Maryland Deathfest X – Hot Town, Crusties In The City: Saturday

My my, ’twas a scorcher and several quarters! I, even with my great resistance to heat, had to remove my jacket out of fear of death, so I don’t see how everyone in patch jackets or several layers of accumulated filth managed to fare any better. On this day I woke up a bit late-ish, so I missed the first couple bands, no biggie, I hadn’t heard much of anything from any of them, but I definitely was not missing Dragged Into Sunlight.

Dragged Into Sunlight are what you get from combining the pure nihil of Anaal Nathrakh with the dirtiness of Lightning Swords Of Death and a healthy kick of drug-addled Sludge a la Buzzov*en, and you’ve got one of the heaviest Black Metal bands you’ll have the displeasure of hearing.

They kept the room as dark as their music, with only everpresent blood-red lights and flashes of white light during the blasts, and a well-placed candelabra was conducive to a great atmosphere.

It may have just been all the sweaty men inside the Sonar and the humidity, but the air just felt heavy and close to unbreathable during their set. The pounding drums didn’t help either, quite literally rattling my chest a bit with every hit. Nothing to complain about here, as they did their job well with not a single hitch. Immediately after their set was over, I ran outside to get some air, and lo and behold, Hellbastard was playing.

One of the OG bands of Crust Punk/Crossover Thrash, they probably helped invent the name with their Ripper Crust release. I didn’t know they existed until I saw they were playing at MDF, which I should probably be ashamed to say, since these guys kick some major ass. All the way from the UK, and never quite realizing the success or at least recognition a band as legendary as they are has done little to sour their spirits, apparently, as they played their unique brand of Punk fuelled Thrash for a very eager crowd of dirty moshers. It was fucken crazy how wild people went for them, and also how much their frontman (aptly named Scruff) hates commercial Punk Rock. Knowing how little most bands comment on it with an “out of sight, out of mind, don’t see it, don’t exist” attitude, Scruff directly called out all the Green Days of the world by attacking the neck of his guitar, shouting “This is more Punk Rock than any of those bands will ever be!” You tell ’em, old dog. Hellbastard’s MDF appearance has set the stage for them to finally get the word out that angry music has been around for longer than most of us like to think. Just ask Amebix.

After Hellbastard I was feeling the effects of the heat and either stayed inside or just mucked about outside, taking in whatever happened to be playing. I can’t exactly properly review a band who I know dick about and only saw several glimpses of their sets, and that happened a lot today. I do wish, however, that I saw the chicken suit guy get kicked by Black Witchery‘s frontman, as that may have been the most interesting thing to occur during any of the Black Metal bands’ sets this whole fest. Let’s move along to Morbid Saint, a band you probably already hate due to their name and logo if you haven’t heard them yet and are anywhere near as judgmental as I about the covers of books.

In the mist, dark figures move and twist!

I thought I had them all figured out as some random lame Thrash/Heavy Metal band intent on boring my socks off, but a pleasant surprise came in the package of some decently heavy Deathrash, with speed enough to incite many a furious pit session. Colour me surprised, old bastards, I actually enjoyed this one. Not much to say other than they played their album Spectrum Of Death front to back, track to track, ass ta ass, and I can’t say I disliked it. During their last song I found it proper to take a jog to the other outside stage where Deviated Instinct was setting up the cannons with which to bathe us all in grease and crust from the same mass of land Hellbastard hails from.

Somehow I had managed to overlook the fact that they were playing MDF until Thursday, so this was a pleasant surprise. I had begun listening to them a few months ago, and kinda liked their approach to Crust Punk, as it involved a good heaping of Death Metal, mainly in the vocals. Live, Leggo amplifies the growls tenfold, ditching any of the punk sensibilities in his vocal work, which gave me the impression that he was too drunk to remember any of the lyrics anyway. True as fuck.

As with Hellbastard, the dirtiest, dreadlockiest, faded clothing-iest of the showgoers came out in masses, lending a nice aroma of human filth to the air and completing the ambiance. While Deviated Instinct may not have had nearly as many moshers per capita, it probably had the most violence and people actually seeking to cause others harm, with several people actively shoving others to the ground in fits of anger. Of course, what better way is there to enjoy music made by people who look depressed and/or angry for most of their onstage tenure? Their disgust for mankind is apparent in their music, and if you don’t feel the same, it’s probably not for you. If you’re looking for a band that doesn’t hate people and is actually one you might like to meet, check out Anvil.

Mountie uniforms soon to come.

Now I know what you’re thinking, that I actually like Anvil. The sooner we move past this foolish notion, the better. Anvil’s story is highly unfortunate, but for all the wrong reasons. They were overlooked in the 80’s, much like thousands of other Speed/Heavy metal bands of their time, yet I don’t see Iron Angel making a documentary about how success evaded them like the scattershot that is the music industry. Anvil like to claim that they deserved to be big, and they got their damn wish, but I don’t see why. They’re too cheesy even for the time they came out. The frontman’s stage presence is nothing short of Jimmy Fallon-esque, and their songs are on cerebral par with Manowar. Yet they’re so puppy-dog adorable and friendly almost feel bad and don’t dislike them, just pity them for actually thinking their music is damn important. I noticed that they actually seem to have some heavy distortion, so I wish they actually used that more often, since they have promise to be a heavy and interesting band, but are too stuck on making sure people validate them as musicians to write cool songs. It was a sight to see, with the audience’s applause coming largely from pity rather than genuine appreciation for Anvil’s presence. They were out of place, and Artillery wasn’t. Fucking Artillery, felt more at home at Maryland Deathfest, and they’re in the neighboring kingdom to Anvil as far as Metal subgenres go. That’s fucked. 

Let’s fast forward to Brujeria, who were easily one of the most fun bands of the night. Scratch that, they were, and I’m a massive knobgobbler for suggesting otherwise.

Brujeria’s superhero comic book backstory is that they are some drug cartel warlords from Mexico, yet only two or three of the members are actually Mexican. Among their ranks are Jeff Walker from Carcass and Shane Embury from Napalm Death (who I poked earlier in the day, not so friendly of a guy), who are pasty as British gringos can get without being albino, as well as the ex-drummer of At The Gates, among many other bands. Which leaves the two vocalists and the bassist, who I’m not too sure about but am too lazy to look up. Gollee, the turnout for people hailing from Hispanic countries (flags and all) was enormous, though I swear I didn’t see about 97% of them at any other point during the whole of that weekend.

This led to the vocalists telling jokes in Spanish, many of which I did not get, but laughed anyway cos I’m a hugely xenophobic asshole who thinks Spanish is a hilarious barbarian language (human humour for ya), and the songs were all in Spanish too, only one of which I actually know the lyrics to, having loved it since I was 13 years old.

The rest was all a confused jumble of sex, Satanism, drugs, and hating immigration/racist assholes, from what I can gather. The circle was nonstop during all of their songs, especially Colas De Rata, which I kinda knew, so I risked life, limb, and soul. The whole set was a non-stop blast of spicy Grind with a sense of humour to make Crotchduster take some notes en Español, including a song called Consejos Narcos, which seems to be about what drugs to do and what not to do.

¿Marijauna? ¡Sí! ¿El polvo? (lit. the powder) ¡No!

Fun stuff. The icing on the cake was their corruption of the Macarena to feature lyrics about drugs, cleverly entitled Marijuana. (¡AYYYYY!) At this point, the laughter and joy faded into apprehension as Morbid Angel set up. And believe me, they took long enough to drain all the mirth, with an extra half hour or so of waiting while some shite orchestral backdrop that I guess was supposed to be “so evyl and synystyr” played, in which a lot of people simply got fed up and left. I, wanting to witness any potential rioting should they have played any of the awful songs from the newest sacrificial offering, stayed firmly planted.

Hint: They didn’t.

Clothes from the “Goth” Bargain Floor since 1984

Morbid Angel actually played a pretty decent set. Surprised? I am too, but then again, I’d have been surprised if they went either way, since I was intent on remaining neutral in case of fire. They did play a few new songs, but they were the subpar stabs at Death Metal, not the unforgivable Nudustrial prank abominations. I guess Dave’n’crew aren’t that dumb, but here’s my main gripe with their stage act: Can David Vincent just speak to the crowd like human beings and not like he’s some sort of Demonic warlord? He’s lost that privilege since he thought Fruity Loops was a productive choice for an Extreme Metal album by a band that has up til this point been using real instruments, but I digress. He was corny as hell, to be frank, with his introduction to the song Nevermore being the typical “If someone fucks with you for being different, swear at them” kinda deal. He could’ve addressed the guy who was illegally walking along the highway and subsequently was chased by cops, but chose instead to consciously ignore it. Blown that opportunity out the water? At least play the good stuff, which they did. They did something strange with the song Immortal Rites, which is off Altars of Madness. Take a listen below.

Now that song was fine, but they done fucked with it by adding warbly clean vocals during the bits that should have been intimidating all of their own. Singing “Moooooooorbid” is not cool, D-Vince, it’s just silly.

Other than that, they seemed to have left the songs as intended, but I wouldn’t know about the second half, since I went inside to sit down and watch Tsjuder‘s set, having had my fill of the angel. They were pretty decent. Like most of the other Black Metal bands, they were painted up, but had more oomph to their sound, so they managed to keep my interest. Not too long after that, came the Spanish wannabe pathologists, Haemorrage, in their true bloody form.

Just a boring night out for Luisma

Woo doggy, lemme just say I’m surprised no one brought a scalpel to this set, because apparently the audience was full of surgeons and pathologists eager to crack open a warm one. It’s times like these I dearly wish I had brushed up on the source material, but like Nasum last night, they’re Grind, and every song is fucken awesome. These guys are the gorier sort, both visually and thematically, always sporting medical garb suspiciously covered in blood, and Luisma looking like he just swam in the river Styx. He got a little hungry during the set and was handed a fresh baby to devour.

He’s quite the leg man.

Haemorrhage are basically a Carcass clone, but like many of their type, they bring a unique spin on it. I’m gonna go with Exhumed and some of the more Rock’n’Roll influenced Carcass songs, only a bit more groovy and with more vomitous vocals. And to think they nearly kept the name Devourment.

With the security spraying water on the crowd periodically, the aerobics were prolonged into the witching hour, where Winter crept onto the scene, burying the joyous celebration of gore in layers of permafrost and rubble from dead civilizations. Allow me to present to you the two stages of their frontman’s stage presence.

Vocals

No vocals

This is by no means a complains, as one doesn’t go to see Winter and expect pyrotechnics or crazy guitar flip tricks. One goes to see Winter in the hopes that they’ll be lulled into eternal swamps of low end, merciless distortion, Tartarean bellows, and expugnisively slow and heavy rhythms, if they can even be called such, due to their lack of shape and speed. Only negativity surrounds the premier Death/Doom metal act, with every aspect of this NY three-piece doing their utmost to make it uncomfortable. Apocalyptic, with no hope for the future, no chance of leading into Spring, only into darkness.

With the members and the music moving at the speed of a wounded, frostbitten Arctic beast, it made for a great end to the night’s festivities. Boasting only one album and one EP, and influence on countless bands (namely the mighty Coffins), they have a lot of weight to drag around, and I’m glad to have been there to be pummeled. Tomorrow shall be the last of this string of MDF posts, which has been extremely taxing on me physically because I’m not used to working this hard. Now to go regain the pounds I’ve lost.

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