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

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.
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.
Spain’s Machetazo brought yet more evil to the fore with their wicked gore/death inflected grind, en Español.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Would You Believe Me If I Told You There Actually Wasn’t Any Legitimate Deathcore There? Summer Slaughter at the Worcester Palladium

The following is a joint review between Redneck From Hell  myself, That Metal Dude. A combination of colors not to be trifled with.

Red: This year’s Summer Slaughter had no real deathcore. Like, fucking really. Well, that’s not entirely true; the second stage consisting of only local bands had some deathcore, but locals don’t count anyway.

Black: Do they ever?

Red: This year we had female-fronted Scottish slam, drunken blackened thrash, greenery-influenced prog, a couple bad djent bands, and a whole bunch o’ death metal, including the godfathers of gore, the mighty Cannibal Corpse. I largely stuck to the main stage due to a lack of quality bands upstairs, though I was disappointed to miss Dysentery’s set, which coincided with The Contortionist. Fuck. I’m kind of finding it difficult to make jokes.

Black: I got one for ya; Autotheism. ZING.

Red: This is gonna be a boring-ass review.

Black: That’s the can-do attitude we’ve come to embrace.

Red: This show was so good, I feel like poking fun at it would be akin to sawing off a unicorn’s horn, using it to stab the mythical beast in the throat, and proceeding to sodomize it post-mortem. Wait, never mind.

Black: In short, Summer Slaughter this year was great, as usual. Some bands were a bit off their mark, including some that I enjoy, which is bound to happen, but if you walk into shows expecting perfection, you’d be better off buying and drinking Smirnoff like the worthless bladder you are.

Red: Cerebral Bore was up first, and this merry bunch of Scottish brutality-bringers opened up the show with a sick sort of glee.

Though they only were allowed 20 minutes to slam around the stage, they brought some serious energy to the venue.

Black: These Scotch sots may not be quite vital on record, but live, it’s something to see.

Red: Simone has some unfuckwith-able brutal vo-killz, and the “for a woman” thing doesn’t even apply. She can hold her own with the best of ‘em. Arch Angela ain’t got shit on Cerebral. Though the band’s songwriting can be a bit schizophrenically unmemorable, the material comes across incredibly well in a live setting, so much so that the actual songs they’re playing stop mattering–the real draw becomes the violence that’s created in this band’s destructive wake.

Black: As mentioned before, they know how to put on a damn show. They were the opening downstairs band, which is a tough spot especially for a band whose just starting to find a fanbase in recent times. If anything, the 20 minute appetizer serves more to entice, like a snake charmer, minus the snakes.

Red: Bonus points for not doing the whole “LOOK AT US WE HAVE A GIRL SINGER” thing. Even more bonus points for naming their band after a weapon from Turok 2. Even fucking MORE bonus points for the ultra elephant stomp at the end of their set. What a way to kick off a show.

Red’s Verdict: Eee Pee Oppa Pee, 8.5/10

My Verdict: Would repeat the experience, with more violence.

Red: Following Cerebral Bore’s 24 year party dungeon, I went upstairs in the hopes of catching the first few minutes of Dysentery, but alas, they weren’t on yet and I headed back down to see The Contortionist.

Funny how this shit works, because I had never seen the Contortionist before this year…and their Summer Slaughter appearance was the third time I witnessed their brand of green-friendly spaceprog since this April. This was my personal favorite of their three sets, even though they obviously had more time on their headlining tour. They got 25 minutes, playing two new songs (“Causality” and “Geocentric Confusion”) and two old songs (“Flourish” and “Oscillator”).

Black: If I had my way, I’d have them squeeze in “Contact”, with a hearty rude finger-gesture to the set-times. However, I’d personally never seen them play “Flourish” live, as far as I recall, so that was a tasty treat to take home that night. The new songs weren’t exactly mosh-fodder, but they show how The Contortionist have grown as songwriters, and have nowhere to go but up as far as quality material.

Red: I’ve already detailed Contortionist sets for BMD, so I’ll keep this short–the mix was better, they were tight as fuck, and “Geocentric Confusion” was fucking incredible live, particularly the second half.

Red’s Verdict: There’s No Way The Bassist Wasn’t Stoned, 9/10

My Verdict: For solutions, look to the pipe.

Black: Up next were proud Carcass-worshippers Exhumed, who clearly have a bone to pick with the deceased.

It’s almost criminal to stick a band of Exhumed’s tenure with a 20 minute set, which was just enough for 4 or 5 chainsaw-to-the-face style songs about messing around with unearthed corpses. The audience was mysteriously sparse, despite the band’s history as intense performers despite their frequently shifting line-up. I’m guessing some upstairs band probably offered everyone free water, candy, and sex, thus, that sounded more enticing than a disembowelment. Whatever the cause, a lot of people missed out. After their set I was given the honor to interview frontman Matt Harvey, so stay tuned for that, as it has yet to go live.

My Verdict: Not enough viscera for my liking. More akin to dissecting the long-dead than a fresh cadaver, but it was still fun.

Red: I only caught about three of Exhumed’s songs, so I’m not going to review that, though the three songs I saw were energetic and fun goregrind. Rather than stay for their set, I opted to head upstairs to catch Formless, a local tech-death act featuring internet “sensation” Annie Shred on guitar.

Though they were VERY shreddy (unsurprisingly), they seem to lack a distinct sound of their own, largely aping tech-death champs Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, and Necrophagist. The drummer was the weak link–he messed up noticeably a few times, which appeared to piss off the bassist. Gotta love onstage tension! The harsh vocalist was decent, but far too low in the mix, and Annie’s clean vocals were technically sound but didn’t seem to fit the music. They’re a band with lots of potential, clearly more than most local tech-death acts, but I would venture they’re overly confident in themselves, and fairly naïve in the songwriting department. That said, it was enjoyable watching the guitarists do their dual-shreddage thaaaaang. Give ‘em a few years, and they may emerge as a band to watch.

Verdict: I Mean, I Guess It Was Good For A Local Act, 7/10

Change of pace time arrived with Goatwhore on the main stage. I didn’t mosh for the Satanic drunks, simply because other than “Carving Out the Eyes of God” I’m not that knowledgeable with their tunes.

Black: Here’s a summary of all their songs; two-step riffs, but BLACK METAL.

Red: Looked like a fun pit, though. Oh yeah, just a side note–pits were mad fun all day long because there was a distinct lack of throw-downers. Why? Because there was GOOD FUCKING MUSIC present. Anyway, back to the topic at hand; Satanic drunks, Satanic drunks. Goatwhore’s brand of blackened thrash was fun enough that I’m now going to give their discography an extensive listen–them and Skeletonwitch seem to be the leaders of modern thrash these days, and I’m not complaining. They put on kick-ass live shows, and let’s face it–who in metal doesn’t have a little love for some serious bible-bashin’?

Verdict: Who Needs God When You Have Beer? 8/10

My Verdict: Very meh. But then again, if they don’t take themselves seriously, what with spikes glued on protective sporting gear, should I?

Red: Back to the land of death metal.

Black: Ah, so that explains the acrid odor of burning flesh.

Red: Arizona’s Job for a Cowboy once again put on a class-A show, with all the members giving energetic and inspired performances, playing a handful of their best songs.

The setlist included the false-start of “Entombment of a Machine” into “Embedded”, “Imperium Wolves”, “Unfurling a Darkened Gospel”, “Children of Deceit” and the live monster “Constitutional Masturbation”. I gotta say it, though–for once these guys got the audience they deserved–full of honest to goodness death metal fans rather than core-kids. It’s really pointless for Job to hitch onto a deathcore bill at this point in their career, since it will only piss off the audience when they don’t play Doom material. They haven’t been deathcore since the aforementioned debut EP. Regardless, they were impressive as always, and judging by the pit violence, I’d think it’s safe to say they even managed to convince a few lingering elitist skeptics of their quality. A vicious performance. A top-notch set from a top-notch band.

Verdict: I Guess Children of Deceit Sorta Has a Breakdown, 9/10

Red: I heard way too much of Veil of Maya’s set. Fuck that band.

“To drop that filthy bass, or not to drop.”

They have a few good songs, but goddamn. When you use a computer to program your kick drum so that you don’t actually have to play triplets, fuck yourself. When you can’t play your own songs, fuck yourself. When the above negatives apply to your band and you still call yourself “prog”, DOUBLE fuck yourself. When many of your popular songs are simply variations on the exact same riff you’ve been playing your entire career, fuck yourself. When I find myself wondering about when The Offspring is gonna get around to recording another decent album because you’re so goddamn boring, get the fuck off the stage and let someone with real talent step up.

Black: Even though I really do like Veil Of Maya, and have seen them a couple of times before this, and greatly enjoyed those sets, I’m inclined to agree with Redneck on this one. The sound: Horrid. The breakdowns: Muddy. The bass drops: Like someone dropped an enormous cotton ball over the speakers. Overall, very disappointing set. The songs they chose weren’t even their really good ones, and the main amusement was the sampling of the “browwrrr brrnt, browwrrr der nee nee ner nee nee ner ne” kid. Even the -core kid crowd seemed to be faltering with forced enthusiasm as they tried their damnedest to have fun, so I know it’s not just me that saw VoM struggling to stay on form.

Red’s Verdict: Ass. I got no joke. 2/10

My Verdict: Dishonourable. I choose death.

Red: Unfortunately, when Veil of Maya did get off the stage, they were replaced by an only slightly better band.

Periphery is actually pretty talented musically, but they have a few crippling problems.

Black: Preach brutha.

Red: For one, they fall into the common trap of focusing on technical skill more than songwriting–forgivable in some cases, but not here–I’ll get to why in a bit. Secondly, their vocalist is the biggest pile of steaming horseshit since that American Idol reject released his own record.

Black: Which one? Hohoho.

Red: Like, seriously, this guy just isn’t good at anything. He tries to do menacing harsh vocals, but they come across like a whiny toddler, his voice is so weak. He tries to do powerful (at times soaring) cleans, but they wind up sounding like a worse version of Linkin Park…which is pretty fucking hard.

Black: While I do enjoy Spence’s vocals,  I think pulling them off was the most impressive part of their set. That’s not saying much, as the song choices for the night were rather weak, in my eyes. Had they played “All New Materials”, the bouncy “Letter Experiment”, or even their ballad-esque “Jetpacks Was Yes!”, I would have gotten more enjoyment out of it.

Red: This is where the songwriting issue comes in. Notice how I mentioned that Cerebral Bore had a similar problem with songwriting. The difference is that Cerebral Bore deals more in sounds and feelings than shit that’s gonna stick in your head–they just want to crush your skull in. Periphery aims to write choruses and melodies that refuse to leave your steel trap, but they utterly fail. It’s almost like they’re trying to be something better than they are. I don’t know, but I’m bored writing about them. The lead guitarist should just find another band, basically.

Black: Maybe instead of shelling out cash for big fancy tour buses emblazoned with their faces and Jackson logos, they oughta work on setlists that make one excited to see Periphery, and not just an opportunity to say “I saw Periphery”.

Red’s Verdict: Ohhhh You Know I’m Whining, Baby 5.5/10

My Verdict: Let those emotions hang out, but not too far.

Red: Thankfully, the lame part of the day ended when Periphery finished their set. As soon as the last note of their weaksauce performance, I headed to the floor to get a good spot for The Faceless.

Having last seen them co-headline Summer Slaughter two years ago with Decapitated, I was expecting the world, given that they SLAYED that show.

Black: Up until this point, they’d been slaying more than the eponymous Vikings in Iron Maiden’s song Invaders.

Red: Well, they didn’t exactly give me the world, but it was a decently sexy set nonetheless. They leaned heavily on material from Planetary Duality–a damn near masterwork–playing “Coldly Calculated Design”, “Legion of the Serpent”, and “Xenochrist”, all of which are fantastic tracks. They ended their set on a strong note, with Akeldama’s “An Autopsy”. All this is well and good, and per usual they nailed this material.

Black: In hindsight, their tapping so readily into Planetary can almost be seen as an apology for what was to follow.

Red: The two songs they played from the upcoming Autotheism record left me slightly concerned though. One of the two they played, “The Eidolon Reality” has been out for quite some time, and it’s a fine track in its own right, and when we first heard it over a year ago, it seemed like the perfectly logical direction for The Faceless to go in following Planetary Duality. However, the other song they played, “Deconsecrate”, was…disconcerting, to say the very least. This track has no songwriting to speak of, basically moving between ultra heavy tech-death and SUPER airy clean sections for its entire duration. Flow is nonexistent. It kind of sounds like The Faceless really wants to be Opeth. The death metal sections are fine out of context; they’re your classic Faceless tech-death. Hell, there’s even a pseudo-slam thrown in there. The clean sections, on the other hand, are as fucking disturbing as A Clockwork Orange.

Black: The new album is having us on the floor with the old in-out. Real savage.

Red: Pre-programmed keys and soft drums play in the background while Michael Keene sings boring vocal lines. Michael Keene is an amazing guitarist, no doubt, but shit–he sang more than he played guitar on this song, and let’s be real here. Singing is not his strong suit. His cleans work fine on tracks like “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Sons of Belial”, but on “Deconsecrate” they are far too prevalent and display his weakness in that department. All that being said, this is a show review, not an album review.

Black: That shall come in a little bit, my droogies.

Red: “Deconsecrate” is only one song out of 6-song set…and everything else was of the quality we expect from The Faceless. Also notable is their new harsh vocalist, who performed extremely well–both technically and in terms of leading a crowd. Let’s hope that “Deconsecrate” is just a misstep, because this band is obviously capable of delivering the goods.

Black: The crowd mirrored the apprehensiveness of the band, in a way. There wasn’t quite the same amount of energy, despite the old songs being played down to the nail with their ferocity and (pardon the pun) coldly calculated precision. However, with the recent release of Autotheist and the spotlighting tomfoolery during “Deconsecrate’s” clean sections, it’s clear that Michael Keene has usurped frontman power from the new baldie. If his ego gets any fatter they’ll have the rest of the band play offstage.

Red’s Verdict: I Guess They Ditched the Legion of the Serpent In Favor of the Emotional Metal Guild, 8/10

My Verdict: They’re headin’ down a dark road.

Red: Between the Buried and Me played a set that was essentially perfect, unsurprisingly. Would anyone expect any different from them at this point?

You’ll just keep waiting for them to fuck up.

Really, the only things you can find to bitch about are song choices, and that’s all a matter of opinion anyway. I definitely sprouted half a chub when they came onstage and instantly busted out “White Walls”, their fourteen-plus minute closing epic from 2007’s Colors, a song usually saved for the end of the set. I heard some complaints about there being more material from Colors than The Great Misdirect in their set, but I really didn’t care–I didn’t really need to see “Obfuscation” or “Disease, Injury, Madness” again (though it would have been nice), and “Fossil Genera” was a fucking awesome way to end the set. They played a new song called “Telos” from the upcoming Parallax II record, and it came across well enough to make my half-chub go into full-on woody mode–even if it was obvious that it has some sort of lead in track that was absent from the set. Really, I don’t know how you can complain about Between the Buried and Me’s live show at this point. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, there is no denying that they are at the absolute top of their game, musically and artistically–and they’ve been there for a while, too. Even with legions of imitators, no one can accurately capture what the legendary BTBAM is all about. There’s nothing else to say really, except the band really should apologize to everyone else for being to damn good to compete with.

Black: Ah, sheer radiance, as usual. Unlike the other 6 times I’ve seen BtBaM, I sat in the balcony and watched from above. It’s kind of surreal, watching them do their work while sitting still instead of running around like I’ve accidentally had a hit too much of acid. They had a nice little light-show set up, which I probably would have missed had I decided to punch people during the heavy parts. The set-list relied entirely on long songs, all of them being at least 10 minutes. Having an hour to complete their set, they played “Sun Of Nothing” and  “Spectral Reflections” in addition to those that Redneck mentioned. In all, I need not say more, since BtBaM’s hands down one of my faves, and it’s always a treat seeing them.

Red’s Verdict: All The Vaginas Left After BTBAM’s Set, Dude, 9.5/10

My Verdict: Prismatic bursts of luminous harmony? Sounds nice.

Red: And then there was Cannibal Corpse.

If you think you like death metal, but don’t like Cannibal Corpse, then you’re just lying to yourself. Everything about their live show is fucking brutal bliss.

Black: With nary half a brain to spare between most of the participants in said brutal bliss, one can easily be swept up in the fervor and forget that CC is proud of being the walking Death Metal cliché.

Red: Admittedly, the band has set into a routine with their live shows somewhat, with certain classic tracks being a set necessity and all, but come on. This is a band who has lived through every single change and alteration in the scene, never even coming close to following a trend or doing anything other than playing death metal the way it should be played. With fucking vengeance. They aren’t playing music to you, they’re playing music at you.

Black: Honestly, I felt that way for the first third of their set. I’m not sure if it was just me or if the knob twiddler at the soundboard had some settings up a bit too high. And pardon me if I’m wrong, but “Make Them Suffer” was supposed to be a bit faster than the speed they played it at. Granted, their drummer Paul is recovering from back injuries, so the fact that he’s powering through it at all gets major props.

Red: I moshed fairly viciously to Cerebral Bore, Job for a Cowboy, and The Faceless, but man–Cannibal is the only band that made me go completely insane and smash shit with no acknowledgement of safety for either myself or those around me. My previous 16-year old self may have jumped in the pit for just about any death metal band that played, but I’ll admit that four years forward I’ve slowed down a bit. Cannibal Corpse is one of maybe three bands that can bring me back to that totally insane rage-filled place where no fucks, only beatings are given. This is a band made up of guys as old as my father, so maybe that’s why when Corpsegrinder says he will kill you if you don’t mosh, you fucking believe him. They played the obvious singles from the new Torture record, “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”, the latter of which may have been the heaviest song of the entire day in terms of sheer mass.

Black: Ever had a bag of cannonballs put on your chest? That’s what it felt like.

Red: They played both modern favorites (“Make Them Suffer”, “Evisceration Plague”) and golden oldies (“Covered with Sores”, “Born in a Casket”), and they careened wildly through every single one of them. They dedicated “Priests of Sodom” to the women, with Corpsegrinder proudly announcing that if the females failed to scream loud enough, he would find every single one of them, drag them into an alley, and bum-rape ‘em. All in good fun.

Black: Just say yes to fisting.

Red: When the band got to the end of their set and it was time for the ending two-parter of “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” there was an air of vicious nostalgia permeating The Palladium. This was the last chance to create chaos, violence and confusion. To bring the bloodshed. The band sure did, and so did we. It was absolutely fucking triumphant to see this classic band absolutely nail a set after 20+ years and more albums than most death metal bands release in an entire career. There is no other band like Cannibal Corpse in metal. Bands come and go, try and fail. If you see them and do not obey every order given, they will kill you.

Black: I’ll be the first to admit I had a lot of fun at the expense of the hare-brained mosh antics perpetrated by the greater collective of Deth Mehtuhl guys in the pits, but there’s no denying that CC touched on some magick formula that, if changed, would be grounds for immediate firing from the music scene at large. Like AC/DC, Motörhead, and Iron Maiden before them, they’ve found a sound and songwriting style that works with an audience of enthusiastic drunken idiots to play it to, and the rest is history. To say nothing of the impossible heaviness they’ve maintained over the years, and being surprised that I’m just now seeing the ‘Corpse in action, I enjoyed every blood spattered minute, if not mainly because the folks that take it to the heart have some of the best mosh faces this side of the Berlin wall.

Verdict: Too Perfect To Be Real. 10/10

My Verdict: They’re ugly, simple, and stupid, just like much of the audience. Ideal conditions for their disease to spread.

By Redneck from Hell and That Black Metal Dude. Your grandmother was a whore.