by Gerry Mak in New Events on Tuesday 2 June 2009

I almost didn’t go to this year’s Maryland Deathfest because it was kind of expensive, and I didn’t have anyone to go with. But then I snapped out of it and realized that I had to at least go one of the three days because I’d be a big poser if I didn’t. I chose to go Sunday so I could catch my friends Krallice play. I also got to see legendary bands like Aura Noir, Bolt Thrower, and Sigh, many of whom hadn’t played in the US in decades if at all.

What struck me the most about the show was the giddiness of the crowd. During the set of Australian blackened thrash band Destroyer 666, everyone in the pit had huge grins on their faces, as if they couldn’t believe they were there. Indeed, good metal shows are few and far between in North America (although this is rapidly changing), and this annual festival draws people from all over.

I was also surprised to see such diversity among the attendees across racial, gender, and age groups. Let’s face it, metal has traditionally been a white dude thing, but as the genre globalizes and takes deeper root in our culture, many people from different backgrounds are finding aspects of metal that resonate with them.

In the Destroyer 666 pit, there were all kinds of people, including quite a few brave girls — it was like the Colors of Benetton but with spikes and leather (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I didn’t feel out of place at all). The one image that stuck with me was a pretty preppy looking black guy who would dart in and out of the pit every once in a while.

Also in the churning whirl of people was a tough-looking white dude with Graveland and Burzum patches (both bands that espouse nationalist socialist views) and a Norwegian flag on his denim jacket. These two guys slammed right into each other, grinning through it all, and when they fell down, they helped each other up. I am metal enough to admit that I teared up a little.