I have a confession to make…I was not always a fan of doom metal. Before receiving this album as a Christmas gift, I was uninterested in doom metal, believing it to be just a rehash of things that Black Sabbath and Pentagram had already done.

You can guess what my attitude was after my first listen to “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.”

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When I drove into the parking area around 12:30pm before the MDF festivities, I noticed a woman (who looked Vietnamese to me) in a maroon velvet dress making her way toward Edison Lot. I assumed she was just a fan who got dressed up for her favorite band.

Nope. She ran the Thai food vendor for the entire day, flipping dozens of skewered chicken slices over a huge open grill and dishing out huge portions of pad thai.

That was my afternoon snack.

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The single biggest factor for my decision to visit Baltimore was Candlemass.

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Every Memorial Day weekend for four sweat-drenched days, metalheads take over the city of Baltimore.

Every Baltimore location I had visited leading up to the festival had at least one or two (frequently many more) heavy metal fans present with their leather, band shirts and long hair.

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I was all set to write about this year’s Maryland Death Fest, but as usually happens in life, your plans tend to get changed by circumstances beyond your control. This piece seemed more timely due to H.R. Giger’s recent passing.

[i]“Only very creative and very insane people like my work.”[/i] – H.R. Giger

My dad remembers the special edition of Omni magazine that had a full spread about “Alien,” which had just come out (1979). At the time, Ridley Scott’s movie was heralded as a new era in sci-fi, and “the magazine of science fact and science fiction” was eager to get on board.

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So, I’m going to Maryland Death Fest…

Title says it all, dear headbangers. I’ll be off for the next couple weeks for a vacation in Maryland, including a stop at MDF in Baltimore.

It’ll be my first metal festival experience, so naturally I look forward to enjoying myself and of course, writing about it.

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“Attention passengers,” this is your pilot Chris Squire speaking; I’d like to introduce you to your co-pilot and crew. We are Yes, and we’ll be your in-flight entertainment this evening. I’ve turned off the seatbelt sign, so please feel free to move about the cabin or enjoy the view of the landscape outside. Now, where is my bass…”

More than 40 years (!) after their 1969 debut made waves in the London underground music scene, Yes at this point in time is in a very unique position: that of being one of the originators of the past 40 years of progressive music, while BEING influenced in turn by those 40 years.

For some passengers who have enjoyed Yes’ other journeys, the absence of crew chief Jon Anderson will make boarding this plane a non-starter. And that would be unfortunate, because although this veteran crew will not take you to necessarily-uncharted lands, it’s a very pleasant flight indeed.

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The crown jewel of the In Flames catalog features the character described above on its iconic cover–dry, sardonic smile and all, like a ram’s head on a hulking, Lovecraftian, machinelike fortress-city. The artwork was done by Andreas Marschall (who also designed the album cover for Sodom’s “Agent Orange”).

It establishes the theme present in many of the songs contained herein–that for all of our achievements (represented by the city), humanity is a cosmic joke, a “jester race.” Misanthropic, yes, but the music is so well-executed that listeners who disagree need not dwell on it.

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