NEMHC Fest Now

Apr 21

New school in session


I Wrestled a Bear Once

Metal is a genre that is good at both preserving and evolving. Newer bands are always seeing what more they can balance atop the metal heap. With Periphery, there’s a mash-up of three-guitar proggery, hardcore breakdowns, and big-anthem drumming.

I Wrestled a Bear Once goes to even further extremes, adding synthy guitar effects and leaning into dance-pop groove at times, creating kinda the spot where @moshfest meets Warped Tour.

Speaking their minds

God Forbid has not mellowed with age. One of the few metal bands with an overt political edge, singer Byron Davis goaded the crowd into thinking about just how much freedom really exists in the land of the free. It’s a message carried over from the recently released “Equilibrium”

Doc Coyle is another under sung guitar god who brought plenty of flourish to God Forbid’s foreboding.


No boys club here



Metal is full of dudes, but not exclusively. Saturday afternoon’s main stage had back-to-back sets by Hung and Huntress (and no, @moshfest does not run in alphabetical order). Violinist Lyris Hung leads the prog-metal band that bears her name, and Jill Janus brings her operatic wail to Huntress’ old-school thrash.

Huntress is all about the melodic blow outs that Judas Priest does so well. The band live is galvanizing, not just for Janus but for the whole way the group gels around long, operatic, flights of doomed fantasy. Look for their album “Spell Eater” May 8.


Apr 20

Back to Black

Pics by Sam McLennan

Black Dahlia Murder ended the night (and its tour) on a high. Ever since it bubbled up with the metalcore crowd, BDM has continually set itself apart from the pack with deeper dips into melodic grooves. The caustic death-metal thrash n howl is never far off, but BDM swings.

The band played a bunch of cuts off of the latest, “Ritual.” With such titles as “Conspiring With the Damned” and “Malenchanments of the Necrosphere,” it looked like BDM was getting all Mastodon-y on us. But live, that was not the case. Just some fresh spins on double-bass-drum, guitar-breakdown fury and singer Trevor Strnad’s manic stage presence.

After the wall of darkness built by Acacia Strain and Nile, BDM’s offered some contrast and texture with a set that opened up  a little sonic breathing room.

Still not happy (good)

Yup, the Acacia Strain brought the mayhem with “4X4” and many more loathesome musings from its about-to-expand catalog. Singer Vincent Bennett addressed the grumbling brought on by the band’s recent signing to Rise Records, whose stable is far from strictly heavy (Dance Gavin Dance???)

Vincent’s response: “I….Don’t…Care”

If anything, he says, being surrounded by a certain kind of “scene band” will just crank up his hate hormones.

But for such an angry guy, Vincent gave a lotta love to the bands he is sharing the stage with this weekend and to the places that have supported the Strain (anybody remember the Trance Buddha in Shrewsbury??)

So regardless your feelings about Acacia Strain’s latest business deal, it will yield a follow up to 2010’s “Wormwood,” and likely move the boundary again for extreme music.

The picks

Right about now, the Acacia Strain is making people question the existence of God with a set that’s dripping in evil. Metalfest has nurtured these guys and now they are as good as it gets in the metal ranks. We went to Metalfest impresario Scott Lee and asked him to pick two bands you never heard of  who have the goods to grow up and own this thing..

  1) Rotting Out, playing @ 3 Saturday on the second stage. Style: “All of the above,” Lee says

2) Glass Cloud, playing around 2 Sunday on main stage. “Like nothing you’ve heard,” says the man who has heard just about all of it (at least the loud stuff)

The end of Nile’s set @moshfest

The end of Nile’s set @moshfest

The end of Nile’s set @moshfest

The end of Nile’s set @moshfest