Maryland Deathfest 2011
2011 was another quick trip to the US without my darling Ann but despite this, I had another awesome time. This time I stayed in New York for a few days before and after MDF and I also went to the Chaos In Tejas festival in Austin, Texas which was another highly enjoyable adventure.
The night before MDF I went to Brooklyn to see a superb grind gig featuring Cripple Bastards, The Kill, Noisear, Magrudergrind and Shitstorm put on by the good people at Catbomb. CB seemed better than MDF 2007 and Magrudergrind and Shitstorm were pretty nifty too but Noisear were bloody awesome and blew me away with their excellent blend of technicality and blasting grind. I chatted with the singer at this gig and MDF and he was a really nice bloke. They were contenders for the best band of the night UNTIL The Kill came on. I may be a bit biased as I’ve seen The Kill plenty of times in Australia but this was one of their best and most blistering (to use a grind cliché) show and it was helped that the crowd were appreciative and got into it. Really killer gig and here is one of the best live shots of a band I’ve ever seen
After the shonky bus hijinks of 2010 I took a train to Baltimore this year and it was a much better way to travel. From the train line in Baltimore I could see a neighbourhood with houses mostly boarded up which of course made me think of The Wire and both the hiding places that Chris and Snoop used for dead bodies as well as the ill-fated Hamsterdam project. This reminded me not to stray too far in Baltimore and wisely I stayed in the city centre the whole time.
Back to the Tremont Plaza and then off to the pre-fest show which featured Cathedral in fine form playing their final ever US show. They sounded great and Lee was charismatic as ever although I don’t think he heard me yell “Scum” which I had been instructed by fellow radio idiot Mark to request. Sadly they didn’t play Soul Sacrifice but they did play Ebony Tears which made me very happy. My poor mate JJ from Australia (a huge Cathedral fan) received several drunken text messages from me during their set gloating about how good they were. Thankfully we both attended the Cathedral farewell tour of Australia earlier this year so I don’t feel so bad. He may well cop a few gloating texts this year during Electric Wizard (sorry mate!).
The other highlight of the night was Flesh Parade who were way better than I expected and had a really fun vibe to them. The new vocalist’s shriek took a bit of getting used to but they seemed to be enjoying themselves which always helps. Tragedy were really enjoyable but I got the feeling they would have been better in a club and I wasn’t as blown away as I expected to be. Buzzov*en were pretty decent and I had managed to chat with the bass player for about 20 minutes before discovering he was in the band (oops!). Nice chap though. Miasmal were a bit of a disappointment but they had a terribly muddy sound so I suspect that was the problem.
Friday highlight was of course Neurosis who were the band I came to see. There was an awesome thunderstorm just before their set was due to start so there was a 40 minute wait while the dried the stage. I asked Scott Kelly about it when he played in Canberra recently and apparently their keyboardist would have been in a very dangerous position if they hadn’t taken the time so I’m glad they did. The delay seemed to get them very riled up and Steve Von Till looked even more pissed off than usual and they put on an amazing show that I doubt I’ll see matched for intensity. One highlight was At The End Of The Road which didn’t stand out much on the Given To The Rising album but live the dynamics were amazing and when the songs kicked in it really KICKED IN!! They even played my favourite song Locust Star and finished with the tribal drumming of Through Silver In Blood which was very impressive. Neurosis were as good as I hoped and my only minor gripe is that they didn’t do any songs from Times Of Grace.
Other bands that impressed that day were Funebrarum who I had been very eager to see and played their Scandeath style perfectly. Kingdom Of Suffering Souls was massive! Machetazo also excelled and thankfully played my favourite song Banquette Funerario.
Corrosion Of Conformity sounded pretty terrible to me although I am not overly familiar with their earlier material so maybe it was supposed to sound like that. I thought they were standard circle mosh NYHC stuff but they didn’t sound like that. Aura Noir also didn’t do much for me despite several of my mates saying they were the best band of the festival. I was too knackered to watch more than a few songs of Marduk as they were last and unsurprisingly Exhumed sounded exactly the same as when they toured Australia in 2004. It’s always fun to see the songs Limb From Limb and Open The Abscess live.
Saturday opened well for me with Innumerable Forms who have obviously heard an Autopsy cd or two and played quite impressive death metal. Very keen to hear an album from these guys as their Dark Worship 7” was pretty nifty. Saudi Arabian grind band Creative Waste were impressive too and their singer was quite energetic.
The Kill received the party brigade treatment with all sorts of blow up toys and glowsticks being thrown at them. They also featured a nude kangaroo hop from a fellow Aussie (Brad from Internal Rot and Super Fun Happy Slide) who made even more of a fool of himself during Doubled Over the next day (see below). As usual they were amazing live and received a great response.
The Kill + kangaroo
I missed Blood Freak for some reason but I managed to catch Hail Of Bullets outside who sounded bloody awesome. Martin van Drunen is a god and thankfully the outdoor sound was excellent for their Swedish sounding death metal. Doom played inside and sounded killer but I wasn’t that familiar with their songs so they just sounded like all the more recent bands that have been ripping them off for years.
Impaled Nazarene were bloody awesome too and there was a hilarious moment when a beach ball landed on their stage and singer Mika grabbed it and snarled into the mic “What is this some kind of fucking hippy festival? You people make me sick!”. I was a tad disappointed that Mika doesn’t seem to waggle his tongue sleazily at the crowd as much as he did when they toured Australia in 1999 but he was still in fine form. Really happy to see the songs Sadhu Satana and Total War live.
Inquisition, Hooded Menace and Acid Witch sadly suffered at the hands of the bartender at Sonar who was a little over generous with his mixing. I asked for one bourbon and coke and he misheard and poured me two and when I tipped him well he insisted I have a third shot. Nice chap but he certainly pours a strong drink! So I watched Voivod on the outdoor stage while popping in to see brutal death metallers Defeated Sanity whenever Voivod played a new song (which worked really strangely but surprisingly well). It was warm so the drinks went down quickly and then it’s a blur until I remember standing in the carpark after the show talking to some friends with whom I was apparently going to an aftershow with. I do remember a bit of Inquisition who were the last band but the inside stage area was totally packed with people so they were a blur on the stage miles away according to my drunken vision. They did sound good though. I promise that 2012 will only feature beer consumption in an effort to retain some memory of events.
Sunday was unsurprisingly hampered by a hangover and the usual very painful feet but I arrived early enough to catch Oak which was excellent as they are crushing death/doom and were super heavy. Malignant Tumour were not what I expected as I was more familiar with their earlier grind stuff but their Motorhead punkthrash style was great fun and the party brigade were in full force for them. Below is some footage I took during their set.
Dead Congregation were way better than I expected and really impressed with their dense death metal sound. Skinless played their last ever show with old vocalist Sherwood rejoining and it was one of the most fun sets I’ve seen with all their old classics played. I’d seen them before at the final Metal For The Brain festival with the later lineup and they were pretty average so I was very happy to see them in such fine form. I’d planned on seeing some of Orange Goblin but was having such a fun time that Skinless won out.
Coroner were the headliners on Sunday and so they played for about 90 minutes which was 90 minutes too long for my liking. They were AWFUL although I never was much of a fan. After reading other reviews they apparently barely played anything off the first 3 classic albums although I did luck out and the 2 minutes I saw were from the only Coroner song I like, Masked Jackal. I spent the 90 minutes much more productively by having dinner and a rest back at the hotel (too old for this shit!).
Australian 2 piece Doubled Over were a last minute replacement for Lock Up and so they had a prime spot on the indoor stage which looked odd with only 2 people on it. Their heavy death grind eventually garnered them a decent crowd and Nik from The Kill joined them onstage for a song or two. However also joining them onstage was Brad from Internal Rot and Super Fun Happy Slide who had had quite a bit of booze and he danced across the stage playing a broom COMPLETEY NUDE! I heard later that another Aussie had luckily intervened before the security guards beat the shit out of drunken Brad. Of course I had been talking to tipsy Brad beforehand and he pre-warned me about the streak so I wisely filmed it and here it is (assuming YouTube haven’t taken it down). Sorry mate.
Wormed opened with a perplexingly long sample about physics that must have gone for 4-5 minutes although when they did start it was heavy as hell!! I was worried their technicality would be lost live and it was to a degree as the drums weren’t loud enough but the guitars and vocals came through nice and clearly. Their set was the sort of thing I’d love to transport Beethoven to and explain that this is what music would develop into. If you are into brutal death metal and for some reason haven’t heard Wormed then remedy that immediately and check out their Planisphaerium masterpiece.
Last Days Of Humanity followed and they were another act I was greatly anticipating as they are one of my favourite goregrind acts. Plenty of my mates were hoping for them to sound like later blasting Putrefaction.. era however I was very pleased that they sounded more like Hymns.. with plenty of discernable riffs and of course those lovely pitch shifted vocals. They were a bit sloppy but were way better than I expected so I was very satisfied.
Last Days Of Humanity
Here’s a charming picture of my good mate Christoph (from Doubled Over, Internal Rot, Trench Sisters etc) and I looking chummy.
Ghost closed out the whole festival so of course it was super squishy inside and so I could barely see them on stage. I like their album but to me the vocals sounded really thin and the whole performance lacked power. So I said my goodbyes and stumbled up the hill back to the Tremont Plaza and that was another MDF done.
After MDF I returned to NYC and after more pizza and a night of recuperation I ventured out to Brooklyn to Union Pool to see Hooded Menace, Negative Plane, Anhedonist and Ilsa. Thankfully I actually remember this Hooded Menace gig as I avoided another bourbon blitz and stuck to beer. Ilsa started and were pretty good but didn’t quite grab me for some reason. But the second Anhedonist took the stage I was a very happy chappy as they were crushing in the wonderful Disembowelment style of death/doom. Afterwards I bought their demo The Drear on vinyl but when I finally got around to listening to it I was a tad disappointed as the newer songs live were so much better. Definitely check out their debut album Netherwards on Dark Descent. Negative Plane followed and I really didn’t expect their odd black metal style to work live but it certainly did, possibly more so than the albums. A definite pleasant surprise for me. Finally I got to see Hooded Menace while in a vaguely sober state and they were damn good BUT having only one guitar meant they sounded a bit thin and the thick sound on the albums is half the charm. I believe they now have a 2nd live guitarist at least. They still kicked arse but for me Anhedonist stole the night. This had been the only gig I went to where I was the only Australian present but I met a few of the Anhedonist guys and also Dave from Evoken/Funebrarum so I wasn’t too lonely and after the social assault of MDF I didn’t mind some chill time. The venue had a very tasty taco van out the back (see below) and I scoffed a few yummy treats from there. I caught the subway back to Manhattan by myself which always feels a bit dodgy but I got chatting with a few blokes who had been at the Tragedy show up the road so all was good. Damn fine gig!!
Chaos In Tejas festival (CiT) was the final stop of my 2011 trip and so I flew to Austin, Texas where I must say that it’s BLOODY HOT!!! Thankfully it was a drier heat than Baltimore or NYC but I was very glad when I walked into my hotel room and the aircon was very powerful. Haha the first night I pretty much hid in my hotel room and ordered a pizza delivery as even at night it was boiling outside. CiT is much like SXSW and is a festival spanning about 5-6 venues so there was plenty of wandering between bars but thankfully they were all pretty close together. CiT is much more hardcore oriented than MDF however Autopsy were headlining one night and I couldn’t resist the urge to see them again which paid off as the venue was more intimate and more chaotic with stage divers galore.
One of the gigs that I spent most time at was a death metal show at Red 7. Sadly I missed openers Mammoth Grinder while waiting in a line but I did hear them and they sounded boss. A tip for anyone thinking of going to CiT – get their early and go to each venue you will be seeing bands at and get a wrist band asap as it cuts down on queueing time. Bone Sickness were pretty nifty too. Acephalix play a early Bolt Thrower style of death metal which certainly tickled my fancy and I really enjoyed their energy. I think I missed Danish band Undergang as I went to watch Trap Them which is a shame as their new album is killer. Hooded Menace kicked fairly large amounts of bottom again although the poor bastards looked like they were about to melt in their hooded sweatshirts.
The other bands I saw that day were scattered at various venues and the highlight was probably Trap Them at Mohawk who were quite intense and the singer was a doing a great Tarzan impersonation climbing around the outdoor stage (no vine swinging though sadly).
It was bloody hot outside though so I’m glad I had my trusty Akubra hat. Converge also played at Mohawk but I only caught the last few songs. Veins played on the indoor Emo’s stage and the place was a madhouse. They play very aggressive hardcore and the crowd were quite excited about that fact and there was stagediving and pits galore. In true hardcore fashion they only played for 15 minutes but it was fun. I caught a bit of Japanese punks Isterismo (I think) but it was a complete wall of noise and I couldn’t make out anything except “screeeeech” so I wandered off. I also caught some of Cro Mags at Emo and they were great fun and had the crowd completely whipped into a frenzy like any NYHC band should be able to do.
The next day I did much less travelling and pretty much just stayed at Emo’s which conveniently had all the bands I wanted to see on one bill. Earlier that day I’d wandered around downtown Austin and managed to send some postcards (the day before I came home – oops!) and scoff some pretty damn yummy barbeque ribs.
I showed up to the gig and Innumerable Forms kicked my arse again with sludgy death metal so definitely keep your eyes out for a debut album of theirs. Hatred Surge were another standout with their heavy grind/powerviolence and they had Rahi from Insect Warfare on vocals which was an added bonus. Iron Lung received an awesome response from the crowd which is not surprising considering their intensity on stage.
Here is a picture of me (with Catbomb head honcho and top lass Vanessa) enjoying the local cheap beer Lone Star which was quite average really. I saw a 6 pack of a beer called Moose Drool on sale in Austin but foolishly I didn’t try it.
Autopsy were in fine form though and seemed to be enjoying the club feel and I was in heaven once more!! Another fanboy incident occurred with Chris Reifert which you can see here. Their set was heavily weighed with Severed Survival tracks so I was a bit sad I didn’t get as many Mental Funeral songs (no Destined.. or In The Grip..) however their sound was better than MDF 2011 so the leads in Dead could be heard perfectly which made me a happy boy. The new songs from their Macabre Eternal album sounded great live too which was a bonus. I really enjoyed the club atmosphere and the stagediving and moshing was suitably frenzied. Can’t wait to see Autopsy again for the third year in a row at MDF 2012. Below is a guitar they had on display although I don’t think Autopsy actually used it live. Looked pretty bloody cool though.
Here’s a pic of my mate John and I and some derro bloke sculling beer
Foolishly I only stayed for first 2 days of CiT and so I missed Doom, Tragedy and Kriegshog but most importantly (I realise now) was that I missed tons of the Black Twilight Circle bands including Arizmenda who are my favourite of that group. D’oh!!!!
Finally here is a sequel to the video I shot at MDF 2010 of the comings and goings at MDF while I ate my lunch. I think the band playing is Nokternel.
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