Hitting the halfway point of Maryland Deathfest is usually a milestone that no one really notices and those who do will actually not speak of it. No one wants to think the weekend is going to end nor that the end is already halfway here. Instead, hangovers are nursed, more questionable food is consumed, and everyone marches back to Rams Head Live and Baltimore Soundstage for another day of partying. Fortunately for myself and my party of friends, we know how to party but dodge the hangovers. So, we made sure to be on time for Soundstage opening up with the first band playing slightly before four in the afternoon. That included polishing off a bottle of vodka left behind by the previous renters of the Air BnB. Thank you to those unnamed heroes! Continue reading
Memorial Day weekend in the United States is a time to remember our veterans who have served in the country’s military and most will commemorate such an occasion with cookouts. In Baltimore, Maryland, the partying starts a few days before the weekend but the celebration is about extreme music. This weekend is known to the fans as simply, MDF, or in full, Maryland Deathfest. Doom metal, black metal, grindcore, punk, and of course, death metal, take over multiple venues in the Inner Harbor area of the city all weekend long as the streets run black with hideous, graphic band t-shirts. For me, this is my sophomore year of the festival and could not be more excited to return. Continue reading
Maryland Deathfest 2017, sure to be North America’s metal event of 2017 has already announced its daily lineups. Headlined by Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Autopsy, Tiamat, Cryptopsy and others, according to a post to the MDF Facebook, there are now less than 100 4-day passes available and less than 200 Rams Head 3-day passes available for MDF XV. Once these are gone, they won’t be releasing more. Full details are below. Continue reading
With a final salvo of bands, 2017’s Maryland Deathfest XV is set at last. Added to the final line-up are legends like Candlemass (Nightfall set), Tiamat (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Grave (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Root (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Oranssi Pazuzu, Acheron, GosT, Samothrace, and more. Continue reading
Castle Freak are a simple death metal group, but they do a nice job setting themselves apart from the rest of the genre with their Human Hive EP (Self Released). While fun is a word you normally wouldn’t associate with a genre like death metal, this EP has an undeniable sense of enjoyment. From the sampling, which includes horror quotes and scattered Extreme Champion Wrestling commentary, to the breakneck pace of the music, it’s just a great time.
Vocalist Andrew Gigan manages to not sound generic, with a hardcore punk styled delivery spicing up his vocals. Combined with absolutely insane drumming done by former Noisem member Sebastian Phillips and shredding guitars courtesy of both Gigan and Zak Carter, this EP has plenty to appreciate from a technical standpoint.
However, there are sore spots on this EP. The first is the overuse of samples on the release. Every single track uses them, often right at the start of the song. Samples aren’t a bad thing, but some just seemed unnecessary. I can understand them starting the release as it set the chaotic mood, or the use of air raid sirens in the middle of ‘Toxic Winds’ to build atmosphere, but there is just too many samples on this EP and it overall soils the experience. Another gripe about this EP is the lack of much new material. Two tracks are rerecorded versions of songs off the bands previous two releases, and another is a cover of a classic death metal track from Impetigo. This leaves only two new songs on the EP. Admittedly the redone tracks sound miles ahead of the previous versions, but it still is kind of a bummer that only two of the five tracks on this release are new.
Overall, despite my complaints with this release, I can’t help but recommend this band to all death metal fans. The overuse of samples is more than worth sitting through for the insane talent on showcase, as this really is some of the most memorable death metal I’ve heard in a while. If nothing else, everyone should just give ‘Toxic Winds’ a listen as it’s 3 minutes of metal excellence, and the only time on the EP where bassist Ben Anft really gets a chance to shine and isn’t simply lost in the madness. It is the standout track on this release, and shows exactly how good this band can be.