Maryland Deathfest 2012 Day 3
Here is my review of the third day of the 2012 Maryland Deathfest. Enjoy.
I missed Infernal Stronghold but I made sure I was on time for Bloody Phoenix as I love their 2 albums as well as previous Excruciating Terror material. I don’t know too much about their band members so I was quite surprised when 2 rather attractive latino women jumped on stage and started growling and screaming. It was only 1.15pm so the crowd was a bit sparse however I think the vocalists garnered some attention from the mostly male crowd. But distractions aside, Bloody Phoenix kicked as much arse as I expected and their hardcore grind sound was blistering with little let up between songs. Half an hour flew by and I really enjoyed their set and below is some crappy footage I shot. Between bands I sat down and was rather surprised when I heard the crowd singing along to the Ghost song being played over the PA. I guess their songs are pretty catchy.
Looking For An Answer were one of my most anticipated bands of the fest as I love their straight forward grind attack and I was not disappointed at all as they were INCREDIBLE. For some reason the Nashgul guy was singing for them but he sounded very similar to the usual guy and did a great job (they also had Dave from PLF sing a song or two). They had the perfect combination of chunky riffs and fast grind which was beautifully shown with the tracks Marcha Hacia La Extincion and Extincion with the start of Marcha.. and mid pace middle of Extincion whipping the moshpit into a frenzy. They were the grind band of the festival for me and could ramble on for pages about how great they were. Here are a few clips which as usual doesn’t really capture the intensity but they’re better than nothing.
Dragged Into Sunlight were next and there seemed to be quite a lot of buzz about them beforehand. I have one album and it’s never done a huge amount for me but they certainly received a rapturous response. I actually walked in after they’d already started and was quite surprised by the whole spectacle which included an candle/skull structure on stage (see the pic below), brutal strobe lighting, a harsh overall sound, faster than I expected and strangest of all the band seemed to be playing with their backs to the crowd. I’m sure they have a reason behind it but it looked pretty wanky to me. They were another in the line of “I wish I knew their songs better” bands so next time I’ll have to listen to the unknown bands more. Their fans seemed very happy with the performance and I enjoyed it and plan on listening to their material a bit closer.
Hellbastard were first on outside and they started with an air raid siren and the singer breathing fire which of course I missed as I wasn’t watching (D’oh!). I saw the best photo of it somewhere but can’t find it so I’ll put this one from Rev Aaron up and update this post if I can find the better shot. They played some pretty damn decent metal crust and even though I didn’t know any songs I quite enjoyed them. I seem to recall the singer was pretty funny between songs.
Black Witchery were next and sadly suffered from either crap sound or me standing in the wrong spot. They looked the part with hoods and corpse paint and thousand yard stares but with the shit sound it was just a blender of distortion with a crap drum sound coming through. I was standing with my mate Justin who had seen them tons of times and he agreed that it sounded awful. I gave them a few songs which could have been anything and then left the rabid crowd to their fun.
As Black Witchery sounded like poo I decided to head back to the hotel and go for a swim as it was bloody warm. I wanted to cool down and I certainly did as there was no direct sun on the pool and it was unheated and thus freezing! But after a few minutes I equalised and it was super refreshing. I floated there totally relaxed and nearly meditating but then looked up and saw tons of Reeelapse mates descending upon the small pool with their bottle of iced tea mixed with vodka and several cigars. I’m quite certain the young lifeguard had absolutely no control over the pool area and many rules were broken. But it was good fun and I learned quite a bit about cigar rolling and fancy fortified wines. Best of all it cooled my body down nicely and helped my ailing footsies and I felt great for several hours afterwards.
Here’s a few random pics I took during the day of the Mercyful Face face painting booth in action (which led to some truly hideous looking people) and also one of the best backpatches I saw of The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels from WWE.
I headed back down to the fest about 6ish and caught about half of the set by The Devil’s Blood who sounded bloody fantastic. They were probably the most different sounding band at the fest as they are essentially a rock band but the crowd loved it and I was a bit sad I missed their set in New York with Evoken and co. They had 3 guitarists for some reason but the sound was spot on and the mellow trippy bits sounded great. Most of the band were pretty animated but the singer pretty much just stood there waving her arms and flappy sleeves about in a Messiah Marcolin imitation.
I caught a song of Deviated Instinct as they finished which sounded pretty good but I suspect they would have been much better on a small stage instead of a huge outdoor one. They were quickly followed by Anvil who quite frankly sounded AWFUL! I only watched 2 songs and one was an intro sort of song but the sound was thin, the guitarist buggered up the solos and the only thing they had going for them was the ridiculously happy look on the guitarists face. I’m sure that Anvil fans would have loved them but I quickly scurried off to watch Finnish legends Archgoat who seemed to take forever sound checking. They were already corpse painted up but once they got their sound right they wandered off stage for about 10 mins and returned with some added blood smears that surely would have taken a minute tops to apply. However once they started I was glad they took the time to get the sound right as they sounded as thick and heavy as they should. No idea what songs they played but it all sounded damn fine to me. However part way through their set I needed to…..er…..”sit down” rather rapidly so instead of venturing into the no doubt disgusting portaloos I hiked back up the hill to my nice clean hotel bathroom while unfortunately listening to more Anvil. Possibly a bit of overshare there so apologies in advance to my more precious readers.
After a bog and a quick game of Sudoku I returned to watch technical doomsters Confessor who I’ve loved since I first heard their Condemned album despite most of my friends hating them. I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t translate well live but thankfully my fears were unfounded and they kicked arse. I missed the 2 newer songs they started with which suited me and the remainder of the set was from Condemned. My main concern was his voice but it sounded perfect and he effortless did the really high scream at the start of Suffer. I sang along (not quite as well I’d imagine) and was surprised that I knew so many lyrics after all these years. It was a strangely dead crowd watching them as it’s not exactly moshing music but that didn’t stop about 3 guys from seperately starting one man mosh pits which was amusing to watch. Another odd sight was a really skinny African American guy with his face painted with corpse paint wandering through the crowd picking up rubbish. The only downside was that the smoke machine regularly obscured my view of the drummer as I wanted to watch his technical prowess. Bloody good set from a band I kept forgetting was on the bill. Here is a pic of the rubbish guy and also one of the ridiculously over the top sandwich I bought from the deli in the hotel which had half a bloody pig on it!!
I saw about a minute of Horna who were playing pretty decent rockish black metal but apparently I missed quite the spectacle when the singer baptised himself in his own piss!! Those wacky Fins! Lucky Noothgrush who were on the stage after Horna. I pinched the below pic of the baptism from Brooklyn Vegan.
Haha during the day these people fell asleep in the middle of the fest and so of course they were drawn on with textas and many photos taken. Now that I look at the pics I recognise them from the pool earlier on! Reminds me of an old Metal For The Brain festival in Canberra where legendary stagediving maniac Scott Foster fell asleep with a mate and for several hours they were both covered in tanbark and rubbish.
One of things I like about MDF is the variety of bands which was very evident with the contrast between trad doomsters Confessor and groove death metal maniacs Brujeria. There was a fun, party sort of atmosphere for everyones favourite Mexican drug dealers with Mexican and El Salvadorian flags flying and that familiar herbal smell was in the air. The identity of Brujeria is hidden by scarves and they rotate lineups but I could work out most of them. Shane Embury was unmissable with his clown hair and Nick Barker was drumming as I’d seen him the day before watching Macabre with Napalm Death members. I thought it was Jeff Walker and when the drummer played the intro to Corporal Jigsore Quandary it was confirmed. I looked them up and the other guitarist is the Napalm Death soundguy and the 2 vocalists are the usual members. Unfortunately they had a pretty average sound and also played too much newer material (ie. songs not on Matando Gueros) but it was still great fun. Some dickheads near me were shouting out “speak english or die” which I didn’t think was the greatest idea but they survived (although I doubt they would have repeated the call from the mosh pit). Part way through the set Barney from Napalm Death wandered through the crowd right near me but I resisted my inner fanboy and didn’t yell “let’s see everybody skank” at him. They finished with the classic song Matando Gueros which had the whole crowd singing along and Juan Brujo brandishing a large machete which he whacked again the foldback.
Towards the end of Brujeria I wandered inside to check out some Noothgrush who I would have loved to see more of as they were playing some awesomely punishing sludge. On cd they’ve never quite clicked for me but live it sounded great and new vocalist Dino (Ghoul, Dystopia, etc) fit in perfectly. I was later told by several people about several of the Sydney Aussies dancing up a storm which I later witnessed repeated for Winter. Nice work lads and here is a picture of one of them.
After Brujeria every person at MDF crammed in the space in front of the far stage to watch Morbid Angel who headlined Saturday. I could feel it in the air that most people wanted them to play some of the terrible “industrial” songs from their Illud Divinum Insanus album just so they could boo or abuse them. But the closest we got to that awful style was the intro tape which had to be looped for 40 minutes while the guitar techs tried to fix Thor’s amp. Confessor had finished an hour earlier on that stage so I don’t know what they hell the techs had been doing all this time but it meant Morbid had to cut several songs from their set (including Dawn Of The Angry which I really like). But once they finally started they were on point and the opening salvo of Immortal Rites and Fall From Grace dispelled all whining. After more A – C material they did play 2 songs from Illud.. but they were just the boring death metal ones instead of the techno monstrosities. The bad taste they left was forgotten when they launched into Lord Of All Fevers And Plagues and hands were raised, heads were banged and chants of Ia Iak Sakkath were everywhere. My bliss was further extended when the launched into my favourite song Chapel Of Ghouls and I think I nearly fell over headbanging to the “demons attack with hate” section. During the 2nd last song Trey’s guitar was on the fritz so he just walked off stage and didn’t return. Surely he had a spare guitar! They ended with World Of Shit which sounded pretty flat without Trey’s spazzy solos but it was still an awesome set. Evil D…I mean Dave Vincent didn’t spout as much crap between songs as when I last saw him in Sydney but that was probably due to the time constraints. One amusing incident during the set was when a guy wandered out onto a freeway and was watching the crowd from there. After the police helicopter flew over it was only a few minutes before there were 4-5 police cars there and the bloke was removed while a cop took photos of the crowd who were either giving them the horns or their middle fingers. I watched with a group of drunken Aussie bogans which was great fun and I seem to recall Captain Morgan made an appearance in my stomach.
The same group of bogans waylaid me after Morbid Angel and we walked up to Sidebar which is a few blocks away for some more boozing. When we arrived there was a band setting up called Skelptarsis so I got a round of drinks and we watched a few songs of very loud hardcore and they were bloody great. A real shame they weren’t on MDF. I think a few Aussies enjoyed them so much that they stayed for their whole set. Not me though as Spanish grinders Haemorrhage were due on stage!
By now my memory is getting a bit hazy due to rum but I did watch all of Haemorrhage and they were really good fun. The singer is one amusing and charismatic bloke and he really adds a lot to their stage presence as he stalks around the stage shirtless and covered in blood with a deranged look on his face (I’m sure he’s a really nice guy in reality). They played a good range of songs including my favourite Mortuary Riot as well as several from my favourite album Apology For Pathology. One thing I was really surprised about was the lack of a party brigade assault with no glowsticks or blowup toys to be seen (just the ever present chicken guy and my friend Vanessa in her hot dog outfit). I suspect the MDF organisers were sick of cleaning up hundreds of glow sticks or maybe the brigade didn’t get their shit together. Haemorrhage still kicked arse but I think Looking For An Answer won the Spanish grind trophy of the weekend.
Winter finished the night and honestly putting such a slow and heavy band at the end probably wasn’t the greatest idea for drunken and sore idiots like me so I only lasted a few songs. They were very impressive though and sounded as heavy and punishing as their classic Eternal Frost album which it appears they played in it’s entirety. I was hoping to see the song Eternal Frost as it’s my favourite but my poor feet were screaming at me so I departed. I really need an anti-gravity suspensor like Baron Harkonnen from Dune so I can be suspended above the crowd and get a great view while resting my feet (and maybe some Sardaukar to protect me from the dodgy Baltimore streets). Before I left I also saw the identical triplets who seem to go to each MDF and they looked pretty hammered. It was amusing as they were walking in a row and each one seemed more drunk than the last. On the walk back to the hotel I ran into my mate John from Melbourne who informed me he’d just been bitten by a police horse when he tried to pat it. Nice work mate!
So somehow I survived the first full 12 hour day of MDF and saw some killer bands. A bit of shame I missed Morbid Saint (heard great things about them), and most of Horna, Noothgrush, and Winter but there was swimming, drinking and slothing to be had in their place. I went to bed exhausted but really looking forward to seeing Disma and Bethlehem the next day and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Day 4 coming soon……
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