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!

Metal Alliance 3 ticket give away

Anthrax at Fillmore Silver Spring

The Metal Alliance Tour is back again and with Anthrax headlining this year it’s bigger than ever! The tour’s only area stop will be at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday, April 14th, 2013 and we here at DCHeavyMetal.com want to make sure as many of the area’s metal heads can make it out as possible so we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the show to one of you lucky readers of the site. To enter just tell me which bands you’re most excited to see on this year’s Metal Alliance tour by leaving a comment on this post. Read the next paragraph for info on all the bands playing. On Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 5pm EST I’ll pick one lucky winner from all the valid entries at random (using Random.org) to win the pair of tickets. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you when 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 the contest is over when you read this or you simply can’t wait to find out if you win the contest you can buy tickets from Live Nation for $30 here.

Anthrax is headlining this year’s Metal Alliance Tour and to make it even better, they’ll be playing their classic album, Among The Living, in its entirety at every show on the tour. But don’t think the New York thrashers are the only band worth seeing at this show. Direct support will be provided by the legendary Exodus, one of the original bands from the ’80s thrash metal scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. Richmond party thrashers Municipal Waste will also be on this tour so be sure to have a beer in hand when they’re playing. The Massachusetts based melodic death metal band Shadows Fall will be playing only a few dates on this tour, including this one. Their lead guitarist, Jonathan Donais, has recently been added to Anthrax’s live line up so he’ll be playing twice each night. The opening band is Holy Grail from Pasadena, California. They play a blend of thrash and power metal that is almost as high energy as their live show. If you’re not familiar with Holy Grail then check out their newest album, Ride The Void, which is their best release yet, and be sure to get to the show in time to see them. Now watch the awesome videos below by each band playing the show and leave a comment telling me which of the bands you want to see most at this thrashing show!

Anthrax – Indians

Exodus – The Toxic Waltz

Municipal Waste – You’re Cut Off

Shadows Fall – The Unknown

Holy Grail – My Last Attack

Municipal Waste and Napalm Death at Empire

Friday the 26th of October 2012 was one hell of a fun night. Municipal Waste and Napalm Death were kicking off their co-headlining tour with Exhumed and Vektor at Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia that night Poster for Municipal Waste and Napalm Death at Empireand you just knew a line up like that was going to result in an awesome night. Apparently a lot of you had the same idea as the place was pretty packed. It was probably the best turn out I’ve seen at Empire since the new management took over back in January.

There were a couple of local openers to start the show off but I didn’t get there until Vektor was just beginning their set. They play a futuristic tech-thrash that is pretty damn fun to watch live. Their songs are long but they go all over the place so you never feel bored listening to them. The crowd surfers were already starting during their set. I had seen Vektor headline a show in mid September (ready my review of that show here) and while they didn’t play as long of a set, it was still cool seeing them on a proper stage. Also, guitarist David DiSanto was playing a new guitar this time. After Vektor played it was time for Exhumed to unleash their gory death metal on the crowd. They were as fast and brutal as ever and they’re the kind of band you can tell is having a lot of fun on stage. They had their crazy chainsaw surgeon guy come out on stage a few times with his real chain saw that he was waving over the audience and they even had blood splatter onto some of the people up close when he pulled out a decapitated head. Exhumed opened their set with several songs off their latest album, All Guts, No Glory, but started playing older songs midway through their set. They ended their set with their classic The Matter Of Splatter which really had people going nuts in the pit. Two bands in and this show was already kicking some serious ass!

Napalm Death was the next band to take the stage. They’re one of the fathers of grindcore and have consistently put out good material since they formed 31 years ago (although none of the current members have been in the band prior to 1987). In addition to that they’re also known for being one of the best live bands in extreme metal. As they opened their set they showed that their age was not slowing them down a bit. I had seen them in May at Maryland Deathfest X but this time the audience was much closer up to the band and the setting was definitely more in your face. Hell, I even saw a guy in a banana costume stage dive during their set (photo of that below). Napalm Death’s vocalist, Barney Greenway, was as spastic as ever on stage, pacing back and forth between bursts of vocal rage and showing that he’s still one of the most ferocious live vocalists in metal. Their set contained mostly material from the past 10 years or so but they did sprinkle in some key tracks from older albums throughout the set. For some reason the band played their infamous Guinness World Record holding one second track You Suffer two times during their set, that was a new one. I didn’t love their latest release, Utilitarian, because a Napalm Death album with clean vocal parts just doesn’t sound right to me. Even so, when they played The Wolf I Feed, a song from that album, it still fit in well with the rest of the songs they played despite the clean back up singing. Napalm Death played a thoroughly brutal set from start to finish and the audience seemed to love every minute of it, myself included.

The final band of the night was Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste. They’re a party thrash metal band and they’re known for having a totally wild live show. Most of the band’s songs revolve around binge drinking and partying and they readily encourage stage divers. However if you stay on stage too long you’ll get an atomic wedgie, which vocalist Tony Foresta explained by making an example of one lingering stage diver during the show. They got the crowd going from the start with their songs Headbanger Face Rip and Mind Eraser. Tony said that since the band had toured so much lately they wanted to change up the set list some. This included playing A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Destroyer) for the first time ever live as well as playing the first song Municipal Waste ever wrote, Thrashin’s My Business… And Business Is Good. You can see the full set list here. The band was a bit sloppy but it didn’t matter, they’re more about having fun than playing perfectly. Guitarist Ryan Waste was sporting a new custom guitar that had a body shaped like a big M and W. At one point Tony mentioned that he didn’t like most modern thrash bands, but that he definitely approved of Vektor. An odd opinion since Municipal Waste is one of the biggest modern thrash bands. The shred-fest went on for over an hour and the mosh pit went crazy all night. Crowd surfers and stage divers were a constant presence and I’m sure a lot of people were nursing bruises afterwards, but they were well worth it to be in the middle of all the fun. As usual, you can see my photos of the bands I was there for below. I didn’t get shots of all of the band members throughout the night because it was hard to move around the wild audience that close to the stage and I was not trying to damage my camera with all the crowd surfers over head either. I have some video footage of Municipal Waste as well but due to complications from Hurricane Sandy I haven’t been able to upload those yet. I hope to add them to the end of this post in a day or two. It was great to see such a good turn out for a metal show at Empire and I hope to see more of you out at metal shows soon to help support the scene you’re a part of!

Vektor:

Vektor at Empire

David DiSanto of Vektor

Frank Chin of Vektor

Erik Nelson of Vektor

Exhumed:

Bud Burke of Exhumed

Matt Harvey of Exhumed

Bud Burke of Exhumed

Exhumed chainsaw guy

Matt Harvey of Exhumed

Napalm Death:

Mitch Harris of Napalm Death

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Napalm Death at Empire

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Barney Greenway of Napalm Death

Municipal Waste:

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste

Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste

Municipal Waste and Napalm Death ticket give away

Municipal Waste and Napalm Death are co-headlining a tour that will be at Empire (formerly known as Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia on Friday the 26th of October 2012 Municipal Waste and Napalm Death at Empireand since it sounds so damn fun DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a free pair of tickets to one lucky reader of the site. All you’ve got to do to enter is tell me your favorite Halloween themed song (metal or otherwise) by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post. On Wednesday, October 24th at 5pm EST I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of tickets to the show. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. If I don’t hear from you in 24 hours then I’ll pick another winner to get the tickets. 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 Amped & Alive here for $16.

Richmond thrashers Municipal Waste are among the leaders in the modern wave of thrash metal and if they do anything better than shred it’s party. They’re known for putting on crazy wild shows and you can bet this Friday night show will get crazy. If you’re looking for an excuse to wear your Halloween costume in a mosh pit this year then this is it! Napalm Death is a legendary UK band most known for pioneering the grindcore genre and in case you didn’t know they put on intense live performances. The band still keeps it heavy after all these years while also bringing attention to important social issues. California’s masters of gory death metal Exhumed will also be playing this show, which is perfect leading up to Halloween. Expect to see blood, guts, and a maybe even a real chainsaw on stage during their set. Philadelphia based Vektor is a futuristic tech-thrash band that is paving the way for the future of thrash metal and they’ll melt your damn face off while they’re at it. You will also be able to catch March To Victory from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and NoVA locals Krass Judgement opening this concert. This Friday night metal gig is jam packed with so much awesome that you’d be crazy to miss it. Now check out some of these creepy videos and songs by the bands playing and go enter a the bottom of the page!

Review of Municipal Waste gig at Rock And Roll Hotel

So Sunday the 25th of April I decided that instead of going to the Earth Day Climate Rally on the national mall, I’d much rather go to see the bands Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust at the Rock & Roll Hotel. No I’m not some hipster just trying to be ironic, I really couldn’t give a shit about Sting, I want some thrash! When I got to the venue the opener, Black Anvil had just finished playing, so I didn’t get a chance to see them. After talking to a few of my friends who had already gotten there I moved up to the front of the stage. There wasn’t much of a crowd in there when I got inside, but the place was filling up by the time Toxic Holocaust finished their set. They played a really good set and they’re one of those bands who not only plays their material faster live, but with much more energy. They didn’t talk much between songs and really just came out to shred it seemed, and the audience seemed to get into it a bit. It was a great set to warm the crowd up, though I’m not sure if they really needed it.

After a rather long set up time, Richmond natives Municipal Waste hit the stage. The crowd was ready and it didn’t take long for people to start running onto the stage and stage diving back into the audience. The security was not happy about this and had its hands full trying to kick people out. Several times between songs Municipal Waste berated the security for kicking people out and I noticed the bouncers had started to just throw people back into the pit when they were crowd surfing. That was a pretty intense mosh pit, I did my best to stay out (moshing with my cameras = not good!) but you could tell it was made up of a lot of DC hardcore kids and they were ready to get brutal. People were singing along with catchy chorus lines and just all out having fun. Their set was a good mix of songs from all their albums, though I don’t think the audience cared what they played really, as long as it was fast. That’s because their vocalist, Tony Foresta, had such great stage presence. He was jumping around and instructing the circle pit which way to spin and turning the mic around so the people could help out. He told people to all jump up on stage for the final song so it wouldn’t matter if people got kicked out by security, and they did! It looked like maybe a dozen people were crammed on the stage by the time the song ended. The only gripe I really had about the show was that they did the typical “walk off stage and wait for the crowd to chant for an encore” rock star bullshit thing. I thought that was kinda glam, especially considering they’ve got such a punk influence. That’s really not a big deal, and the show was a lot of fun for everyone except security!

Below I’ve posted the videos I shot with my normal camera from this concert. If you saw me there you may have noticed I also had a palm cam that I was shooting with. It’s actually a friend of mine’s and he was letting me borrow it. The video quality came out great though the audio was terrible, complete overload once the guitars started up so I didn’t post them to YouTube with these other vids. There is a recording volume control but I didn’t know how to use it until I looked it up after the concert. That’s ok though because really this was just a test run for when I bring it to Maryland Deathfest next month. It really did a good job of adjusting to the dark setting though, which if you look at the third video below, you can see my normal camera does not. The audio is still good on those though, so I hope you enjoy them.