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(Live Review) MARYLAND DOOMFEST (Day 4) - Maryland (6/25/23)

By The Beard & Little Johnny

Today marks the final day of the epic four-night Maryland Doomfest. For the Beard and Little Johnny, it is event #31, and bands #155-163 of our yearlong The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.

After, a “pick us up” brunch of Chorizo Hash with peppers, broccoli and hot sauce, plus a Bloody Mary and a side of coffee, followed by a flight of Belgian Beers, your reviewing hosts The Beard and Little Johnny are once more ready to embark on this, the final “Day Four” of the Maryland Doomfest.

We are planning to cover nine bands tonight, but we are leaving “audibles” open since that worked pretty well yesterday.

We began though, as we have each and every one of the four days at Olde Mother Brewery for the day four opener from York Pennsylvania:


Above The Treachery are a bit of a death/doom band, but not as brutal about it on the lyrical end. Once again though, surprisingly good for the guys slotted in the opening position. Four for four there JB Matson. Good booking.

I think Above the Treachery could also work at a thrash festival. Their bass player is playing his first gig with the band, so that presented a small continuity challenge, on most of their tunes especially at the substantial changes.

It is also a noticeably light crowd, (although after Super Saturday, this is not surprising for Recovery Sunday), and undoubtedly it will fill in nicely in a couple of hours. Above the Treachery gave a solid performance and without a real crowd to energize them, a few of the songs did seem a little sloppy, but again they were playing to about thirty people.

Going to go 80/100 grading with some opening band respect.

Second up were Ohio’s:


To try and explain Triceratops may take a minute here. Johnny, you want to give this one a shot.

“Ok, so like they are named after a dinosaur. The bass player is sort of a wizard with cloak and pointed hat. Hey Beard, you should wear a pointed hat. Anyway, the singer looks like something from “He Man” meets “Darth Maul.” The guitarist, I think is wearing scarves all over, and the Drummer has his corpse paint on. The guitar player threw a box out into the crowd and yelled “who wants free stuff?” Of course, he knocked over his microphone in the process. Then they played some music. How was that?”

To expand on Johnny’s review, Triceratops seemed to be a doom/power act with clear vocals and decent guitar. Fun bluesy doom music to enjoy for a set. The crowd did make short work of that free box offering. Thank goodness it wasn’t a lamb. Triceratops did waste a lot of time tuning mid-set. When you have only got forty minutes, the clocks always ticking. Perhaps do not pick a song requiring three of you to grab a different guitar. In the end, Triceratops might have something, but if they do, I do not think it is fully grown yet. They are to my opinion, still some parts in search of a real theme.


Third up were Connecticut’s sludge/stoners:


VRSA cites as their influences The Melvin’s and High on Fire, so that lends itself to them being a difficult definition.

It is a sludge/doom sound, death style, but with semi clear vocals. To my total surprise though, VRSA was good. The bulk of the crowd was likely across the street watching Crowhunter in the main room, but in this case, they missed out because this WAS a good set.

VRSA is both heavy and melodic. Not quite Inter Arma, but kind of that style of song structure. They fuse their styles and make it work. Their music is like a jogger that suddenly breaks into a sprint for a hundred yards, and then gets back on his original pace. That style done poorly will lose me. VRSA did it well and they were so much better than the crowd they drew. Fortunately, by sets end, the bodies had filled in here somewhat and hopefully people realized they just missed a really good set. Afterwards, The Beard checked out merch and bought all three of their CD’s. This one was my surprise set of today.

90/100. This one just got me.

Fourth up and playing their first show in two years were Virginias psych/black/doom:


Definite blackened sludge metal voice. The music is doom but has a lot of discordant notes. Vocalist William Breeden can certainly scream like the Dust Prophet guy.

In this case though, I can’t say I loved it. Johnny was surprisingly lukewarm to the whole thing. Maybe he is finally wearing down after four days. We are glad Helgamite are back after two years, but, other than showing me a taste of really angry early Marilyn Manson, this was just not my thing.

Going 71/100

Band five of the day were New York psyche stoner act:

FOX 45

A mostly female act. Singer, guitarist, drummer playing stoner doom. Bass player was male. The music and vocals were both okay but did not overwhelm me. The Runaways are not in any danger here.

As the set went on and I became more accustomed to Amanda Rampe’s voice, the psychedelic elements started winning me over a bit, although, (with respect to the sensitivity of the subject matter), I wasn’t a fan of the wishing death on Clarence Thomas by impregnating him and allowing the emerging fetus to rip him apart. That one was pretty dark. In the end, I am going to go.


Sixth up and it was time to switch venues back to Cafe 611 for Pennsylvania psychedelic groove rockers:


A three-piece act featuring brothers Marco & Daniel Newsome, Strange Highways get right to the psychedelic groove riffs and do not let up. I do not know if they chose their name as a nod to the Dio album, but it would make sense.

This is a High Energy band, and they are winning us both over immediately. Johnny is hippie dancing with his shirt unbuttoned. “Keep the pants on little dude.” The Beard must admit, these guys are infectious. I am going to buy some stuff from them.

They totally tore it up, if RC Walker (Atomic Motel) had the best single solo of the weekend with that blues number, Marco Newsome is The Beard's pick for favorite guitar player for a complete set. We loved them, their set, their energy, and they are getting the grade of the weekend.


Seventh up were.

Philly Space Hippie music from:


These four guys continued the jam session Strange Highways started. They have a vibe that seems to cross Hawkwind with something like Monster Magnet ... and that is high praise. Vocalist Erik Caplan has the longest hair I have ever seen. You could send that hair out to pick up a pizza and the dude would not have to leave his chair. He also plays a damn fine guitar as well. Drummer Mike Stewart hammers the beat while keyboardist Adam Scott brings that funky sound to these trippy stoner songs.

This was another strong set that also had Johnny jumping and the Beard rocking in his seat. Afterwards Erik Caplan became the last in my series of Beard & the Band photos, (Happily, I looked better in this one), and I picked up a t-shirt and CD as a thank you for an excellent set of music. Back-to-back band scores in the 90’s. JB Matson knows how to set up the stretch run. 92/100.

Eighth up were Massachusetts sludge metal band:


These guys are sludge doom done right. The Beard is reminded of a little-known band called Camel of Doom and, like them, Conclave are relentlessly heavy. Their songs are like the great Biblical Giants of old were striding across the battlefield swinging their 600-pound maces. Thick slabs of tar coated guitar riffs thundered out from Leonard Trumbly while the low-end bass and drumming of Jerry Orne and Dan Blomquist threatened to level Cafe 611 under their sustained thunder.

Once again, this homestretch of bands was as good a three-band set as the weekend produced.

Conclave is a different style, but the same high energy professional set as the last two bands. The Beard may have to ditch Saturday and call it Super Sunday. Yet “another” impressive set of music and yet another 90/100. Cracking open a lot of cold ones here at the end.

Fest closers and the final band of the weekend were psychedelic doom metal outfit:


Actually, Black Lung was far more melodic than I expected. It is sludgy in some places and psychedelic in others, but Dave Cavalier has a clean voice and for the closing band it was nicely bringing us down a bit from Conclaves bulldozer running over your throat heaviness.

There was almost a jauntiness to what Black Lung do.

The Beard sipped his final beer of the weekend. Johnny jumped around for one more set and we toasted a hard-fought weekend of endurance. Thirty-four bands in four days is work, but it is certainly fun work.

Black Lung ends the 2023 Maryland Doomfest with an 85/100, and the Beard and Johnny put another one in the books.

Thank you to all our new readers we picked up this weekend, all our regular readers who live and laugh this crazy hobby job we’ve fallen into, of course everyone at Maryland Doomfest who made a great weekend for us with their hard work, all the great bands that played and chatted with us and of course the maestro JB Matson for putting this on each year.

From the crazy Little Johnny and the sanguine Beard, we bid you as always; read us each week on The Mighty Decibel, Heavy Metal Canada, Chicago Rock, Doomfest, Marylanddoomfest, fearandloathinginlasvegas, and anywhere else we are published. Follow our videos of all our reviews on our TikTok site.



Until next time

Stay Heavy

And Horns Up!!!


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