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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.