Maryland Deathfest XV Non-Survival Guide

MDF XV Pre Fest at Metro Gallery

OK guys I’m not doing the normal MDF survival guide this year, so now it’s the non-survival guide. Since there are no outdoor stages this year and the fest will only be at Rams Head Live and the Baltimore Soundstage I figure you guys don’t really need things like a map and tips on how to get around and such. If you really want to you can check last year’s post for that kind stuff (here). That said, there’s still a ton of info you may want to know, and I’ve also picked several bands at each venue on each day to write about at the end of this post, almost all of them have some material to stream to give you an idea of what they sound like or just help get you in the mood for this year’s MDF! First up, here’s some quick links you may want handy.

Official Maryland Deathfest:
website
Facebook
Facebook event page
Pre-Fest Party Facebook event page
Instagram

Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)
Both Uber and Lyft operate in Baltimore. They’re usually cheaper than a cab and you can download their apps for free from your app store.

Schedules

Tap/click on them to see them larger.

MDF XV Thursday schedule

MDF XV Friday schedule

MDF XV Saturday schedule

MDF XV Sunday schedule

Getting Tickets

Tickets are still available and there are VIP tickets available as well. VIP tickets do not get you in the door, they are an extra ticket you buy in addition to your regular ticket. A VIP ticket gets you access to a sectioned off area to the side of the stage at Rams Head Live, access to the VIP bar, and will receive a voucher for a festival T-shirt of your choice. VIP does not have any benefit at Baltimore Soundstage. You can still get regular or VIP tickets from Eventbrite (here) or help the makers of the documentary “Welcome To Deathfest” in their crowdfuning endeavor by purchasing tickets from them at a discounted price here. They have both single day and multiple day tickets available in the “incentives” column on the right.

Tips

As always, I highly recommend bringing and wearing earplugs! Tinnitus isn’t cool or fun and even if you’re just going to one day of the fest that’s still a ton of bands hammering your ears all day. If you’re going multiple days you might want to even bring a bunch of extra ear plugs because they’re gonna get gross after a while.

You will be able to get your 4-day pass wristband at the entrance of Rams Head Live starting at 2pm on Thursday. You will not be able to get your wristband at the pre-fest show this year.

If you’re on Instagram I highly recommend following the official account @deathfests as local photographer Josh Sisk will be taking over the account during MDF again this year and he posts incredible great shots of the bands while the fest is going on.

While you’re at it, follow me on Instagram as well as I’ll be posting photos and videos throughout the weekend too. Find me at @DCMetalChris on Instagram!

Rams Head Live does not allow backpacks, but you can check them at the coat check for a couple bucks. Baltimore Soundstage will search your backpack and/or purse, and usually pat you down as well.

Merch and Vendors

There are no food vendors this year. Bummer, I know, but there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. I highly recommend Pratt Street Ale House who has great food, a wide variety of excellent craft beers, and MDF attendees get 10% off their entire bill (just show them your wristband). Their address is 206 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201.

There will be merch vendors inside both venues and also just outside of Rams Head Live in the Powerplant Area. Here’s the list of merch vendors: ChopoBrujos, DabLizard, Dark Descent Records, Decibel Magazine, Dave’s Metal, Horror Pain Gore Death (HPGD is at Soundstage on Friday only), Indie Merch, JSR Merchandising, Mexico Steel, Pizza Party Printing, Relapse Records, Sabi, Season of Mist, Sevared Records, Speed Clothes, Utterly Somber and Vienna Music Exchange.

Bands will arrive and leave throughout the weekend so if you see band merch you like one day don’t hesitate to buy it, it may be gone before the fest is over as not every band stays for the entire fest, or even more than their 1 day there. Guess what, they take their merch with them. Most of these guys will want cash so I suggest bringing a good amount to avoid ATM fees. Some bands won’t have their own merch guy and will instead opt to sell their merch at the official MDF booth so be sure to check back there often. Speaking of which…

MDF XV tshirt

The official MDF merch booth will be inside Rams Head Live. It will have t-shirts, hoodies and posters as well as metal keychains, pins and Zippo lighters. There will be no preorders for posters and shirts this year. It looks like the shirts come in two different designs and three colors: black, white and red. The posters feature artwork by Lucas Ruggieri and are limited to 150. You can see the poster image at the very top of this post. The custom made Deathvests (seen below) by Kylla Custom Rock Wear will be for sale for $200 at the MDF booth as well.

Announcing our 2017 Maryland #Deathvests – our official festival merchandise collaboration with #MarylandDeathfest @deathfests this year! We have #handmade a limited edition 10 high quality distressed #genuineleather #studded vests in sizes S – XL (2 S, 2 M, 3 L, 3 XL) which will be at the festival merchandise booth Thurs-Sun! We are also taking ONLINE PREORDERS for these, for in-person pickup from me at the fest! Once they are gone no more will ever be made! Extremely high quality durable #leather- each varies slightly in appearance due to the distressing process! $200 each – send your size! Paypal or credit card for preorder: http://www.paypal.me/kylla/200 (or email kyllacustomrockwear@gmail.com for credit card) #KyllaCustomRockWear #MDF #extrememetal #bikervest #motorcyclevest #blackmetal #deathmetal #smallbusiness #metalfashion #metalclothing #deathfest

A post shared by Kim Dylla / Kylla Custom Wear (@kyllacustomrockwear) on

The official MDF Pre-Fest Party is at a different venue this year, the Metro Gallery. It is headlined by Ruinous, a death metal band featuring Immolation guitarist Alex Bouks. Tickets are $15 advance, $17 at the door and available here. Sorry kids, it’s ages 18+ only and doors open at 7pm. Note that MDF wristbands will not be available at the Pre-Fest show this year. For more info visit the Pre-Fest Party’s Facebook event page here.

MDF XV Pre-Fest Party

This year I decided to write about certain bands, several at each venue on each day. Hopefully this sheds some light on bands you might not know about before you get to see them at the fest. This isn’t a “favorites” list or something, some bands I just didn’t feel like writing about and it isn’t because they’re not good, it’s because I only have so much free time. Check out what I’ve written about bands for the days/venues you have tickets for below, and stream some of their songs to get ready for Maryland Deathfest XV!

Thursday at Rams Head Live

The Thursday of Maryland Deathfest at Rams Head Live tends to focus on stoner and doom bands the past few years and this year is no exception.

Samothrace at 5:50 – This Seattle based doom band plays very long and very slow songs, though their sound can evolve into faster paced segments as well. If you’re into stuff like Winter, Grief and Bell Witch, you’ll want to check them out.

Dopethrone at 6:55 – Dopethrone, named after the Electric Wizard album, is a stoner/sludge band from Montreal. They were originally supposed to play MDF last year but for whatever reason they canceled.

SubRosa at 8:00 – This stoner band from Salt Lake City that blends stoner rock with post rock. Three women form the core of this ethereal sounding band which includes a violin player.

Conan at 9:05 – Definitely more barbarian than O’Brien, Conan is a stoner/doom band from Liverpool, England, making a rare appearance stateside at MDF. These guys are crushing live, perfectly blending huge riffs and stomping rhythms.

Acid King at 10:10 – Acid King is a stoner band from San Francisco that has only in the past couple years become active again. They play some Sabbath worshipping riffs but with the beautiful vocals of Lori Steinberg soaring over their fuzzy riffs.

Tiamat at 11:25 – I’m honestly not sure what to expect of a Tiamat set at MDF. They headliners of the first night at Rams Head Live have changed their sound many times over the years, at this point they haven’t put out an album since 2012. They might play a set more focused on the death/doom metal style of their early years or the soft and moody Wildhoney era material or the more polished gothic metal style they eventually ended up with, or maybe play things from various eras.

Thursday at Baltimore Soundstage

While in the past MDF tended to use the Baltimore Soundstage to host mostly hardcore and grind bands that seems to have changed a lot this year since there are no outdoor stages. The first day at BSS has a lot of death metal this year.

Malignancy at 8:15 – From Yonkers, New York, Malignancy has been around since the early 90s. They play an old school style of brutal death metal reminiscent of older bands from the era like Suffocation and Monstrosity.

Decrepit Birth at 10:30 – Decrepit Birth is heavily influenced by the later era of the band Death. They haven’t released an album in 7 years though they have a new one, Axis Mundi, coming out in July so I expect to hear some new material from these guys.

Cryptopsy at 11:55 – Montreal’s Cryptopsy was once one of the best death metal bands in the underground, until in 2008 they decided to completely change their sound, image and line up to become a metalcore band. When that didn’t pan out they went back to being a death metal band to mixed reception. However for this headlining performance at Maryland Deathfest XV Cryptopsy will be playing their 1996 classic album None So Vile in its entirety. And be sure to check out their drummer Flo Mounier, still one of the best drummers in all of metal.

Friday at Rams Head Live

The RHL line up for Friday is pretty death metal heavy, awesome!

Nordjevel at 5:00 – Every year MDF seems to book at least one trve Norwegian black metal. This year that band is Nordjevel, whose name translates to Northern Devil. Reminiscent of the 2nd wave of black metal bands, the band has only released one full length and one EP since forming in 2015, but they’ve quickly become a buzz band in the black metal underground. Fans of bands like 1349 and Gorgoroth are going to want to check out Nordjevel.

Brodequin at 6:00 – Brodequin is a very brutal death metal band from Knoxville, Tennessee. Between 2000 and 2004 they released 3 intense albums, then basically disappeared. This is something of a reunion show for Brodequin, though not their first show since reforming. Their name translates to “boot” from French, however they get their name from a medieval torture device.

GosT at 9:10 – Maryland Deathfest always seems to have one weird band that doesn’t really fit with everyone else and this year it’s GosT. GosT isn’t a metal band but a DJ and the music reminds me more of old Nintendo game soundtracks than anything else. I guess GosT’s genre is called synthwave. I’m not going to lie, I’m not particularly interested in seeing GosT hit play, er… perform live at MDF, but they are strange enough I figure they warrant mention here.

Macabre at 10:15 – An all time favorite of mine, Macabre is a three piece from Chicago that truly lives up to their name. By blending traditional songs and even nursery rhymes with death metal and grind, they have created a sound all their own. In fact, they call it Murder Metal since all of their songs are about true crime and serial killers. They even tell stories between songs about these killers and tyrants, highly recommended!

Vader at 11:20 – Before Behemoth, Decapitated and Mgla there was Vader, the true fathers of underground metal in Poland. Due to tape trading they were one of the first bands from Eastern Europe to break through the iron curtain to be heard in the West before the Berlin Wall fell. And rightly so, their intensely fast style of death metal has made them death metal legends to this day.

Friday at Baltimore Soundstage

An eclectic mix of bands play Friday at Baltimore Soundstage.

Chepang at 4:15 – Chepang is a grindcore band that is originally from Nepal though now they live in the US. They perform with two drummers. Don’t expect a long set from them, their only release consists of 8 songs clocking in at under 12 minutes total!

Occultist at 5:05 – This Richmond based band is everything that makes underground metal fun. They’re some sort of mix of black, speed, crust and death metal and exploding with energy. Their front woman, Kerry Zylstra, can scream with the best of them.

Stormtroopers Of Beer at 9:25 – Stormtroopers Of Beer is a Stormtroopers Of Death (aka S.O.D.) cover band that actually includes original S.O.D. member Dan Lilker. Adde Mitroulis (of Birdflesh, General Surgery) handles the drums while Jocke Carlsson (of General Surgery) plays guitar and guest vocals will be courtesy of Matt Harvey (of Exhumed, Gruesome). Old school metal heads will remember their song “Milano Mosh” as the theme music for MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball.

Noothgrush at 10:35 – Noothgrush is doom/sludge band from the Bay Area. Their name stems from a Dr Seuss character in the book There’s a Wocket in My Pocket so as you might have guessed these guys have probably never gotten high. They seem a bit out of place on the bill here and would probably have fit better on Thursday’s line up at Rams Head, but hey, good doom puts you in a good mood no matter when they play.

Siege at 11:50 – Headlining Baltimore Soundstage on Friday night is Massachusetts based hardcore band Siege. Despite releasing only about 20 minutes of material before breaking up in 1985 they became popular to bootleg traders and were very influential to the grindcore subgenre. They had a brief reunion in the early 90s with Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt on vocals and now they have reformed again, giving MDF attendees a rare chance to catch these underground legends perform live.

Saturday at Rams Head Live

There’s a lot of death metal at Rams Head Live on Saturday, headlined by one of the biggest names in the genre.

Embalmer at 3:50 – Embalmer is from Cleveland, Ohio, and plays gore obsessed death metal that fans of bands like Mortician and Impetigo will appreciate. In 1995 they released the excellent EP There Was Blood Everywhere and it wasn’t until after a long hiatus that they finally released a full length album, 13 Faces Of Death in 2006. Another lengthy hiatus ended when their second full length, Emanations from the Crypt, was finally released in 2016. This band seems to be very on again, off again so be sure to check them out at MDF while they’re still around, it might be another decade before you get another chance!

Necropsy at 4:45 – The Metal Archives lists 21 different bands with the name Necropsy, making this one of the most over used names in heavy metal. The version playing MDF XV is the one from Finland. They’re a death metal band that released several well received demos in the early 90s before dissolving only to reform earlier this decade. Part of me kind of hopes the guys from local band Noisem will join them on stage for a song, since they were once called Necropsy as well.

Exhumed at 7:50 – Exhumed is a death metal band from San Jose, California, that basically sounds like Carcass around the Necroticism era. Except faster, and with even more hooks. Look, I know there’s a lot of Carcass clones out there but these guys really do it best.

Exumer at 8:55 – I applaud the MDF organizers for hilariously putting Exumer after Exhumed. Despite the similar names the two bands don’t sound too much alike. Exumer is one of the old German thrash bands of the 80s. While never becoming as famous as German thrash contemporaries Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, they did put out some solid records in the late 80s. After disappearing like most thrash bands did when the grunge wave hit, they reformed about a decade ago and have continued to put out some solid thrash albums, including last year’s The Raging Tides.

Root at 10:05 – Root, formed in 1987 in the Czech Republic, is one of the original 1st wave black metal bands, predating the 2nd wave bands from Norway. They have moved to a clean vocal style but their vocalist, Big Boss, has a pretty incredible voice that has held up remarkably well considering he’s the sole original member still in the band. He’s also known for founding the Czech branch of the Church Of Satan. I’m not sure how better to describe them than maybe, they sound like what Ghost would probably sound like if they weren’t a gimmick band.

Grave at 11:15 – Lead by guitarist and vocalist Ola Lindgren, Grave is one of the last remaining of those early Swedish death metal bands (such as Entombed, Unleashed and Dismember) that is still active and has kept their old school “buzz saw” sound. There are many newer bands now that imitate this style, like Black Breath and Gatecreeper, but this is a rare chance to one of the originals of that old Swedish death metal sound perform live.

Morbid Angel at 12:25 – Morbid Angel is back at Maryland Deathfest but after the disaster that was Illud Divinum Insanus they’ve ejected David Vincent and once again added Steve Tucker to the band. They have stated that they will only be playing songs from the Steve Tucker era of the band, which are from the albums Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic, although they have a new album on the horizon so hopefully we’ll hear some new songs too.

Saturday at Baltimore Soundstage

The Saturday schedule at Baltimore Soundstage is dominated by grind with the once in a lifetime chance to see Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Insect Warfare back to back.

Myxoma at 4:40 – Myxoma is a recently formed goregrind band. I don’t know a ton about them other than one of the Maryland Deathfest organizers, Evan Harting, is in the band, I would guess as the vocalist.

Meth Leppard at 8:00 – Meth Leppard is just like Def Leppard but on crystal meth! Ok not really, but they are a pretty sick grind band from Australia.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed at 10:45 – ANb is the spawn of Pig Destroyer guitarist Scott Hull. Their long awaited first live show ever was at Maryland Deathfest XIII and this year they’re back as part of Saturday night’s insane one-two punch of grindcore legends at Baltimore Soundstage. I mean seriously, ANb and Insect Warfare playing back to back? It doesn’t get much better than that for grind fans.

Insect Warfare at 11:50 – Closing out Saturday night at Baltimore Soundstage is one of the legends of grind, Insect Warfare, making a rare live appearance. Their only full length, World Extermination, was an instant classic and now that the band has stated that they will be breaking up soon this will be one of their final shows. You don’t want to miss the chance to see them headline this night! Still not convinced? Then check out our recent write up about IW here.

Sunday at Rams Head Live

Black metal seems to be the dominant style on Sunday at Rams Head Live, though doom legends Candlemass headline.

Encoffination at 3:00 – Sunday starts off at Rams Head with Encoffination, an Atlanta, Georgia, based death/doom band. Both members of this two piece are also in death metal band Father Befouled (who are playing the previous day at RHL).

October Tide at 4:45 – Swedish death/doom metal band October Tide once was a side project of Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renkse. The other founding member, Fredrik Norrman, ended up joining Katatonia and the band went on hiatus for a while. When Fredrik left Katatonia he reformed October Tide. Alexander Högbom is the vocalist now, who has also recently become the vocalist of Demonical. Despite having harsh vocals, it makes sense that October Tide would play on the same night as Candlemass so if you’re a Candlemass fan and not sure who else to check out on this day’s line up, don’t miss October Tide. Check out our recent review of their 2016 album Winged Waltz here.

Acheron at 6:45 – Often considered a black metal band, Acheron is really a death metal band that spawned from the infamous Tampa, Florida, death metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s, though they are now based out of Ohio. The band is lead by Vincent Crowley, a former reverend in the Church Of Satan. Acheron has stated that they will be playing their 1996 album Anti-God, Anti-Christ from start to finish at MDF and that they will be breaking up in 2018.

Oranssi Pazuzu at 8:55 – This is one of the bands I’m most excited to see this year at MDF. Oranssi Pazuzu is from Finland and have somehow created a psychedelic style of black metal that actually works incredibly well. The band has somehow managed to attract fans of both stoner metal and black metal to their very unique take on metal.

In The Woods… at 10:05 – In The Woods… is one of the first bands to call their music pagan metal. They began more black metal but over the years have shifted to more of a dark prog rock style. The Norwegian band is a spin off of Green Carnation.

Akercocke at 11:15 – Akercocke is from London, England, and haven’t put out an album since 2007. They recently became active again though so this is something of a return for the death metal band. They became known as the “satanists in suits” for wearing suits when performing live.

Candlemass at 12:25 – Swedish epic doom metal band Candlemass returns to MDF as the final band to perform this year. The band is fronted by the excellent Mats Levén these days and they will be performing their 1987 album Nightfall in its entirety at MDF. A bit of trivia: the classic album’s cover art is a painting by Thomas Cole from 1842 that is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Sunday at Baltimore Soundstage

Grind, grind, grind closes out the final day of MDF XV at Baltimore Soundstage.

Genocide Pact at 4:40 – Washington DC’s own Genocide Pact plays Maryland Deathfest this year! These guys blend death, grind and crust very well and if you want to check out and support a local at MDF do not miss these guys! They have a new album due out soon so maybe we’ll get to hear some new material too.

Iron Lung at 10:45 – Iron Lung is a powerviolence band originally from Reno, Nevada though they have now relocated to Seattle, Washington. The band members also run Iron Lung Records which releases material by other grind and powerviolence bands as well. Their experimental style includes fast bursts typical of powerviolence along with some much slower, almost doom like segments.

Terrorizer at 11:50 – Terrorizer created one of the most influential grindcore albums of all time when they released World Downfall in 1989. They’ll be playing that album in its entirety when they headline Sunday night at the Baltimore Soundstage. It will be weird seeing Pete Sandoval drum for Terrorizer yet not play with Morbid Angel the night prior.

Review of Winged Waltz by October Tide

Band: Winged Waltz
Album: October Tide
Release Date: 22 April 2016
Record Label: Agonia Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XV: 4:45 Sunday at Rams Head Live

Winged Waltz by October Tide

Maryland Deathfest XV kicks off this Thursday. I’ve tasked the DCHM album reviewers with writing about a band playing MDF that they’re excited to see. Buzzo Jr wrote about grindcore band Insect Warfare (read it here) however Tal’s pick of death/doom band October Tide is on the complete opposite end of the metal spectrum. Read this review to know why you can’t miss October Tide at Maryland Deathfest this weekend!

For the second year in a row, the band I’m most excited about at MDF is a melodic death/doom band that I thought I’d never get to see live on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps that says more about my love of obscure melodic death/doom than about MDF, though. In the festival line-up, October Tide is buried in an avalanche of black metal.

October Tide began as a Katatonia side project (back in the good ole days of Brave Murder Day – i.e. mid 90’s), released two hallowed albums in the 90’s and then went on hiatus for 11 years, until the band took on a life of its own in 2010. Carried on by founder and ex-Katatonia guitarist Fredrik Norrman, October Tide now also includes his brother Mattias Norrman, who also played bass for Katatonia. Amon Amarth’s new full-time drummer Jocke Wallgren also took part in recording last year’s Winged Waltz. The current October Tide line-up is rounded out by bassist Johan Jönsegård and drummer Jonas Sköld, in addition to vocalist Alexander Högbom.

As they always have, October Tide carries on where Katatonia left off, and Winged Waltz is no different. If you wish you could find more music like Katatonia’s Brave Murder Day, like Daylight Dies and the short-lived Slumber (Fallout, 2004), then Winged Waltz is for you.

Listening to the album is like putting on a well-worn shoe (and I’m not just saying that because I’ve listened to it so many times). You know just how it’s going to feel. As the intro to the first song, “Swarm,” creeps around in a minor key and then jumps by a discordant interval – a jarring feeling that’s also just what you expected. As atmospheric riffs build nearly into white noise, but still with a discernible melody, sorrowful and keening, at the high end. As long notes waver and layer in a more downtempo segment. As the growled vocals full of aggrieved rage complete the crushing weight of the album.

That isn’t to say that the songs are cookie-cutter. There’s variety in pace and melody – an expansive, all-guns-blazing section at the end of “Swarm” contrasting nicely with the meandering pace of the next song, “Sleepless Sun”; more aggressive riffage in “Reckless Abandon” and “Perilous”; the brash melodic motif that runs through “Nursed by the Cold.” But at the same time, there’s not a huge distinction between the songs, making them run together a bit. This isn’t unique to this album, though. For me, it happens with pretty much all melodic death/doom, from Brave Murder Day and other music in that style, to Swallow the Sun and Doom:VS. It might even be a mark of a good melodic death/doom album that it feels like one continuous experience, of churning doom underpinnings, sorrowful melodies and crushing harsh vocals.

And Winged Waltz checks off all these boxes consummately. The 2016 release may be following a formula, but it’s been a successful formula all these years, and I hope they never stop.

Review of World Extermination by Insect Warfare

Band: Insect Warfare
Album: World Extermination
Release Date: October 2007
Record Label: 625 Thrashcore
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XV: 11:50 Saturday at Baltimore Soundstage

World Extermination by Insect Warfare

Maryland Deathfest XV starts this Thursday! As always I let my writers each do a special album review as we lead up to MDF. For this review I let them pick a band they are excited to see at MDF and review their most recent album as well as give some extra background on the band. This one is written by DCHM writer Buzzo Jr and he decided to write about the Baltimore Soundstage’s Saturday headliner, Insect Warfare. If you’re looking for something a bit slower, be sure to read Tal’s piece on Swedish death/doom band October Tide here

Legendary grindcore act Insect Warfare was formed in Houston, Texas, in 2004 by drummer Frank Faerman, guitarist Beau Beasley, and vocalist Rahi Geramifar. They soon broke into the Texas scene with their debut EP; At War With Grindcore, in 2005. Two years later following the release of a handful of splits and EPs, drummer Frank Faerman was replaced by Dobber Beverly. In 2007, the trio released their first and only full length record World Extermination on 625 Thrashcore Records, and split up a year after. Insect Warfare reunited back in 2016 for one final tour and will be playing one of their very last shows at this years Maryland Deathfest. Insect Warfare will be the final band to take the stage at the Baltimore Soundstage on Saturday, playing at 11:50 PM.

The early/mid 2000’s was a damn good time to be a fan of grindcore. The genre that originated in dingy basements back in the late 80’s with Repulsion and Napalm Death was seeing an influx of new bands breathing energy into an already frenzied style of extreme metal. Landmark albums were being released left and right; with Discordance Axis’ dissonant The Inalienable Dreamless, Rotten Sound’s frantic Murderworks and even DC’s own Pig Destroyer with their twisted masterpiece Prowler In the Yard. In 2007, Insect Warfare swiftly cemented themselves as undisputed legends of the extreme metal scene when they released one of the fastest, heaviest, and most pissed off albums in the genre; World Extermination. What Insect Warfare lack in technical prowess, they make up for with pure, unfettered fury. World Extermination is a goliath of all things that makes grindcore… well, grindcore. Beau Beasley’s crushing, punk-tinged riffs rampage with the weight of a goddamn freight train; retaining their incredible power while at the same time being extremely catchy, or at least as catchy as a riff can get on this kind of album. While simplistic in structure, the riffs on this record are delivered at an almost machine-like efficiency, with absolutely no empty space left in between notes. Insect Warfare’s rhythm section is no slouch either; Dobber Beverly’s hyperspeed drumming comes at you like a 50 caliber machine gun, with an unyielding barrage of blast beats detonating in the backdrop throughout each track. Rahi’s insane vocals round out the audio carnage on the record, and his performance is pretty much unmatched in terms of sheer anger. Every single low, guttural growl and piercing, animalistic shriek being is used a rhythmic tool to accentuate the full on assault of the blast beats and riffs. Insect Warfare may not have reinvented the wheel here, but what they did do was take a formula that definitely worked and perfected it; creating what may likely be the best example of the classic grind sound of the late 90s and early 2000s.

If you’re at all a fan of grindcore and for some reason you have yet to listened to this record, drop whatever you’re doing and listen to it. Then listen to it again. And again. (You get the picture.) Insect Warfare’s performance at this years Maryland Deathfest will likely be the last chance most of us will ever get to see this legendary band in the DMV area, so make sure to catch them at the Baltimore Soundstage on Saturday!

Maryland Deathfest XIV Survival Guide

This Thursday is the start of another Maryland Deathfest! This is the fourteenth year running for the festival and it continues to expand and evolve. This post will help you get through MDF XIV as you navigate through all the bands, stages, venues and vendors and I’ll be updating it with info like food prices and photos of exclusive band merch once the fest actually gets going. You can skip to the updates by going here. To start off, here’s some info and links you will find useful if you’re attending Maryland Deathfest XIV.

Maryland Deathfest’s official website: Deathfests.com
MDF’s official Facebook: Facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest
MDF’s official Facebook event page: here
MDF’s official Instagram: @deathfests

I put together the below handy schedules and band running orders for each day of the fest (they load quick so bookmark them on your phone). Unlike the schedules on the MDF site and the one’s they’ll hand out at the entrance, these have the bands listed by start time so it will be easy to figure out exactly which bands are playing at any given time during the fest. They have the door times listed too. Note that you can pick up a multi day wrist band at the Pre-Fest show OR starting at 1pm on Thursday at Rams Head Live.

Thursday: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday
Friday: http://bit.ly/mdffriday
Saturday: http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday
Sunday: http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

MDF has made an iCal feed for the schedule that will work in Google Calendar, iCloud or Outlook calendar that you can get here. You can find instructions for adding to Google Calendar here, instructions for adding it to Outlook here, and instructions for adding it to iCloud here.

Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)
Both Uber and Lyft operate in Baltimore. They’re usually cheaper than a cab and you can download their apps for free from your app store.

MDF Edison Lot entrance address: 545 N High St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore SoundStage address: 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Rams Head Live Thurs & Sun address: 20 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
Rams Head Live Fri & Sat address: 7 Frederick St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Sidebar address: 218 E Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Ottobar address: 2549 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218 (Pre-Fest and Post-Fest shows only)

Note that Rams Head Live will be using the back entrance on Friday and Saturday. This is because the front entrance to Rams Head Live is inside the Power Plant area and it will have its own cover charge on Friday and Saturday night. To avoid that fee, use the back entrance to (address listed above) to enter Rams Head Live on those nights. On Thursday and Sunday you can use either entrance without fees.

I put together this custom Google map that will show you all kinds of info such as all the venues involved, local record stores of note and where to get beer, cigarettes and food while you’re in Baltimore too. Just click the map image below to use the map and use the menu on the left side to select and toggle different locations. This is pretty much the same one that I posted last year with a few changes.

Tickets

Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Edison Lot (where the main stages are) will have tickets available at the door all through the weekend, the Edison Lot will not sell out. You can get tickets at the door or order them online (and pick them up at will call) by going here. There are still 3-day Edison Lot only passes available as well (discounted to $182 vs $195 if you bought them all individually) and there are 4-day all venue passes available still as well (as of this writing). There are still tickets available to Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the Baltimore Soundstage and for Friday and Sunday at Rams Head Live (for now at least). Note that the Edison Lot has an earlier curfew since it is outdoors and the final bands each night will be at Rams Head Live, with the Soundstage bands ending just a little earlier.

Thursday and Saturday at Rams Head, and Saturday at the Soundstage are sold out. If you’re determined to find tickets to these sold out parts of MDF, or need to sell your tickets last minute in a pinch, I highly recommend using the Maryland Deathfest official forum’s ticket exchange thread which you can find here. If that doesn’t work you can try looking at the official Facebook event page (here) for people posting about in the “discussion” section about tickets there as well.

New Info For This Year

The set up for this year’s Maryland Deathfest should be pretty similar to couple of years, though there are some changes.

There will be no official program for this year’s Maryland Deathfest.

One thing to note regarding the weather, it has rained a lot around here lately. The forecasts of Baltimore that I’ve seen have most of the MDF days looking alright though Sunday looks like it might rain. I highly suggest you bring a waterproof parka or other rain gear if you’re going to be at the Edison Lot that day and you don’t want to get drenched, there isn’t a lot of cover around the main stages.

There is an official Deathfest ale that will be sold at the Edison lot again this year. However a different brewery is making it, Evolution, who is from Maryland. This year’s Deathfest Ale will be a golden pale ale.

The custom MDF vests won’t be available this year at the official MDF merch booth, however there will be some custom high end hoodies with studs and embroidery that are different than the ones MDF has listed in their merch pre-orders. There will be only 10 made, sizes S – XL, available at the Edison Lot only, starting Friday. They are made by Kylla Custom Rock Wear (find them here) and I’m sure they could make you one for delivery at a later date if they’re sold out by the time you get there. Here’s a photo of one.

I heard that the infamous Chicken Man will only be attending Thursday of Maryland Deathfest this year. The Edison lot just won’t be the same without him.

They haven’t really been advertised much by MDF itself but there are shows going on Thursday through Sunday nights at the Sidebar that are part of MDF as well. The venue is small, it only fits about 100 people, but it’s a cool little place and it’s really close to the Edison Lot. If you’re looking for a place to get away from the rain or just avoid the big crowds, this might be a cool place for you to stop by. The shows at Sidebar were free last year but this year they’re $5 each. You can get line up and other info on each one’s respective Facebook event pages here: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Good To Know For Every Year

BRING AND WEAR EAR PLUGS

Re-entry is OK once you get your wristband. Wear comfortable shoes, sunglasses and try to bring a cheap parka in case it rains (as I mentioned above, it looks likely that it will on Sunday). You’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking so dress accordingly. Maryland can get very hot and humid this time of year so be careful wearing all black and drinking and moshing in the sun all day, stay hydrated. Also, bring some sunscreen, not only will it keep you from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded! Crowd surfing is very much tolerated at MDF so if you don’t like being kicked in the head repeatedly, don’t get up front. People tend to go wild and pretty much every band will start a mosh pit, even more “laid back” bands that you wouldn’t expect this from like say Paradise Lost and Bongzilla. Cameras, including DSLR cameras, are permitted and you can shoot video too, however be aware that the closer you get to the stage the more rowdy the crowd can get, including moshing, circle pits and crowd surfers. You can bring in bags and backpacks, but they are subject to search. Note that if you bring a backpack to Rams Head Live they will have you check it at the coat check, which will probably cost you $5 or less. There are picnic tables in a shaded area that you can rest in at the Edison Lot. Note that there is not a public Wi-Fi at Maryland Deathfest. You may want to bring an extra battery for your cell phone if you plan on being at the fest all day because there’s not a lot of places to charge your phone there.

Artwork by Lucas Ruggieri

Merchandise

Bring cash! There will be many vendors with tons of rare and obscure vinyl, CDs, merch, patches and all kinds of other stuff. Some of them have Square card readers but some will not. There will be ATMs on site but I’m sure they will have long lines and shitty service fees so stop by the bank before you head up to save yourself some time and money. Some of the stuff you’ll see will be Maryland Deathfest exclusives, and some of it will just be so rare you’ll probably never find it anywhere again anyways. If you see something you want don’t hesitate, items often sell out so buy it when you see if it you want to make sure you go home with it.

Maryland Deathfest will have a booth with its own merch for sale at all festival venues (see MDF’s merch here) including t-shirts, pullover hoodies and women’s tanks. There will be a limited to 200 copies silk screened poster available for purchase at the MDF merch booth as well. Some of the bands playing the fest will have their merch for sale at the official Maryland Deathfest booth, some will have merch available at their record label’s booth (assuming their label has a booth) and some bands will have their own merch booths set up in the tent at the end of the row of merchants. Different bands will set up merch at different times, there is no schedule for this, and the MDF booth will have different band merch on different days as bands arrive and leave the festival throughout the weekend. I saw a post from Salvation Distro showing two exclusive Secrets Of The Moon shirts they’ll have at their booth at Maryland Deathfest that you can see here. Gruesome will have some exclusive merch at the JSR Direct booth, which you can take a look at here.

This years list of vendors is: Acid Queen Jewelry, Adult Swim, Black Mess, Charm City Animal Rescue, ChopoBrujos, Crucial Blast Records, DabLizard, Dave’s Metal, Decibel Magazine, Deepsend Records, Digger’s Leatherwork, Five Point Records, Forever Plagued Records, Gilead Media, Give Praise Records, Graphic Noise, Grimoire Records, Hell’s Headbangers, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Lock N Shock, Lost Apparitions Records, Mexico Steel, Necronomicharm, Pizza Party Printing, Relapse Records, Rusty Knuckles, Sabi, Salvation Distro, Season of Mist, Sevared Records, Swisher Sweets Cigars, Thrash Corner Records, Unholy Anarchy Records, Utterly Somber, Vienna Music Exchange, Warlord Clothing and Western Evil.

Here’s a video trailer that Relapse Records made for their booth at MDF.

Food & Drinks

There is plenty of on-site food at Maryland Deathfest. this year the on site food vendors include: Maui Wowi Hawaiian Smoothies & Coffees, Appetizers on the Run, Smokerhead BBQ, Avalache Sno-Balls, Pork Lord Tacos, Red Emmas (Vegan/vegetarian), E-San Food & Drink (Asian food), HeadBangin HotDogs (Vegan), Humpty’s Dumplings, Nader’s Bistro (Greek & Italian), Tropical Island Concessions (Gyro’s, Burgers, etc). If that’s not enough food options for you then be sure to check the custom Google map I made (at the top of this post) which includes stuff outside the festival grounds like restaurants, record stores, liquor stores and convenience stores.

It should be noted that the Pratt Street Ale House, which is walking distance from most of the downtown hotels, is doing a special for anyone attending Maryland Deathfest this weekend (just show your wristband when you mention it). The special is $4 16oz pours of Winter’s Wolves regular draft or nitro draft. Also for $4 you can get The Wolf Pack Flight: three 5oz pours (one each) of wine barrel aged, nitro and regular Winter’s Wolves. If you don’t know, Winter’s Wolves is an officially licensed tribute to The Sword. I highly recommend this place as they have some great food and some killer beers any beer snob or casual drinker will be excited about and they’re very metal head friendly.

There’s a liquor store (has beer and wine too) called Urban Cellars that is walking distance from the main Edison lot of MDF, they usually have specials going on for MDF attendees too. It should be noted that while their store is usually closed on Sunday, they do open the Sunday of Deathfest every year.

As for beer at the festival, there will be Deathfest Ale which this year is a golden blond ale by Evolution Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, Brooklyn Brown, Budweiser, Magic Hat #9, Magic Hat Electric Pilsner and Guinness. There will be whiskey, rum and vodka and various mixed drinks available as well.

Please note that Rams Head Live and the Baltimore Soundstage will have their own food and drink menus. I’ll try to take photos of those and add them to the Updates section once I see them.

Updates

I’ll be adding updates to this post throughout the fest once it starts. Expect to see photos of food vendor prices as well as images of exclusive merch. Be sure to check back here before you head to Maryland Deathfest to help you get an idea of what to expect, and of course you can follow me on Facebook, MetalChris on Twitter, DCMetalChris on Instagram, dcmetalchris on Snapchat and MetalChris on Periscope, all of which I’ll be (probably) be updating/using from my phone.

Thanks for reading to the end, you get a gold star! If you’d like to read some more Maryland Deathefest related posts check out our latest posts about Hellbringer and Novembers Doom. Each year I let my album reviews pick a couple bands playing MDF that aren’t as well known as some of the others and let them write an album review attempting to convince others to check out these great bands. The Hellbringer review by Buzzo Jr is posted here, and Tal’s post about Novembers Doom is posted here. Both have songs that you can stream at the end of the post so you can give them a listen.

Here is some merch at the Maryland Deathfest merch booth that wasn’t available for pre-order on the MDF website. A beanie hat, a baseball cap and a tote bag.

Friday at Edison they also brought out all the embroidered patches, some koozies and rubber coasters.

There is also an official MDF XIV hot sauce at one of the vendors (who also has some other metal hot sauces like Eyehategod and Goatwhore).

There are Maryland Deathfest branded exclusive shirts from the following bands. I saw Venom, Novembers Doom, Sinister (who had to drop), Gruesome, The Haunted, Paradise Lost, Demolition Hammer and Hail Of Bullets. Some are at the MDF merch booth, some are at other booths.

Beer list at Baltimore Soundstage (click it to see it larger). I think the Deathfest ale they are selling is the left overs from last year or something because it is not the pale ale that is at Edison Lot. You can also get a free cup of water at the front bar, you don’t have to pay $3 to drink water.

Food menu at Baltimore Soundstage for Deathfest.

Review of The Pale Haunt Departure by Novembers Doom

Band: Novembers Doom
Album: The Pale Haunt Departure
Release Date: 8 March 2005
Record Label: The End Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XIV: 4:10 Friday at Edison Lot B

The Pale Haunt Departure by Novembers Doom

This review of an 11 year old album is part of our ongoing coverage leading up to Maryland Deathfest XIV. I let my writers pick an album by a band that isn’t as popular as some of the bigger names at the fest and write about it in the hopes of getting some more people interested in seeing them at MDF. DCHM writer Tal put together this thoughtful piece on Novembers Doom. You can see DCHM writer Buzzo Jr’s MDF pick here. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting the Maryland Deathfest XIV Survival Guide in just a few hours!

Although I love Novembers Doom, I find it really hard to listen to The Pale Haunt Departure, the Chicago based band’s fifth full-length album which came out in 2005. Pioneers of the death/doom genre, they actually started as a death-thrash band called Laceration in 1989, but by the 1995 release of their first full-length, Amid Its Hallowed Mirth, they had renamed themselves and changed to a trudging doomy sound, sometimes melodic but always dripping with despair. In the early 2000s they reincorporated a more energetic death metal sound, and now their current sound ranges from heavy riffs and growled vocals that sound surprisingly like Swedish melodeath, to lamenting clean vocals, morose guitar melodies and thick doomy riffs characteristic of their early albums. In terms of sound, I actually prefer 2007’s The Novella Reservoir, where they perfect the melodeath sound that they brought in on The Pale Haunt Departure. But The Pale Haunt Departure strikes an emotional chord for me which is hard to escape, no matter how painful.

The first Novembers Doom song I heard was “Autumn Reflection,” which remains one of their most popular songs to this day (all these years later, it’s still the third result in a YouTube search for Novembers Doom, with over 630,000 views as of this writing). I first heard this song when I was just starting my (still ongoing) recovery from post-partum depression, and my relationship with my young daughter was in shambles. The chorus cut me to me core:

I thank the heavens above
For the angel beside me today
The guardian of my sanity
The one who will save my soul

I thought, Damn. This is it. If I don’t get this right, the rest of life isn’t worth a thing. It hurt like hell but it also inspired me to keep picking myself up out of the mayhem and trying to be a better parent, when it was the hardest thing I could possibly do. When I found out in an interview that vocalist Paul Kuhr wrote the song about his own daughter, that only made it more poignant. I can’t believe he says he “catches shit” for writing this “weak” song, by the way. Emotionally I find it quite heavy, and it does have some musical heaviness too.

“Autumn Reflection” is probably the slowest song on the album, though, with no harsh vocals. It does feature some very distorted and heavy guitars during the chorus, a stark contrast to Paul Kuhr’s haunted vocal delivery. There’s nothing weak about those thick guitar riffs, which create a wall of gloom that Paul’s hopeful vocals try to surmount. Toward the end of the song, as Paul sings, “I am stronger now, since you came to my life,” the hopeful feeling prevails (mostly) with a melodic guitar bridge and piano segment that are at once sad and uplifting.

The song after this on the album, “Dark World Burden,” is quite a change, with fast, groovy melodeath riffage. As I alluded to before, The Pale Haunt Departure was the album where Novembers Doom added more of a death metal sound to their previous ponderous and contemplative doom sound. The album starts with this crisp, fast drumbeat and a churning, energetic riff—the eponymous first song is more death than doom, also featuring growled vocals throughout. Novembers Doom used harsh vocals earlier, but they were extra-low and drawn out doom vocals, whereas these are faster and more aggressive melodeath harsh vocals.

The second song, “Swallowed by the Moon,” has more of a slow moody sound with dramatic spoken vocals, although there are also commanding death metal growls. This is another song that seems to deal with failure in parent-child relationships:

Will you remember that I tried my best?
Will you remember the father I was?
Once again the daylight fades, and I’m swallowed by the moon
Will you look back and smile for me?
Will you remember me when I have gone?

The song isn’t completely slow, though–it’s more a mix of melodeath bits, growls and moments of faster heavier guitars, and doomy bits, a mixture that characterizes most of the album.

Prior to The Pale Haunt Departure, Novembers Doom had a lot of line-up changes, but around the time TPHD was released, things started to stabilize. They’ve since changed drummers and bassists, but the guitarists Larry Roberts and Vito Marchese have been with Paul, the only remaining original member, since the early 2000’s. Actually, according to another interview, Larry Roberts was apparently the driving force behind the band’s shift to a more death metal sound.

Most of the other songs on The Pale Haunt Departure have a strong death metal vibe, with fast heavy riffs and growled vocals, but they also have their doomy moments—ominous or despairing spoken vocals, darkly churning or melancholic or dreamy melodic guitars, the crushing but ponderous pace of “The Dead Leaf Echo.” Failure in relationships continues to be a theme, as shown by the chorus from that song:

All I can do, is look the other way, and pretend that your face held a smile.
Not to see your sullen eyes, staring past my soul, into the darkness of night.
I feel I’ve failed you, when we both know, I never had the chance, to say hello.

It’s not easy listening—for me personally, many of the lyrics on this album bring back the time when I was left alone with my daughter, the sinister specter of depression and the strain it has put on our relationship. But I think it would be worse to forget these things—to forget about the angel by my side, how far I have come and the work I still have left to do. I may have lost the paradise of my innocence, but salvation may still be possible. I hear it in the thick and doomy yet uplifting guitars in the last song on the album, “Collapse of the Falling Throe.” The lyrics, however, are much darker than the music would suggest.

And in spite my emotional turmoil, I’m stoked to see Novembers Doom at MDF, where they’re playing Friday at 4:10pm in the Edison Lot. Metal is not an easy listening genre; sometimes it can be quite horrendous. This wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been at a show and had difficult emotions come up. But the very reason doom appeals to so many people, the unique mix of heaviness and sadness that made Novembers Doom one of the foremost U.S. death/doom bands, is the cathartic feeling of facing your inner demon and being able to set it aside. Also, after years of fandom I’m stoked to finally get this chance to see the band live. Despite being from Chicago, Novembers Doom doesn’t seem to tour the U.S. much – they’re bigger in Europe and seem to spend more time performing there. If you’re a fan of heavy music with deep feeling then this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Autumn Reflection:

The Pale Haunt Departure:

Dark World Burden live:

Review of Dominion Of Darkness by Hellbringer

Band: Hellbringer
Album: Dominion Of Darkness
Release Date: 28 September 2012
Record Label: High Roller Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XIV: 9:50 Sunday at Edison Lot B

Dominion Of Darkness by Hellbringer

Welcome to the start of our Maryland Deathfest XIV coverage! Usually we only review releases by local bands on DCHM but there are some exceptions, and MDF is one of them. Every year I ask my album reviewers to pick a lesser known band on the Deathfest bill and review their latest album (even if it’s a few years old) in the hopes of getting people to check out one of the great bands on Deathfest that isn’t as well known as the headliners. DCHM writer Buzzo Jr. picked the band Hellbringer, the first band playing on Saturday at the Edison lot. Be sure to give a listen to the songs at the end of this post too.

Hellbringer is a thrash/speed metal band that was formed in Canberra, Australia. The three piece was originally founded in 2007 under the name Forgery by bassist/vocalist Luke Bennett and his brother Josh, who is the drummer, along with Tim Sheppard on guitar. In 2010, following the release of their EP, Tim was replaced by James Lewis and the band changed their name to Hellbringer. The trio soon released their debut full length Dominion of Darkness on High Roller Records in 2012, and will now be playing some of their first ever shows in the United States on their Darkness Over North America Tour; the final show being their first ever appearance at Maryland Deathfest. Hellbringer will be the first band to take the stage on Saturday, playing the B stage at the Edison lot at 12:15 PM.

The mid 2000’s saw an influx in newer thrash metal bands attempting to revitalize the genre that had previously lost most of its mainstream appeal in the 90’s. Modern thrash bands like Havok and Violator were a dime a dozen, but a large amount of these bands suffered from the fact that they all sounded like a 2000’s era band attempting to play Exodus or Megadeth riffs with much cleaner production. This is not the case with Hellbringer’s Dominion of Darkness. This record doesn’t simply sound like a few guys trying to emulate old school thrash metal; no, this is music that if you heard today you would swear it was recorded at the tail end of 1984. A large amount of the bands that emerged in the modern thrash revival mostly relied on emulating the party-thrash style of the classic crossover thrash bands like DRI and Cryptic Slaughter, or the more aggressive and serious sounding social commentary of Megadeth and Metallica. While there are a few exceptions, there are very few modern thrash bands that are able to sound truly evil. Taking an indisputable amount of influence from Slayer’s Hell Awaits record, Dominion of Darkness accomplishes just that. Luke’s reverb soaked vocals are akin to the cries of a demonic hell-beast. Comparisons to Slayer’s Tom Araya are inevitable, but Luke makes these vocals his own, and they work extremely well alongside the crushing riffs that are delivered from James Lewis. The riffs on this album are absolutely vicious; forming a whirlwind of teutonic, blackened vileness, and creating a hellish atmosphere that brings visions of demons inhabiting an otherworldly realm filled with nothing but pain and fear. The crushing riffs are interspersed with solos that are melodic yet at the same time absolutely chaotic. While not as technically impressive as the guitar and vocal work, the bass guitar and drumming on the album also play their part brilliantly. The grooving bass lines supply additional weight to the main guitar riffs, while the d-beat style drum beats serve to make sure that there is never a sense of empty space in the album; varying the tempo of the fills and double bass when needed. While some listeners may be seeking more technical and progressive thrash metal in the realm of Vektor, I definitely think it’s one of the best thrash albums to come out it a long time.

If you’re a fan of old school satanic thrash metal, then give this record a listen as well as heading to the Edison lot early on Saturday to catch Hellbringer’s set. These tracks are bound to get everyone’s heads banging from the get go. Hellbringer will also be releasing their second full length record Awakened From The Abyss this August, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!

Sermon Of Death:

Demon’s Blood:

Hellbringer live:

Interview with Nick Holmes of Bloodbath

On Saturday, May 23rd of 2015 I was given the opportunity to interview Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Bloodbath (and also Paradise Lost). At the time of the interview Maryland Deathfest XIII was in full swing and I was running a bit late to meet him due to traffic. We met at the bar in the band’s hotel so there’s a bit of background noise on this recording and since I was running late I just kind of jumped into the interview without any last minute prep. It’s my shortest interview to date but it should still be interesting to fans of Bloodbath and Paradise Lost. I have another interview from Maryland Deathfest with Tom Warrior of Triptykon/Celtic Frost posted here and it’s a lot longer, more in depth and higher quality as well.

You can stream my six and a half minute interview with Nick Holmes by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription. My words are in bold.

Nick Holmes of Bloodbath

Alright this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’m here with Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Bloodbath who just headlined Friday at Maryland Deathfest on the Edison Lot last night. So first Nick, thanks for giving me some of your time here. How exactly did you become the vocalist for Bloodbath?

We toured in the States with Katatonia and Devin Townsend and we’d known them for years anyway so, but they asked me if I wanted to do it a couple years ago now so I had quite a long time to think about it. At first I wasn’t sure but then I thought, “why not” you know? We have a mutual love of the old school metal, death metal, and we’re all friends so it kind of made sense. You know if I didn’t know the guys I’d have probably hesitated but we’re all friends and we all… it just worked out great so.

Why did the band keep your identity as the new singer a secret for so long?

Good question. I guess it’s a bit of a tease thing isn’t it? I mean, you know.

Marketing?

Yeah well it’s just a little bit of excitement there. I mean everything’s already on the internet the minute it happens so when you’ve got to wait for something it makes it a bit more exciting I guess, you know.

Now I know you weren’t a member of the band yet but technically Bloodbath has played in America before and they played in Baltimore at Rams Head Live on November 1st, 2011 when Katatonia and Opeth were touring together the final night of their tour was here in Baltimore and they came out and did a surprise encore.

Oh did they?

Where they came out and they played “Eaten” and like another song or two.

Oh I didn’t know that. Was he playing (pointing to Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson)?

I think so. I know [Mike] Åkerfeldt was still doing vocals. I think that was the last time he ever performed with [Bloodbath].

Probably, yeah yeah.

You know Baltimore has been spoiled here. We’ve gotten you guys twice now. Is there any future US tour plans for Bloodbath?

Not in the immediate future. I mean, I’m starting to cycle the tour ??? but then they just did a new Katatonia album so there won’t be anything, it certainly won’t be in the next year or two. I mean it would be nice to do some more stuff with Bloodbath and we’ll see. We didn’t make any long term plans. We just did the albums and we’ll just see how it goes, you know? But obviously commitments with what I do and what Axe [Bloodbath drummer Martin Axenrot] does with Opeth and Katatonia you know that’s first so we’ll see.

So I guess there’s no plans for a new Bloodbath album any time soon as well?

It won’t be any time soon, no. I mean, if at all. So at this point it’s just a question mark.

Understandable, you guys are in so many other projects.

Yeah, yeah.

It must be hard just to find the time together.

Yeah, that’s it.

So speaking of which, your other band Paradise Lost has a new album, The Plague Within, which should be coming out in about two weeks.

June the first.

Pretty soon yeah, a week and a half or something like that. So how has it been managing your time between those two projects? I know you’ve been setting up for this Bloodbath show here but also if you’ve got the new album coming out you’ve got to do a press cycle for that as well.

Yeah it hasn’t been to bad yet. There’s a few kind of back to back things that I’m going to do with Bloodbath and PL which is next week actually. Which is kind of, I’d prefer not to do it but that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles you know? Because we’re starting a tour cycle we’ll probably do a tour and then we’ll do more festivals next year with Paradise Lost but we’re doing a lot of festivals this year with Bloodbath. So yeah it’s kind of working alright. I mean [Paradise Lost guitarist] Greg Mackintosh he also does Vallenfyre as well so he’s in a similar situation but we’re doing about three festivals with Bloodbath and Vallenfyre outside of PL so, but we’re not doing anything the same day. Which, that ain’t gonna happen you know?

Shane Embury yesterday from Napalm Death was in…

Oh he loves it. He will just play.

He was in Lock Up and [then] he went on with Napalm Death and Napalm Death played for like 85 minutes last night.

Yeah well he can just go all day, shit. Can’t he?

That’s a trooper man. Are there any plans for Paradise Lost to come to America? Maybe at Deathfest or another festival or a full tour.

I would love to do it but not in the immediate future. I mean hopefully next year. I don’t know you know it’s tough on, it’s expensive to tour here, that’s the thing. You know if you don’t play in [front of] X amount of people you end up losing your ass.

Yeah, yeah.

It happens to a lot of bands. It’s not like in England or Europe where you can, you [can] lose a lot coming here to do it. So you’ve got to kind of justify it. So it’s tough I mean. You know we did a lot of support so I mean if we did it, it would probably be as a support sort of thing. But yeah, hopefully we can.

Well the other two Peaceville Three bands have been to the US in the last year or two with My Dying Bride actually was one of the headliners for Deathfest last year and then Anathema came on a tour a year or two ago.

Yeah, yeah.

Out of the three Peaceville Three bands Paradise Lost is my favorite for the new material that’s still coming out. I loved the last album. Really excited for the new one.

Alright, thanks.

So OK. What did you actually do with the Necrophagia shirt that was thrown on stage last night?

I don’t know what happened to it. Yeah I forgot about that. I don’t know what… did I… I think I gave it to Waltteri [Väyrynen], the Vallenfyre drummer. He was just there cause he’s like a young guy, he wants all the shirts. He’s like, oh yeah?

So what did you think of the car park that Deathfest is in?

Yeah it was great. It was great a really good show, yeah. We really enjoyed it yeah, I mean, it was so much hassle just to get here to do it with the visas etcetera, etcetera. But yeah it was really good yeah we really all loved it. It was good, good fun and the crowd was great, really good.

Did you see any other bands at Deathfest this year, any that stood out?

I saw Aura Noir which I already like them anyway. I was kind of eating my dinner at the same time. But I mean yeah I like Aura Noir. Who else was it, oh obviously Lock Up as well obviously. But yeah you can’t really get away from it anywhere at a festival site because it’s so loud everywhere.

Yeah.

So you’re going to hear them at least if you don’t see them so.

Well anyway thanks a lot for your time man. It was great getting to see you guys. I got the little teaser before but it was really great getting to see you guys live man.

Good one.

[Bloodbath was] one of the big bands I was hoping to see this year.

Yeah well we loved it. It was good fun you know. Glad to do it.

Well thanks a lot for your time man.

Cheers bub, thanks.