The next morning, I was very well rested and very eager to attend the Edison parking lot stages which would open at 2pm, but I had to get some food so I didn’t repeat the mistake of not eating due to all the drinking ensuing. Considering the crowd who managed to get early enough to the open air area of the festival, I believed many decided to stay in and recover from the intense party of the previous days. I was fine, but still managed to miss Horrendous due to my own carelessness of losing my phone, spending their set time purchasing a new one to keep in touch with roommates and comrades.
Once I got there, Centinex was two songs into their set but I didn’t mind once I heard their powerful drumming coming from the speakers. Many fans decided to stay under the punishing sun to catch them as close as possible but I found a large group of people seeing them from the side, under the shade. We all knew what we are to expect at the Edison lot, but many were still ok about catching the bands from afar instead of roasting.
This is when I decided to get some drinks to fight the imminent dehydration about to happen, but I was somehow shocked by the price of their drinks. $9 beers and $10 mixed drinks were a tad steep for conventional and poorly-mixed liquor. During my handful of trips to the bars, I accompanied my best friend to get a rum with juice hoping that would compensate the price paid, only to find that the bartenders were preparing very watered down, barely-splashed-with-liquor drinks. I was not the only one complaining about this. Some people decided to skip the disappointment and headed back to their hotels to the comfort of their rooms to drink a cup of something that would actually do the job. It may seem unfair to complain about this considering the cost of putting together such a huge festival, but the trade didn’t feel right and that really deterred me from buying too many drinks at the festival grounds.
As far the music goes, Wormed and Novembers Doom had already played their sets to a very enthusiastic and seemingly happy crowd, but the next highlight came with Norway’s Khold bringing the first black metal of the fest. I’m a huge black metal worshipper and that’s one of my only known facts among all those close to me, so it was exciting to see how many others appreciated the intensity of their set. It was a true pleasure seeing this band bringing the energy and passion extreme metal is known for, and frontman Gard truly won me over with his fierce attitude.
Right after their set, I decided to head back to my room and wait for Samael’s highly anticipated Ceremony of Opposites set. With Sinister’s cancellation due to the visa issues they encountered on their way to the country, it wasn’t hard to use the time and share a few drinks with some of my roommates.
When discussing the plans for the rest of the day, no one seem really interested on attending the Soundstage venue to catch the grindcore bands scheduled. Grindcore is not a genre everyone can identify themselves with, and it’s not a surprise to see how many people decide to use their time for something else rather than expecting to suddenly develop a passion for it after watching Repulsion or Rotten Sound. But being a fan myself of those two but having seen them recently, I was glad to see they were highly complemented even by those who aren’t used to them.
After a few brews and getting bored at our room, we decided to head back out and catch some of Paradise Lost’s set, hoping to see Nick Holmes doing some of his early death growls. Joining Bloodbath must have triggered that hunger for extreme metal and they did include some of their Gothic classics and their most recent The Plague Within.
Before Paradise Lost walked out of the stage, there was a large group of fans waiting for Samael’s set, including myself, and it could’ve been the relief of the night weather or some of the beers previously consumed, but it was definitely a fantastic set. Those familiar with their 1994 record were rocking as hard as they possibly could. Even some holding a grudge about their musical change seemed to be enjoying “Baphomet’s Throne” and “Mask of Red Death.”
After having the time of my life, my friends and I decided to split ways to catch either Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas set or Germany’s Secrets of The Moon. While Mayhem’s set was going to be unique, I had seen them more than enough times to know what to expect, so the choice to see Secrets of the Moon for the first time was swift. Going back a bit about booking bands that had recently toured across the US, I can’t really say this was 100% the case with Mayhem considering that they played a set they haven’t done in North America before, but it had a similar ring when choosing to skip them.
Other festivals like 70,000 tons of Metal or ProgPower Fest have been known to fall into this vicious circle but at least Maryland Deathfest can sell you the same candy wrapped in a different package. Exclusive sets should be a norm for repeating bands to keep any sort of attraction to it and they don’t suffer a huge dose of “seen them before.” Explaining Secrets of the Moon’s set without actually seeing them yourself would be futile but to describe it in simple words, I can say it was “absolutely surreal.” The band mixed their black metal essence with an endearing serenity in ways only a few bands can do. Their new avant-garde direction fit perfectly right from the beginning with “No More Colours” and only peaked from there until their closure with “Lucifer Speaks.”
My day at the festival ended with a higher note delivered by one of the most talked bands at the fest: Angelcorpse. This band was definitely in my bucket list this year but I can assure you I was not ready for such a violent, intense set. Their legendary status lived up every single fan’s expectation, if not surpassed it once they played songs like “Lord of The Funeral Pyre” or “Black Solstice.”
It was here when I realized that, even though there were many great bands on the bill, all you need is to have one of these intense and embracing sets to make it worth the time. Many of those I asked about their favorite set of the fest brought up Angelcorpse and I can’t say I disagree with them.
Take a look at our second and last part here.