Maryland Deathfest X – May 24 – 27, 2012

Maryland Deathfest X

Club Sonar

Baltimore, Maryland

May 24 – 27, 2012

Review and pics by InfamousButcher

Maryland Deathfest (MDF) is a 4 day underground festival in Baltimore that features a variety of metal styles, including death, black, grindcore, thrash, doom, and speed. 2012 is the tenth year of the festival which draws fans worldwide. Unlike in Europe, metal festivals are hard to come by in the United States, so Maryland Deathfest is among the very best we have in the States. This year headliners included Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Godflesh, Autopsy, Electric Wizard, and St. Vitus. Also appearing were two of my all time favorite bands, Suffocation and Anvil! How’s that for a fu*&%ing killer metal bill?!?

     The festival started Thursday but we only had tickets for Friday through Sunday. I have been to about 200 concerts and seen many death metal heavyweights over the last 20 years, but I have never seen anything quite like Maryland Deathfest! It’s like a metalhead’s wet dream! What an awesome atmosphere! The layout was a big parking lot / alleyway with an outdoor stage on each end. No candy ass moshing here, this is on fu*&%ing  asphalt buddy! Rt 83 was right over our heads, it truly felt underground. Club Sonar was in the middle of the lot, offering an indoor stage that was open until 2 AM. Metal vendor tents were outside and inside, selling CD’s, vinyl, patches, and shirts galore. Some of the vendors present included Relapse Records, Ibex Moon Records, Willowtip Records, Season of Mist, Black Mess, Sevared Records, JSR Direct, and Deathgasm Records. I was able to get some rare shirts (Cancer’s TO THE GORY END album cover shirt!) and great deals on 12 CD’s (new copy of Asphyx’s DEATH…THE BRUTAL WAY CD/DVD for $8). It was all a bit overwhelming, really gave me a good death metal fix!


     The first band we wanted to see was grindcore legends Napalm Death, who were playing outside Friday night. You could cut the tension with a machete as we anxiously waited for Barney, Shane, Mitch, and Danny to obliterate us! Napalm Death exploded onto the stage at 8:25, LOUD, angry, and intense! Barney is constantly moving on stage, almost moshing with his bandmates as he shouts and bellows. Unfortunately, his voice is completely different from the guttural growl heard on HARMONY CORRUPTION, DEATH BY MANIPULATION, UPTOPIA BANISHED, and FEAR, EMPTINESS, AND DESPAIR. Now he sounds more like a heavy punk singer, it’s still grindcore but nowhere near as great as it once was. I guess 23 years of growling and grunting has taken its toll. The crowd didn’t mind one bit – they responded with the biggest circle pit I have ever seen, lots of crowd surfing, and complete chaos in general! The band was very tight and brutal. Mitch’s “gaia” screams were impressive and his grinding riffs reverberated through your body. Barney spoke to the crowd in between songs and said their intent was to play something from each Napalm Death record – how great is that?!? Highlights of the set included “Dementia Access”, “When All Is Said and Done”, “Unchallenged Hate”, “Suffer The Children” , (classic, I remember the video from this one on Headbanger’s Ball) “Scum” (old school!), “Nazi Punks F&ck Off”(great Dead Kennedy’s cover), and “Human Garbage”. Danny Lilker of Brutal Truth / Nuclear Assault / SOD/ Anthrax fame took Shane’s place on bass for “Scum”. Danny’s a legend and I can’t wait to read his autobiography which is coming out soon!  Overall good set but I would have liked more stuff from the 80s/ early 90s. How about “Mass Appeal Madness”?


Napalm Death set list

  1. Circumspect
  2. Errors in the Signals 
  3. Everyday Pox 
  4. Can’t Play, Won’t Pay 
  5. Protection Racket
  6. Silence Is Deafening
  7. The Wolf I Feed
  8. Fatalist
  9. Practice What You Preach
  10. Quarantined
  11. Next of Kin to Chaos
  12. Analysis Paralysis
  13. Dead
  14. Deceiver
  15. Dementia Access
  16. When All Is Said and Done
  17. Unchallenged Hate
  18. Suffer the Children
  19. Nom de Guerre
  20. Breed to Breathe 
  21. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
  22. Scum
  23. Human Garbage
  24. You Suffer
  25. Instinct of Survival



     On Saturday we arrived in the early evening, well in advance of Canadian speed and thrash innovators Anvil, who were playing outside at 6:40. Anvil is one of my favorite bands to see live, always a blast. Despite this being a crowd of death metallers, Anvil was very well received. Hey if you like metal, it is almost impossible not to be impressed with Anvil’s live show. Lips, Robb, and Sal were in total command of their set, it appalls me that they never hit mainstream success, they have the stage persona of a thrash AC/DC. Lips is all over the place riffing, screaming, mugging with the crowd, and telling funny stories in between songs. He is the consummate frontman and seems like he was born to play metal. Robb is one of the very best drummers in all of metal, just a beast; nobody pounds the kit like him. Every time I see Robb play I am blown away. Sal is a very good bass player; I think he is an upgrade over Glenn Five in terms of musicianship if not showmanship. At the start of the show Lips seemed impressed with the MDF crowd and said “This is like the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to in America!” Unfortunately Anvil only got 50 minutes, so they packed in some classics and new material from last year’s “Juggernaut of Justice”. Highlights included “March of the Crabs” (perfect opener) “666” (ultra heavy version), “Winged Assassins”(classic from FORGED IN FIRE, Anvil’s best album), “This Is Thirteen” (Sabbath style doom), “Mothra” (centerpiece with dildo guitar solo and jam), “Swing Thing” (Robb’s incredible drum solo, eat it Tommy Lee), and of course the anthem of all f&^king anthems, “Metal on Metal”. Everyone was pumped and happy at the conclusion of the set. As Lips would say in “Metal on Metal”, “Parties and concerts, keep it alive!”


Anvil set list

  1. March of the Crabs
  2. 666
  3. Juggernaut of Justice
  4. Winged Assassins
  5. On Fire
  6. This Is Thirteen
  7. Mothra
  8. Swing Thing / Drum Solo
  9. Metal on Metal
  10. Running






     A few passing comments on some other bands at the festival. Years ago I was intrigued by Macabre because they did an entire album on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. I had heard some of their stuff and it seemed ridiculous. Well, my first reaction was right; these guys are just plain silly. I caught a little of the set and it sounded more like comedy than gore metal. One dude was wearing overalls too, great. The infamous Brujeria was also on the MDF bill, a death metal supergroup with members of Napalm Death, Carcass, and Fear Factory. In the early 90s I liked the “Matando Gueros” album and the “Machetazos” EP, so I thought this could be good. They took the stage wearing masks like they were going to rob someone and then proceeded to crank out crap that sounded more like rap than grindcore. Oh well, time to head over to the Morbid Angel stage to get a good spot…


     It has been about 15 years since Morbid Angel frontman David Vincent has played a US tour. He’s been back with the band since 2008 and they have played a few shows overseas, but none at home, so tonight the anticipation was high. Many young fans at the festival had never seen Morbid Angel with David at the helm, so this was going to be a helluva experience for them! After a painfully long soundcheck accompanied with awful opera-like music, David, Trey, Thor, and Tim took the stage at 9:50 and blasted us with a killer rendition of the classic “Immortal Rights”. From the start, this show was LOUD and extremely powerful, just blowing our fu&^%ing minds! David’s voice was impressive, guttural at times and higher pitched at others, depending on the song. I saw Morbid Angel 3 times in 94-95 and I have to say he sounds about the same as he did then, maybe even a little better on the fast ALTARS OF MADNESS songs! Tim Yeung is still filling in on drums for Pete Sandoval, who is recovering from back surgery. Tim was good, tight, sick, and fast! It’s hard to fill in for someone as great at Pete, but Tim did a fantastic job. Trey’s riffs and solos are among the best in extreme metal and he put on a virtuoso performance tonight. Newcomer Thor handled leads and rhythms well; he seems to be a good replacement for Erik Rutan. Crowd response was rabid with headbanging and singing but not as rough as I thought it would be. I was able to shield my wife from the carnage and keep our spot at the barrier. Set was all classics except two from last year’s reviled ILLUD DIVINUM INSANUS, “Nevermore” and “Existo Vulgore”. New songs were ok; definitely heavier live than on the album. Highlights of the set included “Maze of Torment” (SPEED! Great vocals by David), “Blasphemy” (f&^king blistering), “Sworn to the Black” (great guttural vocals by David, flawless musicianship, better than the album version), “Lord of All Fevers and Plague” (complete chaos! IA! IAK SAKKATH!), “Chapel of Ghouls” (crush the holy priest!), “God of Emptiness” (great baritone sung vocals by David, one of the best versions I’ve ever heard), “World of Shit” (grinding then searing!) and one of their best known and loved, “Fall From Grace” (forgive me NOT!). It was simply a sensational set by the death metal gods; it was like the early 90s all over again! A US tour is coming to Philadelphia in September with Grave and Dark Funeral – I will be there, SWORN TO THE BLACK!


Morbid Angel set list:

  1. Immortal Rites
  2. Fall From Grace
  3. Rapture
  4. Maze of Torment
  5. Blasphemy
  6. Sworn to the Black
  7. Existo Vulgoré
  8. Nevermore
  9. Lord of All Fevers and Plague
  10. Chapel of Ghouls
  11. God of Emptiness
  12. World of Shit (The Promised Land)




     For day 4 we arrived in the evening in plenty of time to catch the performance of the heaviest band in the world, Suffocation. This is what death metal is all about baby! Today marks my 4th Suffocation show and we were ready for bedlam at the barrier! Frank Mullen and co. came on at 7:20 and proceeded to bludgeon us with “Cataclysmic Purification”, a surprise opener from BLOOD OATH. As always, Suffocation was like a brutal death metal machine up there. Frank’s voice is one of the very best in the genre, ghoulish, subhuman, and vicious! When it comes to live ultra guttural vocals, nobody can top Frank. For a death metaller, Frank has a unique stage presence. In addition to headbanging, at times he smiles and sticks his tongue out while vibrating his left hand vigorously – there’s some sexual suggestion for the ladies! Next time my in-laws are over, I will offer to put some “Frank” on while we eat dinner and while they’re expecting the Sinatra I’ll shock ‘em with EFFIGY OF THE FORGOTTEN! New drummer Dave Culross is fitting in very well and seemed more impressive this time than in the two previous Suffo shows I saw earlier this year. Terrance, Derek, and Guy were very tight and grinding on classics like “Pierced From Within” and my personal favorite “Catatonia”. Front of the stage was like a scrum of metalheads moshing, headbanging, and crowd surfing. It was the most violent crowd response since Napalm Death’s performance Friday night!


     Since Suffo had not played MDF since its inception in 2003, tonight’s special set featured some killer tracks like “Despise The Sun”(BRUTAL!), the rarely played “Mass Obliteration” (PURIFY!) and a song they had not played live since 1998, “Devoid of Truth” (HOLY S*&^!). It was a superb set for the hardcore Suffo fans. Final crusher was “Infecting the Crypts” which Frank introduced as funeral by woodchipper – everyone gets a body part to put in the chipper and we all get sprayed with the shavings! The crowd responded with ferocious moshing! The perfect way to cap off MDF X! We’ll be back next year, can’t wait to see the lineup!  



Suffocation set list:

  1. Cataclysmic Purification
  2. Effigy of the Forgotten
  3. Catatonia
  4. Pierced From Within
  5. Funeral Inception
  6. Liege of Inveracity
  7. Despise the Sun
  8. Abomination Reborn
  9. Mass Obliteration
  10. Devoid of Truth
  11. Infecting the Crypts




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