Monthly Archives: May 2015
Here is my latest offering for stupid metal shirt of the week. This is an ancient shirt from New York thrashers Nuclear Assault from their classic song Hang The Pope and is probably from 1988 or so. I was gifted this by my old mate Jesse who left me a huge box full of old thrash shirts, LPs and best of all old Canberra demo tapes which are rare as hens teeth. A few more of my planned stupid metal shirts are from his collection as the thrash world provided some fine examples of extremely cheesy shirts. I actually don’t think this shirt is particularly stupid and from a metalheads point of view it’s awesome but I suspect your average person from the street might be a bit offended.
Unfortunately Jesse was quite slim so this is a little tight on my not-so-slim frame and I’ve actually only worn it once. I wore it to a Municipal Waste gig on their first Aussie tour which is a complete blur as I had quite a few too many beers. I remember trying to talk to legend drummer Dave Witte afterwards at the Townie about his previous band Human Remains but was too trashed and probably just dribbled shit. Very blurry night although I do remember waking up the next day to find one of the other blokes cleaning up his vomit from his bed and the floor. Thankfully none was on this awesome shirt which has lasted well for over 25 years.
Welcome to my new regular feature poking fun at heavy metal shirts with stupid designs. These shirts range from highly offensive to silly to just plain weird. Now don’t get me wrong as I love these bands and proudly wear these idiotic shirts (well most of them) but I am well aware they are pretty cheesy. These are my own shirts from my way too extensive collection and once I run out I’ll probably start farming TShirtSlayer or something similar. I will accept submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org so feel free to send any in and remember the stupider the better.
OK first up we have this charming long sleeve from the one and only Impaled Nazarene from their 1999 tour of Australia and New Zealand. This was a quite eventful tour as they were banned from playing one gig due to a right wing Christian idiot politician called Fred Nile and I think they nearly died in a potential car crash in New Zealand. I saw them in Canberra where I had no power to resist the awesomely stupid back print of this shirt. The gig was hilarious as their sound was a complete wall of noise where all you could make out were the vocals and the drums. Being a fan, this was OK by me as I could somewhat decipher the songs but I wondered about how any newbies in the crowd fared. Singer Mika won an even larger chunk of my heart by not only sounding amazing but also being super sleazy on stage and waggling his tongue around every chance he had. Sydney black metal legends Nazxul supported on this tour and ruled supreme too. The venue where this gig was is now a womens gym. I’ve seen footage of this gig on video but am not sure if it was ever uploaded. Fun times.
Here is my extremely late review of Maryland Deathfest 2014 which was my fifth in a row and the biggest fest yet.
Day 1 of MDF commenced with my usual train ride from New York to Baltimore although this time we were in the “quiet” car which was pretty quiet except for the very loud PA announcements which would have woken a tranquilised bull. The contrast of exciting and glamorous New York City to seedy and lurid Baltimore is always amusing and each year I remind myself that I’d never normally go to Baltimore if MDF wasn’t on there. However in reality it’s not that bad and I’ve never had any trouble and have probably just watched The Wire too much. This year I stayed at Brookshire Suites instead of my usual trusty Tremont Plaza mainly because it was close to the final 2 venues of the night but also due to the fun times I had in the Cloud Club last year. The hotel was very nice and the friendly staff immediately upgraded me to a suite without me even slightly hinting at it (probably due to my dashing good looks and accent). Only downside was that the hotel has photos of famous Baltimore musicians everywhere and for the next 4 days I had to stare at photos (including one hung above the toilet!) of some bloke from Counting Crows.
After a nice stretch and relax I wandered up the road to Rams Head Live! which was the venue for the first night’s festivities. It was only a few hundred metres from the Soundstage venue from last year and was set among a cluster of clubs and bars called Power Plant Live! (what’s with all the exclamation points?) where I felt nicely out of place among hordes of trendies. Overall I really like Rams Head as it is a purpose built venue with several levels, excellent sound and, best of all, many bars scattered around. Plus I was very happy to discover they had a delicious oak aged stout on tap which was the only beer I scoffed there for the rest of the weekend. Sadly Triptykon had pulled out due to the funeral of HR Giger so each band received a bit longer to their sets.
I arrived too late for Seven Sisters Of Sleep however I’d seen them several days earlier in NYC. Whitehorse started just as I arrived and I was pleased to see a large crowd enjoying them as they are one of Australia’s hardest working bands who tour overseas regularly and do our country proud. As expected they were heavy as buggery and hunky frontman Pete sounded as intense and scary as usual. Sadly it wasn’t quite loud enough for my ageing ears and it didn’t help that the last time I saw them was at Evil Invaders where they had one of the heaviest sounds ever and a particularly punishing bass sound. The lower volume was good as I found plenty of my American mates and proceeded to catch up with them. The crowd loved it though and I noted my first viewing of the ever present chicken suit guy who was having a grand time as usual.
Sourvein followed and sounded as southern as I expected but my socialising and boozing continued and they were just good background noise for me. I think I wandered outside for some grub and discovered some Aussie friends loitering near the entrance to Power Plant where the poor bouncers warily eyed masses of metalheads.
Up next were Torche who I was very keen to see as I’m big fan of their strange doompop stylings. I was a tad apprehensive that they wouldn’t go down too well at MDF but I needn’t have worried as they immediately kicked arse with a killer sound and some thick riffs and the crowd loved it. I especially loved the super heavy bottom end which was very powerful on songs like Tarpit Carnivore and Charge Of The Brown Recluse. Only downsides were that they didn’t play King Beef, the vocals could have been louder and there was some nasty feedback on Steve’s guitar between songs. It was good to see a band with such a good sense of dynamics and I’m looking forward to their new album. For me they were the band of the night. Thanks again to Return To The Pit for taking infinitely better photos than I ever could.
It’d only been 2 days since I’d last seen them but too much Coffins is never enough! The crowd anticipation seemed very high and of course they went off the second the band started. I wasn’t surprised though as Coffins have a wonderful stomping style as I call it where the mid paced riffs are just the perfect speed for a mosh pit. The setlist was mostly songs the last 2 albums Buried Death and The Fleshland although they cranked out a few favourites at the end with Evil Infection and my favourite song Slaughter Of Gods. Below is a pic of my lifeloving mate Corey enjoying himself during Coffins.
I saw Crowbar in 1993 in Atlanta supporting Sacred Reich at a rather eventful gig which included watching a car get stolen, skinheads galore in the nastiest mosh I’ve seen, the most alert and active security guards ever, several stabbings and some skanky chick showing her bare arse to my mate Jesse. At any rate Crowbar were amazing that night with the three big lads on guitars and the scrawny very hard hitting drummer and they outshone even Sacred Reich. I later tried listening to their albums but they totally lacked the vitality of their live show so I never really bothered with them after that. All this is a longwinded way of saying I didn’t watch Crowbar and scurried back to the hotel to try and fight my worsening cold (the nice beers I had been consuming surely helped with this). Apparently they were bloody great though and kicked some guy in the head but oh well.
I had one more comment on my notes on my phone for this night of “La Blue Girl” which I had no idea what it meant until I just looked it up and it’s some sleazy anime which “features a large amount of tentacle rape”. Haha sounds like I’d been having an interesting discussion with some pervert that night as there’s no way I would have seen that on prudish US tv! After half scoffing some dodgy Subway food sleep beckoned and the snoring commenced. Keep reading for Day 2.
MDF proper started on day 2 with the big new Edison Lot compound being used for the 2 main stages and merchandise and food stalls. But before the screeching music could begin I embarked on another party bus adventure with my American mates where we toured delightful Baltimore in an air conditioned bus drinking booze and listening to Lil Boosie. As with the previous party bus, we had to start early as people actually wanted to see bands so we all rendezvoused at some shonky strip club near the big MDF lot. It was hilarious watching mates arrive badly hungover from the previous night. I didn’t get too smashed although I was pretty tipsy by the end. We toured around and managed to see some areas that were scummier than last time that were quite reminiscent of Hamsterdam from The Wire so I was happy. We also had a great laugh watching a woman in a car next us picking her nose and eating it! Another killer BBQ at Chad and Shelley’s place was scoffed and we had a fun play with their dog Teddy and then back in the bus for the return trip. Once again I managed to avoid being conned into dancing on the bus. Sadly there was no gorgeous Playboy model in a gold mesh body suit this time but I still managed to get a few kisses.
This year I’d had the brilliant (or stupid) idea to make a battle Hawaiian shirt as I had plenty of patches and wanted something stupid to stitch them onto. I bought the gaudiest cheap yellow Hawaiian shirt I could find and hastily sewed a smattering of patches on just prior to the festival. In fact it turned out to be awesome as it deflected the heat well and kept me cooler than just wearing a black shirt in full sun. Plus it was priceless seeing the perplexed looks on tough metallers who probably liked the Left Hand Path backpatch but not what it was sewn onto. I received quite a few requests for photos and below are a few pics I found on Instagram of the shirt as well as a mention on a more popular metal website than this one.
The bus dumped us back at the Edison Lot area and thankfully it only took 5 minutes to get in which was a relief after the debacles in 2013. The new main stages setup was pretty decent (for a carpark) and was easier to move between bands and the merch and food stalls. I rapidly sussed out several important factors and was pleased to find a small shaded seating area which was handy for someone of my vintage, as well as the fact my favourite food vendor from 2013 was back again serving BBQ items. However I was not pleased to discover that the beer menu was exactly the same as 2013 and consisted of very average choices even though I recall the MDF guys specifically mentioning getting a better range for 2014. I may have had 1 or 2 beers for the whole weekend from Edison Lot and just drank water or Gatorade. Don’t worry intrepid readers as I more than made up for it at the other 2 venues as they had awesome beer!
First band up were Castevet who had a decent live sound but didn’t do too much for me at all. I decided to save my poor feet, found a table and was pleased that the sound was pretty good from there. I grew to like these benches as they were generally in shade and the sound for both stages was quite decent from there. I’ve seen so many bands that I really don’t need to stare at another bunch of hairy blokes and am more than happy to just listen.
Polish black metal blokes Mgla were on next and boy those fellas must have been hot in all that denim, leather, hoods and black masks in full sun at 3.45pm! The sunlight was a problem for several bands as they lost a lot of potential atmosphere and mystique being on a huge outdoor stage. I completely understand why the promoters would like the fest to become bigger but I prefer less sunlight and more indoor stages. I wonder how a band like Skepticism will go on the outdoor stage at MDF 2015. Anyway back to Mgla who despite the heat put on a great performance to a large crowd. I really enjoy their With Hearts Toward None album and they played quite a bit off it including my favourite song (first track). While watching them I noticed several toddlers with huge ear muffs being held by their parents and I mentally congratulated them for exposing their kids to quality black metal that early in their life. Enjoy my poorly focussed photo below.
Ruins of Beverast followed and I wasn’t that familiar with their albums and thought they were slower but I was mightily impressed. The song Daemon was a highlight although they too suffered from the lack of atmosphere from the blazing sun. I commenced my merchandise browsing as you have to be careful at MDF as bands only usually have a few hours to sell stuff. Tshirt hoarding is a curse I know all too well although it’s worse when you see people wearing shirts that you missed (tragic I know).
Fellow Germans Necros Christos followed and were bloody awesome! A couple of Aussie mates and I stood right in front of the mixing desk and the sound was perfect which was great as the stage near the merch had patchy sound throughout the festival. Vocalist Mors Dalos Ra had a spiffy top on and their chunky death metal went down a treat. I later talked to a die hard fan in Chicago who whinged about all the old songs they didn’t play but I was more than happy. Surprisingly they only played one mellow interlude as I was expecting them throughout the set. Unfortunately Necros Christos heralded the beginning of an issue that pissed me off mightily about the main stages – the continual invasion of the side stage by self important hangers on. For most of their set there were about 3 people on the left side of the stage including the below lady who seemed to think she was a backup dancer but just embarrassed herself. I labelled her Necros Distractos which was a nice title compared to some I heard. I later saw her at a gig in Chicago and she did the same “ooh look at me getting into it” moves on the stage. For other bands I saw more people up there and it was like when a stage diver loiters too long and you just want the band to violently boot them off the stage. I paid to see the band and not some self-aggrandising knob trying to be cool. OK rant over and Necros Christos were excellent.
I left after Necros Christos and heard a bit of Solstafir who sounded really good. Oops probably should have stuck around but I cabbed back to the hotel for some food and a rest. I managed to miss Mesrine and most of Capitalist Casualties due to nearly falling asleep (curse those comfy beds). Capitalist Casualties are older than me so they probably understood. They were killer for the last 15 minutes of their set although not quite as intense as a few years ago when their singer had just had leg surgery but still played.
I scooted back up to Edison Lot hoping to catch a song or two of Cancer. I found some mates in the crowd and then stood there rather puzzled for a while thinking that Cancer must be playing some newer material I wasn’t familiar with. I finally discovered that it was actually Agalloch I was watching which made a hell of a lot more sense! D’oh! Despite the lack of death metal that I was expecting Agalloch sounded great although I did note on my phone the expression a band probably doesn’t want – ‘good background music’. It didn’t help that I mostly saw new songs I didn’t know and nothing off The Mantle.
At The Gates headlined that night and I expected them to be good but they were great! I’ve always enjoyed them but never been a die hard fan so I was surprised how many songs I knew. They predominantly played songs off Slaughter of the Soul (duh) but had a couple from each album, although they hadn’t released the new album so nothing off that. I saw the bulk of their set but had to leave early to catch Bölzer so I missed what I figured would be the last 3 songs, All Life Ends, Blinded By Fear and Kingdom fucking Gone. I did enjoy songs like World Of Lies, The Swarm and Cold which sounded tough as hell.
I jumped into a taxi and sped down to Rams Head to catch Swiss duo Bölzer who were replacing Aeturnus. I was bloody eager to check them out as I love their Aura EP and I wasn’t disappointed at all. The sound was a bit shitty but they still sounded kick arse for a 2 piece. The setlist was Roman Acupuncture and Zeus.. from the demo, CME and Entranced By The Wolfshook (my highlight) from Aura and new song Labyrinthian Graves. They have such a strange style but it worked well and I was very pleased that he did the wailing vocals well. Great set that you can enjoy below.
I’d knocked off 2 stouts rather rapidly which got me nicely warm and keen for Impaled who were on next at Soundstage. While exiting Rams Head the security made me take my hoody off from around my waist to walk outside which I found bizarre. They are happy for me to walk around in horrible metal shirt and shorts but I can’t have something tied around my waist? Maybe it was so I couldn’t conceal a weapon but as with most security they weren’t overly verbose in their directions.
Impaled were the final band at Soundstage that night and they went down a treat with the crowd who were moshing and stage diving galore. The party brigade had a grand time too with more blow up toys and glow stick shenanigans. Tonight they only played the first album The Dead Shall Dead Remain and had old vocalist and top chap Leon del Muerte out front. I was very happy as I finally got to see the song Trocar live after hassling Leon to play it every time I’ve seen any of his many bands. The whole album rules but Flesh & Blood was the other highlight for me although I did miss seeing newer songs like Operating Theatre or Raise The Stakes. There was a really great energy in the crowd and it was one of the most fun sets I saw all weekend. I also enjoyed the beers at Soundstage and had a tasty local Du Claw Nut Brown Ale or two while watching.
Final band of the night was Incantation and due to Impaled starting late I managed to miss some of their set but there was no way I was skipping any Impaled. I went upstairs to grab a stout and watch and rapidly came to sensible conclusion that Incantation are a great band but definitely music I can sit to so I watched from lounge area and it sounded great so I didn’t feel guilty. To quote Danny Glover “I’m too old for this shit” although when they played The Ibex Moon I somehow managed to stagger over to the railing and thrash. Shame I missed the Onwards.. songs but I’ll survive as it was my 4th time seeing them. It’s a little hazy but I believe I piked early and miss the last couple of songs to instead stumble back to the hotel and commence snoring.
I started day 3 of MDF by heading over to Max’s Taphouse for a birthday lunch for my mate Richard from Sydney. The pub has a killer selection of beers and some tasty food and fun times were had. The highlight beer was by The Bruery from California called a Sour In The Rye which was delightfully sour. That brewery can do no wrong as I had a few others beers of theirs in Chicago later.
I had planned on starting my day with Diocletian who were on at 1.55 however it took me ages to get a taxi and in the end I’d probably walked halfway there before I got some useless guy who didn’t seem to know downtown Baltimore at all. Thankfully I did so he didn’t get to take me on an extended scenic route. However I arrived just as Diocletian were ending which was a real bummer as from all reports they kicked arse. I did however see this stylish chap walking to MDF on my way in and had to take a pic as he out-styled my stupid battle Hawaiian shirt by a mile.
Up next were Swedish death metal blokes Entrails who were excellent. I only vaguely know their songs but it didn’t matter too much as they all had great dynamics and honestly I’ll love anything played through a HM-2 pedal. It’s unlikely anything will ever beat the Swedeath sound that Demonical had at St Vitus bar when I saw them and Black Breath at MDF 2012 but today Entrails came close with a excellent thick sound. I was going to post that it mustn’t be too hard to bugger up the sound for that style however I’ve seen Entombed about 4 times and they only sounded decent once. Another band I can add to the list of side projects of Adde from Birdflesh that I’ve seen which also includes General Surgery and Jigsore Terror although sadly I never saw Sayyadina.
I love me some Machetazo and this was my second time seeing them and unfortunately the second time seeing them with pretty average sound. It was a shame that they didn’t play at Soundstage as it would have sounded much better. That said they still ruled and once my ears adjusted I had a great time enjoying the grind and standing near the mosh which certainly contained its fair share of dullards. I wrote down my highlight songs as Banquete Funerario, Trono Des Huesos, Torso and “tremelo song” but buggered if I know what those last one is called as I can’t find a setlist. During their set I had two people ask to take photos of my battle Hawaiian shirt which was a pretty regular thing over the weekend and below is a clip of Torso where you can see me on the left of screen with my hat on enjoying the tunes. Sadly this ended up being one of their last gigs as they split up a few months later. Thanks for a fun 20 years chaps and I’ll never forget the first time I put on Trono.. and was blown away as soon as the blast in Banquete Funerario kicked in.
I think it was during Machetazo that I noticed this shithouse tattoo on a giant tank of a man so I surreptitiously took a pic instead of calling him out on it.
The old school fun continued with ancient Swedish death metal blokes God Macabre back from the grave and putting on a killer show. They played most of the songs off Consumed By Darkness and The Winterlong as well as a Carnage cover and further reinforced why I love Swedeath so much. Thankfully they were on the good sounding stage so everything was nicely heavy and crisp. While they played I wandered around the distros and saw Asphyx doing a signing session and enjoyed seeing Martin van Drunen grinning like an idiot next to a tiny women he was posing with.
Up next on the crap sounding stage were the mighty Nocturnus! Well Mike Browning and some other blokes calling themselves Nocturnus AD but oh well. Honestly I’ve never cared for their widdly diddly take on death metal so my hopes weren’t up and I felt guilty that some of my mates weren’t there as they worship Nocturnus (damn boonz). They played all of The Key and after watching two thirds of their set I must admit I was slightly won over but I wouldn’t say I’m a fan. I was happy they opened with Lake Of Fire as I do like that song and I liked Andromeda Strain and Droid Sector. They weren’t helped by the awful sound and the fact that one of his toms was way too loud. Sadly I missed the cover of Chapel Of Ghouls they finished with but oh well.
I left Edison Lot and sadly missed Tankard but I’d never been a huge fan and I wanted to check out Victims and I knew Tankard would wait until last to play Empty Tankard (which they did). Victims are one of those bands that I always meant to check out but never got around to so I’m glad I caught them as they were top notch and played heavy as hell hardcore. Can’t say I knew any songs but the crowd did and I thoroughly enjoyed it all.
Dropdead followed and were damn furious! Unsurprisingly the crowd loved it and went off. The whole band got into it but most noticeably was the wild caveman drummer with a massive beard who was having a great time. Somehow I forgot how preachy they are between songs and after a while I just tuned out although one rant about clothes made from animals was beautifully punctuated by chook suit guy’s appearance and stage dive. The set was made even more special towards the end when the original Siege drummer came out and they played some songs from the Drop Dead ep!! While Dropdead were playing at Soundstage, Sarke were playing at Edison Lot and had Nocturno Culto singing for them. I figured they’d play a Darkthrone song and was dreading that I’d miss seeing In The Shadow Of The Horns but I’d been sly and looked up recent setlists and they only played newish song Too Old, Too Cold. Sure enough that was the one Darkthrone song they played so I wasn’t upset although they also covered Dethroned Emperor which would have been cool to see.
Birdflesh followed and as expect the party brigade went berserk with blow up sea animals & dinosaurs, glow sticks and a sex doll being flung around while the mosh pit churned nicely. It’s an always welcome sight at a fest and Birdflesh always bring the smiles especially with intros like ‘This next song is about the anal’ in their strange accent. The setlist featured plenty of classics as well as several songs from the recent split with P.L.F. although sadly not the song Night Of The Ultimate Mosh. Great fun as always.
Once Birdflesh were done I had the worst clash I’ve ever had with MDF – 3 bands I wanted to see, all on at the same time! They were War Master, Noothgrush and Unleashed and for me War Master won out as I really love the pure death metal of their Pyramid of The Necropolis album. I figured Unleashed wouldn’t play much old staff and were very unlikely to play the song The Immortals (I was right) and I’d seen a bit of Noothgrush a few years ago. So I returned to Rams Head, reaquainted myself with the lovely oak barrel stout and sadly discovered that none of their merch fitted my curvaceous frame. Due to the clash the crowd was small at first but it increased as the short set went on. To put it bluntly they were FUCKING AMAZING and put on an awesome show. The stage was draped in camo netting and the band were a mass of flailing hair. The sound was absolutely perfect and was the best sound of the festival for me. I had a great time with two of the biggest War Master fans I know either side – my US mate Ehd and Aussie mate Django (a War Master 3 way!) – and because the crowd was sparse my berzerker mate Corey had plenty of space to dance up a storm in his usual style. Other than the killer songs one of the highlights was singer Rahi (who I’ve now seen live in War Master, Insect Warfare and Hatred Surge) who was in fine form channeling Randy Macho Man Savage with crazy rants between songs punctuated with repeated Yeah! Fuck Yeah! calls. He also waved around a sword for a while which they had to sever the head that didn’t bang. The set was only 6 songs including a couple of newies and 2 each from Blood Dawn and Pyramid.. but it was 6 songs of bliss for me and I was very stoked to have seen such a killer set. Below is a convenient clip of the whole set although the quality doesn’t do their sound justice at all.
Apparently I could have run over to Soundstage and caught most of Noothgrush but I figured they were over and just waited for Bölzer to set up. Shit!!! While waiting I saw an ad for some band called Zomboy which seemed to offend me enough to write a note in my phone so I’ll make sure to never check them out.
Dark Angel were playing at the same time at Edison Lot but I’ve never been a huge fan and I thought that two nights in a row seeing Bölzer seemed like a great plan and thankfully they played a different set the second night. Sadly they took bloody ages to set up and so only got to play 3 songs but they were the 3 from their awesome EP Aura so I was a happy chappy. I must admit that I watched half a song and then retreated to my couch to preserve my very sore feet. It still sounded great and I could watch the video feed and C.M.E. had me head banging from the couch. Can’t wait for a full length album as the recent EP Soma was in my top 10 released for 2014.
Finns Hooded Menace followed Bölzer and honestly they weren’t that exciting after several faster bands. I love their albums and have seen them live a few times and they played well but tonight just didn’t click for me. I’ve since watched some footage and they sound great so I guess I just wasn’t in the right mood. I think they needed a few slightly faster songs to provide some more energy as they just seemed to drag. It probably wasn’t helped that I was super eager to see Pungent Stench (I’m not calling them anything different). So I boozed on with more stout and chatted with mates while half listening to them. I believe I may have discovered the pizza slices they were selling too.
By now I’d reached the peak gig drunkeness and just in time for the mighty Pungent Stench. I couldn’t care less that this was just one member of the original lineup and neither did the crowd who went apeshit. Plus I am old and crusty enough to have seen them with the original lineup twice on their notorious first tour of Australia which was incredible. My notes say “awesome x100” and I completely agree with my drunken self as I had a ball! We crammed in up close to the stage, headbanging like maniacs and screaming filthy lyrics and it was great to see my usually stoic mate RonJon going off. Their set was mostly first album (and before) material with a few from Been Caught Buttering, one from Club Mondo Bizarre and of course they closed with Viva La Muerte. Thankfully there were no songs off the last 2 albums which I’ve never really cared for. I was so stoked to see Just Let Me Rot, Shrunken & Mummifed Bitch and Bonesawer and it would have only been better if they played Blood, Pus & Gastric Juice, and And Only Hunger Remains. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the whole set.
While walking to Soundstage I bumped into some of my US mates and had a swig of their fabled faderade (rocket fuel and ice tea) and it was even more horrible than usual. Thanks lads but I’ll stick with the beers. I expected Soundstage to be exploding for grind legends Excruciating Terror much like Infest the year before however it seemed more sedate and smaller than I expected. Maybe I just got there early as the pics I’ve seen for later on show plenty of people going off. Despite their legendary status I only watched about 10 minutes and just had to sit down as my feet had me in agony so I trundled back to Rams Head.
Asphyx closed the night at Rams Head and were heavy as hell and sounded absolutely killer from the lounge. Yes by then I could barely stand and so chose sitting on a comfy leather couch over standing staring at some ugly guys even older than me. Plus there was a TV in there that showed them on stage so I was all set as I could still perfectly hear Martin van Drunen’s roar and the chunky death doom that they excel in. Wasteland Of Terror and M.S. Bismarck were the highlights for me and I really wish I’d had the energy to stand in the crowd and thrash as they deserved it as they sounded amazing.
Saturday was an awesome day with 2 of my favourite performances of the fest from War Master and Pungent Stench. But the night wasn’t over as once again the Cloud Club conference room on the top floor of my hotel recevied a thorough working over with another beer tasting after party. As I was wisely staying there, I went to my room to get changed and then lugged up my stash of beers that I bought over from Australia with the aid of heaps of bubble wrap. This time I bought some New Zealand beer too and I think the list of what I supplied was a couple of bottles of each of the following:
Moon Dog Jumping The Shark 2013 barrel aged truffled imperial stout
Red Duck Ra#2 Egyptian bread beer
Bridge Road Aurora Borealis #2 tripel
Bridge Road Nordic Saddle Buffer barleywine
Liberty Sauvignon Bomb IPA
The tasting was messier than 2013 and sadly I took no tasting notes and was pretty drunk before we started but I do remember people liking the truffled stout and the barleywine. I can look at the photo of all the beers and vaguely remember enjoying the Cantillon Rose De Gambrinus, the Russian River Damnation, Goose Island Bourbon County and Firestone imperial stout but I certainly didn’t taste a bad beer all night. Thanks a million to Mike, Justin, Brett, Shelley & Chad and whoever else supplied goodies for us to devour.
The one thing I definitely do remember is being introduced to a spirit called Jeppson’s Malört which is insanely bitter yet surprisingly addictive. It’s a Chicago based liquor of Swedish origin made from wormwood. Below is a photo of my initial tasting and I really wish I bought a bottle home with me to inflict on unsuspecting mates.
By the end of the night (or morning really) we had plowed through the below amount of beers as well as countless lesser beers and poor Ray unwisely decided to finish the Malört. The rest were still partying when I went to bed and apparently had a hilarious workout session in the gym with some random metalheads we met. All praise to Poseidon as I remembered to drink water before bed and was only partially hungover the next day. Below is a pic of some of us and also a Malört-enhanced version.
In my usual tradition I was hungover to buggery after little sleep and feeling damn seedy on the final day of MDF although I think the promoters are sympathetic to my cause and scheduled nice relaxing doom for a lot of the day.
Windhand started off proceedings at Edison Lot and I was very glad they had a good sound as that stage had sucked yesterday. Their sludgy doom easy on the ears and they played 3 songs from their latest album Soma but my favourite was the epic Winter Sun from their debut lp which was heavy as hell (if a tad derivative of Electric Wizard). I’m not sure why but I enjoyed this Windhand set way more than the one they delivered at Doomsday Festival in Australia a few months later. Maybe it was the bigger event, or maybe my nasty hangover or maybe they played too long in Sydney but the MDF set definitely was better and won me over. While they played I had 2 more requests for photos of my idiotic battle Hawaiian shirt.
The sludge continued with Bongripper who were just ridiculously heavy sludge!! Definitely not standing-up-on-the-last-day-of-a-4-day-fest music so I wisely just listened from the seats. I often wonder about instrumental bands and what they’d be like with vocals and all I can imagine with Bongripper would be some really low growls or horrible screeches. They weren’t quite as interesting as Windhand but the last song Endless was monolithic and got heavier and heavier. Good job lads.
Graves At Sea rounded out the sludge onslaught and were the highlight of the three bands with just the right mix of sludge and groove. They mostly played new songs with Betting On Black having a killer swagger to it and they ended with the awesome old song Praise The Witch. Bloody excellent and I wish they’d had a longer set.
By the end of Graves At Sea I’d seen only 10 songs in 90 minutes from 3 bands! Misery Index certainly picked up the pace though and were tight as a nun’s proverbial! I actually listened to them while shopping and amusingly bought Jason Netherton’s excellent book Extremity Retained: Notes From The Death Metal Underground while he played live. I can’t recommend this book highly enough as it’s an excellent recounting of the early days of the global death metal scene from the bands themselves. I’d seen Misery Index before but this time they seemed more interesting and were a nice pick me up while I rehydrated and woke up fully.
I decided to skip Pseudogod and Wrathprayer as I was seeing them in Chicago a few days later and I figured their sound would not translate well on the big stages. I caught the end of Wrathprayer and my suspicions were confirmed as they sounded like arse. Up next was another clash for me with Melbourne grinders (and mates) Internal Rot vs Colombian black metal horde Inquisition. I reasoned that Inquisition were rarer so they got the guernsey although I regretted it after as they seemed a little flat to me and I heard that Internal Rot went off which I don’t doubt that for a second. I’ve listened again to the songs that Inquisition played and they are all good ones but something seemed a little off to me. I suspect the lack of slower songs like Desolate Funeral Chant meant they were less dynamic and also not playing the classic Crush The Jewish Prophet was a shame as it would have been fun seeing the large crowd chant “crush”. Maybe it was also the outdoor setting and the fact they were really bloody awesome the previous time I saw them at the Evil Invaders festival in Sydney.
Soilent Green followed and I had wondered how their odd combination of sludge and grind would go. I can report it went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed it even though they mostly played new songs that I didn’t know. I particularly liked that the drums sounded like rototoms and their whole set had a wonderful 90s Relapse kind of feel to it. I left part way through Soilent Green for a break and foolishly missed Gorguts who I was told were amazing. I only caught a bit of them at a previous MDF where they had awful sound and so today I decided to keep my memory of an amazing gig they played with Portal in Brooklyn unsullied.
I’d been told that Left For Dead were legendary killer hardcore and worth seeing so after a dinner break I strolled back to Soundstage to check them out. I thought it’d be a good idea to stand near the huge security guard as I thought the pit would be huge but was it was pissweak with about 4 guys ambling around. Maybe it picked up later but it was tame while I watched. They put on a good show and I’ve since found an album of theirs on my harddrive which is pretty decent but overall I wasn’t blown away.
I made it back in time to catch half of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats who sounded suitably fuzzy and hairy. I had seen their rabid fans in action earlier waiting for their merch to be available and then crowding around the small bit of table they had. I seem to recall their shirts were rather boss but I’m not the biggest fan and couldn’t be bothered waiting. They certainly sounded decent and the song 13 Candles rocked hard but I was way too amped to be seeing Candlemass and My Dying Bride after them! Here is the shirt in question thanks to TShirtSlayer.
Candlemass were one of the main draw cards for me this year and I certainly wasn’t disappointed as they were on fire! I figured they’d be good but they were bloody awesome and definitely one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Prior to the show I’d wondered who the vocalist would be and I was pleased to see Mats Levén walk out as he has a hell of a set of pipes and I love his work with Therion and Krux. Obviously it would have been killer to have Messiah (or even Johan do Epicus..) but I was glad it wasn’t Robert Lowe as then they would have played heaps of new stuff instead of the greatest hits set they did. With only one newish song the rest of the set was complete classics including my fave song Under The Oak (which was amazing), Solitude, At The Gallows End and Bewitched. I thought it was a shame they played A Cry From The Crypt instead of something like Edge Of Heaven, and I was surprised at the lack of Demons Gate but oh well. It was really great to see the band enjoying themselves and the crowd loved it to with some quality singing along and thankfully an excellent sound. Incredible set that was full of energy and I guarantee most of the crowd were smiling their heads off the whole time.
Headliners for the day were My Dying Bride, another doom band I’d wanted to see live for 20 years, and they were simply incredible. Coming down from my Candlemass high was similar to a problem that I’d had at MDF 2007 when I saw Regurgitate after going berserk for General Surgery and it took a song or two for me to realise how incredible RGTE also were. They also opened with The Dreadful Hours which takes a while to kick in and was a subdued start. Vocalist Aaron is the obvious focal point in a white shirt and tie and he played the tortured, anguished part well and spent a lot of time kneeling and looking forlorn. His singing voice was better than some of the live videos I’ve seen and his growls were killer. For some reason I’d always though he was really short as I’d seen them earlier doing a fan signing and I’d wondered where he was. Oops. Plus it was good to see the other original guitarist Calvin playing with them again. The crowd warmed up nicely with Like Gods Of The Sun and then Crown Of Sympathy which was excellent. Like A Perpetual Funeral was the only recent song played and it went quite well live although it was followed by From Darkest Skies which has always been a favourite of mine. It was epic and heavy as hell and I was a very happy chap! The hits continued with She Is The Dark which was incredible for the heavy growled bits and then the epic Turn Loose The Swans which is just timeless. Next was a bit of an anticlimax for me with The Cry Of Mankind which was popular but has never been a favourite of mine and just drags on and doesn’t really get anywhere. They ended with The Thrash Of Naked Limbs which was old school and bloody great but wasn’t the Vast Choirs or The Forever People that I really hoped for (or the Symphonaire.. or The Return Of The Beautiful that I dreamed of). With a simple “goodnight” it was all over at Edison Lot and the masses then joined a huge throng at the gates. Despite being completely exhausted my night wasn’t over as I still had the mighty Immolation at Rams Head closing the whole fest.
As I left Edison Lot for the last time I noted a guy wearing a stylish “Fuck you asshole” Arnold Schwarzenegger shirt but foolishly didn’t get a photo. Mitochondrion had sadly been knocked back at the Canadian/US border so they were replaced by Diocletian who I managed to miss again. I could have probably caught half their set but chose the comfort of my hotel for an hour or so. I also missed Ulcerate but am not the biggest fan so I wasn’t worried. I did however stagger back for the incredible Immolation who closed the whole festival. I was super excited as I was finally going to see a full set after the tantalisingly short set they played when I saw them in Portland. Everything was getting nicely messy by that stage and yet more stout was consumed by me and my mate Ted who was also pretty damn plastered by then. We had a grand time as he is a huge fan and was quite animated. The band were in fine form with vocalist Ross commanding the rapturous crowd with ease and guitar legend Bob has some of the best stage moves I’ve seen. The setlist had a tonne of new stuff but finally I got to see a song each from my favourite albums Unholy Cult (Of Martyrs And Men) and Close To A World Below (Lost Passion) so I was stoked! One of the highlights was ancient song Those Left Behind from their debut which was just heavy as hell. For some reason they chose to end with a song off the latest album which I thought was a wasted opportunity to blast another old classic like No Jesus, No Beast or Nailed To Gold. I mean who doesn’t to scream along “Can you hear us..death to Jesus”? At any rate they still ruled supreme and put on a hell of a show which the crowd enjoyed immensely. Below is my crappy pic which shows Vigna in his usual warp form.
Here are a couple of final random shots with the first guy being a cool cat who was standing near me for a few bands and was hammered and had to be restrained by a friend for going off too much. Nice chap.
Well that’s it for my review folks. MDF 2014 was a blast as usual and once more I was left hungover, barely able to walk and very, very happy. My adventures continued in Chicago with plenty of gigs which I may get around to reviewing in a decade or so. Sadly I won’t be attending MDF 2015 but hopefully I’ll be back for 2016. Cheers for reading and keep your eyes peeled for a regular feature coming soon on Mendicant Music which will keep you amused.
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