New England Metalfest - 2003 Day Two
Metal Festival
Live Concert
Reviewed by Jay

When I woke up, I felt like I was crawling from the wreckage of a burning car. Day one totally rocked and kicked my ass left to right and up to down. With such high expectations, could day two possibly come through in the clutch? This was the question in my mind as I returned to the Palladium. There was much more free stuff today including free full lengths, magazines, and even drumsticks. I met a lot of you crazy people including several Metal Reviews readers. Then it was time to hit the stages.

I walked in during Chimaira’s set. I did not take in enough but what I did hear was enough to turn me off to them. So-called “Masscore” was a prominent feature of this festival, due in no small part to the fact that it’s held in Massachusetts. Shadows Fall, Diecast, Unearth, Killswitch Engage, and Converge among others are from this fertile musical hotbed. Up next was Louisiana’s Goatwhore. While the name may be off-putting, they are a kick ass death metal band. They tore it up for their set and made me interested. The lead singer has a sweet death scream. California’s Atreyu took the stage next. I had seen their video on MTV2 and it didn’t impress me. They weren’t much better live. The lead vocals were really annoying and the guitar work was average at best. However they paid homage to hair metal with synchronized playing and head banging.

The end of Atreyu’s set is a mystery to me because I left early to jet to the second stage to catch Kataklysm. One of Canada’s exports, Kataklysm pounded through some harsh death stylings in there set. The crowd really seemed to enjoy the opener “Shadows and Dust.” Upon introducing their new drummer, he ripped into a killer solo. Following them were Atlanta’s Mastodon. Mastodon was not all that great kids but they put on a good show. A minor personal emergency drew me out of the venue but as we went back to the main stage, we heard the music of Eighteen Visions. What I heard didn’t impress me much but I didn’t see their whole set so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Speed Kill Hate featuring members of Over Kill showed up next. They were terrible. The bass player didn’t know which way was up and kept missing his cues. The singer was equally terrible as was their lack of songwriting. They have music on if you’re interested. Right now that’s one of the only distribution venues they have (hint hint).

From bad to good as Devin Townsend and Strapping Young Lad hit the stage next. Townsend has a hell of a stage presence. He seems very bitter, constantly insulting the audience and telling people to suck cocks. I guess I’d be bitter if I was balding and still in my 20’s. The band came on to South Park’s “Blame Canada” song. They blazed through their set. Their drummer has serious talent behind the kit and Townsend keeps his audiences rapt. The pit seemed to appreciate SYL too. From the insane to the crazy, Shai Hulud came on next. Shai Hulud is a New York Hardcore band with two guitarists and no bass player. Interesting concept, I just wish I liked hardcore in the slightest. Hate Eternal played next. This Florida trio are hailed as the future leaders of death metal. They had a brutal set where they pounded away at us for 30 minutes. The front man spoke entirely in death speak including the Tom Araya-esque “Thank youverymuch!” I don’t know how their drummer can walk after playing that constant double bass for the whole set.

Virginia’s Lamb of God was soon on the stage. This band powered the crowd in the pit to no end. They got a giant circle pit going at one point and then attempted “the walls.” The crowd parted like the Red Sea on the count of four, everyone went all "Braveheart" and charged at each other. The entire seated section was a pit fight. The music wasn’t especially different from the metalcore we’d been hearing all day but the crowd certainly woke up. Another hometown favorite Converge came on next. After the Lamb of God pit, I didn’t think this crowd could get tougher. Someone told me that Converge would be a bigger pit, which I scoffed at. When a band has more pit fights broken up than songs played, I think I am corrected. Aside from the singer who sounded like a trained seal as he yelped as he ran across the stage, Converge were otherwise horrible and get my official Worst of Show award.

The crowd became more death oriented as the reunited Suffocation were up. They sound like a death metal band, what more is there to say. The drummer tore and the singer was sharp as hell. At one point he brought his six-year-old daughter on stage to distribute some freebies to the people in the front of the pit. They proved they still have it as their front man put it in thick New York drawl. My personal favorite of all the bands of the weekend was next. I cheered when the stupid Trustkill records banner was taken down, and that of the killers themselves, the One Kill Wonder banner was raised. Opening with “Godpuppet,” The Haunted killed. Marco Aro was on, the brothers Bjorler along with Jensen and Per Moller were there to support. “D.O.A.” from the new album is an instant crowd favorite and sounded awesome live. The “Dark Intentions/Bury Your Dead” suite sounded sharp, as did the closer and current crowd favorite “Hate Song.”

Swedes begot Swedes when Meshuggah appeared. The band thrashed through their set. The crowd went crazy for “New Millennium Cyanide Christ.” Those 8-string guitars make the difference, I guess. Regardless, they were flawless live and sounded great. This set taught me that I have to listen to more Meshuggah. After they left, Juliya from MuchMusic’s Uranium show came out and drew a winner for the B.C. Rich Warlock prize. Oh well, I didn’t win. Seeing as that I’m not a fan of Superjoint Ritual, I left before they came on, but c’mon, we all know they ain’t great.

So here I sit, listening to a hardcore sampler I picked up and it’s time for the Awards:

  • Best Act: Opeth
  • Runners Up: The Haunted, Meshuggah, Shadows Fall

  • Worst Act: Converge
  • Runners Up: Speed Kill Hate, Lamb of God, Nora, (Cephalic Carnage would have been a contestant if I had seen their set.)

  • Biggest Surprise: Strapping Young Lad

  • Biggest Disappointment: Hate Eternal (You guys are talented. Don’t follow, lead.)

Festivals are all about the freebies like samplers, magazines and demos from unsigned artists. Here are the awards in this category.

  • Best Sampler (major labels): Relapse Records (a 20 track sampler with a song from nearly every Relapse artist.)

  • Worst Sampler (major labels): Nuclear Blast Records (a shoddy five song sampler with cuts from Soilwork, In Flames, Meshuggah and a new band called Raunchy.)

  • Best Sampler (minor labels): Sound Explosion 2003 compilation (A 16 track sampler of some really decent music. A collaboration of four minor labels.)

  • Worst Sampler (minor labels): Victory Records (a measly four song sampler of two unknown bands)

  • Best demo from an unsigned band: FirebornCreation Chaos (A completely professional self release with full booklet and jewel case inserts and a pressed disc.)

  • Worst demo from an unsigned band: KevorkianImmortality in Culture (Really, really bad death metal.)

  • Best Merch booth: Century Blast. (A very good selection of titles from both labels and reasonable prices)
  • Runner Up: Lifeless Records (The booth was constantly managed by Matt Bachand of Shadows Fall. No coincidence that he owns the label too!)

  • Worst Merch booth: The booth selling spikes, earrings, and belt buckles. (This is a music festival. Hint: sell good albums at low prices.)

  • Best Magazine: Eclipse Magazine Volume 7
  • Runner Up: The metalfest’s own program, which had vital info on all the bands and lots of other cool stuff. It went way beyond the bounds of a normal program guide.

  • Worst Magazine: Full Contact

  • Most Effort: Relapse Records (awesome sampler, really good magazine, decent merch.)
  • Runner up: Trustkill Records (A main sponsor of the event that made sure that a member of a label band was at the merch booth at all times. Also arranged for the filming of the festival DVD and put out a standard sampler.)

  • Least Effort: Earache Records (They didn’t even bother to put out a sampler or even a magazine and their merch was overpriced compared to other vendors.)
  • Runner Up: Century Media Records (They didn’t even bother to put out a sampler or even a magazine either. Instead, they had a two-song samplers for Shadows Fall and Haste and a CM Distro sampler of artists they distribute but aren’t on the label.)

It’s been a long weekend and I haven’t showered in nearly 48 hours. From your Metal Reviews Team, Jay signing out at 4:26 AM.

Killing Songs :
Jay quoted
Other albums by New England Metalfest that we have reviewed:
New England Metalfest - Day Three - April 30, 2006, The Worcester Palladium, Worcester, MA reviewed by Kayla and quoted
New England Metalfest - Day Two - April 29th, 2006, The Worcester Palladium, Worcester, MA reviewed by Kayla and quoted
New England Metalfest - Day One - April 28th, 2006, The Worcester Palladium, Worcester, MA reviewed by Kayla and quoted
New England Metalfest - 2005 Day Two reviewed by Jay and quoted
New England Metalfest - 2003 Day One reviewed by Jay and quoted
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