Maryland Doom Fest 2019 was the biggest edition of “the other MDF” yet, with 50 bands playing across two stages over four days. Twas also my first time in attendance — I only caught 26 of the 50 outfits, but they were all killer, no filler.
And lemme tell ya, Thursday night’s might have been the most stacked lineup of them all. Officially a festival “pre-show,” it featured nine bands that had played the Stoner Hands of Doom festival, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary. I didn’t shoot every single band, but with names like Warhorse, Solace and Earthride on the lineup, you can bet that I hung around for most of them.
After Cleveland’s After the Sun officially got the festivities underway, Freedom Hawk took the stage before dinnertime at roughly 6:15. I have been listening to this band since their early MeteorCity days, but only saw them for the first time back in January, when they played the Bovine with Yawning Man on the coldest freakin’ day of the year. Suffice to say it was much warmer this time around… Can you say Indian Summer? 😉
Dave Sherman’s side project Weed is Weed was up next. They pretty much sound like a cross between Earthride and Bongzilla, with at least a few drug-themed lyrics. These guys ended their set with a Slayer cover, which might have been the only thrash metal anyone heard all weekend.
Indiana’s Devil to Pay has been doing this for 17 years, although I do believe this was the first time I saw ’em play. I think I recognized a couple tunes from their Fate is Your Muse record, which got more than a few spins ’round these parts.
Wasted Theory have a special place in SHOD history, as they ran the festival for its last couple years of existence (before spinning it off into Eye of the Stoned Goat). Arguably the most high-energy act of the evening, their blend of Motorhead and Fu Manchu went down well with the Frederick crowd.
Solace was another veteran outfit that I’d never seen before, even though I’ve got a couple of their MeteorCity releases from back in the day. These guys also really bring it live, with frontman Justin Goins spilling drinks left, right and centre stage!
In stark contrast to the previous acts, Warhorse really slowed things down and turned things up — theirs was the heaviest, loudest, most anticipated set of the evening. Although their As Heaven Turns to Ash album was reissued by Southern Lord four years ago, this was essentially a one-off reunion gig, with Grief’s Terry Savastano stepping in for late guitarist Todd Laskowski. Heavy as fuck!
After an incredibly tough act to follow, Maryland scene veterans Earthride were left to close out the night. They still did a very good job — Sherman was revving his invisible motorbike during the driving riffs — but overall, I gotta say, the evening belonged to Warhorse.
Stay tuned as I post more pictures from the festival throughout the week…