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My Experience at MDF 2016 – Part 3: Sunday

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After two days of straight-up metal and hardcore we woke up to the last day of this year’s Maryland Deathfest.

Jason,Herb,Matt and I headed to Panera Bread for lunch. After everyone made jokes out of the fact that the name sounds like Pantera, we went over to Edison Lot.

Author’s Note: Due to the schedule no longer being up and not remembering  what order they played, the bands for the day are surmised according to memory and not time.

Denouncement Pyre

First on were black/death band Denouncement Pyre. I decided to give them a look since they are an offshoot of Nocturnal Graves. The band was pretty decent in both sound and performance.

Shed The Skin

Next on was death metal band Shed the Skin. As soon as I saw Kyle Severn from Incantation and his mustache playing the drums I knew this was going to be good. Thankfully I was right.

Nocturnal Graves

Blackened thrash masters Nocturnal Graves were one of the must-see bands of the day for me and they did not disappoint.

Wombbath

Classic Swedish death metallers Wombshedbath were anther one of the bands I wanted to catch the most on Sunday. While their sound was lacking, they were still fun to see.

Desaster

These German black thrashers put on a very fun and energetic performance (although they didn’t top Nocturnal Graves).

Bongzilla

While I do enjoy stoner doom, I always found Bongzilla to be one of the more boring and generic bands of that genre. Live they were no different as I sat in the shade bored.

Interment

As a big fan of Swedish death metal, I always found this band to be a more generic entry and similar to Bongzilla, their live performance didn’t do them any favors.

Incantation

Being one of my favorite death metal bands, seeing Incantation is always a charm. The last time I was able to catch them was at MDF 2014 and they were one of the best performances of that year. While I feel they sounded better then due to playing at the Rams Head, they still killed like always.

Demolition Hammer

Along with Venom, they were one of my top must-see bands of Sunday (and the whole fest!) and they ended up being the best band of the whole Edison Lot. They sounded great and played all of their classics. It was raining a lot on Sunday but this didn’t stop the crowd from circle pitting as hard as they could.

Satan

The second to last band on the bill was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Satan. While traditional metal was never something I was big on (outside of the main bands and a few other exceptions), I can appreciate it when it’s good – and Satan were really good. They had a great sound, great energy and their songs were pretty catchy and memorable.

Venom

The last band of the Edison Lot was a band I was really interested in seeing. Earlier this year, I saw the offshoot Venom Inc. and they had an amazing set. Now it was time to see how Cronos’ band measures up to that version of the band.

While Venom didn’t have as good as a set list as Venom Inc. (Venom’s set kinda had too many later songs), they did play classics like “Buried Alive” and “Warhead.” These staples sounded amazing thanks to Cronos’ vocals. This made both Venom and Venom Inc. experiences pretty even. After Venom finished with “Black Metal” (of course), Herb and I headed down to Sound Stage. After chilling with his friend Greg, I made it in time for the last band.

Doom

I had seen crust punk legends Doom back at MDF 2011. It was about time I’d hear them play a longer set. Just as 2011, they ruled and were a nice end to the fest.

After Doom’s set Jason and I headed back to the hotel (while Herb watched Mystifer). We all went to sleep and already wondered what next year will hold.

My Experience at MDF 2015: Part 3 – Saturday

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Saturday was going to be the roughest day of the fest. With so many good bands across the stages, I knew I’d end up moving around a lot.

Before the show we stopped at a pharmacy since some of our friends needed a few things. Here I ran into Joe Sullivan of Metal Rules TV (this was an awesome surprise as his concert reviews are a big influence on mine). Today was the only day that our group included two more people, Gwen and Joff (this was due to them only having Saturday Edison tickets).

Fulgora

As early as 12:15 P.M. (seriously MDF wtf?) Fulgora played. I went into this set knowing nothing about them except that they’re on Phil Anselmo’s of Pantera fame’s Housecore Records. The band played some kind of sludge/death metal mix with a space theme.The drums were impressive but sadly, nothing else was.

Serpentine Path

After Fulgora were done another sludge/death metal fusion took the stage. This was one I was more familiar with. Playing a sludge influenced version of 90’s death doom, Serpentine Path crushed it.

Twilight of the Gods

Twilight of the Gods is a Bathory influenced power metal band. Although power metal is normally not my thing, I will admit this band played well. I’d heard the band started out as a Bathory cover band, which would have been awesome if they played some Bathory songs.

Morpheus Descends

The first of the “must-see” bands of Saturday. Being from the area Morpheus Descends is from, I’d seen them twice before (both secret shows). Now was time to see them play to a much larger audience.

I was joined by Pearl and Andrew of Chicago death metal band Moratorium.We all watched Morpheus Descends play their classic tracks such as “Immortal Coil” and “Corpse Under Glass.” It felt both weird and awesome to see a band from my area play the main stage at a huge festival.

Einherjer

After watching some death metal from familiar ground the lot shifted to viking black metal from Norway. I tend to be pretty picky when it comes to the whole folky side of metal, but Einherjer was always one of the ones I dug. Their epic and atmospheric sounds really translated well on Edison. I could have done without the people in Turisas shirts dancing funny, but it was a fun set regardless. After these guys I would run over to Soundstage.

Full Of Hell

After getting some cheap 7-11 food I went into Soundstage for some powerviolence. Full of Hell played their brand of hyper-aggressive noise really well. I didn’t stand too close to the stage as I was going to leave right after their set.

Vulcano

I rushed back to Edison Lot and got there just in time for some Brazilian thrash. I never had the chance to check these guys out before and boy did I wish I had.They played very raw and primitive old-school thrash that quickly reminded me of Sarcofago and old Sepultura.

Bulldozer

After watching one of Brazil’s most obscure thrash bands, it was time for an Italian one.

I will admit though I’ve made fun of some of their weird ideas and lyrics in articles in the past, I don’t dislike them at all and find them fun to listen to. With that said, I actually really enjoyed their set. My friend Herb, who was standing right up front yelled at them to play their infamous “Dance Got Sick” EP -t o which the bands vocalist, A.C. Wild heard him and laughed.

Tryptikon

On the car ride here Josh and I were both discussing what Tryptikon’s set would be like. We wondered if it would be all Tryptikon songs or if there would be any Celtic Frost covers thrown in for good measure (either variation would’ve been cool). I mentioned that I doubted they would play “Proclamation of the Wicked” or any Hellhammer songs.

As soon as the set started I was wrong. They opened up with “Proclamation of the Wicked,” playing it in the slowed down Tryptikon style. I watched it with my Albany friends Filip and Craig and while we were pretty far, we heard them nice and clear where we were. They played a mix of Trypikon songs and Celtic Frost classics. Singer/guitarist Tom G. Warrior proved me wrong once again when the band played the Hellhammer track “Messiah.” Not only was it an amazing set, it one of the best performances of the whole fest.

Matyrdod 

I rushed back to the Soundstage yet again to catch these Swedish crusties in action, who played a fun energetic set. After Matyrdod I went once again back to Edison.

Arcturus

I got back to Edison right when these guys were about to set up. A very different band on the bill, Artcurus are a Norwegian metal band with avant-garde influences. The bands sound turned off a lot of people but I was excited to finally get to see them (especially after their great new album “Arcturian”). Vortex’s vocals sounded spot-on and the band’s campy theatrics were fun as hell to watch. Arcturus had a great set, playing material from most of their albums.

Razor

The last band of Edison Lot was the old-school Canadian thrash band Razor. While I still wish Sodom didn’t cancel their appearance, seeing Razor was still pretty cool. The band delivered a great thrash performance and a set that included a lot of classics. Herb and I left 15 minutes before their set ended to catch a band we both wanted to see at Rams Head.

Gnaw Their Tongues

We got into Rams Head to watch what was probably the second biggest outlier on the bill next to Mobb Deep. Gnaw Their Tongues play electronic music with black metal influences.

Instead of a full band it was a man programming beats on his laptop while another member did shrieks. I’m not a huge fan of electronic music, but this band is a pretty big. Gnaw Their Tongues had a lot of walk-outs due to being so different from many other bands on the bill, but I enjoyed the haunting atmosphere the band brought with them. Towards the end of their set I yet again went back to Soundstage.

Wolfbrigade

Wolfbrigade are the band that got me into crust punk and are still one of my favorites of the genre. They killed with their high energy and intense circle pits.Their whole set reminded me of first checking these guys out in 12th grade and learning what crust punk is all about.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed

The time had come for the main attraction of the entire fest: Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s first official live show.

The expectations where high. Just the thought of being part of the first real show from a band that never plays live was mind-blowing enough. The venue was extremely crowded. Anyone who had a pass that allowed access to Soundstage on Saturday was here.

The band more then met expectations. The energy was top notch. The sound was crystal-clear and extremely loud and their set had the most violent pit I had ever seen.

ANB would end up being my favorite performance of the entire fest. It felt as if the band had been building up to this very moment from the day they started. When ANB finished we traveled back to the hotel. Walking with us were a bunch of Josh and Nicole’s friends who were also blown away by this moment as well as a guy with a traffic cone on his head yelling that he was the singer for Portal (not making this up).

Check out the final part (Sunday) right here.

My Experience at MDF 2015: Part 1 – Thursday

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Memorial Day Weekend was back yet again which of course means another Maryland Deathfest.

The fellowship consisted of Josh (a.k.a. Heavy Metal Horseman), his then-girlfriend Nicole, our friend Matt and I. We spent Wednesday at Josh’s so we could all head out on Thursday to venture into Baltimore for the first day of the fest’s amazing lineup.

On day one (Thursday), Edison (the main stage) wasn’t open but the two smaller stages, Soundstage and Rams Head were. Thursday’s Soundstage was all brutal death metal (and one rap group) while Ram’s Head had all doom bands. Thanks to traffic caused by a baseball game, we arrived at our hotel late. When we finally got there, we met up with our friend Jason who would room with us for the duration of the fest. After checking in and getting everything in order, we walked down to Soundstage.

Mortal Decay

The first band up was Philly’s brutal death metal band Mortal Decay. Because of the traffic, I missed 20 minutes of their set, which wasn’t too sad since I didn’t know this band too well. Brutal death metal is a subgenre that was always hit or miss for me. Mortal Decay was pretty hit and had a very enjoyable set.

Origin

Next up was the ultra technical death metal band, Origin. I’d seen Origin a few times before and they’d always delivered. As always, Origin had tons of energy and vocalist Jason Keyser would crack jokes about everything – including Mobb Deep not fitting the bill and the Baltimore Riots. These guys never disappoint.

Internal Bleeding

Next up were New York’s “slam” pioneers Internal Bleeding. This band never fully interested me and even live I just found their songs boring. Their set was slightly redeemed when they let everyone get on stage. This included Josh wearing his horse mask, a guy in a penis suit and the MDF chicken (yes, there is a man in a chicken getup at MDF). After Inernal Bleeding’s set I went to Seven Eleven for some cheap food then back to Soundstage for the next band.

Skinless 

Like Origin, I’d seen Hudson Valley brutal death masters Skinless a few times (including MDF 2011). Like Origin, they always kill. Skinless had tons of energy and an amazing set list. My favorite part was seeing Keyser again, singing on songs from “Trample the Weak” (the album he appeared on). This gave me memories of when I first saw Skinless back when he was in the band. Without a doubt Skinless were my favorite band to see Thursday night.

Devourment

This was the third time I went to a show with Devourment on the bill.The first time was at MDF 2011 and the second time was on tour with Dying Fetus and Exhumed. Devourment dropped both of those shows. This time however, they actually played. As someone who mostly enjoys older Devourment, I was glad they had a mostly retro set list. The crowd was nuts and got even crazier when they played the classic heart warming song, “Babykiller.” After their set I headed over to Rams Head.

Conan

I walked into Rams Head and heard Jex Thoth play the last minute of their final song. I relaxed on one of Rams Head’s couches as these British stoner doomers set up. Conan was super slow and super heavy, which as a stoner/doom fan I was impressed greatly.

Mobb Deep

After Conan I went back to Soundstage for the Mobb Deep bonus show. When this was first announced as part of the MDF package, a lot of people complained. As a fan of old-school hip hop, I was stoked.

After the hype man had the crowd yell “Mobb Deep” over and over, the legendary New York duo got on stage (fun fact: Mobb Deep were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic sophomore album, “The Infamous”). To my surprise, the crowd had more metalheads then rap fans. I watched the set for a little over half an hour before leaving for Ram’s Head due to what looked like a fight starting.

Yob

Next up was the Thursday band I wanted to see the most. Yob is one of my all time favorite stoner/doom bands and my second favorite band from the Portland metal scene (next to Agalloch). Jason and I went in to watch these guys while the rest of our group (due to not being big doom fans) went back to the hotel.

Yob’s set was amazing. The band would draw you in its atmosphere and as soon as you’re calm, the songs crush you with their overbearing heaviness. After they were done we went back to the hotel to get some rest for the next day (one that would blow us away even more).

Check out part 2 here.

The Vault: My Experience at Maryland DeathFest 2014: Part 3 – Sunday

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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.

Windhand

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.

Bongripper

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.

Misery Index

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.

Pseudogod

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.

Wrathprayer

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.

Inquisition.

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.

Soilent Green

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.

Gorguts

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.

Candlemass

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.

Ulcerate

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.

Immolation

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.

The Vault: My Experience At Maryland DeathFest 2014 Part 2 – Saturday

20131201-030828-265961

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 Fridays success, my friends and I were highly excited for Saturday. The lineup looked amazing as it’s usually considered to be MDF’s main day. After finding an awesome Japaneses place to eat, my friends and I headed back to the Edison Lot to see if Saturday was worth all the hype.

Goat Torment

Having no idea who this band was, I decided to watch them as they were the first band up for the day. By the name alone I made a wild guess that they were a black metal band (I couldn’t be more right).These guys couldn’t look more black metal if they tried. They even yelled “Hail Satan” after every song. With that said they were still an awesome band. Goat Torment played raw, straight-forward in-your-face black metal and made for a great warm up.

Diocletian

Next up on the stage was a black metal band from New Zealand known as Diocletian. Though they were of the same style as Goat Torment, their songs were not as interesting but were still enjoyable. Next up was the first band of the day I knew…

Entrails

Entrails are an old-school death metal band from Sweden that formed in the early 90’s, but made it absolutely nowhere until around 2010. Entrails’ performance had tons of energy, intensity and their sound was spot on. Before this set I had only known a few songs by these guys but now after seeing them I feel the need to explore their discography.

Machetazo

This was my second time seeing Spanish deathgrind greats Machetazo (the first time I saw them was at MDF 2011 in the small indoor stage). They killed then and this time as well. I always find it cool when a drummer is also the lead vocalist. Like last time, the crowd was very energetic and wild. Though I greatly enjoyed their set, I preferred the first time because I just think that indoor venues work better for this band.

God Macabre

God Macabre were a lesser known pioneer of the 1990’s Swedish death metal scene. This very same scene was known for greats such as Grave, Dismember and Vomitory. But how do these guys rank compared to those others? Decent but nothing too great.  God Macabre’s performance was that of a run of the mill death metal band. I wasn’t fully bored by them but didn’t really find anything memorable about their music.

Nocturnus A.D.

I was real excited for this one. For those who don’t know, Nocturnus was a death metal band formed by singer/drummer Mike Browning after he left Morbid Angel (after guitarist Trey Azagoth had and affair with his girlfriend).

Nocturnus’s debut album “The Key” was a very distinct old-school death metal album as it featured keyboards, shredding and lyrics about science fiction instead of the  violent and gory lyrics the genre was known for. The band performing was actually Browning’s  post-Nocturnus band After Death but were playing all of “The Key” so they played under the name Nocturnus A.D.(get it?).

“The Key” is the only album I really knew by these guys so hearing a set completely dedicated to the album made me excited.  They played the whole album in its entirety and sounded great doing it. The only down side was at times the keyboards were a little drowned out but it wasn’t too big a problem.

After they played through all of “The Key” they ended the set with an awesome cover of the Morbid Angel song “Chapel of Ghouls.” The entire crowd (including me) was screaming along to this iconic death metal classic. Nocturnus A.D. was definitely one of the best performances at the entire fest.

Tankard

German beer thrash classics Tankard were up next and the first old-school thrash band I saw at the fest. While not my favorite 80’s thrash band, I never had a problem with them and was curious to see them. The crowd turned into a gigantic drunken circle pit as the band played both old and new material. After every few songs the lead vocalist Gerre would ask audience members for a beer and after they played “A Girl Named Cervesa,” they got two girls from the audience to dance on stage as “Cervesa.” Both the band and the audience just got more and more drunk as the show went on, making it wilder and wilder. After being possibly the one non-drinker watching all of Tankard’s set it was time for me to head over to Soundstage.

Dropdead

I returned back to Soundstage just in time for powerviolence pioneers Dropdead.  Just like Capitalist Casualties yesterday these guys played an awesome set of short songs and like CC I wasn’t bored for a minute. Towards the end of the set came a great surprise. Members of the hardcore punk legends Siege came onstage and with the members of Dropdead, finished the set with several classic Siege tracks. After this great two-for-one set I stayed at Soundstage for…

Birdflesh

Swedish comedic grindcore trio Birdflesh were by  far the wackiest band on this year’s fest. While they were setting up these two guys asked me and a bunch of other people to help inflate these balloon ghosts. When the band performed the two guys threw the balloons along with glow sticks at the audience who then threw them at each other and the band, who performed in their trademark over the top costumes.

Though this band is comedic they still put on an intense and powerful performance with the audience both moshing and throwing glowsticks and balloons. I didn’t stay for the whole set but I got to hear a decent amount of songs. The next band on was Noothgrush – a band I wanted to see but had to sacrifice as they played the same time as…

Unleashed

I rushed back to Edison just in time to catch these Swedish viking themed death metal masters. Unleashed’s set started out with lead vocalist Johnny Hedlund calling the audience warriors. Though I enjoyed their performance, I wasn’t too familiar with the songs they played. I only know Unleashed’s first and third albums (1991’s “Where No Life Dwells” and 1993’s “Across the Open Sea”) and they played virtually nothing from them. I was very confused by the set list in general as those omitted albums contained some of the bands most well known tracks such as “Before Creation of Time” and “The One Insane.”

Dark Angel

The time had come. The moment about 90 percent of people at this fest were waiting for. Not only were they the most hyped band of 2014’s Maryland Deathfest, it was also Dark Angel’s first U.S. show since 2005 and their ONLY U.S. appearance of that year.

As they were setting up, everyone was wondering if they would be able to live up to such hype. They did and you better believe it. Dark Angel delivered their aggressive and powerful brutal thrash metal just as good if not better then everyone expected. The intense guitar riffs, powerful vocals and crazy drumming by none other then Gene Hoglan himself translated perfectly from album to live onslaught. During their set it started to rain. Eventually it got real windy as rain blew towards the stage, adding to the atmosphere.

They had arrived.

After Dark Angel’s epic set Jason and I ran as fast as we could to Soundstage to make it in time to see the next band there.

The Extinction of Mankind

The two of us lucked out and made it just in time for these British crusties to start. Before seeing these guys, all I knew was their split with the legendary Doom. Like the other punk based bands on the bill they were filled with raw intensity and had tons of intense circle pits. After watching there set we walked over to the Ramshead stage.

Schirenc (playing songs from Pungent Stench)

Martin Schirenc

I will admit I was never a big Stench fan (always found them to be pretty mediocre death metal). When we got there, Schirenc had about 20 minutes left in his set and i just sat upstairs chilling with my friend Herb as Schirenc’s music was not interesting me one bit. Once he got off the stage things go more exciting as it was time for the nights last act.

Asphyx

Saturday night ended with Dutch death/doom legends Asphyx (as well as meeting Hoglan on the way to the bathroom). Dark Angel had an insane performance that I thought would be topped by no one else at the fest (I was wrong).

Asphyx had the most crushing performance of the night and of the entire fest. Like it had for Incantation the night before, the great sound system did justice for this bands intensity and Asphyx had a perfect setlist. I have always thought of Martin Van Drunen as of the best vocalists in all of death metal and this live performance showed that he’s even better live then in studio (Hell, this whole band sounds better live then they do in studio). I was pretty tired but even that wasn’t distracting me from watching every second of Asphyx’s magic. After their set we headed back to the hotel once again to rest for the final night at this massive fest.

The Vault: My Experience at Maryland DeathFest 2014 Part 1 – Friday

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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.”

Back in late 2013 when the full line up for Maryland DeathFest 2014 was announced I knew I HAD to go. Last time I went was in 2011 (I had no money in 2012 and in 2013 I came close but didn’t go due to being in the probationary period at a new job. By now I had been working for almost a year and was going to earn vacation hours, so I found a group of friends to go with, booked our hotel and we were ready. May 23rd came soon enough (wasn’t able to do the Thursday date) and the MDF journey began .

FRIDAY

I arrived just in time for the doors to open. Even when standing right in line I was greeted by friendly metalheads from around the world. I met up with a few of my concert going friends from my area as well as some people I hadn’t seen since 2011 – all before the first band got on stage who turned out to be…

Castevet

Castevet - Photo

First up was this “hipster” black metal/hardcore fusion from New York City. For the most part, bands who fall under post-metal or post-anything genres generally tend to bore me and this band was no exception. I could barely pay attention as the band just sounded like Deafheaven with a small bit of punk influence. After a few songs, I just walked over to the other Edison lot stage awaiting something unholy.

MGLA

Hailing from Poland comes the unholy two-piece (a four-piece during live onslaughts) known as MGLA. This band played an intense set of raw drawn out black metal that reminded me a bit of Darkthrone during their most acclaimed era. If someone introduced me to this band as part of the 90’s Black Metal Inner Circle I would believe them. Though their sound fits well into that style, they did not sound like a carbon copy “kvlt” tribute band. MGLA was the first of many raw black metal bands to play the fest for the second time.

The Ruins of Beverast

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First of the bands on my MUST SEE list for the fest was The Ruins of Beverast. If you read my previous blog on my top ten albums of 2013 then you know I LOVE this band. I was in such disbelief when I found out they were added to the bill. I had no idea this one man act from Germany played live shows at all, let alone that I was actually going to see them. This band killed. Though Ruins atmosphere works a little bit better in studio (and probably at indoor venues), the band still sounded pretty damn creepy live and they played a great set of songs – including my all-time favorite Ruins track “I Raised This Stone as a Ghastly Memorial.” After their set my friend and I headed out of Edison to go get a bite to eat as well as walk over to sound stage to see…

ACXDC (Anti-Christian Demoncore)

Laugh at the name all you want, these guys kick ass. Originally I wasn’t planning on seeing this band as I had not heard a single song by them, but my friend Jason was heading over to Soundstage and I had no idea how to get there – plus a band I wanted to see was scheduled on the same stage right after so I figured why not? ACXDC sound nothing like AC/DC (though that would have been awesome). Instead, they play a modern take on 90’s powerviolence. Their set was intense with the pit going wild and Jason stage diving like crazy. All and all, ACXDC was a pleasant surprise and since I was already at Soundstage i didn’t have to worry about being late to…

Coffins

Coffins

Japanese extreme giants Coffins were one of Fridays two outliers for Soundstage (the venue was mostly a punk line up). They play a style of death/doom that leans more towards death metal similar to Asphyx and Autopsy. Originally they were scheduled to only play Thursday and missing them would have been the only reason I was regretting not getting a Thursday ticket (I had already seen Crowbar twice and  Tryptikon would eventually drop off the bill),  but when when The Secret dropped and Coffins took their time slot my regrets went out the window. Whether its games, movies, music or anime, Japan is known for making things energetic and over the top and Coffins’ live performance was no stranger to this. For a band that falls under doom they had tons of energy and it reflected in the audience as the pit transformed from punk rock circle pitting to extreme metal moshing. Sound-wise Coffins were definitely one of those bands that sound better live then in studio. I left their set 10 minutes early so I didn’t miss a minute of…

TAAKE

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Heading back to Edison (while hanging with a girl I met at the 2011 MDF and the bassist from ACXDC), I got back just in time to see Hoest’s crazy outfit. This was Taake’s first US show so there was no way in hell I was going to miss this. Hoest has always been one to get attention from the black metal crowd whether it be saying “Go suck a Muslim,” performing with his penis exposed or making out with the lead vocalist of Sweden’s Shinning and here he performed in a costume that made him look worthy of a Sith lord. This of course did not distract from the intensity that the band brought on. They had a great set list playing favorites from both old and newer albums. Taake blew both Ruins and MGLA out of the water but even their extreme intensity was no match for …

Capitalist Casualties

Ever since my buddy Nick first showed me them a few years ago I had been curious to see them. CC is a pioneering West Coast powerviolence band that has been around since 1986. These guys may be old timers but they had more energy the most bands half their age . This set  had the most intense mosh pit I had ever seen. Old-school powerviolence bands were known for their intense pits but were balanced out by the fact that they played small shows with a limited crowd. Here we had those same intense PV pits but at a huge fest.  The pit area became a battlefield which, along with seeing Nick live his childhood dreams made the show even more entertaining. They played a 45 minute set of short songs. As much as i enjoy grind and powerviolence bands with short songs, I feel bands like that are meant to have short sets. CC was though a huge exception as not a minute went by where I was bored. After their set I headed back to Edison yet again to see…

Agalloch

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I had been a big fan of Portland’s Agalloch ever since I first heard “Not Unlike the Waves.” Call it, dark metal, black metal, folk metal, etc., Agalloch’s unique sound has been labeled as so many things and on every album they have evolved and seem to always put out quality work. Their album “The Serpents and Sphere’s”  is destined to make my top ten of 2014 and is my second favorite album of there’s next to 2002’s “The Mantle.” Like Ruins, they were one of the bands I was most stoaked for on Friday. Sadly, they were the biggest disappointment on the whole fest.When I got to the Edison stage I noticed that they were already playing though they were not scheduled for another 10 minutes. At first that sounds cool like, “Yeah more Agalloch, right?” But in reality, it meant they rushed their soundcheck. The bass overpowered every other instrument. Since Agalloch were never much of a bass-driven band, this just made them sound like a mess of noise as they butchered not only their new album but their classics as well. Hopefully next time they will do better. After Agalloch it was time for the last Edison band that night.

At The Gates

Along with Ruins, Agalloch, and Incantation, Sweden’s melodeath creators At The Gates were one of the top of the must-see bands criteria for Friday. I have been a fan of At The Gates since I was in the 10th grade and felt extremely nostalgic when watching their set. Their set list was mostly songs off of “Slaughter of the Soul” with a few older tracks. To some that sounds disappointing (I even heard a drunk dude in the back say it’s “metalcore without breakdowns”), but personally, I greatly enjoyed that album and as for the litany of bands that ripped it off…not so much. There was a big rumor going around that they were going to debut songs from there then upcoming album “At War With Reality” at MDF, but it turned out to be false. Either way, I didn’t care as I was just happy to finally see these guys live. They ended their set with “Kingdom Gone” – my favorite track off the debut. The gates of Edison were closing and it was time to go to return to SoundStage to see…

Impaled

impaled

Carcass worshipers Impaled  are mostly known for being the unmasked members of the crossover thrash band Ghoul. They were the 2nd outlier on the Soundstage that day as well as the headliner. I did not get to watch too much of their set as their delayed sound check pushed them set back 15 minutes. From what I did get to watch (about like 20 minutes) they were pretty fun and I kind of wish I could have watched more but i had to leave for Rams Head at 12:30 to make sure I caught…

Incantation 

The time had finally come  for the band I wanted to see the most on Friday; the nights feature presentation: Pennsylvania classic death metal act Incantation. I absolutely love this band. They have been around since the early 90’s and still are able to put out killer releases (the album “Vanquish in Vengance ” was one of my top ten 2012 releases). I had once seen guitarist/vocalist John Mcentee’s other band Funerus play with Krisiun and Abnormality up in my area code last year but now was time to see his main band. Jason and I met up with my New Jersey friend Herb and we chilled as we awaited this moment. Once Incantation started we were all blown the fuck away. Rams Head by far had the best sound system of all three venues. The bands powerful sound was given great justice and they were loaded with energy. Incantation’s set list was great as they played plenty of songs from both the old and new eras. Incantation won the night and was a perfect closer for MDF Friday. After the set Jason and I went back to our hotel for some sleep after a successful night of metal. After all, we were just warming up, things were only going to get better.

Read Part 2 here.

My Experience At Hudson Horror Show XII

Twice a year in Poughkeepsie, NY the Hudson Horror Show is held. The Hudson Horror Show is a film festival where for 12 hours, classic horror and cult films are shown while vendors sell horror films on all formats as well as all kinds of other horror merch.

This year’s lineup of films were “The Warriors,” “Halloween 2,” “Friday the 13th Part 2,” “Demonoid,” “Stunt Rock”  and a mystery movie. This showing was also going to have two theater rooms instead of one, making it not sell out as fast as others.

I drove to the South Hill mall, arriving about a half hour before the first film started and ran into some friends. We went over to the vendor tables where the merch was pretty cool; ranging from horror shirts, Blu-Rays and DVDs from Vinegar Syndrome, horror signs made by Rob Sinclair of the Orange Ulster Horror Club to metal and punk records. I ended up buying  a VHS copy of “Demons” as well as a Blu-Ray of “Madman.”

12:15 rolled around and it was time to see “Demonoid.”

Demonoid (1981) 

I went into this film knowing nothing other then it being considered “fun crap.” As a fan of “fun crap,” I was pretty eager to see this.

“Demonoid” is about a married couple who explore a mine in Mexico and find a mummified hand in a coffin.  They take the hand home and while they are sleeping, the hand tries to possess the wife.The husband stops it from doing so but ends up getting his right hand possessed in the process.   He eventually dies and the hand goes from person to person until the widow teams up with a priest  to try to stop The Devils Hand.

The film is very poorly made, but in a way that makes it a hell of a good time to watch. The Nonsense story, poor acting, awkward dialogue, over the top scenes and unfitting pop songs that play at the most random parts all make up the films charm.

Stunt Rock (1980)

The Australian “Stunt Rock” is about real-life stunt man Grant Page (played by himself) who reunites with his cousin who plays Satan in the stage shows for a rock band called Sorcery (who also played themselves).

Their stage shows consists of special effects and magic tricks as Merlin and Satan fighting each other while the band plays.There was also a story with a female reporter falling in love with Page but was uninteresting and boring.

For the most part I found the film to be pretty boring. The stunts and the concert footage scenes were pretty fun to watch but everything else was uninteresting. Socery’s sound was pretty cool, reminding me a bit of older Alice Cooper with some Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath influences thrown it. I might want to pick up a Sorcery album when I have the chance.

Halloween 2-1981

After “Stunt Rock” came the mystery movie. I can’t tell what the film is but I will mention it was a film I had wanted to see for awhile and ended up being really good. Hint: the lead actor plays the President on a popular tv show now.

After that great mystery film it was time for “Halloween 2.” I hadn’t seen this installment to the saga in years so I was pretty excited.

“Halloween 2” is pretty much a continuation of the first movie with more violence, a more OP Micheal Myers, a more dedicated Dr. Loomis and Laurie Strode barley able to walk the whole film. “Halloween 2” is my third favorite in the franchise right behind the first and third films. After “Halloween 2” I headed home. As awesome as “Friday the 13th Part 2” and “The Warriors” are, I had stuff I needed to do at home.  Maybe next time I will stay for the whole show as it was a great experience.