May 252015


Alas, our revels now are ended. Maryland Deathfest XIII is over and in the history books, and it was an amazing experience. I’ve got to pack up and vacate my hotel room soon, and I don’t have nearly enough time at the moment to say everything I want to say. For now, I’ll show you some photos I took from the first three performances I saw yesterday (the last day of the festival), with a few words about each of those first bands I saw on Sunday. More pics and words will come in the next few days.



 I arrived late to the Edison Lot and missed the first four bands of the day, but caught all of Primordial’s set — which floored me. Alan Averill is an amazingly intense and charismatic front man, and his voice is an instrument of incredible power and passion. In the category of clean vocals, he probably took the prize for the fest, though ICS Vortex performing with Arcturus the night before was a very close second.








I only heard Winter’s set from a distance while talking with some old and new acquaintances and buying some more merch. Among the people my friend MaxR (Metal Bandcamp) and I talked with were DECIBEL’s Albert Mudrian and one of my favorite metal artists, Dan Seagrave, both of whom were very welcoming to us. They also both inscribed the revised and expanded edition of Albert’s book Choosing Death that I bought. Here’s Dan Seagrave’s addition to my copy of the book (Albert’s used my real name, which is a State secret, and therefore may not be shown):



I did manage to get myself well-positioned for the beginning of Anaal Nathrakh’s set. It was nuts. I had seen Dave Hunt in the flesh once before, when he played in Seattle with Benediction in a bill headlined by Bolt Thrower, so I had some idea of what to expect from his fierce stage presence and between-song banter (which this time included a serious question to the audience: “What is evil?… (pause)… I can’t make out many of your individual words, but I can tell you’re speaking with conviction”). But goddamn, his vocals were like being hit in the face by a blast furnace.

Mick Kenney was as self-possessed as Dave Hunt was on fire, but just as riveting to watch. The music was obliterating. So was the pit.










When I discovered the existence of Skepticism during our “Finland Tribute Week” series (here) four and a half years ago, I didn’t know what funeral doom was, and I didn’t know who Skepticism were. That was the beginning of an education. I’ve learned a few things, but Skepticism are the progenitors, and I was very excited to see them. Man, were they good.

Beautiful, glacial, moving, profoundly forlorn music, performed by people in formal wear. It has been remarked by many others, and rightly so, that it was strange to see Skepticism and hear their music in bright sunlight. It would have been better in pitch black darkness with candelabras.

At one point the vocalist (Matti) disappeared from the stage during an instrumental movement. I was standing close to the stage over to the far right next to a chain-link fence. I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye, and there was Matti, solemnly handing the pale flower from his lapel to the woman standing next to me across the fence, and then slowly walking back toward the stage, head down. Perfect.










  18 Responses to “MDF BLOG BREAK (PART 3)”

  1. Did you not stick around for Amorphis? They were amazing!

  2. We already talked about this, but both Demilich and Amorphis were amazeballs…as was Portal later that night

    …Winter did not engage, the set was performed well, but they didnt seem like they wanted to be there at all
    …Skepticism was the complete opposite, completely awesome…even with the fuzzy ass amp, and the lead guitarist botching up his solo
    …Primordial was good, but did anyone else notice one of guitarist didnt seem to have any sound?

    …My friends geeked out for Neurosis so I assume that set was everything a fan could want..Im just not into them as a band

    pissed I misssed Masacre and Prosanctus Inferi (their time slot was way too early for me to want to see them)

  3. I’ve said this throughout the weekend, but GODDAMMIT. Next year, even if it kills me.

  4. Skepticism were incredible. I listened to some of their stuff before MDF, so I knew what they were about, but I did not expect it to be such a moving experience. I don’t know how to describe it, it was just a riveting experience, like being suspended in time. And great showmanship.

    I was in the Edison lot early, so I got to see Masacre, they were brutal. Old school death metal done right. A highlight of the day. Prosanctus Inferi were really good too. I’ve been spinning their CD a lot lately and was not disappointed. It’s got to be hard being the opening act, noon on Sunday.

    • I at least caught Masacre at the pre-fest show on Wednesday night. One of the biggest pleasant surprises of the festival. They were super-nice people, too, so happy and grateful/surprised at the enthusiastic reception they received.

  5. sounds like an amazing weekend 🙂

  6. Seriously bummed that I wasn’t there. Bucket list item for me for sure. Now that I’m out of school, theres always next year, yes? The ‘thrakh and Skepticism pics looked like they were amazing sets. Dave Hunt’s philosophical banter just make elevate the band to a whole new level of INTELLIGENT brutality.

  7. Did nobody catch Thantifaxath? I thought they were one of the best bands at the festival.

    • I was about to ask the same thing. No posts about Thantifaxath nor Conan.

    • Played at the same time as Amorphis. Its been something like 15 years since theyve been in the U.S. and they were doing the full Tales from the Thousand Lakes album..

      …Nothing against Thantifaxath, but Im honestly surprised anyone actually saw their set

  8. I don’t get what all the fuss is about for Amorphis. I’ve seen them a few times over the years (70K cruises) and they are okay but I was in a mood for something much more sinister and mean. Thantifaxath hit the spot.

    • Dont judge Amorphis by their current melodic style, they were one of the earliest bands to start expanding and pushing the limits of what you could do with death metal…and their debut album, Karelian Isthmus, is one of the best pure Finnish death metal albums ever made

      • I really enjoyed their set — they mixed in a track from that album and from Elegy in addition to playing Tales From the Thousand Lakes. It was a heavy set all the way through, just right for MDF.

        • That, maybe even more than Demilich, was my most anticipated set…and yeah they completely crushed it. Great way to close out the outdoor stages….

          …Agreed about the set, they’re first three albums are pretty much untouchable and their debut is just a nice heavy slab of death metal. As much as I do like Silent Waters/ Skyforger era Amorphis they’re really a completely separate band from those early albums

          …Also a huge fan of Tomi as a vocalist

          • Yeah, I love Tomi’s growls — and his clean vocals. I confess that I was hoping they’d play “Silver Bride” as their final song. 🙂

            • I was really hoping theyd fit in something from Skyforger as well, love that album…though Id have preferred the title track myself

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