It finally happened. I had a good, no, GREAT time at Maryland Deathfest. Would’ve been better if I could have seen Garm’s unibrow rustling in concentration, but still, fun. Absolutely free of poorly thought out drinking binges, interpersonal drama, God, and other messy things that prevent you from living like a human, I’m glad to report a success story where I not only saw most of the bands I cared to see, but also was fuckin’ FIERCE in , goddamn. Lookin’ and feelin’ good are only two parts to the complex and variable happening that is America’s biggest metal/hardcore party of the year, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re crying and/or puking, and I’m glad to say I only did the latter once, and it was a party puke making room for more party as opposed to an “I hate myself and will try not to do this again” puke. Awesome. Now let’s talk about some shit.
There’s not much to say bandwise about Thursday, because fuck New York traffic. Slapshot got it right, they shouldn’t apologise for that shit. Just take a look at this monstrous eyesore I got treated to at the Port Authority station.
A motherfucking Cake Boss Café. Reaffirms misanthropy like little else. The icing on this cake of fuck is the presence of televisions airing the damn show to the lobotomised patrons. And don’t get me wrong: my brief sojourn to Times Square allowed me to bear witness to a lot of other unspeakable horrors including a strip club/body sushi bar/steak joint (unholy!) but it pains me to even think of the massive overcrowding and overstylised tomfoolery that is that den of iniquity. It takes 30 minutes to get out of that gods accursed necropolis, even with clear traffic, so avoid at all costs all the time. Now that I’m done bitching about long bus rides (and it was long), I’d like to take a moment to give a HUGE shoutout to a certain Peter Willis for setting me up with a couch to crash on the entire MDF weekend, via couchsurfing.org. Highly recommended if you can’t afford a hotel or just don’t want to deal with one anyway. This guy saved my life, and unfortunately I didn’t think to get a picture with him, but here’s his dresser clandestinely snapped pre-cleanup because he’s a party animal.
To Baltimore natives, Modelo and Natty Boh are water, and Strong Bow Cider is their apple juice.
So without further ado (and I’m not even sure about the ado), I made my sweet little way to the Ram’s Head, and I must say it’s a tad fancier than I would have thought, being called Ram’s Head. I had in mind a bar shitty enough to be Deathfest material, but that was only the bowels. The outside has a fancy ass fountain with lights that make it look like Vegas or someshit. Too cool, dude. And it’s near the most brutal Holocaust memorial you’ll ever see.
Isn’t that fucking metal? And not just because it’s cast in iron or whatever, but because it’s a bunch of bodies burning, twisting, writhing, and melting in spiritless agony. Forever. Fuckin’ rad. Boston’s glass tubes full of steam can’t compare.
Appropriately in the mood for Coffins after some rituals near this most blesséd monument to misery, I stepped face-first into the sludge.
The embodiment of dark, slow and heavy, and a direct genetic predecessor to Winter’s death/doom monstrosity, Japan’s Coffins is a contender for one of the most disgustingly oppressive metal bands out there. And they’re actually good at what they do, too. The distortion serves not as a cover-up for being shitty musicians (they aren’t), but creates that foreboding grave-like atmosphere we sick fucks need to feel alive. Now one member heavier after moving Ryo from drums to frontman and getting a new stickman during the making of their punishing new album The Fleshland, they brought out plenty of hits from the hellish Buried Death, my personal favourite (though suspiciously missing “Cadaver Blood”, why?). You’d be amazed at how fast a crowd can get moving even though the music runs like a tank draped in human bodies. Easily one of the more brutal pits of the weekend. Nearly lost my shit —as in my possessions, as you know I went ham— but it was totally worth it. “See you tomorrow”, Bungo or Ryo quipped as they signed off, with a smile.
Following with another hard C to the jaw, Nawlins’ own Crowbar came up to the plate and delivered sorrowful Southern sermons to our congregation of freaks.
There they were chugging along dutifully onstage, I’m looking at guitarist Matthew Brunson as the blues flowed freely, and suddenly there’s a scrawny-looking guy feeling the fury of Kirk Windstein’s foot to his face. Now everyone’s mind is in “what the fuck?” mode for a moment, and conflicting accounts of the “what” rose faster than weeds outside a shitty project building. Apparently a fan got onstage, got tackled by security into Kirk, which then prompted Kirk’s “what the fuck” mode, and subsequently a violent reaction that was probably not needed, in light of the whole Randy Blythe kerfuffle. Despite this hiccup, however, they finished their set like gentlemen, and all was well. No clue what happened with the guy that undoubtedly still has a shoeprint in his forehead, but I hope that wasn’t the highlight of his weekend. I mean, aside from that, the set went well. I made a man of myself by throwing the shit down during “Cemetery Angels” in a goddamn blue miniskirt. Get on that level, chumps.
Switzerland’s Triptykon was supposed to headline, but due to the sudden and tragic death of band friend and artist, H.R. Giger, and the subsequent scheduling of his funeral, they couldn’t make it, though the MDF XII shirts tell a different story.
Good Friday indeed! Oh the wonderful tales I could tell you about successfully defeating homophobia by simply walking away from loudmouthed dumbasses, or I could just review bands, which is a better idea, actually.
So, this is the second time I’ve seen New York’s Castevet here at Deathfest, and like their hometown, I’m not sure why it’s considered such a hot item, even though it has elements that I like. I enjoy their post-hardcore tendencies more than their Black Metal ones. Weird, ain’t it? I would have stuck around to hear more of Mgla (who are doing far more interesting Black Metal, straight as a shot of Beefeater), but I wanted to A) familiarise myself with the walk to and from the Baltimore Soundstage, because I would end up going back and forth. A lot. Like, more than a kid at a Gorilla Biscuits show, or someshit. Why do they do this to us instead of using the perfectly good former Sonar Compound for a shitshow, the only attraction being that beers were $3 rather than $6? Fuck logic.
Anyhow, yes, Creative Waste from Saudi Arabia, pretty decent. They’ve got the novelty factor of being one of the only known Grind bands from that country for obvious reasons, though they could stand to be more creative in the years to come. They’ve got potential, however, and it’s sweet they could make it out to the US and do stuff. After a bit of getting wasted, I walked back to check out Ruins Of Beverast, and I honestly found their brand of Teutonic Black Metal a tad dull. I swear one of their songs was repeating the same section over and over and over and over until I finally realised it, and then, as if to fuck with me, suddenly it changed. Is this what it’s like having a bad trip just to snap back into reality and find your loved ones dead? No? Completely off-base? I mean, I like atmosphere and all, but I didn’t come to Baltimore to be lulled to eternal slumber. That’s what got me in trouble the last two years.
This picture with Fizzle D-Dizzle happened at some point around that time, because Ruins of Beverast is the soundtrack to a selfie break.
Following that was Necros Christos, and I must say, golf claps to having the most evil sounding bands play in the bright Baltimore sun. The irony was lost on nobody, I hope. They were decent enough, I remember, but nothing truly stuck out. Yep, the drought of interest was alive, but luckily Lake ACxDC was nearby to quench my thirst for some hard-hitting PV. Since it was still early in the day and not everyone had warmed up, you can guess that the pit was live, but not entirely lit up. Their caustic mix of standard Powerviolence and wacky fun-loving Grindcore makes for some good Christkillin’ tunes, indeed.
A second helping of Coffins was on the menu, and boy was I hungry for more topsoil.
Legit, Coffins could have played all four days and I’d have no problem with that at all. This time around they played more of their “fast” songs, meaning those with more mid-paced tempos, and even “No Saviour”, featuring some blastbeats, which, in my Coffins listening experience, is quite a rare treat. This, however, only proves that the band is not a one-trick pony, and is capable of devastation at several different speeds. Efficiency is terrifying; just ask the Nazis. Not a band to repeat themselves too much, the only returning tracks were “Evil Infection” and “Altars In Gore”, the latter of which made the dance floor shine. With sweat. And beer.
Turning 30 just last year, Norway’s Taake has never been in the U.S., because playing shows in America is not Black Metal, or something. Hoest even decided to wear a robe rather than go balls-out, which would make more sense, given that the weather’s pretty nice around those parts at this time.
Controversy about telling someone to “go suck a Muslim” —something Creative Waste would probably not appreciate— and all other bullshit that has lead to people falsely pinning the NS tag on them, Taake is probably one of those bands that you hear about more than actually hear. Having exposed myself to some of their music, I can say with certainty that it is good Norwegian Black Metal, and controversy be damned; those riffs are ice fuckin’ cold, son. I’m not terribly familiar with much of their music aside from the hilariously awesome banjo solo on “Myr” from Noregs Vaapen, but I hope this means that they can come back sometime without me having to pay hundreds of dollars. Also, I saw this dead bird on the sidewalk, and someone had removed it by the time I went back out of the Lot.
They didn’t take the dog shit, though. Guess that would’ve been gross.
Having to dash in the midst of the fog to catch the almighty Capitalist Casualties was a painful, but necessary decision for me to make. If I even missed a minute of their set, I probably would have missed two or three songs, and that is, I assure you, not entirely an exaggeration.
Think the singer and bassist don’t look PV enough? Here’s their guitarist:
Now THAT right there is the face of fastcore.
Blistering, impossible hailstorms of insane start-stop tempos, rapid-fire vocals and scathing guitars that straddle the line between an all-out Thrash attack and condensed hardcore ferocity, and I suppose you’ve noticed that I’m fanboying so hard I can’t even stop using ad-words. I’ll be up front and say Capitalist Casualties was one of the main draws for me this year, alongside Coffins. With a 40 minute timeslot, I estimated that they’d play at least 10 songs that I knew. I overshot it by three or four songs, but still, good enough. The fact that they played “Selfish Parochialism” nullified the fact that they didn’t play “Violence Junkie”, or more from their split with Man Is The Bastard, but I seriously can’t even bitch, because when else am I gonna see Capitalist Casualties on the Beast Coast? Geekin’.
The madness was far from over, as Italy’s grind virtuosos Cripple Bastards were up next to ruin any semblance of a face remaining from the previous assault.
Ranging in styles from faithful three-chords-and-the-truth punk rock to blasting grind, to fret-melting death metal, Cripple Bastards are certainly not short-sighted in their brutality. I’d know what they talked about if I spoke Italian, but I get the feeling that it falls in line with socio-political vitriol, as grind is wont to do. From Assück to Discordance Axis to early Extreme Noise Terror, grind has many flavours, and Cripple Bastards brings a whole plate of goodness to the genre. Just thinking of Italy makes me hungry because I’m fat. Speaking of fat, I got a free Yeungling from some guy.
Best 6 bucks never spent.
After my lower back was adequately punished by Punx Aerobics 101, I took yet another long walk (and it got longer every time) back to Edison to catch At The Gates, no big deal.
Alright, so I lied, pretty big deal. At The Gates is only one of the most legendary Melodic Death Metal bands that actually still plays Melodic Death Metal. Who does that shit anymore? Not In Flames, I can tell you that much, even though I love them to death. But yeah, to see the fucking pit surge during “Terminal Spirit Disease” is like a breath of fresh air for MeloDeath. Some dude even got into the circlepit with a camera in hand, and somehow it didn’t get broken. What a man. He’ll put a baby in me one day. The most pleasant surprise of the set: they actually played “The Beautiful Wound”. Holy shit; I thought I was the only person that cared about that song for some odd reason. Killer doesn’t begin to describe it. With fear, I kiss the burning AWESOME.
Following that with the atmospheric as hell black/death/doom two-piece meal Bölzer made for an odd contrast, but it was pretty chill, despite being given the distinct feeling that I had been launched into empty space.
Not much I can say about these guys, unfortunately, but they’re good, so check ‘em, if you want. I saw this guy’s jacket, too.
California’s most likely to be sued for medical malpractice, Impaled, however, was what my ears had their hearts set on at that hour. I intended to catch some of Enthroned, but they took too damn long to set up, and ironically enough, Impaled also were taking ages to set up, and thus started ten or fifteen minutes late. But fuck it, it’s Impaled playing The Dead Shall Dead Remain, in full, with dudes dressed as doctors, Hæmorrhage style, crowdsurfing/moshing in ‘blood’-spattered lab coats and surgeon masks. To add fuel to the spiritual bonfire of Bacchanal celebration, the infamous MDF Party Brigade struck suddenly with a bunch of glowsticks, inflatables, and other goodies, as you can sorta see here.
One second, it’s just Impaled playing, the next, it looks like someone turned on a garden hose that shoots little plastic things you should never, ever, ever, eat.
I drank with the doctor you see in this picture, he’s pretty chill. I already forgot his name, though, because whiskey. And this little cute alien dude, even though this picture is from Saturday.
All hail Dollar Tree, for it is America, and America is good.
Then I went and caught some Incantation, and I must say they’re not quite as slow as I expected, since I believe some of their members had been in Disma, and lemme tell ya, that band’s pretty slow. I kinda liked it, but would have preferred if vocalist John McEntee (also known for his work in Mortician and live stints in Immolation) didn’t insist on trying to sound “evil” even though song titles like “Emaciated Holy Figure” do that well enough. Sounded like a damn cartoon goblin. How brutal. Not shittalking, it was just ridiculous, being referred to as “sick fucks” two or three times in a 10 minute span. Good night.
Between turning 21, being thirsty, getting a job and overall just going out every day and bringin’ da muthafuckin’ ruckus, I haven’t been posting lately, as you may have seen. However, I haven’t come to a complete standstill; I’m a part-time contributor to Ghost Cult magazine, though unfortunately unlike Metal Army where content matching was no biggie, this time I’ll have to provide nothing more than a little blurb and a link to the rest of the content. Sorry ’bout that, faithless readers, but it is true, I’ve sold out.
On the other hand, any material I don’t submit to Ghost Cult is my own to do whatever nasty things I wish, so I’ll be trying to catch up to the times with some independently written show reviews, including Limp Wrist, Kromoson, Rotten Sound, (the) Melvins, Ultra//Negative, and Nuclear Special Forces, as well as linking up the reviews for Maryland Deathfest, Trap Them, deafheaven, Nails, etc. I’m a busy man on the down-low.
In the meantime, I’m hurtin’ for material but I’ve got some things planned and loaded into my idea fun, but if you’ve got anything to share, don’t hesitate to contribute. It can be why you think I’m an idiot for disliking Manowar or your take on the economic impact of metal and hardcore on Singapore, whatever you want, make it real, I insist. Let’s make this legit.
Tis the week to wake up and take life seriously. Or at least as seriously as I’m willing to take it without becoming lame, you see. Let’s dance.
The openers of this non-ironic gathering of 40 oz. bottles was Terminal Crisis, a newly formed Boston Hardcore band featuring Krystina of Curmudgeon on vocals and Tom Draize on guitar, and someone else from BearTrap I don’t know by name. Quite solid, I look forward to their continued existence.
Next were No Sir I Won’t, who aren’t big fans of cops and the politic among us.
Pissed, loud, and red in the face, delivering right hooks in quick succession in the form of catchy Punk leaning on Hardcore ferocity, but always staying well in the realm that will subdue any attempts to throw tha fuck down. Not that some won’t try anyway.
Coke Bust, the superheroes of Straight-Edge Hardcore, are best experienced without a barricade, this much is true.
Having seen these strapping lads play at Maryland Deathfest, I was even more stoked to see them in an intimate venue where one may not only sweat on fellow moshers, but also the band themselves. Mic-sharing ensures the transmission of several low-level contagions, and a wrongly timed jump can lead to one nearly crashing into the drumset and being the truest showstopper in the sense of the word. It was manic, there were injuries, and it was a rip roarin’ good time. Coke Bust’s fusion of Powerviolence in short bursts of hepped up punk energy with a rock’n’roll sensibility that can lock into a solid groove and bust out a solo atypical of the genre makes them a sweet deal both in studio and when being headbutted by the vocalist.
One must applaud the drummer of Coke Bust, for he is also the drummer of Sick Fix, who are, as you may have guessed, another SxE outing, but this time joined by a superheroine.
With members of Magrudergrind also leading the charge into your ear canal, you can certainly bet the guitar tone is that sickly, almost wet sounding buzz that brings to mind grind bands like Nasum and Rotten Sound, as well as good ol’ Entombed in their death metal days. Sick Fix’s sound comes out as an amalgm of Nails fury and Weekend Nachos heaviness, with more controlled speed (i.e. little-no blasting) and of course, female vokills. It got rowdy, and several concussions were sustained, both by slipping on the floor slick with all manner of spilled beer, and blows to the head, intentional or not. Err on the side of caution and get knocked into a trash can, or get knocked out.
The transformation of vocalist Michelle from her off-stage (metaphorical stage here) personality and her on-stage mania is something to be seen. Catch them if they happen to roll through your area, buy something, get it signed, wear it every day. I’m nearing the end, and it’s nice.
I pledged to myself several months ago that I wouldn’t put this off any longer, mainly cos life is uncertain and if I have to wait ’til next October… well frankly I don’t know if I’ll die or not. So before some punk decides to run up and smoke me with a Mac 10 as I walk home, I’ll write this account of what can be called my first showgoing experience, excluding Madonna, because what can I really say about that? It’s Madonna, nothing mindblowing happened, and someone probably did coke backstage, but that’s all speculation. Since In Flames is playing the House Of Blues again soon, it seems appropriate to dredge up this tale of naïvetè, with no holds barred.
Since this was my first ever Metal show, I could say with certainty that I was almost breathless at seeing so many people with the same musical taste as me gathered in one place at the same time. So many heathens bearing the logos of their favourite bands, most Satanic, cryptic to anyone not in the crowd, or just blatantly offensive. I wore my Behemoth shirt, because it was probably my most extreme at the time, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t wear it with some amount of pride, despite getting it at Hot Topic. Looking across the street and making fun of the “normies” going to see the Red Sox game is always a great pastime for those waiting to get beer spilled on them and violently collide with sweaty men for a few hours. It’s a fair cop, I suppose, spending some hard-earned cash from an extra-cirricular program to buy pain, tinnitus, and morning-after soreness in the neck, back, and legs enough to make waking up a Herculean task.
After marvelling at all of the other black-shirted monstrosities surrounding me, I inched my way toward the door, practically shaking with excitement. At the time, I hadn’t heard much by The Faceless, but I was stoked for 3 Inches Of Blood, In Flames, and most of all, Between The Buried And Me. Hell, I watched their Silent Circus bonus DVD with live footage twice just to get in the right mood. Of course, not being battle-ready and pit hardened, I was nowhere near as adept at any of the manœuvers I had witnessed in some live footage I had seen, but more on that later. It’s hilarious.
When I finally entered the venue after being felt up by the ever-so-friendly security, I was just barely able to contain myself. I immediately half-ran, half-walked up to the massive stage, taking in the sheer immensity. Here I was, after listening to this music for years, finally getting a chance to see how it’s done in real life. I made a five-minute friend, which is exactly how it sounds: You meet someone, you complement one another’s shirts, tell them who you’re there for, talk about the bands on your shirts, and drift off into something else until the band begins sound-check and it becomes too loud to hear normal speech.
It was this very occurrence that cut my engrossing Buckethead conversation with Andrew short, since The Faceless were revving up and about to blow a Tech-Death load all over our faces. Note that in lieu of the professionally taken pictures that I normally post, they shall all be photos I took with my then incredibly inept cellphone, complete with the streak effect that comes with poor motion capture.
At that time, Planetary Duality had just recently been released, so naturally they based their setlist mainly in that album. Having only listened to “Leica” and “An Autopsy”, and not even being particularly learned in those, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of the action. Sensing air turbulence behind me I wheeled around to witness people throwing down madly to the breakdown sections. I was simultaneously enthralled and frightened, having never seen it in person. A veritable sea of flailing fists and legs I decided wisely to not entangle myself in. I was immediately sold, especially after hearing the tastefully melodic “Sons Of Belial” (the clean vocals were a big plus), the evil Carnival tinged “Legions Of The Serpent”, and of course, the energy displayed by both the band and the crowd. I stole Planetary Duality a few days later, and became a fan. I showed my appreciation by immediately going to the merch table… and buying an In Flames tour shirt.
Up next were Speed Metal freax 3 Inches Of Blood, bringing to the table lots of loud noises and songs about battle with various mythical creatures and non-Metalheads.
I went in without a terribly great knowledge of 3 Inches Of Blood’s discography, and if asked today how many songs by them I even moderately know, that number would be only several higher. However, one doesn’t need to know the songs when going to see 3 Inches, but just be prepared to run in circles for the duration of the set. It was at this point I can say that I had my first collaboratively Metal experience in the real world, being a part of the Goatrider’s Horde, brandishing tooth and fist against the indomitable forces of mainstream pop culture. It was a glorious dithyramb of Heavy Metal debauchery, marred only by my losing the In Flames shirt in a circle pit. Luckily I have that same shirt, though a few sizes smaller than I originally bought, through an act of charity by Christian, my best friend at the time who was with me, which I thank him endlessly for.
With spirit undampened due to Between The Buried And Me setting up, I took my place in the crowd, virtually shaking with the anticipation of being able to witness my favourite band.
Upon hearing the opening notes of “All Bodies”, I instantly ran into the pit, colliding with any knave foolish enough to be in my way. I was embarrassingly green when it came to moshing of any kind, so I aped the techniques of those around me, including an uncannily Godawful floorpunch. Realizing the silliness of it all, I went back to shoving people. The great thing about Between The Buried And Me is that there’s no shortage of people to sing along to the clean sections with. “People of the stars” we are indeed.
Selkies: The Endless Obsession made an appearance, and I damn near cried. My favourite band playing my favourite song? Pinch me, Mister Ho, I think I huffed too much propane. The only real downer was that people continued moshing to the outro solo. Thus, I learned that some BtBaM fans are not exempt from being as stupid as everyone else. Their then new song Obfuscation was played, which made me a little sad at the time, but since it was a good enough song, I went along with it and watched the band in their fine-tuned ministrations. Tommy leapt around the stage, never once losing energy or spirit, and the crowd reacted in kind. Paul and Dustie’s dual guitars wrapped around one another with the majesty of the Caduceus, and Blake’s drumming resounded in my chest as it never could on record. It was a sensory heaven, aside from the smell of spilled beer and fat man sweat.
The Foam Born series was where my burgeoning mosh-warrior re-awakened and slew some more posers. White Walls made me tingle from start to finish, especially when the entire crowd chanted “Get. Out. Of. This. Closed. Off. Cir. Cle.” In unison. It was at this moment I realized the power that comes from seeing such a great band live. Sure, you can imagine it, but nothing beats being there. By some amount of luck I managed to not be knocked out during the ending breakdown, since it was a veritable tempest of frenetic rushing in and out of the areas quickly becoming safe and unsafe. There was nowhere to hide, and it was great.
It seemed almost impossible that In Flames could live up to my favourite band, even though they were my second favourite. Now they are my third, following Dir En Grey after a rather shameful bout of conduct, what with releasing Sounds Of A Playgound Fading… Whatever, the fact of the matter is, they played, and it was fun.
After a set-up time that even I could tell was somewhat abnormal, they launched into “Cloud Connected:, which caused the entire venue to jumpdafuckup. Quite a good time, at least in my mentality at the time. I shouted along every word, since it was quite simple and I listened to it frequently for a quick fix of headbanging action. Looking back, I realize now that a lot of the moshing during the set was completely incongruous to what was being played. Sure, faster songs like “Drifter” and “Pinball Map” can get a circlepit treatment, but the choruses of “Come Clarity” and “Alias”? Makes me want to place my head upon the nearest brick wall for not knowing that was a silly thing to do. The oldest song they played was “The Hive”, which I am certain some sucka MCs thought was a cover of “Right Side Of The Bed” by glamcore stalwarts Atreyu. My generation fails me.
I may not have the same amount of respect for In Flames’ more recent output now, but I’ll be damned if Anders isn’t an entertaining frontman. He cracked jokes, complemented shirts, and was all around a showman at heart. Guitarist Niklas Engelin, presumably taking a break from Engel, was filling in for Björn and sporting a cheesy Red Sox shirt, which begs the question as to whether he wore the shirt of a local sports team at every stop. Björn at that time in the process of being kicked out of the band for being a drunk fuck. We’ll miss ye, as you were the only thing keeping the band from making Sounds Of A Playground Fading. But it is too late. Oh, it is far too late…
By the time the set was nearly over I was almost dead tired from running in circles, pleading to the gods they wouldn’t play “Take This Life”, because by that time I had figured that a huge circlepit would break out and joining would be mandatory. Take a guess as to what happened? Oh yes, I was quite thirsty afterward, that’s for sure.
This concludes this stroll through memory lane, I hope you hated it. I still look fondly upon this event in my mind and almost shed a tear. No, not because it’s a sentimental thing, but because I was such a damn dork. Imagine me floorpunching in a Behemoth shirt with some shitty worn-out Adidas. Time to go drink to my newfound awesomeness.
In all seriousness (kind of), this show may not have been logistically the best I’ve ever attended, but the fact that it served as my gateway into all the countless others I would go on to see at the Palladium, assorted Allston basements, and even as far as Maryland Deathfest, it’ll remain on top for some time to come. Until next time, where I’ll review something that happened relatively recently.
It has been several months since Maryland Deathfest, and since I promised the soulless fiery hued gentleman who comprises one half of Amish Noise’s orchestra of cacophanous calamity a write-up, I’m going to finally buckle down my hat and give it a proper overview, dammit. I’ll consider this a birthday present to myself, since any other excuse would just mean I actually care. Now, let’s get on with it while I still think it’s a good idea.
This here shall be a mini review of their release, “Only The Devil Wears Buttons”, which really explains why corporate lawyers are the bloodsuckers we know and love. As the About section on facebook proudly declares:
“Your genres cannot contain us, your scenes cannot drain us, we thrive on human disgust, please enjoy our musk.”
The description continues on this theme, as you shall see:
“We do not fit into your genre’s, we only live to destroy your concept of music and make you pay for having ears.”
What gets me hot and bothered more than anything is genre bending. I’m still unsure what to call it to this day, so we’ll go track-by-track and play it by ear.
“Get Up N’Get” is the soundtrack to taking a motorcycle for a joyride while swilling cheap gin made in a basement. It’s got the speed of Thrash, maniacal vocals, and at some points near the end, a groovy Jazz influenced bass riff that borrows its tempo from Count Basie, pinned underneath a guitar screaming the same riff as though suffering a bad acid trip and fighting its cat until it fades out, not quite knowing how to end. All of this and I can’t exactly pin what sort of Metal this was supposed to be, if any at all.
“Keeper Of Gates” follows a more straightforward sound, melding the rock’n’roll worship of Black Metal supergroup I (featuring members of Immortal and Gorgoroth) with a tiny bit of Melodic Death Metal influence. This is the moment of lucidity on the relsease, if you’re discounting the vocals layered so as to sound like tortured denizens of Hades.
“Monsters!” brings it back to the amount of crazy I was promised, with vocals taking equally from Mike Patton at his least whacked out, King Diamond, and Hank III sans sounding like a mountain goat eating hallucinogenic weeds. This track sounds a bit like the title, a sudden invasion by Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and Arsenio Hall.
“Knuckle Kids” opens up immediately with a swingin’ groove that makes you wanna just get up and dance, showcasing a little old school Punk influence but always verging a tiny bit on the Metal side so you don’t forget that you’re supposed to be confused while listening to this. The lyrics are still odd, so that constant is still in play, and the vocals are still treading the line between vocalizing and “Missed-My-Pill” yelling.
“Night Of The Living Bread” opens up like a Dollar Store version of Ihsahn’s solo project, so the Black Metal influence has crept back in, but only momentarily, soon to be shoulder tackled by a schizophrenic Thrash attack. Once the false Ihsahn regains his breath, he gets back to his feet and busts out a rippin’ solo over a surprisingly calm bass and drums, only to be assaulted once again. Ihsahn gets fed up and kills the naughty Thrasher, but is severely wounded, so drags off into the woods slowly, and dies, leaving only a bassist to mourn.
“Suggestive Apricots” wins best song title of the decade. As you may have guessed, this song is gonna be another trip through the deranged psyches of the beardos who make up this band. This here is a compromise between Nuclear Assault style goof Thrash and more Rock infused Black Metal. It all quiets down to explore power chords and what sound like some strange breathing exercises interlaced with whispers and whimpers. After some melodic noodling, drums back up the vocalist(s) simply chanting (in a shout, mind you) “Suggestive… apricots!” until the bass kicks back in, and then the guitars, with the chant becoming more manic as it goes along, simply exploding under its own fruitiness.
And there you have it, strange descriptions for stranger music. I’m starting to like this job, even if the pay isn’t that great. Steal their music here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.