Third Time’s The Charm: Maryland Deathfest XII: Saturday & Sunday

Saturday
Ramen is truly some food of the gods level shit. I subsisted on all of Friday and most of Saturday with the aid of four of these magick squares. Only a dollar each at —you guessed it— Dollar Tree. Stock up for the apocalypse. And find this guy.
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Ramen unfortunately couldn’t help Diocletian’s very evil brand of blackened death be more than an okay attempt at the sound of canned hell. Dark, swirling riffs and blasts ringing from bottomless pits is cool, but variety is severely lacking. Entrails, however, came to save my life —or end it, rather?— with their sticky, sweet old school Swedish Death Metal, complete with a logo that looks suspiciously like Entombed’s.
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Ladies.
Spain’s Machetazo brought yet more evil to the fore with their wicked gore/death inflected grind, en Español.
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Hearkening to bands like Regurgitate and fellow countrymen Hæmorrhage, they seem  uninterested in being unique (and with Grind, that’s quite a feat), just brutal, and they’ve certainly succeeded in that regard.
God Macabre, yet another group of old school Swedish Death infantrymen long forgotten, made their first appearance in the U.S. here, and probably was in the top three bands most likely given to old ladies if they asked fest-goers what “concert” they were heading to.
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With only one full length to their name, The Winterlong, you could probably guess the setlist, plus a cover of a Carnage song. Forget which one, but it was damn near heartwarming when vocalist Per Boder smiled in delight when the crowd reacted positively to the name of their fellow deathheads. “I guess they’re not so underrated after all.” You bet’cher ass, bud.
When one thinks of progressive death metal, Florida’s Nocturnus (A.D.) should ideally be what comes to mind alongside acts like Pestilence, Atheist, and Death, though admittedly I hadn’t heard of them until I saw their name on the line-up. Playing their seminal album The Key in full, Nocturnus prove that synths don’t necessarily have to end up sounding cheesy when used alongside brutal music.
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Vocalist/drummer Mike Browning (ex-Morbid Angel) seemed to be having loads of fun blasting and growling simultaqneously for such uplifting tunes as “Standing In Blood”, “Lake Of Fire”, and even a special cover of “Chapel Of Ghouls”, how rad’s that shit, homie? I think they even played a Death cover, but I could just have been imagining it. Setlist.fm isn’t helping my case.
The original Speed Metal Drunks (who’s Municipal Waste?) in Germany’s Tankard were clearly not hammered enough; they could still play their instruments. The crowd was one-upping the fuck out of them, however, with a beer-soaked circlepit despite the blazing sun cooking them through. Songs about zombies, and beer. Party. It’s fun stuff, though not the absolute greatest that thrash, has to offer, nor is it the best that humour has to offer, but these krazy Krauts won’t fail to get a chuckle or headbang out of you.
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Finally taking my non-drunk self to the Soundstage to catch DropDead for my third or fourth helping this Gregorian year, I first caught Sweden’s d-beat heroes in Victims. They play a version of the genre that reminds me of Martyrdöd, with more melody than is normally allowed, and less ear-fucking distortion, though weren’t quite as captivating as I would hope. Had they played it straight Swedish and aped Anti-Cimex or even Finnish contemporaries (all Scandinavians are the same, right?) in Riistetyt and Kieltolaki, I dare say they’d be more what I was seeking. DropDead, however, are consistent in their delivery, combining crust punk, powerviolence, and d-beat cooked the right way; raw and still bloody.
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Between socio-political and generally ‘wake-the-fuck-up’ rants came short but intense bursts of distilled punk fury, very rarely going below speeds safe to drive on the highway. The setlist seems to have changed, as they are including more new material that, while less speedy than the material of old, still has its fangs, yellowed with age but reddened with new blood as they press on. There was a special guest appearance, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to even mention it, though I will mention that they played a cover of Siege’s “Drop Dead”, and as an extra spiffy bonus, a cover of “It’s Not What It Seems To Be” by fastcore/powerviolence legends Lärm. Sweeeet,
With Nocturno Culto finally bringing his drunk ass to America only to not play in DarkThrone was a disappointment to many, but I suppose Sarke is the next best thing. Who knows, maybe Fenriz’ Red Planet will stop by to play material fromEngangsgrill in a few years.
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At least the crowd hungry to hear one song, any song by DarkThrone got their wish, sorta, since they played a ‘cover’ of “Too Old, Too Cold”. Clearly the case since Nocturno is never seen without a leather jacket. A weird mix of black-ish metal, normal-ish heavy metal, death rock, and whatever else Nocturno deems the right thing to do these days, it was interesting, but c’mon. DarkThrone. Not gonna stop saying it ‘til it happens.
True Norwegian Viking Death Metal warriors in Unleashed were something. Among my main draws to the fest this year, it’d be wrong to say I was disappointed, but underwhelmed is the word I’ll go with since their set was noticeably lacking in the glorious potential they are capable of.
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Having a staggering 11 full-lengths of Nordic praise, and my having only heard 5 or 6 of them in full (not counting the ...Revenge demo), I knew there were gonna naturally be some songs I wouldn’t know well enough to fistpump to. However, the lack of “In Victory Or Defeat”, “Warriors Of Midgard”, and prime material from As Yggdrasil Trembles was distressing. To add to the discomfort, they stretched out some songs by at least two or three minutes (“Death Metal Victory” count: 8+), thus cheating themselves and the audience out of more songs. It sucks that happened, but at least Johnny Hedlund brought out a Viking drinking horn, and the predictable happened. My diagnosis: they were drunk. To Asgaard, their brains flew.
Next up were Dark Angel, who’ve probably got more riffs in a single song than an entire Bolt Thrower album (or two), arrived to show us that indeed, time does not heal, because Thrash is a lifelong disease.
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Now recovered from a spine injury that left him unable to move, much less sing, Ron Rineheart is now back in action, and the L.A. Caffeine Machine is once more abrew. With speeds equal to or greater than that of even the fastest cuts on Sepultura’s Arise, it’s a wonder how Dark Angel never got up to the Big 4 instead of Megadeth, who stopped being Thrash after Killing Is My Business. Oops. They’re as virile and potent as 14-year old sperm after all these years.
Following U.S. fast with U.K. fury were Extinction Of Mankind, who, while not a founding band in crust (having formed in ’92), are as important as acts like Deviated Instinct and Hellbastard when assigning blame to old British guys spreading this filth. Their particular style is that popularised by acts like Misery; slow-churned Thrash infused riffs, barked vocals, and a steady beat to break down the walls of establishment. Naturally, the scent of unwashed dreads is the only perfume to adequately accompany such sounds, what with their LPBaptised In Shit, and all. I saw them again in someone’s basement a few days later, but don’t expect a review of that.
I took a little nap during L.A.’s Excrutiating Terror, who weren’t all that painful, nor scary, to be honest. It was decent grindcore, though not too much of a racket, so I caught a few Zs before heading over to catch the real death metal bastards in Asphyx, because what the fuck is a Schirenc? I’d have liked to have caught “Shrunken And Mummified Bitch” live, but The Church Of Pungent Stench would be a much more sensible name, aye? Or even Pungent Stench A.D., in keeping with what seems to be an MDF tradition? Whatever.
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So, The Netherlands’ Asphyx, fronted by one of the few aside from John Tardy who can audibly sneer while growling, —is this a blonde thing?— Martin van Drunen belted out classics like “M.S. Bismarck” and newer ballistics in “Deathhammer” with equal ease and aggression, and the band are no slobs either.
Come to think of it, Hail of Bullets should play next year. Just a thought.
Sunday
The soreness had began to set in by this time, yet my body had no say in preventing further torture. There was yet more on the plate for this exercise session from hell. Luckily for my muscles, a one-two-three heavy handed slap of stoner/doom in the form of Windhand, Bongripper and Graves At Sea was how the Sabbath day was to begin. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the former two bands practiced and recorded stoned and played sober?
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Theorising.
My next gym coaches in Misery Index, however, demanded a few proverbial pushups, despite the lack of shade. How cruel of them to play “Traitors” when they know that it’s impossible for me to stand still during such a thing.
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The new track(s) from the newest opus The Killing Gods were business as usual; brutalising politically conscious death/grind the way Misery Index has delivered it to their hometown of Baltimore and the world for 13 lucky years. I’m assuming they all walked home after Deathfest, since they probably live up the street.
Pseudogod, they existed, and Wrathprayer from Chile played Blackened Death Metal that was surprisingly not too generic, though little stuck out in particular from their performance. The wizardly dissonance of Colombia’s (now based in Seattle, WA) Inquisition was much needed following these two noble, if not uninspiring acts.
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Dagon’s trademark croaks take some getting used to if you’re not already into that thing, which I found out some years ago when I first heard “Those Of The Night”. I thought, “How the fuck are these Black Metal vocals? Weak shit, kid”, and fell in with the camp that didn’t enjoy the Popeye With Throat Cancer treatment. However, with time, I came to see them as an integral part of their sound, as important as the spiraling, dark melodies and atmospheres that blanket their deceptively simple aural landscapes. The tastefully militant blasting and appropriately placed groove sections provided by drummer Incubus are done well enough to the point that variety is not of great concern. Dagon even had the foresight to have two mics set up so he wouldn’t simply stand in one place the entire time, and that somehow made it a lot less likely to be bored while watching their ministrations. Clandestinely keeping you titillated since 1989.
A smorgasbord of Louisiana’s most metal featuring members of Goatwhore, Crowbar, and Eyehategod, Soilent Green are an unexpectedly well-done mixture of blues-tinged sludge metal and blasting deathgrind. I’d go so far as to say they’re one of my ‘favourites’ among bands I had gone in not expecting to be good, much less pretty darn good. Makes for good BBQ eating soundtracks. Because, y’know, the South. Following them were the French-Canadian band voted least likely to have anything to do with gore or guts, Gorguts, who are equal parts surrealist staircase-to-nowhere artists and death metal.
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Reanimating “Orphans Of Sickness” from The Erosion Of Sanity (complete with slamdown) and “Inverted” from From Wisdom To Hate, Gorguts shows that they’ve not gone entirely soft on us. That is, if you consider the fact that they’ve run with the avant-garde angle from Obscura onward going ‘soft’. Opening with two songs from Coloured Sands as if to say “now that we’ve got that out the way”, they proceeded to blow some minds the way they have been for a quarter century. Damn, they’re old. Luc Lemay’s cheesy but charming stage banter will tell you that much. Why isn’t he my uncle?
Yet another fuzzy treat for my unaware ears were Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, who got my vote this year for the category of “Why Is This Band Playing Deathfest?” in the same way Anvil did two years ago. Good old fashioned psychedelic doom rock worship aside, they should seriously consider changing their name to Sharp Dressed Man: The Band.
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Sure beats the hell out of Bigelf as far as semi-metal 70s hard rock goes. Just out of curiosity: why do none of these bands ever wear ‘normal’ clothes?
And now came the apex of sadness: Having to abandon the truest Sabbath worshippers in Sweden’s Candlemass after their opening song, “Mirror, Mirror” to go catch Japan’s legally insane grind outfit Unholy Grave at the Soundstage. Mats Levén of Therion fame handling vocals and the fact that I missed “At Gallows’ End” just makes me want to cry forever. Ancient dreams of an alternate reality where this was an easier choice. Almost makes me wonder; was it worth it? I don’t like to ask myself these questions, because regret is an unproductive state of being.
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The misery continued with the U.K.’s masters of the maudlin, My Dying Bride, with frontman Aaron Stainethorpe sporting a newly shaved dome after my only having ever known him with perpetually soggy lachrymose locks.
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Sadly (word choice?), “Deeper Down” and “My Body, A Funeral” didn’t make it onto their setlist, and I’m woefully (word choice?) unacquainted with much of their discography, though “The Dreadful Hours” and “Turn Loose The Swans” rang somewhat familiar. Hymns to never ending grief, complete with the mourning, sobering sound of a violin, though unfortunately (word choice?) no rain to complete the ambiance. If it can rain during Neurosis, Electric Wizard, and even Pelican, why no appropriate weather this year? You sicken me, skies. To compound my consternation, I noticed the beginning sign of an oncoming suckfest; that sensation of having a patch of permanently dry skin at the back of your throat, the messenger of death, the common cold. It only got worse from there.
All sordid business with the Edison Lot now done, I had a hot date with the Soundstage and Ratos de Porão, who play fucking fast.
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Brazil’s Ratos don’t play no bossa nova, fool. It’s balls-to-the-wall with no breaks at all crossover thrash meets the rawer (or rawwwwwwrrrrrr) sounds of 80s hardcore. Think Suicidal Tendencies in their Join The Army days if they took more cues from Charged G.B.H.’s City Baby Attacked By Rats, with thrashcore beats that threaten to become blasts, and you’ve got an approximation of how this beast sounds. Pure energy and speed, but always on the right track, like a studded train full of crusties hitting you with a fist made of metalheads. Someone eventually decided that a trash can would have more fun near the pit, and the result was a lot of beer cans and empty food containers on the floor that was once just covered in beer and sweat.
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Perfect way to cap off the Soundstage skullduggery.
Meanwhile at Ram’s Head the progressive death metal Kiwis in Ulcerate serenaded all present with positive vibration songs such as “Confronting Entropy” and “Clutching Revulsion” from their newest opus Vermis.
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Packed full of enough angular riffs to make your head spin, and heavy enough to make it flatten itself, they and Immolation provided an ideal closing combo for this year’s Maryland Deathfest. Emphasis being on the death, Yonkers’ Immolation packs a firestorm of riffs that haven’t died down in over 28 years as a band. From their debut Dawn Of Possession to their most recent Kingdom Of Conspiracy, all eras were covered as they burnt the fest to ashes.
Post-Deathfest Shenanigans
Yours truly got kicked out of a hotel (rather, kicked himself out) because someone decided smoking a cigarette in the hallway was a good idea. To be fair, I tried to help them by putting it out, but what’s common sense?  Some people just can’t hang, and those people are hotel security. Oops.
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Then on the walk ‘home’ I found some people being obnoxious and singing random metal songs at the top of their lungs on the front porch of a hotel. Naturally I go over and join them. I found some beers and a girl that’s sexually attracted to snakes or someshit, and she stole the inflatable dinosaur that the guy dressed as a doctor during Impaled’s set gave me. Presumably to fuck it.
Then I drank with said doctor and he showed me the horror show that was his hotel bathtub. Thing was a mess of fake blood and empty beer cans. We drank some whiskey for our faces and peaced out. He had a D.R.I. cigarette case, which was rad.
Thrashers, meet your king, passed out on the steps of said hotel at 6 in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still hungover to this very day, because that kid was literally drunk the entire weekend. And I saw him a lot (he was in just about every pit at Edison), so you know I’m not bullshitting.
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Then, just in time for me to get onto a cold 4 hour bus to New York and a subsequently cold 4 hour bus to Boston, my cold reaches fruition, and I die in my seat. Somehow I came back to life to write this review, and all I can say after this glorious headbanging, circlepitting, beer drinking, weed smoking, not-drug-doing, skirt-wearing, awkward-socialising weekend is: Fuck the common cold. Maybe I’ll do this again next year.
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Post-Marathon Monday Marathon Post: The Ocean, Aborted, Ramlord, and Carcass

Dive on into this prime example of what happens when you go to a lot of shows in a short period of time and then save it for a bad joke. Prepare your brains to run some linguistic laps, creatures, this is gonna be long. This post includes reviews of The Ocean (March 30), Aborted (April 1), Ramlord (April 5), and Carcass (April 10). The Dillinger review will be on Ghostcult or something, it’s a mess. Why didn’t I post this yesterday, you ask? Because that’d actually make sense. Now

GO!

The Ocean Collective, Scale The Summit, The Atlas Moth, & Silver Snakes @ The Sinclair

I was a tiny bit disapoointed to find that it was Scale The Summit and not The Ocean headlining, but that’s all small potatoes. If only the ticket itself didn’t lie and have The Ocean’s name over Scale The Summit’s. Blood under the bridge. Let’s talk bands.

Silver Snakes was a surprising treat of an opener. They actually weren’t boring like I assumed they would be, since the general structure of these kinds of shows is that you must first be bored before you can be entertained. Like having to eat a burnt steak to get a glass of OJ. But these guys, quite well cooked steak.

Respectable post-hardcore that sounds a bit like Antenna era Cave In, I dig, I dug.

The Atlas Moth is a band I honestly should probably be more into, as “Holes In The Desert” is infinitely badass in all its mountainous glory. Heavy as a titanic elephant when they want to be, yet still creating an atmosphere above all else. Maybe it was the booze running through my veins, but I did find myself enjoying it more than anticipated. Maybe I should be more positive. I’m sure these guys smoke mad weed, doe.

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Positivity was certainly the word when The Ocean took the stage,since they were the only band you could really start shit to. If you pay attention to my posts on Facebook (and why would you?) you would see the massive knee scrape incurred due to being physicsfucked.

So here’s how it happened: I was gettin’ my thug on in the pit, someone, getting into the spirit of things (kinda) gives me a shove, naturally I fly in the direction in which the force was applied, and fell. No problem. So then I get assistance, and thinking they’ll simply elevate me back to a standing position, get all spry and leap up. Unfortunately, my helpers hoisted me up pretty hard, so the excess force caused me to jump too high, and I, surprised, ended up falling directly knee-first onto the brick floor yet again. My dignity. My knee. Ow.

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But yes, they played Pelagial, their newest, and possibly best, album in its entirety, with some funky video playing in the background, giving us the story of what I guess to be a woman who takes over an hour to drown while she explores the tentacled depths of er… the ocean. But yeah, it was an awesome set, of course. “Bathyalpelagic III: Disequillibriated” (try saying that once fast) was one of the highlights of the set, but I’d say Pelagial in general is just a huge highlight for their career, so it feels weird to play favourites with any song(s) on it.

Oh, and singer Loic Rosetti climbed up to the mezzanine while singing and jumped into the crowd, which I guess is a highlight too.

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See that? That’s a mic cord.

Bands like Scale The Summit are direct evidence that Metal is not all “guys screaming” or a wall of distortion that must be penetrated to see the complexity of the music, or a constant cannonade of pounding, warlike drums. Their sweet, almost airy take on Prog Metal —appropriately dubbed “Adventure Metal— can be both heavy and turbulent, but always expansive and inspiring.

If there was mountain climbing music for metalheads that’s not Black Metal, it’s this. Busting out some choice tracks from their killer new opus The Migration as well as “Redwoods”, plenty of material from The Collective and I think “Age Of The Tide”, or “City In The Sky”. Something good, like all of their songs are, y’know?

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Substance(s) consumed: A 40 of Mickey’s and a tall boy of Natty Daddy. I hate myself.

Ramlord, Spinach, INTHESHIT, NSF, Radical Apathy @ Ask A Punk Because The Jig Is Up

I may have the order of bands for this particular show wrong, but fuck it.

I love how DIY venues get so packed you technically miss bands because you’re standing in the hallway looking into the room due to the sheer volume of people. Such was the reason why I missed Radical Apathy, sorta, but that’s okay, because this marks the third time I’ve been in their presence. And it’s sexual. Check it if you’re into 80s hardcore with an anarcho streak of red in its mohawk. Think Void speed with a little Conflict and female vocals, and you have a rough approximation of their sound.

Struth’s first set of three, so his arms had yet to fall off.

Next up was (I think) INTHESHIT, was Struth’s second set of the night, and John Belmonte’s first. Their sound was fittingly manic for the claustrophobic setting in which it took place. Shredding riffs, schizo vocals, nonstop artillery drums, and a lot of instruments very sad to be instruments, because they were getting banged on roughly for our ears’ enjoyment.

Nuclear Special Forces celebrated bassist Jerome’s birthday the only way they knew how: getting drunk and wearing their own shirts, which have this on it:

Available in sizes Sexy and Awesome.

Nuclear Special forces just get better with each viewing. Here was the first place I saw them, and now look how they’ve changed. Well, I suppose they haven’t changed a goddamn thing, now that I think about it, except that they no longer play their cover of “City Baby Attacked By Rats”. But other than that, you know you’ll get a good time delivered straight to your face. If you’re sober during an NSF set, you’re probably not old enough to drink yet and you should work on that. And if you’re not almost knocking over their gear, you should be, because standing still isn’t what you do in a confined place when loud music about hating people is playing. For fans of J-punk like Kuro and the cheeky powerviolent swaggerings of Charles Bronson or Fuck On The Beach. Eric Struth set number 3 and John Belmonte set number 2, because big boys need love too.

Next up were Spinach, serving up a healthy helping of Fastcore. Shorter, faster, and ostensibly louder than my mom’s gospel albums, they are highly reminiscent of Backslider, and of course, the almighty Infest. Songs so short, Calhoun Tubbs must’ve given them lessons. Good times, though, can’t get enough Spinach in your musical diet, especially since it’s this gnarly.

Ah, Ramlord. Now off the relentless new album cycle and back to playing golden oldies and even their amazing new track, “The Breaking Of the Swans † The Eulogy Of The Crows” from their split with Nuclear Devastation. Time to git it, nigga: First time in so long I’ve heard “Total Doom” live, and first time in general seeing “Affliction Of Clairvoyance” live, which is my fave track. Twostep and pitcross for days.

 

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Don’t get me wrong when I rejoice at the sidelining of the new opus, Crippled Minds rules, peep the review and then go listen if you haven’t already, dude. The last few times I’ve seen them have been mostly in support of the new album, so multiple sets consisting entirely of it will make my old soul yearn for the more familiar sounds. Glad to see the triumphant return of the old Ram, with a solemn eye to the future as the cult grows anew.

 

Substance(s) Consumed: A 40 of Colt 45, and I forget what beers after that, but I was turnt, don’t worry.

Aborted, Pyrexia, Forced Asphyxiation, and Totality @ Middle East Upstairs

April Foolin’ up in here with Totality, a band I can’t get into (sorry) and Forced Asphyxiation, who I enjoy but can’t see myself becoming a huge fan of. Death Metal by numbers, perhaps, but everybody needs a hobby, and some peoples’ hobby is writing brutal music, so I say let ’em, they ain’t hurtin’ nobody. Yet.

Pyrexia, wow. That logo reminds me of a lot of nights spent in front of a bone Compaq computer printing out fake fliers for bands I idolised when I was 15. Someone couldn’t doodle them something drippy or splattery for appearance’s sake? After all, they do play slamming death metal with some bro-ish breakdowns, so they’d certainly be well off with a logo that looked like this:

Rather than Morpheus (or should I say “Morphevs”?), a font that calls to mind a lot more cheesy images of Goffick dating sites like vampirefreaks than it does pig squeals and XXXL shirt wearing bouncy slamdowns. Yes, I knowvampirefreaks not a dating site, I’m internet humoring. It should be, though.

See how I just took a huge diversion and talked about their logo instead of their music? Never do that, kids. It makes you look like a bad reviewer. That, and not posting things until like weeks later, but we’ll solve these problems one at a time.

Anyway, Pyrexia was aight, nothing to write the U.N. about. Aborted on the other hand has music like WMDs for your ears. I don’t know how long they’ve been going with a uniformed look, which comes down to black dress shirts with patches on them that bear an odd insignia that I don’t know the meaning of and could probably research, but nobody reads this anyway so why bother. Carrots.

I’m glad I finally got to see Aborted after like fuckin’ years of missing them at every turn. Hell, I’ve seen his side band System Divide, and they were pretty cool, but this is Aborted, dawg. If you’re not moshing during the final breakdown(s) of “The Saw And The Carnage Done”, consider yourself a fuck nigga. Sadly since Aborted does have a lot of albums and I haven’t paid attention to them all equally (Strychnine.213 is my fave, fight me), I felt I was unable to fully appreciate every gore soaked moment as well as I would have if I’d at least known the structures of most of the songs. And no “Dead Wreckoning”, aw.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RNO3YLQZd8

Substance(s) Consumed: I think I was stoned, but I don’t remember, ha.

The Decibel Tour 2014: Carcass, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gorguts and Noisem @ The Paradise Rock Club

 I can say I’ve seen Carcass twice in the span of a year. Word.

Opening this fest up right were Baltimore’s youngest of youngsters in Noisem, and when I say ‘youngsters’, I mean these kids are actually kids.

Their oldest member probably still can’t drink legally, if I’m going purely by appearances. Don’t let their baby faces fool you, however, because these guys make some pretty nasty music for freaks whose hobby is mistreating their neck muscles. From the nods to Slayer, Death Angel and the like in their thrashier riffage, to the robust canned chaos of drumwork reminiscent of old death/grind Repulsion and older Morbid Angel, and even some modern hardcore influence in the form of the occasional breakdown, there’s a lot to work with, and it’s good. These lads are barfing out something to be interested in, and will talk to you as if they didn’t just play in a band on a stage for $38 a (severed) head.

Next were the ancient vvizards in Gorguts, who I’ve honestly not heard a terrible lot of material from. I’ve heard Obscura, had a love/confused relationship with it for a while (I eventually decided to make it my occasional fuck buddy), and I’ve heard some of The Erosion Of Sanity, which was more straightforward, at the cost of diversity. So with this and having checked a song or two from their newest opus of non-Euclidean dissonance, Colored Sands, I saw Gorguts. And while I was impressed, I feel as though I wasn’t familiar with enough material to get the most out of it.

Representing the 3 faces of metal: Composed, Manic, Fucked.

Indeed, when listening to a band that chops and screws music just to reassemble it artfully disfigured, it’s probably best to know what to expect first, otherwise you’ll just be standing there thinking “This is cool and I dig it, but I’m still lost”. It’s kinda like reading an article on neuroscience, but with riffs. The vocals also seemed kinda iffy, but one doesn’t really focus on the vocals in music like this, which are more a vehicle for concept rather than meant to wow us, I guess. Luc Lemay does do some pretty interesting things with his guitar, though, that much I can say with certainty. I feel as though they got robbed, having such a short set, but it’s all a popularity contest, and The Black Dahlia Murder played Warped, so.

It’s almost unbelievable that this marks only the second time I’ve seen The Black Dahlia Murder. All other times I’ve missed them for dumb reasons or someshit, so I live with great shame on my head. I’ve not contemporised myself yet, meaning I’m still in the dark about how great Everblack is, even though Ritual was one of my top albums of 2011, and all their other albums hold a special place in my heart, so the fact that I haven’t listened yet means I should be beaten. I mean, let’s face it, they’re fucken great, what with being total stoner/drunkard goofball fucks —watching the Majesty DVD will make you smart— and yet still writing some of the catchiest and still legit and epic melodic Death Metal this side of Sweden is a testament to their commitment to the music.

The setlist consisted of, you’d imagine, new material, and songs from the more recent albums, these being Nocturnal, Deflorate, and the mighty Ritual. I suppose they won’t be going as far as even Miasma for a little while, but we’ll just have to deal. Much like I have to deal with my tattooless belly.

Need context? Well, lemme tell ya a story, kids.

So one day, after a heavy metal concert, the singer of one of the music groups, named The Black Dahlia Murder (kids and their rock’n’roll unsolved crime fascination) was drunk and hungry, so he proceeded to order one of the most obscene displays of American restauranteuring that isn’t just combining two deep fried and incompatibly heart-breaking foods. No, it was a sea, an ocean, a vast infinitude of french fries, complete with a hot dog and a cheeseburger. I bet even the Krispy Kreme donut would quiver in its calories seeing all that shit on a single plate. So I forget how we got to comparing belly tattoos —or in my case, lack thereof—, but my dad started it. Members of Gorguts and Noisem also bore witness to the silliness, so there’s a conversation starter if you read this and think it’s worth bringing up. You won’t. But Trevor likes my Despise You shirt so I win the game anyway, loser.

Oh, and Carcass played, it was awesome yet again. Their first Boston show in 20 years? Welcome back, lobsterback tea slurpin’ limey loo using Brit bastards.

If you want to get technical —and this is the show for it—, I suppose you can say this is half of Carcass, and two guys who are skilled enough to pretend that they’re Ken Owen and Michael Amott, but nonetheless, a phenomenal outpouring of death metal the way people have grown to love it. From the familiar clamor of “Symphonies Of Sickness”, the so-sicc-you’ll-throw-up “Exhume To Consume”, the catchy bounce of “Corporal Jigsore Quandary”, the tasty “Blind Bleeding The Blind” and some new sounds from the new album, Surgical Steel, which kinda sound like a continuation of what they were doing on Necroticism, which means it’s good, if not derivative, though we’re just happy Carcass exists again.

In addition to being one of the granddads of Grind, Jeff Walker’s also a funny guy. I’d probably be willing to see him in a shitty comedy club somewhere for £5 or whatever, because this guy’s got jokes. He threatened the crowd with Swansong, and the band even went so far as to tease us with a graphic of that weird patchyface monster and the opening bars, complete with Walker telling the crowd to prevent people from escaping. By the time the first verse was to kick in, they switched into “Keep Rotting In The Free World”, I think, which was actually a bummer for me, because “Black Star” is actually one of my jamz, yo.

Jeff’s also short. Like, really short. And he sounds like a leprechaun. He was built to blast.

Yes, that is my default facial expression for every picture now. No, that is not true, because then how would I have a LinkedIn account? Ha, just kidding, I barely use it. What’s responsibility?

Substance(s) Consumed: Spinach.

 

You’ve reached the finish line. You’re brave. Were you expecting something cool for reading all those words to the end? Fine.

marathonfuck

But yeah, keep reading. Real books, not this drivel.

Redneck From Hell Presents: The Contortionist At Rocko’s in Manchestaw, Namshawfudamshaw

The following occured on May 23rd, but time is relative when intoxication and sleep are your hobbies.

Gee, isn’t it oodles of fun when your gang of metal ruffians goes to a predominantly hardcore show and gets jumped by asshole skinheads for simply attending? Despite this happening, and one of my buddies actually getting his head split open as a result of said asshole skinheads, The Contortionist rocked it. Due to the circumstances surrounding the show, I’m only reviewing a few of the local bands, since much of my night was devoted to dealing with some real mofuckas. Also, the bands I’m skipping are all generic djent-core and sound exactly the same, so whatever.

Don’t worry too much about the missing bands, as they mostly sucked anyway.

As Tyrants Fall is one of two local openers I will be reviewing. This band was the eye of the storm: a bright, shining, not completely-horrible band in an ocean of two-stepping and arm-flailing. The band plays technical death metal on the verge of being technical deathcore. I didn’t hear anything that I remembered afterwards, but in the moment the guitar lines and vocals were fun. The problem is that following the eye comes more storm. The bass was inaudible, and the drummer was honestly really out of sync with the rest of the band. It may have been an off day for him, as he’s very tight on the band’s demo, but I can’t praise him here since he was just so off his game at the show. Truth be told, most of the audience didn’t react to the band since they were more metal than hardcore, and there were only really one or two parts per song for the sillies to hop around and pretend to throw bowling balls. Alright, I guess.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

This band is like if you mashed together Necrophagist, Emmure, and GG Allin: Technical guitars, lots of breakdowns, and sloppy as fuck. 5.5/10

Pathogenic wins most improved award from me. This band just keeps on getting better and better every time I see them. They canned the clean singer, which is HUGE. I hope with heavy corn syrup. -Ed. That guy murdered every song he popped up on, he had no stage presence, and running the risk of being mean, kinda looked like a Godzilla-sized crying baby every time he opened his mouth to pop out a few notes. Even better, the material seems to have been altered, and old songs flow better than ever, while the new songs have a distinct Death-gone-djent feel, which is frankly, pretty cool. They have a commanding presence onstage, and their technical prowess would probably make your mother squirt. I can’t believe this is the same band I saw at Black Xmas 2 years ago. Just unbelievable.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

If Pathogenic continues in the direction they’re headed, they will achieve something big. 8/10

The first band on the touring bill was Your Memorial, and while the music they played wasn’t my style (technical/melodic/djenty hardcore), they were entertaining in their own right. I’m sensing a theme here. -Ed.  The guitars had some interesting parts amidst TONS of beatdowns, and the drums were fun, if not spectacular. The singer actually surprised me by being solid as fuck. Let’s face it: good vocalists are as easy to find in the modern hardcore scene as a diamond in my shit after a week-long Popeye’s binge. Note to self: Eat more Popeye’s, invest in a sifter. -Ed. This guy, for whatever reason though, pulled off a style that was halfway in-between hardcore and death metal that was more hateful and vitriolic than 90% of vocalists in the scene. However, here is where I go into full-on rage mode. It is becoming seriously tiring to see bands get up on stage and give big ups to their deity of choice. I do not give a fuck. It’s getting ridiculous how many of these bands stop their set to go on a preachy rant about how awesome religion is. To all bands that do this: Good for you, you like God. You know why your music sucks? Because you think your worship lyrics are more important than the music they’re set to. I have never found a religious band that doesn’t suffer from this. They stop acting as musicians, and instead begin to play pastor. After they finish their fucking sermon, the fans all cheer and hug or some shit, claiming “those dudes are so brave; it’s so hard to say that if you play heavy music.” No, it’s not. It’s not fucking brave, it’s not fucking cool; if you think that, then stick your penis in a toaster oven. Kirk Windstein is religious, and he doesn’t pull that kinda shit. Crowbar puts music first. And they’re awesome. Your Memorial doesn’t, and as a result they are a generic and faceless metalcore band with some potential. Start thinking as a musician, not a preacher, and you might get somewhere.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

As much as I hate what this band stands for (putting religion before music), they played alright, and DID have potential. They are technically competent. They can’t write a song to save their lives. The vocalist is good. The bassist is inaudible. I like and hate this band in about equal amounts, so I should give them a 5, but that feels a little low, so we’ll call it a 6 on the fucking silly 1-to-10 scale. There you have it. 6/10

The Plot In You was fairly tight. Honestly, if I was blind, besides the fucking stupid, whiny, off-key, emo singing bits, you could have told me Your Memorial was still on and I probably would have believed you. This is boring, generic metalcore. And if it’s called something else now, I’m still going to call it metalcore because that’s what it sounds like: a singer who is halfway between metal and hardcore, guitars that alternate between hardcore breakdowns and two-step riffs, and metal At the Gates-style rip-offs. Drums are technical and tight, but generally boring. I really enjoyed nothing about this band. As mentioned before: Basically sounds like Your Memorial with one or two distinguishing factors (stupid singing bits and a weak shout). Also pregnancy. -Ed.  You could say they get bonus points for not stopping the set to talk about God, but I’m not gonna reward them for NOT doing something. Also, fuck the stupid hatemoshing fans that were targeting metalheads (these fucks actually targeted a dude on fucking crutches. Disgusting.). This band sucks.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

I kind of hate this band. Actually, I totally do. 3/10

Now, up to this point, it may seem like the show was a waste of time and money, given that the one band that scored higher than a 6 had just played at Metalfest, a show that I was at. Actually, The Contortionist did too, but they got timefucked. 20 minutes for a prog metal band? Come on. The Contortionist really do something special and unique to themselves, though. If power had went out after the first song, it would have been worth the 14 dollar price of admission. I’m an occasional reader of Decibel magazine (the only major metal publication worth a damn), and during a review for The Breathing Process’ last album (I don’t remember the actual reviewer, but if I did he would get a shout out for being way better than I fucking am) they said something very wise, that I completely agree with as both a musician and a listener. I can’t recall the exact wording because I’m a useless drunk, but it was along the lines of “There comes a time in every band’s career where they evolve from playing a genre of music to playing music.” The Contortionist has only one full length album, and they have done that. Their song choices were fairly obvious, but frankly it didn’t matter. This band PLAYS. They know what the fuck they’re doing, and they command a fucking stage. The new material sounds amazing, by the way, even though it completely stumped fans of The Plot In You, who stood around looking puzzled. Almost all the other bands onstage sorta just sleepwalked through their sets. The Contortionist actually looked confident as fuck and proud. And why not? The songs they play are expertly crafted with the utmost care–you know they put effort into this shit, whereas, The Plot In You, for instance, just kinda throws notes together. This is getting long-winded though, so I’m going to wrap up: This band deserves to be on a bill with bands they actually fit with (let’s say The Faceless, Cynic, Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me–something like that). They deserve to play to people that care about the music as much as them. This band is going somewhere big, and if they don’t, it’s the result of people being idiots. No fault of their own. Amazing.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

Come on. Fucking DUH. 9.5/10

Oh yeah, sorry for not being silly enough in the Contortionist portion of this review. I guess I’m a douchebag. Go fuck yourself. Already there. -Ed.

–Redneck from Hell

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.

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.

Maryland Deathfest X – The Jägermeister Strikes Back: Friday

It wasn’t quite so fun to wake up for this day. I successfully regained full consciousness and thought at around noon following some ill-advised autonomous challenges, all involving this.

This bountiful elixir of joy juice and pure hell is the nectar of Metal Gods, and not to be consumed by anyone less metal than say, Oliver Sykes. I made that mistake, and I am still feeling the aftereffects to this day. As much of a Charon boat ride into my lesser faculties that was, it cannot top the badness of my foolish venture into the Lean Cuisine sweet’n’sour chicken… oh god just thinking of that ruins food for me for 5 minutes at a time.

Anyhow, we were discussing one of the greatest Metal shows this side of the puddle, which turned out to be a real blast(beat) of non-stop heat, boobs, and bathroom sink water. All the merch tables and food stands were set up in all their splendour, but I won’t go into those because I couldn’t go splurging to my heart’s content, and it would make me sad to even talk of all the goodies in store, and instead you’ll have to eat my words. I’m gonna try a reviewing style akin to Redneck From Hell’s, so bear with me if I’m a trendy poser fuck. All pictures used were taken by The Rev from Returntothepit, as if the watermark didn’t make that plain as crumpet.

Up first was Castevet, a Melodic Black Metal band not to be confused with some other band of the same name who I’m assuming is Alt. or something. They got atmosphere for months, and I swear it was actually a little chilly inside the Sonar, and I’m not blaming the fanfuckentastic air conditioning. They did what most BM bands do: Howl, get laryngitis, keep howling, and blast a bit, though with a lot of influence from Post-Rock/Hardcore song structures. An average set, but I’d suggest looking further into them, as their vocals are something not heard too often in BM, and a bit more on the raspy Sludge side.

Nasghul followed suit, bringing their hazardous Death Metal/Grindcore mixture from Spain to the ‘Murican table like a barrel of radioactive waste, sloshing it on all nearby.

Deep in concentration, tired, or recovering for a wicked blaze session?

I’m sure I caught something about this being their first ever US appearance, and by Zoroaster, what better a way to introduce yourself to the unwitting sheeple than to drop in on one of the largest celebrations of heavy music there is? I thoroughly enjoyed their groovy yet unforgivingly abrasive take on the style they play, earning them good points in my book.

Right on the heels of Nasghul were… Ghoul. I swear the promoters and bookers were having a laugh when they made the running order.

Also, dozens of casualties, but more on that later.

Now Ghoul is a band that knows how to make a show into a SHOW. As in they entertain you while doing their thing almost as much as they entertained themselves. Every song had a clever-as-dick introduction, usually with a small skit in which something died, following copious spurts of viscera and crimson life fluid. Is it wrong to be a bit dismayed that I came out with nary but a few spots of blood on my shirt?

I’d never seen Ghoul before, but I was happy to realize that their set was very heavy on the Splatterthrash album, which is apparently their most fun, and I’m willing to believe that. Like many of the better sets at MDF, it all seemed over too soon, and all that we had to remember them by was a nagging suspicion that the fat one is the guy from Exhumed., even though it’s not really true, but I liked to believe it anyway.

Even though I don’t know any words to any Today Is The Day songs, I’m convinced they’ve scientifically devised their songs to unlock the Crazy center in the human brain, thus enabling you to shout along without having even so much as peeked at a word of their tunes. Even without the addition of collective throat flaying, the set was as intense and twisted as the bastards intended.

TITD are a band that is quite literally impossible to label. They’re so experimental that they seem to be actively dodging a definitive genre, running the gamut from Post-Hardcore to pummeling distorted grooves that lack classification to Sludge Metal and beyond, always maintaining the heaviness and distortion necessary to keep it claustrophobic-in-a-locked-closet insane. They’ve also succeeded in making it so that the music drives emotions to critical mass and you are at risk of injury from the tweaking druggies that were out in full force. All-in-all, great goddamn set, and I’m probably not the same person I was when it started.

At this point I took it upon myself to walk outside and peek at Macabre‘s set for a bit. I had attempted to check them out a bit, but I never found them interesting as a whole. After all, how many other Metal bands write about serial killers?

They brand themselves as “Murder Metal”, which from what I have heard is a combination of some freaky Death Metal-ish songwriting, Heavy Metal attitude, and generally not taking themselves seriously. Like, at all. Just look at the photo, the frontman’s wearing a headset to do his vocals! Can anyone say they know of any other Metal band that does this stuff? All the silliness aside, they do have some fun, catchy tunes, and I remember that they played Elizabeth Bathory, as if every other Extreme Metal band on the planet hasn’t already done a song about her or even named themselves after the cunt. But again, not taking themselves seriously, I got it.

Artillery are a band tragically unknown over in the states, having suffered the misfortune of coming from Denmark and being a bit too proggy/technical for the Thrashers in Cali. If I understand correctly, they also made MDF their first stateside invasion.

If you’ve listened to them on record and don’t like the vocals, I swear to you they’re a lot better live. More soaring highs rather than the vocalist sounding like he’s questioning himself with every line.

The pits were better than I had expected for a band of their type, especially at an Extreme Metal festival where these guys must have ranked third on softest bands after Anvil and The Devil’s Blood respectively. Stand-out performance by the nearly forgotten but still sharp as ever wolves of Thrash, and here’s to hoping they come this way more often.

Grind overlords Napalm Death heralded the blanket of night with their good ol’ fashioned barbed wire fist to the mouth approach of noise for music’s sake.

You can wake my cadaver any time, Mitch.

God save the queen, these Brits are still packing as much of a punch as they did back in their beginnings, if the songs they played from the new release Utilitarian are anything to go by. One thing I haven’t mentioned up until this point as that Maryland Deathfest seems to thrive on the energy of well-timed circle-pits, and this set seemed to be overflowing with juice, as circles that I swear were at least 6 people deep were a common occurrence.  I had never fully realized just how basic and punky a lot of ND drum patterns are, and I think I’m liking them a lot more because of it. I was hoping they’d bust out their cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, and by George, they did, and it was massive. In fact, the vitriol contained was so great they could’ve passed it off as an original and I’d have never been able to tell the difference. By the final three songs of the set I was too tired to even stand, so I spent it sitting on the gravel next to the stage, futilely attempting to peer over the shoulders of all the other watchers, but to no avail. It was, despite being so tired I nearly puked (and this was the first time of many, believe it), a phenomenal experience and I’d repeat it weekly, if not just for the exercise.

Godflesh are a band that I’m sure I’ll never get, as I find their cold, industrial, nihilistic machinations a bit unfriendly on the ears. Yes, this is coming from someone who enjoys Oxbow and thoroughly dug Today Is The Day. I spent a little time walking in and out of the Sonar, just kind of wanting to nap, and by this time I was too tired to put up with any bands until Nasum, so I attempted to catch some Z’s to Unsane, which failed miserably because I found them to be quite awful, honestly. If Today Is The Day were mediocre at their craft, that’s how it would come out. Not willing to stomach this atrocity, I marched outside and sat in the gutter, which was far more comfortable than the audial Judas Cradle that was Unsane’s yelping and crashing cacophony. I also gave Setherial this treatment, because no matter what era of Black Metal you are from, I absolutely must discredit you for an isolated yell of “SATAAAAAAAAN”. Couple this with silly frowny corpsepaint and the air of total thuper theriouthneth, and I was pretty sure my ragged senses could handle no more.

I somehow managed to snag a good-ish spot in the crowd for headliners Nasum, who played their 20th anniversary show at MDF despite the untimely death of their frontman years ago, and bestowed the honour of filling in upon Keijo of Rotten Sound, who if you’ve heard his band and Nasum, you’ll see that there just may be a slight influence.

Yeah.

I feel like I really should’ve listened to more Nasum, having mainly exposed myself to Helvete. Fortunately, being a Grind band, you’ll be in luck with many songs sounding similar enough to not need to make such distinctions. Some simply have better mosh parts, some are kinda melodic, some are a bit slower and crunchier, yadda yadda yadda. Not to say that Nasum’s not worth checking out, because by all means, do, or you’re a pussy.

You may now Eskimo gas mask kiss the bride.

The picture above is from the intro to their set, which featured bomb raid sirens, artillery fire, and explosions, with me being unsure if I was looking at animatronic dolls due to their precise movements and their ability to stand absolutely still. By the time they solemnly marched offstage and the Frankenstein sample from which they derived their name came on the speakers, I put my fears to rest, and thus began a whole new breed of worries: Would I survive rabid grind fans partying as hard as possible to a legendary band’s ultimate last show? Well, since I’m writing this now, you have your answer.

Baltimore native and Misery Index frontman Jason helped out on vocals for a few songs, and someone whom several people believe is the frontman of Nails also came out for a bit for guest duties. My only counterpoint to this theory is that he was smiling, and the frontman of Nails never smiles. I do have to take into account, however, the fact that he was onstage with one of his biggest influences aside from probably Entombed, so there’s always that possibility.

A wild Shanelax also appeared

It was a great day, and held good omens for the rest of the weekend, aside from me being a human liquor dispenser just the previous night. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Deathfest Ball Z!