Once again I traipsed all the way across the Pacific Ocean to lovely Baltimore, USA for my fifth visit to the Maryland Deathfest. Last year it’d been Godflesh and Bethlehem calling me the strongest and this year it was mostly Bolt Thrower who are one of my favourite death metal bands and who I hadn’t seen live since their 1993 Australian tour. I had stopped by Portland on the way to see Immolation and co. on the Decibel tour (review here) and also New York where I saw Secret Chiefs 3, Rotten Sound, Kromosom and 3 of the Czech grind bands playing MDF. I’ve split each day into separate posts so enjoy my drunken ramblings and poor photography.

After feeling a bit hungover from the Rotten Sound gig the night before, I decided to avoid the subway and take a taxi from my hotel in Brooklyn to Penn Station which ended up taking bloody ages but was a comfortable ride at least. I got there with time to spare and hooked up with the Australian posse and after a 3 hour train ride to Baltimore we were checking into the Tremont Plaza for the 4th year in a row. I had forgotten I had booked a suite so I was pleasantly surprised to find I had a huge space to myself with a separate bedroom. I felt guilty that other mates were crammed into smaller rooms but I was happy to pay for it all myself and have the luxury of lounging around in my undies as often as I pleased (try not to picture that). After a quick shower I was off down the blasted hill towards Sonar and the first day of MDF!!

There had been an earlier unrelated gig at Sidebar which is up the road from Sonar where death metal band Derketa played but I suspected I arrived in Baltimore too late and also didn’t want to miss out on Bolt Thrower merch! Apparently they were bloody awesome and I could have bought the BT merch at either of the other gigs of theirs that I went to so now I regret not checking them out. The queue outside Sonar moved quite fast compared to later days so in 30 minutes I had my wristband and was inside. During this time locals Noisem (previously Necropsy) had played so they were just a blur of noise from the queue. For some reason my wires had been crossed and I thought they were the old Finnish death metal band Necropsy and wondered why they were on so early so, considering I missed them, I’m glad I was wrong.


Filipino band Deiphago were next on and they were my first experience with the sound quality (or lack thereof) of the “inside” tent stage which was just a marquee set up on the road out the front of Sonar. Sadly most bands that I saw in the tent sounded like crap and I was unsure if it was the PA or the sound guy. Unfortunately Deiphago sound pretty chaotic at the best of times and I don’t know any of their songs so of course they sounded like total arse and I didn’t mind leaving after a few songs to commence my merch assault. I wandered inside where most of it was set up and immediately saw a huge queue snaking through the room and ending at the Bolt Thrower stall. However using my crafty skills I managed to not very subtly push in with some fellow Aussie Bolt Thrower fanatics and thus missed half the wait. I was restrained and only bought 4 of the 5 BT shirts on offer (only because I didn’t care for the 5th) and decided to make a quick run back to the hotel to dump them off. I foolishly offered to take my mates hauls too and ended up with about 17 shirts which do weigh a bit. I also grabbed an MDF condom which they were wisely giving away although my is still unopened as I’m a good boy. I got some amusing comments from the people queuing to get into MDF and had fun telling them I had cleaned out all the BT shirts. After a quick rest and taunt of friends back in Australia via Facebook I scooted back to watch Pallbearer.

Pallbearer’s doom stylings worked ok with the dodgy tent sound although the vocals could have been louder. Despite the weather being pretty horrible, the tent was already warming up and I wasn’t looking forward to thousands of people cramming in there later that night for Bolt Thrower. Devoid Of Redemption was up first and is my favourite Pallbearer song so I was in heaven! They continued with a few more songs from their killer album Sorrow And Extinction and then finished with a new song which was bloody excellent and heavy as hell (check it out below). Can’t wait to hear more new material from these chaps.


Abigail followed them but the tent was packed and I was in social butterfly mode and was catching up with some of my US mates who I hadn’t seen for some time so I only half listened to them from outside. They sounded noisy as hell but I was unsure if that was intentional or not. Sorry Abigail fans but not much to review other than the fact that the beer selection at MDF was somewhat limited but I grew to like the Yuengling which was miles better than the Flying Dog IPA and I didn’t even bother with the Miller Lite they also sold.

Cobalt were next and the heavens opened and it pissed down rain thereby ensuring most hoodies on sale were quickly purchased. Cobalt are a band that Jonesy used to play on radio sometimes so I was keen to check them out however from where I was standing it sounded horribly boomy and I could barely make out anything. I’ve talked to friends who loved their set but it sounded like a big mess to me so I braved the rain to buy a hotdog and then went into the covered over carpark and just listened where it sounded similarly woeful. I sat on a concrete wall and then got busted by police for the heinous crime of balancing my foot on the bumper a car parked next to me. I suspect they were expecting more serious crimes to be occurring and were bored. Amusingly I saw some of my US mates walk straight past the cops carrying their “faderade” which is usually a horrible concoction of vodka, flavoured iced tea and probably several other types of booze. Nice police work there folks! Cobalt seemed to drag on forever and sounded more repetitive than I remembered.


The rain stopped pretty much as soon as Cobalt did and a big Bolt Thrower chant went up, although of course it was pissing down again by the time they started. This was actually a problem as it meant the tent was incredibly packed inside and I can’t imagine how hot and stuffy it would have been at the front. I actually wish this Thursday gig had been held at the Soundstage venue which is a different club they used on the main days of MDF for the more hardcore type bands as it was a decent sized space with excellent sound and facilities. Thankfully Bolt Thrower’s sound guy got a reasonable sound out of the crap PA but I wasn’t too worried as I was seeing Bolt Thrower at two club gigs after MDF and figured they’d have superior sound there (I was right). Even with average sound BT were bloody awesome and really put on a great show with a good selection of songs from most of their albums. They opened with War / Remembrance from their amazing ..For Victory album and I commenced my edging forward mission as I had started their set just outside the tent (ie. getting very wet). I did eventually make it about 3 metres into the tent by the end of their set although in reality I only had to brave the rain for a few songs and I was drenched before that anyway. A few songs in they busted out the song War Master and I couldn’t stop smiling, headbanging and screaming the lyrics. Other highlights for me were the songs ..For Victory, The IVth Crusade and of course the double barrel assault of World Eater and Cenotaph. I had heard they usually only played the start of World Eater before fading into Cenotaph so I was over the moon happy when they continued into the blasting bit and then played the whole song!! From what I could see the band were enjoying themselves and I made a note that vocalist Karl sounds quite a bit like Lemmy with a throaty, gruff sort of voice. They finished after the start of Where Cannons Fade and I’m wondering why their set was cut short as it was an “indoors” stage and bands were scheduled to play the same stage until 12am on the other nights. Maybe the curfew is earlier on a Thursday night. At any rate I joined the masses and stumbled up the blasted hill to the Tremont and had a nice warm shower.


Despite the nasty weather and dicey sound it’d been a fun night and Pallbearer and Bolt Thrower were as killer as I hoped. Props go to the bloke in a denim jacket with the odd combination of Bolt Thrower and Neil Young patches!

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