If you're a good friend I haven't seen in a while who invites me to a thing, I will probably make it my business to go. So when Kim texted me on Saturday to ask if I was in Baltimore for Hell in the Harbor (a baby Maryland Deathfest, if you will), I briefly hemmed and hawed, then bought a ticket for Sunday. If you've been to Deathfest, the scale was far more compact, making it easy to see everything. The vibe was also super chill — more folks in silly costumes, more teens, more chances to run into far-flung friends, more partyin'. After the outdoor stage finished up, the karaoke tent was a nice touch.
Some scattered thoughts on Sunday:
Cloud Rat's gear was misbehaving, so we got a clipped set — still, those three songs were freaking potent.
Pig Destroyer's transition from arty- to arena-grind really works for an outdoor stage, but I admit to some disconnect happening in the midst of J.R.'s dark poetry, the band's new electronics/hypeman and the curious onlookers shopping at Marshalls nearby.
Jesus Piece was the hardest band at the Harbor, no contest; its evil metallic hardcore is made for primal club mosh.
I never tire of Napalm Death live. I think this was my fifth time seeing these dudes who have been around 40+ years. Barney Greenway never fails to entertain and educate in equal measure.
Richmond's Inter Arma added a theremin player to its sludge/death/black/whatever metal, really amplifying the sci-fi/psych/prog undertones; it was so sick.
Literally enacted our own Heavy Metal Parking Lot, popping open nerdy beers and trading stories with new-to-me pals. Thanks for instigating, Chris.
I adored Sonja's Loud Arriver last year. Y'all, there was such triumphant energy, anger, beauty and lust behind these glammy and gothy songs live — the go-go dancer on top of the bar (a VIBE!) seemed to agree. Sonja should be opening for Joan Jett.
7-Eleven hot dog burps are gross.
Best hair of Hell in the Harbor goes to Hulder — I wanna know her routine! (So much bounce!) I was on the fence about the music before, but convinced by the end of the set that Hulder's likely making some of the most compelling black metal right now. Gonna go back to the albums with a different set of ears.
For someone who hasn't written about metal consistently as I once did for NPR — too many reasons to get into here — it was humbling to have folks come up to Kim and me to share how inspiring our coverage was to them. I had no idea. That kind of thing always inspires me to reevaluate my priorities, so thank y'all for that.
Horrendous, "Ontological Mysterium"
The Blamed, "Walkabout (Twenty21 Re-Recording)"
马木尔 Mamer, "梦弹 / Tüsindê xêrtw Playing in a Dream"
A Constant Knowledge of Death, "The Hallowed Castration of Throne"
Beverly Glenn-Copeland, "Africa Calling"
Kieran Hebden & William Tyler, "Darkness, Darkness"
Call Super & Julia Holter, "Illumina"
Caterina Barbieri, "Math of You"
Wiki, "Willy Mays"
Kink Gong, "Epeme Men"
Sun Ra, "Space is the Place / Over the Rainbow"
David Garland, "String Flow 1, part 2 - The Fourth"
7038634357, "Perfect Night"
F***** Up & The Halluci Nation, "Electroshock"
GAZM, "Unicorn Tattoo (Big Beach Mix)"
Blood Cult, "Goat Cowboy"
Dorotheo, "Las Nubes"
SANAM, "Ayouha Al-Taiin Fi Al-Mawt (He Who Stabs Death) أيها الطاعن في الموت"
Spencer Zahn, Dave Harrington & Jeremy Gustin, "As It Was"
Finis Africae, "El Secreto de las 12"
Menomena, "Trigga Hiccups"
Liis Ring, "Embrace"
Kumachan Seal, "食む（Hamu）Graze"
Cindy Wilson, "Midnight"
MJ Noble, "Marigolds"
The Far Sound, "Finding the Temple"
Thin White Rope, "Whirling Dervish"
Mizmor, "No Place to Arrive"