2020 seems like a long time ago, with the world coming apart at the seams and one of the few things we tend to take for granted is our ability to do what we want with our free time, one of those magical things is being able to go to a concert with like-minded individuals and experience music live. This immersive experience which I missed from March of 2020 through the fall 2021 edition of Decibel's Metal Beer Fest was a long time, something sorely missed, as my closest connection to live music was sharing memories with friends via late Friday night Zoom conferences conducted through March of 2020 and every week thereafter until this recent Maryland Deathfest, where the aptly named Heavy Metal Happy Hour got to be an in-person event as it was eventually intended to be.
All told I attended 16 concerts spanning 19 days in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and even local shows here in New Jersey. It was excellent being able to see so many familiar and new faces out and about in my travels, many thanks to those of you who accompanied me there. Here is to more of that in 2023. For now here are the honorable mention shows:
Boris/Nothing; Webster Hall, New York, NY September 1st
Deadguy/School Drugs/Honey; Crossroads, Garwood NJ March 5th
Exhumed/Vitriol/Escuela Grind/Castrator; The Meadows, Brooklyn, NY November 27th
Turnstile/Citizen/Ceremony/Ekulu/Truth Cult; The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA May 24th
Napalm Death/Brujeria/Frozen Soul/MDC; Music Hall of Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn NY October 28th
Mayhem/Midnight; Irving Plaza, New York NY March 27th
10. Eyehategod/Come To Grief/Bat/Escuela Grind; Saint Vitus, Brooklyn NY, May 4th
Originally covered here this was my first trip to Saint Vitus post-Covid and it was a sorely needed one. An odd show with bands either flying in your face like Escuela Grind and Bat or sludge titans Come To Grief and Eyehategod moving at glacial speeds; this show had it all. Escuela Grind as the openers had more time to let loose in the above Exhumed show, but this time around they more than proved their worth as well and became one of the most talked about bands in metal during 2022. Bat, being one of the side projects of Ryan Waste (of Municipal Waste) is a great callback to the evil speed metal that reigned supreme in the '80s and the rest of the show featured Come to Grief who I had yet to see and EHG who I hadn't seen in nearly 10 years. A combination of styles that was tough to top in one of the premiere live environments in the tri-state area.
9. Immolation/Demolition Hammer/Mortician/Black Anvil/Funeral Leech; Irving Plaza, New York, NY March 19thhere.
Up next were Quebeckers, Spectral Wound riding high on 2021’s excellent A Diabolic Thirst which they played almost in its entirety plus “Woods from Which The Spirits Once So Loudly Howled” and “Black Satanic Glamour” off of their previous Infernal Decadence LP. Begloved front man, Jonah sounded otherworldly while his guitar section backed by crashing drums set up an atmosphere that matched the fog within the venue perfectly. Their 50 minute or so set was a triumphant display of black metal taking over such a wide-open space and making it work to their advantage, seeing as some of the City’s venues don’t have quite the same space orientation as Brooklyn Made does. The crowd got behind them as they made an indelible mark in Bushwick’s extreme metal playground.
Hulder was up next to close things out and she and her live band played heavily into the enigmatic nature of her folk black metal approach. Her make-up was on point as was her guitar playing and vocals, sounding just as fresh as last year’s excellent Godlastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry did in studio. The LP was prominently played as well as inclusions from their Ascending the Raven Stone and Embraced By Darkness and Mysts EP. The wondrously dark environment became Hulder’s playground throughout, as her corpse paint gave the feeling of grimness and sadness all the same. An excellent performance by one of black metal’s up and coming bands.
7. Undeath/200 Stab Wounds/Enforced/Phobophilic; Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY November 13th
6. Sumerlands/Eternal Champion/Daeva/Tower; Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA November 4th
5. Ghost/Mastodon/Spiritbox; UBS Arena, Elmont, NY September 10th
4. Municipal Waste/Integrity/Bewitcher; Crossroads, Garwood, NJ June 19th
3. Mercyful Fate/Kreator/Midnight; Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY November 10th
2. Decibel Metal and Beer Fest, The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA June 10th-11th
1. Maryland Death Fest XVIII, Edison Lot/Rams Head/Powerplant Live/Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore MD May 26th-29th
This was the weekend that I had waited for, nearly three years, one that was the focal point of many Zoom calls where new friendships were cultivated and due to that the (formerly) annual event made for even more of a familial setting than it had ever been before. I elected to do the last three days of the fest due to work commitments, but my arrival brought me feelings of joy when finally able to sit down in person with these virtual talking heads and to remind each and every one of them how special we are to each other.
Friday night I made it to Rams Head Live as well as the outdoor stage there which they called Power Plant Live featuring a relocated Carcass as well as Vio-Lence and Obituary before ambling my way to Baltimore Soundstage to take in the insanity that was Ghoul, complete with masks and blood.
Saturday morning was the start of my gazebo breakfast that saw a particular NJ breakfast meat, plus plenty of bagels, coffee and libations provided by what is essentially extended family. Plus a run to Max's Taphouse where many drinks were also shared. Bands seen included Coroner, Autopsy, Cavalera, Triptykon, Necrophobic, and Impaled making for a gnarly end to the night.
Sunday marked the last day of the fest and a relatively subdued start to the day which mostly consisted of conversation and leftovers from the previous morning's festivities. The trek of bands included Nocturnus AD, Blood Incantation, Demilich, Destruction, Immolation, Triumph of Death, Hypocrisy, Deicide, Gravesend, Birdflesh complete with glow sticks, sex dolls and rubber sharks!
So there you have it a year full of concerts in 2022. I know there is nothing all that grandiose planned for 2023, however I plan to see many of my friends out on this proverbial battlefield sooner rather than later.