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The Killing Gods reveals more comtemplative Misery Index

The fifth studio album for Baltimore’s Misery Index, The Killing Gods, pushes the band into new melodic territory while remaining true to their death metal/grindcore roots. The group also recently performed twice during Maryland Deathfest XII, once at the Ottobar pre-fest show and their main performance at the Edison Lot stage on Sunday.

Misery Index. Photo by Josh Sisk.

Misery Index. Photo by Josh Sisk.

Among one of metal’s hardest working bands, Misery Index has thrived on a steady diet of touring and recording pretty much since inception in 2001. This schedule has not stopped vocalist/bassist Jason Netherton from working on earning his PhD at the University of Western Ontario and from writing a book, Extremity Retained: Notes from the Death Metal Underground. Nor has it prevented drummer Adam Jarvis from being in every single band I know including grinders Pig Destroyer, doom metallers Asthma Castle, and his cousin John’s group, Fulgora. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Kloeppel has provided vocals for the Fulgora project and is the song writing machine for Misery Index. Their new guitarist Darin Morris is not really new at all, having played with both Mark and Adam in the Maryland death metal band Criminal Element.

Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions about the new record and just what’s up with Misery Index today. I’m addicted to the new album, favoring tracks “Conjuring the Cull” and “The Weakner.” It’s a satisfying listen from start to finish. Read on for Mark’s comments.

First off, I am loving the new album! It seems—albeit loosely – like a concept album. What were some of the challenges and triumphs in putting it together? What are you particularly proud of on this record?

We were a bit conflicted in doing a full-on concept record, as we weren’t sure the attention span of the digital age would tolerate it. Those types of listeners need quick, sometimes concise, and more individualized pieces that aren’t necessarily part of a bigger thing. That said, our fellow vinyl spinners are used to the conceptual long haul. The vinyl format sort of caters to more of an epic and literary type exhibition. In our indecision, both styles of artifacts emerged from the creative process. The first sixteen minutes is a concept piece in five parts based upon Marshall Berman’s explication of Goethe’s Faust in “All That is Solid Melts into Air.” We will talk about that later. After that, more individualized songs emerge.

Mark Kloeppel and Jason Netherton of Misery Index. Photo by Mary Spiro

Mark Kloeppel and Jason Netherton of Misery Index. Photo by Mary Spiro

Outside of the conceptual challenge we presented ourselves, production was also a major challenge. Luckily, we had a really strong mixing and mastering team in Steve Wright and Tony Eichler, respectively. In 2010, the metal crowd was more into inhuman “perfect” sounding records. That’s what our last record sounds like. We don’t particularly like that style of production, but it’s easier to churn out when you have an extremely limited timeline. With “the Killing Gods,” we really took our time with the production; not so much the tracking, but the mixing and mastering. We really wanted to stick to natural sounds; relaying the subtle nuances that indicate a human being is playing the parts, without losing the modern production value. The process was laborious, with different members having to periodically bow out of the process due to stress. In the end, though, our production team nailed it…all the way from the sound to the finely crafted aesthetics of the album art by Gary Ronaldson. It is an organic record in the purest sense, and that is what the public wants to hear. They want to hear the actual raw visceral energy that comes out of this music. That’s what you hear on “The Killing Gods.”

Tell me about the songwriting process for The Killing Gods, especially with the multi-part composition “Faust”? How did this piece come together, and why did you decide to present it like this?

Faust is broken into five sections comprising the first fifteen and a half minutes of the record. As previously stated, Faust is lyrically based upon Marshall Berman’s interpretation of Faust in his book “All That Is Solid Melts into Air.” Jason, our bass player, presented this concept, and I ran with it. Berman takes a literary approach to the consequences of modernity versus a nineteenth century Enlightenment drive for progress and the growth of capitalism. He talks about these issues through Faust, and how Faust is a sort of tragic figure in his drive to progress, as he destroys it at the same time.

The piece emerged out of a natural organic creative process over a couple years. Each riff, lead, and transition was mulled over and mulled over again to ensure proper placement and conveyance. I had this vibe in my head that emerged out of a personal darkness I felt a long long time ago. I wanted to embody that emotion and everything attached to it in music, and cast it back out into the universe. It was a cathartic process that, through a bit of strife, helped to cleanse my mind and spirit. Playing that music live now is very rewarding and therapeutic for me, as it allows me to let some of my personal demons evaporate into the air…one hallowed scream at a time.

In terms of presentation on the album, it just sounded, literally, like the right way to begin the record. It really sets a good atmosphere for the rest of the songs to reside. We were curious how we were going to pull it off, and, in the end, Rush’s 2112 format was enough justification. For those not familiar with that record, it begins with the epic 2112, and rounds out with individual songs toward the end. So, we haven’t reinvented the wheel with this or anything. We just took everything we know about good albums into consideration, and tried to do what we are supposed to do.

Let’s talk about the lyrical content. Many earlier Misery Index songs deal with government oppression or corporate corruption. I am not a student of Misery Index Lyrics (perhaps that’s a class Dr. Jason Netherton can teach) but some of the lyrics seem to deal with much more spiritual and metaphysical themes than in previous years. How do the lyrical themes of The Killing Gods line up or diverge from these previously explored themes?

Misery Index at MDF pre-fest, Ottobar. Photo by Mary Spiro

Misery Index at MDF pre-fest, Ottobar. Photo by Mary Spiro

“The Killing Gods” is an intrinsically influenced literary and metaphysical side-step for the band to explicate real world travesty through prose. “The Killing Gods” as a whole follows the means of human control from the metaphysical to the physical (in that order), with a brief sojourn mid record into our collective personal juxtaposition in these realms. The record revolves around themes of religious oppression, military oppression, hidden knowledge, and the intrinsic dark plume billowing in our minds like thick impenetrable smoke. It leaves the listener both digging deeper into their dark recesses and following those emotions as they extrinsically manifest. This record is a study of this bigger picture; utilizing literature, real world events, and tacit knowledge as a means of explication.

Musically to me this album feels more traditional death metal and less “core” but also incredibly melodic. Would you agree? Disagree?

I think I agree. However, I am a little too close to the record to make any kind of distinction or label. I hear a lot of people saying what you are saying. Really, though, this record contains ninety percent of the same elements Misery Index has always had. I liken Faust to the Dissent EP, which is also a fifteen minute five-part epic of sorts. I think the really difference is the vibe. The vibe is dark and evocative. In fact, I have to admit we had some kind’ve spooky things happen in the studio while recording this record. I was recording the vocals for “The Harrowing” and got to a particular word, and, out of nowhere, there was a delay effect on my vocals pumping right in time with the rhythm of the song. It really scared Steve, because he did not turn anything on. When he zoomed out in the view of the session there was an effect spike set to the bpm of the song that was not visible until zoomed out to the millisecond. You can still hear it on the record, as we left it there. There are many other anomalies on the record as well that we left…things that put themselves there. So, when I say evocative, I mean literally. I really do not mean to sound cheesy here. I just can’t deny real events. It appears the manifestation process can drag things with it.

Where did the inspiration from these songs (musically and lyrically) come from? Literature? Film? Life?

When a band is just starting, they take a tremendous amount of time crafting their debut music. There is a lot of trial and error and perfecting of the craft. When the act is signed, they are thrown into this whirlwind year-and-a-half to two-year album cycle. It is a double edged sword, because one really becomes seasoned quickly in that schedule. However, the records are never what they could have been. I believe the music suffers for the sake of having a product to sell. For this record, we wanted to take our experience and write a record the same way we would if we were just starting. The difference is, we have proficiency in things bands starting out don’t have. So, the benefit of time we consciously took, and that organic writing approach probably inspired the record the most.

What are your favorite songs to play live? Old and new…

Conjuring the Cull and The Weakener are really fun live. We are also gearing up to do The Harrowing from the new record. We also like Traitors, Manufacturing Greed, and The Carrion Call. They are ripping songs, get great crowd participation, and very fun to play.

How are you feeling about your Maryland Deathfest performances? Pre-fest versus Edison Lot sets? Small venue versus festival audiences? I saw both performances.

We thoroughly enjoyed both sets. We were able to get the crowd moving, which is most important, and they were poised to do so. Open Airs are a little tougher in terms of hearing each other, but we are pretty seasoned at this point. We can power through just about any situation, or any type of crowd. It helps when they are ready to go, so to speak, and, at MDF, they were.

I sort of would like to add a little more to our presentation, but it needs to be original. We are still brainstorming on that.

Misery Index is now a pretty well-traveled band. Which countries go crazy for Misery Index and which do you feel you still need to conquer? Who would you like to tour with?

Indonesia and Germany are without a doubt our primary markets. Although, we get pretty great responses most places. We really could use a breakout tour in the states that’s not death metal. I still think we haven’t been a part of the right tour over here.

I feel like a lot of times the town that a band comes from does not always appreciate them as much as other regions do, you know, like they are taken for granted in their own backyard. How would you describe your relationship with your local fans and those across the globe?

I think there is a natural ebb and flow of excitement that happens as a band progresses. When they first splash in their local scene, or when they first break out of their local scene, there tends to be a lot of excitement. When they start touring a lot, they sort of become old hat. But, after some longevity, people begin to remember and embrace you as a staple of their community. I think that is where Misery Index is now. I don’t think we have as many local fans, as we have local friends. Since the bands inception, we’ve gotten to know just about everyone in the area in some capacity. What’s strange is when that starts happening abroad. We have a long list of towns and venues across the planet that are like a home away from home now.

After you get back from this next trek to Europe, what are your plans? US touring?

We are confirming a festival in Quebec right now, and are in negotiations for many other opportunities extending through 2015. That’s all I can say at this point. I will say that we anticipate this album doing a lot of good work for us. So we are going to be particular about what we do. That is just to do justice to our legacy, the music, and ourselves.

Also, what do you want people to know about Jason’s book Extremity Retained? What sort of comments have you received about it from people at the Grimposium and at MDF? (PS, that Grimposium looked interesting, but I don’t know how I feel about putting “my music” into an academic setting for analysis. I guess it happens with everything. Anyone want to comment on that?

Jason put that together over three years, and its really just documented tour stories from the originators of this scene. It’s a really great one-of-a-kind thing. I’m really glad he did it; because of the kind of unrestricted access we have to these key players. It’s been pretty neat listening to some of his recorded interviews. I thought those should’ve been released as well. Obviously, it has been received well both in academia and our scene.

Anything else you want people to know about Misery Index at this time?

“The Killing Gods” is out now on Season of Mist records. Go get it, and check our social media sites to stay up to date. Fresh merch designs are available through Indiemerch. Also, We have a music video for “The Calling” coming out soon, and some behind the scenes studio stuff coming out through Gear Gods. Go check it out, and support your local Misery Index!

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Maryland Deathfest XII recap and photo gallery #1

It is taking me forever to go through some of my photos from Maryland Deathfest XII. But I wanted to get some of them out there, because I got some really good ones.

I also wanted to mention that this was, by far, my most fun MDF. I saw 37 bands! That’s amazing!! I thought the set up worked really well and made getting around  much more efficient for me. Even if I was not actually watching a band with my eyeballs, I could hear them clearly from anywhere on the Edison Lot grounds. The sightlines were good at the outdoor space if you stood further back. Or you could perch on one of the shaded picnic tables and still hear and see OK.

As far as the indoor venues went, both the sound at SoundStage and Rams Head was pretty good and the sightlines decent for a short person like me. I was very happy that the entire Rams Head was opened up on every level. Sitting in the bleachers at the tip-top of was kind of a cop out but if your feet were killing you from all the standing it was some welcome relief.

Walking between venues was not a problem. It took about 7-10 minutes for me to walk from Edison lot to Soundstage if I walked briskly and caught the lights. Mother Nature cooperated by keeping the rain away and not letting it get too hot.

Nice changes this year were shorter lines to get in, for vendors, and for bathrooms. The wait time between bands at Edison lot was negligible. I really appreciated being able to get my four-day pass at the Ottobar pre-fest (which was awesome).

There were a few things I wished they had been done differently. Here’s a starter list of suggestions. I might think of others later.

Water should have been free. I saw several people passing out from dehydration. $2-$3 for water, depending on who you were buying it from, was too much to keep yourself hydrated. Alternatively, people should have been allowed to bring in a couple of sealed water bottles.

Misting tents would have been nice if it had been a any hotter.

Sunscreen samples would have helped. I had plenty of sunscreen on, but I am sure a sunscreen company would be happy to pass out coupons and free samples. Let’s not get skin cancer.

I wish the entrance to Edison Lot had been at the south end and not the north, but it wasn’t a huge hassle to walk all the way to the other side to enter. Still, when trucking over to the other venues, minutes sometimes counted.

The Edison Lot layout was set up like a V. It would have been nicer if it had been more of a circle so that you didn’t have to walk back up out of the vendor spaces to get to the stages. But again, you could really hear pretty well anywhere in the lot.

I would like to see one very obvious and centralized place for bands to display their merch. Several had theirs at the MDF merch tent, but others were scattered throughout the vendor area at their relative labels. As far as I could tell, there was only one table for short-term merch display. Finding merch was like a scavenger hunt. Merch was better displayed at Rams Head and Soundstage.

Rams Head and Soundstage charge way too much for drinks and food. But this was easy to rectify,  just don’t buy anything from them.

That’s it for now….more later.

Check out some of my shots below.

 

 

 

Podcast: Maryland Deathfest recap #3 from Sunday

Here’s our final installation of our Maryland Deathfest podcasts. We made it and no one died! We determined that Derek won MDF with most bands seen (47); most merch purchased, out latest, at the rail or in the pit for most bands seen and most unshowered (honorary crust award). William came in second with most bands seen and most merch purchased. He also wins the straight edge award.

From left Mary, Will, Chris, Sam and Derek.

From left Mary, Will, Chris, Sam and Derek.

Sam V wins for worst and weirdest shaped sunburn and also for loudest snoring. He was also the funniest on the podcast! Go Sam. Woodford wins for best death metal growl and most ladies talked to. I win for best white vest and most selfies taken with crowd members and I also win for most people who came up and bowed down before me (I can’t explain this).

This was by far the most fun we have had at Deathfest. Staying in a hotel within closest walking distance of the venues was the best idea. I love my friends. I would not have wanted to try this with anyone else. Hail CampMDF.

Listen here.

 

 

Podcast: Maryland Deathfest recap #2 from Saturday

Saturday was the big death, thrash and grind day at Maryland Deathfest. What did we think of it? What crazy stuff happened to us? You will have to listen here to the podcast to find out. This time we spend more time talking about the fest and a little less time talking about poop or moms, but not much. Also, this time Christopher was awake for the entire time but William nearly fell asleep.

Rober Bustabad of Machetazo.

Rober Bustabad of Machetazo.

Podcast: Maryland Deathfest recap #1 from Friday

We stayed up till 3:30 a.m. making this podcast about the events of Maryland Deathfest XII from Wednesday to Friday. This needs no introduction. Just listen to it. We spent a lot of time on not editing this at all. Everything you hear is true.

Guests include: Mary Spiro, Derek Beam, Sam Vietmeier and William Harnish. Christorpher Woodford slept through this, somehow.

Click the link to listen.

taake4

 

Putrisect bringing old school metal back to Baltimore

Baltimore’s Putrisect brings together elements of old school death metal, hardcore and crust. They open the stage tonight, May 23, at Rams Head at Maryland Deathfest. I have only seen Putrisect on smaller stages, so it will be exciting to see them on the big Rams Head stage, I am sure they will blow everyone away!

putrisect2Combining the talents of members of several other bands, Putrisect will surprise listeners with a heaviness reminiscent of old Morbid Angel and the swift guitar riffage of classic Slayer. Their sound, however, is not a rehash of old sounds and has a freshness and energy all its own. I sent vocalist Ren Megna a few questions. Here are his replies.

Please list all the band members names/instruments.

Ren-vocals, Jackson-drums, Paul-guitar, Arturo-guitar and Matt-bass.

When and how did Putrisect get together (if you we all in other bands people would recognize, mention that)?

Putrisect was formed out of spare parts of Marrow (death metal) and Burning Axe (crust) in the summer of 2013.

I didn’t see any recordings at your merch table and I found only one song on BandCamp (I got a patch though!). What is your recording history? What are you plans to record?

We’ve recorded a four-song demo with Kevin Bernstein at Developing Nations studio. The label Cemetery Cricket is releasing a tape really soon, and a 7 inch is scheduled for after Deathfest. (Note: Chaos Awaits is now on BandCamp! Listen here.)

You are playing Maryland Deathfest on Friday night at Rams Head. That must be super crazy exciting! How did that come about and how do you feel about it?

We have all been going to or working Deathfest for years now and have always wanted to be in a band with big enough chops to make the cut. I put our early recordings in (MDF organizer) Evan Harting’s ear, and he threw us right onto it. We are all stoked on the opportunity and immensely grateful.

Where do you see yourself in five years (isn’t this the standard job interview question? Hahaha! Just say whatever you want!)

In five years, I hope to be recovering from our third European tour on the beach

If you were not playing music, how would you spend your free time?
Me personally, I would be drawing, drinking, eating, and fucking.

What motivates you? I mean, as a person, as a band? What is your inspiration?

Our motivation stems from an abject hatred for humanity. We are a misanthropic bunch of drunks and that sort of fuels the furnace of evil for us. I’m always wondering how we can make our songs sound like we hate people more. I want this to be a window into our disdain. I see the world as a sort of waking nightmare … I want other people to see that, too.

If you could drive any kind vehicle, what would it be and why?

I would drive and 1984 anniversary edition 300zx, because I love feeling like a bad guy in a 1980s B movie. The other guys … well, I think Arturo would drive an El Camino cause he’s a Mexican or some shit. Matt would drive a station wagon cause he’s a principal. Paul would drive some kind of pickup truck that didn’t work, and Jackson would drive his girlfriend’s car.

Anything else you want people to know about the band?
Our name is meaningless.

Putrisect will play the Adam Savage birthday show at Metro Gallery on June 7 with Pig Destroyer, Magrudergrind, Inter Arma and Cemetery Piss. Event link here.

Check out my gallery of Putrisect below.

Cemetery Piss: spreading that vulture love tonight at Sidebar

Cemetery Piss are a raw, blackened heavy metal outfit out of Baltimore. They play tonight at 11:30 p.m, May 22, in a free show at the Sidebar  as part of the Maryland Deathfest VII festivities. Here’s the event link.

The first time I saw Cemetery Piss, I went in not knowing what to expect, as their visual appearance is fairly unassuming. No spikes or corpse paint here, but maybe a bullet belt and a couple patch vests. If anything, I expected something a bit trippy. But the name — Cemetery Piss — hinted at something more extreme.

I know Adam Savage as an easy going promoter of shows in Baltimore and their drummer Derrick Hans of The Pilgrim, which is sort of a stoner-doom rock group. But the moment the band started to play and Adam let loose with some of the the rawest, sharpest and most gut-punching vocals I’d heard since Bathory’s Quorthon, I knew this was a band I needed to pay attention to.

Drummer Derrick and bassist Rebecca Chernoff lay down a black-thrash influenced rhythm section, and guitarist Dirck Ober blazes through some fuzzy toned pscyhedelic speed metal-esque riffs that are catchy as hell. Adam ties it all together with a highly physical performance.

I sent the band some questions since I was unfamiliar with their history and pre-history. These replies have been sitting in my “to-do” list for a little while (all apologies to CP), so a couple of the answers are dated, but the facts remain. Here’s what Dirck had to say.

When and how did Cemetery Piss get together (if you were all in other bands people would recognize, mention that)?

Cemetery Piss started out as a solo recording project. In around 2006 or 2007, after my band Crypt of Raix had folded, I was in a place where I’d resolved to make some music on my own. I had no set expectations or plans. I just set out to make the music I wanted, by myself, and see what happened. Before too long, I had four instrumentals recorded on a four-track. Adam Savage and I were already playing together in Vincent Black Shadow, so I enlisted him to lay down vocals. These four songs came together as the Rest in Piss demo, named after the title track, which framed what Cemetery Piss was about then. After we’d passed that thing around for a little while, we re-recorded it in a proper studio with Kevin Bernsten, and Timpaler (Tim Snodgrass) of Diabolic Force Distribution released the Rest in Piss EP on cassette. The tape gave us our first real audience, and by the time Adam and I were recording the Such the Vultures Love 7”, Rebecca Chernoff of Spoilage/Icefox had heard it and expressed interest in playing bass in a live incarnation of the band. Encouraged, we approached Derrick Hans of Oak/The Pilgrim/Deathammer about playing drums, and lucky for us he was into it.

Do you consider yourselves black metal or something else? Are there other bands you think you may sound similar to?

We’re not devout black metallers, but there’s a strong influence there. I’m trying to channel that point where thrash was breaking its own boundaries, pushing both aggression and atmosphere as the music evolved into death metal. Possessed’s Seven Churches, Morbid’s December Moon and Necrovore’s Divus de Mortuus were all in heavy rotation when I started writing for the band. Of course, Bathory’s Blood Fire Death, Mayhem through De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Darkthrone are all influences, as well as bands like Von, Absu, Sarcofago, Blasphemy and Beherit. I also really like Funeral Mist, Ofermod and Malign. If I’m going to get to the root of what we do, though, I have to say that Riot, Saxon, Priest and Maiden are just as crucial to our sound. Our mission is to stand firmly rooted in the traditions of metal while trying to break our own boundaries to darken, brutalize, and dement the music.

What are some exciting shows you have coming up? Who would you like to tour with?

Our next show is April 16 with the legendary Satan, and we’re super excited about that. After that, we’re playing a Maryland Deathfest Sidebar show with Bastard Sapling from Richmond, with whom we also played Cemetery Piss’ first live show. (Note: Bastard Sapling moved to Friday night.) (Playing at MDF) is awesome because it gives us the chance to play for an audience from around the world who might never hear of or think to even check us out otherwise. On top of that, getting to actually play puts my annual Deathfest experience on a whole other level. We also have our singer’s birthday show coming up on June 7 with Pig Destroyer, Inter Arma from Richmond and Putrisect. As far as bands we’d like to tour with, I guess I already gave you my dream list in my last answer. It’s so hard to choose. I don’t know how this would ever be possible, but there’s this death metal band from Brazil called Divine Death that I would love to join forces with. They’ve been around since the early 90’s and they’re so sick and yet somehow relatively unknown outside of Brazil. Really, I’d like to tour with any band that carries the spirit of the music we love, especially if they’re a few steps ahead of us and can help us move forward in our own path.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see Cemetery Piss reaching a much larger audience. I want our records to take us traveling the world. Order of the Vulture worldwide takeover!

If you were not playing music, how would you spend your free time?

That’s a tough question. Everything I do revolves around music. I think that’s true of everyone in the band. Derrick is in several bands. Adam’s work revolves around music, too. Maybe Rebecca might spend more time on her motorcycle. I might spend more time reading, hand-binding books or traveling. We might all party a little bit more.

What motivates you? I mean as a person, as a band? What is your inspiration?

When I was a kid, my cousin Bryant played me Kill ‘Em All and then let me play his electric guitar. It was pretty much over for me then. Now I’m inspired by a need to keep my spirit free. A little chaos can loosen the grip of the regulating rank and file. Embracing mortality and shedding the idea that life should follow some peaceful order and fit some happy image means shedding the bonds of a lot of mundane worldly bullshit, too. That’s what inspires me and I pull from the furthest reaches of my imagination to express that with due conviction in our music.

If you could live anywhere in the world, at any time, where and when would it be and why?

I think the obvious choice would have to be the Bay area during the golden age of thrash. My other choice would be Belo Horizonte, the metal capital of Brazil, in the late 80’s/early 90’s so I could rage with the likes of Sarcofago, Sepultura, Mutilator, Holocausto and so many other awesome bands.

Anything else you want people to know about the band?

Right now we’re working on our first full-length album as a full band. We’ve already recorded four songs with Kevin Bernsten at Developing Nations Studio, and we’ll be back soon to finish. Beware the Order of the Vulture!

Check out some photos from Cemetery Piss’s March 20 performance with Obliteration at Metro Gallery.

Listen to Cemetery Piss on Bandcamp.

Chatting with the owner of The Sidebar

Sidebar owner Travis Hunt. Photo by Gary Fry.

Sidebar owner Travis Hunt. Photo by Gary Fry.

Baltimore has a few good music venues that I frequent. One of the smaller ones, The Sidebar Tavern at 218 E. Lexington St.,  also books some of the most underground touring and regional acts I have ever seen. The people who book shows there consistently bring music in a variety of genres nearly every night of the  week.

The first time I ever stepped foot in The Sidebar was probably in 2004 or 2005. The capacity maxes out at about 100, but when there are more than 60 people in there, it really starts to feel full. The Sidebar shows feel intimate and intense. The stage is low and so is the ceiling. There’s nothing like standing just a couple feet away from the band if you can squeeze your way to the front.

During the 2013 A389 Anniversary shows, The Sidebar hosted memorable hardcore matinee shows that had me sitting ON TOP OF the bar to avoid being moshed upon. During the Maryland Deathfest, The Sidebar puts on sold-out before and after parties that extend the fun with some of the bands from the MDF lineup and others that didn’t make the cut.

Ownership of The Sidebar changed hands recently, and the new proprietor, Travis Hunt, has become a good friend of mine.  In this latest podcast, I talk to him about the history of the venue, which sits just across the street from the center of Baltimore’s City Hall and Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. courthouse.  We discuss the role the tavern has played in the Baltimore music scene and also highlight some of the cool events coming up in the near future.

Have a listen!

Metallomusikum Podcast Number 5

Maryland Deathfest 2014 early-bird tickets go on sale Aug. 7

mdflogoHey folks. If you have not noticed this update from Maryland Deathfest, here is the latest on those early-bird tickets. Copied and pasted:

Early-Bird tickets will go on sale August 7 at 3pm EST. Cost will be $199 and these tickets will be good for all days/bands/venues. This is a special offer, only 150 will be sold! General Admission tickets for all 4 individual days as well as multi-day ticket packages will go on sale sometime in October, after the full line-up has been announced, so don’t panic if you miss out on the early-bird special!

All confirmed bands are listed below. Click on any bands name for more information on the artists.

If you think this website looks unfinished, well…that’s because it’s not done yet!! We are still working on features, functionality, and style, so please bear with us while we work to make your Maryland Deathfest experience better!

Check out our FAQ before contacting us with any questions you might have.

NOTE: Early-Bird tickets will not be mailed until sometime in October.

I have not decided what I plan to do yet. But I sure hope the MDF servers are ready to handle the onslaught when ticket sales begin.

Confirmed bands so far include:

At the Gates

Gorguts

Taake

Excruciating Terror

Bongripper

Sólstafir

Diocletian

Mgla

Hemdale

The MDF website is here.

Czech grindcore outfit Contrastic my MDF surprise

Maryland Deathfest XI is over, and I am having a hard time processing everything. In fact, I am a little depressed.

But I think I will make the effort to mention one of the smaller bands that really affected me. Contrastic, a recently reformed grindcore band from the Czech Republic, played early on Sunday. I had listened to some of their stuff online prior to the show and was really curious. I also was aware that they played opposite of Glorior Belli, whom I also wanted to check out. I had to make some decisions.

Contrastic at #MDF2013. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Contrastic at #MDF2013. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Fortunately, Glorior Belli was really boring. So after listening to about two songs from them, I wandered back across the Sonar compound to find Contrastic throwing a heavy metal disco party in the tent.

Generally, grindcore bands are hit or miss for me. Mostly, all I hear is angry screaming and very little recognizable melody. Contrastic has plenty of angry shouting, but they infuse it with funky, jazzy, electronic and industrial samples. The singer was incredibly dynamic and funny, and the band was super tight and on point. It was an amazing blend of death metal with just everything and anything really weird. No rules. There was nothing I didn’t like. The whole place was alive and rocking.

Remember, this is praise coming from a person who listens to a lot of black metal, and hardly any grindcore. Recall, I walked away from Glorior Belli to listen to Contrastic.

Lyrically, Contrastic seem to be tackling lots of social and political ills. The electronic samples give their songs a modern, cyber depersonalized sound, which seems appropriate. I didn’t find any of their CDs (maybe I was not looking in the right places) but would like to find some. I did pick up their t-shirt. If you like Pig Destroyer but have not heard Contrastic, I urge you to give them a listen. Keep an open mind, because I think you will dig them. I’ve included a few tracks.

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