstage I figure you guys don’t really need things like a map and tips on how to get around and such. If you really want to you can check last year’s post for that kind stuff (here). That said, there’s still a ton of info you may want to know, and I’ve also picked several bands at each venue on each day to write about at the end of this post, almost all of them have some material to stream to give you an idea of what they sound like or just help get you in the mood for this year’s MDF! First up, here’s some quick links you may want handy.

Official Maryland Deathfest:
website
Facebook
Facebook event page
Pre-Fest Party Facebook event page
Instagram

Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)
Both Uber and Lyft operate in Baltimore. They’re usually cheaper than a cab and you can download their apps for free from your app store.

Schedules

Tap/click on them to see them larger.

MDF XV Thursday schedule

MDF XV Friday schedule

MDF XV Saturday schedule

MDF XV Sunday schedule

Getting Tickets

Tickets are still available and there are VIP tickets available as well. VIP tickets do not get you in the door, they are an extra ticket you buy in addition to your regular ticket. A VIP ticket gets you access to a sectioned off area to the side of the stage at Rams Head Live, access to the VIP bar, and will receive a voucher for a festival T-shirt of your choice. VIP does not have any benefit at Baltimore Soundstage. You can still get regular or VIP tickets from Eventbrite (here) or help the makers of the documentary “Welcome To Deathfest” in their crowdfuning endeavor by purchasing tickets from them at a discounted price here. They have both single day and multiple day tickets available in the “incentives” column on the right.

Tips

As always, I highly recommend bringing and wearing earplugs! Tinnitus isn’t cool or fun and even if you’re just going to one day of the fest that’s still a ton of bands hammering your ears all day. If you’re going multiple days you might want to even bring a bunch of extra ear plugs because they’re gonna get gross after a while.

You will be able to get your 4-day pass wristband at the entrance of Rams Head Live starting at 2pm on Thursday. You will not be able to get your wristband at the pre-fest show this year.

If you’re on Instagram I highly recommend following the official account @deathfests as local photographer Josh Sisk will be taking over the account during MDF again this year and he posts incredible great shots of the bands while the fest is going on.

While you’re at it, follow me on Instagram as well as I’ll be posting photos and videos throughout the weekend too. Find me at @DCMetalChris on Instagram!

Rams Head Live does not allow backpacks, but you can check them at the coat check for a couple bucks. Baltimore Soundstage will search your backpack and/or purse, and usually pat you down as well.

Merch and Vendors

There are no food vendors this year. Bummer, I know, but there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. I highly recommend Pratt Street Ale House who has great food, a wide variety of excellent craft beers, and MDF attendees get 10% off their entire bill (just show them your wristband). Their address is 206 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201.

There will be merch vendors inside both venues and also just outside of Rams Head Live in the Powerplant Area. Here’s the list of merch vendors: ChopoBrujos, DabLizard, Dark Descent Records, Decibel Magazine, Dave’s Metal, Horror Pain Gore Death (HPGD is at Soundstage on Friday only), Indie Merch, JSR Merchandising, Mexico Steel, Pizza Party Printing, Relapse Records, Sabi, Season of Mist, Sevared Records, Speed Clothes, Utterly Somber and Vienna Music Exchange.

Bands will arrive and leave throughout the weekend so if you see band merch you like one day don’t hesitate to buy it, it may be gone before the fest is over as not every band stays for the entire fest, or even more than their 1 day there. Guess what, they take their merch with them. Most of these guys will want cash so I suggest bringing a good amount to avoid ATM fees. Some bands won’t have their own merch guy and will instead opt to sell their merch at the official MDF booth so be sure to check back there often. Speaking of which…

MDF XV tshirt

The official MDF merch booth will be inside Rams Head Live. It will have t-shirts, hoodies and posters as well as metal keychains, pins and Zippo lighters. There will be no preorders for posters and shirts this year. It looks like the shirts come in two different designs and three colors: black, white and red. The posters feature artwork by Lucas Ruggieri and are limited to 150. You can see the poster image at the very top of this post. The custom made Deathvests (seen below) by Kylla Custom Rock Wear will be for sale for $200 at the MDF booth as well.

Announcing our 2017 Maryland #Deathvests – our official festival merchandise collaboration with #MarylandDeathfest @deathfests this year! We have #handmade a limited edition 10 high quality distressed #genuineleather #studded vests in sizes S – XL (2 S, 2 M, 3 L, 3 XL) which will be at the festival merchandise booth Thurs-Sun! We are also taking ONLINE PREORDERS for these, for in-person pickup from me at the fest! Once they are gone no more will ever be made! Extremely high quality durable #leather- each varies slightly in appearance due to the distressing process! $200 each – send your size! Paypal or credit card for preorder: http://www.paypal.me/kylla/200 (or email kyllacustomrockwear@gmail.com for credit card) #KyllaCustomRockWear #MDF #extrememetal #bikervest #motorcyclevest #blackmetal #deathmetal #smallbusiness #metalfashion #metalclothing #deathfest

A post shared by Kim Dylla / Kylla Custom Wear (@kyllacustomrockwear) on

The official MDF Pre-Fest Party is at a different venue this year, the Metro Gallery. It is headlined by Ruinous, a death metal band featuring Immolation guitarist Alex Bouks. Tickets are $15 advance, $17 at the door and available here. Sorry kids, it’s ages 18+ only and doors open at 7pm. Note that MDF wristbands will not be available at the Pre-Fest show this year. For more info visit the Pre-Fest Party’s Facebook event page here.

MDF XV Pre-Fest Party

This year I decided to write about certain bands, several at each venue on each day. Hopefully this sheds some light on bands you might not know about before you get to see them at the fest. This isn’t a “favorites” list or something, some bands I just didn’t feel like writing about and it isn’t because they’re not good, it’s because I only have so much free time. Check out what I’ve written about bands for the days/venues you have tickets for below, and stream some of their songs to get ready for Maryland Deathfest XV!

Thursday at Rams Head Live

The Thursday of Maryland Deathfest at Rams Head Live tends to focus on stoner and doom bands the past few years and this year is no exception.

Samothrace at 5:50 – This Seattle based doom band plays very long and very slow songs, though their sound can evolve into faster paced segments as well. If you’re into stuff like Winter, Grief and Bell Witch, you’ll want to check them out.

Dopethrone at 6:55 – Dopethrone, named after the Electric Wizard album, is a stoner/sludge band from Montreal. They were originally supposed to play MDF last year but for whatever reason they canceled.

SubRosa at 8:00 – This stoner band from Salt Lake City that blends stoner rock with post rock. Three women form the core of this ethereal sounding band which includes a violin player.

Conan at 9:05 – Definitely more barbarian than O’Brien, Conan is a stoner/doom band from Liverpool, England, making a rare appearance stateside at MDF. These guys are crushing live, perfectly blending huge riffs and stomping rhythms.

Acid King at 10:10 – Acid King is a stoner band from San Francisco that has only in the past couple years become active again. They play some Sabbath worshipping riffs but with the beautiful vocals of Lori Steinberg soaring over their fuzzy riffs.

Tiamat at 11:25 – I’m honestly not sure what to expect of a Tiamat set at MDF. They headliners of the first night at Rams Head Live have changed their sound many times over the years, at this point they haven’t put out an album since 2012. They might play a set more focused on the death/doom metal style of their early years or the soft and moody Wildhoney era material or the more polished gothic metal style they eventually ended up with, or maybe play things from various eras.

Thursday at Baltimore Soundstage

While in the past MDF tended to use the Baltimore Soundstage to host mostly hardcore and grind bands that seems to have changed a lot this year since there are no outdoor stages. The first day at BSS has a lot of death metal this year.

Malignancy at 8:15 – From Yonkers, New York, Malignancy has been around since the early 90s. They play an old school style of brutal death metal reminiscent of older bands from the era like Suffocation and Monstrosity.

Decrepit Birth at 10:30 – Decrepit Birth is heavily influenced by the later era of the band Death. They haven’t released an album in 7 years though they have a new one, Axis Mundi, coming out in July so I expect to hear some new material from these guys.

Cryptopsy at 11:55 – Montreal’s Cryptopsy was once one of the best death metal bands in the underground, until in 2008 they decided to completely change their sound, image and line up to become a metalcore band. When that didn’t pan out they went back to being a death metal band to mixed reception. However for this headlining performance at Maryland Deathfest XV Cryptopsy will be playing their 1996 classic album None So Vile in its entirety. And be sure to check out their drummer Flo Mounier, still one of the best drummers in all of metal.

Friday at Rams Head Live

The RHL line up for Friday is pretty death metal heavy, awesome!

Nordjevel at 5:00 – Every year MDF seems to book at least one trve Norwegian black metal. This year that band is Nordjevel, whose name translates to Northern Devil. Reminiscent of the 2nd wave of black metal bands, the band has only released one full length and one EP since forming in 2015, but they’ve quickly become a buzz band in the black metal underground. Fans of bands like 1349 and Gorgoroth are going to want to check out Nordjevel.

Brodequin at 6:00 – Brodequin is a very brutal death metal band from Knoxville, Tennessee. Between 2000 and 2004 they released 3 intense albums, then basically disappeared. This is something of a reunion show for Brodequin, though not their first show since reforming. Their name translates to “boot” from French, however they get their name from a medieval torture device.

GosT at 9:10 – Maryland Deathfest always seems to have one weird band that doesn’t really fit with everyone else and this year it’s GosT. GosT isn’t a metal band but a DJ and the music reminds me more of old Nintendo game soundtracks than anything else. I guess GosT’s genre is called synthwave. I’m not going to lie, I’m not particularly interested in seeing GosT hit play, er… perform live at MDF, but they are strange enough I figure they warrant mention here.

Macabre at 10:15 – An all time favorite of mine, Macabre is a three piece from Chicago that truly lives up to their name. By blending traditional songs and even nursery rhymes with death metal and grind, they have created a sound all their own. In fact, they call it Murder Metal since all of their songs are about true crime and serial killers. They even tell stories between songs about these killers and tyrants, highly recommended!

Vader at 11:20 – Before Behemoth, Decapitated and Mgla there was Vader, the true fathers of underground metal in Poland. Due to tape trading they were one of the first bands from Eastern Europe to break through the iron curtain to be heard in the West before the Berlin Wall fell. And rightly so, their intensely fast style of death metal has made them death metal legends to this day.

Friday at Baltimore Soundstage

An eclectic mix of bands play Friday at Baltimore Soundstage.

Chepang at 4:15 – Chepang is a grindcore band that is originally from Nepal though now they live in the US. They perform with two drummers. Don’t expect a long set from them, their only release consists of 8 songs clocking in at under 12 minutes total!

Occultist at 5:05 – This Richmond based band is everything that makes underground metal fun. They’re some sort of mix of black, speed, crust and death metal and exploding with energy. Their front woman, Kerry Zylstra, can scream with the best of them.

Stormtroopers Of Beer at 9:25 – Stormtroopers Of Beer is a Stormtroopers Of Death (aka S.O.D.) cover band that actually includes original S.O.D. member Dan Lilker. Adde Mitroulis (of Birdflesh, General Surgery) handles the drums while Jocke Carlsson (of General Surgery) plays guitar and guest vocals will be courtesy of Matt Harvey (of Exhumed, Gruesome). Old school metal heads will remember their song “Milano Mosh” as the theme music for MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball.

Noothgrush at 10:35 – Noothgrush is doom/sludge band from the Bay Area. Their name stems from a Dr Seuss character in the book There’s a Wocket in My Pocket so as you might have guessed these guys have probably never gotten high. They seem a bit out of place on the bill here and would probably have fit better on Thursday’s line up at Rams Head, but hey, good doom puts you in a good mood no matter when they play.

Siege at 11:50 – Headlining Baltimore Soundstage on Friday night is Massachusetts based hardcore band Siege. Despite releasing only about 20 minutes of material before breaking up in 1985 they became popular to bootleg traders and were very influential to the grindcore subgenre. They had a brief reunion in the early 90s with Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt on vocals and now they have reformed again, giving MDF attendees a rare chance to catch these underground legends perform live.

Saturday at Rams Head Live

There’s a lot of death metal at Rams Head Live on Saturday, headlined by one of the biggest names in the genre.

Embalmer at 3:50 – Embalmer is from Cleveland, Ohio, and plays gore obsessed death metal that fans of bands like Mortician and Impetigo will appreciate. In 1995 they released the excellent EP There Was Blood Everywhere and it wasn’t until after a long hiatus that they finally released a full length album, 13 Faces Of Death in 2006. Another lengthy hiatus ended when their second full length, Emanations from the Crypt, was finally released in 2016. This band seems to be very on again, off again so be sure to check them out at MDF while they’re still around, it might be another decade before you get another chance!

Necropsy at 4:45 – The Metal Archives lists 21 different bands with the name Necropsy, making this one of the most over used names in heavy metal. The version playing MDF XV is the one from Finland. They’re a death metal band that released several well received demos in the early 90s before dissolving only to reform earlier this decade. Part of me kind of hopes the guys from local band Noisem will join them on stage for a song, since they were once called Necropsy as well.

Exhumed at 7:50 – Exhumed is a death metal band from San Jose, California, that basically sounds like Carcass around the Necroticism era. Except faster, and with even more hooks. Look, I know there’s a lot of Carcass clones out there but these guys really do it best.

Exumer at 8:55 – I applaud the MDF organizers for hilariously putting Exumer after Exhumed. Despite the similar names the two bands don’t sound too much alike. Exumer is one of the old German thrash bands of the 80s. While never becoming as famous as German thrash contemporaries Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, they did put out some solid records in the late 80s. After disappearing like most thrash bands did when the grunge wave hit, they reformed about a decade ago and have continued to put out some solid thrash albums, including last year’s The Raging Tides.

Root at 10:05 – Root, formed in 1987 in the Czech Republic, is one of the original 1st wave black metal bands, predating the 2nd wave bands from Norway. They have moved to a clean vocal style but their vocalist, Big Boss, has a pretty incredible voice that has held up remarkably well considering he’s the sole original member still in the band. He’s also known for founding the Czech branch of the Church Of Satan. I’m not sure how better to describe them than maybe, they sound like what Ghost would probably sound like if they weren’t a gimmick band.

Grave at 11:15 – Lead by guitarist and vocalist Ola Lindgren, Grave is one of the last remaining of those early Swedish death metal bands (such as Entombed, Unleashed and Dismember) that is still active and has kept their old school “buzz saw” sound. There are many newer bands now that imitate this style, like Black Breath and Gatecreeper, but this is a rare chance to one of the originals of that old Swedish death metal sound perform live.

Morbid Angel at 12:25 – Morbid Angel is back at Maryland Deathfest but after the disaster that was Illud Divinum Insanus they’ve ejected David Vincent and once again added Steve Tucker to the band. They have stated that they will only be playing songs from the Steve Tucker era of the band, which are from the albums Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic, although they have a new album on the horizon so hopefully we’ll hear some new songs too.

Saturday at Baltimore Soundstage

The Saturday schedule at Baltimore Soundstage is dominated by grind with the once in a lifetime chance to see Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Insect Warfare back to back.

Myxoma at 4:40 – Myxoma is a recently formed goregrind band. I don’t know a ton about them other than one of the Maryland Deathfest organizers, Evan Harting, is in the band, I would guess as the vocalist.

Meth Leppard at 8:00 – Meth Leppard is just like Def Leppard but on crystal meth! Ok not really, but they are a pretty sick grind band from Australia.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed at 10:45 – ANb is the spawn of Pig Destroyer guitarist Scott Hull. Their long awaited first live show ever was at Maryland Deathfest XIII and this year they’re back as part of Saturday night’s insane one-two punch of grindcore legends at Baltimore Soundstage. I mean seriously, ANb and Insect Warfare playing back to back? It doesn’t get much better than that for grind fans.

Insect Warfare at 11:50 – Closing out Saturday night at Baltimore Soundstage is one of the legends of grind, Insect Warfare, making a rare live appearance. Their only full length, World Extermination, was an instant classic and now that the band has stated that they will be breaking up soon this will be one of their final shows. You don’t want to miss the chance to see them headline this night! Still not convinced? Then check out our recent write up about IW here.

Sunday at Rams Head Live

Black metal seems to be the dominant style on Sunday at Rams Head Live, though doom legends Candlemass headline.

Encoffination at 3:00 – Sunday starts off at Rams Head with Encoffination, an Atlanta, Georgia, based death/doom band. Both members of this two piece are also in death metal band Father Befouled (who are playing the previous day at RHL).

October Tide at 4:45 – Swedish death/doom metal band October Tide once was a side project of Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renkse. The other founding member, Fredrik Norrman, ended up joining Katatonia and the band went on hiatus for a while. When Fredrik left Katatonia he reformed October Tide. Alexander Högbom is the vocalist now, who has also recently become the vocalist of Demonical. Despite having harsh vocals, it makes sense that October Tide would play on the same night as Candlemass so if you’re a Candlemass fan and not sure who else to check out on this day’s line up, don’t miss October Tide. Check out our recent review of their 2016 album Winged Waltz here.

Acheron at 6:45 – Often considered a black metal band, Acheron is really a death metal band that spawned from the infamous Tampa, Florida, death metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s, though they are now based out of Ohio. The band is lead by Vincent Crowley, a former reverend in the Church Of Satan. Acheron has stated that they will be playing their 1996 album Anti-God, Anti-Christ from start to finish at MDF and that they will be breaking up in 2018.

Oranssi Pazuzu at 8:55 – This is one of the bands I’m most excited to see this year at MDF. Oranssi Pazuzu is from Finland and have somehow created a psychedelic style of black metal that actually works incredibly well. The band has somehow managed to attract fans of both stoner metal and black metal to their very unique take on metal.

In The Woods… at 10:05 – In The Woods… is one of the first bands to call their music pagan metal. They began more black metal but over the years have shifted to more of a dark prog rock style. The Norwegian band is a spin off of Green Carnation.

Akercocke at 11:15 – Akercocke is from London, England, and haven’t put out an album since 2007. They recently became active again though so this is something of a return for the death metal band. They became known as the “satanists in suits” for wearing suits when performing live.

Candlemass at 12:25 – Swedish epic doom metal band Candlemass returns to MDF as the final band to perform this year. The band is fronted by the excellent Mats Levén these days and they will be performing their 1987 album Nightfall in its entirety at MDF. A bit of trivia: the classic album’s cover art is a painting by Thomas Cole from 1842 that is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Sunday at Baltimore Soundstage

Grind, grind, grind closes out the final day of MDF XV at Baltimore Soundstage.

Genocide Pact at 4:40 – Washington DC’s own Genocide Pact plays Maryland Deathfest this year! These guys blend death, grind and crust very well and if you want to check out and support a local at MDF do not miss these guys! They have a new album due out soon so maybe we’ll get to hear some new material too.

Iron Lung at 10:45 – Iron Lung is a powerviolence band originally from Reno, Nevada though they have now relocated to Seattle, Washington. The band members also run Iron Lung Records which releases material by other grind and powerviolence bands as well. Their experimental style includes fast bursts typical of powerviolence along with some much slower, almost doom like segments.

Terrorizer at 11:50 – Terrorizer created one of the most influential grindcore albums of all time when they released World Downfall in 1989. They’ll be playing that album in its entirety when they headline Sunday night at the Baltimore Soundstage. It will be weird seeing Pete Sandoval drum for Terrorizer yet not play with Morbid Angel the night prior.