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(Live Review) MILWAUKEE METALFEST 2024 - Night Two


The Beard & Little Johnny


Greetings friends, fans, and followers, it is your reviewing hosts the Beard and Little Johnny as we report from Wisconsin and day/night two of the giant Milwaukee Metalfest. This will be show #31 and bands #110-120 of our 2024 season. There was plenty to like AND dislike about night one, but overall, it was a good first leg. Today promises to be much heavier, faster, and way more “Little Johnny” centric as we look to cover Mr. Bungle, Testament, Deicide, Hatebreed, Municipal Waste, Terrorizer, Soilent Green, The Red Chord, Martyr AD, and Morbikon.



 There is a good chance The Beard will be deaf and Little Johnny will be broken with that collection of bands, but no one said Metalfest would be easy. Up first and out of the gate were Municipal Waste's side project band, the blackened thrash of Morbikon with one release, the 2022 Ov Mournful Twilight.

Vocalist Quotidius is committed with corpse paint and the full on “evil” deal. The music is black metal guitar riffs, but the lyrics are more in the thrash world. Honestly, I do not dislike this. At two songs in we already had the days first pit. Morbikon pulled a good crowd for the first band up, there were well over a hundred already filling the stage floor. A short but fun set. I liked them and awarded a high out of the gate 86/100 for Morbikon.


Second up were Minnesota’s metalcore act Martyrs AD.


Martyrs AD was a band formed from members of Disembodied (which oddly makes sense I guess) in the early 2000’s. They disbanded in 2005, but did make the occasional one-off appearance, notably at “This is Hardcore 2017.” Now the Beard is not an enthusiastic fan of hardcore/metalcore/applecore, etc. but, Johnny digs it, so let’s see what happens.


Yes, I remember why I do not like metalcore. This style reminds me of metal rap, but done by tattooed white guys. I am giving these guys three songs and then trying something else. 67/100




Third up was an audible as I headed to the main room for Texas death metal act Devourment.

Unfortunately, sound continued to suck in the main room. Devourment was mud. Guttural vocals and just really fast playing of everything. I can make little sense of this style. That said, the pits were going, surfers were crowd surfing, and a beach ball was bouncing around the main floor.

According to vocalist Ruben Rosas, one song was apparently about “killing yourself by jacking off with your own intestines.” Here is how that song sounded to me.“AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Uuuuuggggghhhhh!” Repeat the same over and over to really fast drumming.

I know for some reason many people LOVE this style of music. My personal opinion though, nope. 62/100




Fourth up (continuing the audible) was New York death metal from Skinless.

Normally, I would not like this, but following Devourment somehow made Skinless better or at least more palatable. Additionally, in the pit was someone wearing a full body Garfield the Cat costume. They moshed, circled, and the crowd surfed them up to the stage front. Now THAT is the kind of thing you just do not see at the local jazz festival. Going 75/100 for Skinless.



Fifth up, and we are now back on schedule, the reformation of the grindcore/sludge act from New Orleans Soilent Green.

Now, in talking with Little Johnny, (who by the way had loved every single band so far today), I told him, “Well little dude, on the one hand, I don’t like sludge and I hate grindcore, but on the other hand I like New Orleans and I loved the 1973 movie Soilent Green starring Charlton Heston, so I am willing to give these guys a shot.” He looked at me and said, “As usual Beard, I don’t have any idea what the $#%^ you’re talking about.” (Ed: "Soylent Green is made from people!!!")


Soilent Green was in fact sludgy death metal fronted by Louis Benjamin Falgoust of Goatwhore. He is a good singer, visually eye catching, and his death was not just full speed ahead. It slowed and sped up giving the songs a better structure. This is after all a band that debuted in 1991 with Satanic Drug Frog, and before breaking up in 2008 had released an underrated Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction.


I liked this more than the previous few bands, but I could see that Little Johnny was having a wonderful time down there shooting the horns and screaming back to Falgoust. No idea how he could actually know the words so he might just be screaming incoherent phrases. Soilent Green gets 81/100.



Moving back to the big stage, up sixth was more grindcore, (yippie!!) from California’s Terrorizer.

Normally my least favorite type of metal, I did have to say Terrorizer actually was not bad. With an almost unceasingly fast tempo, grindcore was once described by my boss and editor as “punch you in the face music.” The songs are short and intense and usually without much structure.


What Terrorizer produced was, dare I say it, a bit melodic. Like a ribbon of calm in a tornado of sound. It was still indecipherable lyrics, but somehow in the sea of noise that is metalfest day two, I sort of like them. Go figure. Terrorizer gets a surprising 78/100.


Up seventh we had thrash from Virginia's Municipal Waste.

For starters, Municipal Waste pulled a huge crowd. The main stage floor was as full as it gets for headliner bands. There were big pits, a lot of surfers, rows of headbangers, the whole plethora, as Municipal Waste let loose what I must describe as a thrash tsunami. My reason for that term is with a tsunami, even when you see it coming, you still have no real idea about just how much force is going to strike you. 


During the introduction of one song about beer, singer Tony Foresta invited the balcony people to come down and fight the main floor people. Funny stuff. This band is a raging party, and the crowd was going crazier with each song. The circle pit had inflatables including several full rafts going through the air as well as people. 


After the band challenged the audience to “throw trash cans at them,” security got involved and began intercepting over a dozen rubber maid cans all headed towards the stage. On the next song Foresta challenged “Every one of you mother#$%@ers in that pit need to surf up to me right #$%@ing now!” I shot about two minutes of video as in fact the crowd tried to give the band exactly what they asked for. 


Front line stage security at metal shows always seems stacked with guys who just missed out on the NFL. In this case it was necessary as wave after wave of bodies were hurled (and no, my good readers, I am NOT using that word facetiously, these security guys were catching 200-pound bodies that the crowd was throwing at them.) Additionally, intermittent trash cans were STILL heading towards the stage at regular intervals.


This one was a definite free for all. The Beard was never so glad he was in the balcony. Sometimes it is just about raw crowd energy. Municipal Waste just set the 2024 bar for insane wild crowds and took over the day, and festival lead with a 94/100. 88 for their performance and 100 for pure crowd engagement. The Beard shall crack a cold on and hope Little Johnny didn’t crack a rib or two during that set.




Eighth up was another audible as I hustled downstairs again to catch the end of the Possessed set one floor below. (Ed: An audible to see Possessed? Shame!!!)

On the way down, I found Little Johnny, although I almost passed him by. In true surprise I said, “John, where is your cap?” Shaking his head ruefully, he replied, “Man, Beard that crowd heaved me right off some big security dude’s chest. Then another dude crashed on top of us both and we all went down in a heap. Three more security dudes pulled us all up and hustled us both out the side. My cap is probably under the stage somewhere by now. I’ll have to find a new one at merch later. Crazy good set though.”


The room for Possessed was wall to wall people, and it turned out their set had just started as once more the bands were running about a half hour behind. We decided that since we already saw Jasta do his thing at the preshow, we would skip Hatebreed and just stay here to catch the west coast innovators of death metal. (Ed: Good decision, Beard!)


Wheelchair bound or not, Jeff Becarra still delivers a bad ass snarl with his vocals and under normal circumstances I would say the room had crazy energy with pits, however, I had just experienced that set from Municipal Waste, so this was intense but still a step down.

Going to give Possessed an 85/100




I have to tell you the intensity of band after band tonight was tiring and all I was doing was watching. In the ninth spot, it was not about to get any slower or softer as long time satanist and controversial death metal act Deicide took the stage. Now back in the day, the Beard loved Venom, Mercyful Fate, etc. but just never got as brutal as Deicide. Tonight, I would finally see what Glenn Barton’s band was all about.

Glenn still has that deep voice that sounds like Lucifer is doing morning roll call, and even if he has gained a few pounds and lost some hair on top, his songs are still commanding and translated well live. Since I never could follow his lyrics without a sheet anyway, the songs just sounded like normal Deicide played really loud. The Beard freely admits though it was fun seeing Barton live, and even though I do not need to own any more Deicide, I can check it off the bucket list of bands I had never seen. Calling it 88/100.



Tenth up tonight was the only act I was already familiar with, west coast thrash icons Testament.

I have always enjoyed a set from these guys and their pits are normally something to behold. To the Beard, Testament continues to be Metallica without a gazillion dollars in their bank accounts. They are never a disappointment and, although tonight was among the tamest Testament sets I have watched, it was mostly because everything all damn day was so intense.

They still had a good set with lots of lights and thunder, but I can only award an 87/100 here at Metalfest.



Headlining super Saturday was our eleventh act, California’s experimental rock band Mr. Bungle. (Ed: Audible, Beard. Audible!)

Bungle combines some thrash with some hardcore style lyrics and drumbeats. Initially, I did not think all that much of them. On the third song though when singer Mike Patton launched into 10cc’s 1970’s hit “I’m not in love”, I admit I cracked up thinking, “What the Fuck is this and what is Johnny thinking down there?”    


Patton did one verse legitimately before the band then segued into the hardcore thing again. Two songs later “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Croft was the next number to get Bungled. Once again the first part was legit and then about the time we hit the line “jasmine in bloom,” out came the metal. (Check the TikTok to see video of this one @ thebeard0728)


Bungle is definitely doing something quite different here. I am still on the fence about enjoying it, but I do appreciate the originality. Next up it was Olivia Newton John's "Hopelessly Devoted to you". After the chorus, Bungle took that song somewhere musically that evoked shades of Frank Zappa before finally merging into the metal groove with shades of Slayer's "Hell Awaits".

I am going to score this very odd set 84/100 because although it was a totally bizarre choice for a Milwaukee Metalfest headliner, (especially on a day with so many name death bands on the bill) I will nevertheless certainly be talking about it to people and after all “generating press” is the point of any festival.



Night two winners: Municipal Waste and that totally insane crowd. Finally seeing Deicide, and the surprisingly good opening set from Morbikon.


Night two better luck next time: Devourment. (Man, I just do not get that style.) Martyrs AD, (metalcore is not my jam.) Little Johnny’s cap, a victim of the Municipal Waste insanity. RIP.


This wrapped up an extraordinarily long day/night two of Milwaukee Metalfest. Today brought ten hours of brutality, followed by an hour of Bungle. I saw the most amazing crowd participation set of the year and honestly had an enjoyable time with music I do not normally love.



We now head back to the mansion and some sleep before powering up for one more long day/night tomorrow. Remember to follow us each Wednesday on The Mighty Decibel. Check out all our videos on TikTok at thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny, and friend or follow Mark McQueen on Facebook for our increasingly popular non-metal column.


From the Beard & Little Johnny ... Stay heavy & Horns Up!!!


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