Maryland Deathfest 2012 Day 4
Here is my review of the 4th and final day of MDF 2012 which ended up being a cracker of a day! Enjoy.
Day 4 was pretty much doom day with bands such as Saint Vitus, YOB, Church Of Misery and Cough slowing things down dramatically and, based on the amount of shirts of doom bands worn, I assume plenty of fans just came for that day.
Aussie grind maniacs Agents Of Abhorrence were the first band of the day for me and even though I’ve seen them tons of times I always enjoy their intensity which they certainly delivered today. The crowd were somehow docile at first but quickly woke from their daze and the circle started partly aided by the chicken suit chap and also my crunkmaster friend Big Dawg. I’ve seen most of the different eras of Agents.. and I think this version is my favourite as Jake is a great singer and the music has, and I hate using this term, “matured” (although the original 2 piece with Max singing was great too). I was a bit sad to only watch 10 minutes but Disma were setting up and I wasn’t going to miss a second of them!
Disma’s brand of death metal with a smattering of doom is pretty much my favourite style of metal and I’ve been ODing on their Towards The Megalith album (and demo before that) since it came out so I was beyond excited to see them live. They were on the outside stage which sounded pretty average for Macabre and Napalm Death but I positioned myself close to the stage and directly in front of one of the huge suspended PAs and thankfully the sound was perfect and bloody HEAVY!! They opened with demo track Vault Of Membros which is a slow builder and the still sleepy crowd were a bit sedate but once the pace picked up hair was flying and the pit formed. I went into my usual involuntary headbanging for pretty much their whole set and the riff that kicks in at 4.00 brought the hugest smile to my face. It was bloody hot outside and I probably should have had some water as I felt lightheaded afterwards but I was having so much fun I didn’t give a shit about my poor body. This is a band chock full of massive riffs and they continued with second song Spectral Domination which is probably my favourite song. The mid section of Spectral is huge and led to a quite amusing slow-mo mosh. When the double bass bit at 3.02 kicked in I swear my forehead must have been scraping the ground from my deep headbanging. The killer songs continued and they played most of the Towards.. album finishing with Chaos Apparition which was a bit sloppy which they blamed on lack of practice. At the time I wrote my notes for Disma I typed “highlight after Godflesh” and even though I hadn’t seen Bethlehem at that stage I still agree with myself as they were breathtaking. Below is a pic which shows me enjoying myself. Just look for the guy on the far right 3rd person up with the receding hairline. Unfortunately the photo is not close enough to show the perpetual grin on my face. Also below is a photo I took of the chaps themselves.
I didn’t bother with Cough as I’d seen them twice in Australia recently and, despite having a great sound, their songs bore me with their lack of variety. Demonical were on the next outdoor stage but they sounded both thin and boomy in comparison to the amazing sound they had at Saint Vitus in NYC so I only watched a bit and did a merch run back to the hotel. On the way back I remembered to try and film my usual footage of people walking to and from MDF but my regular seat had been closed in by the fence so I sat on a footstep and ate my lunch and filmed the below footage. Sadly my batteries ran out after a few minutes.
Morgoth followed Demonical and they sounded bloody terrible. I was never much of a fan of Morgoth back when they came out and they were always a C grade death metal band in my opinion but they sounded even worse that I imagined. I think it was a combination of me not knowing any song as well as awful shouted vocals. My German mate Oliver later told me they were one of his highlights so I’m glad someone enjoyed them as I sure as shit didn’t. I think I checked out a bit of Rwake but it’s getting a bit hazy now and I am writing this after a boozy weekend in Sydney at Evil Invaders 4 which might not be the best idea.
Here is one of the better back patches I saw over the weekend.
Japanese doomsters Church Of Misery played next to a massive crowd and once again that potpourri smell was heavy in the air (I swear I was probably half stoned for the whole festival due to 2nd hand smoke). After the dreadful Morgoth it was great to see a band I liked and they seemed to be quite enjoying themselves with plenty of rock and roll stage moves. After a few songs I wimped it and miraculously found a seat and just listened and drank water. Thankfully they still sounded boss from my seat. I would have killed to see them play Megalomania but I did get Killfornia from Master Of Brutality which was pretty awesome. Born To Raise Hell was killer too. Because of this I totally missed Ulcerate who were either amazing or awful sounding depending on who you talked too. I’ve never overly cared for their material live so I wasn’t worried at all. One amusing highlight for me was when a guy wandered past my seat, reached up and grabbed a leaf on the tree and licked it, and then continued on as normal. Here is some crappy footage from my phone of my spot which sadly doesn’t capture the tree licker.
From my seat of wimpiness I listened to Pentagram who I’d had to explain to several people weren’t the US doom version but in fact the Chilean thrash version. They were probably the thrash highlight for me as they didn’t sound too modern or half arsed and sounded suitable savage. No idea what the stage show was like but I suspect there were several hairy blokes on stage playing instruments and headbanging. Here is a picture of them and what do you know I was right!!!
During this time a friend offered me a drink and I wisely asked for a Red Bull instead of booze. I had been close to drifting off to sleep but thankfully the (no doubt toxic) mix of chemicals in the Red Bull kicked me back into motion and I wandered inside to check out some of YOB. Unsurprisingly it was completely packed inside but YOB sounded fantastic even from right up the back. I did only catch a song and half but in reality that was 25 minutes of their 45 minute set! The Mental Tyrant was the song I caught in full and it sounded incredible. Damn Mike has awesome vocals and his roar is intense!
The mighty Suffocation were next and they proved the equivalent of a second can of Red Bull for me as they are a long standing favourite of mine from the brutal death metal world. Despite starting with a newish song, their setlist was full of classics including Liege Of Inveracity, Pierced From Within and my favourite Suffo song Catatonia. Initially their sound was pretty dreadful as I think Terrance wasn’t plugged in but it was fixed in the 2nd song. Singer Frank was in fine form and his crazy between song rants and machine gun blast motions are always highlights. One classic line was “I love me some guns and I love me killing some people”. I think a future career for him once Suffo are done would be to do a standup routine of his rants and then sing along to their songs with a backing tape. I’d pay money to see that! As imagined the mosh was pretty crazy for these guys and I delighted in seeing pieces of a plastic viking helmet being flung around for half the set. I missed the last 3 songs as I wanted to catch some of Nausea and as I suspected I did miss Infecting The Crypts which was a bummer but I’d seen them live before. Here is some live footage I found of 2 of the songs I missed.
The Suffo/Nausea clash was one of my worst but I’m glad I did end up seeing a bit of each as both bands ruled. Nausea was the Los Angeles version with Oscar from Terrorizer and I had to see some of them as new guitarist Leon del Muerte told me they were going to play some Terrorizer songs live and their World Downfall album is one of THE grind masterpieces. I did end up seeing Corporation Pull In which was damn cool but not Dead Shall Rise which I prayed for. But it didn’t matter as they sounded nearly the same as Terrorizer and their own songs were nearly as good.
Up next were legends Saint Vitus who I’ve never been a massive fan of on cd but live they were way better than I expected. This was another band I watched with a group of Melbourne doombogans and we had a great boozy time standing near the hamburger griller. The setlist was essentially a split between their classic album Born Too Late and the new album Lillie: F65 with a few other tracks including the killer song I Bleed Black which had a beautifully crazed solo from Dave Chandler. Look Behind You was another song highlight for me. They had a suitably swirly and trippy background being projected and a great live sound with Wino’s vocals a standout. Part way through it started to rain which led to wimps scrambling to get inside but my trusty Akubra hat kept my face dry. All hail the rabbits that went into the creation of my hat!!! I eventually succumbed to the wonderful smells coming from the grill and ended up scoffing a hot dog and a hamburger. Cooling rain, quality doom and questionable food – what more can a man ask for?!?!?!
I actually saw Vitus sitting in the airport the next day and couldn’t resist being a fanboy and telling them how much I enjoyed their set and that they should come to Australia. They looked genuinely pleased to be interrupted by some seedy looking guy in a Mister Sparkle shirt and I’ll treasure the smile I got from Wino as he usually looks like such a hard bastard.
After Vitus finished pretty much everyone in the crowd just turned around and marched up to watch Electric Wizard. A chant of “fuck umbrellas” rose after a few people dared to wimp it with the rain (should have brought a hat!). Wizard started with horribly peaking speakers but the sound calmed down after a bit and they rumbled along as usual with Supercoven, Satanic Rites Of Drugula and Dopethrone opening the set. I do like E Wiz quite a lot but they were a bit of a come down after the stellar Vitus. Also when they toured Australia on the We Live tour I was really intoxicated and enjoyed them immensely and this time I was soberish and with sore feet and the magic wasn’t quite there. Part way through the set I went for a beer and luckily found a seat and listened to the rest as I realised I would need to be able to stand for Bethlehem. While sitting I decided to be a bastard and texted my mate Josh back in Australia to gloat. I had done the same thing to radio cohost Jonesy during Godflesh and would do the same to radio cohost Mark during Bethlehem. Damn I’m a prick! They finished off with Funeralopolis which was killer but overall I was a tad underwhelmed.
Sargeist got the arse in favour of rest but I was back and keen as a bean for Bethlehem who, along with Godflesh, were a main reason for my attendance. The place was half empty I’m assuming due to the last 3 bands being black metal but that was fine by me as there was more space and I secured a perfect position just behind the mosh. Yes I did say mosh as pretty much every band garners some kind of pit at MDF although Bethlehem’s was both hilarious and nasty looking. Hilarious due to the sudden shifts from fast black metal to mellow bits which people continued moshing hard through and nasty as it was the most spiteful and violent mosh all weekend. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from them as they’d only recently restarted playing live after a 15 year gap but the music was flawless with an amazing sound and spot on playing. The guitarist played every solo and mellow bit perfectly and the rhythm section was tight. Another main concern was the vocals as they were mostly playing older material from the Dictius Te Necare and S.U.i.Z.i.D. albums which are notorious for having extremely over the top vocals. The new guy was Rogier from Dutch black metal band Weltbrand who I’m not familiar with and he did an “acceptable” job of imitating Landfermann and Kehren. I won’t say great as he didn’t excel but he did put plenty of effort in and certainly didn’t detract from their performance. I am certainly glad though that we didn’t get that Kvarforth tosser from Shining on vocals!!
Bethlehem used the haunting song Laura Palmer’s Theme from the amazing Twin Peaks soundtrack as the intro music which was perfect and made me even happier. They opened with two slower songs from Dark Metal (The 11th Commandment and Vargtimmen) and I was surprised that they didn’t play Veiled Irreligion considering it’s a great song. As soon as the opening fast riff from Aphel – Die Schwarze Schlange kicked in the crowd went berserk and my smile grew to ridiculous proportions as it’s one of my favourite songs. Sadly the heavy chugga riffs didn’t sound quite chunky enough but the schizophrenic changes between fast screaming black metal and mellow soft bits worked perfectly. The mournful guitar lines towards the end of the song were complete bliss. Du Sollst Dich Toten from the S.U.i.Z.i.D album was another highlight as we play it on radio all the time and it was beautifully followed by Gestern Starb Ich Schon Heute as per the album (damn these blasted Jerrys and their stupid long titles). The only vaguely recent song they played was Maschinensohn from the Schatten… album which was a shame as I am in the minority of fans who also love their more recent and less insane albums. I would have loved to have heard something off Mein Weg such as Dr Miezo or Einsargen but I doubt the vocalist could have handled the singing parts (plus the crowd might have lynched them). They ended with a couple more Dictius.. songs and the final song was another favourite in the form of Verheikung – Du Krone Des Todeskultes which was a suitably deranged song to end such an awesome set with.
The band were nice enough to put half their set on YouTube with soundboard quality audio so I’ve posted them all below for your enjoyment. Watching them myself they certainly don’t really capture the sheer brilliance and intensity of their performance but I’m glad some attempt was made to document it. If you ever get the chance to see Bethlehem live then take it!! Quite simply for 50 minutes I was completely spellbound.
Unfortunately for Mortuary Drape they followed Bethlehem who had completely blown me away so I was still on a high and also exhausted from 2 weeks of metal gigs and excessive boozing so I bailed early. I did stick around and watch 2 songs and felt guilty when I skulked away as they sounded really impressive and under easier circumstances I would have definitely watched them. Funnily enough I actually caught the shuttle bus to the airport with Mortuary Drape and they seemed quite pleased that I recognised them (2 members look exactly like Chris Reifert and must be brothers) and told them they sounded great. I neglected to mention that I only saw 2 songs.
After bailing on Mortuary Drape I said goodbye to plenty of friends but missed plenty too and also snapped the below pic as a final memento. No doubt the next day the road was back to normal with few signs remaining of the huge amounts of fun times had, other than maybe a snoring metalhead sleeping off a hangover in the car park. Thanks a million to organisers Ryan and Evan who once again put on an amazing festival full of bands I thought I’d never see live. You blokes are champions!!
The next day I successfully packed all my merch buys into my suitcases and began the loooooooong journey back to Australia. The less said about the trip (and my poor organisational skills) the better but after 34 or so hours I was back in rather chilly Canberra with my darling Ann, our cat Sierra and a strange feeling that the last 2 weeks had been a dream.
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