Maryland Deathfest XII Recap – Part 2

Part 2 of my Maryland Deathfest XII recap will cover the final two days of the festival, Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of May 2014. You can read part 1 here where I cover what happened on Thursday and Friday of the fest. If you’d like to see more of my MDF photos you can do that here.

If Friday was the black metal day of the fest I think Saturday was the thrash metal day with performances by Sacrifice, Tankard, Sarke and Dark Angel all on the schedule. However I decided to get start the third day of Maryland Deathfest with helpings of grindcore and whiskey shots at the Baltimore SoundStage. I caught the Czech band БУТ perform first and they were pretty good. Their set was short, as grind sets tend to be, but they were fun. The next band I saw was Sick/Tired from Chicago. These guys were impressive with how terrifying their sound was. The audience wasn’t exactly huge yet at the SoundStage at 3:30 in the afternoon but they still brought it anyways. After they played I took a short boozing break before heading over to see Nocturnus AD at the main grounds of the Edison Lot.

Nocturnus AD is a spin off band of a now defunct death metal band from the early Tampa Bay, Florida scene known simply as Nocturnus. I remember these guys mostly for an album their classic 1990 album The Key. Apparently a few Nocturnus members secretly copyrighted the name Nocturnus then kicked out drummer/lead vocalist Mike Browning, the only founding member left in the band. Mike Browning then formed a band called After Death and together with the members of this band they performed for us at MDF as Nocturnus AD. It appears that they knew most people wanted to hear them play songs from The Key and they played the album from start to finish then closed their set with a crowd pleasing cover of the Morbid Angel classic “Chapel Of Ghouls.”

The next band to play was the German thrash band Tankard. These guys had a lot of energy on stage and musically they are beer fueled party thrash, basically the old school version of Municipal Waste. The audience reacted well and if nothing else Tankard gave us a good excuse to cool down with a few beers during their set.

Tankard:

Sacrifice was the next band to play and I was excited to see them. This was the Toronto thrash band’s first show in the US since 1993! They had their entire line up back together and they didn’t disappoint. Sacrifice expertly played their aggressive songs and I thought that this was the show that Coroner should have given us when they performed a rather lackluster headlining set at Maryland Deathfest in 2011.

Sacrifice:

The next band to play the Edison lot was Sarke. Originally started as an eponymous solo project by the band’s bass player, they’re more known for being fronted by Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone fame. Sarke is called black/thrash but they aren’t really as fast as bands like Aura Noir and Abigail. Their sound is pretty straight forward and cold. The band didn’t play the full amount of time they were allotted but I don’t think most people minded since for their final song, after covering Celtic Frost, they did what everyone watching the show hoped they do: cover a Darkthrone song. For those who don’t know, Darkthrone refuses to play live so Nocturno Culto performing “Too Old, Too Cold” with Sarke at Maryland Deathfest is about the closest any of us will come to seeing Darkthrone live.

Sarke:

It was getting ominously dark by the time Unleashed hit the stage. One of the first death metal bands from Sweden was called Nihilist and after a few legendary demos they parted ways with Johnny Hedlund and reformed as the band Entombed. Johnny Hedlund didn’t disappear though, he quickly formed Unleashed, a death metal band that over the years has gotten more and more into viking history and mythology. I tend to think of modern Unleashed as the more authentic version of Amon Amarth. It’s not every day you get to see one of the founding Swedish death metal bands play in America and while Unleashed’s set was pretty damn good, they didn’t play anything off of their legendary debut album Where No Life Dwells, which was a bit of a bummer. I realize they want to get people into their more modern material, and it actually is really good stuff overall, but some fans only know that album and even just a one or two WNLD tunes in the set list would have been nice.

Unleashed:

Next up was Saturday’s headliner, the long awaited return of Dark Angel. The band appeared with their complete Leave Scars line up, including the Atomic Clock, Gene Hoglan behind the kit. Their set list was a good mix of songs from each of their four albums. Dark Angel really put on a great show, despite the dim stage lighting and light rain that began midway through their set. Ron Rinehart’s voice was in good form and he did well on the Don Doty era songs too. They had a lot of energy, especially for an older band, and I think they really fed off the strong audience reaction. They ripped through their final song of the night, “Perish In Flames” and I could have watched them for another hour if they’d have played that long. Dark Angel was definitely my favorite performance of Day 3 of Deathfest.

Dark Angel:

After Dark Angel played I headed over to Rams Head Live to see Schirenc. They’re named after Martin Schirenc who is also known as Don Cochino, guitarist/vocalist of the Austrian band Pungent Stench. Originally billed as The Church Of Pungent Stench they were apparently forced to change the band’s name due to a court order by other former members of Pungent Stench. Regardless, Schirenc played a set consisting solely of old Pungent Stench material. I enjoy their bizarre take on death metal which has a macabre sense of humor to it, and I recognized several songs in their set list, but with only one member there it just wasn’t the same and it felt about as authentic as watching a modern “Guns ‘N’ Roses” concert.

Pungent Stench:

I walked the block over to the Baltimore SoundStage to catch their headliner, Excruciating Terror, a grindcore band from Los Angeles. This was something of a reunion show for the band which released all of their material in the 90s. They’re also noted for being the first band that Fear Factory and Divine Heresy guitarist Dino Cazares was in, though he was not part of the line up this night. Simply put, Excruciating Terror lived up to their name. Their songs, while short, were intense and ferocious bursts of grind and their energy level was through the roof. The audience went crazy of course and after their performance I was a sweaty mess as I walked back to Rams Head Live.

Excruciating Terror:

The final band to play Maryland Deathfest XII on day three was Asphyx. They’re a death/doom metal band from The Netherlands fronted by the legendary Martin van Drunen. Their old school approach to death metal combined with their muddy riffs and Martin’s on stage charisma was a hit with the Deathfest fans. Their set list covered crowd pleasers like “We Doom You To Death” and “Death The Brutal Way” but I think the highlight for me was hearing them play their crushing song “The Rack,” an old favorite of mine. As they finished I headed back to the hotel knowing that Sunday was going to be a marathon of excellent metal that I would need my rest to make it through. We can’t have the guy who writes the MDF Survival Guide not surviving can we?

Asphyx:

I arrived at the Edison lot early enough on Sunday to catch the first band of the day, Windhand. They’re a female fronted doom metal band from Richmond that I’ve been a fan of since their days of playing basement shows. It was just awesome seeing them on that big outdoor stage with all that power behind their ultra heavy riffs. They’re definitely one of my favorite rising bands these days and their performance was one of my top favorites of all of this year’s Deathfest.

Windhand:

The next band to play was Bongripper, and instrumental band from Chicago that plays, you guessed it, stoner metal. I wasn’t really familiar with them going in but they were really great live, definitely a surprise find for me as I tend to avoid bands with names focused on drug use. They played a solid thirty minute set that didn’t seem to have any downtime between songs and Ronald Petzke’s aluminum necked EGC bass guitar really brought the heavy to their songs. At one point the Chicken Man was held up high in the crowd holding a banner that read Hippie Killer, the title of one of Bongripper’s albums.

Bongripper:

Back on stage B of the Edison lot the Portland based sludge metal band Graves At Sea took the stage. I didn’t love these guys as much as the previous two bands, they were tough acts to follow though. I didn’t think they were bad, just nothing outstanding I guess. Some people were really into them though. I ended up wandering off to buy more merch midway through their set.

Graves At Sea:

The next band to play the Edison lot was Maryland’s very own Misery Index. The local death/grind band was the first high speed band of the day and they really woke up the audience. It was great to see Jason Netherton playing with the band again, the sole founding member was absent the last time I had seen Misery Index play. He seems to have turned over much of the vocal duties to Mark Kloeppel but the band was still really tight live and as usual, very fun to watch.

Misery Index:

Next the Maryland Deathfest audience was treated with a rare appearance by Pseudogod, a blackened death metal band all the way from Perm, Russia (although Impurath of Black Witchery was filling in on bass). They took the stage covered in blood and really brought the brutality. Their set was an unforgiving aural beating which seemed extra intense in the sun’s unrelenting heat. Their devastating set closed with a cover of “Blood War III” by French black metal band Antaeus (who happened to play Maryland Deathfest in 2013).

Pseudogod:

After Pseudogod played it was time for Wrathprayer, a blacked death metal band from Chile. They were ok I guess but didn’t stand out to me that much after the intense set by Pseudogod. The three piece didn’t seem accustomed to performing on a big stage either as they didn’t move around much up there and seemed a bit awkward. I think they would have been better on a smaller stage. After four or five songs I figured I had gotten the gist of what they do and I decided to hang out in the back more and get some cold beer.

Wrathprayer:

The next band to play was the two piece black metal band Inquisition. Originally from Colombia they are now based in Seattle and they’ve become pretty popular in the past few years. However there’s a bit of controversy around them of late for possibly being racists and honestly it’s a bit ambiguous whether they are or aren’t. They have some catchy songs and the crowd seemed really into them but I hung out in the shaded picnic table area after I finished shooting them cause I’m not clear if they’re bigots and it’s really not worth my time figuring it out when I can just move on to something else.

Inquisition:

Soilent Green took the stage next and this was something of a reunion show for the band who hadn’t played together in several years. Based in New Orleans, several of their members have moved onto more famous bands such as Eyehategod, Crowbar and Goatwhore. They play a mix between sludge and death metal that comes across much more catchy than you’d probably expect that to sound. The audience went crazy for them and you could tell the band really fed off that energy.

Soilent Green:

After Soilent Green played I made one of those tough decisions you’re sometimes faced with at Deathfest. I decided to skip seeing Gorguts, who I had just seen with Carcass a month prior, in favor of heading over to the Baltimore SoundStage to see Death Toll 80k. They’re a grind band from Finland and while I didn’t really know what to expect of them I figured this was my one chance to ever see them live. My gamble payed off, they were fucking great live! Intense, brutal and fun is how I’d describe them. They were probably my favorite band of those that I saw at the SoundStage during MDF and though my feet were sore walking back to the Edison lot after their set there was no doubt in my mind that the pain was worth it.

Death Toll 80k:

It was a total shift in gears when then next band I saw was Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats from England. They play a very catchy, and fuzzy, style of 70s inspired stoner metal. This was their first US show and a lot of people had come just for the chance to see them. They were really fun live, full of energy on stage and those infectious riffs sounded great booming out of those big speakers. Even Deathfest needs a bit of down time to let everyone catch their breath and Uncle Acid was the best chill out music you could ask for.

Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats:

Next up was the Swedish band Candlemass. I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of their gothy doom sound which often has power metal elements to it. They were pretty entertaining on stage though and their new vocalist Mats Levén seemed to be a hit with the fans who were getting their first chance in years to see Candlemass perform live in the US. I ended up leaving early to try to catch Australian grind band Pneumatic Slaughter at the Sidebar. Unfortunately we were told at the door that they had dropped off the bill (I later caught up with their vocalist, who is also the vocalist of Whitehorse, and asked why they pulled out and he said they had told the MDF promoters several weeks prior that some of the members wouldn’t be able to play). A bit of a bummer but not the end of the world. I wasn’t very excited to see the doom metal turned goth band My Dying Bride headline, even if it was their first US appearance since 1997, so I headed over to Rams Head Live early.

Candlemass:

After a bit of down time New York City based Mutilation Rites played a short but sick set of black metal. The audience was pretty sparse but they still brought the heavy for the entire time they were allotted. If you missed them don’t worry, they’re playing at the Pinch in Washington DC on July 14th (more info on that here). The band was pretty tight live and handled the big stage at Rams Head Live well.

Mutilation Rites:

Next up was the first of two bands from New Zealand that I’d see this night. Diocletian plays very aggressive blackened death metal and uses a lot of medieval military style imagery as well. This band wasn’t fucking around though, they brought the punishing riffs with almost nonstop rage. Diocletian also played at the Edison lot early on Saturday before I arrived but they were given this set as a bonus because Mitochondrion couldn’t get into the country. Both of Diocletian’s guitar players were wearing Mitochondrion shirts on stage in recognition. Anyways, I ended up leaving a little early because I wanted to catch a bit of the headliner a block over at the Baltimore SoundStage.

Diocletian:

Over at the Baltimore SoundStage the legendary Brazilian thrash/hardcore band Ratos de Porão was causing a ruckus by the time I walked in! People were going crazy stage diving, crowd surfing and just losing their shit. Formed in the early 80s the band, whose name translates to Basement Rats, still has two members from those days with them, and the drummer has been there for over 20 years now too. I first became aware of this band when I was in high school because Sepultura covered their song “Crucificados Pelo Sistema” but I never figured I’d actually get the chance to see them live. While I didn’t really know most of their material it didn’t matter because it was just damn fun watching the band and the audience just go crazy together. At one point between songs their bass player requested the audience boycott the World Cup (which is taking place in Brazil right now) stating that it is just a big scam for the rich to make more money while ignoring the country’s poor. He’s probably right but this is America, we’re already boycotting soccer with our apathy toward the sport.

Ratos de Porão:

After leaving the sweaty Baltimore SoundStage with a big grin on my face I returned to Rams Head Live to see Ulcerate. The New Zealand based three piece tech death band puts out some great albums but they’re simply incredible live. Their drummer, Jamie Saint Merat, steals the show and rightly so, he very well may be the best drummer in all of metal right now. I didn’t mind missing part of their set because I had just seen them at Empire the night before Deathfest started, but even so their performance was no less jaw dropping the second time around.

Ulcerate:

Next it was time for the final band of Maryland Deathfest XII, Immolation. I felt bad for them having to play after Ulcerate, there was no way they were going to top that. The old school New York Death Metal band had a very influential album in 1991 called Dawn Of Possession and the highlight of their set for me was when they played “Those Left Behind” off of it. It seemed like the band didn’t want Deathfest to end any more than the audience did as they played right up to the 2am cut off time. Finally Maryland Deathfest XII had come to a close.

Immolation:

I can’t stress enough how much fun this year’s Maryland Deathfest was. As usual there were tons of great bands as well as metal brothers and sisters to watch them all with. Security was excellent this year, they treating fans with respect while also not escalating situations. They all deserve high fives for their good work this year. The MDF organizers will be announcing the bands for next year’s festival soon so keep your fingers crossed that your unrealistic metal concert wish list will become a reality.

Big Ass Recap Of Winter 2012 Concerts

Well it’s been a while since I’ve written a concert review on here. I’ve admittedly been a bit hesitant due to issues surrounding my last one. I didn’t stop going to see metal shows and in this post I hope to start getting caught up on these concert reviews. In fact, this is going to be part one of a three part series of mega concert recap posts that should have me kicking it into high gear. This one will review metal shows I went to in late November through the end of December of 2012. Part two will cover January 2013 and part three will cover February 2013. Concert reviews are fucking back baby! And of course you can click on any of the pictures below to see more of my photos from that band. Now, on to the recaps…

We’ll start with the High On Fire show all the way back on Black Friday, the 23rd of November at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington DC. The first band I saw that night was Primate, a grind band featuring Bill Kelliher of Mastodon on guitar and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth on vocals. They were ok as far as grind goes. The highlight of their set for me was their cover of Black Flag‘s Gimme Gimme Gimme. Next up was the death/black metal band Goatwhore from New Orleans. They’ve got some mosh friendly riffs and all but they’re pretty damn generic and I can’t think of one thing about their sound that is unique or distinctive. They’re an OK opener I guess but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them. Headliner High On Fire, led by Matt Pike of Sleep fame, came out ready to play and just tore the place up. The show became a sweaty mosh pit and their dirty sludge tunes sounded killer this night. They ended their set with my favorite song, Snakes For The Divine. That song has such a catchy opening riff! This show was a great metal way to spend Black Friday.

Primate:

Goatwhore:

High On Fire:

A week later, on Friday, November 30th, I found myself at Casa Fiesta in Washington DC for a bit of a mish mash of a show. There were a couple of local hardcore bands opening that I didn’t see. The first band I got to see was Biipiigwan, a sort of blackened sludge band from Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. They were good and created an interesting yet energetic atmosphere. Next up was Sofy Major, a noise metal/hardcore band all the way from France. I really enjoyed their set. It was energetic and dirty and I thought the songs had a lot of variation. The last band to play that night was Midnight Eye, a local metal band with clean vocals, though the guitar wizardry is the true highlight of this band. They write some damn catchy riffs and combine it with some very proficient guitar playing. I heard some of their new material live for the first time at this show and it blew me away! I can’t wait to hear studio recordings of the new songs.

Biipiigwan:

Sofy Major:

Midnight Eye:

The next night, Saturday, December 1st, I was back at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington DC’s H Street corridor. The first band I caught that night was Hour Of Penance. They’re basically Italy’s version of Behemoth. If you like Behemoth you’ll probably like them too. Not the most original band, but they were a pretty good opener for the brutal line up this show had. The next band to play was Maryland’s own Misery Index. Since they’re a local band I’ve seen them a ton of times, though unfortunately this was the worst performance I’ve seen from them. Misery Index’s frontman and bass player, Jason Netherton, was not on the tour because he had been working on something for his PhD. That absence caused Mark Kloeppel to take over on bass and handle most of the vocal duties as well. This really thinned out the band’s sound and while they gave it a good go, it just wasn’t up to par with crushing shows I’m used to from Misery Index. Headliner Cannibal Corpse never disappoints and while I’ve seen them too many times to count over the years I never get tired of the insanity of their live show. Their lead singer, Corpsegrinder, is basically the living embodiment of Nathan Explosion, vocalist of the fictitious band Dethklok on the Cartoon Network tv show Metalocalypse. Quite the charmer, he dedicated the song Priests Of Sodom to all the women in attendance who “take it up the ass.” Corpsegrinder always gets the moshing going and even called upon the Chicken Man to lead the pit at one point. And the pit was rough for this show, just like it should be at a death metal concert! At one point I saw some kid, maybe 10 years old, stumbling around the mosh pit looking for a hat he had dropped. I pulled him out of the pit and alerted security, nobody seemed to know where his parents were. The kid didn’t even have ear plugs. Parent Of The Year award goes to somebody for that night. Anyways, the show was great, they played a few newer songs but kept the set to mostly songs from throughout their history, ending with the usual Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped Raped And Strangled.

Hour Of Penance:

Misery Index:

Cannibal Corpse:

The following Thursday, the 6th of December, I drove up to Baltimore to see Vomitor and Negative Plane play at Golden West Cafe in Baltimore. It should be noted that Golden West Cafe has a good beer selection for beer snobs as well as some great food (with many vegetarian options) and their kitchen is open late. The first band to play was Extermination Angel, a thrash/death metal band from Baltimore. I had seen them before but it had been a while. They never wowed me in the past but apparently they’ve been practicing a lot because they really sounded better than I remember them being. I was impressed, and it’s always nice to see local acts improving over time like that. The next band to play was Negative Plane, a black metal band from New York City that has something of a surf rock vibe to their guitar riffs. They were really good live. Their unique sounding riffage kept them interesting throughout their entire set and I think I enjoyed them more than the headliner. Not that Vomitor was bad. They are from Brisbane in Queensland, Australia and have been a force in the obscure underground death metal scene for years. I felt very lucky to get a chance to see them play live. Their set was brutal and gross (as you’d expect from a band named Vomitor) but their songs don’t have a whole hell of a lot of variation and after a while you kind of knew what you were going to get from each song. Still, they really got the crowd going and they were definitely worth the drive up to Baltimore.

Negative Plane:

Vomitor:

The next night, Friday, December 7th, a day that will live in infamy, I headed over to Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia to catch The Faceless. When I got there the Haarp Machine was playing and it only took me about 10 seconds to realize this was not something I could sit through. I headed to the back “Alchemy Room” at the venue and waited for Revocation to play. They were worth the wait, as always. Boston based Revocation is such a damn good band live. Their songs are fun and jam packed with catchy riffs. They’re pretty fun to photograph as well because of all the goofy faces and poses various band members make while they play. The Faceless was the final band to play. They’re a pretty talented band that made a name for themselves with their very catchy tech death sound however they seem to be moving into a more progressive style, particularly on their latest album, Autotheism. They’re pretty complex and can take a few listens to fully digest what they’re doing. They’re a talented band and their songs are pretty deep, but I still think Revocation was the better live show.

Revocation:

The Faceless:

On the following night, Saturday, December 8th (third show in three nights for those who are counting) I headed out to The Lab in Alexandria. The Lab is a rec room for some church that is across the street. As such, there’s no food and definitely no booze there. Regardless, it is a decent sized space with a nice big stage. This night I went to see a DIY death metal show with all local bands. I missed the first band, Shotgun Surgery, but I am glad I caught the second. Annandale’s Gradius is a death/grind band that has been getting pretty good. The band is really starting to get tight and you can tell it is from a lot of practice. The next band to play was Short Bus Pile Up. They’re a gore obsessed death metal band with song titles like Urethral Myiasis, Fecal Matters, Gagging On Dick and Ball-Peen Beating. Their sound is as brutal as you would expect it to be. They came up from Fredericksburg, Virginia to play this show and they definitely brought it. In fact, for the third show in three nights, I again thought the direct support band was better than the final band to play that night. Visceral Disgorge headlined this show. They’re a death metal band from Baltimore that is along the lines of Aborted and Dying Fetus. That kind of slamcore death metal isn’t really my favorite style of metal as I feel it’s been really overdone at this point, but they weren’t bad at it. They did get the pit raging and people seemed to really enjoy it. Apparently two of the members of the band are leaving so hopefully they’ll find replacements and keep the band moving forward. In all it was a pretty killer DIY death metal show.

Gradius:

Short Bus Pile Up:

Visceral Disgorge:

It wasn’t until the following Saturday that I went to my next metal show. This time it was a DIY house show at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia. The place is tiny but I’ve seen some killer bands there so I can’t complain. A black metal band from New York/New Jersey named Black Table was coming down to play the basement at the Cellar Door. When I arrived I found out that two bands from Louisiana were added to the show at the last minute. Sweet, bonus metal! The first band I saw was Mailbomber. They’re a two piece sludge from upstate Louisiana and they were alright. A good start to the show but not the high point of the night. The next band to play was Solid Giant, a sort of stoner/doom band from New Orleans. They were more polished than the previous band and I really liked them. I hope they come around to a place with a better sound system some time, I’d really like to hear them on a proper stage. The next band to play was Black Table. They have a woman who does vocals as well as play guitar however I thought their drummer stole the show. He was really punching it and putting some real force behind those songs. They were a good show and definitely worth coming out to see. Gradius played at the end of the show but since it was getting late and I had just seen them the weekend before, on a real stage no less, I took off just a couple songs into their set.

Mailbomber:

Solid Giant:

Black Table:

Two days later, on Monday, December 17th, I was at DC9 in Washington DC’s U Street Corridor to see Royal Thunder. They’re a female fronted quartet from Atlanta that sort of straddles the line between rock and metal. I had seen them in October at the Pig Destroyer album release show in Baltimore, but they seemed an awkward fit on that bill. However this setting was much better for them and they really killed it that night. Their sound is sometimes dirty, sometimes bluesy, sometimes catchy, and always pretty damn fun to listen to. Also, I have a funny story about this show. A friend of mine, who doesn’t go to a lot of concerts, was at the show with me and had her jacket tied around her waist. While the band was mid-song we were standing in front of the merch table, which Royal Thunder always has decorated with tea candles. At one point I looked over at my friend and saw a stream of black smoke raising up behind her and I quickly realized she was on fire! I quickly alerted her to the situation and helped put her out. She wasn’t hurt but the jacket was ruined. Hilarious!

Royal Thunder:

The following night, Tuesday, December 18th, I went to Empire in Springfield, Virginia to see Battlecross play on the final night of their tour. The tour was supposed to have Abiotic on it also but they had dropped off at some point due to mechanical problems with their touring van. I missed the first local opener, Animas, but I did get there in time to see locals Yesterday’s Saints put on another good performance. They’re sort of a melodic death metal band with vocals that alternate between clean and harsh. Also, their drummer makes some of the funniest faces while he’s playing. They’ve got some really catchy songs they’ve been playing for a while but I’m definitely ready to hear their new studio material, it should be out soon I think. Battlecross is a thrash metal band from Detroit who has a lot of youthful energy on stage. They were pretty fun to watch, even with the crowd being pretty thin for this show they still put their all into their performance. You could tell these guys were having fun playing together. They’re signed to Metal Blade and I could see them on a tour in the future with some other up and coming thrash acts like Sylosis and Holy Grail.

Battlecross:

As you have seen above, at this point I’d been to a lot of smaller shows and by the time Xmas rolled around I was ready for a bigger show. So on Wednesday, December 26th I went back to Washington DC’s U Street Corridor to see Clutch play at the 9:30 Club. The show was sold out but I got there early to be sure I could see the legendary Wino perform his solo set. Yep, that Wino, the guy who fronts Saint Vitus and has been in a ton of other important doom bands. This show was different though, just him with an acoustic guitar and a microphone. His solo stuff is nothing fancy but it is personal music that is often very heavy in subject matter. I really like his album Adrift and it was great to see him play some of those songs live. Dave Sherman, a local musician who was in Spirit Caravan with Wino came out and performed a song with him to end the set. The next band to play was Saviours, from Oakland, California. I didn’t like them at all and I found their music to be extremely generic. Each song seemed like a rip off of another greater band’s style. One song sounded like The Sword, one like Motörhead, one like Black Sabbath, and so on. The crowd seemed to like it though. The next band to play was Mondo Generator, a band led by Nick Oliveri who is most noted for playing bass in Queens Of The Stone Age and Kyuss. They were alright however like most of the spin-off bands from Kyuss, it makes you wish you were actually listening to Kyuss. The place was packed by the time Clutch hit the stage. This was the first show of the tour to support their upcoming album, Earthrocker. As such they came out of the gate fired up and the audience loved it. They played several songs from the upcoming album and they blended in to the set list (see it here) seamlessly with the older classics they played. I particularly enjoyed hearing the new song DC Sound Attack being played to a full house in DC. In all it was a great show and I’m hoping for a similar experience at their show in Baltimore with Orange Goblin in April.

Wino:

Saviours:

Mondo Generator:

Clutch:

The final metal show for me of 2012 was seeing Black Clouds and Warchild play at the Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street in Washington DC. Black Clouds played first, they’re a mostly instrumental three piece from DC. They’re an atmospheric and very dark band that is more rock than metal really. They have a cool light show setup and they’re the kind of band that sucks you in early keeps you entertained the whole show. Their final song has a recorded spoken word part that is read by Neil Fallon, frontman of Clutch, that ends up with him repeating “everything is not going to be ok” over and over like a broken record. Next up was DC’s wildest metal band, Warchild. These guys sound like Kill ‘Em All era Metallica and party harder than Municipal Waste. Their catchy riffs get the pit going early and their vocalist, Rory Sheridan, came out on stage in a full Santa costume. These guys can’t keep their clothes on though and soon enough the entire band was showing off their extensive tattoo work on their upper bodies. Santa had gifts for those in attendance and pulled people out of the audience to open individually gift wrapped beers that were immediately chugged on stage. Warchild is always a great band to see live and I don’t hesitate calling them the most fun of any local metal band to see live. I highly recommend going out of your way to see these guys play if you ever get the chance.

Black Clouds:

Warchild:

Well, that’s it for part one of my big ass recap of this winter’s metal concerts. Well, at least the ones I’ve been to. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I’m excited to get back into writing about all the great metal shows that happen in this area. Be sure to check back next week for a new ticket give away and hopefully part two of this winter concert recap series. Stay metal everyone and remember, support the scene that you’re a part of!

Cannibal Corpse Ticket Give Away

Cannibal Corpse is one of the most infamous death metal bands in history and this Saturday, the 1st of December, they will be playing at the Rock And Roll Hotel in Washington DC! Because this show is going to be absolutely brutal DCHeavyMetal.com is going to give away a free pair of Cannibal Corpse at the Rock & Roll Hoteltickets to one of you readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at the end of this post telling me which Cannibal Corpse song is your favorite (you can see their discography here, just click on an album to see the songs on it). Cannibal Corpse is known for having some of the most gory, disgusting, violent and downright offensive song titles in all of metal so I hope to see some interesting entries! On Friday, November 30th at 5pm EST I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the free pair of tickets to the show. If I don’t hear from you in 24 hours then I’ll pick another winner to get the tickets. Please don’t enter if you cannot attend. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. If you simply can’t wait to see if you win the contest you can get tickets from Ticket Alternative for $20 here.

Cannibal Corpse originally formed in Buffalo, New York, but moved to Tampa, Florida to join in the growing death metal scene there. They’ve long been a center of controversy with their brutal lyrics and album covers, setting the bar of shock for countless death metal bands to strive to match. While metal fans tend to look at them, and death metal in general, as the musical equivalent of splatter horror films, politicians like Bob Dole and Joe Lieberman have tried to censor the band and in the 90s Germany and Australia both actually banned their albums from being sold. Despite this the band still continues on and their music has actually gotten faster and more brutal over the years, including on their latest release, Torture, which was released in March of this year. Also on this tour is Misery Index. The band was formed when several members of Dying Fetus left that band however only Jason Netherton remains from the Fetus days. The band has carved out its own sound since then and is one of the best live metal bands you’ll ever see, they absolutely destroy audiences live! Hour Of Penance is an Italian death metal band that is pretty similar in sound to Behemoth actually. Needless to say, they’re pretty damn brutal and should be a perfect opener for this show. You can listen to each of the bands playing in the videos I posted below while you decide which song you want to enter with. Keep it brutal everyone, cause this concert definitely will!

Cannibal Corpse – Encased In Concrete

Misery Index – The Spectator

Hour Of Penance – Sedition Through Scorn

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!

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.