Maryland Death Fest 2013 Preview

Now in it’s eleventh year, Maryland Death Fest has a long history of bringing a wide assortment of heavy bands to the city, from mainstream acts to obscure cult favorites, and everything in between. On May 23-26th, MDF returns to the former home of Sonar (407 E Saratoga Street) and expands to take over even more of the street and parking area as well as a satellite stage devoted to hardcore and punk, located at Soundstage (124 Market Place). There will be dozens of bands performing, let’s take a look at some things you shouldn’t miss:

Pentagram & the Obsessed on the same bill
Both bands formed in the 70s (Pentagram in Alexandria, VA, the Obsessed in Potomac, MD), both are extremely influential, and both have iconic frontmen – Pentagram’s troubled Bobby Liebling and Scott “Wino” Weinrich of the Obsessed, as well as St Vitus and many other projects. There probably aren’t two metal bands from the DMV that have as enduring of a legacy as these two acts, and while they have reunited before, each tour has a “this could be the last time” vibe. (Disclosure: this author released two records by one of Weinrich’s later bands, the Hidden Hand)

INFEST reunion
One of the early and defining bands of the 90s powerviolence scene, Infest were a SoCal hardcore band with a reputation for great live performances, strong political stances and a small handful of influential releases on labels like Slap-a-Ham and Deep Six. They disbanded in 1996, before the peak of their scene’s popularity, so this MDF appearance will be many fans’ first chance to see them play.

Exclusive US Venom performance
Formed in the late 70s, Venom are an extremely influential band (they coined the term Black Metal, now a dominant genre), though arguably more for their use of dark, satanic imagery and over-the-top stage costumes and personas than their music. This is their only US show in 2013, and probably for the foreseeable future, and should be a fun experience, if only for frontman Chronos’ stage banter and showmanship.

Rare U.S. Bolt Thrower appearance
This is a rare US show for this long-running UK band who are apparently reluctant to come to this side of the pond. Their two appearances at 2009’s MDF (one announced, one by surprise) were the highlights of that year’s fest – full of energy and fun. This will be your only chance to see them on the east coast, so don’t miss it.

Sleep
California stoner metal band Sleep specializes in droning, meditative, weed-soaked Sabbath worship. Their hour-long set on Sunday is just shy of long enough to play their epic 63-minute song, Dopesmoker. Here’s hoping that the organizers will let them squeeze the whole thing in. Either way, this will be a set that stands out from most of the other acts at the festival.

For more information on tickets, a full running order, and more go to: http://www.marylanddeathfest.com/