New England Hardcore and Metal Fest might be the most diverse metal music festival in the area. Sure there are death fests, Bamboozles, Warped Tours and Mayhem festivals, but this two day monster has everything from death metal, grindcore, hardcore, punk, thrash and everything in between. Held at the Palladium in Worcester Massachusetts the 3 day event (April 22nd-25th) was one of the largest most epic of its kind.
The first day, which we unfortunately missed featured two soon to be power houses, Thy Will Be Done of Providence Rhode Island and surprise guest White Chapel. I did not arrive until the beginning of the Doomriders set early into the second day. The band, featuring Nate Newton of Converge on guitar/vocals, set a really strong tone with a combination of doom and hardcore/punk influence. I then switched the indoor side stage, reminiscent of Dingbatz/CBGB’s combination for the hardcore legends Earth Crisis and Cro-Mags. They did not disappoint with a tight sound, stage dives, gang vocals and a pit only a New York hardcore family could love.
Once we were done with the legends I immediately sprinted to see, essentially a tour that just passed through the area, (as I call it, suddenly the music industry has a huge wood for us so only listen to us and buy our CDs tour) Baroness, BTBAM and Mastodon. However many people forgot one of the funniest acts in metal today, Valient Thorr. With a punky thrash vibe similar to that of Municipal Waste, the shirtless Valient thrashed like a dying seal on stage to the delight and disgust of everyone at the venue. Most of the songs are not airable, so WSOU sticks to Red Flag off their latest album Immortalizer.
Next up was Baroness. I must say I did not understand the fuss surrounding this band until I saw them. Combining powerful vocal stylings with pure energy, heart and a genuine love of music, Baroness really stole the show from the headliners. The sound was the most clear and crisp of any bands that had performed that day, playing many tracks off their highly critically acclaimed release Blue Record, most prominently songs like Jake Leg and The Sweetest Curse. After the set, lead singer John Baizley proclaimed his love for the fans, imploring people to talk to them because they are normal people and would rather watch music then be on stage… something that stuck with me for the remainder of the weekend.
Finally was the combination of Between the Buried and Me and Mastodon. Both put forth underwhelming performances with lackluster crowd participation at best. BTB&M had the crowd going but extended their drawn out instrumental and spoken vocal parts, sapping energy from the crown. They also played only one song off Alaska and one song off Colors in over an hour set. The mix was way too loud and there did not seem to be the same effort from bands that I had seen all day. To make matters worse, Mastodon sound was terrible. played the entire Crack The Skye album, which started off so poorly with Oblivion, but improved for the rest of the album. Lead singer Troy Sanders almost refused to sing into the microphone, destroying what are normally beautiful harmonies. Mastodon did eventually start to sound better vocally, instrumentally they were completely on point saving what could have been considered a waste of two and a half hours. However the band disappeared from the stage after the completion of Crack the Skye only to come out and play a one song encore only to disappear again. The show ended half an hour earlier than expected and needless to say many fans went home disappointed.
These exploits are only day one of the adventure that was New England Hardcore and Metal Fest. Steve Straq will talk about day two with some of the most brutal bands of the past and present, as well as the SEVEN band interviews we conducted. For now I leave you with the breakdown of the Friday that was metal fest.
BEST PERFORMANCE: Doomriders
WORST PERFORMANCE: Between the Buried and Me
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Baroness
BEST CROWD REACTION: Cro-Mags
BAND MISSED WE WISH WE SAW: Death Before Dishonor