Metal is catharsis, metal is flooring it to “Love Me Like a Reptile” on an open highway, metal is a flailing mosh pit-punch to the eye (and the killer shiner afterward) and, when in the throng of tens or thousands of headbangers, metal is where I find my brothers and sisters, horns up and ready to scream bloody gore. — Lars Gotrich

Meet four people who headbanged and high-fived at Maryland Deathfest.

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 8: Meet YOB’s Mike Scheidt from Eugene, Oregon. The band’s thunderously meditative set at MDF was a personal highlight for me, inspiring ecstatic full-body motion something like a decibel baptism. For Mike, he doesn’t think YOB’s musically spiritual overtones are necessarily new, just more inclusive.

"The heart in [metal] is so sincere," says Scheidt. "Nobody has any illusion of it being any better than this right now."

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 7: Meet Tara and William from Belfon, Pennsylvania. Tara is essentially a librarian for stamps (so nerdy, love it) and got into metal through William, but not without reservations: “I came to MDF last year and I was scared out of my mind. This is gonna be the worst four days of my life. And by the end of it, I was just like, ‘Wow, that was the best four days of my life. I can’t wait to go back next year.’”

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 6: Meet Fred Pessaro from Brooklyn, New York. For Fred, “metal is catharsis.” He’s a freelance concert photographer for several publications and a NY-area concert promoter, but his main gig is with Brooklyn Vegan where he pits hardcore and metal material along side the site’s usual indie fare.  Of the many sets he loved during MDF, Napalm Death left a distinct impression by performing one song from every album of its long and consistent career.

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 5: Meet Nathan Carson from Portland, Oregon. He’s a booking agent and the drummer for the bands Witch Mountain and Two Ton Boa. He also just finished the Metal Noam Chomsky Project, which is exactly what you think it is. Nathan actually had a lot of thoughtful things to say about metal — especially German death metal band Morgoth — but this was too cute not to highlight: “I remember being five years old and listening to ‘Godzilla’ by Blue Oyster Cult and running around with an X-Wing Fighter.”

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 3: Meet Jack from New York City. He says, “I hated metal as kid. I actually truly, truly despised it. I thought it was music for morons.” Jack eventually came around after seeing Iron Maiden and DragonForce as a joke. “The more and more metal shows I started getting into,” Jack says, “the more I realize that you listen to this heavy, brutal music and everybody’s f——— smiling.”

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 2: Meet Linda and Todd from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They met at a brewery and love to spend their time traveling the country to see metal shows. Todd makes beer and manages Surly Brewing Co. and recent restauranteur Linda is in the process of starting new project. Linda sums both loves up best: “Pop music is [like] Miller Lite. I want more challenge.”

Maryland Deathfest Portrait, No. 1: Meet Jordan, John and Dave from Atlanta, Georgia. These dudes discovered a shared love of metal in a nerdy fraternity at Georgia Tech, which is about the nerdiest thing I’ve ever heard. (Go Dawgs, by the way.) They’re all working their ways up through physics and computers… things I don’t pretend to understand. But mostly, they came to MDF to see Electric Wizard.