Hellfest 2002

Every year, like birds migrating south, or lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff, the hardcore community descends plague of locust-like on Syracuse, NY for Hellfest, which has risen from humble beginnings to become one of the underground's premiere aggressive music fests. Of course, there are about 5,000 aggressive fests a year, but still, it's quite the achievement. 2002's edition featured the likes of Hatebreed, Shai Hulud, Bane, Throwdown, Eighteen Visions, Every Time I Die and one billion (yup, one billion!) other bands over its three-day run. And although there are 27 bands of various metallic hardcore flavours featured here, and even some emo thanks to Coheed and Cambria, and pure metal thanks to Lamb of God, there are some glaring omissions: the Dillinger Escape Plan, Cro-Mags, a million others. Regardless, there are some strong offerings from the likes of Bloodlet, Open Hand, Every Time I Die, who get a truly awful mix here, the Rise, Give Up The Ghost, Burnt by the Sun, From Autumn to Ashes, Eighteen Visions, among others. And while the video presentation and editing have improved tremendously, the audio-quality never gets terribly good and sounds like shit too often, with guitars too low and drums too high much of the time. Some bands rise above, but many get buried. Of course, this being hardcore, there is a lot of posturing, bad tattoos, posing and really fucking cliché stage banter, but there are some good performances that make it worth it. In terms of extras, there are band commentaries for select songs, possibly the most self-indulgent idea ever, band interviews, and various trailers. Plus: commentary, radio spots. (Highroller, www.highrollerstudios.com)