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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES