Pictured: Dragged Into Sunlight
By Professor Pizza (CO)
Our dude Professor Pizza, of Denver thrashers Axeslasher, was a cool enough bro to provide us with this account of this year's Maryland Death Fest. We're coming next year, we swear!
Another year, another Death Fest. This year marked the tenth anniversary of Maryland Death Fest. If that makes you feel old, then good. You probably should feel old. By the way, old guy, stop hitting on chicks way younger than you at shows. It's getting creepy now. Here's a hint: if they have Xes on their hands move the fuck along. You're going to have better luck with the bigger lady in the white leather Guns n' Roses jacket anyway.
Really though, my point here is if you're unfamiliar with this extreme metal pilgrimage, you should probably just trade in your metal card for a pineapple haircut now. All you really need to know is that for four days straight, extreme metal takes Baltimore like an army of drunken orcs. The debauchery is endless and the music is relentless. To try and recap it all would be a fool's errand, so here are the highlights, a couple of lowlifes, and a few bits of advice from your uncle Professor Pizza.
It's cool dude, I wanted to take a snoozer during Artillery too.
Tip: Eat weed before you fly.
Seriously. Make some cannabutter, bake some box brownies and down a few before you head through the security checkpoint. The goal is to be baked enough that when the captain says "We've now reached 10,000 feet" your reaction should be a giggle followed by "some of us are higher than that, bro." Maybe you'll get lucky as I did and get upgraded to first class. Nothing better than scumbagging like a motherfucker next to a suit reading the business section.
Highlight: Autopsy ends the first night at the request of Baltimore police.
I only had a three-day pass but I showed up to the Thursday night show to meet up with friends, survey the surroundings, to party, and to bullshit. After standing in the parking lot performing an ungodly amount of high fives, I decided to see what would happen if I walked right in. A casual conversation with a friend on the way in and next thing you know I'm standing dick-to-butt with a thousand other heshers getting ready to rage to the almighty Autopsy. After an extremely lengthy start delay due to a shitty guitar cable, Autopsy filled Sonar with a blood-curdling racket leaving no face un-melted. At around 2:00 A.M. the PA cuts out and we're treated to an entire Autopsy song sans vocals or room mixing. The crowd gets a bit uneasy as a security guard runs on stage and informs Autopsy that the police are outside, and they demand that they stop. So Autopsy does what any band in that situation would do: they keep fucking playing. Damn the man!
Tip: Eat somewhere else.
The food at MDF sucks. You've got ins and outs. Use that shit. Don't settle for the garbage that's sold there. Not to sound like a red-state dickhole, but the food situation at Maryland Death Fest is exactly what you'd expect to find in a communist country. Food is not handled by outside vendors. It looks like whoever was tired of working security got to take a second to flip some grade-F burgers. Pizza's good, right? Impossible to fuck up and delicious like a motherfucker. Well, yeah pizza is awesome but not when it's preparation includes "order the night before, then heat up on a barbecue grill covered in bum cum." MDF could make even more money on food if they brought in outside vendors. If you want something hearty like BBQ, hit up a place near the bay called Famous Andy's. If you're looking for breakfast food with a side of crabcake, the Sip and Bite is your early morning destination. Just be prepared to field stares from the hilariously confused non metal patrons. During the day outside of The Sidebar, they served burgers that kicked the shit out of the food served at MDF (more on that later).
Everything is metal here. Even the fucking beer tent.
Highlight: Ghoul with a head full of mushrooms.
A priest stands before the audience reading from a scroll that we are all sentenced to reprogramming back in Creepsylvania. Before he can finish, his throat is slit by the hooded outlaws known as Ghoul. Thick red arterial blood splashes the audience, who responds by going completely ape-shit. An interesting stage show for sure, but it takes on a new meaning when you're tripping your dick off. When you're tripping, Ghoul's show becomes a matter of life and death. The kill bot MUST be destroyed, The Baron really DOES want my soul, and thank god Destructor is on our side because NONE of us drunk motherfuckers would be able to stop him.
Highlight: Napalm Death, at your service.
There's really not much left to say about a band that's been at the forefront of extreme metal for over 30 years. Napalm Death knows this, which is explains the no nonsense assault they laid on a sardine packed crowd at Maryland Death Fest. Napalm Death ripped through a varied set spanning their entire career with the speed and ferocity of pack of mutated timberwolves. Highlights of their set include playing "You Suffer" twice, and Shane Embrury giving the four string over to Dan Lilker, founding member of Anthrax. When Napalm Death was done, the street was covered in filth, sweat, blood, empty beer cups, and tired bodies.
"Crustcake? Never heard of it but I love that name."
Who did you come here to see?
"... I.. I don't really like metal."
Tip: "I already paid the other guy."
Security at Maryland Death Fest is a little on the shady side. As I mentioned before, it's easy as shit to sneak right in. A friend of mine had a totally different experience with them, though. We're from Colorado. We're used to the laxest of policing when it comes to marijuana. Bearing that in mind, my buddy gets caught by security smoking a bowl. No big deal, right? Worst that will usually happen is they'll bum your night by confiscating your pipe. Wrong. This guy told my buddy that he was "deputized" and could "take him to jail right now unless he coughed up 20 bucks." Dumbfounded and high, my buddy threw him $20 and got the hell out of there.
Smash cut to a few hours later. The weed buddy has spread his tale to our entire Colorado crew. Two other friends are behind a tent blowing chach to step the party up when two security guards walk up and threaten to take them to jail. Without skipping a beat (and I'm pretty sure with the key to his nose still) my buddy blurts out "he already paid the other guy!" The security guard looks him in the eye, then at the other security guard, and they walked the fuck away.
Highlight: Mighty Morphin' Powerviolence.
All of Saturday was a personal highlight as it included some crushing sets from a few bands I never thought I'd see. Bloody Phoenix started the day with a low-energy but impressive dual babe assault. Coke Bust was up next, and it was pretty clear they weren't used to a festival setup with scheduled start times. As soon as their gear was set, they started thrashing. They screamed through 11 or 12 songs in about 20 minutes, finishing just three minutes after their scheduled start time. Spain's Looking for An Answer delivered the punishment in spades forcing every neck in attendance to snap free from its owner's body. It was a fucking bloodbath.
The Zodiac Killer during Macabre's set.
Tip: Go to the Sidebar.
The Sidebar is located just a couple of blocks from the fest. It's a tiny little bar that's a lot like grabbing a drink in the basement of your friend who has an alcoholic dad when you're young. They serve cheap beer, cheap beer, and more cheap beer. For four bucks I was able to catch a Skelptaris (featuring Calum Mackenzie of Phobia) and Dresden. It was also full of rad punks all varying at varying spots on the crusty scale.
Hightlight: MDF hates weed but loves Electric Wizard.
I'm going to go on record as saying I was never an Electric Wizard superfan. I was familiar with them and have used "Legalize Drugs and Murder" as a soundtrack to getting it on, but I've never worshipped at their silver and black altar.
That is, until I saw them in the rain higher than giraffe pussy.
"Is anybody... HIGH?" booms from the mouth of Jus Oborn over a tumultuous sea of feedback down-tuned bass.
Goddamn right we were. At least I was. We were standing in a really strange, un-weed-friendly area. Three dudes in front of us brought enough weed to sedate a wooly mammoth and somehow could not give all of their joints away so it then turned into a gargantuan smoke session more fit for an army of rabid barbarians than a handful of exhausted humans. I only mention this because I'm pretty sure this is how this set was meant to be experienced.
We all stood shoulder to shoulder, balls to back, packed in like human sardines in a heavy metal container, headbanging in unison while suspended in the vibrations emitting from the rumbling PA. It felt as if all of downtown Baltimore was covered in a filthy doom metal haze, swaying and bulging in unison. The sound was perfect, and the playing phenomenal. Electric Wizard left a skunk scented smoldering pile in place of the stage, putting the proceeding acts of Saint Vitus and Church of Misery to shame.