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Sadly, here is where we start reaching the beginning of the end, the last day of Maryland Deathfest. After icing my foot, I hurried off with a friend over at the fest because we had another friend who had their car short out and we were coming to the rescue. Conveniently for them at least, they were parked right in front of the Edison Lot, so when their problem was dealt with, we power walked inside to catch the opener for the day, Australia’s Denouncement Pyre. I had been a huge fan of them since I had heard Almighty Arckanum in 2013, so when they were announced for MDF, I made their set a priority, and it was well worth the struggle of waking up early on a Sunday. From there came the band Shed the Skin, featuring members of Incantation and Ringworm, and other Australian black metallers Nocturnal Graves. During these bands, I went around on another food hunt, and found a stand in the lot that was selling deep-fried dumplings filled with different things. I spent almost the rest of my food budget on food just from this place, those deep-fried cheesesteak balls were some of the best food I could find during the fest.
Once I devoured those, I went up to the barrier to get a good spot for Wombbath to get my daily dose of Swedish death metal, and their début album Internal Caustic Torments was one of the first old school death metal records I heard, so I was very happy to find out they not only reunited, but were playing MDF! These guys haven’t missed a beat, I would not have been able to tell that they had broken up with how well they sounded and performed. When they were done, Desaster came thrashing out of the woodwork to the pleasant surprise of many, putting on a fantastic set and not missing a beat with their song. Around this point in the day, clouds began to form and the rain began to start, but that didn’t stop Bongzilla, or as frontman Mike Makela said during their set, “Weedeater without the Weedeater”, from busting out the fuzzy stoner metal that had been lacking from the fest since Thursday. We were then treated to even more delectable death metal courtesy of Sweden’s Interment, whose eerie guitar tone and almost d-beat style drumming makes the band sound like they could be the soundtrack of a horror movie, which is something I can really dig.
Once Interment finished, the rain began to really pick up, and instead of sticking it out, I decided to head over to the Soundstage, where I happened to catch Putrescence, some quality Canadian grindcore. I didn’t know much about him, and they put on a pretty decent performance, but unfortunately I went on to find out that MDF was their last performance as a band, so I’m kind of glad to have caught them when I had the chance. After them came Test, who were a two piece grindcore band from Brazil. They honestly blew me away with their performance, because it was so unique for a band like them. One minute they would just be noodling around and seeming like they were going to do some sort of an indie song, then the drummer would just start blasting as fast as he possibly could with the guitarist following suit. They would just flawlessly mix from sounding so light and smooth into relentless, muddy, disgusting metal, and it sounded just incredible. They definitely won over the crowd with their set. I proceeded to pound back some water and walk over to Rams Head to see Phobocosm setting up for their set. Even though their sound was a little muddy from the overbearing bass, they still put on a hell of a performance.
Once they were done, I went back to Soundstage to catch one of my most hyped sets of the weekend, Tragedy. Now, I have been a Tragedy fan for years, but unfortunately missed every chance I have had to see them when they have come around, so I was not letting this opportunity slip through my fingers. When those first notes to ‘Conflicting Ideas’ came in, I knew I was gonna be in for a rowdy time. After getting out my elation in the pit, I left to Rams Head, because they unfortunately had to put Mitochondrion on at the same time, and I’ve been waiting to see them even longer than I have wanted to see Tragedy! Mitochondrion were destructive, and somehow sounded even cleaner live than on record, which for their style of death metal, is rather impressive to pull off. Once their set ended, I decided to finally have dinner at the most illustrious of establishments: Subway. Once I got my fuel, I went to Soundstage to prepare myself for the crust overlords Doom to take the stage. As soon as they started, the whole front area turned into mass chaos, with beers, bodies, and objects just flying all over the venue, the pit turning into an ice rink from all of the spilled drinks. Mysterious odors aside, Doom’s set was incredible and probably the funnest of the weekend. Once they finished, I went to Rams Head to catch the last band of the weekend, Brazil’s own Mystifier. Mystifier falls into the category of bands I have heard of before, but know nothing about musically that blow me away, which is something that MDF seems to have a plethora of. Their fast and angry style of black metal is the type that is always right up my alley, and even though I was absolutely exhausted, I got really into their set.
With the last note of Mystifier’s set, MDF XIV had officially come to a close. This year, they had a post-show matinee as well, but for many of us, that was the end. At least until next year, for the 15th anniversary of Maryland Deathfest! I can only wonder who they are going to book for next year, but regardless of who they get, I’m gonna work my hardest to make my way down again, and I encourage anyone to do the same. If you even have the thought “Maybe I should go down this year…”, just do it, it’s worth the trip.
WORDS BY JASON MEJIA
Not wanting to miss a thing, I woke up bright and early to go on a hunt for food then head to the Edison Lot. Roaming the streets, I went to a restaurant called Big Apple Tree café, which offered deliciously cheap food and some of the best fries I’ve ever had. After gorging myself, I sped over to get myself a decent spot for South Carolina OSDM revivalists Horrendous, who opened their set with their rager “The Stranger” and were one of my personal highlights of the weekend. After them came some actual old school death metal courtesy of Sweden’s Centinex and Chicago natives Novembers Doom. Alien death metallers Wormed came out after the finished and went straight in, with their technical yet brutal riffing and robotic voices throwing the crowd into a frenzy. Their set consisted mostly of material from their new album, Krighsu, but they did play some older tunes like ‘Nucleon’ as well, which really god the crowd going.
When they finished, I went to buy myself a delicious sno-ball from the snowcone truck set up in Edison, which was a refreshing way to fuel up considering how hot it was outside on the concrete. I then sauntered over to the Soundstage while on the hunt for some fine dinner, which I found at downtown spot Chicken Rico, right across the street from the Soundstage. A fat burrito and fries for $8? Sign me up! After eating, I went inside to the venue, which essentially became my second home for the 4 days, and The Afternoon Gentlemen were getting ready to start. Having seen these guys just days earlier opening for Weekend Nachos, I was excited to see them again, and their set at MDF was even better, albeit less crazy of a crowd. Ohio grinders Hemdale went on after them, and their grimy style of deathgrind got the crowd moving hard, and their preachings between songs of “Fuck The Internet” being echoed throughout the rest of the night.
German fastcore juggernauts Yacopsae kept the party going, with circle pits and stage dives abound. Unfortunately, this was where things went a little over the top, and I ended up trapped at the bottom of a 20-man pile up, ending up with a pretty gnarly foot injury. However, I wasn’t gonna let that stop me, so I got out, put some ice on it for about 30 minutes, then hopped right back into the fray for both Magrudergrind (who brought out Joe Denunzio from Infest to do guest vocals at the end) and Finnish HM-2 maniacs Rotten Sound, with their buzzsaw guitars and relentless blasting making the venue into a warzone. When they finished, the adrenaline began to wear off, and I’d become a hobbling flamingo all around the streets. Due to my injuries, I opted to head over to Rams Head and see Angelcorpse since they had seats, and while many were ecstatic to see them, I was only really familiar with them by name. They tore into their set with aggressive solos and nonstop in-your-face death metal, and they were only a three-piece, which caught me off guard considering how intense their sound was. They brought night 2 to a close, and I limped and skipped the way back, getting myself ready for day 3.
Waking up and seeing that my foot was multiple shades of purple and yellow should have been more alarming for me, but I decided it wasn’t gonna keep me from enjoying myself, so I iced it then went back for round 3 of shenanigans. Kicking off day 3 were Australia’s Hellbringer, whose fresh mix of black metal and thrash was a good way to wake up the crowd! After them came Sweden’s own Demonical, who I caught much of, but the Pad That I bought from one of the vendors unfortunately did not agree all too well with me, and I fled over to the Soundstage for some relief. After, I ended up hanging around for a little while and caught Whoresnation from France and Priapus from North Carolina, two bands from two different areas, both providing their own 1-2 punch of grind to the face.
Once they were done, I decided to head back to the Edison Lot and ee what was going on and find friends. Luckily I made it just in time to see California thrash legends Hirax take the stage and deliver a blisteringly fast set in equally as hot weather. The thrash didn’t stop there, with Arizona’s Atrophy coming out and delivering their own style of thrash metal. I personally wasn’t into their set, so I decided to head over to HeadBangin Hot Dogs and got myself a Vegan hot dog to help curb the hunger pangs along with a strawberry lemonade from the Asian food stand to cool off from the heat. I eventually went back to the Soundstage and caught the last bit of Severed Head of State, featuring Todd Burdette of Tragedy/His Hero Is Gone fame, while waiting to the reason I came back, Despise You, to come on stage. The powerviolence OG’s came out to a rabid crowd, and their fast, angry, unrelenting style of hardcore brought everyone to go insane from the first note until the very end.
The insanity didn’t stop there, with General Surgery coming out and busting out the chainsaw sounds with their HM-2 tinged deathgrind while dressed up and coated in fake blood. As soon as they stopped, I ran to Rams Head to catch Vancouver’s Auroch, who shares members with fellow contemporaries Mitochondrion, and sonically it is very easy to see, with the overwhelming, dark guitar tone and nonstop blasting, but slightly thrashier than them. I then went back to the Soundstage to catch the crazy Spaniards Haemorrhage, who were all decked out in doctor’s outfits and scrubs except for the lead singer, who was coated in fake blood running around with a plastic bloody leg. From there, things just went to the next level, with Infest just going absolutely bonkers. Even though they started about 20 minutes later than planned, they just went right into things and did not stop at all, with trash cans and people going flying. I unfortunately had to leave before it ended to catch the second half of Grave Miasma’s set, whose doomier approach to recently growing trend of cavernous death metal was much welcome, and incredibly heavy, with the band having a very dominating stage presence, playing with little lighting and letting the music speak for itself.
When they finished, the stage crew then began to set up for Dragged Into Sunlight. I had heard a lot about their live performances, and I was a big fan of their music, but nothing could have prepared me for what I was to witness. 5 minutes of feedback and noise, with the solitary lighting coming from strobes behind the drummer, the dimmest red stage lights possible, and the candlelight from the animal skull candlestand at the front of the stage. Then, the samples start, the first notes of ‘To Hieron’ begin, and they kick in to what may well have been the heaviest thing that I have ever witnessed. I felt like I was slowly being driven into a state of insanity watching them, with the vitriolic screaming of the vocalist, the lack of lighting, how loud and abrasive they were, and the lack of acknowledgment of the crowd, playing almost entirely with their backs turned. Besides the one drunk guy trying to bombard to the front who eventually got carried out by a multitude of people for his behavior and the pit going on, everyone else was just entrenched into the performance going on in front of us. Near the end, the lights were cut, so the only source was the strobe going off behind the drummer. Their set was easily the highlight of the fest, and may very well have been the best set I’ve seen from a band. Craft went on after them, and while they were good sonically, they didn’t really have much of a stage presence, which really dampened their performance, and after Dragged Into Sunlight, as far as my brain and ears were concerned, we were done for the day.
WORDS BY JASON MEJIA
Pig Destroyer has confirmed upcoming West Coast dates:
Jan 10: El Corazon – Seattle, WA
Mar 20: Constellation Room at The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA (feat. Despise You, ACXDC & Suspect)
Mar 21: The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA (feat. Nails, Despise You, ACXDC & Dead Beat)
Mar 22: DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA – (feat. Ghoul, Despise You, ACXDC & Agenda Of Swine)
May 29-31: Temples Festival – Bristol, UK
Jul 8-12: Obscene Extreme Festival – Trutnov, CZ
Pig Destroyer recently released a two song doom EP entitled Mass & Volume, which was previously available for a limited time as a digital only release, but now reissued on limited edition LP and CD via Relapse Records in October. The album can be streamed in its entirety here.