Editor’s Note: In the wacky world of publishing, some stories don’t see the light of day. Whether they sit on the backburner until they become irrelevant, positions change hands or they just plain get cut, it’s just one of those things. Today, one of those unpublished articles will finally get its due as we traverse the archives of “The Vault.”
After the amazing experiences on Friday and Saturday, it was time for the final day of 2014’s Maryland DeathFest. This day was mostly doom and sludge metal at the Edison lot, which is why I chose to watch Edison’s entire lineup.
First up were Virginia’s female fronted stoner/doom metal outfit Windhand. They were the most melodic band I’d seen at the fest which felt distinctive after two days of extremities. “Soma,” their latest release at the time was one of my favorite albums of 2013 and it was great to hear it performed live. I loved the way the clean vocals sounded live and thought Windhand’s sound translated well live as a whole. Next up was another stoner/doom band.
I’d been a fan of Chicago’s instrumental stoner/doom crew ever since an old friend of mine decided to randomly show me one of their songs on FaceBook a few years ago. The lack of vocals might turn some people off but I feel Bongripper’s psychedelic atmosphere is perfect on its own. I just sat back and enjoyed the atmosphere’s big change from the intensely violent shows of the past few days for 45 minutes. After Bongripper came yet another doom band.
Graves at Sea
Graves at Sea are a sludge metal band from California. As a big fan of sludge I have always heard of these guys but never got around to listening to them until now. After seeing them I couldn’t believe I hadn’t. The first thing I noticed was the singers unique voice. The music also reminded me quiet a bit of New Orleans sludge greats Eyehategod. All and all it was a fun surprise and after Graves at Sea the days period of slowness ended.
Baltimore’s grindcore three-piece brought the moshing back to MDF. I had seen Misery Index once before open for Cannibal Corpse (with Hour of Penace, Goatwhore and Necroptic Engorgement as well) and they put on a pretty kickass performance. Since I had already seen them before and was getting hungry, I skipped a good amount of their set. I watched the first 20 minutes and then left for the nearest meal. However, I did get back in time to hear “Traitors.” The next band would continue the intense mosh pits.
Puesdogod are a Russian black metal band. Like Graves at Sea, they were another band I’d always heard good things about but never actually got around to. Just like Graves at Sea, I’m glad I finally did. The Pseudogod’s sound was like a fusion of Incantation and old Morbid Angel with a blackened touch. The rapid-fire drumming was also crushing. Next up was another very blackened band.
Puesdogod started the shift in the days genre from sludge/doom to black metal and Wrathprayer continued it. Like Psuedogod, they played blackened death metal. Unlike Psuedogod, these Chileans weren’t very interesting. They just sounded like yet another “kvlt” band who want nothing more than to appeal to the “trve” fans in that market.
I had seen this Colombian black metal two-piece twice before. The first time was at MDF 2011 (though I only watched two songs due to it being 1:35 A.M.) and the second was as an opener for Marduk and I must say Inquisition owned that show.
Now it was time to see one of my all time favorite black metal bands play a full 45 minute set. Like the other times I had seen them, Inquisition played an in-your-face set with a haunting feel and little talking between songs.A major complaint a lot of people had was that they did not perform there most famous song “Crush the Jewish Prophet.” Although that is a great song, I wasn’t bothered by this as I sometimes feel people forget that’s not the only song in Inquisition’s catalog. Next up was a brief return to sludge.
At this point I had never seen Nola’s sludge/death/grindcore band live but I had seen Goatwhore several times (which Louis Ben Falgoust II also does vocals). Though their sound is usually considered more sludge than death, their performance defiantly leaned towards death metal. It felt like I was seeing Goatwhore again but playing different songs, which is a good thing. I always loved the energy Goatwhore brings to the stage as well as Ben’s over the top stage moves. While I always found Soilent Green to be average, they put on a great show and the crowd went wild. While I do like Goatwhore more, this live set increased my respect for Soilent Green.
This was my third time seeing Canadian “avant-garde” tech death legends Gorguts.
My first time they were headlining with Origin, Nero di Marte, Necroptic Engorgement and BillxNye. At this show they only played songs from “Colored Sands,” their latest release at the time. While that was a great album (on my top ten of 2013), I wanted to hear more material. The second time I saw them was on 2014’s Decibel magazine tour with Carcass, Noisem and The Black Dahlia Murder. Here they only played three songs.
I figured I would give these guys a third chance to put on a fulfilling set and this time they finally delivered. Rather than just one, they played songs from all of their albums. Gorguts must have finally gotten promoting only “Colored Sands” out of their system. Next up was the biggest misfit on the bill.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
For these three days I’d been watching a lineup of mostly extreme metal bands and extreme forms of punk. Now it was time for something completely different and not extreme at all.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats are a British psychedelic rock band, making them the only non-punk or metal band on the whole fest (not saying it was a bad thing as I do love a lot of psychedelic/classic rock). The bands sound reminded me a bit of Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep.When they ended I went over to the next stage to see the oldest band on the Edison Lot.
I have been a fan of this bands older work since I was 16 years old. They were my introduction to non-Sabbath doom metal (and where I first heard the term).
As excited as I was, I was also a little worried. To me, Candlemass has not had a decent album after “Tales of Creation” and since a lot of the members they have now are from after that album, I was wondering if they would even play much of the classic Candlemass tracks at all. They started their set with “Mirror Mirror” (the first Candlemass song I ever heard). This was my first clue that they’d be awesome. Right after that song, their vocalist Mats Levin announced that they were going to play an old-school set (though one later song was played). When I heard him say this I knew I was going to greatly enjoy this.
Candlemass was up there along with Asphyx and Dark Angel for best bands of the fest. Every song they played was a song I knew and unlike the next band, I’d give them the award for “best setlist.”
My Dying Bride
First off I will admit I’m not a fan of goth doom (I don’t have a problem with it just isn’t for me). I enjoy some Type O Negative and Katatonia every now and then as well as the early albums by this band, but I just wasn’t too thrilled to see these guys.
I decided to give these British goth-doomers a shot anyway as there second album “Turn Loose the Swans” is one of my favorite death/doom albums. I watched them for a few songs, two of which I saw were from that album while the rest of the set was mostly boring. I wound up getting Subway with two people I met at the show before venturing back to Soundstage .
Ratos de Porao (Basement Rats)
Ratos de Porao is an obscure Brazilian crossover/thrash band similar in style to early D.R.I. I was only going to watch about 30 minutes of their set mainly because Ulcerate was going on shortly after them at Rams Head, but half an hour for a band like this is a lot of songs. Like any thrash show, the crowd was circle pitting hard.
The New Zealand tech-death giants were probably the most technical band I’d seen on this year’s fest. Unlike most tech-death bands today whose main focus is just showing off, Ulcerate focus more on atmosphere, giving them a sound similar to later Gorguts.
Ulcerate was overpowering and loud thanks to the help of Rams Head’s live’s sound system. The band played a lot off their latest album “Vermis,” an album I greatly enjoyed (though not enough to put it on my top of 2013). Next up was the final band of the fest, who could not have been more brutal.
Being from the Hudson Valley (Montgomery specifically), I found it pretty awesome that my areas biggest death metal band was ending this year’s MDF.
I saw these dudes three years ago in Kingston, NY with Gigan and Jungle Rot. It was a powerful show and the crowd tore the place apart (literally). Now it was time to see them decimate again in a bigger venue.
Immolation’s set was very different from the last time I saw them. Between then and now, they had a killer new album called “Kingdom of Conspiracy” and they played a lot of awesome old songs that they didn’t play last time. Like always, vocalist Ross Dolan had amazing stage presence and the crowd (or over-crowd really) was going nuts. After watching a few songs, I started to feel tired (a combination of the heat and watching bands all day). I went upstars and lay down on one of the seats and continued watching from one of the TV monitors. Even watching from a screen the performance was still brutal. After Immolation it was time to go back to the hotel one last time. MDF 2014 was a huge success and I do plan on returning as soon as possible.