Heavy thoughts, part 2

Killswitch Engage headlining Sunday

Every Time I Die playing Sunday

Vanna playing Sunday

Overkill performing Saturday

Unearth playing Saturday

Protest the Hero playing Saturday

Bane wrecking the upstairs Saturday

Hung performing Saturday

Huntress playing Saturday

Volumes playing Sunday

Upon a Burning Body playing Sunday

Recon in the upstairs room Sunday

Texas in July playing Sunday

Attila playing Sunday

MyChildren, MyBride on Sunday

Chelsea Grin on Sunday

For Today playing Sunday

The never ending pit

OK, here’s a final dump of pictures and musings from @moshfest.

1) The return of singer Jesse Leach to Killswitch Engage could not have happened in a more perfect setting, nor could there have been a better conclusion to New England Metal and Hardcore Festival 14.

Each of the three days featured headlining bands that were once part of the Metalfest pack, playing mid-day sets, sometimes on the smaller upstairs stage. With Black Dahlia Murder, All That Remains, and KsE each topping the bill one night, Metalfest’s legacy could not be any more clear.

2) You can hate God, or love God, just don’t be Godsmack. There was nothing unsettling or off at Metalfest when on one night The Acacia Strain claimed there is no place for religion in extreme music and on another night Christian-core bands such as For Today and MyChildren, MyBride were singing ol’ JC’s praises from the stage.

Sincerity matters most, so any band that comes across as honest and performing in the moment generally gets a fair hearing at Metalfest. Even the more theatrical bands and commercially successful ones are expected to flip off the mainstream in some way. There’s a place for mainstream hard rock like the kind churned out by Godsmack and Staind, but that place is not Metalfest.

2.1) Yup, hardcore and metal pair well. It may have seemed strangeĀ  in 1999 to draw the festival boundaries around these two genres. Hardcore shared more with punk’s economy and metal has a history of going big. But both genres have solid underground scenes that look more similar than different. On the second stage Sunday, Betraying the Martyrs’ progressive, keyboard-laced set didn’t clash with Recon’s tightly coiled hardcore set that followed. In both cases, the room was packed.

3) Metalfest celebrates history and makes history. On Saturday, Overkill played songs that were essential metal before many in the crowd were even born.

That same day, the band Huntress, whose debut album isn’t even out yet, came across as one of metal’s next, great hopes. Steeped in twin-guitar tradition and fronted by theatrical and bold-voiced singer Jill Janus, Huntress is going to appeal to fans of old Judas Priest and kids who watch “Metalocalypse”

On Sunday, Texas in July delivered a knock-out punch of hardcore-tinged metal that also signaled great things to come from this young band out of Pennsylvania.

4) Metalfest loves mongrels. The power-metal bands such as DragonForce and Holy Grail have their boundaries pretty well set. And bands coming out of the death-metal camp like Nile have a certain way of doing things. But metal has embraced countless hybrids willing to channel aggression. The way Vanna or Atilla stitch together grooves, breakdowns, and guitar shred is exactly the kind of of creative energy that has kept metal self renewing.

5) Ain’t no fan like a Metalfest fan. Metal fans, like the music itself, tend to freak out people who don’t pay attention to this stuff. The piercings, ear gauges and tattoos go wayyyy past what mom and pop are used to seeing at Hot Topic in the mall. But here was a crowd that took care of itself across three days as hundreds hopped into the mosh pits and everyone withstood a steady onslaught of audio aggression.

I’ve covered a bunch of country music festivals as well as a bunch of heavy music festivals. Guess which type of event typically has a lot more drunken assholes? (Hint- It’s not Metalfest).