Review of Aruagint by Sarke

Band: Sarke
Album: Aruagint
Release Date: 20 September 2013
Record Label: Indie Recordings
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 7:45 Saturday at Edison Lot A

Cover of Aruagint by Sarke

Maryland Deathfest XII starts next week! Our annual Maryland Deathfest Survival Guide will be up soon but leading up to the big post we’ve put together some reviews of albums by some of the less well known bands playing Deathfest this year that you will not want to miss seeing live. These posts have a lot of background on the bands to help you become an expert on them before you see them, and of course there’s a few songs at the end of the post that you can stream to get acquainted with the bands too. This is our fourth and final review but we’ve covered at least one band playing each day on the big outdoor Edison Lot stages (the main festival stages that will not sell out). You can check out the rest of our MDF XII coverage here but until then take a few minutes to learn why you shouldn’t miss Sarke if you’re at Deathfest on Saturday.

If you’ve heard only one thing about the Norwegian band Sarke you’ve probably heard that the band features Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone on vocals. This is true and since Darkthrone refuses to play live shows seeing Sarke at Maryland Deathfest is a rare chance to see one of Darkthrone’s two members in a live setting. What most people don’t know about Sarke though is that the band is actually the solo project of a guy named Sarke (his real name is Thomas Berglie). Sarke, the musician, is best known for being the drummer of Khold though he’s also the drummer for the (very underrated) black metal band Tulus. On the first Sarke album, Vorunah, he played all instruments aside from the vocals that Nocturno Culto recorded. These days Sarke only plays bass and has brought in other musicians to fill out the band’s line up, though he continues to write all of the band’s lyrics as well. While not as big of names as Nocturno Culto, the other members come from bands like Borknagar, Ihsahn and Lunaris, so the band as a whole has quite the resume.

As far as Sarke’s actual sound goes, they’re often described as black/thrash metal but that’s a bit off as they don’t sound much like the standard bands of that style such as Aura Noir or Absu. Sarke is slower than most thrash bands and sound something akin to older bands like Venom, Motörhead and Celtic Frost combined with a primitive style of early 90’s Norwegian black metal. The first two Sarke albums are a bit more thrashy than Aruagint but what their latest album lacks in overall speed it makes up for in coldness. This sense of coldness isn’t just the chill of the Norwegian winds that permeates their sound but also emotional coldness, neither happy nor sad, just empty. We’ve gotten this sense of cold from many straight up black metal bands over the years but Sarke is different, they have a certain groove to their sound. Calm and calculated they often raise the tempo to breathe life into a song when it is needed, such as on the track “Icon Usurper” where they use this technique perfectly. The band does a good job of keeping a sense of tension throughout the album and Nocturno Culto’s voice has no major effects done to it. The recording itself has the band sounding good without being overproduced. You can hear each instrument distinctly and the keyboards are in the background where they should be, but you’ll find no flashy studio tricks here. The song “Ugly” with its chorus line of “Cause I’m ugly/Ugly as Hell” and punkish main riff brings a bit of that dark punk vibe that Darkthrone has been doing lately and Nocturno Culto seems perfect for this song in particular.

Sarke isn’t the most technical band by any means but they do come up with some pretty fun grooves, combined with that sense of coldness, that makes it just plain fun to listen to them jam. Their songs are well thought out though and every note sounds like it is right where it should be. Their studio sound comes across as very rehearsed so I’m guessing they’ll be pretty tight when they play Deathfest. It will be interesting to see what kind of performance they put on live as Nocturno Culto doesn’t appear to be a very wild front man in most of the live footage I’ve seen of them, however he does seem to get more energy from the crowd depending on how energetic they are. This will be Sarke’s first ever live performance in the US so let’s hope everyone is as psyched to see them on Saturday as I am. Be sure to check out the following songs from Aruagint and start getting psyched for Maryland Deathfest XII next week!

Salvation:

Icon Usurper:

The Drunken Priest (live):

Review of Svartir Sandar by Sólstafir

Band: Sólstafir
Album: Svartir Sandar
Release Date: 14 October 2011
Record Label: Season Of Mist
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 5:55pm Friday at Edison Lot A

Cover of Svartir Sandar by Sólstafir

Here’s our third review in our series of album reviews leading up to Maryland Deathfest XII. These reviews are intended to help you get familiar with some of the bands you might not know about, but definitely don’t want to miss seeing, at this year’s Deathfest. They’re more than just album reviews though as they also shed some info on the band’s history and background. So enjoy this post about Sólstafir before they play both MDF and Empire in the coming week. This post was written by Tal and you can read more of her writing on her personal blog here. Be sure to stream the tunes at the end of this post too!

I was asked to write about “relatively unknown” bands playing Maryland Deathfest XII, but Sólstafir is actually not that unknown… unless you live on our side of the Atlantic Ocean. The band climbed the charts in Europe with their 2011 album Svartir Sandar, and “Fjara,” the single from that album, actually made it to #1 on the singles charts in Iceland, their home country. They’ve never appeared in the US before, though, and are still rather underground here.

Sólstafir’s sound is as if Sigur Rós (an Icelandic post-rock band) decided to play black metal, and threw in some chugging stoner riffs too, without abandoning haunting instrumental passages and the occasional dreamy vocals. The band itself defies any attempt to categorize, calling themselves “Epic Rock N Roll” and “New Wave Metal” (according to their Facebook page). They include Abba and Thin Lizzy among their musical favorites, and can often be seen sporting cowboy hats and boots.

The band was formed by Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (guitar and vocals), Halldór Einarsson (bass) and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason (drums) in 1995 and recorded two demos that year; one of them, Till Valhallar, was later re-released in 2002. Halldór left before the recording of the band’s debut album and was replaced by Svavar Austmann on bass. Although recording of their debut album Í Blóði og Anda started in 1999, the album wasn’t released until 2002; there were so many difficulties that the band “truly believed they were cursed” – everything from a break-in at the studio to 90% of their CDs being shattered in a car crash on the German Autobahn (source). Around the same time they recruited a second guitar player, Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson, to join them as they started playing live shows.

Their 2011 release Svartir Sandar met with critical acclaim in Europe. Svartir Sandar, which means “black sands,” is a double album of otherworldly guitars; hoarse, anguished vocals; and the occasional plunge into black metal fury or chugging riffage. One of the most distinctive aspects of the album is the vocals, which range from soft, ethereal singing to heartbroken screaming, as though through sobs – it’s a very emotional, stormy listen. Their guitar tone is also unique – although it’s sometimes very distorted, much of the time it’s quite clear and raw-sounding.

The first part of the album, subtitled Andvari, is a post-metal journey through soundscapes of loneliness, with layers of long, resonating guitar notes leading into heavier, riffier segments. I really adore the first track, “Ljós í Stormi” (“Light in the Storm”), from the sweeping, desolate guitar notes that start it off, to the distraught vocals, the barrage of drumming and the dreamy, uplifting guitars that rise through the storm like the name suggests. “Fjara” is another obvious favorite, with its catchy vocal melody that draws the listener from quiet grief into intense anguish, accompanied by flowing guitar and piano, with just a hint of discord giving them depth. If you really want to experience heartbreak, watch the video for the song at the end of this post.

The second part of the album, subtitled Gola, is quieter, with a more consistent rock rhythm and dreamy guitar passages, giving it more of a prog rock feel. My favorite piece is “Stormfari” (“Storm Wanderer”) not the least because it samples an Icelandic weather report (which starts in its intro, “Stinningskaldi” [“Strong Wind”]). I can’t understand more than that it seems to be talking about storms over the sea, but, accompanied by whirring electronic sounds and then dramatic guitar, it sets a mood of just barely contained danger for the song. Then the song launches into rocking, heavily distorted riffs and hoarse vocals that continue the sense of a building storm, before ending just as quickly as an August thunderstorm with a moment of atmospheric melody and a final distant crash. It’s the shortest song on the second half of Svartir Sandar; most of the others are 8 to 10 minute explorations of desolation and melancholy, though not without lovely atmospheric guitar, choirs and some softer vocals giving them a sense of light as well.

In 2013, Sólstafir re-released their debut album, Í Blóði Og Anda (In Blood and Spirit, originally released in 2002). Going from Svartir Sandar to Í Blóði Og Anda, it feels like an entirely different band – faster, harsher, with angrier vocals – but if you listen closely, you can hear the atmospheric soundscapes and prog/post-metal leanings in there as well. Behind the punkish screams that dominate most of the album, the frenzies of blast beats, fuzzy black metal guitar tone and moments so distorted they sound like white noise, there are long waves of atmospheric guitar or lovely acoustic guitar or piano interludes. Even back in 2002, the band seems to have displayed their unwillingness to be restricted to any one genre – one of the most accessible songs on the album, “Bitch in Black,” wanders from a gothic beginning with clean vocals (done by guest vocalist Kola Krauze of Dark Heresy) that drip heavy-mascara darkness, to tremolo-y black metal guitar work, to rocking riffs disguised in black metal techniques, followed by grotesque growled vocals, and then back again. Fortunately for us, Sólstafir can’t seem to make a simple song or stick to one genre.

Sólstafir will generally throw in enough groovy riffs and lovely melodies, too, for there to be something appealing for almost any metal head. For the stoner metal aficionados, check out “Love is the Devil” but prepare to be possibly disturbed by the video. For those who want aching proggy soundscapes check out “Fjara.” And for something of a mix, try these three tracks from Gola – the dreamy “Draumfari,” which makes me think of flying through clouds, plus the raging storm of “Stinningskaldi” and “Stormfari.” And if that’s not enough, you can even listen to Sólstafir on Bandcamp.

In late May, Sólstafir will swing through the area on their first North American tour before heading to the European summer festival circuit. They’ll actually make two stops in our area, so even if you aren’t headed to Deathfest, you can catch them at Empire in Springfield, Virginia on May 19 (with Junius from Boston opening for them). If you are headed to Deathfest, check Sólstafir out at 5:55pm on Friday on the outdoor Edison Lot stage A for a taste of their atmospheric wanderings and rock ‘n’ roll groove.

Oh, and if you really have to know, Sólstafir means “crepuscular rays” in Icelandic – you know, those rays of sunlight that sometimes seem to radiate through the clouds.

Fjara:

Stormfari:

Pale Rider (live):

Review of Deathwomb Catechesis by Pseudogod

Band: Pseudogod
Album: Deathwomb Catechesis
Release Date: 24 April 2012
Record Label: KVLT
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 3:40pm Sunday at Edison Lot B

Cover of Deathwomb Catechesis by Pseudogod

Here’s our second album review in our series highlighting some of the less famous, but must see, bands at Maryland Deathfest XII. These reviews feature more background about the bands than our normal album reviews and hopefully they’ll convince you to check these less known acts out at this year’s Deathfest. So read about Pseudogod, the final band added to the Maryland Deathfest XII line up (besides fill-in bands replacing cancellations) and be sure to stream their tracks at the end of the post to hear them for yourself.

The 2014 edition of Maryland Deathfest has no shortage of rare appearances by obscure metal bands from around the world. One of the more exotic bands this year is Pseudogod, a blackened death metal band from Russia. Unlike some of the (relatively) more famous Russian metal bands, such as Arkona and Korrozia Metalla, they don’t originate in the large city of Moscow. Pseudogod’s home is over 700 miles east in a city known as Perm located at the feet of the Ural Mountains. You may never get another chance in your lifetime to see a band from this region. So are they actually worth seeing at Maryland Deathfest? To put it bluntly, I think you’d be a fool to miss them if you’re going to be at Deathfest on Sunday.

Pseudogod was formed in 2004 but they had only released a demo and several splits until their only full length album, Deathwomb Catechesis, was released in 2012. The songs on Deathwomb Catechesis are punishing and exploding with riffs that will surely get the mosh pits at Deathfest moving. The band’s sound is a mix of black and death metal which makes some sense because half of their members come from a raw black metal band named Groth and the others from a brutal death metal band called Act Of God. Pseudogod’s guitar tone is certainly more black metal but the pummeling percussive aggression comes from death metal. The songs are almost relentless in their delivery of blast beats but several songs do have moments where they turn down the intensity and they show their range with slower, simple riffs that keep the setting dark but let you catch your breath. They make the most of these lulls by drawing you in with catchy rhythms only to have you jarred back into submission when the beating suddenly starts again.

The vocals throughout the album are coarse and guttural with thick reverb added to them in studio to make vocalist I.S.K.H.’s voice sound distant and haunting. Lyrically the songs are fairly standard Satanic fare focusing more on the mystical side of things such as prayers for “Malignant spears/To the womb of god!” The lyrics are primarily in English though one song on the album, “Encarnación del mal,” is written entirely in Spanish. You probably wouldn’t even notice this at first because of the growled vocals.

Pseudogod used to wear corpse paint during live performances but they seem to have stopped doing that at some point it appears, however they still wear upside down crosses and lots of leather on stage. Most of the live footage I’ve seen of them is at smaller bars and club venues, their performance at Maryland Deathfest might be one of the biggest stages they’ve ever played on. They go on fairly early Sunday, at 3:40pm on the Edison Lot’s outdoor stage B, but you should make time to catch them because you really don’t want to miss this rare chance to see them perform live.

Azazel:

Encarnación del mal:

The Seraphim Of Ultimate Void (live):

Review of With Hearts Toward None by Mgła

Band: Mgła
Album: With Hearts Toward None
Release Date: 28 February 2012
Record Label: Northern Heritage Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XII: 3:45pm Friday at Edison Lot B

Cover of With Hearts Toward None by Mgła

It’s already May and that means it’s almost time for the area’s biggest metal event of the year, Maryland Deathfest! Soon I’ll be posting the annual Maryland Deathfest Survival Guide but to get our MDF coverage started a little earlier this year we’ll be reviewing the latest albums by some bands playing MDF that aren’t the big headliner acts but are smaller bands you won’t want to miss. These reviews will cover a bit more background about these more obscure acts in their reviews and hopefully they’ll convince you to get into their music before heading to Maryland Deathfest XII. Sometimes at Deathfest bands come over that are a bit past their primes but Mgła is a band hitting their stride right now. Tal wrote this review and as always you can read more of her material on her own personal blog here. Be sure to stream the songs at the end of this post and start getting psyched for Maryland Deathfest XII!

Mgła is pronounced “mgwah” and means “fog” in Polish.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what they actually are – a black metal band from Kraków, Poland, known in underground circles for their melodic grooves, which don’t get in the way at all of being dark and Satanic. They were solely a studio act for the first twelve years of their existence, but have recently begun to perform live shows, and we’ll be lucky enough to see them appear at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, their first ever US appearance.

Mgła consists of Mikołaj “M.” Żentara on guitar, bass and vocals and Maciej “Darkside” Kowalski on drums, both of whom are also in the black metal band Kriegsmaschine (which is a bit heavier and less melodic than Mgła). Mgla was something of a studio side project for these guys, but the two bands switched roles in 2012. The band explained on their Facebook page (here), “Primary reason for playing live is will to perform music in complete band setting. Attempt was made after Kriegsmaschine essentially became a studio project; roles switched as KSM used to operate as ‘band’ and Mgła as ‘project’.” Since starting to tour, Mgła has found “much higher interest that anticipated” in their live shows.

This is undoubtedly partly due to their 2012 release With Hearts Toward None, which was enthusiastically welcomed by the underground black metal community. The band weaves together melodic leads, cascades of atmospheric guitars, blasting drums and crushingly evil growls into a mind-bending juxtaposition of beauty and light with darkness and annihilation. The album really gets good around the IIIrd and IVth track (the tracks don’t have unique names, but are just identified with Roman numerals after the album name), when the guitars get really groovy, without losing the atmospheric feel. Some may find it repetitive, but I could listen to these riffs wash over me all day. I also found myself frequently noticing the cymbals; they’re very distinct and Darkside uses them to create some unusual rhythms.

While there are some more aggressive songs on the album, such as VI and VII, which feature some segments of faster, driving guitars, most of the songs have gentler, flowing guitar work that contrasts strangely with the dark subject matter embodied in the lyrics. The atmospheric guitar work, which often makes me think of sheets of falling rain, isn’t quite calming since it’s generally accompanied by battering drums, raspy growled vocals or ominous rumbling bass. But it has a hopeful, upward momentum that’s at odds with what the band says in their lyrics. At first I thought this reflected a certain Satanic faith in the individual, which is what the first track describes:

I shall erect myself over transience
I shall ascend over flesh
Steadfastly tearing through aether
I shall rise to the beyond
I shall reveal heights
not yet imagined
I shall rewrite Summa de homine
I shall speak with tongues of angels
And I shall burn with pure light

In “III,” the contrast between music and lyrics is starker, as the lyrics describe a world of darkness and ruin, covered in gray ash and despair, and yet the guitars seem filled with light and hope. There was a ray of hope in the lyrics with the lines, “And you shall know perdition/And it will set you free.” By “VI,” though, this hope is no more; the end of the song calls for the day “Where all flesh dies/that moves upon the earth/And this rotten cesspool/is swept clean.” Gone is the supreme confidence in the self of the first song; nothing is worth saving. It’s like the worst moments of depression, when there is absolutely no point to anything. The last track seems to actually act out this nihilistic wish in a storm of destruction; the ten-minute song finishes with a couple of instrumental minutes, where the drums suddenly go into a frenzy about a minute from the end, faster and faster, the storm overtaking us, and waves of atmospheric guitars inexorably wash over us, until finally the guitar fades out as all is destroyed. I suppose to some the end of the world is beautiful.

Contradictions are inherent in almost everything in existence, though, and the tension created thereby makes the music more interesting – the melodic grooves are all the more enjoyable for being presented alongside loathing for society, humanity and existence.

Your chance to see Mgła rain annihilation live will be on Friday, May 23rd at 3:45pm at the Edison Lot’s outdoor stage B. They’ll probably also play material from their previous releases, which include one other full-length, Groza (2008) and several EPs. Based on YouTube videos and the band’s own comments, you can expect a very simple stage show. The band appears in leather jackets over hooded sweatshirts, grim but not overly theatrical, and the lighting is atmospheric but unvarying, evoking the fog their name refers to. There are no stage antics – in fact, hardly any movement at all. The band has commented (here), “Presentation of Mgła live is simple to the point of unattractive. We do not use any symbolism or other ‘hints’ how to interpret as most natural response is the most welcome. Everyone is encouraged to think for themselves.” A very Satanist approach, actually. And in fact, their appearance seems to create just the right amount of atmosphere for getting into the dark mood of their music, without distracting at all from experiencing the music itself.

Mgła was in fact the band that convinced me that I should attend Maryland Deathfest this year, so I hope you’ll join me as they bring down the end of the world on May 23rd. Even if you’re not a diehard black metal fan, their melodic grooves should get you headbanging.

With Hearts Toward None III:

With Hearts Toward None VII:

With Hearts Toward None I (live):

Interview With Evan Harting After Maryland Deathfest XI

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

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

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

No problem.

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

I didn’t get to watch any of them.

Alright, you were that busy.

Yeah. By far the busiest year for me.

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

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

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

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

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

No. It’s the same.

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

Absolutely not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, for sure.

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

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

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

No it’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK so why was Evoken moved from Thursday to Friday?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, for sure.

Cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. That would be nice.

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

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

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

Bye.

Take it easy.

Maryland Deathfest XI Survival Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Info For This Year

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

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

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

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

MDF XI program

Good To Know For Every Year

Wear comfortable shoes and try to bring a cheap parka in case it rains. You’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking so dress accordingly. Maryland can get very hot and humid this time of year so be careful wearing all black and drinking and moshing in the sun all day. Crowd surfing is very much tolerated at MDF so if you don’t like being kicked in the head repeatedly, don’t get up front. Also, bring some sunscreen, not only will it keep ya from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded!

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

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

MDF XI

Other Metal Shows Going On

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

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

MDF XI

Updates

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

MDF XI Stage 3

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

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

MDF XI booze prices

MDF XI beer tent

MDF XI booze tent

MDF XI Headbangin Hot Dogs Menu

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

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

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

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

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

MDF XI Menu

MDF XI Menu

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

MDF XI Vendor

MDF XI Vendor

MDF XI Vendor

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

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

Want A Three Day Pass To Maryland Deathfest XI?

MDF ticket give away at Black Mess

I was recently contacted by a very generous metal head in Colorado by the name of Ian MacAyeal. Months ago he purchased a Sonar compound only three day pass to Maryland Deathfest XI for Friday, May 24th through Sunday May 26th. To make a long story short, he had shit come up and rather than sell the ticket, valued at $155, he asked me to find a good home for it. To that end I talked to the heavy metal fanatics at Black Mess Records, an underground heavy metal shop in Baltimore (they’ll also have a vendor booth at Maryland Deathfest) and we came up with a cool way to give the ticket away. Starting today at Black Mess, from May 10th, through Sunday, May 19th, any in-store purchase of $25 (before tax) or more will get you entered into a raffle to win the ticket. If you purchase any item (CDs, vinyl, patches, tshirts, etc…) by any band that will be playing this year’s Maryland Deathfest you will get an extra entry into the drawing. This is a good chance to stock up on anything you might want to get signed by bands who will be hanging out in the new fan signing area at this year’s Deathfest. The winner will be chosen at 7pm on May 19th and the ticket will be held for them at will call.

If you need some help remembering who is playing at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, or you just want a handy schedule of which bands are playing when and where on each day, check out these links I made (bookmark them on your phone to use them when you’re at MDF this year too!)

http://bit.ly/mdfthursday

http://bit.ly/mdffriday

http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday

http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

Black Mess is a record store devoted to underground extreme heavy metal and we’re lucky to have such a killer record store carrying such hard to find metal in this area. They’re the real deal so even if you don’t want the ticket stop by Black Mess if you get the chance, they deserve our support! Here’s the Black Mess address and hours:

3853 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211 (map)

Wed – Thu: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Fri: 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Sat: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Sun: 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm