Here is my review of the second day of the 2012 Maryland Deathfest. Enjoy.

Due to the super comfy beds at Tremont Plaza I had enjoyed a decent sleep and thankfully was not awoken by drilling outside my room at 8am like last year. As usual I had forgotten to drink water the night before so I had a bit of a hangover however I felt better immediately once I remembered that I was going to see Godflesh tonight!!!

However the day didn’t begin as usual with me stuffing merch into my shorts pockets or listening to screaming metal – first up we had ourselves a PARTY BUS!!! Friends from the Reeelapse message board that I post on had arranged to hire a party bus to travel around Baltimore for a couple of hours before dropping us off at MDF just as day 2 started at 3.30pm. This of course involved lots of booze and dancing to Lil Boosie but, being a shy and modest chap, I only indulged in the booze. I had planned on taking it easy on the turps as Godflesh played that night and I travelled 20 something hours to see them but I still ended up having 5 or so beers and several swigs of vodka and other assorted booze. We drove through some pretty scummy looking areas of Baltimore so it was nice to see them from the comfort of a bus. The whole experience was hilarious and great fun as half the bus seemed to still be drunk from the night before or suffering from severe hangovers while several danced away and tried not to spill grog everywhere. The main dancing maniac was the Big Dawg himself and his moves are as legendary as his 69ing skills. See below for a pic of my own personal dance that I received from him. We stopped at a house for a yummy bbq lunch (thanks Shelley and Chad!) and then piled back in for a return trip to MDF where we received some odd looks when we disembarked. A grand time was had and I have a new found appreciation for the lyrical genius of Lil Boosie. Plick!! 

 

I think I watched some of openers Castavet as I have a note in my phone reading “sludgy black metal” but it’s a bit of a blur after the party bus hijinks. I also skipped Nashgul mainly because I didn’t trust the indoor sound and also they had been really awesome in New York a few nights earlier and I didn’t want to spoil the memory. From all reports they were great but I am more than happy to remember the intensity of the New York gig.

Ghoul were the first band I watched completely that day and I’m glad I did as they were so much fun! 2 nights prior they’d crammed onto a tiny stage in New York and still managed to use all their props but on the huge stage at MDF they had plenty of space and a much bigger crowd to cover in blood and baby guts. At MDF 2007 they’d been one of my highlights and they didn’t disappoint this year as they plowed through their skate thrash classics. The Mark Of Voodoo had Baron Samedi come out and rip the head off a chicken and shower the crowd in blood as can be seen in the great shot below from Rev Aaron from Return To The Pit.

 

Rise, Kill-Bot, Rise!!! featured the Kill-Bot itself on vocals, blood spraying and band assaulting duties and part way through a caveman creature with a mace for a hand engaged in a fight with it. Sadly I can’t find a picture of the fight but this one will do.

The first outdoor band of the fest were Finnish death metal legends Demigod. I’d read excellent reviews of their performance at the Rites Of Darkness III festival in 2011 and I LOVE me some Scandinavian death metal so I eagerly positioned myself to watch. Their sound was somewhat arselike at first but it quickly improved and they sounded heavy as hell as they blasted through the setlist which was only songs off their Slumber Of Sullen Eyes album. If you aren’t familiar with this album and like death metal then I strongly suggest you check it out as it’s awesome. These chaps certainly know their melodies and combined with their heavy riffing and occasional doomy section meant they were something of a thinking mans crushing warmachine. Great performance and I’d kill to see the same set in a smaller, more intimate club. I did nip inside to check out a bit of Today Is The Day and was lucky enough to see a song I actually knew from the In The Eyes Of God album. They sounded pretty kick arse and as harsh as I expected but those vocals still shit me and I could only take so much. Plenty of people told me they were one of the best bands of the day but I was happy to have seen Demigod in their place. Here’s some footage I found of Demigod on YouTube that doesn’t really do them justice.

While waiting for Macabre to set up I noticed this fine chap standing behind me so I asked for a photo. For a few years now I’d admired his work in the mosh pit of pretty much every band (he’s hard to miss) and also his dedication to wear such a warm outfit in the hot Maryland sun. Also note the quality beard on the bloke behind him. The beard of the festival in my opinion although Pete from Whitehorse is no slouch in the facial hair department.

Macabre was my first experience of standing on the hill around the corner from the far stage and as such they sounded like complete arse. I wasn’t too fazed though as I wanted to get some snaps with my camera and I know all their songs well so my memory could be called on to improve the sound. Corporate Death had his trademark overalls on and Nefarious was looking way balder than me so I was happy. They opened with Dog Guts from the excellent Dahmer album and the crowd went wild. I had a great view of the pit and it was pretty active. They played a song off the new album which was bloody terrible but made up for it by following with classics Nightstalker and McMassacre. One more crappy new song (why couldn’t they play The Black Knight as I like that song) and then it was purely classics which made me happy. During their set Kait noticed a guy standing near us with a baby dolls leg hanging out of his pocket. She of course asked him about it (due to alcohol I can’t remember the reason) and snapped this pic of him. Unfortunately this photo doesn’t show that he was missing most of his front teeth. Seemed like a nice chap though!

Corporate Death had his usual trademark intros and we had great fun watching the faces of the security guards while the horrible murder details were outlined. During the intro to Albert Was Worse Than Any Fish In The Sea, Albert Fish himself came onto the stage and was then beaten by a young woman which was great fun. The Zodiac killer also made an appearance for his song and stalked around pointing guns at the crowd. Despite the crappy sound I had a great time watching them and the crowd loved it too. I’ll definitely be seeing them again in a few weeks on their 2nd Australia tour.

I’ve never been much of an Artillery fan and after MDF I’m definitely not a convert. I watched a couple of songs when they started but the spark was missing that’s needed for thrash bands and I wandered inside to watch some Negura Bunget. The first thing I wrote in the note on my phone was “lots of hair” however they were much more than that and sounded pretty bloody nifty actually. I’m not too familiar with their albums so I’ve no idea what songs I saw but they had a great sound and the crowd were loving it too. Much like Agalloch I wish I had known their music a bit better as I would have probably enjoyed it more. However my mighty belly was rumbling so I stumbled back out into the light and queued for some pizza while trying to ignore the way too modern sounding Artillery (it didn’t work). After basically subsisting on a diet of pizza slices and Snapple in New York I received a shock to the system in Baltimore with no Snapple to be seen and some pretty average pizza. However the party bus experience had given me an excellent drunken hunger where anything was satisfactory so several pieces of surprisingly fresh pepperoni pizza were purchased and I made my way to the far stage to check out Napalm Death.

I was back on the hill around the corner for Napalm Death which ended up being quite a mistake as their sound was abysmal from that angle. The last few times I’ve seen them I have not liked their sound as the guitar has been too distorted and tinny and raw sounding and this time was no different with the terrible contrast of screechy guitars and triggered clicky drums. Barney was in fine form though with his usual epilectic fit style on stage but when he announced they were going to play a song off each album I immediately remembered the dreadful Words From The Exit Wound era and suspected there’d be few classics played that night. Here is a photo I took that probably looks like it’s supposed to be stylish and arty but in reality I didn’t have quite enough light or a steady enough hand.

Being an old geezer I wasn’t so keen on the “every era” idea so after a few new songs I struggled through the squishy crowd and finally made my way to my spot for Godflesh. I could still hear it well and enjoyed the classics Deceiver and Unchallenged Hate as well as Dememtia Access which I hadn’t heard live for ages (if ever). They sped through Suffer The Children at warp speed as usual and thankfully didn’t play the awful pop song Greed Killing. I did note that they didn’t play The Kill which I thought was a travesty as it’s a total classic and only goes for 15 seconds! Scum got an airing as expected and I was pleased to note that Danny Lilker was bought onstage to guest on bass for it thereby continuing the tradition since 2007 of him playing every year in one or more bands. They finished with 4 songs from Scum which I found most amusing considering none of the current band were on that album and also the guy that did co-write and perform those songs was about to play next in Godflesh!

Godflesh were one of the main bands I came to see and I certainly wasn’t disappointed as they were amazing! I got in position early and was right next to the mixing desk along with some fine Sydney folks and my mate Mike from Buffalo. While setting up Justin asked for the bright light above the stage to be turned down only to be told by the bemused sound tech that it was a street light. He later jokingly asked for it to be removed. They kicked off with Like Rats from Streetcleaner and the smile on my face must have been huge and didn’t let up for the next hour or so. Below is the setlist which focused mainly on older stuff for the first half and then worked it’s way up to Selfless era. I was a bit surprised they didn’t do anything from Songs Of Love And Hate.

Life Is Easy worked surprisingly well live as I’ve always found it a touch depressing on the album and Tiny Tears following was a nice pick me up. One amusing thing I noticed during their set was a completely shitfaced woman who was having a great time grabbing and jumping on her boyfriend/some random bloke and generally acting wild. It’s always fun watching the people surrounding a person in  drunken nightmare mode and several bystanders looked ready to kill. The highlight for me was probably the 3 songs from the Pure album with Mothra and Pure sounding massive! Justin admitted there was no time for an encore so they finished off with Slateman which is from my favourite era of Godflesh so I was stoked. I reckon the song Slavestate would have been better and I would have killed every person in the festival with a plastic spoon to see them play Perfect Skin but I was still very happy to get Slateman. Godflesh were simply awesome and their performance was everything I hoped for and more.

I planned on watching Unsane but after in the intensity of Godflesh I needed rest so I headed back up the hill and collapsed into my bed to rest my very weary feet. While lying there struggling to retain consciousness I debated about heading back down to see Nasum. They are touring Australia in August so the temptation to succumb to sleep was high, however I watched some recent footage on YouTube which sounded great and I decided to get my balls out of my handbag and check them out. I’m really glad I did as they were kick arse live with Keijo from Rotten Sound filling in on vocals for Meiszko (RIP) and doing a stellar job. The place was completely chockers but I had a decent view and slowly wormed my way forward as wimps and posers left the hall. I couldn’t see the mosh but I was quite certain it was raging hard. I would have killed to see the song Silent Sanguinary Soil live for that opening riff but I was more than happy seeing Shadows and Corrosion back to back which are two of my favourite Nasum songs. A great end to the night and I’m eager for the Australian tour. I scurried back up the hill to the hotel, Skyped with my darling Ann and then fell into bed and slept off the party bus and Godflesh extravaganza.

Day 3 review coming soon….

 

 

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