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.

Review of Winged Waltz by October Tide

Band: Winged Waltz
Album: October Tide
Release Date: 22 April 2016
Record Label: Agonia Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XV: 4:45 Sunday at Rams Head Live

Winged Waltz by October Tide

Maryland Deathfest XV kicks off this Thursday. I’ve tasked the DCHM album reviewers with writing about a band playing MDF that they’re excited to see. Buzzo Jr wrote about grindcore band Insect Warfare (read it here) however Tal’s pick of death/doom band October Tide is on the complete opposite end of the metal spectrum. Read this review to know why you can’t miss October Tide at Maryland Deathfest this weekend!

For the second year in a row, the band I’m most excited about at MDF is a melodic death/doom band that I thought I’d never get to see live on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps that says more about my love of obscure melodic death/doom than about MDF, though. In the festival line-up, October Tide is buried in an avalanche of black metal.

October Tide began as a Katatonia side project (back in the good ole days of Brave Murder Day – i.e. mid 90’s), released two hallowed albums in the 90’s and then went on hiatus for 11 years, until the band took on a life of its own in 2010. Carried on by founder and ex-Katatonia guitarist Fredrik Norrman, October Tide now also includes his brother Mattias Norrman, who also played bass for Katatonia. Amon Amarth’s new full-time drummer Jocke Wallgren also took part in recording last year’s Winged Waltz. The current October Tide line-up is rounded out by bassist Johan Jönsegård and drummer Jonas Sköld, in addition to vocalist Alexander Högbom.

As they always have, October Tide carries on where Katatonia left off, and Winged Waltz is no different. If you wish you could find more music like Katatonia’s Brave Murder Day, like Daylight Dies and the short-lived Slumber (Fallout, 2004), then Winged Waltz is for you.

Listening to the album is like putting on a well-worn shoe (and I’m not just saying that because I’ve listened to it so many times). You know just how it’s going to feel. As the intro to the first song, “Swarm,” creeps around in a minor key and then jumps by a discordant interval – a jarring feeling that’s also just what you expected. As atmospheric riffs build nearly into white noise, but still with a discernible melody, sorrowful and keening, at the high end. As long notes waver and layer in a more downtempo segment. As the growled vocals full of aggrieved rage complete the crushing weight of the album.

That isn’t to say that the songs are cookie-cutter. There’s variety in pace and melody – an expansive, all-guns-blazing section at the end of “Swarm” contrasting nicely with the meandering pace of the next song, “Sleepless Sun”; more aggressive riffage in “Reckless Abandon” and “Perilous”; the brash melodic motif that runs through “Nursed by the Cold.” But at the same time, there’s not a huge distinction between the songs, making them run together a bit. This isn’t unique to this album, though. For me, it happens with pretty much all melodic death/doom, from Brave Murder Day and other music in that style, to Swallow the Sun and Doom:VS. It might even be a mark of a good melodic death/doom album that it feels like one continuous experience, of churning doom underpinnings, sorrowful melodies and crushing harsh vocals.

And Winged Waltz checks off all these boxes consummately. The 2016 release may be following a formula, but it’s been a successful formula all these years, and I hope they never stop.

Review of World Extermination by Insect Warfare

Band: Insect Warfare
Album: World Extermination
Release Date: October 2007
Record Label: 625 Thrashcore
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XV: 11:50 Saturday at Baltimore Soundstage

World Extermination by Insect Warfare

Maryland Deathfest XV starts this Thursday! As always I let my writers each do a special album review as we lead up to MDF. For this review I let them pick a band they are excited to see at MDF and review their most recent album as well as give some extra background on the band. This one is written by DCHM writer Buzzo Jr and he decided to write about the Baltimore Soundstage’s Saturday headliner, Insect Warfare. If you’re looking for something a bit slower, be sure to read Tal’s piece on Swedish death/doom band October Tide here

Legendary grindcore act Insect Warfare was formed in Houston, Texas, in 2004 by drummer Frank Faerman, guitarist Beau Beasley, and vocalist Rahi Geramifar. They soon broke into the Texas scene with their debut EP; At War With Grindcore, in 2005. Two years later following the release of a handful of splits and EPs, drummer Frank Faerman was replaced by Dobber Beverly. In 2007, the trio released their first and only full length record World Extermination on 625 Thrashcore Records, and split up a year after. Insect Warfare reunited back in 2016 for one final tour and will be playing one of their very last shows at this years Maryland Deathfest. Insect Warfare will be the final band to take the stage at the Baltimore Soundstage on Saturday, playing at 11:50 PM.

The early/mid 2000’s was a damn good time to be a fan of grindcore. The genre that originated in dingy basements back in the late 80’s with Repulsion and Napalm Death was seeing an influx of new bands breathing energy into an already frenzied style of extreme metal. Landmark albums were being released left and right; with Discordance Axis’ dissonant The Inalienable Dreamless, Rotten Sound’s frantic Murderworks and even DC’s own Pig Destroyer with their twisted masterpiece Prowler In the Yard. In 2007, Insect Warfare swiftly cemented themselves as undisputed legends of the extreme metal scene when they released one of the fastest, heaviest, and most pissed off albums in the genre; World Extermination. What Insect Warfare lack in technical prowess, they make up for with pure, unfettered fury. World Extermination is a goliath of all things that makes grindcore… well, grindcore. Beau Beasley’s crushing, punk-tinged riffs rampage with the weight of a goddamn freight train; retaining their incredible power while at the same time being extremely catchy, or at least as catchy as a riff can get on this kind of album. While simplistic in structure, the riffs on this record are delivered at an almost machine-like efficiency, with absolutely no empty space left in between notes. Insect Warfare’s rhythm section is no slouch either; Dobber Beverly’s hyperspeed drumming comes at you like a 50 caliber machine gun, with an unyielding barrage of blast beats detonating in the backdrop throughout each track. Rahi’s insane vocals round out the audio carnage on the record, and his performance is pretty much unmatched in terms of sheer anger. Every single low, guttural growl and piercing, animalistic shriek being is used a rhythmic tool to accentuate the full on assault of the blast beats and riffs. Insect Warfare may not have reinvented the wheel here, but what they did do was take a formula that definitely worked and perfected it; creating what may likely be the best example of the classic grind sound of the late 90s and early 2000s.

If you’re at all a fan of grindcore and for some reason you have yet to listened to this record, drop whatever you’re doing and listen to it. Then listen to it again. And again. (You get the picture.) Insect Warfare’s performance at this years Maryland Deathfest will likely be the last chance most of us will ever get to see this legendary band in the DMV area, so make sure to catch them at the Baltimore Soundstage on Saturday!

Maryland Deathfest XIV Survival Guide

This Thursday is the start of another Maryland Deathfest! This is the fourteenth year running for the festival and it continues to expand and evolve. This post will help you get through MDF XIV as you navigate through all the bands, stages, venues and vendors and I’ll be updating it with info like food prices and photos of exclusive band merch once the fest actually gets going. You can skip to the updates by going here. To start off, here’s some info and links you will find useful if you’re attending Maryland Deathfest XIV.

Maryland Deathfest’s official website: Deathfests.com
MDF’s official Facebook: Facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest
MDF’s official Facebook event page: here
MDF’s official Instagram: @deathfests

I put together the below handy schedules and band running orders for each day of the fest (they load quick so bookmark them on your phone). Unlike the schedules on the MDF site and the one’s they’ll hand out at the entrance, these have the bands listed by start time so it will be easy to figure out exactly which bands are playing at any given time during the fest. They have the door times listed too. Note that you can pick up a multi day wrist band at the Pre-Fest show OR starting at 1pm on Thursday at Rams Head Live.

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

MDF has made an iCal feed for the schedule that will work in Google Calendar, iCloud or Outlook calendar that you can get here. You can find instructions for adding to Google Calendar here, instructions for adding it to Outlook here, and instructions for adding it to iCloud here.

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.

MDF Edison Lot entrance address: 545 N High St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore SoundStage address: 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Rams Head Live Thurs & Sun address: 20 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Rams Head Live Fri & Sat address: 7 Frederick St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Sidebar address: 218 E Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Ottobar address: 2549 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218 (Pre-Fest and Post-Fest shows only)

Note that Rams Head Live will be using the back entrance on Friday and Saturday. This is because the front entrance to Rams Head Live is inside the Power Plant area and it will have its own cover charge on Friday and Saturday night. To avoid that fee, use the back entrance to (address listed above) to enter Rams Head Live on those nights. On Thursday and Sunday you can use either entrance without fees.

I put together this custom Google map that will show you all kinds of info such as all the venues involved, local record stores of note and where to get beer, cigarettes and food while you’re in Baltimore too. Just click the map image below to use the map and use the menu on the left side to select and toggle different locations. This is pretty much the same one that I posted last year with a few changes.

Tickets

Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Edison Lot (where the main stages are) will have tickets available at the door all through the weekend, the Edison Lot will not sell out. You can get tickets at the door or order them online (and pick them up at will call) by going here. There are still 3-day Edison Lot only passes available as well (discounted to $182 vs $195 if you bought them all individually) and there are 4-day all venue passes available still as well (as of this writing). There are still tickets available to Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the Baltimore Soundstage and for Friday and Sunday at Rams Head Live (for now at least). Note that the Edison Lot has an earlier curfew since it is outdoors and the final bands each night will be at Rams Head Live, with the Soundstage bands ending just a little earlier.

Thursday and Saturday at Rams Head, and Saturday at the Soundstage are sold out. If you’re determined to find tickets to these sold out parts of MDF, or need to sell your tickets last minute in a pinch, I highly recommend using the Maryland Deathfest official forum’s ticket exchange thread which you can find here. If that doesn’t work you can try looking at the official Facebook event page (here) for people posting about in the “discussion” section about tickets there as well.

New Info For This Year

The set up for this year’s Maryland Deathfest should be pretty similar to couple of years, though there are some changes.

There will be no official program for this year’s Maryland Deathfest.

One thing to note regarding the weather, it has rained a lot around here lately. The forecasts of Baltimore that I’ve seen have most of the MDF days looking alright though Sunday looks like it might rain. I highly suggest you bring a waterproof parka or other rain gear if you’re going to be at the Edison Lot that day and you don’t want to get drenched, there isn’t a lot of cover around the main stages.

There is an official Deathfest ale that will be sold at the Edison lot again this year. However a different brewery is making it, Evolution, who is from Maryland. This year’s Deathfest Ale will be a golden pale ale.

The custom MDF vests won’t be available this year at the official MDF merch booth, however there will be some custom high end hoodies with studs and embroidery that are different than the ones MDF has listed in their merch pre-orders. There will be only 10 made, sizes S – XL, available at the Edison Lot only, starting Friday. They are made by Kylla Custom Rock Wear (find them here) and I’m sure they could make you one for delivery at a later date if they’re sold out by the time you get there. Here’s a photo of one.

I heard that the infamous Chicken Man will only be attending Thursday of Maryland Deathfest this year. The Edison lot just won’t be the same without him.

They haven’t really been advertised much by MDF itself but there are shows going on Thursday through Sunday nights at the Sidebar that are part of MDF as well. The venue is small, it only fits about 100 people, but it’s a cool little place and it’s really close to the Edison Lot. If you’re looking for a place to get away from the rain or just avoid the big crowds, this might be a cool place for you to stop by. The shows at Sidebar were free last year but this year they’re $5 each. You can get line up and other info on each one’s respective Facebook event pages here: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Good To Know For Every Year

BRING AND WEAR EAR PLUGS

Re-entry is OK once you get your wristband. Wear comfortable shoes, sunglasses and try to bring a cheap parka in case it rains (as I mentioned above, it looks likely that it will on Sunday). You’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking so dress accordingly. Maryland can get very hot and humid this time of year so be careful wearing all black and drinking and moshing in the sun all day, stay hydrated. Also, bring some sunscreen, not only will it keep you from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded! Crowd surfing is very much tolerated at MDF so if you don’t like being kicked in the head repeatedly, don’t get up front. People tend to go wild and pretty much every band will start a mosh pit, even more “laid back” bands that you wouldn’t expect this from like say Paradise Lost and Bongzilla. Cameras, including DSLR cameras, are permitted and you can shoot video too, however be aware that the closer you get to the stage the more rowdy the crowd can get, including moshing, circle pits and crowd surfers. You can bring in bags and backpacks, but they are subject to search. Note that if you bring a backpack to Rams Head Live they will have you check it at the coat check, which will probably cost you $5 or less. There are picnic tables in a shaded area that you can rest in at the Edison Lot. Note that there is not a public Wi-Fi at Maryland Deathfest. You may want to bring an extra battery for your cell phone if you plan on being at the fest all day because there’s not a lot of places to charge your phone there.

Artwork by Lucas Ruggieri

Merchandise

Bring cash! There will be many vendors with tons of rare and obscure vinyl, CDs, merch, patches and all kinds of other stuff. Some of them have Square card readers but some will not. There will be ATMs on site but I’m sure they will have long lines and shitty service fees so stop by the bank before you head up to save yourself some time and money. Some of the stuff you’ll see will be Maryland Deathfest exclusives, and some of it will just be so rare you’ll probably never find it anywhere again anyways. If you see something you want don’t hesitate, items often sell out so buy it when you see if it you want to make sure you go home with it.

Maryland Deathfest will have a booth with its own merch for sale at all festival venues (see MDF’s merch here) including t-shirts, pullover hoodies and women’s tanks. There will be a limited to 200 copies silk screened poster available for purchase at the MDF merch booth as well. Some of the bands playing the fest will have their merch for sale at the official Maryland Deathfest booth, some will have merch available at their record label’s booth (assuming their label has a booth) and some bands will have their own merch booths set up in the tent at the end of the row of merchants. Different bands will set up merch at different times, there is no schedule for this, and the MDF booth will have different band merch on different days as bands arrive and leave the festival throughout the weekend. I saw a post from Salvation Distro showing two exclusive Secrets Of The Moon shirts they’ll have at their booth at Maryland Deathfest that you can see here. Gruesome will have some exclusive merch at the JSR Direct booth, which you can take a look at here.

This years list of vendors is: Acid Queen Jewelry, Adult Swim, Black Mess, Charm City Animal Rescue, ChopoBrujos, Crucial Blast Records, DabLizard, Dave’s Metal, Decibel Magazine, Deepsend Records, Digger’s Leatherwork, Five Point Records, Forever Plagued Records, Gilead Media, Give Praise Records, Graphic Noise, Grimoire Records, Hell’s Headbangers, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Lock N Shock, Lost Apparitions Records, Mexico Steel, Necronomicharm, Pizza Party Printing, Relapse Records, Rusty Knuckles, Sabi, Salvation Distro, Season of Mist, Sevared Records, Swisher Sweets Cigars, Thrash Corner Records, Unholy Anarchy Records, Utterly Somber, Vienna Music Exchange, Warlord Clothing and Western Evil.

Here’s a video trailer that Relapse Records made for their booth at MDF.

Food & Drinks

There is plenty of on-site food at Maryland Deathfest. this year the on site food vendors include: Maui Wowi Hawaiian Smoothies & Coffees, Appetizers on the Run, Smokerhead BBQ, Avalache Sno-Balls, Pork Lord Tacos, Red Emmas (Vegan/vegetarian), E-San Food & Drink (Asian food), HeadBangin HotDogs (Vegan), Humpty’s Dumplings, Nader’s Bistro (Greek & Italian), Tropical Island Concessions (Gyro’s, Burgers, etc). If that’s not enough food options for you then be sure to check the custom Google map I made (at the top of this post) which includes stuff outside the festival grounds like restaurants, record stores, liquor stores and convenience stores.

It should be noted that the Pratt Street Ale House, which is walking distance from most of the downtown hotels, is doing a special for anyone attending Maryland Deathfest this weekend (just show your wristband when you mention it). The special is $4 16oz pours of Winter’s Wolves regular draft or nitro draft. Also for $4 you can get The Wolf Pack Flight: three 5oz pours (one each) of wine barrel aged, nitro and regular Winter’s Wolves. If you don’t know, Winter’s Wolves is an officially licensed tribute to The Sword. I highly recommend this place as they have some great food and some killer beers any beer snob or casual drinker will be excited about and they’re very metal head friendly.

There’s a liquor store (has beer and wine too) called Urban Cellars that is walking distance from the main Edison lot of MDF, they usually have specials going on for MDF attendees too. It should be noted that while their store is usually closed on Sunday, they do open the Sunday of Deathfest every year.

As for beer at the festival, there will be Deathfest Ale which this year is a golden blond ale by Evolution Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, Brooklyn Brown, Budweiser, Magic Hat #9, Magic Hat Electric Pilsner and Guinness. There will be whiskey, rum and vodka and various mixed drinks available as well.

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

Updates

I’ll be adding updates to this post throughout the fest once it starts. Expect to see photos of food vendor prices as well as images of exclusive merch. Be sure to check back here before you head to Maryland Deathfest to help you get an idea of what to expect, and of course you can follow me on Facebook, MetalChris on Twitter, DCMetalChris on Instagram, dcmetalchris on Snapchat and MetalChris on Periscope, all of which I’ll be (probably) be updating/using from my phone.

Thanks for reading to the end, you get a gold star! If you’d like to read some more Maryland Deathefest related posts check out our latest posts about Hellbringer and Novembers Doom. Each year I let my album reviews pick a couple bands playing MDF that aren’t as well known as some of the others and let them write an album review attempting to convince others to check out these great bands. The Hellbringer review by Buzzo Jr is posted here, and Tal’s post about Novembers Doom is posted here. Both have songs that you can stream at the end of the post so you can give them a listen.

Here is some merch at the Maryland Deathfest merch booth that wasn’t available for pre-order on the MDF website. A beanie hat, a baseball cap and a tote bag.

Friday at Edison they also brought out all the embroidered patches, some koozies and rubber coasters.

There is also an official MDF XIV hot sauce at one of the vendors (who also has some other metal hot sauces like Eyehategod and Goatwhore).

There are Maryland Deathfest branded exclusive shirts from the following bands. I saw Venom, Novembers Doom, Sinister (who had to drop), Gruesome, The Haunted, Paradise Lost, Demolition Hammer and Hail Of Bullets. Some are at the MDF merch booth, some are at other booths.

Beer list at Baltimore Soundstage (click it to see it larger). I think the Deathfest ale they are selling is the left overs from last year or something because it is not the pale ale that is at Edison Lot. You can also get a free cup of water at the front bar, you don’t have to pay $3 to drink water.

Food menu at Baltimore Soundstage for Deathfest.

Review of Dominion Of Darkness by Hellbringer

Band: Hellbringer
Album: Dominion Of Darkness
Release Date: 28 September 2012
Record Label: High Roller Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XIV: 9:50 Sunday at Edison Lot B

Dominion Of Darkness by Hellbringer

Welcome to the start of our Maryland Deathfest XIV coverage! Usually we only review releases by local bands on DCHM but there are some exceptions, and MDF is one of them. Every year I ask my album reviewers to pick a lesser known band on the Deathfest bill and review their latest album (even if it’s a few years old) in the hopes of getting people to check out one of the great bands on Deathfest that isn’t as well known as the headliners. DCHM writer Buzzo Jr. picked the band Hellbringer, the first band playing on Saturday at the Edison lot. Be sure to give a listen to the songs at the end of this post too.

Hellbringer is a thrash/speed metal band that was formed in Canberra, Australia. The three piece was originally founded in 2007 under the name Forgery by bassist/vocalist Luke Bennett and his brother Josh, who is the drummer, along with Tim Sheppard on guitar. In 2010, following the release of their EP, Tim was replaced by James Lewis and the band changed their name to Hellbringer. The trio soon released their debut full length Dominion of Darkness on High Roller Records in 2012, and will now be playing some of their first ever shows in the United States on their Darkness Over North America Tour; the final show being their first ever appearance at Maryland Deathfest. Hellbringer will be the first band to take the stage on Saturday, playing the B stage at the Edison lot at 12:15 PM.

The mid 2000’s saw an influx in newer thrash metal bands attempting to revitalize the genre that had previously lost most of its mainstream appeal in the 90’s. Modern thrash bands like Havok and Violator were a dime a dozen, but a large amount of these bands suffered from the fact that they all sounded like a 2000’s era band attempting to play Exodus or Megadeth riffs with much cleaner production. This is not the case with Hellbringer’s Dominion of Darkness. This record doesn’t simply sound like a few guys trying to emulate old school thrash metal; no, this is music that if you heard today you would swear it was recorded at the tail end of 1984. A large amount of the bands that emerged in the modern thrash revival mostly relied on emulating the party-thrash style of the classic crossover thrash bands like DRI and Cryptic Slaughter, or the more aggressive and serious sounding social commentary of Megadeth and Metallica. While there are a few exceptions, there are very few modern thrash bands that are able to sound truly evil. Taking an indisputable amount of influence from Slayer’s Hell Awaits record, Dominion of Darkness accomplishes just that. Luke’s reverb soaked vocals are akin to the cries of a demonic hell-beast. Comparisons to Slayer’s Tom Araya are inevitable, but Luke makes these vocals his own, and they work extremely well alongside the crushing riffs that are delivered from James Lewis. The riffs on this album are absolutely vicious; forming a whirlwind of teutonic, blackened vileness, and creating a hellish atmosphere that brings visions of demons inhabiting an otherworldly realm filled with nothing but pain and fear. The crushing riffs are interspersed with solos that are melodic yet at the same time absolutely chaotic. While not as technically impressive as the guitar and vocal work, the bass guitar and drumming on the album also play their part brilliantly. The grooving bass lines supply additional weight to the main guitar riffs, while the d-beat style drum beats serve to make sure that there is never a sense of empty space in the album; varying the tempo of the fills and double bass when needed. While some listeners may be seeking more technical and progressive thrash metal in the realm of Vektor, I definitely think it’s one of the best thrash albums to come out it a long time.

If you’re a fan of old school satanic thrash metal, then give this record a listen as well as heading to the Edison lot early on Saturday to catch Hellbringer’s set. These tracks are bound to get everyone’s heads banging from the get go. Hellbringer will also be releasing their second full length record Awakened From The Abyss this August, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!

Sermon Of Death:

Demon’s Blood:

Hellbringer live:

Interview with Tom Warrior

On Sunday, May 24th of 2015 I interviewed Tom G. Warrior of Triptykon (and formerly Celtic Frost and Hellhammer). It was the final day of Maryland Deathfest XIII and I had to miss a couple bands that I wanted to see because of it, but it was definitely worth it. Tom’s people had arranged for us to use a small conference room in the hotel for the interview. I basically just sat down in a small room with just Tom, myself and my recorder on the table between us. The following 19 minute interview is the result of that conversation. I hope you all enjoy this interview with one of metal’s legendary pioneers.

You can stream the interview by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription. My words are in bold.

Tom Warrior of Triptykon

Hello this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and today, this is the last day of Maryland Deathfest, I’m lucky enough to have with me one of the true originators of underground heavy metal, Tom Warrior, from Triptykon who played yesterday at the festival and people also know him from Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Thank you very much for talking with me today Tom.

I’m grateful.

So the first thing I wanted to ask you is what exactly does the name Triptykon mean?

It’s the third occult metal band that I’ve formed in my life and as I’m mildly obsessed with the concept of a triptych it just seemed to fit perfectly. The first part of course being Hellhammer and the second part being Celtic Frost, Triptkyon being probably the bookend.

Triptykon was supposed to play last year at Deathfest. You guys were going to headline I believe at Rams Head Live one night and I know that you couldn’t make the show because your good friend HR Giger had just passed away and you had to go to the funeral instead.

We didn’t cancel lightheartedly but there was just no way that I could have left the widow and the other close friends. The week that we would have appeared here in Baltimore was both the memorial service and the burial which were two separate events and I couldn’t have possibly have left them alone for that. Not only because I was close to Giger but I owe him so much that there was just no question and I counted on the understanding of our fans. That’s why I made a lengthy statement (here) hoping that most people would understand what we were experiencing.

Yeah I think most people did. I think sometimes people forget that, you know we have these big ideas of the musicians in these bands that we look up to that we forget that they’re people too and they have commitments they have to do outside of music.

Well yeah. This was also related to music and it was much, much more than that. Giger was also a very close personal friend, and his wife was a very personal friend. There’s so many connections and I’ve always been there for them. They’ve been there for me. There was no way I could have said, “well goodbye, I’m playing a show” you know?

Yeah, completely understandable. Now [last year] you were supposed to play at Rams Head Live which is an indoor venue though and then yesterday you played outdoors on the big main stage. Which do you really prefer to have Triptkyon in because it was kind of weird seeing you guys with all that sunlight on you I have to admit.

Basically I don’t really care as long as we get a good connection with our audience and yesterday was fantastic. The audience were very exceptional. Of course I prefer Triptkyon in the dark and usually that’s a stipulation that we have but I understand that if you play outdoors here there’s a certain curfew because it’s in the middle of the city and we were the second to last band and it was only like seven o’clock or something. The whole thing is much earlier than like for example a European festival and we have no problem with that. We don’t have to enforce some stupid star trip you know? If it’s not possible any other way here then we do it. The most important thing is that we finally came here and that the people got to see us and we had a very good stage sound, we had a fantastic audience so there was some sunlight, tough shit.

It was a great show anyway. So back to Giger, I think fans know your relationship the most just from seeing the album cover art that he’s done for your bands over the years and I was kind of curious any other ways he may have influenced your music or your artistic development aside from just that that we’ve mostly seen.

Well the album covers, especially the first one of To Mega Therion, those are the visual tokens but the mere fact that Giger believed in us in 1983 when we first contacted him when we were nobodies, we didn’t even have a record deal. We had like two miserable demos. Nobody knew us. The few people who had heard us laughed about us in our own scene. I’m not talking about regular people I’m talking about the metal scene, they laughed at us, nobody gave us a chance. Everybody we approached wouldn’t touch us with a stick, promoters and record companies. The only person that took us serious was Giger who was at the pinnacle of his fame. He had just won the Academy Award and had just done Alien, and it gave us a tremendous boost that somebody of his format would actually believe in us and work together with us when everybody else wouldn’t take us serious. So it had a far larger implication to us than just the cover, which of course was a huge honor but it also made it easier for us to believe in ourselves if Giger, our idol for many years believed in us and he became our mentor. What can I say? That influenced just about everything else that came afterwards. And of course the To Mega Therion album became legendary, not the least by means of the cover so that was the beginning of a very long relationship that has implications to this day.

Tom Warrior's HR Giger Ibanez Iceman

I saw you had the bio-mech guitar that you were playing yesterday as well. That was pretty cool.

Of course. It’s the best sounding Iceman, it’s actually a coincidence. When we brought back Celtic Frost in the early 2000’s and we were working on the album, of course I’ve been playing Ibanez Icemans for forever, but just around that time Ibanez collaborated with Giger and created this Iceman model. And Martin Ain gave me one of those on my birthday in 2005. He surprised me with one of those and we played it during rehearsals and it turned out to sound better than any other Iceman I had. I had pretty much every Iceman model in my life and this one sounded so aggressive that we knew we have to have more of those. I’ve owned four of those in addition to the other Icemans and the other Icemans cannot compete. And of course its highly symbolic. It’s the Giger Iceman. It’s the best sounding and suits our sound perfectly. But there’s no design behind that, it’s just mere coincidence.

That’s a cool coincidence.

It fits perfectly, what can I say?

Cool. So have you written any songs to commemorate or as in a tribute to Giger at all?

No… I don’t know if I could write an appropriate song for that. What I intend to do is dedicate the next Triptykon album. The first one after his death, dedicate that to him. And the fact of the matter is that we designed three albums together while he was still alive. The cover, the booklet and everything for the third album from Triptykon, it has been designed, it has been approved by him. So it will be a memento to him at any rate and we plan on dedicating it to him. It’s going to be the very last cover that he was ever actively involved in. That’s basically our tribute, to realize that album that he was still involved in.

That’s really cool. During your live set you guys play a lot of the old Celtic Frost and Hellhammer songs as well.

It’s just about half/half. We always try to have it roughly half/half.

Do you prefer playing the older songs or do you like playing the Triptykon stuff more or is it all just kind of the same to you?

It’s exactly the same to me. If I had my way Celtic Frost would have existed for many more albums. Unfortunately certain people’s grand designs on their own fame and certain egotistical stunts interfered with that. And eventually the band became so unworkable that I personally said the only option that was left was leaving it. I formed Triptykon but in essence it’s exactly the same thing I did with Celtic Frost. It’s simply minus the egotism and the personality stunts. Even though it’s younger people, behind the scenes Triptykon is far more mature than Celtic Frost ever was. But musically the whole infrastructure around the band and my approach and the way I produce and everything it’s exactly the same. It’s basically what I would have done had Celtic Frost persevered. So to me the Celtic Frost songs merge perfectly with the Triptykon songs. I really don’t see a difference. We try to strike a balance because Triptykon is not just me, it’s four people and I don’t just want to be a Celtic Frost cover band. I think it’s fair enough to play half/half. Half newer songs, half older songs, but I think we’re doing fine with that.

So here’s one thing during your set also, you guys introduced yourselves [as being] from Sweden. Now I thought you were from Switzerland.

We are but just about maybe 70% of all Americans say, “well you’re from Sweden” so we said, “yeah, we’re from Sweden.”

So it’s sort of a joke on the audience then?

It wasn’t a joke on the audience. Nobody in the audience has any responsibility for that but it’s just, I’ve been playing, for the first time in North America in ’85, and ever since then I’ve been named a Swede uncounted times so yesterday yeah, we were Swedish.

Well a few of us around me, we all noticed for sure.

Pete Beste, the famous black metal photographer, [was] standing right in front of me when I said that and I saw his puzzled face because we are friends and he was looking at me like, “what the hell?”

Do you think there will be a full US tour from Triptykon any time soon?

It remains to be seen. I really don’t know. I’ve been becoming a bit of a recluse in recent years. I’ve toured so much and I’ve played so many concerts in my 33 years as a musician that I don’t want to endlessly repeat myself. I’d like to keep it, this is a really overused word, authentic. I’d like to still be excited when I go on stage and not just play a conveyor belt set. I’ve been shooting down so many things in New York and elsewhere when it doesn’t seem right. I want to play concerts that are still honest and I don’t want to do it like a job. I don’t want to come on stage and just be a routine. As for the United States there’s even more ??? Since I first played over here in 1985 the bureaucracy to obtain the necessary visas has multiplied and it has become very difficult, very expensive, the whole process and also [some] parts that are very humiliating for a 52 year old man who doesn’t really have to submit to all this stuff. So if we get a reasonable offer [then] yes of course we’re coming over but it really has to make sense for us to go through all of this. This time for 60 minutes on stage we went through months, months and months of visa petition process and interviews and payments. There’s no relation to the actual show time so next time if we come over here we would love to do that. It’s always been a high point for me for every album to come to the states but it’s got to make sense on some level given the time you invest and the nerves and bureaucracy and everything.

I know you saw Goatsnake today.

I interrupted the interviews today because I love Goatsnake.

I was supposed to interview you earlier today. They moved it back. It’s ok, I don’t mind.

That’s why I told you I’m grateful for all your understanding, your commuting and everything. I don’t take that for granted.

It’s no problem.

I saw Goatsnake in 2010 at the Roadburn Festival. They were monumental. I went back stage and I told them its one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, and I really meant that. So we were all dying to see them today. Today it didn’t sound as good as back then for probably many reasons. But they’re still friends of mine and I really wanted to see them and I’m very, very glad that you made this possible by being so flexible.

No problem. Were there any other bands that you caught at Deathfest this year that you really enjoyed?

I don’t really listen to so much metal. I’ve been listening to metal since 1973 and I… I find that I fare much better if I listen to some of the other music that I passionately enjoy such as jazz music and old hippie music and all kinds of stuff. Because I’m doing this every day with the band and I’ve listened to 45 years or whatever it is of hard music and I don’t want to get tired of the music. I don’t want to get saturated to the point of not being able to be creative any more. You need some other horizons too and that’s not me blasting metal. Metal is my life and my life has been lived as part of the metal scene but as somebody who’s creative you have to have some other input as well and there’s so much good music out there. I love 70’s or late 60’s swing and so there’s just so much music that moves me, you know? After so many years I listen to that a lot because when I’m with the band or when I’m on stage we play very loud, very heavy and that’s already saturating enough.

Sometimes you need a little break, you know?

Well that’s just how it works for me, you know?

No I think it is for most people to be honest.

I listen to a lot of heavy rock but it’s mostly heavy rock from the 70’s and the first half of the 80’s.

Well that sort of leads into my next question anyway. Now you’ve been a big influence on, I don’t even know how many metal bands and musicians over the years, are there any newer bands that have come out in the last maybe five years or so that are any kind of influence on you?

Well maybe not an influence. I think I’m too old for that. I have crafted my style and I play the music that is inside of me. I don’t really need an influence. But there’s bands that I honestly look up to. Portal [who are] from Australia I believe.

They’re playing tonight, yup.

They’re sensational. Or the Wounded Kings from England. I’ve found that the albums they did with their female singer, they’re sensational. So there’s the occasional band that catches my attention, of course.

And I’m guessing from some of your earlier comments that there will probably never be any kind of Celtic Frost reunion or anything like that.

I’m afraid that’s impossible, yeah. I mean there’s no more animosity between me and Martin, we just met actually a few weeks ago as we do from time to time but I think that window has closed. Even though Martin once said, “yeah we’ll play music together again” but after that gargantuan disappointment I don’t think I want to set myself up for yet another one. Celtic Frost was my life and losing that twice wasn’t very easy. And I don’t trust these people any more. I invested so much time and so much of my personal money and effort and my songs and my production and everything into the Monotheist album and I did this because I believed the band could exist for many years and I felt betrayed and stabbed in the back and I really, if I would ever get involved with that again it would probably end the same and I don’t want to do that. Triptykon is a circle of friends and I prefer that. And you know anything I want to do creatively I can do in Triptykon.

I am actually also a big 1349 fan and I know you worked with them on some of their albums. How did you meet up with those guys? How did that get to the point where you were, I think you were producing a couple of their albums right?

I got to know 1349 through my friendship with Frost, their drummer, who back in the early 2000’s was far more involved with them than he is now. I heard 1349’s first album after reading a review in Terrorizer magazine and I thought it was fantastic. To me it was really a black metal album that really caught my attention. At that time there were so many black metal bands out there, many of them copying another one and 1349, their first album really hit me. It was fresh and it was aggressive. It was just right. And I knew Frost was playing in there and we had talked to Frost as a possible drummer in Celtic Frost.

That would have been really cool I think.

It would have been much cooler than the drummer we had eventually, I tell you that. So there was already a friendship so when 1349 toured and came to Switzerland we went to see them and that’s when I also struck a friendship with Ravn, the singer, and we just have so many things in common [that] we became very close friends and we visit with each other in Norway and in Switzerland and made trips together and everything before so eventually it ended up being a musical collaboration as well.

The phrase “only death is real,” what exactly does that mean to you and where did it come from exactly? I’d love to hear the back story to that.

Well it’s basically a line from the song “Messiah” which we wrong in 1983 in Hellhammer and it is probably extremely difficult for young people nowadays to understand but this was written during the time of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and America were basically staring down each other and there was a very real possibility that somebody would press the red button and the world would be obliterated by nuclear war. I mean it was in the media every day. It was in the news and everything and us young people at the time, we grew up with this constant realization that the next hour the world could be eliminated. There was such tensions always between the two super powers and a lot of Hellhammer’s material reflects that kind of aura, that kind of feeling that was in the air at that time and “Messiah” even though it sounds like a religious song but it is very much about the Cold War and this fear of the destruction of the world and “only death is real” hints to that of course it’s also true it’s the only thing that’s guaranteed in life. Death is something that unifies us all. Whether you’re black or white or whatever. Whatever kind of being you are, even a stone on this planet eventually will be ground down to dust. Everything will pass on this planet. Death is the only thing that’s a given, that’s a guarantee on this planet for everything. That’s really, that’s the end of it.

So you’re here in Baltimore for this and I don’t know if you’ve heard any of the news about some of the protests and…

Of course that’s why I said yesterday on stage, “you’re very rowdy tonight, that’s not like Baltimore at all” then everybody had to laugh. It was of course a little joke about that which, of course, it’s not funny at all.

Well I think the police officers that had been involved in that incident were actually indicted I think on Friday or something and I think it’s actually very lucky for Deathfest because what happened in Saint Louis was the day that the police were to be indicted they were not indicted and they were basically not going to be charged with any kind of crime, not even given a trial and that’s what started all those protests that were going on in Ferguson near Saint Louis, Missouri. And I was thinking, man if those guys had not been indicted on Friday if it came out that they were not going to be charged with anything…

Of course it would have…

I mean not only would that have probably called off the rest of Deathfest, but I mean it would have affected a lot of people here in a lot of ways.

Of course, yeah.

And I was just kind of curious if you had any kind of opinion on any of that.

Well who am I as somebody who lives in Switzerland to have a right to comment on an inter-American affair? I’m not somebody who buries their head in the ground but I’m also very respectful of national affairs. Of course we all followed that in the news. I’m an information junkie. I’m a history junkie and an information junkie constantly ever since I was a child. It’s a hugely complex issue that we cannot possibly address just in a few sentences. I understand police officers who are charged with securing a modern American city. It is humongous you know? You don’t have cities like that in Switzerland. And you’re tasked to ensure security of these cities and there’s these masses of criminals and problems and drugs and whatever. I totally understand that you might get trigger happy and in the heat of the moment you might make an irrational decision but I also understand the other side. The people who suffer from this and who feel disenfranchised and in a world that’s governed by mega corporations that don’t leave people without any education any chance to ever achieve anything in their life. I understand both sides and both sides are so complex so who am I to say who’s right, who’s wrong, what’s the solution? It’s a problem that is so gargantuan.

Well thanks a lot Tom. It’s been really awesome talking to you. If there’s anything else you’d like to say…

I just want to say thank you for the audience here at Maryland Deathfest for being so patient and waiting for a year for us and for being understanding. Nobody said anything negative about our pulling out last year. Everybody understood what it was all about and I’m very grateful for that.

Well you know there’s a lot of bands also that have canceled for various reasons and said they will come back the next year and [then] not do it and it was really cool that you made sure the next year you guys were back.

Oh no that was never a question for us. We had decided, we had this discussion, the band, when this all happened and when we decided we cannot do it you know? We said if there’s an offer for next year of course we will say yes no matter what the offer is. There was never a question in [my] mind about coming back. We were hoping that they wouldn’t be disappointed with us, the organizers, we were hoping they would ask us back. So they did and of course…

Well I think [Maryland Deathfest organizers] Evan [Harting] and Ryan [Taylor] are usually pretty reasonable about stuff so.

Yeah but you know, you don’t take anything for granted after a life in this industry and they were very cool, very understanding so yeah of course we come back.

Well thanks a lot. Thanks again for your time Tom. It’s been awesome talking to you here so thank you a lot.

Thank you.

Interview with Nick Holmes of Bloodbath

On Saturday, May 23rd of 2015 I was given the opportunity to interview Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Bloodbath (and also Paradise Lost). At the time of the interview Maryland Deathfest XIII was in full swing and I was running a bit late to meet him due to traffic. We met at the bar in the band’s hotel so there’s a bit of background noise on this recording and since I was running late I just kind of jumped into the interview without any last minute prep. It’s my shortest interview to date but it should still be interesting to fans of Bloodbath and Paradise Lost. I have another interview from Maryland Deathfest with Tom Warrior of Triptykon/Celtic Frost posted here and it’s a lot longer, more in depth and higher quality as well.

You can stream my six and a half minute interview with Nick Holmes by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription. My words are in bold.

Nick Holmes of Bloodbath

Alright this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’m here with Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Bloodbath who just headlined Friday at Maryland Deathfest on the Edison Lot last night. So first Nick, thanks for giving me some of your time here. How exactly did you become the vocalist for Bloodbath?

We toured in the States with Katatonia and Devin Townsend and we’d known them for years anyway so, but they asked me if I wanted to do it a couple years ago now so I had quite a long time to think about it. At first I wasn’t sure but then I thought, “why not” you know? We have a mutual love of the old school metal, death metal, and we’re all friends so it kind of made sense. You know if I didn’t know the guys I’d have probably hesitated but we’re all friends and we all… it just worked out great so.

Why did the band keep your identity as the new singer a secret for so long?

Good question. I guess it’s a bit of a tease thing isn’t it? I mean, you know.

Marketing?

Yeah well it’s just a little bit of excitement there. I mean everything’s already on the internet the minute it happens so when you’ve got to wait for something it makes it a bit more exciting I guess, you know.

Now I know you weren’t a member of the band yet but technically Bloodbath has played in America before and they played in Baltimore at Rams Head Live on November 1st, 2011 when Katatonia and Opeth were touring together the final night of their tour was here in Baltimore and they came out and did a surprise encore.

Oh did they?

Where they came out and they played “Eaten” and like another song or two.

Oh I didn’t know that. Was he playing (pointing to Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson)?

I think so. I know [Mike] Åkerfeldt was still doing vocals. I think that was the last time he ever performed with [Bloodbath].

Probably, yeah yeah.

You know Baltimore has been spoiled here. We’ve gotten you guys twice now. Is there any future US tour plans for Bloodbath?

Not in the immediate future. I mean, I’m starting to cycle the tour ??? but then they just did a new Katatonia album so there won’t be anything, it certainly won’t be in the next year or two. I mean it would be nice to do some more stuff with Bloodbath and we’ll see. We didn’t make any long term plans. We just did the albums and we’ll just see how it goes, you know? But obviously commitments with what I do and what Axe [Bloodbath drummer Martin Axenrot] does with Opeth and Katatonia you know that’s first so we’ll see.

So I guess there’s no plans for a new Bloodbath album any time soon as well?

It won’t be any time soon, no. I mean, if at all. So at this point it’s just a question mark.

Understandable, you guys are in so many other projects.

Yeah, yeah.

It must be hard just to find the time together.

Yeah, that’s it.

So speaking of which, your other band Paradise Lost has a new album, The Plague Within, which should be coming out in about two weeks.

June the first.

Pretty soon yeah, a week and a half or something like that. So how has it been managing your time between those two projects? I know you’ve been setting up for this Bloodbath show here but also if you’ve got the new album coming out you’ve got to do a press cycle for that as well.

Yeah it hasn’t been to bad yet. There’s a few kind of back to back things that I’m going to do with Bloodbath and PL which is next week actually. Which is kind of, I’d prefer not to do it but that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles you know? Because we’re starting a tour cycle we’ll probably do a tour and then we’ll do more festivals next year with Paradise Lost but we’re doing a lot of festivals this year with Bloodbath. So yeah it’s kind of working alright. I mean [Paradise Lost guitarist] Greg Mackintosh he also does Vallenfyre as well so he’s in a similar situation but we’re doing about three festivals with Bloodbath and Vallenfyre outside of PL so, but we’re not doing anything the same day. Which, that ain’t gonna happen you know?

Shane Embury yesterday from Napalm Death was in…

Oh he loves it. He will just play.

He was in Lock Up and [then] he went on with Napalm Death and Napalm Death played for like 85 minutes last night.

Yeah well he can just go all day, shit. Can’t he?

That’s a trooper man. Are there any plans for Paradise Lost to come to America? Maybe at Deathfest or another festival or a full tour.

I would love to do it but not in the immediate future. I mean hopefully next year. I don’t know you know it’s tough on, it’s expensive to tour here, that’s the thing. You know if you don’t play in [front of] X amount of people you end up losing your ass.

Yeah, yeah.

It happens to a lot of bands. It’s not like in England or Europe where you can, you [can] lose a lot coming here to do it. So you’ve got to kind of justify it. So it’s tough I mean. You know we did a lot of support so I mean if we did it, it would probably be as a support sort of thing. But yeah, hopefully we can.

Well the other two Peaceville Three bands have been to the US in the last year or two with My Dying Bride actually was one of the headliners for Deathfest last year and then Anathema came on a tour a year or two ago.

Yeah, yeah.

Out of the three Peaceville Three bands Paradise Lost is my favorite for the new material that’s still coming out. I loved the last album. Really excited for the new one.

Alright, thanks.

So OK. What did you actually do with the Necrophagia shirt that was thrown on stage last night?

I don’t know what happened to it. Yeah I forgot about that. I don’t know what… did I… I think I gave it to Waltteri [Väyrynen], the Vallenfyre drummer. He was just there cause he’s like a young guy, he wants all the shirts. He’s like, oh yeah?

So what did you think of the car park that Deathfest is in?

Yeah it was great. It was great a really good show, yeah. We really enjoyed it yeah, I mean, it was so much hassle just to get here to do it with the visas etcetera, etcetera. But yeah it was really good yeah we really all loved it. It was good, good fun and the crowd was great, really good.

Did you see any other bands at Deathfest this year, any that stood out?

I saw Aura Noir which I already like them anyway. I was kind of eating my dinner at the same time. But I mean yeah I like Aura Noir. Who else was it, oh obviously Lock Up as well obviously. But yeah you can’t really get away from it anywhere at a festival site because it’s so loud everywhere.

Yeah.

So you’re going to hear them at least if you don’t see them so.

Well anyway thanks a lot for your time man. It was great getting to see you guys. I got the little teaser before but it was really great getting to see you guys live man.

Good one.

[Bloodbath was] one of the big bands I was hoping to see this year.

Yeah well we loved it. It was good fun you know. Glad to do it.

Well thanks a lot for your time man.

Cheers bub, thanks.