Maryland Deathfest 2011 Recap Day 3

Continuing on from our collected review of Thursday’s and Friday’s shows, here is what we thought of the bands we saw which played Saturday, Day three, of the 2011 Maryland Deathfest. Reviews by Adam Wills, Laura Wiebe and Sean Palmerston, with photography by Albert Mansour.

Mammoth Grinder (2:35 – 3:05, main room)

Before I left for MDF, a friend asked me if Mammoth Grinder were named for a giant power tool or violent actions performed on a mammoth. I guessed neither, but decided to check out the band’s set to see what I could deduce. The guys look pretty young but play well, and I was impressed by their solid death metal with traces of melody and punk. (Laura)

This was my first time seeing these dudes and it was good. Grindy, but not too much so. I liked it. (Sean)

I like my grind with lots of groove, and this fit the bill.  Not something I would usually check out, but enjoyed their set nonetheless. (Adam)

Cretin (3:20 – 3:55, main room)

Sean lured me back inside to check out Cretin by informing me that singer Marissa Martinez used to be Dan. Not really my sound (a little more grind than I prefer) but they were edgy and entertaining. (Laura)

First time seeing these SF goregrinders, which was expanded to a four piece this performance with the addition of Exhumed’s Matt Harvey on second guitar. The band did an Exhumed cover to mark his appearance, covering an early song by the group (which was all of two seconds long!) that went over very well. Naturally, there were curious onlookers there to see how Dan Martinez now performs as Marissa, but honestly that was a complete non-issue by the end of the second song, except for the dummies up front asking her to show them her boobs. She counteracted asking to see their penises first, but I don’t think any of them had the balls to do it. Figures. (Sean)

Cianide (4:35 – 5:10, Outdoor Stage 1)

The biggest surprise of the weekend came from this veteran Chicago death metal unit. The trio seemed genuinely surprised at the size of the crowd there to witness their set, but how could you not be drawn to what was the fucking heaviest set of the weekend. The band had an insanely heavy guitar tone and blasted out killer song after killer song. Reminiscent of early Grave at their peak, they came out and blasted our faces off in the best way possible. I was impressed enough that I had to buy two albums and a t-shirt. In a perfect world, Cianide would be absolute death metal legends. They are in my mind after this awesome thirty-fine minute performance. (Sean)

In Solitude (6:10 – 6:50, Outdoor Stage 1)

This was the first ever North American show by these hotly tipped Swedes, who were recently part of a metal label bidding war that saw them sign to Metal Blade earlier this year for the release of their second album. The band used their Maryland appearance as an album release show for their new record, which finds them treading traditional eighties metal ground that would find them compared closest to early Mercyful Fate. The band came across like seasoned vets, never missing a beat or dropping anything. My one and only question – how the fuck did the vocalist sing in the hot afternoon sun with that fox pelt wrapped around his neck? Pretty freaky. (Sean)

Hail of Bullets (6:55 – 7:45, Outdoor Stage 2)

I think that Martin Van Drunen is my favourite death metal vocalist ever. His vocal chords are rough strewn, like as if glass shards were present, but the way he can control a stage is impressive. Last year I got to see him front Asphyx at MDF and this year he was back with his other band again. While I think I would give a nod of the hat to Asphyx over Hail of Bullets personally, the HoB set this year was excellent. Great mid-paced death metal with lots of swing and that killer voice singing songs of war and battles. Great stuff (Sean)

Impaled Nazarene (7:55 – 8:45, Outdoor Stage 1)

Impaled Nazarene were more amusing than I expected, noisy and melodic at the same time. It’s hard to take their cantankerous frontman seriously, especially when his bandmates’ humour undermines his cranky complaints. (Laura)

Was looking forward to seeing I.N., and felt a little disappointed after their set… for their vicious sounding Finnish black/thrash/punk/etc, metal, they don’t have much stage presence.  Vocalist Mika Luttinen was rather stationary, screeching out lyrics with the only variation in his stance being that he either held the mic with one or two hands.  His hateful humour became the highlight of the set, seizing the inflatable beach ball from the crowd and reminding them that they weren’t at Woodstock. (Adam)

Funny guys, but their set was little more than background music for me by this time. Plus, I was gearing up to see the mighty Voivod once again. (Sean)

Voivod (9:45 – 10:45, Outdoor Stage 1)

For me, Voivod was the main Saturday draw. From set opener “The Unknown Knows” to closer “Astronomy Domine” they were in excellent form, and I appreciated the track from Phobos (“Forlorn”) even if Away is the only current member to have played on the recording. There’s no replacing Piggy (as Snake’s closing dedication reminded us), but guitarist Dan Mongrain plays his parts with precision and style, and the others – Away, Snake and Blacky – perform new and vintage material like old pros and old friends. (Laura)

What can I say? I’ve loved this band since I was a teenager and they never disappoint. (Sean)

Only being a casual Voivod fan, I still enjoy them immensely every time I see them live.  The entire band act as though the stage is their home, with new guitarist Dan Mongrain filling the void left by Piggy just fine.  Energetic, precise, and loving what they do?  The exact recipe for a great live band. (Adam)

Acid Witch 10:45 – 11:25)

I only caught the last few Acid Witch songs but liked what I heard, especially the vintage organ drenching parts of their set. (Laura)

There was a big buzz about Acid Witch going into this, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with their set. The drumming was a little sloppy for my tastes and they never seemed to get to the point of having the same kind of energy as their albums display. Good but underwhelming. (Sean)

After Voivod, I was one of the many that crammed back in the indoor venue to catch what was left of Acid Witch. Only heard about two songs, but liked what I heard, especially when they threw a slab of organ on top of their Halloween inspired death metal (complete with candy-filled plastic jack-o-lanterns). (Adam)

Hooded Menace (11:40 – 12:20)

Literally hooded (drummer excepted), and menacing in their doom-laden riffs at least, Hooded Menace were an oppressive force onstage, though I couldn’t help thinking that by this time in the night (approaching and passing midnight) they would have sounded better had I been lying down. And, as much as I appreciate the combination of death metal and doom, the vocals and guitars didn’t quite fuse for my ears. (Laura)

One of my most anticipated bands of the evening, the hooded foursome crushed the weary crowd with their horror-inspired doom/death metal. Behind Voivod, easily my favourite performance of the evening (although I didn’t stick around for Inquisition, which I regret). (Adam)

Albert was disappointed that they were wearing hoodies and not robes on stage, mentioning that he thought that cheapened the effect of their performance, but for me the band’s stage attire didn’t effect what Hooded Menace was dishing out. I enjoyed their doomy death metal quite a lot, although it seems to me that the group has not found their live legs quite yet. As good as this was, I keep thinking that this band is going to be way better in the years to come. I’m excited. (Sean)

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.