Before I start my top 10, Here are my picks for the top 10 (I cheated a little bit with two ties, but there were just way too amazing shows I saw within the year) performances of 2012.
10 (tie).Coheed and Cambria (9/28)/Skeletonwitch (9/20)
First time seeing Coheed in six years and they blew the doors off the first time i saw them. They have an immense new-found energy and Claudio sounds even better now vocally. The setlist balanced the new and old material perfectly and the sound mix was one of the best out of the shows I've been to at The Palladium. Can't wait to see them again in March with Between The Buried and Me and Russian Circles
The Skeletonwitch show marked my fifth time seeing them (second in 2012), but it was first time seeing them headline and it was amazing. The venue was a tiny hipster bar in Allston with surprisingly good sound and the Witch just tore it up for a little over an hour. Pretty much everything I wanted to hear they played and it was really just an awesome and intimate experience. It was also cool to finally meet someone from the forum (energymetal.) He is a fucking awesome dude and I can't thank him enough for driving my sorry ass home after the show.
9.Protest the Hero (4/21)
This whole show was incredible with a stacked lineup and the fact that it was on my birthday. One of the highlights of my 20th birthday at NEMHF was finally getting to see Protest the Hero and they did not disappoint in the slightest. Rody Walker sounded absolutely outstanding on vocals and he was completely fucking hilarious. Watching Luke Hoskin play all the songs flawlessly on guitar from only a few feet was also incredible. Wish they didn't have to cut Blindfolds Aside, but besides that it was a damn near perfect performance.
8.The Black Dahlia Murder (4/20)
The Black Dahlia Murder closed out the first day of NEMHF with a bang. This was a tough day for me because I had attended my grandfather's funeral in the morning before the show and I was kind of out of it all day. Nile and All Shall Perish had started to get mind off of it, but Black Dahlia was finally able to get my mind off it and it was the first set of the day I was able to fully enjoy. Trevor Strnad is the fucking man and his energy and passion for his band is infectious. The set was heavy on Ritual
material with some Black Dahlia staples thrown in for good measure. Black Dahlia is better each time I see them and will hopefully catch them sometime this year.
Unearth shows in Massachusetts are just insane. It was their first time playing NEMHF since 2007 and they were more than happy to be back. This was my first time being in the front during an Unearth show and it was incredible. Besides the intensity, it was hilarious to see rhythm guitarist Ken Susi's crowd interaction (I met him earlier in the day as well, super nice and funny dude.) Unearth is one of my favorite bands to see live. They always give 110% on stage and the crowd feeds off that energy exceptionally.
6.Machine Head (2/4)
Third time seeing Machine Head, but first time seeing them headline and it was well worth it. Robb Flynn and co. are one of the most live bands to see and they blew the roof off of The Palladium. Their almost two hour set was relentless and my neck almost fell off from headbanging so much. Flynn sounded great on vocals and the fact that he can sing/scream so well for so long at his age is incredibly impressive. I really hope they never stop playing "Halo" live, it's just too fucking perfect and is one of the most epic songs I've ever seen played live. Machine Head is built for mid-sized club venues like this and I hope I have the pleasure of seeing them in this setting again.
5.Lamb of God (1/25)
Seeing an incredibly popular act like Lamb of God in a pretty small venue is a dream come true. Lamb of God absolutely destroyed the Paradise, a 900-person venue in Boston. The whole show was just crazy. I lost an earplug during "Ghost Walking" and I wasn't even near the pit, the energy was that crazy. I'm honestly surprised no one got hurt because of the amount of poles around the venue. This was a once and a lifetime experience and I'm stoked Boston was one of the cities that was fortunate enough to get this brief, intimate club tour.
I tried to go to the Madison Square Garden show a couple years back, but it sold out in under 10 minutes. I was stoked that I was actually getting a chance to see Rammstein, I honestly didn't think I would ever get to set them in my lifetime. As I expected, their show was crazy. All pyro will be anticlimactic after seeing their show. I really have never seen a greater stage show in my life. The shit these guys do with pyro is certifiably insane. Musically they were great too, but clearly the main attraction is their stage show. Excellent performance and their stage show is nothing short of a spectacle.
3.Between The Buried and Me (8/10)
BTBAM is always perfect and this was no exception. Their setlist was interesting for a tour like this and I did not expect them to play "Sun of Nothing" or "Fossil Genera" at Summer Slaughter. Hearing "Telos" live was incredible and it's already cemented it's place as one of my favorite songs in their catalog. "White Walls" gave me goosebumps as always and it was cool to hear them open with it after seeing them close with it the previous six times I saw them. Seeing BTBAM never gets old and they stole the show from an absolutely stacked Summer Slaughter lineup.
Both co-headliners were equally impressive at Mayhem Fest this year in completely different ways. Slipknot was chaotic and their energy/showmanship is pretty much unmatched. Slayer isn't big on theatrics, but their music is so immense that it doesn't really matter. Their sets back-to-back made for two of the most enjoyable hours of live music I've ever seen. Their styles and live approach couldn't be anymore different and that's why these two sets were so special.
1.System of a Down
This was a day I never thought would come. When System of a Down announced their hiatus when I was in the 8th grade in 2006, I thought I had missed my chance to see them. When they announced their West Coast run in 2011, I figured it was possible yet improbable. When they announced they were coming to Massachusetts with Deftones as support, I thought I was dreaming. I honestly didn't even believe I was getting to see them after all these years until it actually happened. The whole show was like an out-of-body experience for me. Song after song, My jaw was on the floor at how good they were live. Serj and Daron sounded perfect and their stage presence was very strange, unique and entertaining. The set was excellent with them playing nine songs off of Toxicity
, which is one of my all-time favorite records. The concert gods repaid me big time one year to the day of attending the worst concert I've ever been to at the same venue (blink-182) with one of the best shows I've ever been. System of a Down was nothing short of magical and I can happily check seeing them live off of my bucket list.
Based: Lil B (9/30)
Show was swag to the hundredth trillionth #thankyoubasedgod
Honorable Mentions: Dropkick Murphys (3/15), Periphery (4/21, 8/10), The Faceless (8/10), August Burns Red (2/29), Deftones (8/9), Sylosis (11/25), In Flames (11/25), Overkill (4/21), Suffocation (6/10), Dying Fetus (6/10), Revocation (6/10), Veil of Maya (8/10), Goatwhore (8/10), After the Burial (7/19), Every Time I Die (7/19), Anthrax (8/3), As I Lay Dying (8/3), The Story So Far (3/12)
Surprise of the year: Four Year Strong (7/19)
Most disappointing set: Job for a Cowboy (8/10)
Worst live band: Asking Alexandria (8/3)
Top 10 Bands I hope to finally see in 2013:
7.A Loss for Words
5.High on Fire
3.Queens of the Stone Age
2.Killswitch Engage (w/Jesse Leach)