The Maryland Doom Fest Preview: Day 1

Four Days of Doompocalypse are upon us! In just a matter of days denizens of the unholiest of riffs will descend upon quaint Maryland town of Frederick and blow the lids off of Downtown with uproarious apblomb – and the prospect of being a part of this for the first time in five years has me giddier than a child at Christmas. The thought of returning has been on my mind since me and the old lady stepped back on the plane at Washington Dulles on our return flight back to the Kingdom of Passive Aggressive Hovel, waving the brick wall of East Coast heat goodbye and basking in the glow of memories that have kept with us ever since. Delving into this years roster of talent I cannot help but be overwhelmed – the Thursday alone is jam-packed with the kind of heaviness that would make a grown adult quit their day job and undertake a lifetime of rock’n’rolling all thru the night and partying everyday (and yes, I do KISS my old lady with that mouth). Except we’re all begrudgingly responsible adults who know our day jobs are what helps pay for weekends such as this, but we work hard and party even harder right? Right? Damn sure I’m gonna!

I’m a disorganised mess at the present time, and wanted these articles out earlier than they’re about to be, but the following series of public service announcements will be going ahead nonetheless, and if you’re uncertain of who to catch during the upcoming festivities, maybe these will sway your decision. Or not, who knows, but consider this towards my community service!

2 Screws Loose

Igniting the festivites with a cavalcade of smuggled fireworks from the ’90s, DC’s 2 Screws Loose – who originally formed whilst original member Sean SERay Ray was stationed in South Korea circa 1999 – come armed with more grunge-heavy tunes than we deserve! We are not worthy of the likes of ‘Born’ and ‘I’ve Seen and Done It All’, whose rough-around-the-edges grit’n’sawdust is blisfully offset with new vocalist Dizzy Gossard III’s raw vein-shreddin’ croonin’, sending you hurtling back to a time when MTV played (good) music, LA was burning, and Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain were riding towards their triumphant pinnacles. This is bare-bones rock’n’roll to the core, ’nuff said!

Be sure to catch 2 Screws Loose @ Olde Mother Brewing 17:20 – 18:00

Latest Release: Screw It, Over! (Self-Released, 2022)

Dead East Garden

Pack up yer shit and head out West, and ensure these guys are on heavy rotation for Cleveland natives Dead East Garden clearly know a thing or two about killer driving songs. Take your pick from the sun-scorched El Camino Rock (there can be no rock / there can be no roll) or any of the groove’n’roll numbers that make the 17-minutes of 1 x 1 so unquestionably thrilling, because you simply cannot go wrong! These guys bring the motorfuzzin’ stomp to the pedal, hitting the gas harder than dune-eating rally racers with their brand of no-nonsense desert rock. My pick? Well, Hey Man has me gearing towards that sunset without a care in the free world. It is free’ right?

Be Sure to catch Dead East Garden @ Cafe 611 18:00 – 18:40

Latest Release: I x I (Self-Released, 2020)

The Stone Eye

You know the surge of electricity that courses through your entire body when your favourite song invades your head via the ears? ‘Catatonia’ is that for three solid minutes, a solid does of pure sonic adrenaline rushing and crashing with all the otherworldly prowess of the tides; but The Stone Eye are more than just a one-hit bastion of earthly heavy rock for their back-catalogue is a treasure trove best left heard to be believed. Their latest cut is a perfect demonstration of how fleeting the line between light and dark really is, and just how finely tuned into the ether this Philly crew are, just give ’60/26′ ‘Presence of Mind’ a listen to and try and change my mind on that!

Be sure to catch The Stone Eye @ Olde Mother Brewing 18:20 – 19:00

Latest Release: South of the Sun (Eclipse Records, 2021)

Bone Church

You’re always welcome at the church of bone where you can live the life divine – and the life divine is precisely what this Connectictut doomcrew offers in slabs! With more acid-tinged blues than even Ray Manzarek could shake a stick at, Bone Church take doom back to its primal origins by way of that quintessential pairing of those 1970 Sabbath records and yet fly on their own wings without being “just another Sabbath clone”. Their latest effort Acid Communion is essential listening for everyone who proudly waves the “Play It Heavy, Play It Slow” flag whether they’ve been doing so for five days or 50 years. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve had these Bone Church Blues for a lifetime… Keep on rollin’, oh right!

Be sure to catch Bone Church @ Cafe 611 19:00 – 19:40

Latest Release: Acid Communion (Ripple Music, 2020)

Dust Prophet

They may have a fleeting arsenal of songs to their name but New Hampshire’s Dust Prophet are not to be taken lightly, for theirs is a menacing – at times harrowing – sound loaded with monstrous riffs and unfurling atmosphere that swallows you whole. How does one not get swept up in the Promethean void of Hourglass, or not feel the dread trickle down ones neck whilst cranking up When The Axe Swings loud enough to prevent the dreaded Axeman of New Orleans from murder? I guess murder is gonna happen: the trio’s latest cut from their upcoming record may be a dark, sprawling voyage through fear but jazz it ain’t. Who cares, if I’m gonna die I’m die with my boots on banging my head to this!

Be sure to catch Dust Prophet @ Olde Mother Brewing 19:20 – 20:00

Latest Release: When The Axe Falls (Self-Released, 2022)

Akris

First impressions always matter, and my first impression of West Virginian purveyors of mantis-bred sludge Akris has stuck with me since that very first encounter at this very festival half a decade ago. Unflinching, unnerving, and above all downright provocative, their stage presence has long been burned into my retinas; of course it is their uncompromising attitude to the DIY, to their reckless abandon of the formalities of genre (much like another band playing later in the week) which will appeal to our inner carnage-wreaking souls. And boy oh boy is that bass attack not to be messed with! Prepare to be rumbled and decimated!

Be sure to catch Akris @ Cafe 611 20:00 – 20:45

Latest Release: Your Mantis (Domestic Genocide Records, 2016)

Horseburner

Speaking of West Virginia, there were few records of 2019 that surpassed the inexplicable might of Horseburner’s sophomore outing, The Thief, an album so majestic, so feverously entwined with face-melting heaviness it landed at no. 6 on the 2019 edition of Ridin’ the Dunes on this very site! To say these guys have nailed their formula is to do them a grave injustice, for they’re poised for greatness in the not-so-distant future; wielding a sonics-defying deafening sound with such cutthroat precision, and hooks meatier than the finest pitmasters could muster, there is simply no denying the excitement strewn across my face to bask in their glory and, let’s be honest, the same goes for you too!

Be sure to catch Horseburner @ Olde Mother Brewing 20:20 – 21:00

Latest Release: The Thief (Ripple Music, 2019)

Crystal Spiders

Feel the low-end rumble as you begin to tremble in your boots as the mirages of a long-lost doom filter through your mind; kaleidoscopic in nature and fuzzy in sound there are few bands who possess the foresight required to conjure up such mystical images in the same way Raleigh’s Crystal Spiders manage, a duo who take minimalism to vast horizons and open up doors to the trippiest dimensions in the process. Last year’s stellar Morierers pushed the band’s sound deeper down the rabbit hole, exploring strange and illustrious realms with the same wide-eyed wonder as Alice. Except Alice didn’t have the likes of Septix, Pandora, and Golden Paw scoring her journey to nowhere!

Be sure to catch Crystal Spiders @ Cafe 611 21:05 – 21:50

Latest Release: Morieris (Ripple Music, 2021)

Heavy Temple

If Crystal Spiders sent you spiralling towards the ethereal then Philly’s Heavy Temple are the ones to surge down the rabbit hole at full speed and lay seige to its dreamlike visage! Their uptempo brand of heaviness is a surge of adrenaline that cleaves souls with one hand and regenerates the levelled hand with the other. Having evolved leaps and bounds since I last saw them back in ’17 with their latest dose of mystical devastation Lupis Amoris, the trio are poised to demolish all stand before them in a glorious pillage of the ears when they close out Olde Mother Brewing. It’s gonna get rowdy y’all, so be sure to nail yourself to terra firma before you’re swept up for good. Or don’t do that; who am I kidding, it’s better off if we don’t!

Be sure to catch Heavy Temple headlining Olde Mother Brewing @ 21:20 – 22:00

Latest Release: Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records, 2021)

Great Electric Quest

Don’t quit on me now just because it’s past our bedtimes, the party’s only just getting started – and if there is one band who know a thing or two about parties it’s San Diego’s Great Electric Quest who have been cranking up the tunes and raising all hell since 2010. A GEQ party, as legends have it, is open to all manner of beings, terrestrial or otherwise, and rages so far into the night that by the time you emerge from whence you came the whole world has aged a decade or two and you remain intact. Spooky, eh? So bring the booze and leave sobriety at the door because the rock’n’roll is gonna set you free! Oh, and if sobriety is your jam, then leave all other cares and worries at the front porch!

Be sure to catch Great Electric Quest @ Cafe 611 22:10 – 22:55

Latest Release: Live at Freak Valley Festival (Ripple Music, 2020)

Black Sabbitch

It’s Sabbath, baby! ‘Nuff said!

Oh, you were looking for something a little more articulate?

A headline slot a decade in the making, L.A.’s very own all female Sabbath covers band Black Sabbitch are gonna raise the roof as they send Cafe 611 into a frenzied state of badass euphoria, slamming us with pure unadulterated Iommian riffage from the second they take to the stage! There ain’t quite no party like a Sabbath party, but a Sabbitch party is gonna come very fucking close! They were also hand-picked by Ozzy to open the inaugural Ozzfiesta, and recommendations don’t come much higher than that!

Be sure to catch Black Sabbitch headline Cafe 611 @ 23:15 – 00:30

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