Review of Windhand at St. Stephen’s

On Saturday the 3rd of March 2012 I headed over to Saint Stephen’s Church in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington DC to catch a great line up of metal bands. And while drinking wasn’t allowed at the venue this wasn’t some sort of Christian rock concert, upside down crosses and other metal standards were on display on stage throughout the night. The excellent Richmond, Virginia based doom band Windhand was touring with Natur and Pilgrim and this was the DC stop. To make the show even better DC’s own death/doom masters Ilsa were on the bill as well. Midnight Eye was supposed to open the show but they had to drop off and were replaced by Satan’s Satyrs, a Northern Virginia based sludge/stoner type of band. $10 for 5 bands is normally a pretty good deal on most nights, but this was a killer line up that gave back a lot of quality metal for your buck. That was $10 well spent!

Satan’s Satyrs was the first band up. The crowd was pretty sparse during their set but people were still coming in. The trio were decked out in bell bottoms and played a throwback style of stoner/sludge metal though it had quite a bit of energy as well. The problems with the PA system were a recurring issue throughout the evening and their set was no different. They were loud in the large square rec room space though the faster parts of their songs sounded pretty muddy. This wasn’t the band’s fault, the sound just wasn’t great that night. However it wasn’t bad enough to ruin the music overall and their performance was still entertaining, especially for a last minute add on.
Satan's Satyrs

The next band to play was Pilgrim, a three piece doom band from Rhode Island. I was unfamiliar with them but they were pretty good live. They were very heavy and most of their songs were slow paced. They weren’t very flashy but they played some quality tunes, often times just slowly grinding along. They finished their set with a faster paced song that was pretty cool as well. Apparently this was their first tour and this was a good showing.
Pilgrim

The next band to hit the stage was Natur, a sort of thrashy metal band from New York City. They had a lot of energy on stage and I was really blown away by how well the executed live. Lots of catchy memorable riffs and wailing guitar solos with some solid song structures that tied it all together. I couldn’t hear the vocals for most of their performance from where I was standing. However things seemed to get sorted out a little bit by the end of their set and honestly they were so fun live the poor sound quality didn’t come close to ruining it for me. I was very impressed by these guys to say the least.
Natur

Next on stage was Windhand, one of my favorite underground bands from Richmond. They are a really heavy doom band with a woman on vocals but this is no girl power gimmicky band. I’ve seen them perform a few times before but this was certainly the biggest of those shows as far as attendance is concerned. The whole of Windhand were in great form for this show. Their sludgy doom even brought a few onlookers from the square dance event going on in another section of the church. My only complaint was that the set seemed too short, and judging by all of the applause I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wishing they had played longer.

Windhand

Locals Ilsa played last. They’re one of the leading bands in Washington DC’s underground metal scene and they were spotlighted in an article in the City Paper last week (here). They play a very crusty style of death/doom metal that isn’t particularly technical but is incredibly crushing. Their sound is dirty and full of great riffs and they got the biggest mosh pits of the night during their set. Ilsa plays pretty regularly around the area and they seem to always put on a good live show. This time they mixed up the playlist a bit and I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen Ilsa where they didn’t play their song Frostthrower. It’s usually a staple and often their closer. I’m glad they aren’t happy just staying put with what they have already done so well and they’re willing to keep moving forward and keep things fresh. The vocals were basically inaudible from where I was standing in the front but the songs are still pretty awesome on their own anyways.
Ilsa

In all this was a great show with a lot of quality bands. It sucks that you can’t drink or order food there, but it also makes it so that some of the younger fans who can’t get into the 21+ shows can get out and see killer line ups like this when they happen. The sound left a lot to be desired but really, I’ve heard worse at plenty of local “professional” venues as well. The lack of any real back stage means the members of the bands are out in the audience (or behind the merch table) most of the night which means anyone can go up and talk to them, which I think is pretty cool not only for the fans but also to help build up a band’s fan base on a more personal level. This wasn’t the first show I’ve been to at St. Stephen’s and if you hear of a good show coming there you shouldn’t hesitate to go, just be sure you eat before you get there. Thanks for reading all of this, and while the winter has been a bit slow around here I hope to have more concert reviews up this spring and summer. Also, be sure to check out (here) the newest contest running on DCHM right now where you can win quality seated tickets to Rammstein in Baltimore AND Iron Maiden/Alice Cooper in Northern Virginia and tomorrow I will be posting a new ticket contest as well. I do love giving away stuff to the readers of this site. Stay metal everyone and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Mega Sized Metal Concert Recap

Recently I’ve not been able to write as many concert reviews as I’d like to. I’m considering doing some shorter ones in the future. Believe it or not, my average concert review takes me 10-14 hours to put together. I have been going to a hell of a lot of shows and that just makes things back up a bunch and it can be hard to even get through just sorting through all my concert photos. However, I’ve been to some great shows since my last concert review, the Cavalara Conspiracy show review I posted back on October 14th, and I thought I’d just post a few pictures, videos and notes from those shows to give you an idea of what has been going on with live metal in this area from my point of view. Each paragraph below is about a different concert so you can skip ones ya don’t care about and move to ones you find more interesting easily. You can click any of the pictures below to see more of my photographs of the same band, and I’ve added some of my videos from the shows that I shot them at in this post as well, though as always I’ve got more on my YouTube page here.

On Friday, October 14th, 2011, I drove up to see Wabringer and Landmine Marathon at Sonar in Baltimore. This was Warbringer’s first headlining tour and while they are one of my favorite bands of the modern wave of thrash metal, I really wanted to see Landmine Marathon play. I’d never seen them before but had heard they were good live. Their vocalist, Grace Perry, was on the cover of the always controversial Hottest Chicks In Metal issue of Revolver magazine in 2009, but I didn’t care about any of that. She was absolutely ferocious on stage, really a sight to behold regardless of her gender or hotness or whatever. At one point she told the audience they better start moshing harder or she’d jump off the stage and kick everyone’s asses, and you believed it when she said it. Warbringer was fun live as usual, they played Living In A Whirlwind so I was happy. This was also the first time I’d seen them play anything from their newest album, Worlds Torn Asunder. Vocalist John Kevill did a stage dive into the audience at the end of the show. Lazarus A.D. played between those two bands but I don’t really care for them so I took that time to drink a couple Lancaster Milk Stouts in the other room. They’re delicious and Sonar has em in bottles at the bar, highly recommended when you’re thirsty at Sonar!
Grace Perry of Landmine Marathon

Warbringer

The next night, Saturday the 15th of October 2011, I found myself back at Sonar to see a black metal band from Singapore, Impiety. However, as a late addition to the bill I got to see a band I’ve been wanting to see for years, Ohio’s black/speed metal act Midnight. They came out in the executioner’s hoods that they’re known for and just shredded the place. They’re a fierce three piece and their sound reminds me of something of a cross between Motörhead and Darkthrone. After their awesome set Impiety hit the stage drenched in pig blood, and man did it stink like something awful. The pit was fierce for their entire set and the band never let up either. It was really a great show I’m glad I didn’t miss it. Considering where they’re from, who knows if you’ll ever be able to see them play around here again.
Midnight

Impiety

On Monday the 17th of October 2011 I found myself at Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia to check out local power metal band A Sound Of Thunder play support for the Swedish power metal band Sabaton for the final show of their tour. The audience was thin this evening, Dream Theater was playing at the Warner Theatre the same night and I’m sure that had an effect on the turn out. However A Sound Of Thunder put on a solid set and kept the audience’s attention. They were a good warm up act for Sabaton. I’d never seen Sabaton before, and honestly I’m not that familiar with their music, but I’ll tell you they were entertaining as hell to watch live. You could just tell that the band was having a lot of fun playing for the audience and even though the turn out wasn’t huge the people who were there really gave a lot of energy back to the band. They played a prank on their new temporary bass player when the rest of the band started playing a song they hadn’t taught him to play. It was a really fun experience from a band I didn’t really know what to expect from.
Nina Osegueda of A Sound Of Thunder

Sabaton

Skip ahead to Friday the 21st of October and I was at a kick ass Deceased show at Comet Ping Pong in Washington, DC. The opening acts were two I really enjoy, DC’s own stoner band Borracho and Richmond’s doomy/sludge band Windhand. Borracho went on first and they didn’t start until after 10pm. They put on a good show and the audience that came to see Deceased, different than the normal stoner band crowd, seemed to be into it. Next up came Windhand. This band is HEAVY and this set was no different than usual. Finally Deceased hit the stage well after midnight. Deceased has a lot of ties to the DC area, originally based out of Northern Virginia they are the kind of band that draws people out of the woodwork when they play in the area. It was good to see such a big crowd for them. They didn’t have a bass player, which made their sound a bit tinny and took some getting used to. King Fowley used to play drums but now was just doing the lead vocals, and he was having a lot of fun with the audience and even came out into the crowd a couple times. I got home really late that night, but it was worth it!
Borracho

Windhand

Deceased

Sunday the 23rd of October, 2011, I went on a road trip up to Philadelphia to catch a band I’d been wanting to see for several years, Kvelertak, play at Johnny Brenda’s. When I got there the Georgian psychedelic sludge metal group Zoroaster was playing and I saw them do a couple songs. Skeletonwitch, a thrash band from Ohio, was after them and they put on an energetic show, they’re definitely a better live band than when I saw them in April 2010. Not that they were bad then, but they’ve definitely got their live show down better now and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them doing a headlining tour sometime soon. Finally Kvelertak, the Norwegian punk/metal band I drove all that way to see, was up and they put on a hell of a wild show. There was a lot of stage diving and beer drinking and the show just had a crazy amount of energy going on. It was definitely worth the 6 and a half hours of driving there and back that night, so much fun! Hopefully they won’t skip the DC area on their next tour. Also, I met two other people, who didn’t know each other, who had both come up from the DC area for this show. That was kind of cool.
Skeletonwitch

Kvelertak

On Thursday the 27th of October I went to see a Sepultura cover band made up of members of various local bands, namely Disciples Of Christ (D.O.C.), Drugs Of Faith, Magrudergrind and Mind As Prison. This was at a small Ethiopian restaurant and bar called Asefu’s just a couple doors down from DC9 in Washington DC. Local guitar shredders Midnight Eye opened the set up and they were awesome as usual. They played a cover of Megadeth‘s classic Rust In Peace that was pretty slick as well. Local band Auroboros was next to play. They’re a great live band, with ex-members of Baroness and Salome in the group you know it’s just a matter of time until they really take off. During their set the drummer got caught in the fake spider webbing while playing, he even lost a stick to it, haha! The Sepultura all stars played next and while their set was mired with some technical difficulties at first, it was a lot of fun. I was a huge Sepultura fan in high school so it was cool hearing them play some of those old classics. They only played about four or five songs though, I wished it had lasted another hour! The final band of the night was Inter Arma from Richmond. Sadly a lot of people left after the cover band played but they played a powerful set regardless, I’m glad I stuck around to watch them.
Midnight Eye

Auroboros

Sepultura cover band

Inter Arma

I had another stop at Jaxx on Sunday the 30th of October 2011 to see Decapitated play. There were a lot of other bands playing this night, however I only saw the final three bands. Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse came out in their tuxedos and really got the mosh pit going, including a few guys in drag for Halloween that were in there. Next up was the California based tech death band Decrepit Birth. I really like this band a lot. They remind me of the band Death a lot, but with a more modern sound. Their vocalist, Bill Robinson, is a bit of a head trip but he really got the audience into the show. At one point he held up a copy of their latest CD and told the audience anyone could have it if they took it from him. This caused a wave of people to climb over the railing onto the stage and Bill kept pushing them back to stage dive onto the audience. Then came the headliners, the Polish death metal band Decapitated. This band had a tragic bus accident on October 29th 2007 while on tour. Their drummer was killed in the wreck and the vocalist was critically injured. Decapitated broke up for a little while, though guitarist Vogg decided to get them back together, with all other members of the band being new, and put out a new album back in July titled Carnival Is Forever. However, this band just isn’t the same, it was almost sad seeing them play. Spheres Of Madness, their closing song and most famous, just wasn’t the same, it was almost like seeing a cover band play it. Combined with their short set, they only played for about 45-50 minutes, they were a let down. I’m glad I got to see them a few times before their accident. Also of note, this was their final show of the tour and on the return flight their airplane had to make an emergency landing with no landing gear. The story with video of the landing is posted here. The band is fine but damn, maybe they should start walking when touring.
Fleshgod Apocalypse

Decrepit Birth

Decapitated

On Tuesday the 1st of November, 2011 I went up to Baltimore to see Opeth play at Rams Head Live. Their set was a rather laid back performance, even by Opeth’s standards. Their new album, Heritage, has no harsh vocals on it, and this tour was certainly to promote that album. The show was fun, and being that it was the last show of the tour the guys were kind of goofing off a bit. They let the audience in a short singalong to the chorus of Harvest at one point, and had a few pranks going on stage throughout the night. However the highlight of the evening was the encore. Members of the opening act that I didn’t get there in time to see, Katatonia, joined Mike Åkerfeldt and Martin Axenrot of Opeth to reform the Swedish death metal super group Bloodbath! They played two songs, Soul Evisceration and Eaten, in a very rare public performance by Bloodbath. Mike hinted that they might be back together for real, though he didn’t say if that meant a new album, tour or if it was even definite. Their short and brutal encore set was quite a contrast to the Opeth show that had gone on just before it. This was the only concert of the tour that Bloodbath made an appearance at, and I felt very lucky to be in attendance. Definitely one of my concert highlights of the year! You can see video footage of Bloodbath’s performance (not shot by me) posted here.
Opeth

Bloodbath

The next night, Wenesday the 2nd of November, found me in Baltimore again for the first show of tour by the infamous Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. When I got there the show was running a bit behind schedule though and I saw the end of Abigail Williams‘ set. Then the polish blackened death metal band Hate performed. They were pretty good if not overly original, sort of like a Behemoth junior. I have to say their guitarist had some of the worst corpse paint I’ve ever seen though. Then the Norwegian melodic black metal band Keep Of Kalessin played. I watched a couple of their songs but soon found myself in the next room drinking Lancaster Milk Stouts again. Keep has gone down hill in my book over the years, now they seem to be a sort of singalongy kind of band and they’ve lost the bite I enjoyed of their older material. Finally Mayhem was up next, their first area appearance since they played at Maryland Deathfest in 2009. Vocalist Attila Csihar came out looking like some sort of satanic vampire and it was awesome! He’s known for his wild stage costumes but this was just over the top. The band played a kick ass set heavily loaded with material from their classic albums De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Deathcrush and it got the place going crazy. There were tons of fights, even a woman got thrown out of the show for being to crazy in the pit, it was intense! I got some bruises but it was worth it to get some awesome shots of one of metal most notorious bands.
Hate

Keep Of Kalessin

Mayhem

On Sunday November 6th, 2011 I was at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland to watch Death Angel, Testament and Anthrax play there. However there was a problem with the photo passes that night and rather than risk leaving my camera in my car where it could be stolen, I had to head home after I already had my tickets in hand. Very frustrating let me tell you. I still haven’t been inside the new venue, I hope they get things straightened out next time. I really wanted to have some photographs up for you guys from that show, and have a nice big concert to end this long recap on but sadly, no dice. I might do more of these long recaps in the future, if you people like or don’t like them let me know. I’ve got a lot more metal shows to go to coming up and this might be a good way to try to cover more of them, starting with Torche tonight at DC9. Also, I should have some shirts with my new t-shirt design on them for sale very soon so keep your eyes peeled for that. They have new Abe Lincoln artwork drawn by DC based metal band Ilsa‘s drummer Joshua Brettell and they look awesome! Thanks for reading DCHeavyMetal.com, stay brutal everyone!

The History Of Witch-Hunt

Well since there aren’t any shows I’ll be going to this week for me to review, I wanted to at least write about SOMETHING here and DCHeavyMetal.com reader James gave me the idea of talking about one of the local bands in the area. Well, I didn’t want to deal with picking favorites, so I’ve decided to write a sort of local heavy metal history lesson about a now broken up band from Northern Virginia, Witch-Hunt. Witch-Hunt was a black metal band that formed in 1992, put out a few demos and a couple of full lengths and eventually broke up in 2004. I really didn’t know who they were until an old friend of mine, Dave Schmidt, took over vocal duties for them. I started looking into their back catalog then and digging up their history.

In the summer of 1992 the brothers Brian and Ben Straight formed Witch-Hunt Witch-Hunt - Darkened Salvationand put out three demos over the next couple years, First Kill, Born Dead and Fearless. I’ve never heard these so I can’t really comment on their sound. However, it was in 1994 when Erik Sayenga moved up to Northern Virginia from Florida and began playing with the band as the bass player (even though he was a drummer). This line up put out the demo Darkened Salvation in 1994 which started to get them noticed in the area as well as in the international underground tape trading scene. Again, I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy of this so I don’t really know what it sounds like. During this early period in the band’s life they were playing local gigs, mostly at the Teen Hut and a place in Dumfries, Virginia called Tiki Fala.

After releasing the demos they put out their first album, Prophecies Of A Great Plague in 1996 on X-Rated Records. By this point Ben had moved and thus left the band and Erik took over the drums. Seth Newton was added to the line up to play additional guitars and also keyboards. The total playing time of Prophecies Of A Great Plague was under 25 minutes long so it’s really more of an EP. A few of the songs are worth hearing, Witch-Hunt - Prophecies Of A Great Plagueparticularly the lead off track Fragments and the track A World Lit Only By Fire. The album’s production is primitive but still listenable. You couldn’t just download Pro Tools from the Pirate Bay back in those days, but there really aren’t any mid-nineties American black metal albums that had stellar recording quality. At that point the band kept it to a fairly slow tempo for black metal. This recording is closer in pace to something like the first two Dimmu Borgir albums (but without keyboards dominating the other instruments) than say Marduk or Mayhem. Hell, this album would probably be called blackened melodic death metal these days. They started playing shows along the east coast until the band went on hold for a little while when Erik Sayenga joined Dying Fetus as the touring drummer and went around the US with them. Upon his return Brian Straight decided to quit the band to pursue a professional career outside of music, leaving Seth Newton to take over vocals and all instruments other than the drums.

This line up, really just Seth and Erik, wrote and recorded nine new Erik Sayenga and Seth Newton of Witch-Huntsongs that they finally released as Souls Enshrouded Fire in 2000, also on X-Rated. This album is quite a step up from Prophecies Of A Great Plague in both production and song writing. The band picked up the pace considerably on this album. They added more keyboards to the mix as well as some guest female vocal parts on a couple songs. The guest vocalist is Dawn Desireé (from Rain Fell Within) and her performance on the song Enshrouded is as excellent as you’d expect from someone who I would call the best female vocalist to ever play Witch-Hunt - Souls Enshrouded Firein a metal band in this area. Her haunting voice makes the track my favorite on the album. Also worth hearing a few times are the songs Ablaze Thy Majestic Kingdom as well as And The Sun Fell Forever, just some solid local old school black metal there. The album as a whole has a much stronger European metal influence in the sound and is one of my favorite black metal releases from the DC area. After this release the band added Richard Johnson on vocals and guitarist Eric Buchannan as well as a guy that I only know of as “Phil” on bass. They started playing more shows with this line up and they severed ties with X-Rated around this time as well.

After drummer Kevin Talley, along with Jason Netherton and Sparky Voyles, quit Dying Fetus to go form Misery Index, Erik Sayenga once again joined Dying Fetus, this time as a full time member. He did a few tours with them and can even be heard drumming on Stop At Nothing, the 2003 full length release by Dying Fetus. During this time Witch-Hunt had several line up changes. Richard and Phil both left the band. My friend Dave Schmidt joined the band on vocals, as well as Fionn Himmel, aka Camulus, who became the new bass player. In 2002 this line up put out a new demo to shop for a new label with. It only had two songs on it but it is by far the fastest and most brutal material the band ever put out. Quite an impressive leap musically compared to their previous releases, though I have to say the mix on the recording isn’t very good. The core of the Witch-Hunt sound is still there, but the songs are faster and yet the band is very tight. This demo allowed them to get booked as the opening act for Polish death metal legends Vader on their European tour in September of 2002. UPDATE: Turns out I got this wrong and this was really Erik touring with Dying Fetus opening for Vader. Do’h!

While the band seemed to be doing better than ever they were suffering from a lot of internal strife. Unfortunately they ended up disbanding in the fall of 2004 due to continuous infighting. Erik Sayenga quit Dying Fetus in 2005 and focused on other projects, including Warthrone. In that band Ghost Storm Eulogy by WarThronehe joined former Witch-Hunt vocalist Richard Johnson and they actually retooled the songs from the Witch-Hunt 2002 demo. These songs were released on the first Warthrone album, titled Ghost Storm Eulogy. The band has since moved to Florida and I haven’t really heard anything from them since. Erik also played in a band called Mordichrist with Chaq Mol of Dark Funeral. It’s a pretty interesting project that is worth checking out, sort of black/sludge/doom with female vox. Witch-Hunt bass player Camulus went on to do his own thing in a solo project also called Camulus (changed name to Fuamnach at some point) as well as playing with the folk metal band Andsvara. My friend Dave, who is only on Witch-Hunt’s final recording, went on to play in several other Wolfsschanze - Dave is centerlocal metal bands, notably Bethledeign, Black Horizon and as one of the two founding members of Wolfsschanze. Now he’s a machine gunner in the US Army. Brian Straight apparently now lives in Colombia and I found a blog post of his from about a year ago that was very useful in researching this blog post. I’m not sure what happened to the other members of Witch-Hunt. Since Witch-Hunt broke up before the days where every band had a MySpace page you won’t find them there. They used to post some of their songs for free download, though their website is long gone now. So if you’d like to hear them I’ve taken the liberty of uploading what material of theirs I do have and you can download that here for free. I have also posted all of the old flyers and photographs I’ve found of the band doing research for this post, most from the mid nineties. Some are old pictures of the band with people like Corpsegrinder, Jason Netherton of Misery Index, John Gallagher of Dying Fetus, and even one with the legendary Chuck Schuldinger. You can check all of those out here. If anyone in the band is pissed I’ve posted these let me know and I’ll take them down. If anyone reading this has got any of their demos from before Prophecies Of A Great Plague I’d love to hear them, leave a comment and maybe we can work out a way where I can get a copy. I hope you all enjoyed hearing about this once great band from the DC metal scene, they were too good to just be forgotten so hopefully this post will help keep their music alive.

Maryland Deathfest IX Recap

I’m not doing a super detailed Maryland Deathfest recap this year because I missed all of day three, Saturday, so I could attend the wedding of a good friend. However, I was there for day one, two and four and I shot a ton of pictures and video footage, including 70 minutes of the Neurosis set and 82 minutes of Coroner’s set (that footage is below). Each band I saw gets a blurb and a photograph and a video and you can hover over any image to see which band it is if you just want to skip to the ones you like. You can click on any of the photographs to see more images that I shot of that specific band. I hope you all enjoyed Maryland Deathfest as much as I did, or at least enjoy checking out all this stuff I shot for ya. You can see all the other pictures and videos that I didn’t use one this post on Flickr (here) and YouTube (here) if you want more of those. So anyways, here’s Maryland Deathfest IX over Memorial Day weekend 2011 as seen through my eyes (and lenses).

Day 1 – Thursday

The first day of the fest was all indoors on the main stage at Sonar and it was the only day that sold out. Most of the early sets were grind bands. Miasmal was playing when I got there. I didn’t know anything about them but they really impressed me. I was too far in the back to get any decent shots though so my first pics and videos from the fest are of Southern California grind act Lack Of Interest.

Lack Of Interest at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next up was Flesh Parade, a reunited grind band from New Orleans. Their vocalist made a lot of anti-gay comments and talked about how he loved smoking weed between almost every song. Flesh Parade had a bunch of people come out in various costumes (Santa, a surgeon, a Teletubby, a ketchup bottle, etc…) and start a crazy circle pit that involved dozens of glow sticks and inflatable animals and penises being thrown around the audience and onto the stage. These characters, dubbed the Party Patrol (picture here), would show up during various sets throughout the rest of the festival.

Flesh Parade at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was grind act Extortion who came all the way from Australia to play Deathest and they were pretty intense stop and start grindcore. When they finished playing the vocalist for Lack Of Interest came out on stage telling everyone to give them a bigger hand because he liked them so much (and he told us we all should too!).

Extortion at Maryland Deathfest IX

Extortion was followed by North Carolina based stoner act Buzzov•en, quite a contrast from the previous acts. These guys looked and talked like they walked out of a backwoods scene in Deliverance! The band isn’t super heavy but more of a groove base, sorta rough around the edges and definitely southern in sound. They were a lot slower than the grind bands before them and it seemed they would have fit better playing just before the night’s headliners, Cathedral.

Buzzov•en at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next to play was Tragedy, a rare appearance by a band people had been waiting to see. They’re not really a metal band at all but a very aggressive punk band along the lines of Discharge or early DRI. The band is originally from Tennessee but relocated to their current hometown, Portland, Oregon. People were pretty psyched to get to see them live and the audience energy level was at a peak for day one while Tragedy played.

Tragedy at Maryland Deathfest IX

Finally the headliner of the first night was Cathedral. They are from Coventry, England and their lead singer, Lee Dorian, is a legend of the doom metal genre (he was also the original vocalist for Napalm Death). The band had recently announced their plans to break up at the end of the year and this one off concert would be their last performance ever in the US. They played a set with a lot of their old classics as well as some fairly obscure material for fans to commemorate the occasion. It was a good start to the fest, and although the last three bands weren’t grind it still felt like a pre-fest day instead of being part of the rest of Maryland Deathfest proper, mostly due to the single indoor stage I suppose.

Cathedral at Maryland Deathfest IX

Day 2 – Friday

Day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the first day to use the two outdoor stages. I didn’t get there as the doors opened so missed the early bands but I did get there in time to see the Norwegian blackened thrash band Aura Noir play. They didn’t bring along the former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer to play with them so they were a three piece. However Apollyon, the current bass player for Immortal, was there and he introduced the band as the ugliest metal band in the world! The set was fast paced and pretty straight forward and what you’d expect from them, just sold black thrash metal.

Aura Noir at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I watched was the Raleigh, North Carolina band Corrosion Of Conformity. Their sound is somewhere between stoner rock, southern rock, thrash metal and punk. The band has been around since 1982 and this was their classic line up of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin but they were noticeably missing Pepper Keenan (he has been a member of the super group Down for some time but is still considered an official member of C.O.C.). The band seemed to really enjoy themselves on stage, the drummer, Mike Dean, seemed to be smiling the entire show. I guess they had more time to play than they had expected because at one point they asked if they could do another song and they were told they had another 20 minutes left to play!

Corrosion Of Conformity at Maryland Deathfest IX

After Corrosion Of Conformity played the sky looked like it was getting ready to storm. I wanted to see the Italian grind act Cripple Bastards playing on the indoor stage but I skipped it because I didn’t want to lose my spot in the front row to see the day’s headlining act, Neurosis. The Oakland, California based band rarely plays shows due to medical reasons of one of the members, and this was their first east coast concert in 10 years or so. When they were supposed to start playing the sky opened up and a thunderstorm rolled through, but the crowd didn’t disparage and actually started chanting Neurosis. I was worried they might not play because the outdoor stage’s roof was leaking water onto all the equipment. Their show was delayed but they did come out and the rain soaked crowd roared with approval. The lighting during their show was poor, the big lighting rigs had been covered due to the storm, but they did have a projector displaying all kinds of stuff on the band and the stage. The set was really awesome, and the vibe in the air after the storm only enhanced their performance. This was by far my favorite set of all of Maryland Deathfest IX. Neurosis has never been a highly technical band, they’ve got a sound you just sort of experience and their mastery of mood manipulation was in peak form during this rare performance. It’s hard to describe but luckily I’ve posted about 70 minutes of footage of them performing, check it out below.

Neurosis at Maryland Deathfest IX

Although Neurosis headlined the day there were still a few bands left to play inside after Neurosis. Their set ran later than expected because of the rain so I didn’t get to see a lot of Kylesa‘s set, who was already playing indoors. I’ve already seen them twice this year so that wasn’t the end of the world for me. The spiraling lights they have on during their show looked really good on the black walls at Sonar. Next up was Exhumed, a gore grind/death metal band from San Jose, California. This was their first US show in six years! To start their show they held up the backs of their guitars with each having one word of “Gore Fuckin’ Metal” on the back of it. Their set was brutal, as to be expected. Quite a fun show really. They brought out a real chain saw on stage at one point and I laughed as the guy swung it low in the photographer’s pit, making them all duck to avoid the whirring saw! At the end of the set Matt Harvey decapitated some dummy Gwar style on stage that sprayed blood all over himself. A nice way to end the set!

Exhumed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band to play on day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the Swedish black metal band Marduk. The stage was very dark and I wasn’t close enough to get any decent photos of them but I did shoot some video. They played mostly newer material (read: slower) and as usual they didn’t play my favorite song of theirs, Infernal Eternal. Their new stuff isn’t bad, I really liked their Rom 5:12 album, and they did play a song off Panzer Division Marduk, but the band has lost a lot of it’s raw energy and aggression over the years. Still, they’re pretty tight live and since their set started late they ended up playing right up to 2am! The venue even put on their last call lights while they played their final song, which you can see video of below.

Day 4 – Sunday

I got to Maryland Deathfest on Sunday just in time to see Anaheim, California’s Gravehill playing on one of the outdoor stages. These guys love fake blood! They’d eat random fake blood capsules throughout the show and it got all over them. Matt Harvey was back on stage with these guys (he also played with Exhumed and Cretin at the fest) but he broke a string midway through the set and didn’t come back for a few songs. And although he dumped blood all over himself at the end of Exhumed’s set, he was the only member of Gravehill who wasn’t covered in it at the end of the set. Anyways, their songs were black and thrashy with a bit of a punk attitude thrown in and the vocalist’s self deprecating banter between songs was entertaining too.

Gravehill at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw perform was the Texas based death/thrash three piece act Nokturnel. They were alright though they didn’t really do much that stood out to me. Their lead singer/guitarist was saying he felt particularly inspired after seeing his favorite band, Voivod, play the fest the night before but still they didn’t really do that much for me. It was death/thrash alright but I didn’t really find much interesting about it. Maybe I’d have liked it more if I knew some of their material.

Nokturnel at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I caught some of the Czech punkish thrash band Malignant Tumour playing, again with the party patrol people in the mosh pit. These guys looked right at home with the party patrol, wearing ridiculous costumes, fake beards and wigs that seemed like they were taken from the set of a Cheech And Chong movie. Their bass player was running all over the stage and it was such a spectacle to see that it was hard to take your eyes off them when they were on the stage. These guys were really a lot of fun live!

Malignant Tumour at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I had a problem, there were two bands I wanted to see playing at exactly the same time. I decided to try to catch some of both of their sets, and I started by watching Orange Goblin play on one of the outdoor stages. They’re from London, England and I’m pretty sure this was their first US concert. They’re a doom metal/stoner band and I’ll tell you they were totally awesome live! The vocalist, Ben Ward, had a great charisma on stage and got everyone pumped when he jumped off the stage and ran up to the crowd yelling “Let’s start a fucking riot!” at the beginning of their set. They really blew me away live and I didn’t want to leave their set early but I did because I wanted to catch another band indoors.

Orange Goblin at Maryland Deathfest IX

That other band playing at the same time was the brutal death metal act Skinless from upstate New York. This was the band’s last concert ever and they were breaking up once the show was over. For this special show they had the original line up play. I missed the early part of the set to see Orange Goblin but I wanted to make sure I saw the end of their last set. They kept the intensity turned up to the max while I there and the lead singer even did a stage dive into the crowd, chorded microphone still in hand, and continued to grunt lyrics until he was pushed back to the stage. They finished up their last brutal set and then they thanked the audience for the fun over years and then they all left the stage for the last time.

Skinless at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw was the reformed hardcore punk band Citizens Arrest. I really only saw a bit of their set because I needed to head out and get some food so I could make it back in time to get a good spot for the night’s headliner, Coroner. They were ok but I didn’t really know much of their material but I could tell the punk fans were enjoying the chance to see them live.

Citizens Arrest at Maryland Deathfest IX

When I got back from eating I the 80s thrash band Nuclear Assault was starting their set on one of the outdoor stages as the sun was setting. They played some of their old classic songs mixed with newer material. Their bass player Dan Lilker mentioned he remembered playing in the exact same spot last year, though he was performing with Autopsy then. The set was good but I left early because I wanted to be in the front row for the night’s headliner, who was up next.

Nuclear Assault at Maryland Deathfest IX

The last night’s headliner was the Swiss technical thrash band Coroner. They had broken up 15 years before and though they had recently played a festival in Europe this was their first US concert in 20 years! The trio was the original line up, though they also had a guy playing keyboads on the stage but I don’t know what his name is as the band doesn’t list him as an official or even live only member. They were on the same stage Neurosis had been two nights before but they had all the cool lighting rigs working as well as fog machines. That stuff all helped set the mood for an awesome set by one of the legends of underground metal. Their set was never boring and they really killed it live. They performed two encores at the end of their set, one of which was a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze. I shot a lot of video of them live from up front, over 80 minutes worth actually, all of which you can see below.

Coroner at Maryland Deathfest IX





After Coroner finished their headlining set outdoors there were still a few bands left to play indoors. The first of these last three bands was the one I was most excited to see, the technical death metal band from Spain, Wormed. I never thought I’d have the chance to see these guys play live so this was pretty cool for me. They played what was the heaviest set I saw all weekend. Nonstop brutality from start to finish and just a crazy amount of energy. I’m really glad I got to see these guys tear up the stage, totally awesome!

Wormed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was the Dutch grind act Last Days Of Humanity. They were pretty damn intense but by this point I was starting to get a bit tired (it had been a long four days!). I shot a bit of video before I went and hung back a bit during their set in the hopes that I could rest my feet and get up closer later for the last band of the night.

Last Days Of Humanity at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band of Maryland Deathfest IX was the mysterious band Ghost from Sweden. Unlike pretty much any of the bands at Maryland Deathfest they sing all their songs with clean vocals. They aren’t very brutal and their sound lies somewhere between Mercyful Fate and 70s Ghost at Maryland Deathfest IXrock. The band stays anonymous though you could see members of In Solitude and Repugnant (both bands who played the fest this year) on the stage during sound check which would lead one to believe Ghost is made up of members of those also Swedish bands. Anyways, I thought the crowd for Ghost would be a bit more laid back due to their type of music as well as it being the end of the fest and people just being tired but I was wrong. The crowd was really psyched to witness the band’s first US concert and they became really rough, while at the same time singing along to every word. It was all a bit ridiculous really, and the costumes on stage just sort of added to that. Apparently Ghost has a rather ravenous fan base and I simply don’t care enough about them to deal with that just to see them up close so I ended up hanging a bit farther back by this guy in an elaborate Cthulhu costume. That’s right, hanging out with Cthuhlu was safer for all my cameras than getting fairly close to Ghost performing live, wtf? I was hoping the set would be more impressive but with the audience singing along so loud it was drowning out not only the singer, Papa Emeritus, but the rest of the band as well. The set was short too, lasting only around 40 minutes. They have released just one album and I was hoping they’d play maybe some covers or something to fill out the set list some but they didn’t (though they did play a Beatles cover two nights later in New York). For a band with so much hype I was hoping for a better show, but it was just OK.

After the show was over I quickly left the venue and got to my car. Apparently after Ghost played there was an incident with security guards beating someone and then pepper spraying innocent bystanders for whatever reason. I luckily avoided that and only read about it online the next day. A shame that the fest had to end on a sour note like that, perhaps they’ll have better security next year. In all the fest was fun as usual and while I missed seeing some of the bands on Saturday I still had a great time at this year’s Deathfest. I got some cool merch, drank some beers, got some good footage and ran into a bunch of friends all over the place. They’re saying that they are planning something really special for next year since it will be the 10th anniversary of the festival and I can’t wait to see what that entails (and don’t worry, I’ll pass on the info to you all too as soon as I find out). Sorry this post has taken so long to get up but I had thousands of pictures and videos to sort through to put this together. Thanks for reading it and stay tuned for more going on in the local metal scene from DCHeavyMetal.com

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 Ilsa gig at Hole In The Sky

Sunday night, the 9th of January, I got to see my first metal show of 2011. The show was local death/doom band Ilsa playing with the lo-fi doom duo Olde Growth from Boston. There was another opening act, a new local band named Spirals but I didn’t get there in time to see them. I’d never been to this DIY venue in DC, Hole In The Sky, which just started hosting concerts in June of 2010. They seem to get more shows that are punk and hardcore, but they do get some metal too. Ilsa is a band that seems to bring metal to people who aren’t really the typical metal head. The audience was different than what you’d see at a typical Jaxx show, but a fan of metal is a friend of mine. The set up was interesting, you have to walk down an alley to find the front door which is rather nondescript, a small wooden sign above it lets you know you’ve found the right place. You go up a dark flight of stairs and open another door and you’re in what is basically the large common area of an apartment. Instead of a lot of furniture, they’ve got a nice open space set up in the corner for bands to play. The walls are covered in spray paint and other designs, and there’s a corner with a place to hang bicycles. They also have an outdoor rooftop that people can smoke on, but I didn’t spend a lot of time out there cause it was cold as shit. It’s probably much nicer in the summer though. There were a couple of the local neighborhood kids who had wandered in and were running around underfoot for a bit, even playing with some of the instruments between bands. A small table with merch was set up too. Someone came around asking for $5 donations to the show, but the exchange was very friendly. The place was pretty welcoming really, and while I didn’t really know anyone there, I did find a few people to strike up conversations with.

The first band to play was named Spirals, but as I said before they had finished playing by the time I got there. Olde Growth was setting up when I walked in, and I didn’t really know anything about them. Usually at these DIY shows there’s at least one touring band, and a couple local acts to help draw people to the show. Most of the money collected goes to the touring bands, even though the local acts tend to get the better draw. This might seem unfair, but ideally they are trying to help pay for those bands to tour, so people can see bands they wouldn’t normally get to, and ideally the local bands will be able to use the same network when they want to play in other cities. This show was no different, and since I didn’t know anything about Olde Growth other than what the flyer stated I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wouldn’t call them the best band I’ve ever seen but they were worth getting there early enough to watch. They are a very bassy doom duo. Their songs weren’t overly complex, but they did have a sort of epic feel to them. They really brought the tempo down to a crawl but still managed to bring things back up. The set seemed really short though, maybe the songs were long so it seemed that way, but I think they only played about four songs total. Still, it was a pretty entertaining set and they were a good act to play with Ilsa.

Ilsa was playing last, and they were the main reason I was there, and you could tell by the size of the audience that I wasn’t the only one with that sentiment. I’d been meaning to catch them for a while, glad I finally got a chance to. They’re called a death/doom metal band, but I think they’re more on the doom side of that with some sludge in there too. Whatever they are, they’re really heavy. They’ve made a name for themselves in the local DC scene, though they seem to be known more in the world of local hardcore fans than the typical metal circles. I think that’s starting to change as their latest album, Tutti il Colori del Buio, is starting to get noticed, and for good reason. The show was a bit different than their studio work. The songs are a bit dirtier sounding, and a bit more energetic live. The cleaner studio production gives way to a more raw vibe, and honestly I thought it was great. Plus really feeling that heavy distortion shake through you is just something ya don’t get from a recording. I enjoyed the songs that I recognized as well as the older material from their first album, which I don’t know. And while half the band had their backs to the audience most of the show, the crowd seemed pretty mesmerized by the performance. Really it’s not so much about the band’s stage presence as the sheer crushing sound they produce. Ilsa finished their set but they were talked into playing another song before calling it a night, which was pretty cool of them. It was a good show and I’m glad I made it out to see them play. They’re a great local metal act and I can’t wait to see them again, it was a hell of a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen them yet you should, they’re quickly becoming one of DC’s must see acts. I did get a few videos, posted below, one of Olde Growth and three of Ilsa, but they’re all pretty dark. The audio is decent, but Charred Resistors should have the audio from the entire show posted soon. I’ve got more pics on my Flickr page too. It was a great way to start off my year of metal concerts, a cool local act I’ve been meaning to check out in a venue I’ve never been to before. Lets hope the rest of 2011 is as fun.