Maryland Deathfest X Recap

Maryland Deathfest is the area’s biggest metal event every year and while it has taken me a few weeks to get through the mountain of photos and videos I shot at Maryland Deathfest X but I’m finally done! There’s so much stuff that I’ve actually broken this post up into several posts, this one and then one for each of the four days. You can see all of my MDF X photos and videos, including things that aren’t posted here, by going here for photos and here for my videos on YouTube. Also, I came across a site run from Las Vegas called Total Fucking Mayhem (check it out here) and they’ve got some quality video footage, sometimes much better than mine, that they’re are allowing me to use in this post as well. They also have some from bands I didn’t see so check out their YouTube page for those videos here.

Keep in mind I didn’t get a press pass for the fest so all the footage I shot was from the audience, moshers and crowd surfers going overhead just like everyone else. I did a lot of waiting to get up front for specific bands so I could get some good shots, but even so there are some I simply couldn’t get up close for since I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once. Also, I was pretty much stationary so I had to shoot whoever was on the side of the stage I was most of the time. Some bands I took more time to shoot for whatever reason, usually because they are a personal favorite of mine, and for some bands I don’t really love any of my shots of but hey when you shoot this many bands at once some are going to be much better than others.

I had a lot of fun at this years Maryland Deathfest, it was great meeting some fans of the site and handing out stickers, meeting people from all over and talking metal with them, and of course getting to see some rare and just plain kick ass performances. If you’d like to read the whole post you’re awesome and please start here, but if you’d just like to skip ahead to any one day you can do so below, or you can even just click on a band’s name below to read my paragraph about them and see my photos and videos of them as well.

Day 1: Thursday
Rorschach
Dying Fetus
Absu
Eyehategod
Agalloch
Autopsy

Day 2: Friday
Macabre
Napalm Death
Godflesh
Unsane
Setherial
Nasum

Day 3: Saturday
Looking For An Answer
Dragged Into Sunlight
Hellbastard
October 31
Morbid Saint
Archgoat
Horna
Brujeria
Morbid Angel
Tsjuder
Haemorrhage
Winter

Day 4: Sunday
Coke Bust
Disma
Demonical
Morgoth
Rwake
Ulcerate
Church Of Misery
Pentagram Chile
Saint Vitus
Electric Wizard
Sargeist
Bethlehem
Mortuary Drape

Maryland Deathfest X Day 1: Thursday

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When I arrived at MDF on the sold out first day, Thursday, the band that was playing was Rorschach. They’re an old school hardcore band from New Jersey that broke up in 1993 and didn’t reform until 2009. I didn’t get close enough to get any decent photos but I did shoot this video of them covering King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man. They were good but I didn’t really get into the show until the next band.

The next band to play was Maryland’s own death metal kings Dying Fetus. Their set wasn’t super long but they did play two songs from their upcoming new album, Reign Supreme. The band recently released a music video for the song From Womb To Waste featuring live footage shot at Maryland Deathfest that you can see here. I happened to shoot video of the same song, posted below, so think of it as a sort of preview for the official video. The song is good but really picks up at about 2:42 into the video when they launch into one of their famous break downs. I’ve seen Dying Fetus several times and while this set was a bit short it was still enough to get me into the whole MDF weekend mode.

John Gallagher of Dying Fetus

Sean Beasley of Dying Fetus

The next band to play was Absu, a black metal band from Texas and one of the staples of American black metal (or USBM for short). Their drummer, Proscriptor, is the main man of the band and it always cracks me up a bit how he constantly uses his “metal” voice on stage, even when addressing the audience between songs. Regardless, they put on a good show but were really just a small tease of the epic black metal that would be coming up later in the weekend. I shot a video of them playing Earth Ripper, the first song off their 2011 album Abzu.

Ezezu of Absu

Ezezu of Absu

Absu at Maryland Deathfest X

Ezezu of Absu

Vis Crom of Absu

Next was the New Orleans based sludge metal band Eyehategod. The crowd had been turning over a lot as I stood on the rail for band after band, and when Eyehategod was coming on the black metal heads made way for the crusties who got really rowdy for this performance. It was fun to be in the middle of but hard to shoot much so I didn’t get a lot of shots off. The show was good but I don’t think they played anything special really. I shot the first two videos below but the next two are from Total Fucking Mayhem.

Mike Williams of Eyehategod

Eyehategod at Maryland Deathfest X

Brian Patton of Eyehategod

Brian Patton of Eyehategod

The next band to play was Agalloch, from the Pacific Northwest, as they put it, though I think they’re from Portland more specifically. I thought their performance was the best of the night, and their set list was mostly songs from their first two albums, which was great if you ask me. The only real problem I had with their set was that John Haughm’s clean vocals were just off. Regardless, they played one of my favorite songs of theirs, Hallways Of Enchanted Ebony, and they also played You Were but a Ghost in My Arms for the first time ever live, even though it is from their second album, Mantle, that was released in 2002. I’ve got video of both of those songs below, so check em out. They certainly weren’t the heaviest band playing MDF but they got people moshing anyways.

Jason William Walton of Agalloch

John Haughm of Agalloch

John Haughm of Agalloch

Agalloch at Maryland Deathfest X

The final band of the night was the headlining act, Autopsy, a death metal band from the Bay Area. They had their reunion show at Maryland Deathfest two years prior, but since that show they aren’t a touring band and only play one off gigs here and there. I’m sure there were people who came out Thursday just to get to see them. Unfortunately there were technical difficulties that led to them starting their set 45 minutes late. They ended up getting cut off by the venue before their set was done, which was pretty shitty. The delay was pretty unprofessional, the MDF guys should have any and all back up gear ready for a headlining act so this lengthy of a delay doesn’t ever happen. However, they wouldn’t be the only headlining act to be delayed over the weekend and it was probably my one big complaint with the fest this year. Anyways, check out the four videos I shot of them below, as well as one more by Total Fucking Mayhem.

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Joe Allen of Autopsy

Chris Reifert of Autopsy

Eric Cutler of Autopsy

Continue to day 2: Friday here.
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Maryland Deathfest X Day 2: Friday

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Friday I got to the venue and picked up my pre-ordered merch and went around taking photos of things like food menus and exclusive merch items that were available for my MDF X Survival Guide. I had to head back to the hotel to upload all that stuff and post it to the site. When I got back to the festival the first band I caught was one of my favorite bands, Macabre! I hadn’t gotten to see them in years and it was awesome seeing them play on one of the big outdoor stages. They’re always entertaining live. They tell stories between songs of the various serial killers their lyrics are about and for this show they even had some extras come out on stage for a couple songs. A guy dressed up as the Zodiac killer (video of that below) came out with pistols aimed at the audience and on another song there was someone wearing an Albert Fish costume who was being chased around by some woman on stage with a stick. Glad to see they’re keeping their show as uniquely bizarre as their music. I love this band and seeing them was definitely one of the highlights of Maryland Deathfest X for me. I’ve posted three of their more interesting videos that I shot of them below, including their cover of Venom’s Countess Bathory, but I’ve got more on my YouTube page here.

Macabre at Maryland Deathfest X

Corporate Death of Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Albert Fish with Macabre

Corporate Death of Macabre

Nefarious of Macabre

The next band I caught that day was British band Napalm Death, one of the fathers of grindcore. They always put on a great show and this was no exception, even if the sound mix wasn’t very good for them. They attempted to play a song from each album, but I know they didn’t play anything off of Fear, Emptiness, Despair for one, and probably not some other albums either. Still, they did play some old songs they don’t usually play any more and even played the song Scum with a guest appearance by Dan Lilker on bass. They included their Dead Kennedys cover of Nazi Punks Fuck Off in the set too, which made me wonder how many NSBM fans were in attendance at MDF and if any were paying attention. Anyways, Napalm Death put on an excellent grind show that was going to be tough for anyone at the fest to top, or so I thought. Again, I shot a lot more video than I’ve included below on my YouTube page here, and I have also added the three videos that Total Fucking Mayhem posted for you to enjoy as well.

Shane Embury of Napalm Death

Shane Embury of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band to play was the day’s headlining act, Godflesh. They’re an industrial two piece who are also from England and I don’t think they had played the US since reforming in 2010 until this show. I’m really not a huge fan of theirs, or industrial in general, though I know they are one of the most influential bands of the genre. For many people this band was the main reason they came to Maryland Deathfest this year. I shot very little of them, just a couple courtesy photos and a video of one song, however I’ve also got more footage from Total Fucking Mayhem posted below for those that are more into them than I am.

Justin Broadrick of Godflesh

While Godflesh was keeping everyone mesmerized outside, I decided to head indoors so I could get a good spot for the final three bands of the night. The first of these was Unsane, one of the pioneers of the noise metal genre. I don’t really know a whole lot about them, other than they are from New York City, but they were entertaining and I didn’t mind checking out their performance. I shot a couple videos of them from early in their set though they finished with a cover of the Flipper song Ha Ha Ha, which you can see video of below thanks to Total Fucking Mayhem.

Chris Spencer of Unsane

Chris Spencer of Unsane

Dave Curran of Unsane

Dave Curran of Unsane

Unsane at Maryland Deathfest X

Chris Spencer of Unsane

The next band to play was Setherial, a black metal band from Sweden. They were the first of several foreign black metal bands that were making appearances at this year’s Maryland Deathfest and I was glad I had staked out a spot in the front to watch them from. The song selection was pretty good and I felt lucky for the chance to see them play live, though they seemed like they would have fit better with some of the bands on the next two days. Still, it was nice to get some black metal in on each day of the fest. I shot three videos of them that you can check out below.

Setherial at Maryland Deathfest X

Infaustus of Setherial

Alastor Mysteriis of Setherial

Infaustus of Setherial

Setherial at Maryland Deathfest X

After Setherial finished it was time for the final band of the night, Nasum. Nasum is a Swedish grindcore band that broke up when their vocalist/guitarist, Mieszko Talarczyk, died in the giant tsunami in 2004 while he was vacationing in Thailand just after his 30th birthday. They decided to reunite in 2012, the band’s 20th anniversary, to do a special tour of farewell shows with Keijo Niinimaa of Rotten Sound doing guest vocals. This show was part of that tour and while I knew Nasum was a very influential grind act I simply wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed that night. They put on what was absolutely one of the most intense performances I’ve ever seen any band metal perform, regardless of genre. I don’t say that lightly, I’ve seen A LOT of extreme heavy metal bands over the years and this was definitely one of the most crushing shows I’ve ever seen. They had a couple come out in a suit and wedding dress, both wearing gas masks, while an air raid siren played to start the show but once they left the stage and the band started it was pure brutality from then on out. They had Jason Netherton of Misery Index come up on stage and help out on vox for a few songs with them (I’ve got video of that below) and Travis Bacon, guitar player for the band Grudges, jumped up on stage to do a song with them as well. The pummeling was relentless until Nasum left the stage, however they came back and did a couple more songs as an encore. I cannot stress enough how impressed I was by their show, it was definitely my favorite of the entire festival. I walked out of there feeling like my hair was sticking straight up because I’d just been struck by lightning and I fucking liked it.

Urban Skytt of Nasum

Jesper Liveröd of Nasum

Keijo Niinimaa of Nasum

Jesper Liveröd of Nasum

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Nasum at Maryland Deathfest X

Continue to day 3: Saturday here.
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Maryland Deathfest X Day 3: Saturday

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The first band I caught on Saturday was Looking For An Answer. Usually I’m wary of bands with that many words in their name, but these guys were actually pretty good. They’re a grind act from Spain and I have to say they were pretty impressive live, plus I was still in a mood for grind after last night’s killer Nasum performance ended the night. This wouldn’t be the last nor best grind act from Spain I’d see that day though. I wasn’t really close enough for good pictures but I did shoot a video of them live that I highly recommend watching the whole way through as it gives a good perspective of what their sound and live show were like. There’s also a video by Total Fucking Mayhem here too, enjoy!

The next band I saw was the UK based Dragged Into Sunlight. I had heard good things about these guys but they exceeded all my expectations. If I had to pick a band that I was unfamiliar with that most impressed me at Maryland Deathfest X it would be this band. I guess they’d be called a black metal band but they were pretty unorthodox musically. Also, the entire band faced away from the audience pretty much the entire show, and all the lights were turned way down except for a strobe that would go off in time with the music sometimes. It was a creepy effect that really helped set a mood that fit perfectly with their sound. I was very impressed and they were a great way to start what was the most black metal loaded day of MDF X. I shot a decent video of the first song of Dragged Into Sunlight’s set that should give you an idea of what they were like live.

Dragged Into Sunlight at Maryland Deathfest X

Dragged Into Sunlight at Maryland Deathfest X

I caught part of Hellbastard‘s set next. They’re a crust band from the UK and in fact they are the band that coined the term “crust” to begin with. This band was highly entertaining, mostly due to frontman Scruff Lewty’s wild stage presence and overall enthusiasm to be playing. This man is passionate about his music and it really showed! They were also really fun to photograph live as he was constantly running around on stage making faces and doing all kinds of shit like, uh, biting his guitar. I’ve got video of them playing but Total Fucking Mayhem posted footage of the same song so I’ve posted that video instead because it is higher quality than mine.

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Paul O'Shea of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

Scruff Lewty of Hellbastard

The next band I caught was October 31, a band from Northern Virginia and featuring King Fowley of Deceased fame on vocals. October 31 plays a more traditional style of classic heavy metal, though they certainly have some thrash elements as well. Sticking with the Halloween theme, King even threw candy at the audience during their set, among various other goofy stage antics. They were entertaining but I think Deceased would probably have fit on the bill better, although this was the same day Anvil was playing so perhaps the MDF organizers put October 31 on this day for Anvil fans who probably didn’t know a lot of the other bands playing this year. I shot a video of October 31 playing a couple songs and I’ve also posted a video from Total Fucking Mayhem.

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

Brian 'Hellstorm' Williams of October 31

Brian 'Hellstorm' Williams of October 31

October 31 at Maryland Deathfest X

Matt Ibach of October 31

King Fowley of October 31

Next up was Morbid Saint, a thrash band that only ever officially put out one full length album, Spectrum Of Death, though they did have another that was never released make the bootleg rounds after their break up in 1994. Morbid Saint is from Wisconsin and they reunited in 2010 though really it’s only the singer and one of the guitar players who are still the same from the old days. Regardless, their 1988 release is considered an underground classic of thrash metal and for this show at Maryland Deathfest they played it from start to finish. They put on a pretty damn good show and the band was tight, however I think they mentioned their merch being for sale about 1,000 times between songs. Check out these two videos I shot of songs they played early in their set.

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

Pat Lind of Morbid Saint

The next band I watched was Archgoat, a black metal band from Finland. With a name like Archgoat you sort of know what to expect, and while they were pretty grim and kvlt and all that, and they had some cool songs, I still felt they were the weakest live performance of the black metal bands I caught at this year’s Maryland Deathfest. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they sucked, but they weren’t that spectacular and didn’t really do anything that stood out much or really grabbed me. They definitely had the typical imagery down, they wore corpse paint, they had fake blood dumped on themselves, however they didn’t really play anything that stood out or really grabbed me that much either.

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat

After Archgoat I kept my place on the rail so I could be sure to see another black metal band from Finland up close, Horna. I had wanted to see this band play live for years and I’m glad I finally got the chance, however I wasn’t expecting that at the beginning of their song Piina that vocalist Spellgoth would squat on the stage, whip out his dick, piss in his hands and then wipe it all over his face and hair. The band kept playing and the audience didn’t seem to even notice much, but I’ve got video of it posted below (the second video). All watersports action aside, they did put on a great black metal performance and played some of my favorite songs of theirs too.

Spellgoth of Horna

Infection of Horna

Qraken of Horna

Spellgoth of Horna

After Horna I went outside to catch Brujeria, a Mexican metal band that has two vocalists reciting Spanish lyrics about stuff like running drugs over the border and revolutionary politics. The band all wears bandanas on their faces to hide their identities, and while they are said to be from Mexico most of the “mystery” members are actually from England, including Shane Embury of Napalm Death, Jeff Walker of Carcass and Nick Barker of, well, too many bands to list here. They’re a band I used to listen to back in my high school days and I never thought I’d ever get to see them live. It was pretty fun, even if I was getting a Mexican flag whipped in my face most of the time while I was trying to shoot! They seemed to mostly just play older classics, which was fine by me since those are the songs I know. Check out the two videos I shot of them below.

Fantasma of Brujeria

Brujeria at Maryland Deathfest X

El Brjuo of Brujeria

Brujeria at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band I saw was the day’s headliner, Morbid Angel. They’re one of the big three American death metal bands and they haven’t played on the east coast in quite some time. The last time I saw them was in 2006 for their big tour when David Vincent had just rejoined the band. I suppose a long of younger people have never gotten the chance to see them play live, and even though their last album was laughably terrible, they still got the audience to go crazy. Well, at least for the three or four songs I was there for. The crowd got really rough during their set and as I was shooting video of them playing Rapture a stage diver landed directly on my head which I didn’t even see coming. So I didn’t get a lot of great footage of them but I decided I’d get inside to get up front for the final three bands of the night. Besides, I’ve seen them play before and I didn’t want to taint my memories of Morbid Angel live by catching them play any of their new material. I heard guitarist Trey Azagthoth had a rockstar moment and after an equipment failure during their second to last song he walked off the stage leaving the rest of the band to play their final song without him. Also, their set started about 20 minutes late due to more technical issues. At least this time there was some hilarious banter from the head sound tech yelling at the guys on the stage who were supposed to be “fixing” the problem.

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

After waiting by the rail for a while during Morbid Angel’s set I was ready to see yet another black metal band I’d been wanting to see for many years play, Tsjuder! This was the only actual Norwegian black metal band at MDF this year, and this was their first US show ever. The three piece was fucking excellent live, and played a set with plenty of my favorites from their album Desert Northern Hell, the album they are probably best known for as well as my personal favorite of theirs. The three piece was pretty entertaining on stage, the guitar and bass players switching sides of the stage multiple times. They ended their set with two covers, which seemed a bit excessive since they have plenty of good original material to choose from. The first was Sacrifice by Bathory and the last was Deathcrush by Mayhem (video of that below). They didn’t really add anything special to the songs so I don’t know why they felt the need to play two typical songs for black metal bands to cover but whatever, they were still fun crowd pleasers. Despite the double cover ending, I still think they were my favorite set to watch on this day of the fest.

Nag of Tsjuder

Tsjuder at Maryland Deathfest X

Tsjuder at Maryland Deathfest X

Nag of Tsjuder

Nag of Tsjuder

After Tsjuder ended the day’s excellent black metal line up, the next band to play was Haemorrhage, a goregrind band from Spain. They put on a hell of a show, coming out in their various medical themed costumes: a surgeon, a nurse, a doctor and vocalist Lugubrious played the blood soaked patient. It has been a long time since Haemorrhage has played in the US and fans of the band were psyched to see them. They played a lot of songs from their latest album, Hospital Carnage, as well as some of their classic older songs, which was fine by me as I like most of their material. The show was a hell of a lot of fun to watch and you can see that for yourself in the footage I’ve posted below.

Luisma of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

Ramón Checa of Haemorrhage

Lugubrious of Haemorrhage

The final band of the night was Winter, a recently reformed doom band from New York City. They broke up in the early 90s after releasing just one album, Into Darkness, back in 1990. It wasn’t until they had broken up that they gained a cult underground following, meaning most of their fans had never gotten to see this band live. For this show they played the album live from start to finish, and overall it is a very slow paced ordeal. I can get down with some ultra slow and heavy doom but by this point in the evening, well after midnight, the amount of time I had been spending on my feet the past few days was starting to take its toll. I did enjoy their set but unlike the night before’s Nasum set, it didn’t leave me with a lot of energy. Still, I wasn’t about to walk out on such a rare performance. Vocalist John Alman seemed surprised that so many people had stayed around to see them play, which was kind of funny. I think they’d have been a better fit somewhere in Sunday’s killer doom line up and not at the very end of the night, but I’m still glad I got to see them. Check out this video I shot of their opening song.

John Alman of Winter

John Alman of Winter

John Alman of Winter

Stephen Flam of Winter

Continue to day 4: Sunday here.
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Maryland Deathfest X Day 4: Sunday

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Sunday’s band line up was one of the best gatherings of doom and stoner bands I’ve ever heard of. However, the first band I saw that day was Coke Bust, a DC based grind band featuring members of Magrudergrind. They put on a fun show and even when the main microphone stopped working mid song they just started using one of the back up vocal mics instead. The vocalist said they hadn’t played in front of such a big crowd before as they usually play in places like people’s basements. I’m glad I got to see this fun local grind act play before all the doom started. Check out the video I shot of them below.

Coke Bust at Maryland Deathfest X

Coke Bust at Maryland Deathfest X

After Coke Bust played I headed outside to see Disma, a death/doom band featuring members of Incantation, including vocalist Craig Pillard. The band had been kicked off of the Choas In Tejas festival (article here) shortly after that festival’s line up was announced back in December because of Craig Pillard’s former Nazi ties, particularly him being in the openly antisemitic band called Sturmführer. Now supposedly he has recanted his racist ways but still, it makes me a bit conflicted about supporting the guy. Him wearing an iron cross on stage at MDF didn’t help either. Now I know an iron cross doesn’t make one a Nazi, it’s not a swastika, but if you’re trying to distance yourself from your Nazi past why would you wear that on stage? Their set was pretty crushing though, I have to give the band that, and you can see for yourself in the video I shot below as well as the great close up footage provided by Total Fucking Mayhem in the second video.

Bill Venner of Disma

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

Craig Pillard of Disma

Disma at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band I caught was the Richmond based doom band Cough, who was great, but I didn’t get close enough to get any video footage or decent photos of them so I’ll just skip to who I saw after them, a Swedish death metal band called Demonical. Demonical was alright. I wouldn’t call them bad, but compared to some of the death metal heavyweights that were also playing the fest they certainly weren’t a must see band for me. They were just OK I guess, and about half way through their set I went to the other outdoor stage so I could get up front for Morgoth. I do have a video of Demonical posted below, as well as two more from Total Fucking Mayhem, so check them out if you’re interested in more about Demonical’s set. At a metal festival with this many rare and special performances they just weren’t up to par for me.

Demonical at Maryland Deathfest X

Widda of Demonical

Martin Schulman of Demonical

Widda of Demonical

Next up for me was Morgoth, a German death/thrash band. This performance was their first US concert in almost 20 years so as you might imagine fans of the band were pretty excited to get a chance to see them. They had a couple of albums that gained a cult following in the underground from back in the early 90s before they changed their sound and put out a rock album in what I’d guess was a bid at hitting the mainstream. It didn’t really take off though and they broke up in 1998 and didn’t reform until about 12 years later. Luckily they didn’t play anything from the rock album and stuck to their heavier material, which was pretty good. They were certainly more entertaining live than Demonical was. Check out the two songs I’ve posted below as well as another from Total Fucking Mayhem though the audio is a bit overloaded on that one.

Marc Grewe of Morgoth

Morgoth at Maryland Deathfest X

Harry Busse of Morgoth

Marc Grewe of Morgoth

Morgoth at Maryland Deathfest X

Next I went inside and caught about half of Rwake‘s set. They’re a sludge/doom band from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I’d heard good things about them but I hadn’t ever seen them before. They were really impressive live, certainly one of the bands that I went in wanted to see and left being really impressed by. One of the things that sucks about Maryland Deathfest is that sometimes there are just too many good bands playing and you can’t see complete sets by all of them. I really wish I’d gotten a chance to see more of them, and even though I didn’t catch their entire set I have to say it was a highlight of the fest for me. Also, vocalist Chris Terry puked on stage during one of the songs which led to someone near me at the time mentioning one of my favorite quotes from MDF X: “I like it when they puke on stage because you know they’re giving it their all”. Haha! Anyways, footage of that is available from Total Fucking Mayhem in the second video below around 2:20 into it.

Christopher Terry of Rwake

Rwake at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band I saw was the death metal band that I was most excited to get a chance to see at Deathfest this year, Ulcerate. They’re a tech death band from New Zealand with a drummer that’s pretty insane behind the kit. The band’s show wasn’t anything too wild, mostly just the band members standing there playing their songs in lighting that was dim and didn’t really change much. However the songs were incredible to see live and that band plays them very tight, it was quite impressive. Just check out the footage I shot below and the second video shot by Total Fucking Mayhem to hear what I’m talking about.

Paul Kelland of Ulcerate

William Cleverdon of Ulcerate

Paul Kelland of Ulcerate

Ulcerate at Maryland Deathfest X

While I might never get another chance to see Ulcerate live I had to leave their set early to catch the tail end of another band I wanted to see that I may never get to catch again either, Church Of Misery. They’re a doom metal band from Japan with a heavy old school Black Sabbath influence and if you know me at all then you probably know I love Black Sabbath so that definitely appeals to me. Church Of Misery, like Macabre on Friday, also writes most of their songs about infamous serial killers. In all, I just had to make sure I’d at least catch some of their set while I had a chance. I really enjoyed their show, even though I got nowhere near the front. I took a few shots and a video but none of it is that close up, however you can see two videos of them that Total Fucking Mayhem shot from close up below as well.

Tom Sutton of Church Of Misery

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

Church Of Misery at Maryland Deathfest X

The next band to play was Pentagram Chile, an old school death/thrash band from, you guessed it, Chile. They formed in 1985 and only ever put out a few demos and an EP before breaking up, however those recordings were enough to gain them an underground following even after their demise. They’ve gotten back together, added Chile to their name to end confusion between them and the legendary doom metal band Pentagram, and said they are going to finally release a full length album. While I’d heard of them I’d never listened to them much because their recordings were so scarce, but they were a hell of a lot of fun live. Totally mosh-friendly metal that was catchy and aggressive at the same time. Also, vocalist Anton Reisenegger did something I’ve never seen a band do before. Instead of shout out the wrong name of the city he was in he actually introduced his band with the wrong name! He said they were Criminal, another band he and the bass player are in together, and the rest of the band all started glaring at him until he corrected it, haha! I shot two videos of Pentagram Chile, the second of which shows them performing a song so new they didn’t even have lyrics for it yet. There’s also a super close up video by Total Fucking Mayhem.

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Pentagram Chile at Maryland Deathfest X

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Anton Reisenegger of Pentagram Chile

Juan Pablo Uribe of Pentagram Chile

At this point I had to make a tough decision and decided it was time for me to get some food. I wanted to see Yob and Suffocation, who would both be playing soon, but I also needed to eat and there wasn’t another band the rest of the day/night that I would want to miss. I decided to go find food during those bands’ sets because I had seen both within the past 12 months, so I figured that if I have to miss someone, at least it is bands I’ve seen recently. I heard Yob played some really rare like 20 minute song they never play live so that was a bit frustrating, and Suffocation is always killer live, but again, I had to eat. I made it back and Suffocation was still playing on one of the main stages but I decided to get up close for Saint Vitus who would be playing on other outdoor stage next. Wino, their singer, has roots in Maryland so it was cool getting to see them play one of the big stages at MDF. They’re one of the most influential doom metal bands ever and it was great seeing them play a bunch of their classic older songs mixed with some of the material from their new album, Lillie: F-65. They really put on a great performance that was a perfect lead in to the next band playing, Electric Wizard, and you can check out my two videos of Saint Vitus that night below, as well as one more from Total Fucking Mayhem.

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Wino of Saint Vitus

Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus

Saint Vitus at Maryland Deathfest X

Next was Electric Wizard, the headliner of the final day of Maryland Deathfest X and a major draw for the event. For a lot of people, the chance to see this band was the main reason they came to the festival, and MDF later announced (here) that they played to the largest crowd in Deathfest history. There was a bit of rain as Saint Vitus was finishing up and I started to worry there might be another big delay but the rain passed quickly and Electric Wizard went on to perform a killer set. The band hasn’t played in the US in 10 years or so and while the line up has changed a lot since then, they’ve only got one original member left, they still put on a near flawless performance of doom. People were going crazy and I’ve never seen such a wild mosh pit for a stoner/doom band that wasn’t named Black Sabbath. The crowd was far too violent for me to get up close and get great footage, however I did shoot a couple songs of their excellent set, including my favorite song of theirs, Satanic Rites Of Drugula. Total Fucking Mayhem got some great close up footage though and I highly recommend you check that out as well.

Electric Wizard at Maryland Deathfest X

Electric Wizard at Maryland Deathfest X

Since I wasn’t that close up for Electric Wizard I was determined to get up front for the final three bands of the fest starting with Sargeist, another black metal band from Finland. The band shares two members with Horna, who played the day before, and Behexen, who wasn’t playing at the fest. Sargeist did not have anyone whip out their dick and piss on themselves, however they did play a great set of black metal to the people trickling inside after Electric Wizard finished. The band came out in black robes and vocalist Hoath Torog had this bizarre look on his face most of the show, like he was engaging in some sort of creepy staring contest with the audience. Also, he was walking around barefoot on that stage which is something I would not have done considering all the piss and puke I’d seen on it earlier in the weekend. Anyways, their set was great but by the time they finished I could really start feeling the festival coming to an end. Check out the videos I posted of them below.

Vainaja of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

Hoath Torog of Sargeist

The next band to play was Bethlehem, a dark/black metal band from Germany. The band is very influential to the suicidal/depressive black metal scene consisting of bands like Xasthur and Shining, and in 1998 Bethlehem released their magnum opus, Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen irreligiöser Darbietung. The band playing this night only had one of the members left from those days, the bass player Jürgen Bartsch, however they still put on a very disturbing performance. The band’s vocalist, Rogier Droog, put on quite a show for those close enough to see him. He shifted through a very wide range of facial expressions going from horror to pain to shock to loathing and too many more to list here. His shrieks, moans and wails were haunting as well. He really stole the show for this band, which is sort of surprising since he has only been in the band since 2011. I’m glad I got to see them close up, it was a unique show and one that definitely stood out at this year’s fest for me. Check out the three videos I shot of them below. They’re probably a bit too dark/small to make out his face that much however it should give you an idea of the mood set by their performance.

Jürgen Bartsch of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

Rogier Droog of Bethlehem

The final band of the night was Mortuary Drape, an old school black metal band from Italy. This is a band I really wanted to see heading in to the fest and even though they would be the last band to play, I was still was excited to see them live. They were supposed to be one of the headliners at the big Rites Of Darkness festival in San Antonio last winter, however like several other bands they pulled out when they realized that the festival organizers were in fact not organized and they didn’t have all their money together right either (more info on that here). This also made Mortuary Drape cancel their short tour which was scheduled to have a date in Baltimore that I had planned on attending. So this performance was one I’d sort of thought would never happen, and they didn’t disappoint either. The band is not really the band they once were, frontman Wildness Perversion is the only original member of the band and the only one who has been with them since before 2011 even. That didn’t really bother me though because it’s not like I was going to get a time machine to see these guys in their glory days and it was fun getting to hear many of their old songs live. While the previous two bands had vocalists that stayed pretty stationary and used very dramatic facial expressions Wilderness Perversion was very active and mobile on stage, often engaging the audience directly. The rest of the band were draped in red robes with black hoods as he worked the audience from every angle of the stage. Check out the video I posted below to see what I’m talking about, I only shot one of them but it is over 12 minutes long. Mortuary Drape put on a really fun performance and ended Maryland Deathfest X on a high note for me. Also, nobody was pepper sprayed this year after they finished playing!

SC of Mortuary Drape

SC of Mortuary Drape

Mortuary Drape at Maryland Deathfest X

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Wildness Perversion of Mortuary Drape

Daniele Cagnotto of Mortuary Drape

Back to the MDF menu page here.

Maryland Deathfest X Survival Guide

Maryland Deathfest X is almost here and I’ve created another Survival Guide for this tenth installment of the festival. This post is full of info you can use regardless of how many days you spend at this year’s fest or whether you are visiting Baltimore or a resident. First, I’ll post a few handy links for you to have all in one place:

Maryland Deathfest’s official website: MarylandDeathfest.com
MDF’s official Facebook: Facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest
Sonar’s official website: SonarBaltimore.com
Sonar’s Address: 407 E Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)

Quick loading set time schedules to bookmark on your smartphone:
Thursday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday
Friday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdffriday
Saturday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday
Sunday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

Click the image below to see a custom interactive Google map of the area around Sonar with some places of note like where to eat or buy cigarettes within walking distance. Click on the points or lines and more info will pop up. You’ll have to zoom in a bit since Google sets that.

Before You Get To The Fest

You can order your tickets online (here) if you haven’t bought them already. They will be will call only at this point, which means they’ll hold them at the door for you. Thursday is sold out so you can’t get tickets for that day nor four day passes any more. If you really want to go Thursday you can try looking at the MDF Facebook event page (here) for people selling extra tickets or the MDF Message Board’s thread for buying/selling tickets here, and maybe you’ll get lucky. You could also try getting cheaper tickets for other days there from people desperate to sell. You can order merch for pick up at the fest here. You don’t have to order merch online but if you do you can guarantee they will have your size in stock when you pick it up at the fest. They have decent prices, their shirts are $13 and the zip-up hoodies are $27. This year they also have a poster for sale for $12. There is another poster for sale (see image on left) by Warlord Clothing, who has made posters for the fest the past two years as well. It is also $12 and is limited to just 150, you can preorder that here. If you are flying into BWI airport for Deathfest, the city has set a flat rate for a taxi to or from Baltimore at $30. From the airport you can also order a Super Shuttle ride for around $12 – $15 per person each way here. Alternately, you can ride the Baltimore Light Rail system to or from BWI to several downtown stops for $1.60 one way. Most downtown hotels will be near the Convention Center through Centre Street stops (two maps, one here and another here). More info on Baltimore’s mass transit systems can be found here. You might want to bring some sunscreen with you if you are going to be at the fest for Friday, Saturday or Sunday as you’ll probably be spending a large portion of the day outdoors. Bring shoes you like wearing because you will probably be on your feet a lot while you’re there. You may want to bring a cheap plastic pull over parka in case it rains, especially if you’re packing a lot of electronics. You can bring a backpack or other bag in if you’d like to use it to hold merch you buy there, just know that they will search it when you enter. They do allow you to bring in cameras, including “pro” SLR cameras with detachable lenses however they will not be issuing photo passes to anyone. They do allow you to shoot video on your pocket cameras and phones but not on pro video cameras. Crowd surfing and moshing is allowed so be aware of what is going on around you, particularly if you’re bringing expensive equipment, and especially if you are up close towards the center of the stage. I recommend bringing some extra cash as there will be all kinds of vendors selling CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos, t-shirts and other merch, and even some MDF exclusives (I’ll update the end of this post with photos and prices of the exclusives once the fest starts). There is an ATM inside the Deathfest area but it will of course have service fees.

Arriving At The Fest

When you get to Maryland Deathfest you’ll see that they’ve blocked off the street in front of Sonar. They’ll build the stages there Thursday night so if you want to park in the parking lot in front of the venue, you’ll have to enter from the other entrance on the back of the lot. You can see where that is on the map I made (here). The lot across from Sonar was free in previous years but now the City Of Baltimore has decided to meter the lot. I shot a photo of a sign in the lot with the rates that you can see here. It’s 40¢ an hour from 4am to 6pm. Any amount of time from 6pm to 4am is a flat rate of $7. Yes if you do the math that means they jack up the rates at night specifically to screw over people going to Sonar, but that’s the city’s doing not the guys who run MDF or the venue. At least you don’t have to bring quarters, the meters accept debit and credit cards as you can see in this photo of one here. It will print a receipt that you will need to leave on your dashboard. I got a parking ticket there when it first switched over because I didn’t realize it had become a pay lot and the ticket was for $32. There will probably be a long line to get in during peak hours and if there is a band you definitely want to see I’d plan on getting there at least 45 minutes before they go on to make sure you get into the fest on time. You may end up getting in early but then you can always check out a band or two if you do, or scope some of the wares of the vendors. There’s often a bunch of junkies that hang out around the festival and I recommend you avoid them. Sometimes they find ways into the fest and try to pull admission bracelets off of people in crowds like when everyone has their hands up supporting a crowd surfer. They take these and give them to friends of theirs so they can get in as well and who knows what they’re doing, maybe picking pockets or something. They may seem nice and friendly but you really shouldn’t trust homeless drug addicts, call it common sense. Your ticket will get you a wrist band, and depending on how many days it is valid for will determine its color. Once you have your wrist band you can leave and re-enter at will and skip the line as well. Deathfest is all ages but you will also get a drinking age wrist band if you’re over 21 and show them your ID. Note that by law all bars in Baltimore stop serving at 2am, which is about when the Fest will probably end each night.

What To Expect Inside The Fest

Maryland Deathfest X starts on Thursday, May 24th and the doors open that day at 4pm. This day has a bit of downtime between bands because it is the only day that is indoors only, and they only use one stage (the main stage). Thursday is completely sold out and MDF has stated (here) that there is no such thing as a downloadable or electronic ticket, despite their appearance on sites like StubHub. Don’t be lured into buying such a ticket as it is certainly a scam. They probably won’t have most of the vendors set up until Friday so if you ordered merch to pick up at the event, you’ll probably need to get it later in the weekend. All weekend long you’ll be able to pick up, for free, a program for this year’s Maryland Deathfest provided by Invisible Oranges. I’ve been lucky enough to get a peek at its contents and it looks pretty cool. It has a short bio on bands playing and some bands, such as Electric Wizard, Tsjuder, Brujeria and Mortuary Drape, will have expanded features on them with lots of quotes from the members of the bands. Check out the cover art on the left and keep an eye out for it. Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be three stages going most of the day, so be sure to check out my quick schedules for each day that show which bands start on which stage in chronological order (linked at the top of this post). Because of the multiple stage set up, usually when a band finishes their set on one outdoor stage the band on the other outdoor stage will start immediately. This means if you really want to see a band up close you will have to camp out there a bit as they set up while most other people are watching bands on the other stages. Due to noise curfews, the outdoor stages have to be done each night by 11pm, however the indoor stage will continue to have bands well past midnight. There will be a food vendor who sets up shop inside the fences, same one as last year. Apparently they will expand the menu to have at least three styles of food, as well as some vegetarian options. There is also some food available within walking distance of Sonar and you can check out the map I made (here) to figure out where that is. One cool thing about Deathfest is all the vendors there. There will be vendors where the indoor second side stage normally is at Sonar, as well as some outdoors in tents and booths. You can find all kinds of rare and obscure releases, bootlegs, merch and other stuff here and most of them will only accept cash. The list of vendors at this year’s fest is: Black Mess Productions, ChopoBrujos, Crucial Blast Records, Dave’s Metal (I couldn’t find a link), Deepsend Records, Deathgasm Records, Emetic Records, The End Records, Forever Plagued Records, Handshake Inc., Ibex Moon Records, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Largactyl Records, Lock And Shock, Old Cemetery Records, Relapse Records, Season Of Mist, Sevared Records, Thrash Corner Records, Utterly Somber, Vienna Music Exchange, Warlord Clothing and Willowtip Records. Last year they also had a corpse paint face painting booth (photo here) but I don’t know if that will be back this year or not. Relapse has even made a video commercial for their booth at this year’s fest and you can watch that below.

Other Things Going On

If you get into town Wednesday and you’re looking for something to do that night, there will be a couple pre-fest metal shows going on. The Sidebar, a place that is walking distance from Sonar, will be hosting Xeukatre, Horde Of The Eclipse, Palkoski, Wolfnuke and Weed Warlock for just $8. The venue’s address is 218 E. Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map) however the doors are actually just around the corner on Guilford Avenue. This show is ages 18+ only and the doors open at 8pm. You can see its Facebook event page here. This show looks to be pretty awesome with a range of styles including black metal, stoner, grind and speed metal. You can check out any of the bands by clicking their names. Also, for the four days the fest is going on the Sidebar will not be having bands play but will instead have DJs playing metal and punk music with tons of drink specials and no cover. Sounds like a cheap place to knock a few back before heading in to the fest. Doors open Thursday and Friday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 4pm.

Another metal gig going on Wednesday the 23rd in Baltimore is at the Ottobar, located at 2549 N. Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218 (map). This show’s line up will be The Hackish, Visceral Disgorge, Seventh Chaos, Universal Remonster, SwampHög and Infidel, a group of bands definitely leaning toward the most brutal side of metal. Death/grind band The Hackish has come up from Florida to play this show. It’s also $8 to get in and is open to all ages. Doors open at 7pm. It’s a bit farther away than the Sidebar show, however it is open to all ages.

There are also two metal shows going on in Baltimore during Maryland Deathfest that are totally unrelated to the event. Power metal is a sub genre that doesn’t get much love at MDF and if you want to take a break and get some of that in then head over to the Baltimore SoundStage on Saturday the 26th for a spotlight on three power metal bands. Rhapsody Of Fire is coming from Italy to headline this show with their Australian touring support Voyager. Washington DC natives A Sound Of Thunder will kick off this show which is located at 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map). It’s $29.50 to get in and this all ages show has doors open at 6pm and the first band start at 7pm.

Just down the street from the Baltimore SoundStage and also on Saturday the 26th, Rams Head Live will be hosting a metalcore show of mostly local bands headlined by Sky Came Burning and Serial Attraction. Also appearing will be The 10th Hour, Beyond Dishonor, GI9 and Blameshift. It will be $12 to get in. The venue’s address is 20 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map) and this show is open to all ages.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the most tourist friendly area of the city and it isn’t too far south of Sonar either. There are lots of dining options in that area, plenty with Maryland’s famous crab cakes, and you can also find Baltimore’s world famous aquarium there (link). It’s pretty impressive and worth checking out if you’ve got some extra time. There are a few record stores of note in Baltimore. Black Mess, which will have a booth at Maryland Deathfest this year, is located at 3853 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211 (map). Black Mess is a new store and they specialize in underground heavy metal. A reader mentioned that within walking distance of Black Mess is Celebrated Summer Records, another indie record store that has metal for sale though they seem to specialize in punk and hardcore. Their address is 3620 Falls Rd,
Baltimore, MD 21211 (map). There is also The Sound Garden, a large record store that is pretty famous even outside of the city. Last year I saw Lee Dorian of Cathedral browsing the records there one afternoon. Their address is 1616 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231 (map). And if you want my recommendation of the best place to eat in town it’s Joe Squared. They are a gourmet pizza place with great beers on tap and even outdoor seating. It’s a bit pricey but where the hell else can you get things like avacado, lamb, corned beef, artichokes, or calamari on a pizza? Plus they’re open til 2am every night. Highly recommended! They have two locations, one near Rams Head Live and the Baltimore Soundstage at 30 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map) (I’ve never been to this location) and one at 133 W. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201 (map) which is a few blocks south of the Ottobar.

Wrap Up

I’ll be at this year’s Maryland Deathfest for all four days and if you see me walking around be sure to say hi. I’ll be handing out free DCHeavyMetal.com vinyl bumper stickers to anyone who wants one (and maybe some people who don’t). Recently I interviewed Evan Harting, one of the two organizers and co-creators of Maryland Deathfest and you can read or listen to that interview here. Shockwave Magazine recently conducted an interview with both of the guys who run Deathfest and you can check that out here. Baltimore blogger Mary Spiro has been counting down to Deathfest on her blog by listening to and posting short profiles of each band at this year’s fest and there are even some interviews in there with some of them too. Check out her MDF band profiles on her blog Metallomusikum here. NPR has posted a discussion about this year’s MDF with Bob Boilen, Lars Gotrich (NPR’s metal writer) and Kim Kelly (freelance metal writer) that you can listen to here. The Washington Post Express ran a preview piece, which I’m quoted in, that you can read here. Invisible Oranges made a short post about the fest, with a download of their guide, that is posted here.

I hope this survival guide helps you enjoy the best four days of heavy metal in the area. I’m excited and I hope you all have fun whichever days you are going. Stay brutal everyone!

Updates

Here’s the alcohol price list for the bars inside the main room, you can click it to see it larger.

MDF X Alcohol Price List

There are two food tents inside the MDF grounds this year. One has some pretty standard American food and the other has “Italian” and Latin food. The three menus are all posted below, and you can click on them to see them larger if you want.

MDF X American Food Menu

MDF X Italian Food Menu

MDF X Latin Food Menu

Also, there are some MDF exclusives but I’m trying to get back to the fest to catch one of my favorite bands, Macabre, play so I don’t have time to post the pictures yet. I’ll try to do that tonight. However, there is an exclusive Brujeria shirt, an exclusive Morgoth shirt (both shown below), and for some reason a vendor had exclusive shirts for a bunch of bands that aren’t even playing including: The Black Dahlia Murder, Aborted, Pig Destroyer, Brutal Truth, Misery Index, Cattle Decapitation, Rotting Christ and Devourment. There was also an exclusive Nasum shirt but that is now sold out. Oh, and Black Mess has a free to enter raffle to see Marduk, 1349, Wither and Weapon at Sonar on Saturday June 2nd. Winner gets a free pair of tickets to the show. You don’t have to buy anything to enter but check it out cause that show will be cool.

MDF X Italian Food Menu

MDF X Morgoth Shirt

Heritage Hunter Tour At The Fillmore Silver Spring Concert Review

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

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

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

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

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