(Our guest writer Ani Samperi is a music journalist based out of Berlin. Here, she dives into ravenous pits of noise in an attempt to map out the layers of controlled chaos.)
French experimental noise rock band Sister Iodine, formed by Lionel Fernandez, Erik Minkkinen, and Nicolas Mazet in 1992, is an assault on the rational mind that simultaneously evokes feelings and images of health and sickness. Scratching itself out of a translucent skin defining the bounds between raw atonal no-wave and scathing noise music, it is a spectral beast that quietly dominates its audience with terminally latent portents of imminent madness.
The black-washed walls of Urban Spree’s main showroom were [dis]graced with their presence on Saturday, May 14th. Juxtaposing prenatal red lighting interrupted by white flashes of light, the live experience is a familiar, primordial feeling laced with guttural screams, at once indicating a clawing desperation to remain inside the visceral bounds of embryonic safety vs. the harrowing inevitability of pain and confusion that comes from exposure.
It’s time for me to bring this five-part reminiscence about Maryland Deathfest 2016 to a close and try to get back to more typical NCS activities this week.
I said when I started this recap that I wanted to give a round of applause to the best bands I saw at MDF, organizing them into four categories. The first three categories I nicknamed Swedish (and Dutch) Death Metal Supremacy, Shades of Black, and The Black Death. However, there’s no common denominator among the five bands grouped together today, so I’m calling this collection Divergent Delights.
I was thinking about Mixed Martial Arts, but much of the music here isn’t martial. Assorted Ass-Kicking was appealing, but I don’t think “ass-kicking” really fits everything either. Maybe Variegated Victories would have worked.
For those of you just now joining this series about Maryland Deathfest XIV, I’m in the process of highlighting the bands whose performances were the best of the ones I saw and heard in Baltimore beginning on Wednesday of last week.
Rather than doing a day-by-day recap, I’ve organized the bands into four somewhat loosely defined categories. Yesterday’s feature was a “Shades of Black” collection of black metal bands, and before that was one under the heading “Swedish (and Dutch) Death Metal Supremacy”. I’m calling today’s celebration “The Black Death“, not only because that describes the general style of music performed by the following six bands, but also because they all spread a lethal kind of auditory plague.
Presented in the order in which I witnessed the performances over 5 nights and 4 days, and I’ve again included my photos of each band (most of which are gathered at the end of this post).
For those just now joining this series about Maryland Deathfest XIV, I’m in the process of highlighting the bands whose performances were the best of the ones I saw and heard in Baltimore beginning on Wednesday of last week.
I’ve organized those bands into four categories (not rigidly defined, mind you). Yesterday’s feature was about “Swedish (and Dutch) Death Metal Supremacy”, and for today’s collection I’m borrowing the title of one of our long-running series about new music — Shades of Black — because I’m spotlighting six black metal bands of varying styles whose sets I really enjoyed. I’ve again included photos of each band (most of which are gathered at the end of this post).
Wombbath at MDF – photo by Bryan Zakala
When I started this recap of Maryland Deathfest XIV a couple of days ago (here), I explained that I didn’t intend to report on the festival day-by-day, as I’ve done in previous years, but instead decided to focus on the best performances I saw, grouped into four loosely defined categories. In that introductory post, I only wrote about one band (Dragged Into Sunlight), because their set was the best one I saw at this year’s edition of MDF.
DIS happens to be in one of those four categories, but I’m going to leave that one for another day. Today I want to focus on one of the others, which I’m labeling Swedish (and Dutch) Death Metal Supremacy.
But first I want to publicly thank these four dudes:
(Andy Synn journeyed from England to the former proprietary colony of Lord Baltimore to take in his first ever Maryland Deathfest and now provides these reminiscences.)
MDF 2016… what can I say? Five days of drinking, yelling, headbanging, drinking, meeting old friends, making new friends, drinking (starting to see a theme here?), public intoxication, semi-public urination and, above all else, more Metal than you could shake a severed spinal column at.
Here’s the thing though, when I go to festivals it’s usually based on a calculation of if there’s enough bands I really want to see in order to make it worth my while. I go for the music, not to socialise.
But this year was different. This year it truly was the camaraderie and the friendships which made the weekend such a blast. And you can’t teach that…
So, instead of writing up some long-winded review of the whole affair, I thought I’d just pick out and categorise a few of the highlights (and lowlights) for you all.
photo by Alexis
When I left Seattle early last Wednesday morning bound for Baltimore and the 14th edition of Maryland Deathfest, I was thinking I might not take any photos or write anything about the event and simply soak it up. But the whole thing was so damned exciting and so much fun that I couldn’t resist trying to document the experience.
I took more than 800 photos with my new iPhone 6S (what? you didn’t think I was a real photographer, did you?) and I made lots of mental notes (what? you didn’t think I’d actually bother typing, did you?). And as people who know me on Facebook are painfully aware, I discharged some contemporaneous impressions about most of the bands I saw. As you can now see, I couldn’t resist writing even more about the experience.
But unlike past years, I’m not going to attempt a day-by-day recap. This year, I’m going to preserve my memories in a different way. And who knows, maybe some of my NCS comrades will throw in some thoughts of their own. Because the NCS crew turned out in force this year.
NCS Introduction: Kaptain Carbon returns to NCS with a review of the second Blood of the Wolf Fest , which took place in Lexington, Kentucky, on March 26-27, 2016. He also took all of the photos that accompany the review — most of which you will find at the end. Kaptain Carbon operates Tape Wyrm, a blog dedicated to current and lesser known heavy metal. He also writes Dungeon Synth reviews over at Hollywood Metal as well as moderating Reddit’s r/metal community.
“He is Risen!”, they shouted in an authentic southern accent with mocking glee. This was Easter Sunday in the thick of Kentucky during one lull between songs at the second Blood of the Wolf festival. The crowd celebrated the fact that it was, in fact, Easter sunday and the whole weekend was centered around macabre imagery of rising dead. What I am surprised about in this anecdote was not the fact that it happened but how little it happened over the course of Good Friday to the holiest of Sundays. In fact, the whole festival, which drew bands and fans from the midwest and eastern coast of the US, appeared to be more grateful than blasphemous. How can you really be spiteful when you have three days of gorgeous weather, a craft beer garden, and a host of raw, unyielding death metal bands?
(Andy Synn reports on a show he witnessed earlier this week in Manchester, England, with performances by Gorguts, Psycroptic, Dysrhythmia, and Nero Di Marte. And Andy also shares with us some videos he shot during the show.)
When it comes to running gigs (and I speak from experience not only of booking shows, but running them, and playing them… sometimes all three in the same evening) there’s a wide variety of things that can go wrong. Some of them can be fixed with only a minimum of hassle. Others… cause larger problems. For example, and this is just off the top of my head here, a six-hour ferry delay…
Yes, that’s what happened on Monday, meaning that I arrived at the venue for 6 o’clock (when my ticket stated doors were set) only to find that they’d now been pushed back until 7. Fortunately, I eventually bumped into a couple of mates (Hi Jon! Hi Chris!), which certainly made the whole experience a lot more palatable. UN-fortunately the stated door time came and went, with nary a whisper of anyone being let into the building. Something strange was afoot.
It was gone half 7 when, out of nowhere, the tour bus and trailer suddenly pulled round the corner, unleashing a flurry of activity as band and crew members scrambled to unload the necessary gear and merch and rush it into the venue to set up, with only a quick mention in passing that – with a little luck – the first band was going to be onstage within the hour.
At this point Chris and I retired to a nearby pub to join his Spires bandmates in playing the waiting game in slightly more comfortable surroundings, crossing our fingers that at least some of the lost time would be made up and that none of the bands were going to be dropped from the bill…
(Our guest from the Midwest, Ben Smasher, was fortunate enough to attend the Ostarablot festival organized by HammerHeart Brewing Co. (the brewery and tap house located in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, that’s co-owned by Austin Lunn of Panopticon) and hosted on March 18-19, 2016, at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Here’s Ben’s review of the festival, along with some photos and videos the editor has scrounged from the internet.)
Hammerheart Brewing Company and the amazing people that comprise it consistently put themselves second to their intentions. Austin once said to me, “I want to make beer that brings people together.” So, as it would turn out, if you bring the world’s best beer and music under one roof, the best people in North America will join in a two-day celebration of the vernal equinox.
Though 2014’s Winterblot was a pretty remarkable event for bringing UK’s Wodensthrone to the US shores alongside some of America’s finest bands, Ostarablot brought artists from even further reaches to Minnesota. Vemod traversed all the way from Norway and Germany’s Waldgeflüster came a long way as well.