Maryland Deathfest is about to kick off its first day in a couple hours, but better late than never, right? I’ll be covering Saturday and Sunday, but for anyone still thinking about heading up to Baltimore (tickets are still available, but not many of them!), here is my absolutely non-comprehensive and subjective preview of select bands I want to see. Keep in mind that my knowledge of classic 90s death metal is limited, and I’m more into the modern grindcore and experimental stuff.

MDF takes place at Sonar, 407 East Saratoga St Baltimore, MD 21202, today through Sunday, on the main stage inside as well as an outdoor stage. Tickets will be available at the door for varying prices depending on the day.

FRIDAY (today!)

  • Cattle Decapitation – outside – 6:35-7:10 – Pretty good modern grindcore. Their latest album throws some curveballs, including the inclusion of Jarboe and Grayceon cellist Jackie Perez-Gratz, but I still like their old stuff best (Karma Bloody Karma etc). Listen at Myspace.
  • Mayhem – outside – 8:30-9:30 – Mayhem was at the center of the violent early-90s Norwegian black metal circus, with two original members murdered by other musicians in the scene. Somehow they’re still going and still scary. Expect fake human heads impaled on stakes onstage. Listen at Myspace.
  • Cephalic Carnage – inside – 12:40-end of night – My favorite song of theirs is indicative: “Black Metal Sabbath,” a tongue-in-cheek spoof of black metal’s tremolo riffing and screeching vocals that then transforms into an equally tongue-in-cheek but totally awesome Sabbathy sludge riff. Listen at Myspace.

Check out my Saturday and Sunday picks after the jump. Photo above of Bolt Thrower (playing Saturday) courtesy their Myspace page.


  • Crowpath – inside – 2:10-2:40 – probably my most anticipated band on the bill. Avant-garde death metal from Sweden and one of the more genuinely experimental bands in the extreme metal scene. Their latest, One With Filth, topped my best-of list from last year. Listen at Myspace.
  • Misery Index – inside – 6:15-6:50 – Baltimore/DC grindcore; I hear they’re Caps fans. Listen at Myspace.
  • Pig Destroyer – inside – 8:10-8:40 – Unquestionably DC’s most famous grindcore outfit, and for good reason. Live shows are a rarity for Scott Hull’s flagship band, and not to be missed. Phantom Limb was at the top of many critics’ best-of-2007 lists. Listen at Myspace.
  • Napalm Death – outside – 8:40-9:25 – Arguably the father of the entire grindcore genre, the UK’s politically outspoken greats are on a lengthy tour of the States, having played at Jaxx earlier this month. Amazing that a band this intense is still releasing music just as great as their classic-period stuff. Listen at Myspace.
  • Bolt Thrower – outside – 9:40-11:00 – This is the main draw of the festival for many. Classic UK midtempo death metal with lyrics based on the Warhammer 40K universe. Nerdy enough for you? Listen at Myspace.
  • Wolves in the Throne Room – inside – 12:40-end of night – Yes, hipster black metal exists, and none embody it better than Wolves in the Throne Room, with their creepy, soundscapey forest music. Don’t tell them that, though. Listen at Myspace.


  • Kill the Client – inside – 2:55-3:25 – My bet is on this Texan grindcore band for the title of most violent, whiplash-inducing music at MDF. As you might expect, that’s quite a distinction. Listen at Myspace.
  • Yakuza – inside – 5:10-5:40 – This Chicago death metal group initially came to my attention because of their collaborations with avant-jazz saxphonist Ken Vandermark. Another of the more experimental groups on this bill, they haven’t released much new music in the last couple years and it’ll be interesting to see what they have up their sleeves. Listen at Myspace.
  • Krallice – inside – 7:10-7:40 – Ridiculously proficient tech-death musicians play black metal, with dizzying, complex results. Don’t miss. Listen at Myspace.
  • Antigama – inside – 8:10-8:40 – Polish technical grind; one of those bands that drives purists crazy by drawing all kinds of weird influences into their music. Hell, they prominently feature a tribute to Goblin on their Myspace page. Listen at Myspace.
  • Sigh – inside – 11:50-end of night – Classic Japanese black metal featuring a relatively new band member, “Dr. Mikannibal,” who holds a Ph.D in physics, plays sax, screams, dresses provocatively, eats worms, drinks blood, and records in the nude. No surprise that she tends to hog all the headlines. Listen at Myspace.