Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dad Metal - A Maryland Death Fest playlist for my father

This May I am heading to Baltimore to attend one of the greatest North American extreme music festivals; Maryland Deathfest. Simply put, I'm pretty fucking stoked. The line up is incredible, I'm probably going to go broke buying records and merch, and the closest I've come to Baltimore is watching the first 2 seasons of The Wire in a single sitting. To be sure, these are all valid reasons to be excited, but the greatest part about this trip will be my traveling partner and Festival-buddy; my father. 

Playing and listening to music was and continues to be important to both of my parents, and from a young age good music was drilled into my brain in hopes that I'd grow up with half-decent taste (Apologies. You both tried your best.). My early birthday party soundtracks skipped between Rafi and Hendrix, Sesame Street and Three Dog Night, Sharon, Lois, and Brahm and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I heard the Dead Kennedy's "Too Drunk to Fuck" for the first time in my dad's workshop when I was thirteen. Regardless of what shitty music I was listening to, or the even shittier music I'm listening to now, my father always took a "hey, not my bag, but if you are into it, that's cool" approach. That said, he's much more likely to throw on a John Prine LP then rage out to Extreme Noise Terror. Therefor, in order to prepare him for the giant wall of sound that awaits him this May, I thought I'd make him an MDF playlist! Bonding!

  1. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Mt. Abraxas - This relatively new English band's blend of late 60's fuzzed out psychedelic rock and Sabbath-era early metal makes for a groovy, head-bobbing music with just the right amount of heaviness. This, the first cut off of 2013's Mind Control, is a slow-burner and I think a great way to kick things off.

2.  Windhand - Orchard - I'm a sucker for good female vocalists in heavy music, and Dorthia Corrtell's rich, haunting voice fits perfectly with Windhand's slow doom metal vibe. Dad, while the first  two songs in this playlist may seem to indicate otherwise, I am not "on the pot". I'll be sure to ramp things up past 65 BPM in track 3.

3. Antisect - The World's Biggest Runt - Excellent early English anarcho-punk. Antisect's 1983 LP In  Darkness, There is No Choice , along with Amebix's Arise are widely considered to be the recordings that kicked off the whole crust punk movement, and for that the world is a much better, stinkier place. 

4. Capitalist Casualties - On The Take - This band has been churning out furious, politically-charged hardcore punk / powerviolence since the late 80's.  Similar to Antisect, this is a group whose influence can be heard on a vast number of contemporary recordings.

5.  Black Breath - Sentenced to Life - Along with Vancouver band Baptists, Black Breath was one of the first bands to turn me on to Southern Lord records, in my opinion the reigning taste makers of contemporary heavy music. Black Breath's blend of darkened thrash and hardcore is reminiscent of Entombed, especially in guitar tone. The title track from from 2012's Sentenced To Life will make your neck sore.

6. The Secret - Angus Dei - Do you like Trap Them? Do you like All Pigs Must Die? Do you like a Spicy Meat-a-ball? Do you like Mario and Luigi? How about the Godfather movies? Do you like tired stereotypes about Italians in place of actual comedy? (Good!). Another great band from the Southern Lord roster, Italy's The Secret play that familiar blend of dark hardcore / d-beat / death metal / grind that everyone seems to be jamming to these days. Personally, the more bands like this, the better!

7. Tankard - Die with A Beer In Your Hand - An 80's German speed metal band whose every song is about alcohol. What the fuck else do you need to know?

8. Noothgrush - The Jundland Wastes - While Noothgrush have existed since the early 90's, I am a relatively new fan and only have listened to a small portion of their total output. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I've heard so far, especially their recent split EP with Japanese sludge monsters Coffins. This is dark, misanthropic sludge / doom that perfectly balances the brutal, industrial levels of evil with meaty riffage.

9. Candlemass - Tot - Candlemass purists will probably be pissed I'm not picking a track off of 1987's Nightfall, but Goddamnit to I ever dig Candlemass' 1999 love letter to Black Sabbath From the 13th Sun. Bj√∂rn Flodkvist's vocals on this track during the verses are ethereal,  then the guitar comes in and HOT DAMN! A crushing, Iommi-esque riff with a freaking church bell on the accents!

10. Gorguts - An Ocean of Wisdom / Battle of Chamdo-  Avant garde technical death metal from La Belle Province! This track from 2013's Colored Sands demonstrates that  beyond the insane musical ability possessed by its members, Gorguts know how to write actual songs. That might seem like an odd compliment, but too often Tech Death bands seem content to travel far up their own asses and simply mash together a bunch of "Hey,look what I can do!" sections, creating records that can be praised for the skill they demonstrate, but are ultimately real snoozers to listen to. Colored Sands keeps you engaged from start to finish. The second tune I've included, Battle of Chamdo, is a classical piece frontman Luc Lemay wrote for piano and was then performed by a string quartet for the record. beautiful stuff.

Like any list, it's clear I'm missing stuff. There are many excellent bands playing at this year's festival that are not listed here. Is there a band I simply cannot miss at MDF? Let me know in the comments! and if you are going to MDF this year, Dad and I will see you in the fucking pit! Bonding Mosh!

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