Chris attended the Maryland Deathfest this year over Memorial Day weekend, while Spencer stayed at home and wept over missing the live sets of over 50 metal bands from all subgenres from around the world. This was the tenth year of the Deathfest’s existence at the Sonar in beautiful downtown Baltimore, and it continues to be the greatest place for people-watching and buying rare metal merch! We chose ten of our favorite bands that played the Deathfest, with songs from their actual setlists:
“Everyday Pox,” Napalm Death’s Utilitarian (2012) – Century Media
This may be the first ND tune to feature a saxophone, played by none other than John Zorn! The greatest thing about seeing Napalm play here was that as soon as they finished, we walked across the lot to see Godflesh, their old labelmates back in the Earache days—plus, Justin Broadrick of Godflesh used to be in Napalm; he played on side one of their 1988 debut album, Scum.
“Crush My Soul,” Godflesh’s Selfless (1994) – Earache/Columbia
One of the most influential industrial metal bands, EVER. They reunited for this show and three other European festivals this summer, and they hadn’t toured the USA since 1996. “Crush My Soul” was the latest song they played; the rest were older (“Like Rats,” “Christbait Rising,” “Mothra,” et al.). Check YouTube for the video for “Crush My Soul”: one of my all-time favorites!
“Uncontrolled,” Confessor’s Condemned (1991) – Earache
This version of “Uncontrolled” is taken from this year’s Uncontrolled demo compilation on Divebomb Records (thanks to my good buddy Matt!). Once promoted as a doom metal band from Raleigh, North Carolina, Confessor are more like progressive thrash. They recorded only one album, 1991’s Condemned, and were on the European leg of the famous Gods of Grind tour with Carcass and Entombed. They broke up before their second album in the early ’90s but reunited in 2002 after guitarist Ivan Colon passed away. Scott Jeffreys’ Geddy Lee-esque vocals put the band way out in left field, but live they crushed the crowd!
“Upon the Sight of the Other Shore,” Yob’s Atma (2011) – Profound Lore
Doom metal from Eugene, Oregon. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt is mesmerizing in concert; the band completely smothered the inside stage. To show his softer side, Scheidt also has an all-acoustic album out on Thrill Jockey, titled Stay Awake, if Yob are too much for you.
“Resistance,” Morgoth’s Odium (1994) – Century Media
One of the earliest German death metal bands, Morgoth were also one of the first bands signed to Century Media. They broke up in 1996 but have reunited for this show and a bunch of European festivals. Odium is one of Chris’ all-time favorite metal albums, plus they have a brand-new DVD out now!
“Raza Odiada (Pito Wilson),” Brujeria’s Raza Odiada (1995) – Roadrunner
The famous Mexican metal band, back again! Dino Cazares of Fear Factory isn’t in the band anymore, but playing live at the MDF was Shane Embury of Napalm Death on bass and, I think, Jeff Walker of Carcass on guitar. All of the in-between-song banter was in Spanish, and all band members wore kerchiefs over their faces like banditos!
“Boiled Angel,” Dragged Into Sunlight’s Hatred for Mankind (2011) – Prosthetic
Liverpool, UK’s Dragged Into Sunlight play awe-inspiring blackened doom/sludge metal. They go by one-initial pseudonyms, and they played at the MDF with their backs to the crowd until the last few minutes of their last song! Weird voice samples are placed throughout the songs on the album (came out in 2009 on Mordgrimm, a small UK label, and re-released by Prosthetic in 2011), but I don’t recall hearing any in concert, due to the deafening volume.
“Despise the Sun,” Suffocation’s Despise the Sun (1998) – Relapse
Pioneering death metal from Long Island and one of the first bands signed to Relapse Records in the early ’90s, Suffocation are also one of the only influential death-metal bands to boast two African-American members: guitarist Terrance Hobbs and former drummer Mike Smith. They have a new album due out next year!
“Useless,” Noothgrush’s Failing Early, Failing Often compilation (2001) – Slap A Ham
Stunning doom/sludge from San Jose, CA, Noothgrush released only one full-length album in their lifetime but 10+ splits/compilations! They broke up in 2001 but reunited for a few shows to promote the Live For Nothing live album, released in 2011 by Southern Lord. I was dumbfounded that sooo many younger people in the crowd knew their songs and were screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs. One of my favorite sets of the weekend!
“Existo Vulgoré,” Morbid Angel’s Illud Divinum Insanus (2011) – Season of Mist
What more can be said about Morbid Angel? They made Tampa the death metal capital of the world. This track is taken from their newest album, Illud Divinum Insanus (the Latin doesn’t make any sense here), the first with founding member David Vincent back in the fold since 1996. Tim Yeung from Hate Eternal (who’s filling in while founding drummer Pete Sandoval heals from back surgery) was a whirlwind of arms, sticks and cymbal crashes. This is a controversial album because of the techno leanings in some songs, but they only played this and “Nevermore” off the new album; the rest were classics from Blessed Are the Sick, Covenant, and Domination.
Next episode, we’re back to the one-band format, so stay tuned!