The hardest day of the festival arrived and I could feel it throughout my torn body. It’s at this moment when I thought my age was catching up with me, unlike the previous years when I was able to continue the madness without a break. My roommates also decided to stay in for the majority of the morning and early afternoon to recover as much as they could to finish the festival on a high note. My morning started the best way possible by someone who called me to return my previously lost phone.
Baltimore has an unfair reputation of being riddled by poverty, hence affecting the social perception of its people, but in every single one of my trips, I’ve never had a negative experience with its residents. Sure, there’s an undeniable presence of derelicts around the festival area which can discomfort some at night, but most of the time they’re not more than just a nuisance. If I could, somehow, thank the amazing employee in the Ariana Kabob Grill at the Charles Plaza more than what I already did, I would. Great place for gyros as well.
After picking up my phone, we decided to head out to the Edison lot to catch another band in my bucket list this year, Desaster. We may have missed one or two songs by the time we arrived but my excitement about this band was greater than the rain that was going to fall in a few hours to even care about that. Traditional black thrash with a massive energy only a German band can provide spilled from the stage to the fast mosh pit ensuing in front of them. There were several bands of this genre booked at the festival but if given the chance to repeat any of them, Desaster would be at the top of that list.
Once Desaster said good bye to MDF, we went to kill some time waiting for a band we had discussed several times on our trip with a very promising performance. Interment can be simply described as death metal but there’s nothing simple about their live execution and we found out the best and only way possible. This is the exact reason why I come to this metal phenomenon; to be impressed head over heels over a band’s performance and leaving with the sheer sentiment of fulfillment once I head back home. Interment’s live show was intense and vehement that could only be matched by its precise delivery and this was the first band that, while I had known by a few songs for a while, was not expecting to have such an impression.
The energy was coming back to me and I hoped to keep that up for the remaining of the day to leave Baltimore with a great memory and story to tell. Demolition Hammer was the next band on my list so I decided to take a break during Incantation after a few songs to share some time at the infamous party hotel.
Time flies when you’re with friends and mine went too far that I almost lost their entire set but still managed to arrive on time to catch a bit of their powerful show. It was obvious this reunion show was a bigger deal to some than others considering the amount of people under the rain raging with every single ounce of passion to reciprocate the band’s aggression.
There was no doubt about the quality of the last day’s bands performing as this was the only day I kept a great deal of time focused on the bands. My previous experience at the festival were entirely the same one rushing through me on this day and made me realized that despite my passion for the underground bands the organizers book every year, they can’t all be as exciting all the time.
On my way to Rams Head to catch the Canadian death dealers in Phobocosm and Mitochondrion, there was a gap of time before their set which I spent consciously spending my last hours at the festival with friends from afar to bid them farewell. You could feel the energy high slowly decaying due to exhaustion after 4 days of enjoyment. Here’s where I had the chance to ask around everyone’s thought on the whole experience and between all the laughs and smiles, many said that they felt the festival to be slightly losing its charm.
Without a negative connotation, the consensus was that everything was great but it wasn’t “the best” as many have said year after year. Just like the opinions many had on the first days, it could’ve been a mix of asking the wrong and right people or it could be indicative of what I had been thinking since the beginning.
Inside Rams Head, the Canadians took over the stage and delivered the same high quality performance as I had previously witness from them in the past. Unlike bands like Testament or Mayhem who I had seen plenty of times, I’ve only seen Phobocosm and Mitochondrion once but they managed to leave that hunger to see more of them. Mitochondrion definitely made a greater impression by their dark atmosphere in their performance and definitely a band me, and many other of my friends, look forward to see again.
My flight was scheduled to leave at 8am meaning I had to be out of my hotel no later than 5am making it very difficult for me to continue the festive spirit without the risk of losing my flight. By the end of the night I was sobered up enough to keep myself fairly awake to make it back to the hotel and get ready for my departure, but not without ending the festival for the last few bands.
Zhrine and Mystifier were the last performers of the Rams Head stage and there was no best way to do it than that. Zhrine was taking over the slot left by their fellow countrymen Svartidauði after they were forced to cancel their appearance at the festival. But considering I wanted a new experience like Zhrine’s first performance in the North America and I had seen Svartidauði before, I was more than ok with this change and their excellent performance proved the feeling to be right. At this time, the high note was topped by the Brazilian legends at Mystifier who delivered one of the most demonic and malignant sets I had seen at the festival.
In retrospective, the festival was satisfying and kept the core of what I’ve known it for in the past few years, but I can’t help to always reply with a simple “ok” when asked how it was. There was a healthy set of exciting bands in the bill which delivered a magnificent performance but compared to other years when your jaw was dropping every time you see a stage, it fell short on that stimulating aspect.
There’s always a next year to look forward to and hope for a better experience but the lack of attendance may create some problems down the road for the organization. While it’s good to keep growing and getting bigger every year, sometimes evolution requires to down size to gather strength and become a better version of itself.
Definitely a great experience and now waiting for next year to repeat it all once again.