Like a lot of my friends, I was excited about this festival even before any bands were announced because the organisation Maryland Deathfest was behind it. In truth, the organisation was mostly the same as the Neurotic Deathfest, a mostly Death metal festival that had run for years at the exact same place. What changed was that the focus was no longer solely on Death metal and that the american festival was landing it’s address book to their European counterpart.
The Maryland Deathfest had been for many the holy grail of all metal festivals. A place as inaccessible as the temple to find eternal life in Indiana Jones 3 but with an even greater reward. Finally, the most insane bills were becoming accessible with the price of a cheap plane tickets or a car trip. Even in my wildest dreams I would not have thought this could have been possible and there we are, two weeks after the event. Time now to recap what has happened during these three days. What went wrong. What was great. And most importantly, why do I want to come back next year?
Despite being named in my list of bands to watch out for before the festival, Teethgrinder proved to be a bit of a boring proposition on stage. The local grind crew didn’t have the gnawing sound that they displayed on album or the anger. It was bound to be a slow start anyway as French grinders, Blockheads, another band on my list, and an excellent live proposition, failed to take over the large stage of the main stage. It was quite sad to see that despite all the good intentions of the organisation, this genre of music hardly fits on a very big space. The sound was also not as loud as it should have been transforming Blockheads into a local band rather than the grindcore legends that they are.
Vitamin X were more successful in bringing the mosh to the big stage with their fastcore. Standing out like a sore thumb in this sea of hardcore and Death metal with their colorful shirts and energetic punk, they proved to be one of the most exciting band of the day. Bringing inflatable beach toys and throwing them in the crowd also helped. Kraanium on the other hand fitted right in with their slaming Death metal and mysoginistic lyrics and artwork. Musically, it’s hard to find fault in their performance. Personally, I just can’t take that sort of lyrical content when it could easily be replaced by lyrics about anything else and nobody would care. Sadly, I missed Disentomb which offered, I have been told, a very memorable performance for fans of brutal Death metal.
After this mindless duo of bands, it was time for some politically engaged music with Drop Dead. The old school power violence band came fully prepared with songs and speeches half as long as their songs. Some might find the idea ludicrous and boring but it was quite refreshing to see and hear people taking a stance on something rather than just playing music, especially when the songs are as good as theirs.
Doom also failed to excite me with their crust but fans were quite happy from what I gathered after the show. One of my personal highlight of the day was Magrudergrind. Their performance at last year’s Temples Fest had already been quite satisfying, and their latest album is already destined to be one of the best of the year, but their live set has only gained in energy. Shorter, but as sweet and heavy, was Primitive Man‘s set in the Patronaat, a church turned into a venue, whose sludge made everyone head-bang in approval even if they were the only band of the genre for the whole festival.
This lucky trio of bands was then concluded by Agoraphobic Nosebleed whose live performance was as devastating as on record. The studio project found it’s footing on-stage with a duo of screamers who seemed to be fighting each other while Scott Hull and Richard Johnson provided a hellish musical backdrop. The drum machine was featured right in the middle and pulsed all the way through the performance as the band guiding light, even providing a drum solo where all musicians left the stage! The set list pulled tracks from all over the place, but mostly from Agorapocalypse now and the latest Arc EP but early fans were also gifted with tracks like Bitches handbag full of money (from Frozen corps stuffed with dope) or The house of feasting (from Honky reduction). Some would not have bet on it but AnB crushed it all.
After such a set, only an inhuman performance could have been more noticeable but Infest proved that they were worthy of their legend by playing an excellent show. Despite their lack of stage moves on the Main stage, the singer of the american hardcore crew showed his enthusiasm for finally playing in Europe by delving into the crowd several time. Too bad for all the people sitting away from it, but it’s still nice to see old timers go at it like in the old days.