Review of Exodus and Obituary at Baltimore Soundstage

Tampa took on San Francisco when the Battle of The Bays Tour came to Baltimore last weekend. DCHM contributor Metal Nick was there and he wrote this review of the show and shot all the photos and videos posted here as well.

On Saturday September 16th, 2017, the Battle Of The Bays Tour came through Baltimore, Maryland, at the Baltimore Soundstage. Power Trip, Obituary and Exodus make up the tour’s line up. Dust Bolt were scheduled to open the tour but, according to their statement, they were forced to cancel the first few shows due to Hurricane Irma delaying the German band’s travel plans.

First up was crossover rising stars Power Trip who are based out of Dallas, Texas. They are are currently supporting their latest album Nightmare Logic which came out in February of this year on Southern Lord Records. This is a great tour for these guys because, as they stated numerous times on stage during their set, they are huge fans of both Obituary and Exodus. They opened with the new record’s first track “Soul Sacrifice.” They played several older songs as well. When the breakdown during “Heretic’s Fork” hit the crowd certainly reacted in a good way for them. The band themselves had a lot of stage energy and their performance was on point. Right before Power Trip played their final song of the night, “Manifest Decimation,” you could tell that they had won over this Baltimore crowd already as a “POWER TRIP” chant had started up. This set was much better than the last time they played Baltimore Soundstage back in March during their headlining tour, mostly because their sound was lot better this time around.

Next up was Tampa Bay death metal legends Obituary. This was my fifth time seeing Obituary live and I must say, I feel they have revived their career over the last two albums they have released. On this tour Obituary is supporting their self titled release that came out on Relapse Records back in March. They opened their set with “Brave” the first track off that album. There was a lot of energy coming from the crowd as soon as Obituary started to play which made it easier for them to perform. Most of Obituary’s set consisted of songs of the self titled album, but as soon as they started to play “Chopped in Half” the pit opened up and there were bodies flying around. I felt that they have never sounded so good live. Maybe it is because Joe Cincotta was doing sound for them. Joe has done live sound for bands like Suffocation and Body Count and runs Full Force Studios. You know you are in for a good show if you see Joe doing sound. The crowd roared when Obituary started to play “Slowly We Rot” and a very large smile came across the face of vocalist John Tardy. All in all I feel this was the best performance I have seen from Obituary. I can’t wait to catch them on a headlining tour. Hopefully they will play more Cause of Death songs next time.

Last up was San Francisco Bay area legends Exodus. Drummer Tom Hunting hit the stage wearing a Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant jersey. Tom quickly stood on both his bass drums hyping the crowd up before the rest of the band took the stage. Much to my surprise Gary Holt took the stage next. I know sometimes he has to skip Exodus tours due to his latest gig in Slayer, but it was great to see him with the band he started. One by one the other members took the stage and the band kicked right into “The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles” off their album Exhibit B: The Human Condition. The Baltimore crowd greeted Exodus with loud roars and plenty of head banging and crowd surfing. The crowd did not hold back at all from showing their love and support for Exodus on this night. When the the song “Blood In, Blood Out” was being played the crowd was singing along for the entire chorus of the song. I love to hear stuff like that at a metal show. It shows that metal is still alive and well in our scene. This was only my second time seeing Exodus live so I am not sure if they play this song often, but they played “War Is My Shepherd” and that was another tune that the Baltimore audience was really into. The second to last song they played was one of my favorites, “The Toxic Waltz.” When I was a kid I would see that video on Headbanger’s Ball and I always remember the scene where a fan did an inverted stage dive. Unfortunately there was a barrier up tonight so no stage dives. When the bridge to the chorus of “The Toxic Waltz” came up the crowd was at their loudest singing every word with frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza. My only complaint about their set was that they did not play “Piranha” which is easily my favorite Exodus song, but I guess they can’t play them all. Their sound was great, I feel like they didn’t hold back at all for this rowdy Baltimore crowd. I loved their performance and wish I could catch this tour every night.

This was an amazing tour package. You had three bands that each had a different sound ranging from hardcore/crossover thrash, death metal and thrash metal. I had a great time at this show. It is very rare that I leave a show and say that all three bands sounded and performed great, but last night was definitely one of those times.

Power Trip – Crucifixation

Power Trip – Conditioned To Death and Heretic’s Fork

John Tardy of Obituary

John Tardy of Obituary

Donald Tardy of Obituary

Donald Tardy of Obituary

Trevor Peres of Obituary

Trevor Peres of Obituary

Tom Hunting of Exodus

Tom Hunting of Exodus

Gary Holt of Exodus

Gary Holt of Exodus

Steve 'Zetro' Souza of Exodus

Steve “Zetro” Souza of Exodus

Decibel Metal And Beer Fest in Philadelphia

I don’t usually cover things outside of the DC area but I’ll make an exception for the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest held at the Fillmore Philadelphia on April 22nd and 23rd. Metal and beer are two of my favorite things and Decibel did a great job of bringing together some excellent bands along with some quality breweries with heavy metal ties for a weekend that was pretty damn fun overall. I’ve been a rather sick since the fest so I’m behind on getting this post up, but there was some cool stuff going on at this fest that I wanted to make sure got covered here even if it is going up a bit late.

I’d never been to the Fillmore in Philadelphia before but I quickly realized that it is much larger than our Fillmore in Silver Spring, maybe about double the size. The doors opened at 5pm each day and bands were still setting up their merch booths as the doors opened. Things were a little disorganized, but considering this was the first fest of its kind it wasn’t that bad. One of Mikkeller‘s beers didn’t show up until the second day and the venue ran out of the small plastic beer sampling glasses rather quickly on the first day which lead to most people getting cups from the bar. Overall those weren’t major issues though and it was a lot of fun talking to the people that work for the various breweries about their beer and metal bands they are into.

Atlas Brew Works at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

Atlas Brew Works representing DC

There were 17 breweries at the festival and each had a booth with at least two beers being poured. The booths were mostly on the ground floor lining the walls in the main concert room, however there were 4 upstairs and 3 in the main entry room, including the massive Unibroue booth. Along with the band merch and beer booths there were a few other merch vendors in the main entry room. Despite being in Philly, between all my beer friends and metal friends I felt like I kept running into someone whichever way I turned all weekend.

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth

Dave Mustaine pouring the A Tout Le Monde beer

The festival did a really good job of actually blending a metal fest with a beer fest. This wasn’t just a metal show with some beer vendors, or a beer fest with some metal bands playing. Decibel managed to bring together metal bands with ties to craft beer with breweries with ties to heavy metal. Burnt Hickory had a beer tap that looked like an Orange amp rig. Trve Brewing and Hammerheart Brewing both had brewers in bands that performed at the fest (Khemmis and Panopticon, respectively). Dave Mustaine was there on Saturday to pour samples of the Megadeth beer A Tout Le Monde at the Unibroue booth, he was certainly getting A-list celebrity treatment. I found Dan Lilker (of Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, and a ton of other bands over the years) pouring beer at the Mikkeller booth and taking photos with any fans that wanted one. I talked to him a bit and it turns out he’s really into craft beer and even knows some of the guys at the Danish brewery Mikkeller, which is how he ended up manning their booth. At one point I saw Municipal Waste drummer and craft beer connoisseur Dave Witte at the Cigar City Brewing booth, where the Municipal Waste beer Divine Blasphemer was being poured. And Richard Christy (of Death, Iced Earth and also the Howard Stern Show) was seen sipping the Charred Walls Of The Damned beer from Burnt Hickory.

Dan Lilker at the Mikkeller booth

Dan Lilker at the Mikkeller booth

And let’s not forget about the awesome bands! There was a wide range of metal in the line up. Grindcore, stoner, thrash, death metal, black metal, doom, the focus was certainly on the more underground sub genres. On the first day of the festival I was most excited to see Panopticon. Austin Lunn is the mastermind behind Panopticon and also a brewer at Hammerheart Brewing in Minnesota. Despite forming about 10 years ago, the band has only recently starting performing live. Their first live show ever was last summer at Migration Fest. This is because Panopticon is a one man band in studio and Austin gets other people to fill out the band for live shows. Panopticon is known for mixing black metal with Appalachian folk to create a truly unique sound, sometimes called “blackgrass” as a hybrid between bluegrass and black metal. Unfortunately they didn’t use a banjo live, and their mix wasn’t always great, but it was still pretty awesome getting to see Panopticon live as they have some very powerful and moving songs. I also found Austin’s Hammerheart brewery to be one of my favorites at the fest. They specialize in smoked beer (which is a personal favorite style of mine) and their rauchbier was my favorite beer of the entire fest. Apparently Austin apprenticed at a brewery in Norway for a while and upon returning to the US he moved from Kentucky to Minnesota to start Hammerheart Brewing. The brewery’s name is no coincidence, it is in fact named after the 1993 Bathory album.

Panopticon performing their song Black Soot And Red Blood at the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest!

A post shared by Metal Chris (@dcmetalchris) on

Immolation also played an intense set on Saturday, as they are typically known for. They may not do a lot on stage besides stand there and play their instruments but they do get people going with those crazy riffs. I thought I would see a lot more crowd surfers during Municipal Waste’s set. They were fun as always but I guess the fans were holding back because they went nuts for the night’s headliner. Agoraphobic Nosebleed headlined the first day with a great set. I wish Jay Randall had been there to perform with them, but the band still put on a great show and even played one of their sludgy songs from the Arc EP, “Not A Daughter.” As usual the Chicken Man was there leading the moshing and even got a shout out from ANb.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

Agoraphobic Nosebleed at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

On the second day my favorite performance was probably Khemmis. The Denver based doom metal band put out one hell of an album in Hunted last year and I had yet to see them perform live. Their drummer, Zach Coleman, is also a brewer at the black metal themed Trve Brewing in Denver so their inclusion on the fest’s line up seemed like a no brainer. I had actually met Zach a few weeks before at my own metal show at Atlas Brew Works, and as fate would have it Trve’s booth was next to Atlas’s booth. Trve is best known for making excellent sour beers, though they only brought one sour to the fest, along with their Sleep inspired Nazareth IPA. Trve’s beers are very hard to come by on the East Coast, so this was a great opportunity to get your hands on some.

Zach Coleman of Trve Brewing and Khemmis

Zach Coleman at the Trve Brewing booth

Sleep headlined the final day of the Metal & Beer Fest and they put on a great show as always. Time seems to have no meaning when Sleep is playing live and although they didn’t play any parts of the song “Dopesmoker” like they usually do, they did play some rarities like “The Clarity” single they released on Adult Swim a few years back and “Sonic Titan,” the other song on the original release of Dopesmoker. Pig Destroyer was another highlight of Sunday’s line up. Their lighting was low and there was a lot of fog, less than optimal conditions for photography, but don’t let that make you think their set was anything but intense. They even brought out Dag Nasty vocalist Shawn Brown to perform with them when they covered the Void song, “Who Are You.”

Sleep at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

Sleep at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

Sleep at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

In all the weekend was pretty great! Almost all the best metal related breweries were there, like Burial, Three Floyds, Trve, Holy Mountain and DC’s own Atlas. The only breweries I felt really should have been there but weren’t were Jester King from Austin and Oliver Ales from Baltimore. While Hammerheart’s Weltenwanderer rauschbier was my favorite beer of the weekend, there were other standouts as well such as Wigsplitter coffee stout from 3 Floyds, Ritualknife black braggot from Burial (a collab with Trve), Charred Walls Of The Damned Belgian quad cinnamon apple pie variant from Burnt Hickory, Twisted Doom New England style IPA from 18th Street and Cursed sour pale ale from Trve. I think the best brewery of the event has to go to Burnt Hickory from Kennesaw, Georgia. They were totally in the spirit with their Orange amp rig beer tap as well as bringing by far the most beers of any brewery to the event, including several rare variants of Charred Walls Of The Damned. I hope Decibel does this event again next year and I really hope more breweries get as into it as Burnt Hickory did!

Burnt Hickory Brewery's Orange beer tap

Burnt Hickory Brewery’s Orange beer tap

Thanks for reading to the end of my post. I had some help covering things in Philly from Metal Nick so be sure to check out more of his videos from this fest (and many, many other concerts) on his YouTube page here and more of his photos on his Flickr page here. Maryland Deathfest XV is just around the corner so stay tuned for our coverage leading up to our favorite local metal festival!

Review of Meshuggah at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Many of you that go to concerts regularly in our area may know Metal Nick for some of the awesome photos and videos he shoots of metal bands. Well last Sunday he was at the Fillmore to photograph the Meshuggah and High On Fire tour for DCHM and he wrote up this review to go with them. Enjoy!

On Sunday, November 6th, 2016, Meshuggah and High On Fire rolled through Silver Spring, Maryland, at the Fillmore Silver Spring. This was the final show of the tour to support Meshuggah’s latest album, The Violent Reason of Sleep. High on Fire opened the show. The building had filled in quickly so they performed in front of a large crowd. Their live shows have always been full of large, crushing, sludgy guitars and drums which set the mood with the crowd almost immediately. After they finished their first song vocalist Matt Pike yelled out “Hello Baltimore!” I am not sure if that was a joke or he really thought he was in Baltimore. Once the drums started rolling in the beginning of “Turk” a huge roar of joy came from the crowd, it seems that was the most anticipated song of the night. They played for 35 minutes and surprisingly the Meshuggah fan base was really welcoming to their sound.

Meshuggah went on next and came out to a really creepy sounding intro that fit the vibe of their live show. They opened with the first track off The Violent Reason of Sleep titled “Clockworks” which made the audience at the Fillmore go crazy. It wasn’t long before the crowd surfers started coming over the rails, even Ant Scot, the famous wheelchair crowd surfer, made an appearance. Their progressive metal sound was complimented well with their flashy strobe light that very rarely contained any color lights. All in all their set was very enjoyable consisting mostly of songs off their last three albums with a few older tracks sprinkled throughout the set. One tune I was surprised to hear was the 9 minute song “Dancers To A Discordant System” off the Obzen album. Throughout the night there were a lot of chants for “Bleed” and when Meshuggah finally played it the pit became more aggressive. They closed their set with their classic song “Future Breed Machine,” off of the 1994 album Destroy Erase Improve, which is always a huge crowd pleaser. I would say that if you haven’t seen this tour go check it out, but this was the final date of this particular tour, hopefully both bands will hit the road and come through again in 2017.​​​​

Matt Pike of High On Fire

Matt Pike of High On Fire

Jeff Matz of High On Fire

Jeff Matz of High On Fire

Des Kensel of High On Fire

Des Kensel of High On Fire

Ant Scot riding high

Ant Scot riding high

Jens Kidman of Meshuggah

Jens Kidman of Meshuggah

Dick Lövgren of Meshuggah

Dick Lövgren of Meshuggah

Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah

Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah

Review of Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Tuesday, September 22nd of 2015, Ghost kicked off the first show of their US tour when they played the Fillmore Silver Spring, coincidentally the same day that the pope arrived in Washington DC. The mysterious Swedish band is always a spectacle to see live with their elaborate unholy church theme. While their catchy songs are on the lighter side of the metal spectrum, their live show has always been the main attraction for this band.

The only opening act at this show was Purson, a London based psychedelic rock band. I only caught the end of their set (there was a huge line to get into the show) but I wasn’t too impressed by what I did hear. The music was fairly standard for the style and not really that interesting to me. Vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham was wearing an extremely low cut, skin tight catsuit that certainly got her lots of attention for anything but her music. I couldn’t help feeling like I’d just seen the same shtick when Lucifer opened for High On Fire and Pallbearer at the Baltimore Soundstage last month.

Ghost is known for their stage set up which resembles the inside of a cathedral complete with an imitation stained glass backdrop. The band is anonymous so they all wear masks to hide their identities, a gimmick that has led to much speculation about who the band members actually are. The instruments in Ghost are all played by the “Nameless Ghouls” who were wearing metallic masks with devil horns and no mouths. The vocals are handled by Papa Emeritus III, an unholy pope with a skull painted mask on his face, long papal robes with upside crosses adorning them, and even a mitre (what most people call a “pope hat”) with the band’s logo emblazoned on it.

Ghost played for about an hour and a half, but that time went by pretty quick since they are so entertaining. They played eight songs off their newest album, Meliora (see the entire set list here). The songs have kitschy but fun openly satanic lyrics for the most part, and the entire audience sang along for most of the entire show. The music itself isn’t anything revolutionary, it’s fairly simple and straightforward but they do have some cool riffs in there and Ghost is really catchy overall.

The performance can best be described as broken up into two halves, the first half had five songs from the first album Ghost album, Opus Eponymous, and was the typical unholy church mass you might expect. For some reason they started the show off with the song “Spirit,” the rather lackluster first track off of Meliora. An odd choice since just two songs later they played “Ritual,” a song which has one of the best openings to get a crowd into a show that a band could hope for. Even the second song they played, “From The Pinnacle To The Pit,” would have been a better opener. There was also a short drum solo in the first half of the set, which was ok I guess but to a metal head that has seen some absolutely incredible live drum solos over the years it wasn’t anything that wowed me. If you have seen Ghost prior to this tour then you probably knew what you were getting for the first half of the show.

The second half of the show was a bit different than the first, and caused some controversy among the band’s older fans. There were still plenty of songs from Meliora in this part of the set, but no more tunes from the debut were played. Several from the second album, Infestissumam, were performed in the second half of the show though. The really defining thing that separated the first and second halves of the show was when Papa Emeritus III changed costume. He ditched the robes and mitre and came out in a much more form fitting jacket that looked like something a naval commander in the days of wooden ships might wear. I can understand the idea of trying to update and evolve the character of Papa Emeritus to keep it from getting stale, but I think the execution here was a miss. An evil twist on a more traditionally religious costume might have gone over better and kept with the unholy church theme. Papa’s voice also seemed to have more trouble in the second half of the show, he missed a few notes here and there, though he tended to recover quite well. There was a cool section that featured two songs being played acoustically. I rather enjoyed this as I had to miss their recent acoustic performance at the Sound Garden in Baltimore. At one point the Nameless Ghoul on keyboard duty stepped into the spotlight for a brief keytar solo, which was a bit ridiculous yet seemed to fit right in with the campy Ghost performance. There was an encore which featured several songs, including “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen,” a highlight of the show, and even “If You Have Ghosts” a track off their covers album. The 19th and final song of the set was “Monstrance Clock,” a catchy song that had the entire audience singing along to the chorus.

In all the show was a lot of fun. The first half was a more traditional Ghost show while the second half was a more modern take, even if didn’t quite hit the mark at times. Still, it’s good to see the band trying new things to stay fresh and relevant in a time where music fans have such short attention spans. Ghost is still a great band to get the uninitiated into metal concerts because they’re just so much fun live and that’s something both new and old metal fans can agree on.

The following photos were all shot by Metal Nick at the show, the first of hopefully many collaborations between Metal Nick and Metal Chris!

Purson:

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost:

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring