xDeathstarx are reuniting to headline the fest, along with Gideon and War Of Ages. Saving Grace are flying all of the way from New Zealand for this one US show, and of course the rest of the family will be there as well including My Epic, Everything In Slow Motion, Those Who Fear, Mouth Of The South, Hope For The Dying and Leaders.
Instead of a lazy Sunday filled with a coma like-haze, Day 3 of the festival this year ended on Saturday, giving us a much needed shot in the arm. It was however, next to impossible to get up and back out to Worcester by 12:30 PM for the first band after much partying was had on Friday following Behemoth’s killer performance. Still, I got to the venue in time to catch some of the early hardcore and deathcore bands like Harms Way, Obey The Brave, and Sylar. Loyal to the Grave was the real standout of the early day on the main stage, but oddly enough, the crowd wasn’t feeling them. I was totally bummed out because Japan’s best export with their high energy hardcore show. They were so compelling however, that some of their friends and tour-mates on the second stage upstairs moved their sets around so LTTG could play a second set upstairs to a more eager audience. Too bad I only had to hear about it and I missed it. Great band.
After that I hung around the main stage for a while and checked out the sweaty doom rock of Kadavar. Totally out of place here at the metal fest as the only Sabbath worshiping band on the bill. The funny part is, they totally killed and there was a decent size crowd digging them. They talked little and jammed much. It was grand and they didn’t flinch in what could have been a weird spot for them. Next up on the main stage was Battlecross. Battlecross has played this area a bunch, but never the big stage downstairs at the palladium. The totally owned the day with their blistering performance. Look, they know they are not reinventing the wheel musically, but they play a balls out, thrash and groove style that pumps up the crowd. With new addition Shannon Lucas behind the kit, these guys are just a powerhouse and validate the “next Pantera” or “next Lamb of God” comparisons.
Next I had a real choice to make. Hang by the main stage and catch ReVamp and Sabaton or miss my chance to see Nails. It was a real pickle, but ultimately I felt I had no choice but to stake out my spot to see Nails. Fortunately for me the second stage was running behind schedule, from the a fore mentioned set shuffling. I watched All Out War and the violent pit dancers and was transported back to my home of NYC in the They put on a good show and warmed up the crowd for what Nails was about to bring.
I know Todd Jones was in Terror, has a lot of fans from that association and a lot of hardcore fans like Nails. Musically, to me, there is not a lot in common with Terror and Nails, besides being heavy. “Entombed-core” gets tossed around to describe what is basically black-metal influenced crust-punk. Well the room was packed and Nails destroyed the place with their fierce, short bursts of angry musical missives. Todd is kind of a twisted genius and he feeds off the energy of the crowd. I don’t really get the extreme acts of violence caused by people in the pit punching people randomly in the face and stage diving a bunch of times feet first into the faces of fans. It was terrifying. A few people got tossed out for working their way back into the crowd in hurting unsuspecting onlookers far back from the stage. I think ultimately these incidents bum me out and take a away from the music. Still, Nails destroyed the place and they were among the best acts of the weekend.
Back downstairs for the rest of the night… it was time for Unearth. Like The Acacia Strain and All That Remains, Unearth benefits greatly from being local heroes in this venue. A true Boston band that cut its teeth in that scene, their show was like a headline event. They played well and included a new song that was very cool sounding. As usual they were very active all over the stage, jumping around and having a blast. Matt DeVries (Fear Factory, ex-Chimaira, ex-Six Feet Under) filled in on bass. With the upcoming 10 year anniversary tour for The Oncoming Storm and a new album on the horizon due out from eOne this fall, things are looking bright for the band.
Sam Black Church was another highly anticipated name on this bill. With a resurgent interest in the band due to the upcoming documentary being made by Duncan Wilder Johnson and several high profile shows of late, SBC fans locally and elsewhere have been rejuvenated. They showed what real hardcore is all about: fun, unity, strength, and respect; the band was terrific. It was inspiring to see most of the people downstairs either singing along to every word with singer Jet Crandall. He was as great to see today, as he was many years ago when I first witnessed the band. No one had more fun than that guy all weekend. When you hear songs like ‘Captain of The World’ and ‘We Got The Youth’, you can’t help but smile. It was huge for them to be a part of metal fest this year. Huge.
Coming up to the last few bands of the night, it was time for Nile. Nile has owned the upstairs and the downstairs of this venue in the past and the death metal fans still in attendance were in for a treat. Nile is preparing a new album, but before they get off the road to finish it, they are still supporting At The Gate of Sethu (Nuclear Blast) which was excellent. Nile gives you their best every show and if you love technical death metal, it gets no better. It was cool to see drummers from other bands watching the legend that is George Kolias do his insane stick and pedal work during their set. They played a thorough headline set with tracks from every album, so there could be no complaints. Of course Nile begins and ends with Karl Sanders and Dallas Toller-Wade and their guitars and vocals. It was great to hear a lot of voices in the crowd pipe up for the Nile hits such as ‘Lashed To the Slave Stick’ and ‘Black Seeds of Vengeance’, since I worried their fans skipped out or left early. They didn’t.
Last and never least it was time to see Iced Earth with my pals Marrek and Andy, who caught the last IE show in this building with me. They literally came just for the final band of the weekend. That is the kind of dedication this band inspires. Iced Earth has been riding high and touring the world since Plagues of Babylon (Century Media) was released earlier this year. The band definitely seem like they were in high spirits, seeming a bit tipsy, especially singer Stu Block. It was after all, drummer Jon Dette’s (Slayer, Anthrax) birthday so perhaps they were celebrating. Drunk or not, they put on a fun and phenomenal show. A few years back when Stu joined the band he was capable and yeoman-like, if not a bit tentative live. Now he holds nothing back and puts on a dramatic, explosive show with his amazing vocal range. Of course as goes Jon Schaffer, so goes his band, so it was of note that Jon was all smiles tonight. The line up sounded tight and the set list was cherry. After the opening title track of their latest album, the burned through ‘Democide’ and the ever epic classic ‘Burning Times’. The best song of the night was the surprising ‘Cthulu’ and the final eponymous track. A great set and a fine way to close out the weekend of metal and hardcore hijinks. Thanks go to Meg Loyal Photography for kicking ass, Scott Lee and Massconcerts for throwing down, and Earsplit PR for all the love and support. And to metal fest… we will see you next year for #17!