Maryland Deathfest: Live at Ram’s Head Live & Edison Sound Stage, Baltimore, MD

MDF 2014

 

 

Third Time’s The Charm: Maryland Deathfest XII

 

It finally happened. I had a good, no, GREAT time at Maryland Deathfest. Would’ve been better if I could have seen Garm’s unibrow rustling in concentration, but still, fun. Absolutely free of poorly thought out drinking binges, interpersonal drama, God, and other messy things that prevent you from living like a human, I’m glad to report a success story where I not only saw most of the bands I cared to see, but also was fuckin’ FIERCE in , goddamn. Lookin’ and feelin’ good are only two parts to the complex and variable happening that is America’s biggest metal/hardcore party of the year, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re crying and/or puking, and I’m glad to say I only did the latter once, and it was a party puke making room for more party as opposed to an “I hate myself and will try not to do this again” puke. Awesome. Now let’s talk about some shit.

 

Thursday

 

There’s not much to say bandwise about Thursday, because fuck New York traffic. Slapshot got it right, they shouldn’t apologise for that shit. Just take a look at this monstrous eyesore I got treated to at the Port Authority station.

 

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A motherfucking Cake Boss Café. Reaffirms misanthropy like little else. The icing on this cake of fuck is the presence of televisions airing the damn show to the lobotomised patrons. And don’t get me wrong: my brief sojourn to Times Square allowed me to bear witness to a lot of other unspeakable horrors including a strip club/body sushi bar/steak joint (unholy!) but it pains me to even think of the massive overcrowding and overstylised tomfoolery that is that den of iniquity. It takes 30 minutes to get out of that gods accursed necropolis, even with clear traffic, so avoid at all costs all the time.

 

Now that I’m done bitching about long bus rides (and it was long), I’d like to take a moment to give a HUGE shoutout to a certain Peter Willis for setting me up with a couch to crash on the entire MDF weekend, via couchsurfing.org. Highly recommended if you can’t afford a hotel or just don’t want to deal with one anyway. This guy saved my life, and unfortunately I didn’t think to get a picture with him, but here’s his dresser clandestinely snapped pre-cleanup because he’s a party animal.

 

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To Baltimore natives, Modelo and Natty Boh are water, and Strong Bow Cider is their apple juice.

 

So without further ado (and I’m not even sure about the ado), I made my sweet little way to the Ram’s Head, and I must say it’s a tad fancier than I would have thought, being called Ram’s Head. I had in mind a bar shitty enough to be Deathfest material, but that was only the bowels. The outside has a fancy ass fountain with lights that make it look like Vegas or someshit. Too cool, dude. And it’s near the most brutal Holocaust memorial you’ll ever see.

 

 

Isn’t that fucking metal? And not just because it’s cast in iron or whatever, but because it’s a bunch of bodies burning, twisting, writhing, and melting in spiritless agony. Forever. Fuckin’ rad. Boston’s glass tubes full of steam can’t compare.

 

Appropriately in the mood for Coffins after some rituals near this most blesséd monument to misery, I stepped face-first into the sludge.

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The embodiment of dark, slow and heavy, and a direct genetic predecessor to Winter’s death/doom monstrosity, Japan’s Coffins is a contender for one of the most disgustingly oppressive metal bands out there. And they’re actually good at what they do, too. The distortion serves not as a cover-up for being shitty musicians (they aren’t), but creates that foreboding grave-like atmosphere we sick fucks need to feel alive. Now one member heavier after moving Ryo from drums to frontman and getting a new stickman during the making of their punishing new album The Fleshland (Relapse), they brought out plenty of hits from the hellish Buried Death, my personal favourite (though suspiciously missing ‘Cadaver Blood’, why?). You’d be amazed at how fast a crowd can get moving even though the music runs like a tank draped in human bodies. Easily one of the more brutal pits of the weekend. Nearly lost my shit —as in my possessions, as you know I went ham— but it was totally worth it. “See you tomorrow”, Bungo or Ryo quipped as they signed off, with a smile.

 

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Following with another hard C to the jaw, Nawlins’ own Crowbar came up to the plate and delivered sorrowful Southern sermons to our congregation of freaks.

 

 

There they were chugging along dutifully onstage, I’m looking at guitarist Matthew Brunson as the blues flowed freely, and suddenly there’s a scrawny-looking guy feeling the fury of Kirk Windstein’s foot to his face. Now everyone’s mind is in “what the fuck?” mode for a moment, and conflicting accounts of the “what” rose faster than weeds outside a shitty project building. Apparently a fan got onstage, got tackled by security into Kirk, which then prompted Kirk’s “what the fuck” mode, and subsequently a violent reaction that was probably not needed, in light of the whole Randy Blythe kerfuffle. Despite this hiccup, however, they finished their set like gentlemen, and all was well. No clue what happened with the guy that undoubtedly still has a shoeprint in his forehead, but I hope that wasn’t the highlight of his weekend.

 

I mean, aside from that, the set went well. I made a man of myself by throwing the shit down during ‘Cemetery Angels’ in a goddamn blue miniskirt. Get on that level, chumps.

 

Switzerland’s Triptykon was supposed to headline, but due to the sudden and tragic death of band friend and artist, H.R. Giger, and the subsequent scheduling of his funeral, they couldn’t make it, though the MDF XII shirts tell a different story.

 

 

Maryland Deathfest on Facebook

 

WORDS BY SEAN PIERRE-ANTOINE

CONCERT PHOTOS BY HILLARIE JASON