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:
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!