Nine Circles ov… Maryland Deathfest XIII (2015)

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Well, we made everyone. Or at least… everyone that will also be participating in Maryland Deathfest 2016 festivities. It’s Tuesday, which means I leave for The Land of Nothing and The Wire tomorrow night. And to follow up last week’s recap of MDF 2014, I will now take this opportunity to remind myself and everyone else how amazing MDF 2015 was. Because, without a doubt, it was my best experience at MDF to date. 

A quick word before diving into the list. This was our first (Dan and I) MDF experience with all-in passes, so obviously there was access to more performances. Unfortunately, it also meant there was overlap and some bands were missed in exchange for others (Vattnet Viskar vs. Bloodbath). Regardless, the entire weekend was memorable and every performance I caught was impressive in some way. Let’s finally take a look at my 2015 highlights. Excuse the garbage iPhone pictures.

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Amorphis (5/24/2015, Edison Lot Stage B)

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I had only waited my entire life to see Amorphis live, because apparently they hate America (and I can’t blame them), so I’m obviously going to start here. Seeing Tales from the Thousand Lakes played through in all its folk metal glory was as amazing as it sounds. Two things I would have appreciated, however. 1. Seeing Tomi Joutsen play Tomi Joutsen songs. 2. Seeing Tomi Joutsen’s dreadlocks. Haircuts are dumb.


Origin (5/21/2015, Soundstage)

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To be honest, while I’ve always appreciate Origin, I’ve also never spent much time with them. But this was the first band I saw perform at MDF last year and they kicked things off wonderfully with their impressive technical death metal. Their stage presence was awesome, filled with personality and insensitive jokes about Baltimore, and they sounded solid. It was just a really enjoyable, fun set.


Twilight of the Gods (5/23/2015, Edison Lot Stage B)

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You can mark Twilight of the Gods down as one of my favorite discoveries of MDF 2015. Starting out as a Bathory tribute band, this super group-ish has developed an outstanding classic heavy metal sound over the years. Featuring Alan Averill (Primordial) and Frode Glesnes (Einherjer), who were pulling double duty this weekend, Twilight of the Gods delivered quite possibly the most enjoyable performance of the weekend.


Vallenfyre (5/22/2015, Edison Lot Stage A)

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Pretty sure this was the first band that graced us from the Edison Lot last year. And the death metal group from from the UK absolutely tore the place up. Their intensity is just so raw and punishing, making for a live performance far more impressive than anything on record. They kicked ass in the midday heat and I managed to get a sick picture of them with a horse in the foreground, which is most important.


Arcturus (5/23/2015, Edison Lot Stage B)

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I don’t know about any of you, but I freaking love ICS Vortex. This would mark the second time I’ve seen him live. The first was at Wacken with his own self-named project — which was like, country metal or something… and he was playing guitar. This time was with Arcturus. I actually really enjoy Arcturus’ avant-garde metal thing they have going on, and his apathetic mannerisms here made it even better. His casual, hands-in-pockets approach made for a very interesting stage presence given the music’s complexity.


 Vattnet Viskar (5/22/2015, Ram’s Head)

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We talk about Vattnet a lot. And with good reason. While only releasing a couple studio albums and a demo, their take on black metal certainly stands out. But more importantly than that, they perform their music with an unmatched passion. The first set at Ram’s Head during MDF 2015 only furthered this point. Vattnet did more with their 25 minutes than many bands did with double that amount of time.


Einherjer (5/23/2015, Edison Lot Stage B)

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And this was my favorite discovery of MDF 2015. The three-piece viking metal band from Norway absolutely destroyed the Edison Lot in the early stages of Saturday afternoon. The sound and performance was incredibly massive for a group of three and this performance resonated long after the 40 minute set concluded. Somehow this project began in the mid-90’s and I had only just discovered it. What else have I been doing wrong?


Triptykon (5/23/2015, Edison Lot Stage B)

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After having to skip out on MDF 2014 due to the unfortunate passing of H.R. Giger, longtime friend of Tom G. Warrior, Triptykon were back for 2015. A year after their impressive Melana Chasmata dropped, the Swiss doomers made sure the wait was worth it. Opening with the punishing “Tree of Suffocating Souls” and never truly letting up, my first time seeing Tom G. Warrior live was a memorable experience.


 Primordial (5/24/2015, Edison Lot Stage B)

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But no performance was more impressive than Primordial. The black metallers opened with “Where Greater Men Have Fallen” and closed with “Empire Falls”. How much more do I really need to say about this set? They sounded absolutely amazing, especially Alan on vocals. The only thing I would like to say I could have seen? This same list of songs performed outdoors at night. I have a feeling that’s an entirely different experience.


Alright! So that wraps up my highlights from last year’s Maryland Deathfest… and wraps up my last two years at MDF in general. Now, as I procrastinate the rest of my last full day in the office before leaving tomorrow (I’m currently setting up my schedule for MDF 2016), I invite you all to reflect as I have or perhaps offer some of you favorite MDF memories below.

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
– Corey

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