Tag Archives: Vallenfyre

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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003 Best of 2011

End of Level Boss Eklectric

Episode 003 Best of 2011  is Chris’ year-end list as submitted to Exclaim! Magazine.

I love compiling annual lists because (1) it chronicles my own self-discovery of new metal, and (2) it turns on Spence to new bands so that we can share a true hive mentality for at least one episode! This year, my list seems to be even broader than before, mixing relatively disparate subgenres into one big, Jean de Crèvecœur-esque melting pot, to borrow one of my fave S. statements. It runs the gamut of death, doom, stoner, grind, goth, prog, and tech metal, and the countdown is…

#10: “A Thousand Martyrs” from Vallenfyre’s A Fragile King (Century Media). Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh steps up to the mic for the first time for a godly death/doom album with beaucoup PL guitar flourishes.


#9: “All Shall Float” from JuniusReports from the Threshold of Death (Prosthetic). Finally getting the exposure they deserve, Junius are prêt-à-porter for metal fans weaned on The Fixx. Would be a top play on Robert Smith’s iPod if there were any justice in the universe.

#8: “Eyes” from  Alaric’s Alaric (20 Buck Spin). A throwback death-rock band made of members of Bay Area grind/crust outfits? Hell yeah! Alaric answers the burning question of why modern metalheads should indeed worship Killing Joke.

#7: “Midnight Serenade” from Arch/MatheosSympathetic Resonance (Metal Blade). Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos reunites with original Fates vocalist John Arch for 54 minutes of pure prog-metal bliss. Loved Dream Theater back when “Hold Me Under” was on the radio? This is for you.

#6: “G.U.T.” from Believer’s Transhuman (Metal Blade). You may remember this Pennsylvania tech/death-metal band from their salad days on Roadrunner in the early ’90s. They’re back with suntans, two decades of musical maturity, and poised to teach you whippersnappers a lesson in brutality, tech-style. All this and day jobs, too.

#5: “In Death’s Path” from Deadfall’s New Light (Self-released). Deadfall are proponents of the relatively new djent subgenre, onomatopoeia for the start-stop guitar sound popularized by Meshuggah. Expert instrumental tech-metal that makes us wonder why they’re not signed to a label yet.

#4: “Of This Flesh (Novus Deus)” from Nader Sadek’s In the Flesh(Season of Mist). A conceptual artist-turned-musician, this Egyptian-born guitarist plays guttural death metal with Steve Tucker (Morbid Angel) on vocals and Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy) on drums. The best death metal album of the year, hands down.

This is the actual packaging of Graf Orlock’s Doombox EP. It contains a CD and a 10″. Take it out of the sleeve and insert tabs. You will amaze your friends!

#3: “There There” from Thou’s The Archer & the Owle (Robotic Empire). This unconventional Baton Rouge doom outfit combines death, black, sludge, and ambient metal into a heady brew of awesome. Irrefutably the most phenomenal doom band in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

#2: “1993; A Week Before Graduation” from Graf Orlock’s Doombox (Vitriol). Film school dropouts Graf Orlock—Gorlock to the converted—wed movie samples to punk/grind blasts, with all lyrics cribbed from movie scripts. The Doombox packaging is a full-sized pop-up ’80s boom box. Like Killwhitneydead covering Napalm Death…utterly titanic.

And the #1 song of the year: “Thee Absurd” from End of Level BossEklectric (Exile on Mainstream). Wrongfully lumped in the stoner genre, End of Level Boss are so much more. Their bad-ass band name veils rippling, EBow-ed chords and rock melody with enough hooks to land a school of trophy sport fish. Undeniably the years’ most creative metal album!

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