Day 3 of The New England Metal And Hardcore Fest drew to a close with a lot of diehards in attendance, but a little less of the fanfare of the previous two days. When you go to a music festival or any show really, typically you are familiar with the bands that you go to see. But just like tape trading was back in the 80s, and downloading a decade ago, a music festival is a great place for music discovery, checking out new bands, and getting outside your comfort zone for fun. A lot of this happened today.
By day three of anything, a comic-convention or a destination music festival, people are spun out a little from the last few days of action. Industry folks, (most of) the photographers and the vendors were a lot more relaxed on day 3 with the lighter crowd. I chatted with Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall/Act of Defiance) about his new venture, Manshark Entertainment. It was cool catching up with him and other people from the scene I usually see at these things. At the same time you have to give it to the staff of a venue that has seen an endless stream of people come in and go out in a weekend, metal fans from all walks, and still have them keep their shit together, and do a great job. I gotta give it up to the staff of the Palladium for the work they put in keeping everything moving and everyone safe.
Exalt, by Meg Loyal Photography
Sunday is traditionally the “hardcore” day at NEMHCF and the the early bands brought that vibe. There were some killer early performances on Sunday from the likes of the more hardcore bands such as Oath, Living Laser, and Ghost X Ship, the nu-metal stylee-o of Gift Giver, and the phenomenal performance of Lorna Shore. They had their own crew of fans repping New Jersey in the house and I even saw some WSOU shirts on a few people that got me open! Also of note was a killer showing from New York’s Brick By Brick, now fronted by Ray Mazzola (Full Blown Chaos), for a sick set of ignorant (in the best way possible) hardcore and metal. Their set truly was a moshfest!
Brick By Brick, by Meg Loyal Photography
Later in the day following excellent performances from Sworn In, Vanna, The Color Morale and Cruel Hand on the small stage, Motionless in White took the stage as the final band of the weekend. Putting on a show that an amazing visual spectacle, stellar goth rock showmanship, the band owned the night. Their fans, many I met whom waited all day and checked out all of the bands before them, fell rewarded by a captivating show. The fans sang every word, jumped up and down when Chris Motionless said to jump, and generally yelled fuck you at all the appropriate moments, two middle fingers to the sky. It was a fitting close to a fun weekend. See ya next year Metalfest!
Day two at Metalfest is usually more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s about going hard or going home, but also taking care of yourself too. You gotta stay hydrated when you’re hot and sweaty, take a breather from time to time, and not eat like crap the entire weekend. I made sure to fill up on some terrific energy boosting organic juice at the Paris of the 80’s Cafe next to The Palladium. Because juicing is metal!
Saturday is also where I spent a little more time with the upstairs bands. While the main-stage has more of the metal bands that I favor, the upstairs is for real warriors. Hardcore is still loveless to the mainstream. Nobody plays this style of music for riches and fame. So there will be violence in the pit, there will be glorious pile-ons, sweaty hands grabbing the mic, and there will be shout-a-long choruses. Catching acts such as No Zodiac, Disgrace, Gods Hate, and the mighty Wisdom In Chains, you can see the past meet the future of music, and the fans who care deeply about these bands.
Shattered Sun, by Meg Loyal Photography
The first main-stage band I caught on Saturday was Texas-bred Shattered Sun. While they are opening the Dark Roots of Thrash II tour for tonight’s final acts, at Metalfest they hit the stage at about 2:30 PM. They whipped the early crowd into a frenzy with their modern take on neo-thrash. As I was jamming out, I look over to my left and there was GaryHolt (Exodus/Slayer) giving his seal of approval, banging his head.
The main-stage was so good this year, it was hard to peel away for some grub. Worcester (or Woostah if you are local wildlife) certainly has some decent food options, including the stellar Kenmore Diner within walking distance to the venue. I’d love to see some food trucks participate in future years, considering how many awesome ones we have locally.
After catching parts of good sets from Thy Will Be Done and The Agonist, it was time for some more death metal. We haven’t had much classic death bands of late here, so it was cool to see Incantation and Vital Remains on the bill. While the later band is immensely popular here, Incantation ruled supreme. Lots of people were seeing this great band for the first time today and they slayed.
Nails, by Meg Loyal Photography
The most talked about band before metalfest the last two years has been Nails. Their set last year may never be topped for intensity. Moving down to the main-stage, the entire floor did not devolve into a violent pit of epic proportions as I predicted. However, there was one large circle pit in the middle and some rough stuff up front, but for the most part people were able to enjoy the band and not die, which was good. Nails crushed it hard. That new album cannot come fast enough for me.
Nuclear Assault may be going into retirement, but not before hitting the road and ripping us a new one. They sounded fresh as ever, especially John Connolly’s chirping high screams. I’m looking forward to their new EP in June.
Exodus, by Meg Loyal Photography
Exodus is another band that has gone through some changes. With a recent album, Blood In Blood Out (Nuclear Blast) and a returning Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, the band sounded tight. I was happy with the set list, which included some of their more recent stuff, and of course classics like ‘Toxic Waltz’ and ‘Strike of the Beast’. Props to security for handling all the crowdsurfers and moshers without the usual nonsense I see at other venues.
Testament, by Meg Loyal Photography
Testament closed things out in style with a stage set right out of Iron Maiden’s playbook. And why not? Testament is one of those legacy (pun intended) thrash acts. They had a huge production with creative lights, billows of smoke, and the crazy bursting strobe lights that were a little overpowering frankly. Although they had a slightly over-loud sound mix, the band was incredible as they played only their first two albums, plus ‘Practice What You Preach’. With all of their talents, Testament is like The Avengers, and they are thrash metal’s mightiest heroes.
It was a celebratory mood as I waltzed into The Palladium for another go-around of “Metalfest”. My 10th time attending and 17th overall in the history of the fest proved to be one of the most fun I can remember. Sure festivals can be grueling, all weekend affairs, logistical nightmares and just exhausting. But it’s also like a family reunion in which you hate almost nobody. Lastly, I was lucky to work with Meg Loyal of Meg Loyal Photography all weekend, providing the awesome shots of the bands all weekend for Ghost Cult.
The venue was swelling with people when I arrived, and I was glad to see support for early first day acts such as Begat The Nephilim, Lody Kong, Downpour (featuring Shadows Fall, Unearth and Seemless guys), The Atlas Moth, and Fit For An Autopsy. I usually do a loop of the venue right when I get in. Checking out the vendors, meeting old friends and making some new ones, it’s always a blast.
Within The Ruins, by Meg Loyal Photography
Finally getting down to the main stage floor, Jamey Jasta’s solo JASTA set was just ending. Being a Connecticut guy and a Palladium regular, the place was packed and seemed to end the set on a high note. Checking out the merch tables in between bands, it was cool to see sponsors such as Tama and Ibanez offering cool contests anyone could win. I caught some of Within The Ruins’ set and they were killer, as a bunch of bro dudes punched each other silly in the pit. Settling in at the main stage to watch the rest of day one was a tough choice. I love Overcast and Code Orange, but they played opposite COC Blind, which I could not miss. Playing hits off of Blind, this entity of Corrosion of Conformity includes singer Karl Agell (King Hitter), drummer Reed Mullen, and guitarist Scott Little (King Hitter, Leadfoot) among others was in great form and the audience seemed to enjoy the cuts much deeper than ‘Vote With A Bullet’.
Death Angel, by Meg Loyal Photography
Next up were thrashers Death Angel. It seemed like they might be more at home on the Saturday bill with their Bay Area brethren, but they killed anyway. Playing a short set of mostly recent tracks, they nearly stole the show on day one. Following them was Cavalera Conspiracy. A long changeover seemed to stall the momentum, but there was a lot of excitement to see Max and Igor play together once again. I spent a lot of time focusing on Igor, since watching him play is a treat for me. The set leaned heavy on the “hits” of CC, as well as choice Sepulutra jams and a Nailbomb song featuring Richie Cavalera on vocals.
Cavalera Conspiracy, by Meg Loyal Photography
The Red Chord, by Meg Loyal Photography
The Red Chord was next and I was pumped up to see them, since I missed the band in their last few comeback shows. They played a set heavy on their masterwork album Clients (Metal Blade) and one new song. Again, the deathcore brings out the crazy pit ninjas en masse. Guy Kozowyk was in great form, as the was the entire band who has been missed much.
Between The buried and Me, by Meg Loyal Photography
Closing out the night was Between the Buried And Me. While I really appreciate the North Carolinian prog metallers, (who gave a neat shout out to COC), I have never been a rabid fan. On this night they played the best set I have ever heard from them. They had a sweet production of video screens, smoke and lighting. Not only was their choice of songs slick, but their pacing and patience as a band has really risen up to the level of the veterans that they are. For an added bonus just for the Metalfest crowd, the band closed with a cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Except for Paul Waggoner playing the iconic piano parts on guitar (of course), the band became Queen, with Tommy Rogers transforming into Freddy Mercury; immaculate right down to his stage moves, voice, and half a mic-stand. The entire venue was singing and some people were crying too. It was an unforgettable end to Day 1.
Between The Buried and Me, by Meg Loyal Photography
Between The Buried and Me, by Meg Loyal Photography
Today marks the start of New England Metal And Hardcore Festival XVII (that’s #17 for you Roman Numeral deniers among you), which is the unofficial start of spring in the northeast USA. That and the fact there is still some snow on the ground. Ready to thaw out and rock with some amazing bands, this years NEMHF promises to be one of the most diverse bills in its history, according to co-founder and talent booker Scott Lee. Held over three days this weekend on two stages, the fest is a must attend event I nth region which offers something for every heavy music fan’s taste.
Friday is headlined by Between the Buried and Me, which is sure to pack the venue as they usually do. Re-activated Boston mashers The Red Chord are in the spot right before BTBAM, highlighting the depth of this night. Other top billings for Friday go out to Cavalera Conspiracy, veteran thrashers Death Angel, COC BLIND, Code Orange, Overcast, Jamey Jasta solo, The Atlas Moth, Fit For An Autopsy and Within The Ruins.
Day 2 has the all out attack of the “Dark Roots of Thrash Tour” with headliners Testament playing an old-school set, and Exodus in tow making for circle pit heaven. Also from that tour is opener Shattered Sun playing much earlier than usual. Following Exodus is the final New England appearance of Nuclear Assault who are soon to retire. Another excellent band you should not miss is Nails, graduating to the main stage after last years’ bloody pit up at the small stage slot upstairs. Other Saturday bands of note include the recently added Turnstile, death metal overlords Incantation and Vital Remains, Rivers of Nihil, The Agonist and popular locals (from nearby Rhode Island) Thy Will Be Done.
Sunday is always the hardcore centric day, but this year has the added bonus of being led by Motionless In White. The band has worked their way up from nothing with relentless touring and recording, and looks poised for bigger things. A cavalcade of hardcore bands follows MIW such as The Color Morale, Vanna, Death Before Dishonor, Cruel Hand, Lionheart, Sworn In, Brick By Brick as well as Lorna Shore and Last Ten Seconds of Life.
Ghost Cult will be bringing you the review from the weekend full of action, so check back here next week.
Spring is in the air and that means music festivals all over the world. One such festival we always attend is the New England Metal And Hardcore Festival, held at the Worcester Palladium in Massachusetts. We caught up with festival co-founder and talent booker Scott Lee to get his take on the 17th edition of the festival, taking place this weekend.
We started off by asking Scott about this year’s line-up:
“It’s great! We have a lot of diversity this year. Friday where you have Between the Buried and Me, The Red Chord Cavalera Conspiracy, Corrosion of Conformity (BLIND), and Within the Ruins, that day is stellar. Testament, Exodus, Nuclear Assault’s final new england appearance, so proud to have that. Nails is really exciting! Sunday has Motionless In White. People gave me a little crap for that, which is funny to me. They are just as much a metal band, with hardcore roots as anybody else. Just because they wear makeup and the type of label they are one, whatever. They are a metal band. They have done metal tours. They did Mayhem and other metal tours too. They are an awesome band. And they wear make up. So did Kiss. So do The Misfits. So does Dimmu Borgir. Who cares? The lineup is super stellar. Code Orange headlining upstairs on Saturday. Overcast… and there might be a surprise for Saturday for the hardcore world.” (Editor’s note: now revealed to be Turnstile).
Scott also discussed the significance of having two legendary Boston metal and hardcore stalwarts on the bill together in Overcast and the recently reactivated guys in The Red Cord:
“Oh they came up together you know? They came up at the same time, in the same vein. Same kind of New England thing. You wouldn’t be surprised to see a split 7” from the two of them. Actually that would be really cool! There are all kinds of genres this year, it’s a really good mix. It really is an all-star lineup . I am not going to be like “it’s better than last year” or “its better than the year before”. I hope people see what we are doing here and getting excited about it. There are not too many times you will see Nails and Testament on the same bill, on the same day.
Scott Lee, photo by Jeremy Saffer
Returning to the fest for a second straight year, Nails put on one of the most intensely violent shows ever at last’s year’s fest. We vouched for being terrified at the level of aggression the band coaxed out of the rabid fans in the pit. Just complete bedlam. This year they are on the main stage, and Scott shared his thoughts on the band:
“Being terrified is part of the game, my friend. I went and saw them at This Is Hardcore and it was amazing to me. That band is no joke! It’s great how they are true to their craft. They are really great people too. They write really great music. If you haven’t heard this band, you need to check them out. They are the real McCoy.”
On the complaints on a yearly basis about certain bands, and certain types of bands on the bill which he helps bring together:
“It’s called the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. It’s bringing metal and hardcore tied into together with the entire scene like this: everything everyone here has ever done. It is not called the New England Death Fest. It’s not called the New England Hardcore Fest. It’s not the New England Metal Fest. It has a long name so everyone abbreviates it to NEMHF. With these bands, it doesn’t matter. The majority of these bands are fans of the music of the other bands too. If you are close-minded, I can’t argue with every single person about this that or the other the thing. This is what the scene is meant to be, open-minded. That’s what it’s supposed to be, for me doing this. We are not putting Black Veil Brides on, we put on Motionless In White. Motionless In White is a metal band. The whole kit and kabboodle on the situation is this: if you have enough time to ridicule, then you should go get another hobby.”
Nursing a wicked bangover from the first night, I was already in scramble mode when I got to the venue for day two. We got there in time to hear the last strains of Carnivora, a top local death metal prospect. These guys definitely deserve your attention. Next up on the main stage was Black Crown Initiate, who are on their stint on the Metal Alliance Tour, opening for Behemoth. It’s too bad the festival environment had them playing this early because they are amazing. Their blend of Meshuggah tech riffs and Opeth-ian prog is going to take them very, very far. Taking a short break to run around and do some other Ghost Cult business, the next band I saw was Reflections. They were slightly better stage presence-wise than the flat showing I saw earlier this year, but their music still puts me to sleep.
The shame of alternating stages is the overlap of certain bands. While I really wanted to see Warhound, Lifeless, and especially Born Low upstairs, they were playing opposite better bands on the main stage. Inquisition was highly anticipated by the crowd that had filled up considerably by now. It was almost a nighttime atmosphere for the show as Dagon and Incubus took the stage in a cloud of red lights and smoke. People were literally losing their shit, and it was a great thing to see a lot of people I chatted with seeing this band for the first time. A lot of people donned the corpse paint in tribute to this band and others we saw on this day, which was pretty funny in an un-ironic way. Their best song and my personal favorite song they played was ‘Command of the Black Crown’. A true mix of true kvlt black metal influences, modern sensibility and sonics. For a change of pace, the maulers in Fit For An Autopsy took the main stage next and slayed. Immediately noticeable is the change over from former front man Nate Johnson to the new guy Greg Wilburn (The Devastated). Greg is a beast of vocalist and has far better stage presence than Johnson, giving this already good band a real shot in the arm. They are a fan favorite at the Palladium so the pit was very active for them. I Declare War had to follow them and it was an embarrassment by comparison to FFAO.
Staying in the big room for 1349, I don’t think fans were prepared for the mind-blowing performance we were about to see. It’s always the bands that don’t tour a lot that surprise you at these things. Positively evil and putting forth a great set, 1349 were one of the standouts of the weekend. Not to be out done in the showmanship, Goatwhore does what they usually do when they come to town, audio live carnage. Rev. Ben Falgoust might prefer the intimacy of the smaller stage, such as when they played the fest last year on the upstairs stage, with all the people raging in his face, but they belong on the more worthy platform. They flat out owned the main stage. Playing their hits like “Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult” and ‘Apocalyptic Havoc’ as well as a new song, that, also crushed; they ruled all. It’s gonna be a good summer when that new album drops from Metal Blade.
With more running around to do and needing to get a primo spot to see Slapshot close the main stage, I only caught a glimpse of Within The Ruins, Carnifex, and Thy Art is Murder each, with the latter getting the best response from the crowd. With the fest in full swing- it was cool to see some of the metal band people just hanging out at fest, even if they were not playing. Among those I ran into: Dave Davidson and the Revocation guys, Tony from Vital Remains, Adam from Mongrel, and Jayson Keyser of Origin. I also chatted with actor Brian O’Halloran of Clerks fame who was participating in the Rock And Shock Festival sponsored signings along with horror writer Joe “Zombie Bukkake” Knepper. Brian told me he loves to people watch at metal shows, much more than the bands.
As we were grinding toward the end of the second day I steadied myself for the last few hours with some communal drinking at the bar, which I rarely do at shows anymore. After catching the last half of an excellent set by Cruel Hand, it was time for Slapshot. Slapshot put on a show that put bands half their age to shame. It’s not just about the classic tracks that gets everyone excited, it’s the true spirit of hardcore they embody. There were some pit dancers having fun, and surely some violence going down, but none of the nonsense that pervades the scene at times. No gang BS, even though I suppose there were those types around. From my vantage point in the balcony, keeping my old ass safe and sound, I watched one of my buddies, Anderson Moura, right up at the front, just going nuts the entire time. The Slapshot set was a thing of beauty to behold.
Finally done with the second stage I cooled my heels a bit and chilled out as I watched The Acacia Strain and Whitechapel as the penultimate acts of the day. Their respective fans went bonkers. I have seen each band, together and co-headline this venue cause total chaos with the whole floor as a non-stop violent pit of death. Both bands have their respective fans who love each bands take on meat and potatoes death core. The Acacia Strain is literally from “down the block” as Vincent Bennett likes to say, just a few towns over. They often feel like a headliner, even when they are not last on the bill. Whitechapel on the strength of their brand new album, Our Endless War (Metal Blade) played their “hits” and a few new cuts. With a bigger set and staging than ever before, they are definitely trying to step up into a bigger realm. They are knocking on the door of something really big, so I hope more than just casual fans pick up on it.
Finally it was time for the most anticipated band of the weekend to play. Behemoth had already made a grand return to this venue a few years ago, but this was a lot different. On the strength of The Satanist (Metal Blade), the band has never been more popular. Although some fans gripe about the bands new-found “it band” status, the quality of The Satanist attests to the fact that they are are not going any softer. They seem to be a band everyone likes universally, sort of a modern Slayer, without the drama. This can be further proved by the impressive performance they put down.
And what a show it was! Behemoth always had a flair for the dramatic, be it their make-up, masks or cool lighting, but they have reached a new zenith of quality now. They have achieved the perfect blend of theatricality and their black metal influenced -death metal (however commercially acceptable). Their set list was an impeccable blend of old-school classics and new material. Each song was acted out, as much as it was performed, with calculated introductions and interludes. Nergal spoke little to the crowd, other than some pleasantries, and it added to the drama and mood. This was a ground breaking, avant-garde inspired moment for this band, and this genre as a whole. Nothing will ever be the same again. Every band will have to be compared against what Behemoth is doing now and it won’t be fair. They were already a great band, but now they are all-time greats.
It’s that time of year once again, New England Metalfest graced our state as the Northeast’s best bang for your buck metal experienced, matched by none. I was particularly excited because for me personally, having lived in Massachusetts for almost a decade and being a fan and attendee of the fest even before that, this is the real hallmark of the spring concert season for us. Now in its 16th year, it is an institution here to stay, and led by co-founder/scene Svengali Scott Lee of Massconcerts, it’s always a good time. The venue was packed with all kinds of different bands on two stages, cool vendors and band merch, and tons of fun people from the business, and our scene to mingle with. A special shout out to my friends Liz and Dave from Earsplit PR, who handled all the press these past few years, and as always do a bang up job. Extra props go to Meg Loyal who handled photography for Ghost Cult the entire weekend, freeing up yours truly to focus on coverage.
At times the fest has flirted with getting as big as four days including a pre-fest party, but this year we got down to a much more sensible, shorter kickoff night, followed by two long days. Since festivals like this are more like a marathon than a sprint in terms of staying fresh, this was a lot more manageable.
We got to the Palladium a little bit after doors opened and after getting our credentials handled, we made it down to the main stage in time to catch the last few songs from local boys Death Rattle. Playing a modern metal/power groove style akin to Lamb of God, early Sepultura, or Pantera, the early crowd was certainly digging them, especially when they closed with Pantera’s ‘A New Level’. Afterward, I hit up the upstairs, smaller stage for a while. Early in the fest I tend to run around between the two stages more and so on Thursday I tried to see as many bands as I could. Catching Cop Problem and Enabler back to back. For the initiated, Cop Problem hail from Philly a.k.a. Killadelphia. They are not here to party, as much as they are here to kick your brain in with passionate, intelligent crust punk for the discerning fan. Front woman Deb is about as accomplished a screamer as anyone on either stage this weekend, and the band may take themselves seriously, but they are fun live. Enabler is one of my favorite crusty bands of the last few years too. Easily at home with hardcore crowds as they are black vest wearing kids who d-beat-off at a mere mention of them. Legit and well deserved hype aside, Enabler crushes and their new album Flies (Compound Records) is an early year favorite of mine. It was over all too quick. Ugh.
After catching a bit of Scars of Tomorrow, and filling up on a heavenly fig and cheese pannini’s that I ate all weekend and an double espresso (I shit you not) next door at the little cafe next to the venue I am now in love with, I headed back in to check out Oceano. Having just seen them at the same venue a few months earlier, you know what this band brings to the table live. There are better bands doing death core and at their best, tech death inspired music, it really is just beatdown core at its heart. However, led by front man Adam Warren, they bring the chaos live and always put on a great show. Their new album Contagion(Earache) has been overlooked this year. Next up was Darkest Hour, who is just beginning another album cycle with new music to be released soon. DH is always killer live and they seemed to have their own crowd in the house. I have seen them many times over the years and they never disappoint me.
I caught the first half of the set for Bleeding Through and they were pretty damn amazing. The band is on a farewell tour of the east coast, before heading into retirement later in the year, and they left everything on that stage. There was a weird energy in the venue the entire set, and basically everyone losing their minds. Brandan Schiapatti brought his legendary A-game live. I will miss these guys a lot. They stole the show on this first day of the fest. I made it back to the side stage to see some of the evildoers in Rivers of Nihil last few songs. They were the first true death metal band of the weekend and accordingly, there was a nice crowd in to see them. They are just straight out brutal and technical with zero cheese factor. I wonder how big they will be in 3-5 years. Not caring much about the main stage for the rest of the day, I chilled out and saw Wilson and Broken Hope to close out the upstairs stage. Wilson was one of the most fun bands of the weekend. Their weird blend of proto-metal, thrash, doom, psychedelia and other stuff was spot on. I looked around the room and saw them minting new fans by the second. It was a reminder that from the underground comes tomorrow’s headliners, no doubt. Broken Hope followed after a bit of a long change over to their own gear from the standard back line. It was worth the wait because the death metal fans hung around and were rewarded. The band just slayed with their classic, second-wave death metal material and new songs off of Omen of Disease (Century Media). It was all made worth it by seeing Jeremy Wagner and Chuck Wepfer. It was like going to class at shred university. I felt bad for all the kids watching Emmure, who didn’t know any better, but should have.
Finally the first day was coming to a close and locals All That Remains readied to take the stage. They are a band I championed to people in the early days, and have seen many times on this very stage. However, the last third of their career, while seeing them scale the heights of popularity, I feel like their musical quality has taken a big hit. I’m happy for their success, but I long for the days of This Darkened Heart and even The Fall of Ideals. I just feel the catchier rock based songs the make now have no balls anymore. They always put on lively show, and you can’t deny they are entertaining, and despite the presence of fan favorites ‘Six’ and ‘This Darkened Heart’ in the set tonight, it was a pretty weak showing. I was even surprised the band didn’t pull out anything special for the metal fest crowd, owing to the bands local roots and many times playing the fest, but they didn’t. It was an anti-climactic end to a good day of fun and music. I headed home to sleep.
Hells to the yes! The brand spanking new issue of our digimag is out today! Issue #17 features a revealing interview with Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) of Devil You Know. Issue #17 also contains interviews with Twilight, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Apocalyptica, The Wounded Kings, Nothing, Delain, Steve “Zetro Souza” of Hatriot, Carnifex, Scott Lee of the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, Immortal Bird, a tribute to Dave Brockie of GWAR, an exclusive guest editorial from Davide Tiso on his new project Gospel of the Witches. Plus we have a recap of Blastfest from Norway, and other live reviews such as Behemoth & Cradle of Filth in the UK, The Winery Dogs in the USA, Ulver in The Netherlands, Apocalyptica in Finland and special features with Paul Masvidal and Chance Garnette. Made especially for your tablet device or smartphone! Check it out here!
Once again it is time for the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. The sixteenth edition of the fest looks to be a great group of the finest death metal, black metal, hardcore, grindcore, crust punk, thrash (although less of it this year), metalcore, tech death, prog and power metal like few weekend long events in America can match. Held at the Worcester Palladium on two stages, it’s always a fun time and a great place to discover new bands and meet your heroes. Among the headline acts this year are Behemoth, Iced Earth, Nile, All That Remains, Goatwhore, Nails, Whitechapel, Bleeding Through, Darkest Hour, Broken Hope, Carnifex, Unearth, 1349, Inquisition, Sam Black Church, and many more. We caught up with the festival co-founder Scott Lee to discuss the 2014 incarnation of the fest.
We jumped into our conversation touching on the history of the fest and some of the surprising names on the bill:
“Sweet Sixteen! I think it’s pretty cool. I’m really excited about it! Thursday is going to be a regular door, so it’s going to feel like a regular show, just earlier doors. Doors are at five, so we just want to ease people into the madness! I’m really proud of this lineup with All That Remains, Emmure, the last east coast appearance of Bleeding Through, Gideon, Kublai Khan, and Oceano. Darkest Hour was just added. Broken Hope and Wilson were just added. It’s a bunch of cool bands. It’s kind of like you go out to drink: you have little base, and some snacks, and then you start chugging!”
“I just try to put on the best festival I can. I try to make the fans happy. I try to make everybody happy, but you can’t please everybody. The haters are gonna hate, but probably about 50% of the haters are still going to come. It’s going to be great.”
Scott took out the time to single out how proud he is to have Behemoth on this year’s lineup, as part of the inclusion of the Metal Alliance tour:
“Behemoth is one of the best bands in extreme heavy music today. They are on a huge comeback. He (Adam “Nergal” Darski) beat leukemia and that is hard as shit! Back in the early days of the earth they would build monuments to to a guy like that and I think somebody should today. That band is incredible, and they are great people too. They tried to take him out and he said “Fuck no! I gonna keep making music.” That band is sick! I think people are just jealous of him because he is trying to make something of himself. Back the guy, you know what I mean? Just because his lyrics or beliefs are of some nature, people are still human. He’s not hurting anyone. He is not committing murder, he’s not committing hate crimes. He’s making a name for himself and he’s repping Poland hard man, so back the motherfucker!”
All though a lot of spring tours in the US now plan their routing around Metalfest weekend, Scott makes sure to stay true to his roots and book the second stage, dominated by hardcore bands, first.
“I book that first. The second stage gets booked first and everything else comes into play afterwards. I look at other festivals like This Is Hardcore and other hardcore festivals and see what’s going on, and who is doing what. And by the way, did you see that This is Hardcore lineup? Oh my god! That is sick! I saw that and I hit up Joe Hardcore and sent a screen shot of the lineup and wrote “I quit!” (laughs) That is the best lineup I’ve ever seen in my life and I’ve been doing this for 22 years. But for our second stage we take the best of the best for hardcore, grindcore, that type of style. Nails, All Out War, Twitching Tongues, Ramallah, Reign Supreme, and you put them all on one show it’s gonna be sick! It’s gonna be a party.”
Having been long time supporters and attendees of the fest, we have seen the sponsors and partners list grow over time.
“Tama and Ibanez are our big sponsors. Tama is actually going to give away the back-line drum-set to a lucky fan that buys a ticket. You buy a ticket for the fest, your name goes into a raffle to win the drum-set that has been played by all of these bands. It’s like a $5000 drum-set You could go home with this on Saturday! All from Tama.”
Since Scott, and the company he works for, Mass Concerts books major acts, we asked his opinion of the recent Mayhem Festival lineup announcement.
“Mayhem fest is a different animal than we are. It’s a larger animal than we are. We are like a pitbull and they are like a fucking lion. That’s different. That’s the best analogy I can come up with. Looking at everything, their lineup has to put butts in the seats. That lineup has to get people out of the parking lot. Do I think that lineup sucks? No I don’t. I’m gonna to attend. You are not going to make everybody happy. Do I think it’s the strongest lineup ever? It’s a good lineup. I think it’s pretty cool personally. More people want to see death metal, and some people want to see Asking Alexandria, and some people want to see Killswitch Engage. You are not going to make everybody happy. But they are going to get thousands and thousands of people to go.”
The Fest also puts on a showcase at the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, TX as a way to bring up and coming bands to a great audience. The event this year was headlined by Veil of Maya and Comeback Kid. Scott gave us an account of the festival, including the harrowing car accident that happened: “I was literally four blocks away from that accident. And I was like “Fuck!” I have to say the Austin Police handled that awesomely, and the people of Austin, what I saw of them, were awesome. It was tragic and sad, but it doesn’t reflect on the festival. I hope it doesn’t leave a bad mark on the festival. I mean I live in Holyoke Massachusetts, and people do stupid shit here all the time. It’s just some fucking asshole who wants to be a rapper, go got in his car and killed people and hurt people. I hope it doesn’t put a black cloud over this. But the police did a great job. And the whole festival kept going strong. There were some memorial services and everything. As far as our showcase, it was there,m it was sold out and it was awesome. Dude, you know something? Where are you going to go where Lady Gaga gets pukes on someone, or gets puked on by someone? It was like a 12 foot burrito machine! It was great! awesome. House shows happen! I love house shows, they are great! I recommend everybody going to it.”
The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival is entering its fifteenth year as one of the most successful and longest running shows in the United States. Taking place every year at the Worcester Palladium, which is the metal capital of New England, the show brings in diverse acts from across the heavy metal spectrum and fans from all over. This years’ show runs from April 18th – 21st. At the center of the chaos of the weekend is the relatively chill promoter extraordinaire, Scott Lee. As an employee of the company Mass Concerts, Lee founded and helps put on the show every year. Ghost Cult caught up with Scott to discuss all things Metal Fest with about one month to go until the curtain goes up on the weekend. Continue reading →