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

Maryland Deathfest IX Survival Guide

Maryland Deathfest IX is almost upon us, and for those of you coming to this year’s event in Baltimore, Maryland on any or all of the days from Thursday, May 26th through Sunday, May 29th, 2011, there are some things you’ll want to be aware of and this survival guide is to help you have the most fun and least amount confusion at MDF this year. Please note that I’m not an official representative of either Maryland Deathfest nor Sonar, but this is my advice after having attended the previous three. Please note that Sonar is open and has their liquor license. By the way, I’ve posted quick reference schedules for each day that will load fast on a phone. Bookmark the following links to use at the fest: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday and http://bit.ly/mdffriday and http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday and http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

First off, the free parking lot fills up fast! If you want to park in the free parking across the street from Sonar, you’ll have to get there early. Sonar will shut down Saratoga Street in front of the venue to put the outdoor stages and such, and you will have to enter the parking lot from the rear. Last year there were a bunch of local homeless junkies that started hanging out in the parking lot during the fest so it’s probably not somewhere you want to pre-game or tailgate at before you go into the show. When the lot is full there are several local pay lots, or metered street parking you can use also. In Baltimore the meters run until midnight, but you don’t have to bring quarters as they will accept credit cards to pay. I think they’ll let you pay for 5 hours at a time. You will be able to leave and re-enter the venue to feed the meters or whatever, as long as you keep your wrist band on. Depending on what kind of ticket you paid for, 4 day, 3 day or single day, you will have different colored wrist bands on. Those of you with multiple day wrist bands be careful! I saw some of the junkies roaming around inside Deathfest last year wearing wrist bands that had surely been stolen from people, these guys certainly are pick pockets and thieves so I really cannot stress enough that you should avoid them. Also, when all the bands are done playing at the end of each night, the staff will herd everyone out and you will find the parking lot area swarmed with police also telling you to get the hell out. Don’t get so drunk that you’ll argue with, fight, vomit on or otherwise annoy the police, just be ready to leave when the show is over.

Ok, so you showed up early and got a parking spot, now what? Get in line! There was a very long and time consuming line to get in on the first day of Deathfest last year. The first problem was they needed to issue all the wrist bands on this day, so everyone was in line giving their tickets to the door guys. They were also carding people to see who could drink. On top of that they also went through everyone’s bags, including purses, backpacks and camera equipment bags. This meant the time to get in the door was a good 45 minutes for me, and the doors were already open for a couple hours when I got there! Now on the next couple of days the line wasn’t as bad because people with their wristbands could just skip the line and walk up to security. This year is a bit different, and I’m not sure how it will play out exactly. Since the Thursday pre-fest is considered part of the rest of the fest, and you can get a 4 day pass this year, the wrist band line might not be as long, since some will be entering for the first time on Thursday, and 3 day pass holders will be coming in on Friday. On Thursday and Friday I recommend arriving at the venue a good 45 minutes to an hour before the first band you want to see plays. You may get in quicker than that but it’s better to check out a few random bands than miss part of the set of one you wanted to see. Also, I’m not totally sure what you can and can’t bring in, but I’d guess bringing food, drinks or alcohol, or weapons of any kind will be banned. They will allow any kind of still image camera, including SLRs and DSLRs. Keep in mind that Maryland Deathfest allows both moshing and crowd surfing, and audience members will be doing this most of the day. There are no photo passes this year so if you want to bring your expensive camera gear you’re allowed to, but be warned that there will be crowd surfers ready to destroy your cameras for most bands, so I recommend keeping your distance from the front, especially towards the center. Also, on Friday through Sunday there will be 3 stages all going, often with two bands playing at a time, so if you want to get to see your favorite band up close (for taking pictures or not), you’re going to have to miss watching part or all of other bands’ sets to get there early enough to get close to the front.

Note that Thursday is sold out! This day of the fest is inside Sonar only, there are no outdoor stages in use on Thursday. Originally it was supposed to be the pre-fest again, but they decided to make it part of the rest of the fest and started selling 4 day passes as well. All single day Thursday passes are sold out, as well as 4 day passes. You can still purchase 3 day passes (for Friday, Saturday and Sunday), or any other single day tickets here. They will be held at will call (pick them up at the door when you arrive). You can order online and there are no fees, so the price they list is the actual ticket price. There are also official Maryland Deathfest t-shirts and hoodies (at very reasonable prices) that you can buy here and pick up at Deathfest, or buy when you are there. There will be an official Maryland Deathfest merch booth, and they will have these as well as copies of the Maryland Deathfest: The Movie II on DVD there. MDF: The Movie II is is a DVD by Handshake Inc that has live footage from lots of the bands while performing at last year’s Deathfest. You can pre-order those here if you’d like and pick it up at the show. You can also get this year’s official screen print poster (the picture of the demon guy with the knife things in his hands) from Warlord Clothing, though presales are done now. They’re limited to 250 so get one early if you want one! Aside from all this, many of the bands who are playing the fest will have their merch for sale here, and I recommend checking back each day as different bands come to the fest on different days (depending on what day they are playing) and will often have their merch available only in small quantities and for one day only here. This year there is also an official Maryland Deathfest program, which will have a listing of the running order of the bands as well as interviews with 19 of the bands playing this year’s fest and really has a nice layout and some great photographs. You can buy a digital version (in either PDF or iPad format) for $1 or get a paper copy for $12.50 that includes the digital download also. However, if you pre-order (here) it you cannot pick it up at the fest, it will be mailed to you. If you’d like it in hand there you should bring cash to buy it at MDF. There will also be tons of vendors setting up shop there to sell their wares, mostly vinyl, CDs, tapes, rare demos and band merch from tons of bands, including those playing the fest and those not. There is a lot of bootleg merch here so if that pisses you off be aware of that. They will probably have the smaller indoor stage area (not the main stage) set up for vendors too, and sometimes you’ll see artists doing signings at various booths. Bring cash! Some might take credit cards but I’m betting most will want cash.

UPDATE: I shot some pictures of some of the exclusive merch for sale. There’s an In Solitude shirt you can see the front of here and the back of here. There’s also an exclusive Ghost shirt you can see the front of here and the back of here. There was a limited edition Marduk CD you can see here. And sorry, I forgot to ask about the prices of the shirts! Oh, they also had a place where you could get your face painted corpse paint style for $5, and you can see that here.

As far as food is concerned, last year there was only one food vendor inside the fest gates. I got a cold burger and bag of chips from them for around $10 the first evening and I never ordered from them again. They were selling bottles of water for the same price the bar inside (about 10 feet away) was selling PBR cans! Total rip off. Two years ago they had several food vendors, so maybe they’ll have more options this year. If not, then I recommend venturing outside the venue for lunch and dinner breaks. UPDATE: There is only one food vendor inside the Deathfest gates. Their menu is kinda pricey but it does have more items than last year, including several vegetarian options. I shot pictures of the two part menu and you can see them here and here.
The little diner on the corner of Saratoga was open last year during Deathfest and they had decent breakfast and lunch food, as far as diners go. There is also a convenience store that is, if you are facing the front door of Sonar, to the right of the venue on the corner. It has a smaller sandwhich shop in the back of it, I had them make me a gyro that was ok last year. My favorite place that I found, the South Beach Sandwicherie, is about 1.5 blocks past the convenience store, also on Saratoga. It’s pretty cheap, around $10 to eat, and they make excellent sandwiches, hot or cold, with cold cuts and your choice of bread or croissant. The staff loves the MDF crowd and they usually have Maryland Deathfest specials as well as extended hours. The wait can be a bit long sometimes, particularly during peak eating hours as each sandwich is made to order by hand, and they don’t sell alcohol, but really this is my favorite place to eat that is within walking distance of Sonar.

UPDATE: I shot a picture of the alcohol prices the bartenders are using at Maryland Deathfest IX and you can see it here: http://flic.kr/p/9MjWk6 It’s cash only, though they do have ATMs in the venue.

Another thing to notice is that the headliners DO NOT play last each night. The outdoor stages close before the indoor stage, and the headliners close out the outdoor stages. Unlike a lot of metal concerts and festivals, MDF is run very closely to schedule. They don’t let bands stay longer than their scheduled time very often, even if their set was started late due to no fault of the bands (such as technical difficulties). I’ve posted easy to remember links to a schedule for each day with the bands in the order they are playing. They’re just HTML and should load quickly on any phone with internet access, so you may want to add them to you bookmarks now. The addresses are: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday and http://bit.ly/mdffriday and http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday and http://bit.ly/mdfsunday with all letters in lower case. Keep in mind there are always some problems the day of that adjust the schedules some, such as bands not being let into the country, showing up late, missing flights/gear, etc… and I’ll do what I can to keep them up to date as best I can.

Here are a few sets I think are of note. This is apparently the final US concert for doom metal legends Cathedral as the band has announced they are breaking up after they put out one more album, around the end of the year. They have no US tours scheduled so this is probably it for US concerts. The grind band playing early Saturday named Creative Waste is from Saudi Arabia. I’ve become quite a fan of middle eastern metal in general so hey, it’s cool to me at least. Who knows when you’ll get another chance to see them. The line up for Corrosion Of Conformity is the Animosity era line up of Mike Dean, Reed Mullen and Woody Weatherman. Sunday will be the final show ever for death metal band Skinless and they will have their original line up in place for this show. Apparently Coroner played a recent show in Switzerland consisting mostly of newer material, but the guys running MDF have said the band will play a show with more older classics at Deathfest.

There are several bands that were supposed to play that have had to back out for one reason or another. Those bands are: Death Breath, Deströyer 666, Devourment, Goatsnake, Hatred Surge and Lock Up and Regurgitate. Again, this list may grow when bands can’t show up as planned for one reason or another.

If this isn’t enough metal for you, there are a few prefest shows going on. Most notably Anhedonist, High Priest, Oak, Ilsa and Midnight Eye playing at the Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring, Maryland on Wednesday 25 May 2011. It’s just $6 and starts at 7pm. You will need a car to get there if you are staying in Baltimore as Silver Spring is a suburb of Washington DC. More info on the bands and this show on the event’s Facebook page here.

There is also a MDF prefest show in Brooklyn, New York featuring several of the MDF bands as well as DC’s own Magrudergrind. It’s also on Wednesday 25 May 2011 and is at the Public Assembly. The bands playing are Cripple Bastards, Magrudergrind, The Kill, Noisear and Shitstorm. It’s $15, ages 18+ and starts at 8pm. More info on the event’s Facebook page here.

Saturday the Hexagon is having what they’re calling a Ghetto Deathfest in Baltimore, basically a metal show for people unwilling to shell out for an expensive MDF ticket. This show is on a sliding scale of $6 to $10 and you can bring your own beer and also food to throw on the grill cause this is also a bbq! There’s 9 local bands playing, including a personal favorite of mine, Balor’s Eye. The venue says it starts at 2pm but the flyer I saw says 3pm. I doubt they’ll turn ya away either way.
UPDATE: Since Hexagon has been abruptly shut down, the Ghetto Deathfest has been moved to the Baltimore Free Farm. Website is here and the address is 3510 Ash St, Baltimore, MD 21211. I’ve gotten word the doors are at 3pm and the first band is at 5pm. It’s still BYOB at the new location.

I’m really excited for this year’s fest, it’s always a blast so if you see me walking around feel free to say hi. Please don’t damage my camera in the pit and stay tuned for lots of pics and videos after the fest is done. You can check out my extensive recap of last year’s fest here. I won’t be there Saturday because a good friend of mine is getting married, but I’ll be there Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I’ll see you there!

Maryland Deathfest VIII Recap

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

Day 1: Friday 28 May 2010

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

Day 2: Saturday 29 May 2010

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

Day 3: Sunday 30 May 2010

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

Maryland Deathfest The Movie Presale

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

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

Maryland Deathfest VIII Running Order Announced (sort of)

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

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

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

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

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

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