No matter which spot outside of Soundstage I stood on during this unsuspecting Tuesday night in Baltimore, the one thing I heard everywhere was reminiscing; people were remembering past metal shows, memories associated with music, or just memories of things that were important to whoever was speaking at the time. There was an air of nostalgia and love engulfing this corner in Baltimore City, and it was felt all through the night between all five bands in attendance.
First up was Phobophilic, hailing all the way from North Dakota. As soon as I saw their gear on stage and the huge toms and cymbals on the drum set, I was expecting a big sound, and they did NOT disappoint. They had swaying and thick guitar riffs that effortlessly transformed into melodic grooves supported by old school double bass grooves and blast beats coming from the drums. These guys felt like seasoned metal heads cranking out straight up old school feeling death metal for a crowd that respected the past and present state of metal.Fuming Mouth, was down one member, so they were only a three-piece. My initial impression was that they were going to consistently feed me slow and heavy grooves, and that they did with a tightness that I did not expect. The aggressive vocals cut through bouncing guitar grooves featuring elements of hardcore punctuated by thrashed-out drums that would suddenly make slow and heavy feel unpredictable and chaotic. Frozen Soul, had a dangerous energy even during sound check, but perhaps that was because I was in suspense waiting for this band to start. After opening their set, Frozen Soul immediately launched into a barrage of hardcore and metal grooves accompanied by absolutely brutal death metal vocals that I can still feel in the pit of my stomach. A small technical hiccup with the drummer’s bass drum trigger didn’t stop their ferocity, as they managed to goad the energetic crowd into a round of push-ups. Frozen Soul was obviously feeling the same nostalgic energy that was in Baltimore that night since they took the time to play a song that vocalist Chad Green wrote for his younger brother who had passed away in the last year. While reminding us to tell our friends and loved ones that they are loved, they carried us through their set with some serious old school death metal grooves that prompted head bobs and stank face from me. Terror, is a band I’d heard of from some friends in the Hardcore scene in RVA but had never actually listened to them and had no idea how devastatingly brutal they really were. Just brutal. At one point, they gave us a reverse mosh pit, prompting vocalist Scott Vogel to hastily climb over the guard rail into the crowd. By the time I realized he’d gone into the crowd, Scott had already begun climbing back onto the stage, and I panicked as I realized I was tangled in his mic cable, but I was able to quickly waddle out of the way. Scott was constantly inviting the crowd closer but reminding them to look out for each other: “No fights, no cheap shots, but it’s my job to get you to move.” Move we did as they blasted the crowd with straight up hardcore and tough grooves that had me wanting to go lift weights. While welcoming new Terror fans and shouting out old fans, Scott reminded us that “…everyone in this room has a story; we’re all fucked, respect each other.” The Black Dahlia Murder (TBDM), is the one band that I was intimately familiar with before the show. They’ve seen their fair share of hardships and lineup changes over the years, but one thing was always consistent: vocalist Trevor Strnad was always there at the front, giving us guttural growls as well as screeches born out of a frozen crypt. Tonight, we were all confronted face to face with the hard fact that that will never be the case again. Despite this, through the nostalgic energy pulsing through Baltimore Soundstage, he was still with us that night.
The only other constant member in the band’s history, Brian Eschbach, has walked away from guitar duties to focus fully on a vocal performance that pays homage to the band’s history while respectfully walking his own path as front man. They played a set spanning their discography, with songs from as far back as their first album, “Unhallowed”. The show opened with one of their newest tracks, the absolutely vicious “Verminous”, but the room absolutely exploded when they followed that with one of their most iconic tracks, “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse”. Both the metal head and the video game nerd in me rocked harder than I have in months to that (retro video game enthusiasts will recognize the song’s title from the Konami classic, Castlevania II).
This show was a reminder that unexpected things can happen anytime, so we need to make sure the people we care about know that we care about them. And that if we lose the ones we care about, we can try to rely on friends, family, and community to help us move forward.
Photographs and Article by: Steve Rickman