Day Four with My Dying Bride, Candlemass, Gorguts Various Venues, Baltimore MD, May 25

Day Four with My Dying Bride, Candlemass, Gorguts Various Venues, Baltimore MD, May 25
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The final day of Maryland Deathfest XII started on a high note, with a compelling performance from occult doom wizards Windhand. The rich guitar tones and thick, smoky vocals made even the expanse of the Edison Lot seem intimate. Chicago stoner doom purveyors Bongripper kept things heavy with fat, fuzzy riffs and enough energy to keep their sludgy sound buoyant. The aggressive, stomping doom of Oakland's Graves At Sea was a surprising highlight of the earlier sets, with throbbing, infectious rhythms and an excellent performance from front man Nathan Misterek. The dual vocals, blistering, white hot riffing and grinding death metal of Misery Index kept the standard of the day exceptionally high, leaved the crowd shredded, ragged and rapturous.

While Russian blackened death metal group Pseudogod charred the Edison lot, metallic hardcore sinners Enabler began the afternoon at the Baltimore soundstage with an explosive performance, closing their set with a spine-tingling version of "All Hail The Void." Florida's brutal death grinders Maruta flailed and thrashed their way through a chaotic set, and Australia's Internal Rot savaged the ravenous crowd.

Back at the Edison Lot, Quebec technical death metal legends Gorguts, led by Luc Lemay, put on what must stand as one of the greatest sets of their career. Exceptionally tight and well rehearsed from their recent tour with Carcass, the chemistry between the current line-up and the passion with which they perform is beyond compare. Cambridge, U.K.-based Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats brought a thick, psychedelic, stoner vibe to the lot, conjuring a tone with surprising heft and crunch, bringing the energy of the lot down to a simmer, a final bit of calm before the all-encompassing storm.

The final two sets at the Edison lot were the kind of legendary performances that Maryland Deathfest has become known for. Swedish doom executioners Candlemass were positively crushing, conjuring a kind of grim, almost ritual sense of ceremony with their set that made the crowd feel as though they were complicit in raising some kind of otherworldly energy. Then, for the first time since 1997, English doom lords My Dying Bride performed on U.S. soil, performing an intensely theatrical, unexpectedly heavy set brimming with emotion and intensity. While heavy strobes made the set somewhat painful, the sound was beyond reproach, especially the exceptional clarity of Aaron Stainthorpe's vocals. Deeply moving and aurally overwhelming, the set brought the festival to its peak.

For those still not sated, the festival still raged on at the Ram's Head Live. Diocletian became the third band to perform a double set, their martial stomp and fist-pounding energy filling in for the absent Mitochondrion. By all reports, death metal royalty Ulcerate and Immolation ensured that what was left of the fest was razed to the ground in style. Without question, the final day of the festival was also this year's best.