Review of Immortal Gig at Sonar

It’s not every day one of the “inner circle” bands from the infamous Norwegian black metal scene of the early 90s comes through the area, the last time was almost two years ago when Mayhem played Maryland Deathfest in 2009. So when Immortal came to Sonar on Sunday the 20th of February 2011 you just knew going in that it would be epic. To the best of my knowledge this was their first appearance in the area since I saw them play the now defunct Phantasmagoria record store in Wheaton, Maryland with Satyricon in March of 2000. They were only playing six concerts on this mini tour, and Baltimore was lucky enough to get one of them. They brought along Texas based black metal band Absu for the tour but there was no local support for this show.

Immortal has a certain duality in the metal scene, on one hand they’ve got a lot of credibility in the metal underground being that they’re one of the main second wave black metal bands, and through their band’s evolution they basically invented the blackened thrash subgenre of metal. That said, they’ve also been known to be one of the most ridiculous bands in black metal in regards to their image, laughable posing in photo shoots, things like witch hats and crab walks showing up in music videos, and a general willingness to embrace most of the idiotic image stereotypes of the black metal genre. Immortal has been called the Kiss of black metal but they’ve been able to keep a legion of fans by putting out albums with some damn good songs on them. Their original guitarist, Demonaz, had to leave the band due to severe tendinitis in 1997 and so bass player Abbath took over as guitarist. The band didn’t slow down until 2003 when they broke up for several years. They did get back together but they hadn’t played a concert in the mid-atlantic region since then until this evening.

When I got to the venue, about 10 minutes before the scheduled time for the doors to open, the line was already stretched around the block. All kinds of people from the local scene were there as well as people coming in from out of town and it sort of reminded me of when Carcass came to Sonar on their reunion tour in September 2008. Once inside I quickly staked out a spot as close to the front as I could and awaited Absu to start playing. I’d seen them in June 2009 at Jaxx but now they were a three piece, apparently this was just their second show as such. It didn’t hurt the fullness of the sound at all, but it did make it easier to see the band’s main man and lead vocalist, Proscriptor, play the drums. He’s quite a talented drummer with some unconventional drumming techniques that are pretty fun to watch live. For some unknown reason he had this sort of studded belt thing on as a headband, apparently some of Immortal’s image sense is rubbing off on him. He never dropped his “metal” voice while on stage even between songs and he kept the introductions entertaining too (check out his introduction to Four Crossed Wands in the video posted below to see what I mean). The band was in good form and was as good of a US based warm up act as there was going to be for Immortal though you could tell by the end of their set that the audience was ready for the reason they all came out this night.

Immortal sure took their time getting to the stage, finally arriving a good 45 minutes or so after Absu had finished. They played for at least 90 minutes and didn’t talk a whole lot between songs, but they didn’t really need to as their material stands on its own. Immortal was never one of the more political or religious of the Norwegian black metal bands, their lyrics mostly focusing on the fact that it’s damn cold in the north which isn’t really something to talk about between songs either. Their set list (photo of it here) had 14 songs and consisted mostly of songs from their latest two albums, 2009’s All Shall Fall and 2002’s Sons Of Northern Darkness. Totally awesome for the newer fans, but I was hoping they’d play a bit more off of Damned In Black and Blizzard Beasts. Still, it’s not like some bands where the newer material is just awful or something and considering how young a lot of the people in attendance were (at least up front where I was) it wasn’t surprising they’d play a lot of the newer material. The trio played very tight, the music was pretty energetic and the crowd went crazy from the beginning. When there were lulls in the music Abbath would strike a menacing pose and egg the crowd on by raising his arms and gesturing to keep the energy up. There were several crowd surfers throughout the night and during the song Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms some dipshit threw a beer bottle on stage which caused the band to suddenly stop playing. Abbath got pissed and dared whoever threw it to come on stage, but they played on (I’ve got video of this below) and in fact seemed to have a renewed vigor through the rest of the song and into the next track, Withstand The Fall Of Time. They didn’t do any fire breathing on stage, which I was hoping for, but they did keep the corpse paint, leather, spikes and boots. There was a lot of fog used too, and Horgh, the drummer, was pushed so far to the back of the stage that you could hardly see him the entire night through all the fake smoke. He did not have his Satan’s Goalie Pads on though, haha. I really could have watched Immortal play another 14 songs but the show did end a bit after midnight after a pre-determined encore performance (hardly an encore when the songs are already on the setlist!).

It was a really fun show, and while Immortal didn’t play a ton of older material, it was still a bad ass concert. Absu was a great opening act too, though I wish they’d allowed a couple of the local black metal acts to open. I managed to work my way to the front row by the end of the show and got some photos that I’m really pleased with from there, and Abbath even posed a bit for me during their final song. You can see all my photos from this show on my Flickr page here. I also got 2 videos of Absu and 3 of Immortal that are all embedded below. The last video is the one with the beer bottle throwing incident, which happened about 1:20 in. Check them out and get ready for the next sure to be epic black metal show to come to the area, Rotting Christ, Melechesh and Hate playing Jaxx on March 9th. Oh yeah, and I’ve started a Facebook page for DCHeavyMetal so help me out and “like” the page (here) if you’re a fan of this site. Now, check out these cool videos.

Recap of Eyehategod gig at Sonar

So on Thursday the 17th of February 2011 the New Orleans based sludge act Eyehategod was coming to Sonar in Baltimore. I’m really not a huge fan of their albums, though they are influential in the sludge scene. I probably wouldn’t have gone but they were playing with a few bands I do really like, Misery Index, Magrudergrind and Cough specifically. Unfortunately the flyer for the show didn’t list the bands in the order they’d actually be playing and I ended up missing Cough, who apparently played first. Someone said they had played too long and so the rest of the show was being rushed. I did catch one of the local openers, Surroundings. They were ok I guess, pretty standard grindcore with a frontman that was really energetic, even crowd surfing during the set. The audience moshed for about a song or two at the beginning, but considering it’s grind that means about 30 seconds, haha. The next band to play was Strong Intention but I wasn’t really in the mood for hardcore so I went into the other room to have a couple beers and talk to people while they were playing. They do play the area a lot and I’m sure I’ll see them sooner or later though.

The next band to take the stage was Washington DC based grindcore act Magrudergrind. They made a stir last year when they gave their new album away for free (get it here) since the album was sponsored by Scion, a branch of Toyota. Apparently all the anti-corporate grind people took issue with this and so yeah, people were actually complaining about getting a free album. Anyways, I caught them last May at Maryland Deathfest, but this setting was a bit better to see them in I think, for one it wasn’t so crowded but it was also a local crowd so that was cool. Their set was fun, full of people jumping off the stage while the band played their spasmatic outbursts of DC grind. The main problem was they only played for 20 minutes! That kind of sucked, but was probably due to the time constraints the show was having.

Next up was the band I wanted to see the most, Misery Index. They’re from Maryland and the band was formed by ex-members of Dying Fetus. Only one of those guys are left in the band, and in fact this was the first show I had seen them play with their new guitarist, Darin Morris. Any fear I had of how the band would play with the line up change was quickly dispelled. As usual they played a very tight set showcasing their extremely brutal songs and even managing to play them faster live. Most of their set consisted of stuff from Heirs To Thievery, their latest album. They were told to stop playing at 12:20 am even though they had more songs left to play.

The headlining act, Eyehategod, is a band that I never really got into. Figured it was worth seeing them once though since ya know I run a metal site and all. They played a new song (video of that below) though they didn’t say its name. Their set was very downtuned and while I know plenty of people there were psyched to see them, it got monotonous to me after a while. I kept thinking that it was getting so late they’d have to end soon, but after thinking that for a few songs I checked the time around 1:45 and decided to call it a night even though they were still playing. As I said before I really was there to see the openers anyways. It sucks that their sets were all cut short after I drove up to Baltimore though! Anyways, I’ve got videos of the bands below, though most are dark the Eyehategod guys did have good lighting for me to shoot video in. The final song is their new one that I’d imagine will be on their next release, enjoy!

Review of Slayer and Megadeth gig at 1st Mariner Arena

What a great show! I’m usually rather weary of concerts at larger venues like this, but I’m really glad I went. I didn’t get there in time to catch Anthrax, but I’m not a huge fan of theirs anyways so I wasn’t too upset about it. I was there for Megadeth and most of all Slayer. I hadn’t seen either of them play in several years. This tour, originally called Leg 2 of the American Carnage Tour was renamed the Jagermeister Music Tour and there were some random college girls walking around giving out Jagermeister merch, and Kerry King even did a shot of Jager on the stage between songs at one point. It was weird seeing product placement in the middle of a Slayer gig like that. The main draw to this tour though was that Megadeth was playing their classic 1990 album Rust In Peace from start to finish and Slayer would be playing their album Seasons In The Abyss, also from 1990, straight through also. It was in Baltimore, and I’d never been to the 1st Mariner Arena before, but I couldn’t miss that.

I was coming to the show after work, where a friend had met me. I had called the venue ahead of time and they told me Megadeth would be hitting the stage around 8pm and Slayer at 9:30 so I had a frame of reference on how to get there. There was a bit of traffic when I left around 6:45 and we were sweating making the gig on time. When we got to Baltimore we parked in a garage directly across from the venue and booked it inside. Just by sheer luck we had parked on the side that was general admittance tickets only, which is what we had. So we quickly got down there, realized Megadeth wasn’t playing yet and got beers. As soon as we walked back out onto the main floor the lights dimmed and the show started, you can’t plan timing that good! Megadeth started with the Rust In Peace album right out of the gate. Holy Wars… The Punishment Due was the first song but people weren’t getting into the show right away. A lot of heads kinda bobbing and fist pumping but I don’t think I even saw a mosh pit until half way through their set. Megadeth’s main man Dave Mustaine switched out guitars several times through the night, even pulling out some double neck flying V (does that make it a flying W?) guitar at one point. He also mentioned the problems with their last concert in Baltimore, the one where someone poured a drink on the mixing board three songs into their set so the show was canceled. More info on that fiasco here. He also called that venue, Rams Head Live, a piece of shit, which got people laughing a bit. They had the Rust In Peace album cover backdrop up while playing the songs from that album, but switched it to an image with Megadeth’s mascot Vic doing a sort of fist bump thing with background artwork from their latest album, Endgame. They also had a guy wearing a suit and a Vic mask with skeleton gloves come out on stage during Dawn Patrol, I suppose to distract people from the weakest song on Rust In Peace. One thing that sucked was Dave’s vocals during Megadeth’s entire set were shitty! They weren’t consistent at all and just sounded awful, which you can hear in the videos I posted below. I don’t think it was his voice as much as the PA not working correctly or something. The band seemed to be having a lot of fun up there and even did an encore. I always think it’s kind of odd when a band does that who isn’t the headliner. Especially since Slayer did not do the encore gimmick this show. Regardless, it was fun seeing Megadeth play some of those killer though less played songs on Rust In Peace like Five Magics and Poison Was The Cure. I didn’t see them last March when they came to the 9:30 Club playing the same album, so this was great. After they had played the album they played Head Crusher from their latest album in a mix of Megadeth classics like Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? People were really into the show by the time they finished and everyone knew the intensity was about to go up once Slayer hit the stage. Another odd thing, Dave said “God bless you” to the audience as he left the stage, which wouldn’t be that weird (we all know he’s become a born again Christian) except for the fact that fucking Slayer was up next.

A white curtain was dropped to hide the stage while Slayer set up. The crowd was in a state of anticipation when they started projecting the Slayer logo onto the curtain. I worked my way to the front as close to the center as I could get, ended up about 3 or 4 people back the entire show. I saw Slayer play Reign In Blood in 2003 at the now razed Nation so I figured I’d see them play Seasons In The Abyss too, since that album is also awesome. Maybe they’ll play Show No Mercy straight through for the next tour! I had assumed that Slayer would start their set with War Ensemble, the first song on Seasons In The Abyss, but they surprised me and played a couple songs off their latest album, World Painted Blood. The title track and Hate Worldwide are decent songs I guess, but that’s not what people were here for. Just as the crowd’s enthusiasm started to wane Slayer burst into War Ensemble and got the show really going. The audience instantly came to life and the pushing and shoving up front started and didn’t stop until the end of the show. I’d say War Ensemble is one of Slayer’s more “mosh friendly” songs, but really how many Slayer songs aren’t great for moshing to? For those who have not seen Slayer before, their mosh pits are intense! They have one of the most rabid fan bases in all of metal, which is really saying something. And let me tell you it’s not easy taking pictures or shooting video in the middle of all that! Hell, just keeping yourself relatively still while Slayer is 10 feet in front of you playing Raining Blood or Angel Of Death is not an easy task even if nobody else was there. But I’m no rookie to mosh pits, I love this shit. I did see a few kids getting pissed about all the pushing and elbows they were getting, but I mean it’s Slayer, what were you expecting people to be standing around staring blankly like it’s a fucking Fugazi concert? They actually had the security pull them out of the crowd to leave the front and avoid having to go back through the mosh pit. Those kids could not handle the Slayer! This was the first time I’d seen Slayer since Tom Araya had his neck surgery, after which he no longer head bangs. Kind of weird but not a huge deal, it did mean I could get more good pics of him throughout the show though. They played Seasons In The Abyss as advertised and again it was great hearing them play some of those awesome songs that never get played live from that album. Temptation really got people going crazy too, which I wasn’t really expecting. The sound seemed better for their set than the Megadeth show, though you can judge that for yourself with the videos below. They finished the set with just a few of their classics, South Of Heaven and the like. The only odd thing was after playing Raining Blood they immediately went into Aggressive Perfector, which is a bonus track from the Reign In Blood album. They didn’t do an encore and you could tell when the show rather abruptly ended after Angel Of Death the audience still wanted more. Some people started chanting Slayer for them to come back but really that wasn’t going to happen. I was covered in sweat and bruises but damn if that wasn’t a fun show. I really liked this venue too, they had an open setup and the fact they let me shoot video the entire time was great too. After the show someone told me that somebody had broken a leg or something in the pit, apparently toward stage left. I’m definitely glad I got the floor tickets instead of seats, the intensity of being up front at a Slayer show is second to none, though I’m glad I wasn’t the one with anything broken! Now check out the two Megadeth and six Slayer videos I shot last night that are posted below. Enjoy!

Maryland Deathfest VIII Recap

Well Maryland Deathfest VIII is over, and it was a great 3 days of heavy metal. This was the third time I’ve been to Maryland Deathfest, though Maryland Deathfest VIII Flyerthis was the first time I went for all 3 days. I got to see lots of bands I never thought I’d have the chance to, and got to check out some bands I’d been wanting to for a while. Talked to lots of metal heads from all over the place as well as from the DC area and I shot about 1,000 photographs as well as 34 videos of 19 different bands. I kept myself busy! Luckily it didn’t rain at all while I was there. Sunday got really hot, not sure what the temperature was officially, but it was even hotter in the middle of those huge crowds I’m sure. Overall it was a lot of fun, so much fun that I wanted to write down as much as I could remember of it here. It’s a long post so I broke it up into sections. I’ve got lots of videos posted at the bottom of this post. And now, here’s my recap of my time spent at this year’s Maryland Deathfest.

Day 1: Friday 28 May 2010

I had checked the weather for Baltimore before I drove up for the weekend. It said that it was supposed to rain some Friday and Saturday. While it did rain during my drive up Friday, it was clear by the time I got there, and it didn’t rain again during the fest, the metal gods must have been smiling! I got to the venue a bit later than I had planned since the rain made traffic a bitch and I was running a bit late because of it. On top of that the line to get into the venue was huge, they were definitely understaffed at the door on the first day. Originally I wanted to get there in time to see Tombs at 5:30, but they were already done by the Malignancy at Maryland Deathfest VIIItime I got in. Malignancy was about to play on the side stage when I did get there. Though I saw Nazxul‘s first US appearance on the outside street stage, the outdoor stages weren’t really in much use Friday as two of the members of Possessed missed their flight so they were rescheduled for the next day. Also, black metal band Watain requested to play indoors instead of on an outdoor stage. Their set Watain at Maryland Deathfest VIIIwill probably be most remembered for an incident where the bass player from DRI (who played later that night on the same stage) jumped on stage in the middle of the set and starting goofing around and mock headbanging on stage. Apparently the members of Watain didn’t like this as he was promptly knocked down and was kicked by Pelle Forsberg, mid-song mind you, until security pulled him off the stage, though I didn’t see him actually get kicked. People were talking about that for the rest of the festival. They closed their set with a cover of the Bathory song The Return Of Darkness And Evil. Once they were done I moved outside to see Gorguts, who was the first day’s headliner. They put on a good show. Two of the guys from Dysrhythmia, a personal favorite band of mine, are Gorguts at Maryland Deathfest VIIInow members of Gorguts and it was cool seeing them play up there in such a different style band. They played a great set of classic death metal songs that were pretty awesome. Afterwards I grabbed some overpriced crappy food from the lone food vendor inside the fest. That was the last time I ate there, I got a cold burger and a bag of Lays chips for $7. What a rip off. They were selling bottles of water for $3, the same price as the bar only feet away had 16 oz cans of PBR. Guess which one I bought? After eating and talking to people for a bit I moved inside to catch DRI’s set. Raining Blood came on over the sound system while they were setting up and people were singing along and even started moshing a bit to it. When DRI came on I DRI at Maryland Deathfest VIIIwas kind of hoping someone from Watain would jump on stage, but that didn’t happen. They did get a crazy pit going though, best indoor pit I saw all weekend, though admittedly I spent most of my time watching outdoor bands (and I’ve got the sunburn to prove it!). They had some technical problems midway through their set, which seemed to happen a lot this weekend to various bands. The sound wasn’t that great at the fest either. Lots of bass drowning out the high end seemed to be a recurring problem. DRI was the last band of the night and so I headed back to the hotel to charge batteries and start transferring media off my memory cards so they’d be empty for day two. Friday was a good start to the fest, but really just seemed like a warm up.

Day 2: Saturday 29 May 2010

Saturday came around and I was fucking excited. There were several bands playing that I really wanted to see. I decided the first band I really wanted to see was Jucifer, and this time I had no problems with traffic or lines and got there a bit early in fact. I caught a few songs by Total Fucking Destruction and then headed inside for the second half of Obliteration‘s set. They impressed me with their performance, certainly won me over in the short time I got to watch them play. After they finished Jucifer started setting up. They brought out some of their trademark “wall of speakers” Amber Valentine of Jucifer at Maryland Deathfest VIIIbut I don’t think it was all of them. They only had 15 minutes to set up so that might be why. The last time I saw Jucifer they didn’t really stop between songs, they just sort of kept playing, going through highs and lows. Here at MDF they were playing clear cut songs with actual starts and endings. It was interesting to see them at such a festival and I could tell they won some new fans after talking to a few people in the audience after their set. I walked out of the black fog filled room and back into the daylight. Mexico’s The Chasm was playing on the side stage so I headed over there to catch the end of their set. Luckily they were running late so I got to see them play a few songs before their set ended. They were told to stop when Sadistic Intent/Possessed started playing the other outdoor stage, but they still played 1 more song, even though the crowd was thinning out. Sadistic Intent split their set time with Possessed, which makes sense because all the members of Sadistic Intent are also current members of Possessed. It was cool to see Possessed play old Possessed at Maryland Deathfest VIIIclassics like The Exorcist and Burning In Hell as well as newer songs. I haven’t seen Possessed before but I’m glad to see Jeff Becerra was still headbanging from his wheelchair on stage. He took a moment between songs to mention some of the people in metal who have died recently, and got a chant for Dio going too. When their set ended I browsed some of the shops that were set up, bought myself one of the red posters for sale with the big demon on it and all the band names, as well as a Melechesh shirt. I was really excited to see Melechesh so I dropped my merch off at my car and decided to get to the Melechesh stage early so I could get right up front. I also wanted to see Verbal Abuse play indoors at the same time, but I’d been waiting to see Melechesh for years, ever since they canceled their 3 tour dates with Sigh in July 2007. I got in the front row just off center (I don’t like dead center as the microphone stand always seems to block their faces in my pictures). They played a killer set, mostly made up of songs from Melechesh at Maryland Deathfest VIIItheir albums Sphynx and Emissaries. The crowd surfers were going over my head but that didn’t stop me from shooting lots of video. At one point security just disappeared and people were falling onto the asphalt in front of the stage. A member of the stage crew saw this and tried to help catch people the best he could until security decided to stroll back into place. The band played a great set but since they started a bit late due to technical difficulties, they didn’t have time to play their final song, and just sort of walked off stage anticlimactically. That kind of stunk, but still, it was awesome getting to see their first US gig ever up close. I took lots of pictures and videos to remember it by, though I doubt I’ll forget as this was my favorite set of the festival. When they were done I made my way over to the side stage again to see Incantation, though walking by the open grill reminded me that at some point I’d have to eat, and looking at the schedule I wanted to watch bands play thru the rest of the night. Incantation also mentioned the recent death of Ronnie James Dio and decided to play a couple of tribute songs in their set. They played The Mob Rules by Black Sabbath and Stargazer by Rainbow back to back, quite odd hearing these songs grunted out. The rest of their set was as brutal as you’d expect from these pioneers of death metal. After they finished I decided that even though I wanted to see some of Repulsion, I had to get food in me. I did catch a bit of their set, but I wanted to be sure to be back in time to catch Asphyx. I found an excellent sandwich shop about a block and a half behind the street stage, and had a great dinner there. I headed back to the fest feeling recharged. I got there in time to catch most of Asphyx, which was cool, but I left a bit early to make sure I could get fairly close for the long awaited return of Autopsy. This Autopsy at Maryland Deathfest VIIIwas the main act of the night since Sodom had pulled out of the fest (and I think people wanted to see Autopsy more anyways). I know this was their first gig since they reunited, and people have been waiting 15 years to see Autopsy play live. I found a decent spot to shoot from and really enjoyed the show. After shooting a few videos my camera’s cards were all full from all the awesome bands of the day. Not good! I moved back a bit into the crowd to shoot with the camcorder (it can’t handle the loud volumes that close to the speakers). My memory cards being full posed a problem though, because Portal was playing tonight and I wanted to make sure I could get at least some pics of them, since they’re from Australia I doubt I’ll get another chance to see them again any time soon, if ever. As soon as Autopsy finished I headed back to my hotel and emptied my memory cards onto my laptop, then returned to the venue in time to catch Portal. I contemplated just staying at the hotel but I’m really glad I didn’t. Portal at Maryland Deathfest VIIIThey put on quite an intense show! The band members were all wearing black, even covering their faces, and wore rope nooses around their necks. With the black walls, dim lighting and heavy fog machine smoke, it was pretty hard to see anything clearly on stage. The vocalist came out wearing all black robes and a black hat similar in shape to a Catholic cardinal. This stage setting really fit the mood of their unique and intense style of atmospheric death metal. Such an awesome show to see, it was really out of this world and a great way to end the second day of Maryland Deathfest.

Day 3: Sunday 30 May 2010

The final day of Maryland Deathfest VIII again had several bands I wanted to see. I got there around 1:45 pm (got great parking this time) so I could catch Krallice. I wanted to see them when they were supposed to play the 9:30 Club with Mayhem and Ludicra earlier this year, but the tour was cancelled when Mayhem couldn’t get into the US. Ludicra, Krallice and Tombs re-booked another tour without Mayhem, but they didn’t come to DC on that tour, unfortunately. So this was my chance to finally catch these guys live. Nick McMaster of Krallice at Maryland Deathfest VIIIThey didn’t let me down either! For some reason they set up and played on the wrong outdoor stage, which threw people off a bit. Those paying close attention noticed that the bass player for Gorguts, Colin Marston, is the guitarist for Krallice too. They played almost all new material, and it was pretty awesome to get to watch them play live. It was a really great set that left me wanting more, and a kick ass way to start off the day. The next band played on the same stage, and I stayed to watch the first few songs by the French band Gorod. Though one of their guitarists had a Motley Crue shirt on (trying to be ironic?) they put on an impressive show of their high energy tech-death prowess. The singer was jumping around on stage and had a lot of energy, and the bass player had a lot of stage presence too, not something you see too often in metal. I decided now would be a good time for lunch as there were many bands coming up back to back that I wanted to watch, so I headed to the diner just outside the venue. I got back in time to watch Sinister play, which was pretty cool. Sinister at Maryland Deathfest VIIII’ve never seen them play live before, but I always liked their older albums like Hate and Diabolical Summoning. Their line up was drastically different than back in those days though, the only member left was the drummer, but he had now moved off the kit to take over the lead vocals. Still, it was cool to see them play some of those older songs that I enjoyed so much, even if it wasn’t the same Sinister. They still had a few songs left to play when I decided to move back to the side stage so I could get up Tobias Sidegård of Necrophobic at Maryland Deathfest VIIIclose for Necrophobic. This was their first US show, and I certainly wanted to get some good pictures and video footage of it. It was a pretty damn entertaining show I must say, though it’s always weird seeing black metal bands play in the daylight, especially on such a hot day. This was definitely the hottest day of the festival and I sort of felt bad for them wearing all the black leather and spikes and stuff, that had to be pretty damn miserable. Regardless, they didn’t let it show and performed very well and had some great poses for taking pictures too. This was quite a highlight of the day for me. After they finished, Eyehategod was starting on the street stage. I wasn’t too interested in them, so after finding the tent with $1 bottles of water, I headed back to the side stage to rest my feet a bit and get a good spot for Pestilence. I also wanted to see Black Breath, who were playing indoors at the same time as Pestilence, but I got such a good spot for the Pestilence set I couldn’t just leave. They were too fun to watch live. This was their first US show in 16 Patrick Uterwijk of Pestilence at Maryland Deathfest VIIIyears, and they had been scheduled to play the Maryland Deathfest the year before, but they couldn’t get into the country due to visa issues. The crowd was pumped to finally get their chance this year, and so was I. I thought they’d have Tony Choy (also of Atheist and Cynic) playing bass with them, but instead they had Jeroen Paul Thesseling playing a fretless 6 string bass. Needless to say, he was pretty damn good, as is the rest of the band. When their set ended I headed over to see Nirvana 2002 play (billed as N2002 I suppose for legal reasons). I didn’t know much about them, apparently they only ever put out a few demos from 1989 to 1991 before breaking up. I heard they had only ever played like 5 concerts before, so even Nirvana 2002 at Maryland Deathfest VIIIthough I didn’t know much about them, I figured it was worth checking them out. They weren’t bad, sounded along the lines of those older Swede bands like Entombed, Unleashed and Nihilist. They played a cover of the Kreator song Pleasure To Kill, which was the only song I recognized of their set. After they ended I walked over to the side stage to catch a bit of Pentagram‘s set. It was good to see this DC area band playing to such a large crowd, and they were eating up Bobby Liebling’s crazy on stage antics. I decided now was a good time to grab a bite to eat before Entombed hit the stage, so I headed out to find a sandwich. I got back in time to get a decent view of Entombed’s set. Crowd Surfer while Entombed plays at Maryland Deathfest VIIIDuring their second song, Out Of Hand, someone threw a bible on stage and their singer, LG Petrov, ripped it in half mid-song. At one point he told the crowd that they don’t like circle pits, they want to see a real mosh pit going. They mostly played their more recent material, I was hoping they’d play more from Wolverine Blues and earlier, though they did close the show with Left Hand Path. Next up was Sunday’s headliner, Obituary, on the side stage. They played a great set full of their classic songs and got what was probably the largest area mosh pit going I saw all weekend. People were just going Obituary at Maryland Deathfest VIIInuts for them, and they put on a really fun show. They had so many people crowd surfing that security was having trouble keeping up with them. Their set ended and I quickly moved indoors to catch the end of the local grind act Magrudergrind‘s set. They were pretty intense, as grind bands tend to be, and really had the audience going. I enjoyed catching the end of their set and it was a great way to end the fest. I didn’t see the final two bands play and Converge was supposed to be the closing band but they asked to play earlier and went on during Obituary’s set. That’s ok though, I got plenty of metal in over the course of 3 days and my arms were getting sore from so much picture and video shooting. I did run into a few people from local bands, one of the guys from Orgy Of The Damned and also someone from Gravewürm, very cool talking to both. It was quite the metal weekend and a killer concert experience that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to find out who’s going to be playing next year, but I’ve got my fingers (upside down) crossed for Morbid Angel and Von. And congrats for getting to the end of this post, the longest one I’ve written yet. For your time I reward you with a shit load of videos I shot at the festival. I’ve got more from MDF on my YouTube page if this isn’t enough. Stay brutal!

Maryland Deathfest The Movie Presale

Maryland Deathfest The Movie is now available for presale at this location. If you order a copy before the first day of Maryland Deathfest 2010 on May 28th, you will get the DVD as well a poster and you will be entered into a drawing for the entire Handshake Inc. DVD library and a 3 day pass to Maryland Deathfest IX in 2011. It’s price is $15 presale but I couldn’t find out what the shipping costs are. Apparently they will have a booth set up at this year’s MDF and if you preorder you can pick up your DVD and poster there. As far as I can tell the movie was not made by the group who runs Maryland Deathfest, but it is sanctioned by them. (UPDATE: I’ve been informed that Handshake Inc. is the creator of the movie, and Maryland Deathfest curators Ryan Taylor and Evan Harting are the executive producers). And in case you’re wondering, I have no affiliation with it either, nor do I make money on this post in any way. I just think it’s cool!

Maryland Deathfest The Movie was filmed in 2009 at Maryland Deathfest VII. It has interviews with bands and fans attending MDF VII as well as over 3 hours of perfomance footage by the following bands: Abscess, Absu, Antigama, Asphyx, Atheist, Aura Noir, Birdflesh, Brutal Truth, Catheter, Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage, Complete Failure, Crowpath, Despise You, Drugs Of Faith, The Endless Blockade, Flesh Parade, General Surgery, Gnostic, Hail Of Bullets, Hero Destroyed, Immolation, Jig-Ai, Kill The Client, Krallice, Lair Of The Minotaur, Magrudergrind, Maruta, Misery Index, Napalm Death, Phobia, Pig Destroyer, Pigsty, Pretty Little Flower, The Red Chord, Rotten Sound, Sayyadina, Sigh, Splitter, Trap Them, Triac, Unearthly Trance, Venomous Concept, Victims, Weekend Nachos, Wolves In The Throne Room and Yakuza. Notably missing from this list are Mayhem, Bolt Thrower and Pestilence, 3 of the most popular bands to perform at last year’s fest. Regardless, alongside some of the popular bands that did make it onto the DVD, there are also some good local bands like Misery Index, Pig Destroyer and Magrudergrind. For more info you’ve got a few options, the official Maryland Deathfest: The Movie website, Twitter page, and blog. You can also watch a trailer for the movie below:

Maryland Deathfest VIII Running Order Announced (sort of)

By far the biggest underground metal event every year in the area, and arguably the United States, is the Maryland Deathfest at Sonar in Baltimore. The Maryland Deathfest isn’t until Memorial Day weekend in May, but they start planning it usually around 10 or 11 months before then. Their website has listed most of the bands that will be playing in 2010 for a while now, but just today they announced the full scheduled line up of bands, and the running order. Well, sort of. They list which day each band will be playing on, but the set times are not listed yet. The website says the set times will be listed “no later than 1 month before MDF.” Individual day tickets are now on sale too, though I think I’m going for a 3 day pass (I’ll save a whopping $4, fuck yeah!). You can get them here. One nice thing is the ticket price listed is the actual price, no service fees ($40 for the shorter day Friday, $47 for either Saturday or Sunday or $130 for a 3 day pass). There are going to be multiple stages, and if they run things similarly to last year, the headliners won’t actually play last. Last year they had an outdoor stage on the street in front of the venue. That stage is where the headliners played, but their sets ended before midnight and the indoor main stage still had a few bands play after that. Since Maryland Deathfest VIII is still a while off you can bet some bands will cancel by then, or have visa troubles (like Marduk did last year) or maybe even break up before the show. It’s not set in stone and things can change by then. Hell, their website even has a post dated with tomorrow’s date that DRI has been added to the line up. A message from the future, creepy. Anyways, the bands are all listed below under the day they’ll be playing, and you can click any band’s name to go to their MySpace page and give them a listen if you want to check them out.

Friday 28 May 2010
Gorguts
Possessed
D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
Watain
Coffins
Nazxul
Trap Them
Gride
Birds Of Prey
Malignancy
Jesus Crost
Stormcrow
Tombs
Defeatest
Putrescence

Saturday 29 May 2010
Autopsy
Sodom
Repulsion
Asphyx
Blood Duster
Incantation
Wolfbrigade
Melechesh
Haemorrhage
Portal
Impaled
Sadistic Intent
The Chasm
Deceased
Verbal Abuse
Fang
Obliteration
Ingrowing
Total Fucking Destruction
Fuck The Facts
Sulaco
Jucifer
Howl
The Communion

Sunday 30 May 2010
Obituary
Entombed
Pentagram
Nirvana 2002
Eyehategod
Pestilence
Malevolent Creation
Necrophobic
Converge
Naglfar
From Ashes Rise
Sinister
Capitalist Casualties
Captain Cleanoff
Gorod
Rompeprop
Gridlink
Magrudergrind
Krallice
Circle Of Dead Children
Black Breath
Massgrave
16
Rottenness
Surroundings
Honkey Kong

Bands whose names are struck through have canceled and will NOT be playing Maryland Deathfest as previously reported. My most recent update of this page was on 27 April 2010.

The full schedule including set times has been released and can be seen on the Upcoming Concerts page.

Review of Marduk gig at Sonar

Monday the 23rd of November 2009 was a rather grim and rainy day, perfect for a black metal show. Luckily Swedish black metal band Marduk was playing at the Talking Head Club inside Sonar in Baltimore that night, the closest stop to Washington DC on their US Plague Tour. I had a couple friends flake out on me, but since Marduk failed to get into the US for Maryland Deathfest back in May, and I missed their Baltimore stop on their 3 show mini tour back in August, I was determined not to miss them for a third time this year. So I drove up to Baltimore in that dreary cold rain by myself blasting metal all the way. When I got there Nachtmystium was setting up. They’re ok, sort of a thrashy black metal band. Not my favorite but worth checking out while drinking a beer or two. The final song of their set was a cover of GG Allin‘s song I Kill Everything I Fuck, which I gotta say was pretty fucking cool. Wasn’t expecting that one, wish I’d had my camera ready, I’d like to have that one on video. They’re scheduled to play with Kreator and Voivod at Jaxx in early March, so maybe I’ll get my chance then.

When Nachtmystium’s set ended I moved up to the front of the stage as everyone was clearing out to go smoke, order more beer, piss, etc… Got right up there and was chatting a bit to the people around me during the final sound check. Glad I did cause 2 of the guys next to me were throwing mad elbows all during Marduk’s set and fucking people up from the pit, but I got in good with em before that so I didn’t have any probs. Kinda dick of them, but it did keep people from the pit from fucking up my camera. Plus that latino guy wearing eyeliner and a shirt with the sleeves cut off looked like he could use a few bruises. Marduk’s set was pretty good, they played a good assortment of songs from a variety of albums which was cool. I’m not a huge fan of when bands play most of their new album and a few classics live, I much prefer the career spanning classics with a couple songs from the new album thrown in approach. This show was a pretty good example of that. During their long set they played songs off just about every album except for, oh yeah, my fucking favorite Marduk album Heaven Shall Burn… When We Are Gathered. Seriously, the whole time I was driving up there I was thinkin to myself how it’ll be worth all the stress of dark, rainy interstate traffic just to hear Infernal Eternal or maybe even Glorification Of The Black God live (basically a cover of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical piece A Night On Bald Mountain as arranged by Leopold Stokowski for the Disney movie Fantasia). Well, that didn’t happen. They did play some classics like Wolves, Funeral Bitch, and Baptism By Fire, but still, Infernal Eternal fucking rules. What the hell? If you like black metal and you haven’t heard those 2 songs do yourself a favor and listen to them right now by clicking their names up there. Fucking brutal! Anyways, the show was still fun and if not for the events on my drive home I’d probably say it was totally worth the trip to Baltimore on a Monday night (even tho the show ended after midnight on a weekday and I had to drive home afterwards). About 5 minutes outside of Baltimore on 95 my car decided it was going to stop running. Seriously, of all the times? I’ve had very few problems with this car in the 3 years I’ve owned it, but dying in Maryland was not awesome. A $200 tow truck ride got me back home at about 5am, plenty of time to be fucking exhausted for work the next day. Still, the set was good, the show was fun and I think I got some good pics too. I thought it was odd the drummer, Lars Broddesson, didn’t use 2 kick drums but instead had 2 petals set up on a single bass drum. That’s pretty uncommon for metal bands. By the end of their set, which was about an hour and a half, their corpse paint was smeared and the audience was running out of energy. They did the typical walk off stage encore thing but came back really quick, like 1 minute later, to play the final song of the night, Panzer Division Marduk. You can watch that video below. Overall I’d recommend any fan of old school black metal to go see Marduk, it’s a brutal show definitely worth the money.