No. 13

June 01, 2014

Twelve years running now, the Maryland Deathfest XII took place in a four day event Thursday May 22nd - Sunday May 25th 2014. Spread between stages at Ramshead Live, The Edison Lot, Baltimore Soundstage, and the Sidebar, the massive event had over one hundred bands scheduled to appear, including the likes of Visceral Disgorge, Coffins, Crowbar, Cancer, At The Gates, Taake, Sacrifice, Enthroned, Incantation, Impaled, Dark Angel, Nocternus AD, Misery Index , Soilent Green, My Dying Bride, Gorguts, Candlemass, Immolation, Unholy Grave, and many, many more. There were plenty of vendors working boothes with food, clothing, and other merchandise including some big names like Century Media Records, Relapse Records, Seasons Of The Mist Records, Decibel Magazine, and others. Kylla Custom Rock Wear had interesting handmade MDF vests and were available to sew on patches purchased at the event.

The Maryland Deathfest has been held in previous years at the club called Sonar, but the club was not involved in this years festival. Instead a stage was setup near Sonar in the Edison Lot, a decision that apparently did not sit well with Sonar who in turn threw a competing event called Maryland Deathscape with free beer. This just further explains the workings of the music industry in Maryland where businesses are prone to pettiness, competition, and backstabbing, instead of working together towards common goals. While the festival was mostly hosting trashy carnival-like food vendors, I was hypnotically drawn towards the Edison Lot by the smell of something called Zombie Barbeque which I found quite delicious. Overall prices were somewhat steep, beer could be found for six to right dollars, burgers for up to twelve dollars, hotdogs for four dollars, bottles of water for three dollars, over the course of four days patrons were going to spend some cash. I did notice some vendors selling bootleg t-shirts, failing to provide licensed merchandise, a growing issue I won't get into here.

Unfortunately, we were understaffed to cover this event, our chief editor being away in Key West on vacation while the festival took place. It was a frantic rush between venues and stages trying to capture as much of the event as possible. The sheer volume of bands booked to perform, and the non-stop schedule of rotation, made this a difficult task. On average bands were limited to performaces of twenty to thirty minutes. Unexpectedly, Aeternus and Mitochondrion were unable to appear. Both having arranged for visas, they were then confronted with issues crossing the border into the United States and sent home. With most big events like this there are bound to be some cancellations. Ulver was scheduled to perform on Thursday May 22nd but cancelled apparently due to medical reasons, as did Tryptikon, whose members were involved in a funeral following the unexpected death of H.G. Giger, Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer.

There were several bands supposedly scheduled to do meet and greets including At the Gates, Asphyx, My Dying Bride, Candlemass, and others, but time was so constrained I didn't get the chance to meet any of them. Overall the sound quality of the event of average or better. There are always problems projecting a good sound at outdoor events, maybe moreso for these styles of metal music including Doom Metal, Death Metal, Viking Metal, to styles bordering on thrash and the psychodelic. Crowbar sounded pretty good, and I much enjoyed the perfomances of Unleashed, Sacrifice, Windhand, and My Dying Bride. It was nice to see local metallers Misery Index on the stage tearing it up, but it would have been better seeing more local Maryland bands like Rome Apart, Crimson Orchid, Silence the Blind, etc. on this schedule. It seems most of the notable locals bands that would have been a great fit in style for the Maryland Deathfest were instead lured to perform at Sonar's Maryland Deathscape.

Impressively the four day event was soldout and it was nice that this year they were giving away free black ad white guides to the festival detailing the bands. It was enlightenling to see a unity of fans brought together who shared an almost brothership in kindred spirits. Overall people seemed to respect each other, were interactive, and it was nice to be able to report on a Baltimore event involving such a motley group that did not involve some overshadowing crime of stabbing or shootings. As usual, local media sources were scant to report on this event with these styles of metal music being too obscure for their commercial audiences, but one cannot overlook the postive economic impact in Baltimore. While there were probably less people in attendance by comparison, it was likely more profitable than the failed attempts of the City of Baltimore in bringing the Grand Prix race there in past years. If you were lucky enough to make it to this years event, take a moment to visit our Facebook page, and comment on your experience.

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