As we reach the final hours of 2016, we reflect on our top five best metal shows we attended for the year. While there were many, the final installment of this countdown rounds out our absolute number one favorites for varying reasons. As for 2017, here’s to more headbanging, moshing, and great times for all!
Chris’ #1: Carcass with Crowbar, Ghoul and Night Demon at Gramercy Theater.
Chris: This is mainly my number one because I never got to see Carcass until this point. Not only did that finally happen but I also got to interview Bill Steer at that show. He was a super nice guy and I got a free beer out of it. I was supposed to interview Ghoul but they have a lot of family in New York so there was too much going on. We finally did it a few weeks ago. Crowbar ruled. Definitely surprising as I wasn’t sure how they’d be live.
Anthony: Yeah, Crowbar are great live. I saw Carcass this year too but at The Chance with Inter Arma who were a nice surprise and Deafheaven who were…..ugh.
Chris: Night Demon was ok. Too much of Anvil meets Motorhead. They were cool but sounded too much like their influences. I’m not sure why everyone loves Deafheaven so much. They’re just ok.
Anthony: Night Demon are pretty bland. A lot of newer-trade metal just sounds off.
Chris: My runner up is Conditon Critical and Game Over at Lucky 13’s. Mostly because Condition Critical are my boys and I’d like to think I helped break them in and put them over as they were on their way up. Game Over blew my mind. Very nice Italian boys. They were the second coming of Overkill.
Anthony: Mike is a cool dude. I interviewed him awhile back.
Chris: Yes he is. Can’t wait for the new Lich King album.Was also a pleasure to finally have them on the Thrash Bash this year.
Birdman and Lyon’s #1: Sonata Arctica, Dark Tranquility, Swallow The Sun, Leaves Eyes, Omnium Gatherum, Enforcer and Starkill at The Upstate Concert Hall
Birdman: I think Lyon and I are tied for our favorite show of the year so we’ll talk over each other.
Lyon: We sure are.
Anthony: That’s pretty sweet. I’d love to see Swallow the Sun, DT and Omnium.
Lyon: Those three sets in particular were amazing.
Birdman: I guess the first reason it’s my favorite is that there was not a single bad band on the bill. Even Enforcer was mildly entertaining whom Anthony and I have mocked in the past. Leaves Eyes was a nice surprise as well, not too big a fan of symphonic metal.
Lyon: They do it well and Dark Tranquility is one of my favorite bands.
Anthony: They are one of my top melodeath bands for sure.
Birdman: And of course, that was a show where I got to interview three guys from the Century Media bands from that show.
Lyon: They played a lot of songs from their new album. The new stuff is great, they played a bunch of great old shit too.
Birdman: Omnium was definitely Rob’s favorite of the night.
Lyon: Omnium surprised me the most with how good they were, Swallow the Sun hits all the right notes for me too. And their set was long and great .Starkill was honestly really entertaining.
Birdman: Didn’t get to see Starkill because of the interview. Sonata was great to hear live again after a seven year lapse.
Maryland Deathfest 2016
Anthony: Didn’t go Thursday this year and I was sad that both discharge and Destroyer 666 dropped, but overall it was a great time and saw many awesome bands.
No locals unless you count the side bar as part of the fest.
Lyon: Sweet. What were the top three acts?
Anthony: Dragged into Sunlight, Demolition Hammer and Angelcorpse.
Lyon: Dragged is fucking sweet.
Anthony: Runners up will be Exciter,Venom, Hirax and Rotten Sound. I’m guessing this is it for the round table. I’m sure Mayhem, Nuclear Assault and Testament all sounded great there to. I skipped them for Magrudergrind, Infest and Hemorrhage since I’ve seen them all. Cool chatting without guys going to try to get it up for the end of the year.
Lyon: I always try to get it up for the end of the year!
After a most excellent Friday night we woke to another crazy day with an even better lineup to boot. After some Chipotle Jason and I headed to the venue while Herb and Matt went back to the hotel. The two of us got to the fest just in time for a band we both really wanted to see.
A Centinex offshoot, Demonical which were similar to their step-band and also like Centinex, they were killer live.
Since Gruesome was playing the same exact set again (this time on the day they were actually scheduled), I just used this time to look at merch. Seeing as nothing changed, it’s safe to say they played and sounded well.
Swedish brutal death metal legionaries Deranged were another band I was curious about. BDM is hit or miss to me and this band was a surefire hit. Around this time Herb and Matt finally came to the lot.
Another band I was curious about. Tulus are a 90’s black metal band from Norway that just never got as big as acts like Mayhem and Darkthrone. Tulus was good but nothing mind-blowing. They also did a very random cover of “Slowly We Rot” by Obituary.
California thrash legends Hirax were one of the Saturday bands I wanted to see the most. As soon as their set started they easily became one of the fest’s best. They sounded spot on and vocalist Katon W. De Pena showed the crowd how it’s done. Pena was running around shaking everyone’s hands and giving crazy facial expressions that reminded me of a friend back home.
In the ashes of Hirax’s wake were another 80’s thrash band called Atrophy. To me they were not offensively bad but were very forgettable and boring. Long story short, Hirax is a tough act to follow.
Hail of Bullets
While I am a big fan of Martin Van Druuen’s work in both Asphyx in Pestilence, I find Hail of Bullets boring and this set (which didn’t even have him in the lineup) didn’t improve my view of them at all.
After two boring bands, the fest got good again with Finland’s Impaled Nazarene. I had seen them at my very first MDF back in 2011 and found their set to be powerful and lots of fun. During most of the set I hung with Coco who I met at last year’s MDF.
These speed/thrash titans were the band I wanted to see the most of Saturday’s Edison Lot lineup. Exciter had the entire original members playing this show as well (always a plus). Their set was intense with more moshing then you’d expect from a band this old-school. After they wrapped up their set I ran down to Soundstage.
Being one of my favorite goregrind bands, I was pretty excited to see Haemorrhage. Since I’ve already seen Nuclear Assualt twice and Testament once before I figured I was done with Edison lot for the day. Between Haemorrhage’s awesome songs, energy and the theatrics of the lead vocalist Lugubrious (yes, his stage name is Lugubrious), this was one of the best sets of the year.
Powerviolence pioneers Infest followed, continued and indulged in the lugubriousness. I only watched a little of their set (though I’d later find out they actually didn’t play that long), what I saw was intense (like all hardcore shows should be).
After Infest I headed to Rams Head and caught up with Herb. Grave Miasma put on a crushing, heavy performance that impressed just about everyone in the crowd but Herb (how they didn’t I’ll never know) and prepared us for what was next.
Dragged Into Sunlight
Dragged Into Sunlight were another one of the bands I wanted to see most (esepcially since they dropped last year). They did not disappoint at all. Dragged Into Sunlight’s multi-subgenre sound translated very well at Rams Head and their performance was top notch. On stage were flicking strobe lights while the singer T (what’s up with these stage names?) had his back turned to the audience. This didn’t stop the band from having a really intense pit. After their set we stayed for one more Rams Head band.
Originally I was going to see Discharge at this time but unfortunately they dropped due to issues with their Visas (why don’t they just get MasterCards and be done with it?). Because of that we decided to see Craft instead while Jason went to see Drugs of Faith at the Sidebar Tavern.While a downgrade from the amazing set Dragged had, Craft still delivered and it was cool to catch this classic band.
After Craft’s set we said goodbye to a bunch of our concert friends and went back to the hotel where Matt and Herb were.