For the 13th year, the inner harbor area of Baltimore is turned into what is known as Maryland Deathfest. This year being my first time, I went all out and made sure I was present for all 5 days/nights. After the hours upon hours of partying and headbanging, I had found an annual tradition that I almost feel obligated to return to year by year. Of course maybe not for everyday of the festival, but the experience alone is worth it.
Upon arriving in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon with a few friends, it did not take long to find all of the metal heads. Black t-shirts, denim vests, leather boots, jean shorts, and long-hair filled the streets and hotels. After unpacking in our rooms and wandering the streets, the Ottobar became filled with excited fans, ready to hear some great death metal from bands like Funerus, Drawn and Quartered, Massacre, and Incantation. The Ottobar had a bar tender just selling beers out of basins outside of the regular full bar. This served to be quiet convenient in between sets to go outside for fresh air then on the way back in, refill for the next band. Incantation certainly stole the night for me as I was able to see them for the first time a month earlier at New England Metal And Hardcore Festival, but on a very short set. Headlining at the Ottobar, this offered me another look at these death metal pioneers and I certainly enjoyed them more the second time around.Devourment, by Hillarie Jason Photography Origin, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Avoiding the first night parties, my pals and I woke up early and found a local diner for breakfast to consume as many carbs and cups of coffee as we could in preparation for the day ahead. The plan today was to watch some death metal over at The Baltimore Soundstage and then make our way over to Rams Head Live for late night doom. The Soundstage is a small, dim lit venue which I found to be perfect as this venue typically held the hardcore/grindcore bands for the festival. Merch tables and bars lined the outer walls which I am sure made a killing throughout the weekend. The lineup consisted of Mortal Decay, Origin, Internal Bleeding, Skinless, Devourment, and of course, Mobb Deep. One of my favorite moments from the Soundstage on this day was Jason Keyser of Origin/ex-Skinless jumped on stage with Skinless to perform one of the Keyser-era songs off of Trample the Weak, Hurtle the Dead. After a quick bite to eat in between Soundstage and Rams Head Live, I made my way into the back entrance of the venue. This venue was hidden away inside the building and actually had three floors with fans hanging over railings to get a view of the small stage up front. Just as I found a spot in the back on the railing of the second floor, the mighty Conan took to the stage and brought forth one of the heaviest guitar tones I have ever heard live. After getting through a trance inducing set from Ufomammut and a thunderous jam from YOB, it was time to head back to the hotel for some re-cooperation. The next day, we would get to venture to the Edison Lot.
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN