New England Metal and Hardcore Festival The Palladium, Worcester MA - April 28 to 30, 2006

Now in its seventh year, the New England Metal and Hardcore fest has become the most respected multi-day metal event in North America. It runs like clockwork, having come a long way since its inaugural outing and proved a fabulous festival despite having a weaker line-up this year. Each day featured a handful of outstanding acts, but band of the fest award goes to Between The Buried and Me. Playing Friday night right after the U.S. debut of German tech/death metallers Necrophagist, the NC quintet concentrated on their latest album, Alaska, and played a career-defining set. Alternating between keyboards and wooing the faithful, vocalist Tommy Rogers had the crowd eating from his palm. A late set cover of Sepultura’s "Territory” featuring members of the Red Chord on backing vocals was icing on the cake. Other notable sets Friday came from Arsis, Cleveland hardcore mainstays Ringworm and a surprise set by the Red Chord. Saturday was the busiest day of the festival, but was perhaps the tamest, performance wise. Old school thrashers Exodus proved they still have what it takes on classics like "Piranha,” but it was the energetic sets of new school hardcore bands like First Blood, Sworn Enemy and Terror that energised the crowd. Performances by Quebec’s Ion Dissonance and reunited Philly hardcore legends Turmoil are also worth mentioning. The day’s only major disappointment was the reunion of Damnation A.D., which lacked conviction and energy. While Sunday’s wrap up seemed like it would be a lame duck, it ended up as the most consistent. Toronto’s Goat Horn played an early afternoon set with Rammer drummer Al Biddle sitting in. Biddle definitely helped them step up a notch, but the uneven vocals are still a problem. Their retro sound was a great signal for the rest of the day though, which was more metal than its predecessors. The second best set of the weekend belonged to Wolf. The Swedes were making their second U.S. appearance and showcased songs from all three of their Maiden-esque albums. They did an awesome job warming the crowd for UK power metal sensations DragonForce. The quintet had the audience lapping up their over the top technical metal equations. Regina’s Into Eternity drove 40 hours for their set and wowed with a new guitarist and a returning drummer. It was a great weekend and reminded that, when done properly, big festivals can still be a lot of fun.