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 Metal Monday at So Addictive

So Addictive Lounge is a small venue out in Herndon, Virginia that’s been having a weekly Metal Monday showcasing mostly local metal bands. As such, I’ve heard a lot about this place since most of the local bands I try to follow seem to play there sooner or later. This evening, Monday the 15th of November 2010, they were having a free show so I figured I’d head out and catch the bands playing and finally get to check out the venue. So Addictive isn’t a very large venue, it’s really more of a bar with a small stage set up. The stage wasn’t large enough for anything besides the drum kits, so for all the bands playing everyone but the drummer was on the floor with the audience. It’s kind of cool because the audience is right there with the band while they play. The room got very dark, but that wasn’t bad considering the bands playing this night. The beer selection wasn’t good for a bar though, they had nothing on tap and their bottles were almost all yellow beers (they did have Guiness and Yeungling, but when I ordered one of the latter, it tasted so skunky I didn’t bother getting another). Also, this was the night the Washington Redskins were embarrassed by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football to the tune of 59 to 28, so the metal was a good way to become distracted from that disaster on the TVs in the bar.

The first band up was a band called Frank Palkoski, or Palkoski, or the Seventh Gate (or all of those?). I’m not really sure what they prefer to go by really but that’s not a big deal. I thought they were going to be a black metal band judging by their logo on the flyer and the other bands playing, but they were actually a three piece grind band more similar in sound to Pig Destroyer than any of the other bands playing that night. They cranked the fog machine up and really let loose with the intensity. They started the show off like a blaring alarm clock on a morning you don’t want to wake up, if that alarm clock was an air raid siren. Their sporadic bursts of raw energy were broken up by some cool guitar riffs and drum beats, often suddenly interrupted with screams of anger. It was entertaining and a good way to start off the show. They had some burned CDs of their material they were giving out in clear plastic Ziploc bags they’d placed on the floor in front of the mic stands and I made sure to pick one up. They also threw a couple of shirts to random people in the audience, which was cool.

The next band up was Archael, who I’d also never seen before. They are a standard black metal band heavily influenced by the early 90s Norwegian scene and they had some catchy riffs. The singer got a bit rowdy and jumped in the crowd a bit to mosh I guess, which was fine until he came over to the side and pushed me holding my camera. I put the camera away and grabbed a beer after that, I’m not trying to damage my gear. Regardless, they did have a lot of energy and the lead guitarist was getting people as excited about the music as the vocalist was. They’ve got their sound down pretty well, though they could use a bit more variation in the songs. They were good songs, but you can tell they are still growing as a band and I think once they change up the formula a bit they’ll have a really interesting set to play. I’d like to see which direction these guys go as they stray more from their influences and form a more distinct sound for themselves in the future, as they really do know how play some fast and brutal black metal.

The next band to play, Apothys, I’ve seen a few times now, and I will see them play again next weekend at Jaxx. That’s not a bad thing at all since they’re really fun to watch live. I won’t get too into the details here as I’ll probably cover them more in the next review (and I’ve already reviewed their set at the Blood & Fire Festival here). This set was pretty fun though, it was cool to see the band interact with the audience due to the lack of a proper stage. I mean just look at this shot of guitarist Eddie Misery leading the crowd members at headbanging, while standing in the audience and playing guitar! They played their own style of blackened death metal very well and the crowd really got into the show. Their final song, Of Writhing Eyes, seemed to really get everyone going nuts. It was another great performance by the leaders of Northern Virginia’s death metal scene.

The final band of the night was Immortal Decay, another band I’ve seen a few times now. By this point it was getting pretty late and there weren’t as many people there. That’s a shame because these guys are really starting to come into their own as a band. The room was very dark when they played, and the band didn’t screw around talking between songs too much. They played a cover of Satyricon‘s classic Mother North which everyone seemed to enjoy (how can you like black metal and not?). Their vocalist, Viktor Osorio, kept it interesting, even rolling around on the ground a bit (careful with those spikes!). The set seemed short though and sort of abruptly ended, maybe due to time constraints at the venue as it was well after 1am by the time they finished. They were fun as usual, and you can catch them opening for Watain at Sonar in Baltimore on Nov 30th (more details on my upcoming concerts calendar page) if you want to see them in action. If you can, buy a ticket from the band members as they have them for sale without service fees.

In all the show was a lot of fun. Not a bad way to spend a rainy night in Northern Virginia, even though Herndon is a bit of a drive for me. It’s nice to see more of these local metal nights popping up around the area, and I hope to attend more in the future, just wish I could bring my own beer to this venue! I’ve got videos posted below, but since it was so dark for most of the sets, and my camera doesn’t adjust to low lighting well, they’re mostly just good for getting a chance to listen to the bands yourself. Enjoy!

Maryland Deathfest VIII Recap

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

Day 1: Friday 28 May 2010

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

Day 2: Saturday 29 May 2010

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

Day 3: Sunday 30 May 2010

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

Album Review of Heirs To Thievery by Misery Index

Well, this is my first music review blog post. I doubt I’ll do these as regularly as my concert reviews but they will probably show up from time to time. Just for future reference, I’m only going to review material by local bands or bands that at least have some sort of tie to the area, in this case the new album Misery Index just put out May 11th, Heirs To Thievery. If you’re in a local band and want me to check out your stuff for possible review here, you can send me an email with a download link at DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com Now I’ll get started with the review here, but first some background…

Misery Index was originally formed when most of Dying Fetus left that band, I suppose due to a falling out of some sort, and Jason Netherton, Sparky Voyles and Kevin Talley started a new band. Jason and Sparky are still in the band but Kevin has gone on to be in Dååth, and you may have seen the video of his audition for Slayer floating around on the net several years ago too. Now I have to say when I first heard that Kevin had left I was rather worried because I think he’s just a fucking fun drummer to listen to play. The first time I saw Misery Index after he left I was unsure how a new drummer would fill in those shoes, but Adam Jarvis totally blew me away to the point that he wasn’t just replacing Kevin, he was surpassing him! He really brings the drumming intensity to another level for the band. They’ve also had a few other guitarists go in and out the door too, but their line up seems pretty stable now with the inclusion of Mark Kloeppel several years ago. This album is a good example of how they are moving forward with this line up. Now on to the music on the album itself…

The album starts off with a quick song, Embracing Extinction, and it’s relentless. It’s under 2 minutes long and really sets the tone for the album. Fast, aggressive, brutal and short. The whole album is under 35 minutes long, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A full hour of this sort of intensity can get monotonous and I think they did a good job of giving the album enough variation that it doesn’t get stale and ending it before it does. While some of their previous work had some slower, I guess groovier parts and riffs, there isn’t as much of that on this one. Even one of the slower tempo songs, Carrion Creed, still has a nice rolling drum beat in the back that makes you want to step on the gas petal. There’s certainly a good mix of death, grind and punk in this album, as would be expected in a Misery Index album. And while they will probably always draw comparisons to Dying Fetus, they certainly have more of a punk edge than Dying Fetus does. While that may be so, this is by no means a crossover album, and I think there’s less of a ‘core sound in there than on their previous album, Traitors. This album seems more aggressive than that one too. One thing I don’t particularly like about this album is the way the vocals sound. I don’t know if Jason is using some weird distortion with reverb or a layering effect or what, but sometimes it comes out pretty weird. If you listen to the chorus in The Spectator you’ll hear what I’m saying. Maybe it’s one of the other guys helping out on backup vocals, but combined with the awkward tone the leads have on this one, it’s sort of distracting. The final song on the album, Day Of The Dead, has part of it’s chorus in Spanish and the vocal sound combined with the repetitive lyrics in the chorus kind of ruin that song for me. But this isn’t American Idol music here, the vocals aren’t the main attraction and great songs like You Lose and the title track more than make up for it on this solid album. I really can’t wait to hear some of this material live. I missed their last area concert when they kicked off the Facemelter Tour with Dying Fetus at Sonar in Baltimore this month, but maybe I’ll get to see them play the Ottobar on Friday 11 June 2010 with Goatwhore and Revocation. You can get more info on that on my Upcoming Concerts page.

I’m not particularly big on reading lyrics to metal songs, I tend to like deciphering what I can for the most part on my own through listening, but for this review I looked at them a bit. I think a good way to get a general idea of what an album is really about is to check out the title track’s lyrics. On Heirs To Thievery the title track seems to be a Chomsky inspired critique about how much of what is in the history books taught to us in school is propaganda, particularly in how the US was stolen from the natives. Thus, we who are living in the US now are the heirs to the theft of their land/culture. Well, that’s what I get from it at least, and you can see this in the album cover art too. I particularly liked the line: “Eliminate the natives (and leave them a museum!)” If you’ve ever seen the National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian museum on the National Mall in Washington DC from the outside, you’ll know it looks like modern European abstract architecture, but it’s covered in yellow stucco (or something). I guess the yellow stucco is representative of native american culture? The song’s lyrics sort of remind me of the Iron Maiden song Run To The Hills in that sense, but also because it’s kind of odd hearing that point of view from a band of white guys. In this song they also mention how the expansion of the US was built on slavery. Much of the other songs’ lyrics on the album are pretty typical political death/grind fare, though there is nothing wrong with that. This post is long enough already so you’ll have to find them yourself if you want to know the details. I actually like reading Jason’s blog Demockery, you can check that out here, which will probably give you a better idea of his views which are nothing if not well thought out.

Overall, I wouldn’t call this the best Misery Index album ever, but it’s still damn good and certainly worth getting, especially if you like any of their stuff already because you’ll certainly enjoy this one too. It still has that classic Misery Index sound but they keep progressing as a band too, enough to keep it from getting stale. Fans of bands like Nasum, modern Napalm Death and Brutal Truth will love this, but even if you’re just looking for something to simply bang your head to, their trademark combination of catchy riffs and sheer brutality will definitely do the trick.

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: