The time has come to bookend the most righteous twelve months of my Mankato tenure with…a trip to Baltimore.

Yep. Way back in 2014, I ditched my last three shifts as a corporate cog and booked an impromptu trip to Maryland Deathfest, the largest North American heavy metal festival (by a wide margin).

It ruled. And now, this Memorial Day weekend, IT’S TIME TO RULE AGAIN.

But, in order to properly prepare for this event, I had to do two things:

1) Put aside my general derision for the entitled, humorless brats that comprise the heavy metal subculture, and

2) Start listening to abrasive music again

The first task was actually pretty easy. I’m meeting a pretty tight-knit crew of friends out there, so it’s not like I’ll have to mingle with anonymous weirdos like this. And, in the eight months that I’ve spent separated from my former life as a “music writer” embedded the underground metal community–which is basically just Twitter–I can safely say that our little corner of the world is not uniquely insufferable.

Essentially, every uncool niche interest -comics, gaming, pro wrestling, cycling–is home to a vocal minority of nerds that build their identities around their hobby, and genuinely believe the entire enterprise should be catered to their tastes by virtue of their own personal investment. Then they attempt to downplay this twisted arrogance by pretending they’re being oppressed by the majority, and they become the misunderstood minority.

It’s not that you’re misunderstood. Most people just don’t care to listen. But some of us are listening to your favorite jams…or are we?

In recuperating from a half-decade of promotional material firehosing, I’ve been a lazy metal fan. My playlist has been dominated by Sun Kil Moon, Robyn, Tikkle Me, and most recently, Vanbot.

Dude, that is SO NOT BRUTAL.

Yeah, you know why? Because “brutality” is an asinine metric for quality, you dorks.

But if that’s how you roll, the first day of the fest kicks off with back-to-back-to-back-to-back sets from Origin, Internal Bleeding, Skinless, and Devourment. Break out the sweatpants and basketball shorts, kids, it’s time to get SLAMMED…

…actually, before we get too deep into this, it’s probably best to pump the brakes and admit that 97% of this blog’s readership doesn’t know what the hell is going on here.

If the remaining 3% are interested in how Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s first-ever live show goes over, or pine for shitty photos of the ultra-rare U.S. appearances by Anaal Nathrakh and Demilich, swing by the redjacket Twitter and Instagram outposts this weekend.

For those of you with actual lives, enjoy your Memorial Day. We’ll be back post-holiday with that Best of 2015 jam that was promised a few weeks back. For real.

‘Til then? GRIND: