Show Review: Maryland Deathfest XII

MDF poster
Maryland Deathfest XII

Location – Baltimore, MA

Venue – Edison Lot/Ram’s Head

Date – 5/22-5/25/2014

 

After eight months of planning and what seemed like an eternity of waiting, we had finally arrived at the Ram’s Head for day one of Maryland Deathfest XII.

This was my friends and I’s first time attending the festival, so we made sure to get there early enough to scout the area out and see what was what. We finally parked and made our way to the entrance for Ram’s Head and waiting for it to open. Once the venue opened we made our way inside to the center of the rail, right in front of where the microphone stand was set up, I can’t even put into words how excited I was for a few of the bands that were to come.

~DAY ONE~

The first band of many to come was that of Seven Sisters Of Sleep. the band members wasted no time as they hurried up on stage, turned on their equipment, and cranked it to eleven. Seven Sisters Of Sleep were probably the band on day one I was most looking forward too(seeing as Triptykon dropped), and I was not disappointed by them in the least, the band showcasing monstrous guitar riffs, pounding drums and infectious grooves, they more than proved themselves to myself and the crowd, and I can’t wait to see them perform live again.

The next band was that of Whitehorse, I’m a huge fan of a lot of doom/sludge/stoner metal, so I was nothing short of excited to see this band on the lineup. There was something slightly odd with the band’s performance but I can’t really put my finger on it, they reminded me a ton of the band Winter(oddly enough their vocalist was wearing a Winter shirt), they had a very metallic sounding style of doom metal, which was definitely interesting. Overall the band were honestly my least favorite set of the night, but I still enjoyed them nonetheless.

Next was an incredibly fun and energetic band, Sourvein. These guys were the only band on the lineup I had previously never listened too before the show, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I hear. Sourvein are basically Red Fang on steroids, they’re an incredibly fun, infectious, bluesy and groovy jam-out kind of band, they were the first band of the night to really get the crowd going. I kept noticing an interesting shirt that the vocalist was wearing, I came to find out that apparently their bassist had died not too long ago, and that this was going to be their final performance ever, which if it’s true I’ve very sad to hear, but at the same time it’s understandable. Overall Sourvein were one of the top two sets of the night, I’m very glad I was able to see them once, and I highly recommend everyone go check out their music.

Up next were Tampa locals boys Torche. I’d honestly never really been much of a fan of this band, and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to their set, but I can definitely say after seeing them perform live that my opinion of them has changed. Torche put on the most energetic set of the night, I was nothing short of blown away by the band’s flawless harmonizing ability, especially from their guitarist and bassist. It was honestly a pretty cool thing to see a hometown band get such a great reaction at an out of state festival such as MDF, it gave me hope for the future of our local scene, and I’ll definitely have to give Torche another chance.

And now it was time for the Japanese death/grind giants, Coffins. As good as every band before them were, Coffins flat out stole and ran away with the show. I was honestly somewhat surprised at the crowd’s reaction, it was also probably the most violent and aggressive pit I’d ever been in up till that point, from the get go the band and crowd never once let up. There isn’t much else I can say about Coffins other than if you ever get a chance to see them perform live, I recommend you to not pass it up.

Crowbar came on to close the night, and as soon as they walked on stage and Kirk walked up to the microphone, his guitar strap broke and it fell to the floor, completely knocking it out of tune, so he spent the next two to three minutes re-tuning it, finally addressing the crowd afterwords with “Let’s try this again.”. We only stayed for about three songs into their set, my friend and I were completely exhausted from the traveling, and headed back to the hotel to rest and prepare for what was still to come.

~DAY TWO~

We arrived to Edison Lot a good hour or so before the doors were to open, once we were all let in we spent the better part of the next hour anxiously searching through some of the many merch tables inside. Some of my favorite record labels such as Seasons Of Mist, Relapse and Century Media had a lot of incredible finds, I probably spent more than I should have, but that’s beside the point.

The first band of the day for me was The Ruins Of Beverast. I honestly wasn’t paying complete attention to them, as I was mainly just killing time until the three bands that were to follow. But from what I can remember they were extremely tight musically, I’ll have to re-check them out again at some point.

Up next hailing all the way from Iceland was Solstafir. I wasn’t exactly sure what to think of these guys at first, they were all dressed like they came from Texas, almost sort of like old time western gunslingers. Despite the band’s attire, Solstafir put on an incredible performance, they were the first band of the day that actually got people pumped and moving around.

At this point it was time for one of the two bands on day two I was extremely excited to see, the legendary thrashers themselves, Cancer. Cancer are one of the many bands throughout the festival I was convinced I was never going to get to see perform live, and so I was beyond stoked when I saw they were added to the already stacked festival lineup. The first thing I noticed was that they were performing as a three piece, the vocalist later addressed the fact that this was the first time the band had performed with only three members in over twenty five years, and yet they still sounded tighter, and had a more full sound that most five or six piece bands do nowadays. When the band kicked into “To The Gory End” it was on, the crowd became rowdier by the minute, while the band progressively got better and better as their set went on. The band was announcing their next song, and before their vocalist could even get the title out the crowd started chanting “C.F.C!”, the band just smiled and kicked into the opening riff, and what ensued can only be described as pure chaos. Overall, Cancer put on one of the most memorable performances of the entire weekend, they also announced they will be reissuing their first three albums, so be on the lookout.

And now it was time for the Gothenberg metal icons, the legendary At The Gates. This is another band I never thought I’d actually get to see perform live, it honestly still hasn’t quite sunken in yet. One by one as the band members walked on stage, the crowd chanting “At The Gates” over and over, getting louder each time. Finally vocalist Thomas Lindberg walked up and grabbed the mic as the band kicked into “Suicide Nation”, it was on. In the many concerts I’ve attended over the years, I have never in my life seen a more loyal crowd/fanbase that was so connected with the band performing. I was on the barrier directly in front of their guitarist on stage right, and when the full band kicked into “Slaughter Of The Soul”, I could feel the barrier start to slightly lean forward, I thought for a second we were going to tip over (I would have been screwed), but luckily that never happened. The highlight of the night for me was definitely the guitar solo to “Cold”, it’s always been one of my all time favorites and to hear it performed live was incredible.

After At The Gates finished we headed over to Ram’s Head to catch the last three songs of Enthroned’s set, and the little I saw didn’t really do a whole lot for me, they were definitely talented, just wasn’t my thing I suppose.

Now it was time for the final band of the day, death metal masters Incantation. I can’t even begin to express how blown away I was by the band’s technically and musicianship, especially considering they’re getting up there in age, but it definitely doesn’t even begin to show. I was mostly impressed with vocalist/guitarist John McEntee , I can’t thinking of very many others in the genre that can best him. Overall Incantation were a great ending to day the day, we ended up running into Thomas from At The Gates before we left the venue, got a picture and headed back to hotel.

~DAY THREE~

After we arrived to Edison Lot, I spent the better part of the first few hours just browsing the merch and venue in general, I watched partial sets from Entrails, Diocletian and God Macabre, all of which were solid.

The first full set of the day i caught was from another Tampa local, Nocturnus A.D. I had seen these guys perform back in January in our hometown and they were great, so i had already planned on catching their set, It was especially awesome that they were planning to play the extremely influential album “The Key” in it’s entirety. As soon as the band was ready, they addressed the crowd and started the intro to “Lake Of Fire”. The band wasted no time as they sped through the album, and due to God Macabre finishing early, they were able to play the bonus track to the album, as well as an early Morbid Angel cover from Mike Browning’s days in the band, which was insanely cool.

About halfway through the cover I headed out to get a good spot for the mighty beer-metal/thrashers Tankard. I think it’s safe to say that Tankard put on the most “fun” performance of the entire weekend, opening with “Zombie Attack”, the band performed on full throttle throughout the majority of their set. On many occasions the band’s vocalist would address the crowd, which usually ended with everyone smiling and laughing at whatever joke or gesture he would make. I would notice that the vocalist for Tankard would keep making eye contact with the woman standing about three people to my right, she would yell and try to flirt with him occasionally, and at one point their vocalist brought her up on stage to dance to the intro of their next song, which everyone thought was cool. The band stated that this was only their second time performing in the U.S, and that they hope to do it more often in the future.

Up next were Sarke. Before the band came on stage, their tour manager went to the mic to address the crowd and stated that with Sarke’s vocalist (also the vocalist for Darkthrone), in the many bands he has previously or currently been in, this was his first time ever in the country, and the crowd cheered and applauded. For anyone familiar with Darkthrone, Sarke is a completely different style of music, I wasn’t sure to think of it at first, but as their set progressed I started to enjoy it more and more. I thought it was pretty funny how after every two songs or so, their vocalist would take out his phone and take pictures of the crowd and of his bandmates, he also seemed somewhat unsure of what to expect or think, and occasionally stuttered when addressing the crowd. The band ended their set playing two cover songs, one from, with the band ending their set with a Darkthrone song, to which the crowd gave an incredible response too.

And now it was time for one of the greatest thrash metal bands to ever exist, the legendary Dark Angel. I think I was mostly excited to see my all time favorite drummer Gene Hoglan perform live again, this time for the fourth different band, and he definitely outdid himself this time around. I had seen some incredible bands up until this point, and Dark Angel completely whipped the floor with all of them, they were without a doubt the greatest live band I’d ever seen at that time, everything from their sound, setlist, technicality and musicianship was impeccable, completely flawless.

After Dark Angel ended we headed over to Ram’s head to catch the second half of Shirenic Plays Pungent Stench, and while I’ve never really been a big Pungent Stench fan, they put on an incredibly solid performance.

After Pungent Stench finished it was time for one of the bands I was mostly excited to see, and the last band of the day, Asphyx. My friend and I were completely exhausted after Dark Angel, so we sat in the back and watched Asphyx, which I definitely regret doing now, because Asphyx put on one of the five best sets of the entire weekend.

~DAY FOUR~

My friends and I arrived to Edison Lot right as the doors had opened, as soon as we got inside I caught part of Windhand’s set who sounded incredible, and right before they finished I went and camped out at Stage A to await some of my favorite bands that were to come.

Up first were the instrumental stoner/doom titans, Bongripper. First and foremost, Bongripper were easily the loudest band of the day, the bass drum shook the crowd while the drawing riffs kept them in a sort of trance, everyone slowly rocking and headbanging along with them. The only downside to the band’s set was that they were only given thirty minutes, and anyone that is familiar with Bongripper knows they’d get to play only one, MAYBE two songs in that amount of time, but the band made every second count.

Next were the extreme metal Baltimore local boys, Misery Index. I’ve been wanting to see this band live for quite a while, but I’ve always managed to miss them anytime they’re in Florida, so even though I was sad that Hemdale had dropped off, I was even more excited that these guys had filled in. I was completely blown away by the technicality and precision this band showed, especially from guitarist Darin Morris and drummer Adam Jarvis. I spent the better part of their set just watching Jarvis play, showing major endurance in his very extreme style of playing, the sort of playing that makes you just want to quit playing because you know you will never be that good.

After Misery Index finished, I only partially payed attention to the next band, Wrathprayer, the band members themselves looked like they were bored while performing, as was I.

Up next was that of Soilent Green. I found it pretty amusing when vocalist Ben Falgoust addressed the crowd, saying “Someone came up to me earlier today and asked me to describe our band’s music to them, and after a while the only thing I came up with was we’re like Napalm Death meets Lynyrd Skynyrd”, which now that I think about it I can definitely see it. Soilent Green got the crowd going from the get-go, but every now and then Ben would attempt to address the crowd in between songs, and it was usually deflected by this guy in the crowd who kept going on about how sexy Ben was and how he wanted to do certain things that I won’t mention in this review, but it was all done for laughs and even Ben had several good laughs at it throughout their set.

Up next were a band I’ve really been getting into over the last few months, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. At first I thought these guys seemed a little out of place in a festival like this, but after a couple songs into their set they showed that it was not the case. It was honestly pretty funny and insanely cool seeing people in the crowd that were obviously there for the more extreme bands performing at the fest, yet they were headbanging, singing along and rocking out with this band. Overall, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats put on the most fun set of the day, the band themselves played pretty flawlessly, I really hope I’m able to catch this band live again some day.

And now, it was finally time for the band that were the main reason I bought a ticket to this festival, hailing from England, My Dying Bride. I flat out never thought I would get to see this band perform live, they had stated it had been eighteen years since they’ve played in this country, and that it would not be another eighteen before they would return. Vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe gave a very theatrical and somewhat disturbing performance that matched up with the band’s music, it seemed the farther they ventured into their setlist the more genuinely disturbed he looked and acted. The highlight of their set for me was “From Darkest Skies”, the vocal performance given by Stainthorpe and the overall tone of the song gave me goosebumps. My Dying Bride managed to top every single one of the amazing bands that had played before them, they were the perfect ending to Edison Lot, they made the entire trip completely worth it.

After My Dying Bride finished and everyone cleared out of Edison Lot, we headed over to Ram’s head to catch the final two bands of the weekend. I got there just in time to catch the last two songs from Ulcerate, I was extremely bummed out because I really want to see their whole set, but what little I was able to see was still great, the band sounded extremely tight.

After Ulcerate finished, it was time for the mighty Immolation. I was absolutely exhausted from the weekend so I sat down in the back and watched Immolation perform (and like with Asphyx I regret doing so). I think out of every band I saw this weekend, Immolation looked like they were enjoying themselves the most, the positive energy their vocalist and guitarist showed made the performance all the better. On multiple occasions the vocalist would address the crowd, thanking the two owners that put on the festival, as well as specific bands and musicians they knew and admired. Immolation addressed that their next song “All That Awaits Us” would be the last song, and when it kicked in the crowd and band gave it all they had.

Overall, this was easily some of the greatest four days of our lives, seeing over twenty five of some of our all time favorite bands in the same setting, it’s something I’m sure we’ll never forget. As we walked outside of Ram’s Head there were so many people taking it all in before they headed out, it was a strange feeling leaving after the festival was over, almost like it hadn’t sunken in yet. We left the venue and went straight to the airport, said our goodbyes and boarded our planes for the flight back.

I can without a doubt in my mind say that Maryland Deathfest 2014 was a complete success, and I (hopefully) can’t wait to do it all again next year.

My Dying Bride

1)The Dreadful Hours
2)Like Gods Of The Sun
3)The Crown Of Sympathy
4)Like A Perpetual Funeral
5)From Darkest Skies
6)She Is The Dark
7)Turn Loose The Swans
8)The Cry Of Mankind
9)The Thrash Of Naked Limbs

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

1)Mr. Abraxas
2)Mind Crawler
3)I’ll Cut You Down
4)Death’s Door
5)Poison Apple
6)Valley Of The Dolls
7)13 Candles
8)Withered Hand Of Evil
9)Desert Ceremony

Immolation

1)Kingdom Of Conspiracy
2)Majesty And Decay
3)Swarm Of Terror
4)Into Everlasting Fire
5)Providence
6)Indoctrinate
7)Lost Passion
8)World Agony
9)Of Martyrs And Men
10)A Glorious Epoch
11)A Spectacle Of Lies
12)What They Bring
13)God Complex
14)Those Left Behind
15)All That Awaits Us

Misery Index

1)The Carrion Call
2)Sleeping Giants
3)Conjuring The Cull
4)The Spectator
5)Thrown Into The Sun
6)Black Sites
7)The Weakener
8)Manufacturing Greed
9)You Lose
10)Traitors

Dark Angel

1)Darkness Descends
2)We Have Arrived
3)The Burning Of Sodom
4)Time Does Not Heal
5)No One Answers
6)Never To Rise Again
7)Welcome To The Slaughterhouse
8)Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)
9)The Death Of Innocence
10)Merciless Death
11)Perish In Flames

Sarke

1)Primitive Killing
2)The Drunken Priest
3)Condemned
4)Walls Of Ru
5)Pessimist
6)Jodau Aura
7)Alternation
8)Salvation
9)Flay The Wolf
10)Dethroned Emperor (Celtic Frost cover)
11)Too Old, Too Cold (Darkthrone cover)

Tankard

1)Zombie Attack
2)The Morning After
3)Not One Day Dead
4)Stay Thirsty!
5)Rules For Fools
6)Rectifier
7)Chemical Invasion
8)A Girl Called Cerveza
9)Die With A Beer In Your Hand
10)(Empty) Tankard

Nocturnus A.D

1)Lake Of Fire
2)Standing In Blood
3)Visions From Beyond The Grave
4)Neolithic
5)Before Christ/After Death
6)Andromeda Strain
7)Droid Sector
8)Destroying The Manger
9)Empire Of The Sands
10)Undead Journey
11)Chapel Of Ghouls (Morbid Angel cover)

Asphyx

1)The Quest Of Absurdity
2)Vermin
3)M.S. Bismark
4)Death The Brutal Way
5)Asphyx (Forgotten War)
6)Deathhammer
7)We Doom You To Death
8)Wasteland Of Terror
9)The Rack
10)Scorbutics
11)Last One On Earth

At The Gates

1)Suicide Nation
2)World Of Lies
3)Raped In The Light OF Christ
4)Terminal Spirit Disease
5)Need
6)Slaughter Of The Soul
7)Cold
8)Under A Serpent Sun
9)Windows
10)The Swarm
11)The Burning Darkness
12)The Beautiful Wound
13)Nausea
14)Unto Others
15)All Life Ends
16)Blinded By Fear
17)Kingdom Gone

Cancer

1)Death Shall Rise
2)Witch Hunt
3)Into The Acid
4)Die Die
5)Tasteless Incest
6)To The Gory End
7)Body Count
8)Blood Bath
9)C.F.C
10)Hung, Drawn And Quartered
11)Dethroned Emperor (Celtic Frost cover)

Incantation

1)Blasphemous Creation
2)Rotting Spiritual Embodiment
3)Emaciated Holy Figure
4)The Ibex Moon
5)Shadows Of The Ancient Empire
6)Oath Of Armageddon
7)Horns Of Eradication
8)Ascend Into The Eternal
9)New Song (Untitled)
10)Impending Diabolical Conquest

Coffins

1)Here Comes Perdition
2)Under The Stench
3)Buried Death
4)Till Dawn Of The Dooms Day
5)Alters In Gore
6)The Vacant Pale Vessel
7)Evil Infection
8)Slaughter Of Gods

Torche

1)Safe/Mentor
2)In Return
3)Piranha
4)Sandstorm
5)Grenades
6)Healer/Across
7)Kicking
8)Reverse Inverted
9)In Pieces
10)Charge The Brown Recluse
11)Harmonslaught
12)Tarpit Carnivore

Seven Sisters Of Sleep

1)Moths
2)CCEC
3)Ghost Plains
4)Slower Downer
5)Sunday Mass Grave
6)Reaper Christ
7)ABT