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Various Artists
THE NEW ENGLAND METAL & HARDCORE FESTIVAL 2003
(Trustkill)
Stars graphics

In the late í90s, Massachusetts had a lot to answer for as far as old-school metal fans were concerned ó we were, after all, the land responsible for unleashing Godsmack and Staind on the world. But if New England was manufacturing new-metal poison, it was also breeding the antidote. And the New England Metal and Hardcore festival, with its back-to-basics emphasis on both genres, became the epicenter of the power thrash and the metalcore that are driving a new generation of Headbangers Ball fanatics.

This 27-band souvenir from last yearís festival serves as a primer for whatís on tap at the sixth annual festival this weekend at the Palladium in Worcester. But it also plays up the NEMHFís role in breaking new acts, since 2003 NEMHF bands Lamb of God, Bleeding Through, Unearth, Atreyu, and Lacuna Coil have all graduated to OzzFestís 2004 second stage. Superjoint Ritual, the only major act from the 2003 fest not represented on the DVD, have ended up on the main stage.

Thereís absurdity on both sides of the metal and hardcore fence: Seattle wizard-metal titans Nevermore appear to have gotten lost on the way to King Richardís Faire; Eighteen Visions, who recently signed to Epic, dress screamo up in glam-rock clichés. But the highlights here are home-town heroes: Killswitch Engage (with then-brand-new singer Howard Jones nailing "Fixation on the Darkness" and the epic "My Last Serenade," both from 2002ís Alive or Just Breathing); Shadows Fall (The Art of Balanceís "The Idiot Box" and Of One Bloodís "Crushing Belial"); and Converge ("Concubine" and "Fault and Fracture," recorded better than on the bandís own recent DVD). And if the disc is pretty bare-bones (the concert footage is broken up only by a series of short, silly interviews), itís still a nice pocket guide to metalís bone-shattering underground.

(The 2004 New England Metal and Hardcore Festival takes place this Friday and Saturday, April 30 and May 1, at the Palladium, 261 Main Street in Worcester; call 800-477-6849.)

BY CARLY CARIOLI


Issue Date: April 30 - May 6, 2004
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