Maryland Deathfest X – Over The Hills Came The Bottles Of A Thousand Drunks: Sunday

On this most final of days, a mixture of emotions welled up in my dying heart: I was at once sad to see it all end so quickly, yet at the same time I wanted nothing more than to be back home on a normal eating schedule.I missed out on Backslider due to group dawdling, but I caught wind of their set not being particularly great anyhow, so I probably didn’t miss much. In addition to them putting on a mediocre performance, apparently the promoters of MDF didn’t realize that Backslider’s entire discography adds up to just about 10 minutes, and still gave them a half hour with which to roughly hew the faces from the attendees. Coke Bust, being none the wiser to the schedule and how important it is to adhere to it, started a bit early, so it’s good I showed up early.

The ideal drummer outfit includes short-shorts.

Coke Bust aren’t exactly a Grindcore band, but their intensity, song lengths, and love of the blast might have some fooled. They’re Straight-Edge and quite proud of it, so don’t let that be a turn-off, since they’re probably one of the best Hardcore bands I’ve discovered in recent times. The set probably only lasted about 8 minutes, but anyone who knew how to dance did so accordingly, because time is money for a band who pride themselves on keeping it short and sweet, giving any band after them time to dick around during set-up. I greatly enjoyed every second of it, with this DC outing pumping out some of their sweetest tunes, including No Authority, Deathbed, Degradation, and Another Fucking Problem. I am a satisfied customer.

Up next were Australian grinders, Agents of Abhorrence, who have drawn comparisons to the legendary Discordance Axis, and you’ll see why if you give both a listen.

It was loud, dirty, and at times surprisingly harmonic, which is the kind of brain-bending stuff I like in my Grindcore. Not to say the old way isn’t great too, but a little experimentation is always great, and not just for your sex life. I’m sure these guys don’t hit up the US very often, since Australian bands who aren’t Parkway Drive have a hard time getting big, much less the support for tours, so for anyone who missed this half-hour of power, shame.

Still dealing with blows of exhaustion after going all-out for Coke Bust, I basically sat through Cough and Rwake‘s sets, taking in the Sludgy mayhem both unleashed in a row. Note to all: When exhausted, keep in mind that this kind of music will counteract any rest you try to get if you’re sitting too close to where it’s being played. After the latter finished, I dragged myself into the sunlight to catch Church Of Misery, Japan’s bluesiest serial-killer obsessed Doom outfit.

Someone please photoshop a Head & Shoulders logo over this

You would never believe the amount of Hardcore dancing that went down during this set. It was damn ridiculous that any went down at all, to be honest. Blame it on spillover from fans of the two opening bands of the day, I suppose. The dickery of the crowd did little to diminish the quality of the music blasting from the stage, luckily, with pounding grooves and early 70s psychedelia colliding with Hideki’s schizophrenic delivery, ranging from Rock’n’Roll howls to hellish growls and pained screams.

The band didn’t miss a beat the entire time, despite looking stoned out of their minds, but for a band of their type, it must come with the territory.

Keeping in line with the Sludge/Stoner/Doom theme of the Sabbath day was YOB, who are in my personal running for one of the heaviest bands out there.

The dancing weirdo trend must have caught on for YOB, since some people were picking up some dropped change during some of the sludgier parts of the three songs YOB played. Successfully enjoying their ethereal brand of Stoner Doom (some call it “stoom”) involved a little meat dodging, but no matter. YOB played two tracks off the new release Atma, which seems to be even larger and more crushing than previous effort The Great Cessation, which I thought impossible. They seem to be actively trying to one-up themselves with each release, and that’s the mark of dedicated musicians. Also, it is indeed pronounced like “Yawb”.

YOB’s sound can only be described as celestial bodies waging war by colliding into one another, so if that sounds like your thing, do it up. The final song they played was The Mental Tyrant from The Great Cessation. Not one of my favorites from that album, as I would have preferred The Lie That Is Sin or the title track, but it’s YOB, so it promised to be epic regardless. Seeing only three songs seemed much too short, so I hope to catch them headlining a tour soon.

Right after YOB’s last note I fought my way outside and towards the stage where Suffocation was already in the process of laying waste to the crowd.

The Slap-Chop is a go-go

This set was quite special amongst the 3 other times I’ve had the pleasure of catching them (two of which were in their home state of New York), in that they played a set consisting mostly of old songs and stuff they either don’t play often or haven’t played in over ten years. The whole set was a trip back in time, with the most recent tracks being Cataclysmic Purification from Blood Oath and Abomination Reborn from the 2005 s/t. They even played a couple tracks off Despise The Sun, which was a real wowser.

Another difference between this set and all the others is that long-time drummer Mike Smith has stepped down (again) to make room for Dave Culross of Despise The Sun fame, which probably explains the heavy leaning towards the old, and two tracks from a release he kinda helped create. Guy seems to be growing his hair back, and looks weird as hell. I was almost getting used to him being bald, but the curly moptop deal he’s currently sporting makes him unrecognizable to say the least.

Happy late birthday to the broccoli head.

Frank’s banter was classy as usual, with talk of him wishing he could be in the army just to kill people, and how the sun’s a bastard and screwed him over, it’s the story of everyman. The crowd was violent and I think I witnessed a few injuries, and a man walking around with a bleeding eye was swinging wildly at anyone he came in contact with. Great success was had. Saint Vitus followed on the opposite stage, and so did a cloud of magic smoke.

Never look a wild Wino in the eyes.

Saint Vitus have been delivering some of the fuzziest, bombed out, bluesy Doom this side of the Atlantic for just a decade less than the masters Black Sabbath, which is still a damn long time, and considering that Saint Vitus is officially making a return like a slow, stoned phoenix from resin laced ashes, they’ve proven their tenure shall be grander and more enduring. Weinrich and co. playing back-to-back with Electric Wizard is a scientific formula made to get people goddamn high, and nothing more, but good music was involved, so the crowd willingly fell for it.

My only gripes with this set were that Wino’s voice wasn’t as powerful as it is on record (possibly due to lack of ridiculous reverb) and this is my own fault, but I didn’t recognize a great deal of the songs. Though I was hoping dearly that they’d either play Zombie Hunger or their self titled song, I still enjoyed the slow, brooding heaviness that is 34 years of smoky doom come back from the grave. Weinrich proved to be an able frontman even after all these years, surprisingly encouraging the moshers during their set, and saying “Fuck the pigs”. A man after my own heart.

Not one to stand all the way in the back during Electric Wizard‘s set, I made my way down to the other stage during the last few songs, and I learned that pot doesn’t always mellow people out.

The true stoner witch

To say that Electric Wizard don’t play the US often is to say that not all homeless people are in a dire situation. Due to a combination of legal issues and hating the weed over here, they seldom make the flight to the land of baseball and saturated fats. It just makes it all the more urgent that one be willing to make the journey to see them if they feel generous enough to blaspheme our shores.

The mark of a phenomenal performance is the intensity of the crowd, and there was no shortage of passionate movement. Even before the band officially began, it was already a roiling mass of flesh and po t. Allow me to describe the scene: countless plumes of smoke, frenzied eyes, ravenous inhalation of intoxicating fumes, humans taking flight, mentally and physically, all at once, it was a raging no-sided war and a joyous dance, a tribute to mother nature and her greatest green gift. The ultimate aftermath; a desert plain of broken plastic and misshapen aluminum, lakes of spilled alcohol and mounds of ash. A lost shoe as well.

I needed a good sit-down afterward, so I was almost praying they wouldn’t encore, and got lucky. God exists after all, but must be angry at Bethlehem for stealing the name of a holy land and playing something called “Dark Metal”, which to me comes across as some weird kind of Black Metal that hints at Gothic, Symphonic, and Doom elements. After that was Mortuary Drape, who I’ll check out later, decent Death Metal. Can’t you tell I’m just about done posting? I can, so fuck off. Until I have the strength to review a project named Amish Noise, goodnight.

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