Tag Archives: Century Media

020 Maryland Deathfest 2015

Chris and guest host Billy discuss the brutality of Maryland Deathfest 2015. Billy had an all-venues pass, so he ended up seeing many more bands than Chris did. Hanging out with Chris Dick and the gang made another Memorial Day weekend even more memorable! We were sad that Spence couldn’t join us, but next year will be different, he assured us. Here’s a smattering of our top picks of the weekend:

Tombs at Deathfest 2015

Tombs at Deathfest 2015

Vallenfyre, “Splinters” from Splinters (2014, Century Media)

            Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh is certainly exorcising his demons in Vallenfyre, replete with mega-doom chordage and guttural vocals. We thought their 2011 debut A Fragile King was pretty swell, but the recent Splinters album pushes the gloom envelope even further into doomdeath territory.

 

Master, “Smile as You’re Told” from The New Elite (2012, Pulverized)

Paul Speckmann may be the ultimate death-metal musician. Having recorded a handful of albums in the ’90s, he began working with the guys in Krabathor and ended up moving to the Czech Republic to join the band—how metal is that?!? This DM king was hailed loudly ‘n’ proudly on the Edison Lot stage.

 

Triptykon, “Tree of Suffocating Souls” from Melana Chasmata (2014, Century Media)

The mighty Celtic Frost lives on in Thomas Gabriel Warrior’s Triptykon, a doom/thrash/death amalgam that puts the “e” in extreme metal. With a limitless audience in the Internet age, Warrior is now more legendary than he ever was before, and his band slayed with effortless abandon in Baltimore.

 

Suffocation, “Entrails of You” from Suffocation (2006, Relapse)

Death-metal institution Suffocation delivered the goods like they always do, with frontman Frank Mullen hilariously chatting it up between songs and doing a blastbeat motion with his hand that was mimicked by the crowds for the entire weekend.

 

Obituary, “Violence” from Inked in Blood (2014, Relapse)

            One of the headliners that we were the most excited to see, Obituary did not disappoint, in a way. They covered a few new songs plus the usual suspects from their back catalog with dark, chugging riffage and John Tardy’s famous growl, yet they just didn’t seem as tight as we expected.

 

Razor, “Sucker for Punishment” from Open Hostility (1991, Relapse)

Other than seeing huge Razor backpatches on fans’ battle vests throughout the crowd, we really didn’t know much about Razor. This Canadian thrash band only gets together for festivals and one-off appearances, so the crowd was beyond stoked to see them. Kudos to Relapse for their reissued albums!

 

Goatsnake, “Elevated Man” from Black Age Blues (2015, Southern Lord)

Despite having the most gilded pipes of the weekend, Goatsnake vocalist Pete Stahl was the only band member at the fest who wore a Polo shirt onstage—which made him more metal than the unwashed hordes. This set was the only one to feature both harmonica and tambourine as well.

 

Winter, “Servants of the Warsmen” from Into Darkness (1990, Nuclear Blast)

What happens when a ’90s band is asked to play MDF but has only one album? They play that one album, and Winter has become experts at reproducing their sole release. Influential doom from a truly cvlt band, but we wish they had—at the very least—a sophomore album in the works!

 

Neurosis, “At the Well” from Honor Found in Decay (2012, Neurot Recordings)

Since they announced their retirement from extensive touring, Neurosis has become extremely sought after to play festivals. They’re also one of the few metal bands that started in the ’80s that have actually gotten better over the years without simply retreading their back catalog. Smothering doom!

 

Amorphis, “Black Winter Day” from Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994, Relapse)

Sunday’s headliners brought the frigid folktales of Finland to us sweaty festivalgoers. Amorphis played their pivotal Tales album in its entirety, and frontman Tomi Joutsen entraced the crowd like the professional that he is. All this, plus an urgent cover of “Vulgar Necrolatry” from their early days as Abhorrence for those Privilege of Evil adherents!

 

Cacophonous shout-outs to Chris Dick, Billy Gamble, Kevin Stewart-Panko, Sean Palmerston, Gordon Conrad, Ian Christe, Magnus Henriksson, bootleg patch vendors, and the lovely staff at Crazy John’s and Zombie BBQ! Here’s to MDF 2017!

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016 Maryland DeathFest 2014

On the hotel nightstand.  In the drawer:  Gideon's Satanic Bible.

On the hotel nightstand. In the drawer: Gideon’s Satanic Bible.

For this episode, your intrepid metalhead Chris made his way down to Baltimore for MDF XII, and while mourning Spence’s absence, he drank in the synergistic vibe of the diverse crowd and hung out with Chris Dick of Decibel and Billy Gamble of Dig. The weather was amazing: sunny but cool for the leather-clad folks and that guy wearing only sneakers and a custom-made Death’s Symbolic Speedo. Billy was the only one of us who had an all-access pass, so he got to see Incantation, Asphyx, The Church of Pungent Stench, et al. at the smaller venues, while the two Chrises had to settle for the Edison lot only for the mainstage bands. Maybe the promoters will eventually have all the stages in one place, like a real festival! Special high-fives to Gordon Conrad, Sean Palmerston, Kevin Stewart-Panko, Ian Christe, and Magnus Henriksson! All the following songs were played live and are in semi-chronological order:

“Cold” from At the Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul (1995, Earache)

Arguably the most anticipated reunion of the year, these Gothenburg metal pioneers—the ones who put the “S” in NWOSDM—blasted through a treasure trove of gems to top off Friday’s events. Drummer Adrian Erlandsson missed some beats and dragged a bit through the first half of the set, but “Under the Serpent Sun,” “Windows,” “Blinded by Fear,” and “Kingdom Gone” were top-notch. Frontman Tomas Lindberg was nice enough to hang out with us while watching bands throughout the fest, too!

“Zombie Attack” from Tankard’s Zombie Attack (1986, Noise)

These German thrash stalwarts and self-proclaimed ‘Kings of Beer’ have released 16 full-lengths about brewskis since 1986—that’s more than one new album every 2 years! Much like Sacred Reich at last year’s fest, Tankard provided much comic relief in a set highlighted by “A Girl Called Cerveza,” “Ice-Olation,” “Die with a Beer in Your Hand,” and “Stay Thirsty!” Even funnier than the massive crowd sing-alongs were the choruses when frontman Andreas Geremia lifted his shirt and thumped his beergut with the mic to the beat of the tune. By the time of their finale, the eponymous “(Empty) Tankard,” we all wished for more…much more.

“Merciless Death” from Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends (1986, Combat)

What’s most amazing about these old-school L.A. thrashers is that drummer Gene Hoglan—who’s played in practically every band from Death to Dethklok—nailed every stroke and never broke a sweat. Since 1986’s Darkness Descends gets name-checked by lots of bands, the band stuck to that album (“Darkness Descends,” “Merciless Death,” “Perish in Flames,” “The Burning of Sodom”) with a few chestnuts (“We Have Arrived,” “Time Does Not Heal,” “Welcome to the Slaughter House”) in the mix. Word is that a new album is on the horizon, too!

“Neolithic” from Nocturnus’ The Key (1991, Earache)

Yeah, Nocturnus haven’t released anything since Ethereal Tomb, which resulted from a brief reunion in 2000. Original drummer/vocalist Mike Browning got this line-up together, but legally he’s not allowed to use the Nocturnus name, hence Nocturnus AD. Even though they were one of the first DM bands to incorporate keyboards, the tuneage sounded muddled as they chugged through The Key in its entirety. Browning was the original drummer for Morbid Angel, however, and after flubbing the first take, they successfully covered “Chapel of Ghouls” as their set closer. But does that mean they have to pay royalties twice?

Best T-shirt award:  guy with Gorguts Colored Sands parody. Best hat award:  Chris, who just popped out of a Viet Kong foxhole.

Best T-shirt award: guy with Gorguts Colored Sands parody.
Best hat award: Chris, who just popped out of a Viet Kong foxhole.

“The Longships Are Coming” from Unleashed’s Sworn Allegiance (2004, Century Media)

The longship definitively arrived at MDF with the Viking visage of Johnny Hedlund at the helm. Unleashed gave us one of the fest’s strongest sets, though we’d’ve preferred to hear their older death metal; they played nothing from their 1991 debut, and only “Never Ending Hate” from 1992’s Shadows in the Deep. Still, “To Asgaard We Fly,” “Death Metal Victory,” and “Wir Kapitulieren Niemals” slayed as usual…but three cuts from Midvinterblot? Seriously.

Soilent Green is (texting) people!

Soilent Green is (texting) people!

“Sewn Mouth Secrets” from Soilent Green’s Sewn Mouth Secrets (1998, Relapse)

Soilent Green live? Aren’t they too busy between guitarist Brian Patton’s Eyehategod and frontman Ben Falgoust’s Goatwhore tour schedules? Guitar strings shredded and snare snaps buzzed as Falgoust worked the crowd in fine form with their frenetic swamp-grind lockstep. The manic hordes were treated to “Build Fear,” It Was Just an Accident,” “Antioxidant,” plus “Numb Around the Heart” from that forgotten 2006 Sulaco split. Eyes rolled back in sockets of kvlt fans as the band played the first few notes of “Slapf**k” from their debut…tiiiiiight!

“This Place Is Poison” from Graves at Sea’s This Place Is Poison (2014, Eolian Empire)

Frankly, seeing Graves at Sea on a mainstage kinda blew minds on Sunday. This Portland, Oregon-based band has only released splits and EPs—yep, zero full-length releases in over 10 years. Yet they completely perforated eardrums with their numbing Yob-like sludge/doom. They rumbled through both cuts (“Confession” and “Betting on Black”) from their split with Sourvein, “This Place Is Poison,” and “Praise the Witch” from their Documents of Grief EP. We would’ve loved to hear their recent Black Sabbath cover of “Lord of This World,” but we can/will wait until next time.

“Le Toit Du Monde” from Gorguts’ Colored Sands (2013, Season of Mist)

Seeing Gorguts live nowadays is amazing, but seeing Gorguts boasting Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston from Dysrhythmia is even more so. Luc Lemay and co. are still playing difficult tech-metal but doing it very well. The setlist stuck to selections from the remarkable Colored Sands album, though the band also threw in death classics “Orphans of Sickness,” “Inverted,” and a rousing finale of “Obscura.” Their #1 fan was the guy in the smartly homemade Colored Sands T-shirt, though.

“Solitude” from Candlemass’ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986, Black Dragon)

Obviously we haven’t kept up with doom originators Candlemass in quite some time, since Mats Levén was hired as the new singer after Solitude Aeturnus’ Robert Lowe was kicked out of the band in June 2012 due to poor live performances. Regardless, these Swedes had a tremendous stage presence and an eye-popping light show, and they stayed close to Messiah Marcolin-era material with “Mirror Mirror,” “Bewitched,” and “The Bells of Acheron.” With the exception of 2007’s “Emperor of the Void,” the rest were all late-‘80s selections, and man, does Levén have the pipes!

No, it isn't Ed Norton on a juice diet.  It's only Aaron Stainthorpe.

No, it isn’t Ed Norton on a juice diet. It’s only Aaron Stainthorpe.

“She Is the Dark” from My Dying Bride’s The Light at the End of the World (1999, Peaceville)

During a head-scratching set from Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, a bold fan yelled, “Where’s the ‘death’ in Deathfest?!?” Our sentiments exactly! But My Dying Bride were due to change that. After 17 years, our favorite UK doom ‘n’ gloomsters finally played on American soil again, and the anticipation was electric. Frontman Aaron Stainthorpe walked onstage, wearing a shirt and tie and fake blood dripping down his arms. Ripping through a setlist of crowd favorites—“Like Gods of the Sun,” “Turn Loose the Swans,” “The Dreadful Hours,” “The Cry of Mankind”—the band efficiently floored the sparse audience that stayed around to see the final act. Shudder to think that MDB are the only crusaders of the Peaceville Three who’ve never strayed from the path!

Here are our Top 10 crossed-finger predictions for MDF 2015:

  1. Massacre – with a strong new album Back From Beyond, they should’ve played this year!
  2. Loudblast – see #1.
  3. Spazztic Blurr or Lawnmower Deth – for comic relief. Think about it; it would be brilliant.
  4. Bolt Thrower – where they actually play a main stage this time.
  5. Solitude Aeturnus – why not, since Robert Lowe’s out of Candlemass?
  6. Pitchshifter – playing only classics, with nothing older than, say, 1993’s Desensitized.
  7. Mindrot – special one-off set to perform 1995’s Dawning in its entirety.
  8. Botch – special one-off set to perform 1999’s We Are the Romans in its entirety.
  9. Dystopia – not a stretch, since vocalist Dino Sommese is currently singing for Noothgrush.
  10. Acid Bath –will probably never, ever happen, but we can still hope.
I'm totally taking my family next year.  But mom won't be wearing her Pentagram Ass Cheek pants.  Hopefully.

I’m totally taking my family next year. But mom won’t be wearing her Pentagram Ass Cheek pants. Hopefully.

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014 Best of 2013

[Editor’s note:  Spencer was really lame and did not post this on time.  Metal Urges as a whole practiced due diligence in preparing, recording, and even writing this post on time.  Shame on you, Spencer]

We’re back with another year-end list, and this time we’re almost on time! This was another big year for reunions that resulted in new albums (for starters, Carcass and Broken Hope, both of whom made this list), old bands with amazing albums (Monster Magnet, Flotsam & Jetsam, Year of No Light, Gorguts, Immolation, Pyrexia, Autopsy), and relative newbies that totally owned the place (In Solitude, Watertank, Purson). There was a supergroup of note (Corrections House), and even a well-publicized swan song that didn’t suck (Cathedral). And no Converge this year to screw up our list, yay! Hopefully you’ll agree that our list meets and exceeds your expectations of what qualifies as metal…

Devourment:  their future's so bright, well. . .

Devourment: their future’s so bright, well. . .

#10: “Heaving Acid” from Devourment’s Conceived in Sewage (Relapse)

This quartet from Dallas, Texas has been slaughtering souls since 1995. Produced by Hate Eternal’s Erik Rutan at his Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida (not Russia), Conceived in Sewage is their 5th full-length (4 studio albums plus 1 compilation) and their 1st for Relapse Records. Put yer deth on, minions!

Batillus or Predator?  Perhaps some other hydra-like beast.  You decide. Photo by Greg C

Batillus or Predator? Perhaps some other hydra-like beast. You decide.
Photo by Greg C http://www.gregcphotography.com/

#9: “Concrete” from Batillus’ Concrete Sustain (Seventh Rule)

Pronounced “Leh-nerd Skin-nerd” (just kidding, it’s “buh-TILL-us”), Batillus is an industrial metal band from New York City. Originally started as an instrumental trio in 2007, later incorporating black/death metal vocals, synths, and samples, Concrete Sustain is their 2nd full-length…and it is a whopper!

#8: “Pouring Out the Hatred” from Grime’s Deteriorate (Forcefield/Mordgrimm)

Grime is from Italy, but not the ancient Roman-laden parts: these guys hail from Trieste, a port city in the northernmost corner of the Adriatic Sea bordering Slovenia. They play Grief/Noothgrush-styled sludge doom, replete with creepy voice samples and absolutely smothering chordage. The cover art for Deteriorate is by Jason Barnett, a Texas-based street artist who’s also done covers for Noothgrush and Cleric.

Grime

Grime.

#7: “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny” from The Ocean’s Pelagial (Metal Blade)

Based in Berlin, Germany, The Ocean is more of a collective: guest musicians contribute to each album, along with the core members of the group, led by guitarist Robin Staps. Pelagial is their 7th full-length and is a concept album about the ocean: each song is named after a deeper layer of water, and the music gets denser and darker as the album progresses. The cut we chose, “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny,” is the 2nd track and is very melodic, since it’s closest to the surface.

Th Oceans contained in a pool.  Wow, that's like poetry, man.

The Oceans contained in a pool. Wow, that’s like poetry, man.

Doom kings we call Kongh.

Doom kings we call Kongh.

#6: “Rendered Into Lard” from Broken Hope’s Omen of Disease (Century Media)

After a decade of inactivity, Chicago’s death dealers Broken Hope reunite with a new vocalist and release their 6th full-length and one of their best, Omen of Disease. The deluxe CD comes with a bonus DVD chronicling the band’s career—which is absolutely essential for any death-metal fan—and included is a chapter on Joe Ptacek, their original vocalist who died in 2010.

#5: “The Portals” from Kongh’s Sole Creation (Agonia)

Formed in 2004, Kongh hail from Nässjö, a small town in southern Sweden (hometown of the Backyard Babies, if that matters). Their 2nd album, 2009’s Shadows of the Shapeless, was one of our top albums of that year, but we didn’t really dig this new album until the 5th or 6th spin. Sole Creation is so different from Shadows: where Shadows was more post-hardcore doom like Lento or Callisto, Sole Creation is more head-down doom like Yob mixed with High on Fire.

#4: “In Remorse” from Author & Punisher’s Women & Children (Seventh Rule)

One-man band Tristan Shone does it again with his 5th full-length, Women & Children. It’s less brutal industrial than last year’s Ursus Americanus, but still just as infectious. We have an exclusive interview with Tristan to be featured as a future episode, so stay tuned!

#3: “In Awe Of” from Cult of Luna’s Vertikal (Indie Recordings)

Hailing from Umeå, Sweden, Cult of Luna has long been a proponent of the harsher end of atmospheric post-hardcore. Vertikal is their 7th full-length and the first in which they’ve slowed things down to incorporate more melodic sections, like Jesu or Hyatari. They also released a companion EP, titled Vertikal II, with extra songs and a Justin Broadrick remix (!).

#2: “Winter” from Secrets of the Sky’s To Sail Black Waters (Kolony)

An amazing band from Oakland, California, Secrets of the Sky burst onto the scene with their award-winning debut, To Sail Black Waters. They were originally signed to Gravedancer Records, but the label went under and ripped off the band in the process; Kolony Records emerged from the dust to release the majestic new album. To Sail Black Waters is what we wish Novembers Doom became, instead of the overtly melancholic doom that they’ve choked out over the past few albums.

And our #1 pick: “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” from Carcass’ Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

The godfathers of UK grindcore & melodic death metal return with their first album in 17 years! Surgical Steel sounds more vicious than their genre-defining 1993 opus, Heartwork—may be their best album EVER. We’ve got a big surprise planned for Episode #015 as a continuation of our death metal theme…so stay tuned!

Best Carcass ever?  Hmm. . .

Best Carcass ever? Hmm. . .

 

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