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New England Metal & Hardcore Fest 2002

4/14/2002 3:00:00 PM John C.
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John Lambgoat traveled North in early April 2002 to cover one of the world's premiere metal events.

The fourth New England Metal and Hardcore Festival took place on April 5 through 6 at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts. Needless to say, I was excited to hear that bands such as In Flames and Killswitch Engage would be playing the event. I was even more excited to hear that legendary Massachusetts metalcore act, Overcast, would be playing its final reunion show at the festival. So I decided to make the trek to Worcester. After a lot of standing and watching bands, numerous photos, lots of running between stages, unexpected set changes, and bad pizza, I'm proud to present some of the festival's notable highlights (to the best of my ability). Because I was only one man and unable to cover the whole festival as thoroughly as I would have liked, I would like to take this time and apologize to all the bands that I was unable to talk to, watch their set, take pictures of, and gather news from.

The doors opened at 3 p.m., and I was there pretty early waiting in line. As soon as I got in, there was already a band playing on the second stage. I think it was Halo. Nevertheless, I wasn't paying attention because I was checking out the Palladium. There is basically a lower level, which is the seating area for the main stage. It's pretty huge down there, with a bar, different levels of seats, an open floor, and then the stage. There is also a balcony area above to view the main stage. Between the main floor and stage was a barricade so press and photo people could take pictures during sets without getting kicked and smacked. The second stage was just a short flight of stairs up from the lobby, and it was very tiny. This is what everyone is more used to, the cramped venue with a small stage. Above the second stage area were the merch tables, and people, there was a lot of merch. Everyone from Relapse, Ferret, Century Media, Trustkill, Very Distro, etc... was there selling stuff. There was also a merch table down in the seating area of the main stage, but prices there tended to be a bit more pricey. For example, $15 dollars for A Life Once Lost shirt, $20 dollars for an Overcast shirt, and $20 for the official New England Metal and Hardcore Festival shirt. Some bands were encouraging attendees to find the band personally to get cheaper merch, but for those items that were only available at the lower merch table (ie. The Overcast shirt, which I broke down to buy), I had to succumb to the prices of "the man."

Friday Second Stage

4:15-4:35
Found Dead Hanging
From what I recall during their live set, FDH are from Syracuse, New York, and play what could be best described as grindcore with plenty of low-end growls and blast beats. Even more interesting, FDH covered a song by what they referred to as an old up-state New York band. I knew who that band was when they started, and its name was Despair, so that was very cool. The band was also passing out a three-song CD-R. FDH are kind of a chaotic-core/grind hybrid. The first track, "The Rules of Engagement For a Standardized Prison Rape Scenario," proves exactly that. A lot of stop-and-go or shifty rhythms will turn into some sludgy metalcore, and the break into the grindcore feel with some strange high-fret work that sounds like squeaking. The second track, "Observing Cash Flow Annalysis At My Local Crack House," begins with the grind tempo, and then slows into some straightforward hardcore, stops and the moves into some math-like guitar, and back into the hardcore groove. The end of the song even exhibits a bit of punk, but then goes back to slow discordance. "The Places You Go To Die Are Never Far From Home," the final song, begins with the heavy, sludgy feel. With four clicks by the drummer, the song enters into this frenzied mix of punk, spastic chaotic-core, and then into this odd groove. Overall, these guys mix a lot of sub-genres together, but if the music was more focused, I think it'd be a lot better. The recording quality isn't all that bad. The band sounds tight, the low-end comes through nicely, but I wish the guitar tones were a little cleaner. And ditch the extravagantly long song titles. People will never remember them and they'll end up referring to each song by track number. Fans of metalcore and grindcore hybrids may want to check out these guys out.

4:45-5:05
Devil May Care
Probably mistaken for the videogame Devil May Cry, Devil May Care is a band that has grown quite a bit when we saw them for the first time. In fact, I saw them recently during Coalesce's stop at CBGB in New York City. The upgrading of new equipment has added to their pummeling low-end, and the addition of samples has given the music an interesting edge. I'd say that DMC would probably appeal to fans of noisy metal/hardcore bands along the line of Today Is The Day. Definitely an up-and-coming band worth checking out if you're into that kind of music.

5:45-6:15
Dasai
After considerable plugging by a certain message board member (you know who you are!), I decided to check out this Massachusetts upstart. Surprisingly, the guitarists do shred, and they've got a pretty hate-filled aura to them. LickGoldenSky immediately comes to mind as a comparison in terms of stage presence. Quick riffing, instruments flailing, and the singer screaming and looking like a deranged maniac. Unfortunately, some equipment problems mid-set forced Dasai to finish their time on stage with only one guitarist. I picked up their three-song demo, and judging by the sound of it, I don't think there is a normal chord used in there. Ok, maybe they use a few, but overall the music is very chaotic and noisy with discordant guitar lines and chords, as well as changing time signatures ranging from stop-and-go to frantic beats and pummeling double bass. All these characteristics are especially evident in the opening track, "Turning The Page." "10,000 Of Memories & Student Loans" is a bit mellower, and even has a hint of melody in the noisy metalcore. The song then bursts into rapid-fire riffing and guitar squeals, and later reverts back to its calmer state, and then closes with growing intensity and anger. The final track, "Fuck Fun, Let's Die," begins with some drum work on the toms, and some quiet guitar, but then crescendos to discordant chords and some crunch accompanied by a simple, straightforward beat. The song eventually gets heavier and moves into an all out assault of quick riffs. Overall, this is pretty good stuff. Fans of manic metalcore or noise similar to Turmoil, LickGoldenSky, or other chaotic-core bands should definitely check out Dasai.

6:25-6:55
Every Time I Die
You know who they are, and you know they bring the rock. We'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Meanwhile, ETID has a new bassist, Iano [editor's note: he may already be out of the band, from reports we've heard]. I spoke to him briefly after talking with FATA (see below).

So you're the new bassist for ETID, right Iano?

Iano: Yeah, kind of.

How'd they find you?

Iano: Um, in the gutter. I was fucking raging in a gutter, and I sold crack to Keith.

(Enter Josh Trustkill)

Josh: Is he spewing some bullshit again or what?

Iano: Hey bro! Used to sell crack to Every Time I Die, used to play bass with them, that's all. Fucking sweet dude. I don't know how to play bass, but I've got a lot of crack, so that's how it started.

Do you mind if I copy this verbatim for Lambgoat.com?

Iano: Lambgoat? Uh-oh. Yeah, sure, go for it.

Awesome. How's it been playing for Every Time I Die?

Iano: It's been great. It's been a lot of fun. They're great dudes, they love to party, they love to fucking rage, and they're just awesome guys. Awesome guys. It's been like a whole party this past couple of weeks.

Very cool. What was the highlight tonight for you?

Iano: Um, seeing the crowd reaction for my friends From Autumn To Ashes, because the kids fucking tore the fucking roof off for them. So it was amazing. I was really psyched to see that.

7:05-7:35
From Autumn To Ashes
Apparently, only FATA's tour van was unsalvageable, and the rest of their equipment made it through their recent accident unscathed (more on that below). As usual, FATA was a crowd pleaser, and the reaction was ridiculous with kids rushing the stage, diving bodies, and plenty of sing-alongs. Towards the end of the evening, we took some time to talk to Ben, Scott, and Brian to gather their thoughts about the evening and the fest so far. Here's what they had to say.

Scott: I plan on going to bed soon. No, no, don't record that! I'm kidding!

Hey, you let the other guy (West Coast Mark) record everything? So did you guys have to borrow equipment for the show?

Scott: This show?

Yeah.

Scott: We have all our own equipment, but with the way the show works is, you only have to use your amplifiers and guitars. They supply...

I thought everything was broken (from the van accident)?

Scott: Everything was fine.

Oh, really?

Scott: We thought it was all broken, but when we went back and collected it, it [the equipment] wasn't even scratched. We lost the van entirely, but nothing else.

So, were you expecting that kind of reaction during your set?

Scott: Not at all! I was a little scared, because this is a metal show, and we're pretty much not metal, and that was the most fun I think I've had in a long time. Good stuff. Good energy.

Did you guys see any of the other bands [play]?

Scott: Most Precious Blood... I've been seeing all these metal bands but I don't know who's who. Killswitch Engage, that was the best thing in the world.

It was. So that was probably the highlight for you guys, right?

Scott: I love them!

Very cool.

Scott: What's your name?

John

Scott: Nice to meet you John.

(Josh Trustkill comes up and jokes around with FATA)

Josh: I thought you guys were really good. Send me a demo.

Scott: Hungry?

Yeah, I'm going to get some food.

Scott: Oh. Where are you from?

I'm from Queens, or I live in Queens.

Scott: What part?

In Jamaica.

Scott: Really? I go over there. My dad lives over there.

I live right next to the high school.

Scott: You drove here?

No, I took the bus.

Scott: Oh my god, how long is that?

The gray limo. It was like about four hours, I think.

Ben: Beat us!

Scott: Oh man. It took us like 10 hours (traffic).

Actually, I woke up late this morning and I though I missed my bus. Then I would've had to wait until 10:30 a.m. to leave, but I made it.

Scott: Good, good. Let me ask you a question. What album are you looking forward to in 2002?

You asked this to the other guy and he didn't have an answer.

Scott, Brian: No, he didn't. What's your answer?

The new Killswitch.

Scott: Aw, it's going to be a good one. Let me ask you a very important question then. How do you feel about Nickleback?

I don't listen to any of their stuff.

Scott: Oh no...

It's not because I don't like them, I just haven't listened to their stuff. Why?

Scott: I love them to death!

Brian: How about Hoobastank?

I don't listen to Hoobastank, because I don't listen to the radio.

Scott: Oh, I love the radio. The radio is my best friend. If it's on the radio, I like it.

I used to listen to the radio a lot in college while I was at work, but it was always like softies and the pop station. It wasn't my fault.

Scott: I like Z100. If it's on Z100, I'll buy it.

Brian: What about MTV? MTV is the greatest thing...

Scott: MTV. Can we plug MTV?

If you really want to.

Scott: 20 hours a day, I watch that stuff.

Expect some hate mail.

Brian: Send it to my house!

Scott: Oh, hey, I love hate mail! I'll give you my address, you can all send it to me! And like I told everyone else, we'll contact you in five years, and you don't fucking count!

Excellent.

(laughter, and the some indecipherable stuff)

Scott: "Scott exits stage right."

Brian: He gets himself in trouble every time.

Ben: Did they give you any updates or anything?

(pause)

Tour schedule?

Ben: Alright, we're doing this Poison The Well, American Nightmare thing until the 21st. Surf 'n Skate in New Jersey.

Scott: Ratboy's walking by (outside of Palladium Pizza)!

Ben: Yeah, there's Ratboy and Jordan from Every Time I Die. They're our good friends.

Every Time I Die. A very good band.

Ben: Josh (Trustkill) touched me with his butt. What else we got? We go home for a couple of days, and got three shows with the Dillinger Escape Plan the 25th, 26th, and 27th of April. Then we hang around for a little while.

Someone in FATA: We go on tour with Van Halen.

Ben: That's actually in June.

With David Lee Roth?

Scott: Of course.

Brian: With Sammy Hagar coming out for certain encores.

Ben: With just Sammy Hagar, we wouldn't do it, but with David Lee Roth, we'll do it. What else... July, a full U.S. tour with Shai Hulud, I think Taking Back Sunday, and Coheed and Cambria. I'm not sure, but definitely Shai Hulud and us.

Acutally, I just saw Taking Back Sunday with the Victory Tour.

Ben: How was it?

It was pretty good.

Ben: I saw them on Easter Sunday. I ditched out on all the family stuff. I went to see them and The Break. The Break is the best new band coming out, everyone should check them out. They're on Doghouse Records. Really, just good stuff.

Cool.

Brian: How do you feel about the new Nelly album?

I don't listen to Nelly.

FATA: Aw!

Brian: You're disappointing me here!

You know who I like? I like Oasis.

Brian: That's good. Oasis is always good.

Scott: Do you like Coldplay?

I don't listen to Coldplay.

Scott: But you've heard of them.

I've heard of them. I like Sarah McLachlan.

Ben: Oh, she's wonderful. Late-night driving at its best.

Brian: How do you feel about Frank Sinatra?

He's not bad.

Brian: Good man.

Gotta be in the mood, I guess.

Brian: Give him a moment of silence for that one.

Ben: The King? (shows his Elvis belt-buckle)

I like the King.

Brian: Ok, here is the question of the night: How do you feel about the Juliana Theory?

Oh, haha, alright. You know what? I'll admit I have their first CD. I think out of all their CDs, that's their best CD.

Scott: I agree. I agree. I like them all.

Ben: Further Seems Forever, now that's good.

Brian: Oh, new Further Seems Forever.

Ok, that's very good. I like Further Seems Forever.

Brian: The best thing out right now.

I thoroughly enjoy them.

Ben (tells girl to come here): Brooke, say hello.

Brooke: Hi.

Ben: That's Brooke. She's from Nashville.

Brooke: Nashville, Tennessee.

What do you think about Metalfest so far?

Brooke: 20 hour drive. These guys [FATA] were good.

Brian: How'd you feel about Killswitch Engage?

Brooke: Killswitch Engage was awesome. I got dropped.

Someone: You got drunk?

Brooke: I got dropped.

(More indecipherable speech, Iano of ETID enters, and I talk to him. See above)


Friday Main Stage

4:30-4:50
Barium
When I think of Maine, I usually don't think of anything (of note). Some of you may think of lobster and the Bush family. That's about to change with the five-piece known as Barium. The band entwines melody and sometimes atmospheric interludes into noisy hardcore. The band put on an impressive display early-Friday, and I was able to get a three-song demo from them. "Show Me Life" opens up with some palm-muting and tweaked chords. Instantly, they remind me of a slower version of Turmoil, but shortly after, the song takes an interesting twist as clean guitars are combined with screams and singing vocals to create a melodic interlude. But the surprises don't end there. The guitars start a slow groove with deep growling vocals and scathing black metal screams in the background. "Next Year" has a syncopation feel at the beginning with the chord's rhythmic patterns. Again, the song seesaws between a more melodic feel, coupled with clean singing, and then back to the mechanical-like riffing. The final song, "Five Fold Temptation," displays some heavy riffing, accompanied with some interesting guitar work and harmonization. The track actually has an indie-rock sound in the middle, but Barium throws you off with its varying vocals and guitar lines. In the end, my feelings were a bit mixed about the sampler. While I enjoyed their live show and can see a lot of upside potential with Barium, I'd have to repeat the same thing I wrote for Found Dead Hanging: more focus musically. Keeping the listener's attention by mixing styles and different sounding passages can be a good thing when done in moderation, but they may overdoing it. Nevertheless, Barium may appeal to fans of melodic hardcore with a more-discordant edge. I'm interested in hearing what they have in store for their full-length.

7:30-8:00
All That Remains
If you didn't know, All That Remains is probably one of the area's hardest working bands and features ex-Shadows Fall vocalist Philip LaBonte. Over a year ago, rumors were circulating that the unit would be with a prominent hardcore label, but ATR took their time and found a home with Prosthetic Records, and recently released its debut album, "Behind Silence and Solitude." Performing an incredible set, ATR played its aggressive brand of driving metalcore with a European edge. Crunchy riffs to please the hardcore kids, and impressive guitar leads to appeal to metal-heads, ATR are crossing the boundaries metal and hardcore and are leaving a mark.

8:10-8:40
Killswitch Engage
When fans heard that KsE were moving to Roadrunner Records, a lot of people were expecting the worst. Rest assured people, Killswitch has not changed their sound, and if anything, they're going to redefine what chugga-chugga metalcore should be. I'm pretty sure everyone was into this set. KsE played mostly new material off of their forthcoming album, "Alive or Just Breathing," and some old tracks from their self-titled debut. Mike D. was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule Friday night and speak with us.

Mike: The record [Alive or Just Breathing] will be out May 21. We actually got the finished product from the pressing plant, and everything looks great. We're psyched, the record label [Roadrunner] seems really psyched about it, everyone's really happy. We start our tour with Candiria Tuesday [April 9]. We're really happy about that. Burnt by the Sun, Devil May Care, it should be really awesome.

Does that mean you're playing at Northsix in NY with Candiria?

Mike: I'm not sure we're going to do that date. I don't think we are doing that date.

Ah.

Mike: We're doing a few just because we're still working. We still have jobs, and we've got to work as much as possible before we quit them and are totally broke for the rest of our lives.

Right, right.

Mike: So, yeah, we're just doing the area shows for now. And then we're going to do the Shadows Fall and Lamb of God tour in May. That should be pretty awesome, and a lot of other cool stuff in the works.

As for tonight, what was your reaction toward the crowd?

Mike: It was amazing. We had the best time.

It was really intense. They actually kicked the photo pass people out of the shooting area. Maybe because everyone was jumping the fence!

Mike: Sorry about that.

No, no, it's ok.

Mike: Did you get a couple of shots in there?

Yeah, yeah. I don't know if you were here all day?

Mike: I got around here 4:30.

What was the highlight for you today?

Mike: As far as seeing bands and stuff?

Yeah.

Mike: Devil May Care was awesome. Every Time I Die ruled. Lets see, All That Remains kicked ass.

Yeah, they were very, very good.

Mike: All the bands have been really, really good this year. I'm psyched with the line-up. Kids seem to be rocking out and having a great time. No fights that I'm seeing, other than the bouncers beating people up. You know, that's every metal show you go to. I love it [the show, not the beatings]. It's great.

What about tomorrow? What are you looking forward to the most?

Mike: Well, I'm playing with Overcast tomorrow, so that is definitely going to be a highlight. We wanted to do one last local show just because we hadn't before we broke up. It was kind of a sudden break up, so we got back together. Everybody is getting along real well. We're having the best time. Everything is relaxed. I'm actually sad, and I think we may do something else at some point, like there is talk of maybe Hellfest possibly, but nothing is really confirmed. And as far as everyone is concerned in the band, tomorrow will be it.

Is there any unreleased material, or are you guys planning a live album or something?

Mike: We recorded an album on Easter in 1998, on WJUL, and we've wanted to release it for a long, long time, but no one seems to be into live albums at all. That's always been the career of Overcast, where no one is ever interested in anything we do. It's been the bane of our existence. We believe in our stuff, so I guess that's all that matters. It looks like Lifeforce Records might be putting out a live album/DVD of the show tomorrow, and our last show, and some unreleased stuff that we recorded way back, like demo stages, some comp stuff, and a Black Sabbath tune.

Cool. You guys actually played a show like a week before Metalfest as Overcast?

Mike: It was two weeks ago, actually. We played an unannounced show at Fat Cats in Springfield, just because the guys, we hadn't been together in a long time. One of the guys hadn't even played guitar since we broke up, so they were a little nervous and they just wanted to get in front of a crowd and feel the reaction again. So, unannounced, we played with Killswitch, and I pulled a double-time sets. Played with Overcast for a half hour, then did another 45 minutes with Killswitch, and I was ready for bed. But, it was intense. It was a dream, and it was like the funnest thing I've probably ever done in my entire life. Everyone loved it, as far as band members, had a great time. And like I said, everybody is getting along really well.

Very cool. I guess that's about it unless you want to add anything else.

Mike: Really can't think of anything. Killswitchengage.com.

Awesome. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

Mike: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

[At this point, I decided to call it a night.]


Saturday Second Stage

[The Second Stage on Saturday caused some confusion for the attendees, as a few bands backed out for reasons unknown.]

12:45-1:05
DeadEyesUnder
Brutal metalcore from this young Connecticut band. I remember hearing about them a while back, but with the addition of former Red Tide guitarist Ian and drummer Scott, these guys have definitely grown and solidified. DEU play aggressive metalcore, with an emphasis on metal. After an intense set, Tom was kind enough to give me the DEU limited CD sampler, and it's quite impressive. The first track, "And This Is Progress," has plenty of blast-beats, single-note picking, heavy riffing, and massive breakdowns. I don't know if anyone else sings besides the lead vocalist, but the screams are seem to be layered or going back and forth. "Present Day 1940" has a very driving tempo with guitar harmonization. I'm not sure if DEU is heavily influenced by European metal or metalcore, but I'd imagine there has to be some based on the lead guitar work and harmonization. The song eventually transitions between a break-neck pace and a slow, heavy breakdown. Although the band could be tighter during its fast and frantic passages, the unit is competent musically. Despite a lot of bands are playing a similar style of music these days, DEU does it pretty well on their recording, and have a great live presence. Maybe a less European version of Heaven Shall Burn? Fans of metalcore with a slight European edge should give DEU a listen.

1:15-1:45
Light Is The Language
Wow! When people were inquiring about bands playing at Metalfest, someone said Light Is The Language wasn't anything special. I'd have to disagree. LITL pummeled the crowd. Honestly, I can't remember what they exactly sounded like, but there were a lot of heavy riffs, and I liked it. Definitely a band worth looking into.

1:45-2:45
A Life Once Lost
I've missed ALOL the last 2 (or 3) times they came by my way, and I've regretted it until now. ALOL tore it up on stage, ripping through songs found on "The Fourth Plague: Flies," as well as some older songs from the full-length and new material from their upcoming record on Deathwish. The singer was all over the stage, jumping and climbing all over the crowd, and I'm pretty sure he was bleeding by the end of the set. Excellent.

2:15-2:35
Skycamefalling
SCF drew an impressive crowd, and a reaction similar to label-mates/neighbors FATA. Kids were singing along, climbing all over the place, and just losing it.

2:45-3:05
Mastadon
Featuring ex-members of Today Is The Day, it's understandable that they'd sound and draw some comparisons to their former association. But Mastadon entwines catchy melodic hooks with an almost southern feel. It's always a pleasure watching them live. From what I've heard, the plug was literally pulled at the end of their set. Look out for Mastadon's full-length on Relapse Records in May.

3:45-4:05
Burnt By The Sun
It's almost guaranteed that BBTS puts on a great live set, and they totally delivered. Insane blast-beats, technical precision, and devastating breakdowns. There was a frenzy during the pit, and BBTS played songs of the new, and some old favorites like "Buffy" and "You Will Move." Jones from Blood Has Been Shed even made a guest vocal appearance during "You Will Move," so you know everyone lost it. He must enjoy doing guest vocals because he did the same thing during a Zao (specifically "Five Year Winter") set in New York a while back. Later that evening, I was able to speak briefly with Mike and John. They wanted to reemphasize their tour dates with Candiria (click here for dates) and their forthcoming CDEP of cover songs (click here for news update).

4:15-4:35
Blood Has Been Shed
Despite all the personnel changes, BHBS remains a force to be reckoned with, and the crowd was very pleased. Kids were singing along, and the pit was seething from the riff-oriented songs. It was great seeing them live again.


Saturday Main Stage

12:30-12:50
The Postman Syndrome
New to the Now Or Never Records, I remember seeing these guys at the NON Showcase at the CMJ Music Fest, the same show where the Dillinger Escape Plan debuted their new singer. At that time, they weren't very tight musically and pretty rough around the edges. They've gotten better since then, but I still can't describe what they sound like. Emotional hardcore seems appropriate, but not in the Poison The Well vein. There seems to be a substantial push for this band, so listeners may want to see what the hype is all about with this band for themselves.

4:00-4:20
Nora
As usual, Nora rocked hard, but with only one guitarist. It would've been nice to hear the usual two to get that fuller sound. Nevertheless, Carl was flailing around all over the stage and going up to the barricade to let the crowd sing.

4:30-4:50
Eighteen Visions
I wasn't able to see 18 Vision's set, but I did run into James of 18V Saturday night in the lobby. James was kind enough to speak to Lambgoat about current happenings with the band, as well as his thoughts about the Fest.

James: We just finished up a five-week tour with Five-point O, Lamb of God, and Mushroomhead. It went over pretty well, and we're finishing up a two-week tour with Poison the Well, American Nightmare, and Every Time I Die right now. We just played Metalfest here, and it was extremely awesome. It was amazing. We're heading back home and we're going to start on new material even though our new record [Vanity] isn't even out yet. "Vanity" has been recorded, the layout is being worked on, unfortunately the release date is going to have to be pushed back to August, so that's pretty much it from here.

Cool. And what are you looking forward to the most tonight?

James: I'd have to say In Flames. In Flames is pretty much the band I wanted to see. I missed Blood Has Been Shed, they're good friends of ours. I missed them. I guess they played right before us. I had no idea because the set times got all jumbled up. But In Flames is definitely who I want to see tonight.

Anything you want to plug?

James: Lets see, Every Time I Die, Blood Has Been Shed, Poison the Well, American Nightmare, Lamb of God. I want to see Lamb of God too even though we spent five weeks with them. They fucking rock. Throwdown. That's pretty much it.

Great. Thanks a lot James.

5:30-6:00
Lamb of God
I missed the first few songs of LoG, but from what I saw during the rest of their set was pure aggression. LoG was loud and heavy, and the singer was all over the stage, the barricade, and the crowd. He even lost his wallet during his crowd-surfing melee, and the boys in God Forbid made a quick announcement that whomever found and returned it would receive free stuff. There was a lot of head banging going on during this set.

6:10-6:30
Throwdown
Throwdown brought the straight-edge mosh to the crowd, and even metal-heads liked it. The pit was furious, Dom was doing a lot of finger-pointing, the band was stomping all over, and even Brandon (18V guitarist/Bleeding Through) did a guest vocal appearance. If memory serves me correctly, some of the roadies or one of the guys in FATA jumped from the main stage, over the barricade, and into the crowd during Throwdown's set. Pretty exciting stuff.

7:30-8:00
God Forbid
God Forbid was excellent as usual, and we all know they appeal to both metal and hardcore fans. They played all the crowd favorites ("Divide My Destiny" is quite possibly one of the best songs, ever) and they even showcased a new song that the band's been working on since they've been back in Jersey. I believe it was tentatively titled, "Forced Fed Values." A lot of horns were thrown up, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their set.

8:10-8:40
Poison The Well
A really great set by PTW, as the guys were quite active on stage. Of course, it seemed as if everyone was singing along during the songs. They played maybe 2 to 3 new tracks off of "Tear From The Red." The rest of the songs were from "The Opposite of December", and they closed with the classic, "Nerdy."

8:50-9:35
Overcast
What everyone has been waiting for, Overcast took the stage with a lot of cheering and clapping from the crowd. Brian Fair spoke a little, saying how this show was a long time coming, and then they proceeded to destroy. They played a pretty good mix of material, and Fair was all over the place and made his way into, and on top, of the crowd on numerous occasions. Musically, they sounded perfect, and they probably shook off all their performance jitters in practice and during their unannounced show before the fest. The pit was going crazy, and when they finally ended their set, hugs were given all around. The crowd began chanting a lot, and the band came out for an encore to please the fans. At this point, I was in the bathroom taking a leak, when I realized they were playing the encore.

9:55-10:40
Soilwork
This is the first time I've seen and heard Soilwork, but I've always wanted to give them a listen. Although they didn't move around the stage that much, there was a lot of headbanging and the crowd was really into them as they threw up horns for what seemed like every minute. For some reason the bassist was wearing an odd purple shirt with pink polka-dots, and the singer reminded me of Billy Corgan. Nevertheless, they played some good European metal, and there was even some guitar dueling on stage, as well as some head-rubbing by the singer to one of the guitarist's head.

11:05-11:50
Nile
The Egyptian obsessed death/grind band Nile took the stage. I was really interested in hearing Nile because I've heard some good things, but I have to admit they were a bit repetitive sounding. Don't get me wrong, they get all the respect for playing insanely fast and complex music, but in the end, it just sounded like one gigantic blast-beat with low-end growls. It was pretty funny because they're also one of those metal bands that speak into the mic with the "metal voice" even when they're announcing songs and talking to the crowd. If you're into the incredibly fast, pure death-grind hybrid, Nile should be up your alley.

12:20-1:20
In Flames
The festival headliner was upon us, and as the techies were tuning instruments and checking mics, a huge banner of this evil looking beast with glowing eyes and claws was raised behind the stage for all to see. Everyone cheered, but the backdrop was taken down, and replaced by a cooler looking banner that said "In Flames" in the Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back-style of logo. Beneath the band name was printed "Gothenburg Hardrock." Everyone cheered for the banner. Before the band came on, they played the Austin Powers theme music, and finally In Flames took the stage and rocked. Looking back into the crowd, I don't think there was anyone not bobbing their head up-and-down to the music. Up front, all the kids were singing along and throwing up horns. It was great to witness them live, especially when they played anything off of "Clayman." The singer would come up to the barricade, climb up, and start singing while climbing the crowd. When In Flames was finally done, chants of "In Flames!" and "encore!" kept going for 10 minutes, but the band did not come back out after that, and so the fourth annual New England Metal and Hardcore Festival came to a close.

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