Day two of Metalfest was a lot more sedate and I was prepared for a long grind of a day filled with good bands and great fans and friends! I managed to get into the venue early enough to catch more of the early action. Bands like Fit For An Autopsy, East Beast and Glass Cloud, kept the surprisingly big early afternoon crowd entertained, be it death core, d-beat or proggy djent sounds coming from either the smaller, second stage or the main room.
Týr hit the main stage next and the size of the crowd made me think they should have been playing later in the day. The problem with some of these intersecting package tours is that you don’t want to just have them play one package and then the next, because then you might not expose fans to other types of bands. At the same time Týr has the kind of elements that make them appeal to many kinds of metal fans. After they were done I ran around outside doing some band interviews and getting ready for some small stage action. Battlecross played upstairs at the same time as The Contortionist (who had Mike Lessard from Last Chance to Reason filling in) and I chose Battlecross since I have seen the former band a lot more times. As I crowded to the front of the stage as I did in my younger days, I knew I was going to be sorry and sore tomorrow. When the bands started to play the front just erupted with furious moshers and even crowdsurfers and divers off the time stage. Battlecross played a fully kickass set, with songs like the popular ‘Push, Pull, Destroy’ and ‘Kaleb’. They were joined by Kevin Talley on drums, and they sounded tight as if he’d been playing with them for a long time, not merely a fill in. Their next record drops in July and these guys are worth getting excited about. Upping the ante considerably was Goatwhore, who also were miscast on the side stage. No matter to them, they just set up their gear and unleashed their own brand of hellish sound on the crowd. With little talking and just blazing through song after song, Goatwhore played the best, most tight and harsh set I’ve ever witnessed on this second stage. That includes hundreds of bands I’ve seen at this venue over the years. They played a cool mix of old and new, but still burned through ‘Apocalyptic Havoc’ like the world was about to end. And it almost felt like it did.
Meanwhile downstairs as The Contortionist finished their set and Within The Ruins soon followed, the fest hit a slight lull for me. Sure, bands like WtR, After The Burial and Born of Osiris played they hearts out to a packed house, but I think my energy was fleeting. AtB is still the best band of that trifecta, having grown the most sonically between last few releases. I caught the beginning of Ensiferum‘s folk-thrash-battle metal, before heading to the parking lot to interview Goatwhore. I also poked my head in and heard some of Terror’s second stage finale which sounded pissed as fuck, which made sense with all of the sweaty and bruised bodies passing me in the doorway.
Then it was time for the final stand of the long day into night’s musical journey. Katatonia has toured the US a lot the last few years, mostly as the opener for Opeth. Katatonia surprised me and delighted their fans by changing up their set slightly and really contrasting the somber doomy songs with some up-tempo numbers. They did close with fan favorites ‘July’, ‘Dead Letters’, and ‘Forsaker’ and no one complained about that.
As amazing as The Dillinger Escape Plan is, I don’t sit around and listen to them all the time. Rather, I appreciate them a lot, spin their new albums quite a bit when they drop, and relish seeing them live. The live setting is where I think they translate the best what they are trying to get across. They may have been an odd choice to stick in between the two Swedish giants, but it made for an interesting change of pace at least. I was photographing them for the second time, and they just absolutely terrified me again. Normally I just fear the security guards (who did a stellar job as always), but I always fear an injury from these guys. As expected they nearly broke themselves and the stage apart with their insane antics and terrific playing. The abuse they put themselves through, especially guitarist Ben Weinman and singer Greg Puciato and their gear borders on excessive and freakish, but I understand the artistic element to their game. I certainly do not envy their roadcrew. The crowd seemed totally spent when they were done.
Just when you thought it was going to be chillaxed prog-metal time, that sneaky Mikael Akerfeldt and Opeth had something else in mind. Sure, some of the fans split and still others headed for the balcony to rest. But Opeth would have none of that resting bullshit. After an opening number of ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ from Heritage, the band unleashed a set of mostly brutal-era Opeth. If you had complained about the progressive rock and mellotron soaked jams of the last few years, this was the show you should have been at. Perfection level renditions of classics such as ‘White Cluster’, ‘Hope Leaves’, ‘Atonement’ and more had fans losing their shit. For a guy who grew bored with growling vocals, Akerfeldt’s performance was spot on, and devastating. I have often felt that watching a Opeth show is like reading a great book: it is food for your mind and soul. Sure, there were still the left turns such as ‘Häxprocess’ or an unplugged version of ‘Demon of the Fall’, that before playing it Akerfeldt joked, a fan told him hearing it ‘made him cry’. But the night belonged to Opeth and their fans, even those you that turned up their nose at them just last year. This was a stellar end to Day Two, and really the entire weekend’s highlight performance. The only thing close to this much cool, was the epic after parties with bands, industry folks and fans at the local bars and hotel rooms that went into the wee hours. Lots of carousing and shenanigans was had by all.
New England Hardcore And Metal Festival Day Two
The Palladium, Worcester MA
April 19 – 21
Photos and text: Keith Chachkes