Tag Archives: Death

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

005 Sweetish Death Metal vol. 1

We’re devoting Episode 005 and every 5th episode hereafter to our favorite death metal, old and new, i.e. anything and everything that one would term as “sweetish.” This time, we’ve paired classic death metal bands with newer bands that were clearly influenced by them:

  • “I’m In Pain,” Obituary’s The End Complete (1992, Roadrunner)

Based in Brandon, Florida, a suburb of Tampa (Death Metal Capital of the World), Obituary is considered a pioneering band in the death metal of the late ’80s/early ’90s. The new band that we paired with Obituary ends this episode…

  • “Secret Face,” Death’s Human (1993, Relativity ) 
  • “Lapse,” Dreaming Dead’s Midnightmares (2012, self-released)
Dreaming Dead

Dreaming Dead pose and/or freak out.

Death is one of the most influential death metal bands, ever! Their fourth album, Human paved the way for technical metal of today. This track is from the 2011 remastered & repackaged re-release from Relapse Records. Dreaming Dead is a L.A. band featuring guitarist/vocalist Elizabeth Schall, whose gruff voice sounds a lot like Death’s Chuck Schuldiner! Midnightmares, their second album, features cover art by renowned metal album cover artists Travis Smith, who’s done covers scores of metal bands, from Anathema to Zimmers Hole.

  • “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay,” Autopsy’s Mental Funeral (1991, Peaceville)
  • “The Origin of Disease,” Aborted’s Global Flatline (2011, Century Media)

Autopsy is another super-influential death metal band, though they chose slower tempos over extreme speed of other DM bands. This track was originally from their sophomore album, 1991’s Mental Funeral, though this remastered version is from the excellent 2001 compilation, Torn From the Grave, both on Peaceville Records. Recording since the late ’90s, Aborted is a Belgian band that conceptually sounds more like Carcass but with heavy Autopsy undertones. This album (their 9th!) features the guitarist and drummer from Abigail Williams and a bunch of guest vocalists, including the dudes from Misery Index, Rotten Sound, and The Black Dahlia Murder.

  • “Wasteland of Terror,” Asphyx’s The Rack (1991, Century Media) 
  • “The Unseen Hand,” Vore’s Gravehammer (2011, self-released)
Vore from Arkansas

Lookin’ all concrete and stuff: Vore

Pioneering death metal from the Netherlands, Asphyx has been crushing skulls since the early ’90s. This track features original vocalist Martin van Drunen, who quit in 1993 but has since returned to the band. Vore hail from Arkansas, and Gravehammer is their fourth self-released album of uncompromising death, released in December of last year. Vore just signed to German label AFM Records, who will re-release Gravehammer worldwide in July.

  • “Rapture,” Morbid Angel’s Covenant (1993, Giant) 
  • “The Art of Redemption,” Hate Eternal’s Phoenix Amongst the Ashes (2011, Metal Blade)

Along with Obituary and Death, Morbid Angel paved the way for the death metal of today. This track is taken from 1993’s Covenant, the biggest selling death metal album of its time. Covenant also marked the first time a death metal band was signed to a major label, Giant Records. Hate Eternal is helmed by former Morbid Angel guitarist Erik Rutan. He opened his own Mana Recording Studio in St. Pete and has produced a slew of metal bands, including both Cannibal Corpse and Cannabis Corpse (!), Six Feet Under, Goatwhore, Soilent Green, Denial Fiend, Malevolent Creation, et al.

  • “Reduced to Sludge,” Funerus’ Reduced to Sludge (2011, Ibex Moon)
Funerus band photo

Straight outta the bathtub drain: Funerus

Tri-state metallers Funerus plays Obituary-styled death, with fabulously guttural vocals from bassist Jill McAtee, wife of John McAtee, founding guitarist of Incantation and president of Ibex Moon Records. John also plays guitar in Funerus; these two win our award for Death Metal Couple of the Year!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,