Here is my long-ass review if anyone cares:
My friend and I arrived at The Palladium around 12:45 just in time to catch Suidakra, the first band I was interested in seeing for the day. They are a German melodic death metal band with some folk undertones. They were a pretty cool start to the day. The folk elements to their music added to their style of old-school Gothenburg melodic death metal nicely. They only played 3 songs in their 20-minute set and the last one was a pretty epic instrumental that closed out their set perfectly. They definitely won over the scare-crowd that was watching them. I don't have a set from them because I am not too familiar with their studio stuff and their singer had such a strong accent I couldn't make out the song titles when he announced them.
Diamond Plate took the stage next. They turned out to be the pleasant surprise of the day. Their studio stuff is pretty weak in my opinion due to the grating vocals. The vocals came across a lot better in the live setting and their guitarist absolutely shreds. They got the first pits of the day started and they were pretty surprised they went over so well. Thrash always tends to sound better in a live environment and Diamond Plate proved to be no exception to the rule. I might have to reexamine their studio stuff after this performance.
Hung was up next on the Main Stage. They are probably one of the oddest bands I've ever seen. They are a melodic death metal band from New York City with really intense vocals and the beyond unusual use of an electric violin. The violin was definitely confusing, but it gave them something unique that made them standout. Their music was decent overall with occasional moments of greatness. I don't regret checking out their set, but they didn't really hook me overall. Unrelated side note: Their bass player looks like Fieldy from Korn.
After Hung, my buddy and I went outside to go get something to eat because I wasn't fan of either band playing next (especially Huntress). We ran into Byron Davis from God Forbid (I have met him every single time I've seen God Forbid) who informed us they were playing earlier because of a band dropoff (it turned out to be Structures that had dropped off).
Shortly after returning to the venue, God Forbid took the stage. This is the first time I had seen them in three years and they were great. Byron Davis sounded awesome and he really knows how to work a crowd. The only thing that sucked was the 20-minute set time. Right as things picked up and they had really hit their stride, the set was over. "Go Your Own Way" was a really nice surprise. I wasn't expecting to hear a really old song in their short set time. Yet another great set from God Forbid and I really want to see them again with a lengthier set.
With Structures dropping off and God Forbid finishing earlier than expected, I was able to catch Rotting Out on the upstairs stage. Let's just say, I am really glad Structures dropped off after seeing Rotting Out's performance. These guys are one of the finest hardcore bands going and are easily one of the best hardcore bands I've ever seen live. The injection of straight punk rock into their music makes their sound fresh and their energy is insane. Their singer did not stop running the entire time they were on stage, only taking a breather to say a few words in between songs. He kept thanking the crowd and the other hardcore bands that were playing that day (Cruel Hand, Shipwreck,Naysayer, etc) and talking about how these bands were like their brothers. This made me fully aware just how genuinely tight-knit the hardcore community is. The crowd was into them, but not to insane degree like you would expect from a hardcore show (There were a few stage divers though) If you like hardcore and you haven't seen Rotting Out, you need to fix that ASAP.
After Rotting Out, my friend and I went back outside to grab some water out of his car. This is when one of the absolute funniest things that's ever happened to me at a show occurred. When we the turned the corner coming out of The Palladium going back to my friend's car, we were approached by a Himalayan monk. The guy hands my friend and I each a different book and begins to explain how it's all of the original text from the Himalayas and how he's lived in a monastery for 10 years and some other bullshit. He then says that we can keep the book if we make a donation. I said I didn't have any money (I honestly didn't), but my friend gave him 5 bucks and the monk handed him the main worship book. A couple minutes later, my buddy gets the brilliant idea to go around and have band members sign it. In about a 10-minute span, he got Slo and Ken Susi from Unearth and Vincent Bennett from The Acacia Strain to sign the book. Every one's reaction was fucking priceless and they were all laughing their asses off when they signed it. Ken Susi drew a horse dick on it and Vincent Bennett wrote 666 and drew a bunch of inverted crosses.
After those series of hilarious encounters, I went back inside and moved up to the front for Periphery. This was my 1st time seeing them since Spencer Sotelo joined the band and all I can say is wow. I was expecting to enjoy their set quite a bit, but they completely blew me away. Spencer Sotelo sounds even better live than on disc. On top of being a great vocalist, he had some pretty good stage banter and a ton of energy. The whole band was very entertaining as well. The faces Jake Bowen and Bulb make while they are playing are really funny. You can tell are having a blast up there and it really shows in their performance. The setlist, while somewhat short, was fucking awesome. "Buttersnips", "Frak the Gods" and "Letter Experiment" were the highlights for me, but the crowd went absolutely apeshit for "Icarus Lives!". That was really the only time during the whole set were the pits were crazy (although they did get a great reception overall). Periphery is an absolutely outstanding live band and I am elated to see them again on Summer Slaughter in August.
After Periphery, my friend went back outside to get more signatures on his Himalayan book. He ended up getting signatures from Matt Wicklund of God Forbid, someone from Diamond Plate (I think?), and Misha "Bulb" Mansoor from Periphery.
iwrestledabearonce played next. I've recently gotten into these guys (and girl) due to their new album Ruining it for Everybody. That being said, I still don't like their earlier stuff, so I really didn't know what to expect from their live show. They ended up being pretty good. They just crack me up on stage. They came out and played the intro to "Jump" by Van Halen before diving into their first song, which I thought was pretty damn funny. Their whole set was just a good time. They were full of energy with Krysta Cameron climbing on shit and their guitarist (who looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo) throwing his guitar every which direction. Musically, they are pretty much what Dillinger Escape Plan or Converge would sound like if they smoked a bunch of weed and played a shitload of video games. Krysta Cameron can go from singing to full-on screaming at the drop of a hat, which is pretty damn impressive (her clean vocals are especially good live). I like their unpredictability and don't give a shit attitude when it comes to their music and live performance. iwrestledabearonce is a light-hearted, zany good time and I definitely enjoyed their set more than I expected too.
Hometown heroes Unearth played next and in typical Unearth fashion, they outdid the previous time I'd seen them. This was my fourth time seeing them and they never cease to impress the hell out of me. Their music sounds so damn good live and the energy they put behind it makes it something really special. This was the first time I had been in the front for them and the crowd was nothing short of insane. Non-stop crowd surfing and circle pits and it was the only time out of the 4 bands I watched from the very front were the crowd push was non-stop crazy. Another benefit from being in front was watching how hilarious Ken Susi is on stage. Whenever he came to the side of the stage, I was on He kept pointing at this guy in front of me and mouthing "I want to fuck you" and "Call me" to him. The setlist was standard for Unearth, but it doesn't really matter considering how amazing their performance was. I will say I was stoked to see "Arise The War Cry" still in the set and watching Buz McGrath play the intro directly in front of me gave me chills. Unearth put on the best show of the day and possibly the entire festival.
Protest The Hero was finally up next. Out of all the bands playing on the two days of the festival, they were the number one band I was most excited to see. I had ween waiting a while to see them for the first time and after their performance on Saturday, I hope it won't be a very long time before I see them again. They sounded damn near-perfect. Rody Walker is an absolutely incredible vocalist and watching Luke Hoskin hit every note on guitar from only a few feet was mesmerizing. Rody Walker is one of the funniest frontmen in all of metal.He went on a rant after "Hair-Trigger" about how some kids thought he did the female vocal parts of the song then he joked about how he was a shitty singer because his parents were related and he needed to lip-synch their entire performance. Earlier in the set, he was also talking about how he was 125 pounds the first time they played NEMHF and that he was 200 this time around, and he promised he would be 350 pounds the next time they played. The setlist was heavy on Scurrilous material, which was awesome. "Termites", "Hair-Trigger" and "C'est La Vie" were the highlights from Scurrilous and out of the older material "Bloodmeat" definitely sounded the best live. I was kind of bummed they had to cut "Blindfolds Aside" due to their 40-minute set time, but that was about the only downside to their performance. I am so glad I finally caught Protest The Hero live.
Overkill was up next. While they are far from being my favorite old-school thrash band, they are still awesome and it was a pleasure to see them for the first time. The most impressive thing about Overkill's was set was their vocalist, Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth. This guy is a god damn marvel. How he still sounds so good vocally even though is in his early 50's is astonishing. Even more crazy than his vocal work, is his energy. During almost every solo or long instrumental section, he would go to the side of the stage and drink some water, then when it was time to come back and sing he would full-on sprint back to the mic. He must of have done this 15 or 20 times. I couldn't do that at age 20, let alone age 52. I was glad I finally got a chance to see Overkill live and I would jump at the chance to see them again.
Dragonforce (unfortunately) was up next. How these guys were billed so high is beyond me. The fact they took valuable set time away from Protest The Hero and Overkill just pisses me off. Their performance was 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000x worse than than I expected. I've never been a fan of Dragonforce, but I didn't expect their set to be pure torture. I saw them once before at Mayhem Fest 08 and while still bad, at least they were amusing to watch.If any bands that played earlier in the day got up and played elevator music for an hour it would been better than watching Dragonforce play their Dungeonmaster soundtrack. Their new vocalist absolutely fucking blows. He honestly makes their old vocalist look amazing in comparison. This dude just whined through a series of painful high notes while the band played the same song over and over for an hour. Musically, they have talent, but they are so fucking bland it doesn't even matter. These guys are even awful for power metal, which is a genre full of dogshit bands imo. Unless you need a soundtrack for an intense game of D and D or larping, I really can't see how Dragonforce would be enjoyable to listen to. Dragonforce is without a doubt, amongst the worst live bands I've ever seen and they easily provided the worst performance of the weekend.
All That Remains closed out the weekend (for me at least). I haven't listened to All That Remains on a regular basis for a couple of years now, but I was still excited to see them again for the first time since Mayhem 09. They put on a very good show. The crowd reaction was explosive for All That Remains. It's been a while since they have done a headlining set in Massachusetts and the hometown crowd went completely nuts from start to finish. Phil Labonte is a great frontman who really knows how to amp up the crowd. He was very surprised and appreciative at just how many people were still there at the end of the night for their set. He said he told Scott Lee (the guy who runs the fest) that they would gladly headline Saturday, but everyone would be drunk and asleep by 11 so they would be playing to pretty much no one. Clearly, he was wrong. On top of his great stage presence, he sounded spot-on vocally. I almost forgot how good he can scream until the death-growl filled end section of "Some of the People, All of the Time". Easily the highlight of the set for me was the 2 songs from This Darkened Heart and The Fall of Ideals material. The presence of "Tattered on My Sleeve" in their set was a very welcome surprise and was without a doubt, the best song of the set. My only complaint is I wish they played more older material and "Two Weeks" as a closer. If they had thrown in a song like "Become the Catalyst", "The Weak Willed" or "Whispers (I Hear You)", the set would have been much better. "Two Weeks", while not a bad song, is a pretty anticlimactic closer. "This Calling" or "Six" would have been much better suited to close out the set. All in All, it was still a good set from ATR and they finished off the amazing 2 days I spent at NEMHF this year on a high note.
8/9 Summer Slaughter