The Palladium, Worcester MA
My first day at the festival had left me beat, but not bloodied and yet determined to try to see all the bands I could. I was pumped up for sure, at least mentally. Generally the final day of the festival has been reserved for the heaviest bands the last few years and today was no exception. Although HATEBREED might have seemed like a better fit on the hardcore minded bill the night before, the flow of the bands on both stages made a lot of sense with styles ranging from neo-thrash, deathcore, death metal, techie death and and thrash influenced hardcore.
I really tried to get into the venue early, but I only managed to catch the last two songs of LAZARUS AD on the second stage. I really like their new album Black Rivers Flow (Metal Blade Records) and have been a fan for a few years. I got to at least hear “Absolute Power” and “Revolution” before they went off. As usual lead guitarist Dan Gapen was just killing it. He is one of the best shredders to come along in a while. They are always fun live so I need to get out to see them this summer and so should you.
I ran down stairs to get a good spot for CEPHALIC CARNAGE’s set. They are always amazing live and it was nice to see a healthy size crowd gathered for them. As always they played a good mix of songs from their entire history and tore shit up! Crushing blasts of grindcore and techie-death encompasses the style of these twenty-plus year vets of metal. Frontman Lenzig Leal is one of the most feral and funny guys I have ever seen live and he never disappoints. The entire band is really full of maestros as demonstrated on cuts like “Warbots A.M.”, “Endless Cycle of Violence” and “Abraxis of Filth”. Drummer John Merrymen put on a veritable clinic that was one of the standout singular performances of the weekend. Both Steve Goldberg and Brian Hopp played dizzying guitar parts and bassist Nick Schendzielos also killed with his fluid finger-style playing. Wrapping up with the one-two punch of the party anthem “Kill For Weed” and the classic “Lucid Interval” they set the bar really high for the rest of the day.
I hustled back up to the second stage to catch REVOCATION. Despite them being from Boston I was late getting into them, but now am wearing out their last record Existence is Futile (Relapse) like crazy. The upstairs was predictably packed and they started their set off with a sick run-through of “Reanimaniac”. Led by Dave Davidson on guitar and vocals the band is not shy about blending their many influences into the stew that makes up their sound. At times, death, thrash, power groove, shred and progressive rock they touch a lot of bases in their songs and they somehow make it work. The three-man vocal attack was employed for “Pestilence Reigns” for full effect with each member having a distinctly different style. Drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne seems to effortlessly shift tempos and has all the power and deft touch in his stick work needed to pull off the tunes. Closing with “Exhumed Identity” they left everyone wanting more which is always a sign of a good band. Dave said there is a new record in the works and I will be looking out for it this fall.
Choosing this time to take a short break from the show to chow and recharge the batteries came with a high cost. I wound up missing THE OCEAN, A LIFE ONCE LOST and most of OCEANO as well. Twas a steep price to pay, but again I was strapping in for the rest of the day. OCEANO was tearing shit up as usual with their take on brutal death-core. Adam Walker was dominating the stage with his sick, gravely voice. The pit was crazy and it was nice to see these guys going over well. They finished up strong with “District of Misery” and I can’t wait to see these guys on the Summer Slaughter Tour this August right back here at The Palladium.
Next up was the band everyone seemed to be clamoring to see, the always insane DYING FETUS. The entire floor at the main stage was packed full and you’d have thought these guys were headlining by the energy there. Opening with the awesome “Praise the Lord (Opium of the Masses)” they band set off a wave of action in the pit that was barely rivaled the rest of the day. Precision beats and riffs blasted out of the P.A. system and just killed my brain cells immediately. Watching John Gallagher play guitar is a treat as the guy is one of the top axe-masters in all of metal. Next up was “Your Treachery Will Die With You” and I was delighted to hear the band switching up the set list from recent tours I have seen. Sean Beasly on bass/vocals and Trey Williams on drums have really settled in now and make a great two-some of deathly rhythm. They kept the intensity up high the entire set which was killer and just confirms the theory that there is no filler in DF at all. Not one weak song ever! I basically ruined my neck headbanging at this point and felt somewhat crippled the rest of the day. John thanked the crowd for all the support, but kept the banter to a minimum as they ran through “One Shot, One Kill”, and “Sheppard’s Commandment”. Williams absolutely destroyed his kit and he adds all kinds of sick rolls and fills live that are not on the albums. They slayed the crowd into submission with their final cuts of the day in the ridiculous “Homicidal Retribution” and “Grotesque Impalement”. It was over all to soon for me since I could have jammed out to about ten more songs. DF will also be on The Summer Slaughter Tour!
I had a precious little window between bands, but I wanted to catch at least part of NAILS’ set. As one of the most exciting bands in the underground today I am always down to support these guys. Their loud and unwavering devotion to noisy crust-punk/d-beat metal is admirable and true to form some of the people at the second stage got it while others just stared blankly. I was enthralled myself as they slammed through cuts like “Conform” and “Life”. They should have a new record out on Southern Lord by year’s end and I highly recommend these guys.
Just as the final strains of NAILS set was ending I bolted downstairs to find JOB FOR A COWBOY half way through “Unfurling a Darkened Gospel”. They were flat out killing it live! It’s hard to believe they went from best new prospect to one of the best acts in the genre in a few short years. Next track “Constitutional Masturbation” highlights the complex style the bands brings and the evolution they have made to true death metal greatness. Drummer Jon “The Charn” Rice (whom I just saw a month ago with THE RED CHORD) is a beast behind the kit with his relentless playing. Guitarists Bobby Thompson and Al Glassman intertwine their killer parts and occasional ear candy textures. “Knee Deep” was led by Jonny Davy’s brutal, and varied vocals. He is perhaps the best young front man in death metal. Next they played a brand new song called “Signature of Starving Power” off of their forthcoming EP. I have to say musically speaking, it is a big step forward for the band and holds great promise for their next full-length as well. Bashing through a few more songs they ended things with typical closer “Embedded”.
CARNIFEX is a band I haven’t been into much compared to some of their other So-Cal techie-death brethren. I’ve always felt they were talented, but just missed the mark for me on originality and performance. Well I was proven wrong tonight on one count as these guys were on fire. I don’t know if it was them, the competition or the fans, but they stepped up like never before tonight. Heavy and full of massive grooves, songs like “Split Wrist Saviour” and “Names Mean Nothing” just crushed balls. Vocalist Scott Lewis has an otherworldly growl that just gave me chills. Other cuts like “The Diseased and the Poisoned” weave elements of blackened death metal with prog and death core. Very impressive stuff. The crowd absolutely lapped up the combination and there were a lot of heads in the house who clearly knew every breakdown and screamed every word. They played a bunch of harsh and catchy jams and they seemed really in their element as performers. After their last song “Hell Chose Me” rang out, I definitely came away with a new found respect for these guys and what they do.
DARKEST HOUR would have been the next main stage band, but they canceled due to the birth of Mike Schleibaum and his wife’s first child earlier in the week. So everyone on the schedule at this point got moved back a bit and seemed to play a little longer which was cool. TIMES OF GRACE stepped up for their second home state show and didn’t miss a beat putting on a great performance. Led by Jesse Leech (KILLSWITCH ENGAGE/SEEMLESS/THE EMPIRE SHALL FALL) and Adam Dutkiewicz (KILLSWITCH ENGAGE), they managed to play a headliner-worthy set in under an hour. “Strength In Numbers” is a terrific opening salvo. “Willing” and “Hope Remains” are flavored with the thematic metalcore stylings they were known for in their heyday together in KsE. “Hope…” also has one of the best, melodic guitar solos I have head Adam do in this or any band. Once again I was blown away by “Fight For Life” which starts out like a sermon-like blues and transforms into heavy modern rock. Leech’s paint peeling upper register is truly wondrous to hear again and I hope he keeps it going in all of his many projects. When they were joined on the mic by bassist Daniel Struble (FIVE POINTE-O) the results were extra impressive. Other songs showcase Adam D’s singing and playing ability and reminds one that you don’t have to like the guy and his antics, but you must at least respect his talent. Other tracks like “Live In Love” and “Worlds Apart” highlight how deep and enjoyable TOG’s debut record is. Jesse, humble as ever, addressed the crowd right before “Hymn of the Broken Man”. Thanking everyone for supporting them and recognizing that TOG is not the same kind of metal band as the others on the bill. He went on to say that we fans are all brothers in a way, no matter what style we represent. He basically summed up what NEMHCF#13 is all about right there.
Chicago’s BORN OF OSIRIS were up next and all things considering, after almost ten hours of bands the fans were hanging in there nicely. Hitting the stage quickly they launched into “Open Arms to Damnation” with their melodic, proggy take on death-core. Their six-man crew put on an excellent show jumping all around, on and off of small risers. They are masters of pushing and pulling tempos of songs at a furious clip and their staccato riffage is great material for the pit ninjas. Playing a lot of songs off their recent release The Discovery (Sumerian Records), they just whupped ass the entire set. Lots of groups this weekend know how to be brutally heavy, but few were inventive about how to add good melodies in their writing. Credit goes to guitarists Jason Richardson and Lee McKinney as well as vocalist/keys player Joe Buras for this. Tracks like “Empires Erased”, “Recreate” and “Now Arise” have fantastic lead lines from these instruments that really take the listener new places. Vocalist Ronnie Canizaro contrasts these melodic parts with his scorched earth guttural singing style. Drummer Cameron Losch ties it all together from behind the kit. Ending with “Bow Down”, a lot of people needed to do just that when they were finished.
As we neared the end of the weekend the stage was changed over for the next to last time. I had seen more BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME shirts on people more than any other band today. As the stage started to take shape with their gear and banner a huge cheer went up. Talking to their fans you can see why the band has captivated them with their blend of prog/death metal. Still, I have been a holdout for a longtime, never really caught up in their hype even after seeing them live several times and hearing all of their albums.
Needless to say they hit the stage and all hell broke loose. Starting things off with “Spectacular Reflection” of off the just released EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues (Metal Blade) they went over great! The crowd went nuts for this new song as if it has been in the set for years. No wonder since the band toured constantly behind their last few albums and the fan-base has been starving for something new. They have been playing the entire EP on the road this past month, but they switched it up nicely tonight. “Sun of Nothing” is a mish-mash of 1970′s progressive rock influences like RUSH and EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER blended with odd stabs at CANNIBAL CORPSE-type death metal. Oddly enough the mix works and weirder still is that people were really feeling it! Frontman Tommy Rogers is a one man army with his beautiful singing, gruff screaming and playing the keys like a wild-man. He does a great job of giving equal parts to his musical performance and to crowd engagement, which is key. Blake Richardson also really impressed me being one of the hardest hitting, yet most precise drummers of the entire day. “Selkies” was about as close to a hit as the band has and totally had a CYNIC/DEATH vibe that I really enjoyed. They definitely go a little overlong on some of their more jammier parts in my opinion, which is the thing holding me back from really getting more into them. Paul Waggoner also deserves mention for his sick soloing and intricate thematic guitar lines. After a few more long, jammy moments they wrapped up the proceedings with “White Walls”. Tommy thanked the fans, promised a new full-length record soon and implored people to stay for HATEBREED which I thought was cool.
Sun of Nothing
Selkies: The Endless Obsession
Fossil Genera: A Feed From Cloud Mountain
HATEBREED might have been more at home and in line with the previous day’s bands, but you wouldn’t know it from the roar of fans when the massive banner unfurled for the final time this weekend. To their credit many people lasted to the very end . Perhaps this is because Worcester is basically in HATEBREED’s backyard of Connecticut, but all the same it is likely due to the respect they command. I have seen the band headline many times so I knew we would be in for a fun show.
Peeling the lid off with “Everyone Bleeds Now” the floor erupted into the chaos I expected. Jamey Jasta (KINGDOM OF SORROW/ICEPICK/JASTA) hit the stage as usual with is trademark energy and fire. The entire band seemed very jacked up and the pits did not let me down either. Second cut “In Ashes They Shall Reap” has been a favorite of mine since it dropped a year ago and is another big crowd mover. Great lyrics and sing -a-long for the heshers. By now we all know the drill with this band and its mix of old-school punk attitude with thrash and death-core riffs. It isn’t the most original music ever, but damn is it fun to mosh and headbang to for a night. Jasta is awesome at prodding the crowd and getting them to echo his mostly positive, feel good lyrical sentiments. “Perseverance” is another song you need tattooed on the inside of your eyeballs if you are a sad sack. For their part the rest of the band follows his lead jumping around and inciting the crowd to kill each other. Guitarists Wayne Lozinak and Frank “3 Gun” Novenic, bassist Chris Beattie and drummer Matt Byrne are all solid players, but not spectacular in any way. They aren’t asked to do much out of their little box musically by Jasta, who writes the majority of songs himself.
The band did play an excellent set list spanning every album of their career so if you are a die-hard, this was your dream show. Rarely heard deep cuts like “Smash Your Enemies”, “Under the Knife”, “Beholder of Justice”, “Puritan” and “A Call For Blood” are songs you just don’t hear the band do all the time. Of course their anthems like “Destroy Everything”, “Live For This” and “This Is Now” were also played to the fullest. It’s hard to believe hearing the massive set list that the band is coming up on almost twenty years in the game and still going strong. Jamey left it all on the stage like he always does. There were plenty of circle pits, pile ons, Jamey singing in the crowd and of course a wall of death too. He even dedicated “Last Breath” to Peter Steel (TYPE O NEGATIVE) and talked about how much he taught him about the business. He said his goodbyes, promising a new record soon and thanked everyone for supporting the festival and the scene, giving a shout out many local New England bands and Scott Lee too. Then they closed the entire weekend out with the classic “I Will Be Heard” and promptly bounced. Thanks again to Scott Lee and The Palladium staff for another great weekend and Return to the Pit for the photos!
Everyone Bleeds Now
In Ashes They Shall Reap
To The Threshold
Smash Your Enemies
Under The Knife
Beholder of Justice
Tear It Down
This Is Now
Betrayed By Life
As Diehard As They Come
A Call For Blood
Live For This
I Will Be Heard
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes