Tag Archives: Unleashed

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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010 Sweetish Death Metal vol. 2

Continuing our SDM series (this happens every 5th episode because there is too much great death metal out there for us to cover in single-band episodes), this episode’s theme is “new material from the genre’s leaders”: every one of these albums was released in 2012. Plus, this is really a tribute to all these classic DM bands!

“Sarcophagic Frenzy” from Cannibal Corpse’s Torture (Metal Blade)
Hard to believe that Torture is Cannibal’s 12th studio album since their 1990 debut, Eaten Back to Life! These Buffalo, New York natives later moved to Tampa to pioneer the “Tampa Death Metal” scene and record with producer Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios. Cannibal still sounds as vital as ever, despite the band’s creative nadir in the late ’90s after founding vocalist Chris Barnes departed to form Six Feet Under. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz and bassist Alex Webster are the only original members still in the band. Watch them slay on the Decibel tour this summer with Napalm Death and Immolation!

Grave

Grave

“Encountering the Divine” from Grave’s Endless Procession of Souls (Century Media)
This is Grave’s 10th studio album since their 1991 debut, Into the Grave. This Swedish group is considered royalty among old-school Swedish death along with Unleashed, Entombed and Dismember, and guitarist/vocalist Ola Lindgren is the only original member still in the band.

“Gathering the Batallions” from Unleashed’s Odalheim (Nuclear Blast)
Odalheim is Unleashed’s 11th studio album since their 1991 debut, Where No Life Dwells. Like Grave, this is another Swedish band which paved the way for the NWOSDM movement. Bassist/vocalist Johnny Hedlund and drummer Anders Schultz are the only original members still in the band; in fact, Hedlund played in an early line-up of Nihilist, which spawned Entombed.

“The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu” from Nile’s At the Gate of Sethu (Nuclear Blast)
This is Nile’s 7th studio album since their 1995 debut EP, Festivals of Atonement. This band is from our home state of South Carolina in Greenville and quickly gained recognition for their wild Egyptian mythology references. Guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders is the only original member still in the band. As opposed to Unleashed, this guitar solo from Nile is all about speed and fretboard gymnastics, though the song gets slightly theatrical near the end.

It is such a joy to play guitar in Nile.

It is such a joy to play guitar in Nile.

“Red-Skinned Scapegoat” from Cryptopsy’s Cryptopsy (Cryptopsy/Candlelight)
This self-titled record is Cryptopsy’s 7th studio album since their 1994 debut, Blasphemy Made Flesh. One of Canada’s most popular metal bands, Cryptopsy hail from Montréal, and guitarist Jon Levasseur and drummer Flo Mounier (considered one of metal’s top skinsmen) are the only original members still with the group. This self-titled album is considered a back-to-their-roots release of the tech-death that made them famous. Last year, they also released a two-CD compilation with three new songs, The Best of Us Bleed.

“18 Days” from Six Feet Under’s Undead (Metal Blade)
Undead is Six Feet Under’s 9th studio album since their 1995 debut, Haunted. Their 10th album, Unborn, was just released in February of this year. Vocalist Chris Barnes—who left Cannibal Corpse to head SFU—is the only original member still in the band, which once boasted Allen West of Obituary and Terry Butler of Death. Depending on whom you ask, SFU is both worshiped by fans and reviled by critics worldwide. Stay tuned, as there’s a SFU episode in our future!

“Redirect the Evil” from Master’s The New Elite (Pulverised)
The New Elite is Master’s 11th (or 12th, depending on which you’re counting) studio album since their 1990 debut, Master. Guitarist/vocalist Paul Speckmann is the only original member still in the band and is without a doubt one of the hardest working musicians in the metal underground. He hails from Chicago and was a member of Warcry when they were included on the fourth of Metal Blade’s ultra-famous Metal Massacre compilations. He moved to the Czech Republic to pursue his band—how metal is that?!?

Does Asphyx's rehearsal space smell like beer and farts too?  Photo by Dario Dumancic (moltenmagazine.com)

Does Asphyx’s rehearsal space smell like beer and farts too? Photo by Dario Dumancic (moltenmagazine.com)

“Der Landser” from Asphyx’s Deathhammer (Century Media)
Deathhammer is Asphyx’s 8th studio album since their 1991 debut, The Rack, not counting the Crush the Cenotaph EP or the Soulburn record. Vocalist Martin Van Drunen and drummer Bob Bagchus are the only original members still in the band. This group is considered among the top Dutch death/thrash bands of metal’s early years along with Pestilence (Martin Van Drunen sang on the first two Pestilence albums, including their 1989 sophomore release, Consuming Impulse, which was just inducted into the Decibel Hall of Fame by our friend Chris Dick).

“Transcend into Absolute Dissolution” from Incantation’s Vanquish in Vengeance (Listenable)
Vanquish in Vengeance is Incantation’s 9th studio album since their 1992 debut, Onward to Golgotha.
Guitarist John McEntee is the only original member still in the band. Compared to other Northeast DM bands like Immolation, Suffocation and other bands whose names end in -tion, Incantation have consistently released strong DM that never veers off-course. Incantation are also featured in our Episode 011: Best of 2012, so please check that out!

Vanquish in Vengeance album cover.

Vanquish in Vengeance album cover.

“Broken People” from Autopsy’s All Tomorrow’s Funerals (Peaceville)
All Tomorrow’s Funerals is a remastered collection of all four OOP EPs, rarities, and brand new studio recordings from these Bay Area death metal mavens. What we find fascinating about this band is that their sound really hasn’t changed much from their humble beginnings: still raw production, grumbly vocals, etc. This song is a brand-new track from this compilation and still sounds like early ’90s DM! How do they do that?!?

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