The Inaugural New Jersey
November 15th and 16th.
Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ, USA.
Review by MetalGeorge
Pics by MetalGeorge and Maureen McQueeney
Day Two began with me groggily rolling out of bed, catching a quick
shower, and heading back over to the venue. I had plans to meet my buddy
Mark, who was doing me the service of hooking me up with a Cradle of Filth
interview, but actually ended up playing tag with him until a couple of
hours later, where the chat actually took place. In the interim, I managed
to catch a couple of bands, most particularly Jersey's own Beyond the
Flesh. They had the dubious dignity of playing on the hastily thrown
together "Third Stage", which was pretty much a tucked away
corner of the venue cleared off. Reserved for demo-level bands looking for
a break, I don't even think there was a PA. I thought this was truly a
shame, and wished that these fests gave as much of a chance to unsigned
talent as much as the Koshick fests do.
At any rate, The Flesh tore shit up, and served as the first mandatory
band of the day for me (due to the fact that I had unfortunately missed the
killer Oakland act Watch Them Die eariler...bummer). Hell, Beyond the
Flesh put on one of the best sets of the weekend period. While it was
truly a shame that they were delegated to this "Reject Stage",
The Flesh played like they were headling Madison Square Garden. Combining
the best aspects of modern Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, and The Haunted,
Beyond The Flesh rip you a new one with their own unique brand of melodic
The band put their best foot forward and opened with the soon to be
classics "Bitter Defeat" (off their "Spawned From Flesh and
Bone" demo), and "Rise Above the Weak", a track off their
freshly self-released and majorly mandatory lp "What the Mind
Perceives". Within seconds, hair started to fly, and heads began to
bang, as the crowd lapped up every bullet-dodging riff and head spinning
time signature. The band's triple vocal attack was in fine form as well,
as was the musicianship, which was stop on a dime tight.
For sure a must for all those into the more melodic strains of
death/thrash metal, yet who also appreciate fist clenching brutality and
technical ability, Beyond the Flesh are one of the best unsigned acts
going right now. It would be criminal for these guys not to be huge, but
I'm not worried. I have confidence that these fine Jersey lads will be
picked up by someone soon, but in the meantime I highly suggest that you
make yourselves acquainted with them now, so you can brag to all your
friends! Make a note: BEYOND THE FLESH.
In between my wanderings, I also managed to catch hometown boys made
good, The Red Chord. Due to the fact that it was my friend Adam's
last gig with the band, I made it a point to make sure I didn't miss them.
I'm glad I didn't, because the band tore shit up. Tight as a Mormon on
Sunday, The Red Chord brought the mosh with brutal, vicious breakdowns and
chaotic riffing. Vocalist Guy's animalistic stage presence and menacing
growl served as the perfect mouth for war, proving to all that the hype
behind this band is for real. Their set, just like the speed of their time
signatures, was over all too quickly. If you were one of the lucky ones to
catch it, I'm pretty positive that, like me, you were suitably impressed.
In fact, more than one person came up to me while I was scribbling down
notes and asked me, "who's this?" "The Red Chord", I
replied, glad to see that New England extremity was gaining even more
momentum...does my heart good.
I'll tell you what DIDN'T make me feel good, and that was the sheer
boredom of Hate Eternal's set. Terrible, cliché American Death, just like everyone else does it. Blast
beats and boredom was the order of the day here, plus they had shit sound
to boot. Boooooo.
Moonspell was ok. Never really a big fan, having only
been into their "Wolfheart" album, but I'll admit that I enjoyed
it when they played "Opium" off of their "Irreligious"
lp, as well. At least they broke up all the boring death metal monotony,
so I'll thank them for that!
Speaking of Death Metal, Misery Index, who have actually managed to
impress and prove me wrong quite a bit with their devilishly fresh new
album, "Retaliate", were tight as hell. While not still not one
of my favorite styles to listen to, I can tell and admit when a band is
performing it really well, and 'Da Index certainly came through in spades
on this night. Brutal blasts laid into crusty hardcore riffs in the blink
of an eye, with even a lil' bit of melodicism poking it's head out here
and there. Misery Index is a band that is going places, doing new things,
and doing them well. A band that might actually deserve the praise their
getting, for once. Good stuff.
Ah...Diabolic...one of my favorite Death Metal verbal punching bags
might actually have a little fight left in 'em after all! The band has
done the service of losing their sloppy drummer, thus
redeeming themselves a little bit on the live front. Live they
were a whirling dervish of fast and "brootal" music, speedy
solos and all. I'm sure drum aficionados were happy checking them out,
but I must admit the novelty of Diabolic not being passable rather than
horrible wore thin quick, and I was begging for the door in no time.
Bottom line is that Diabolic still suck, but they're getting better.
...and that was when I realized I had nowhere to go. I had two of my
least favorite bands trapping me. Of course, I'm
talking about the "mighty" Suffocation, and the
"legendary" Mortician. To be blunt, and not to waste as much
space I am not a fan of Suffocation or Mortician so I made my way to the vendor area to shoot the shit and escape.
One of the acts I was particularly excited to
see (and one of the very
few acts you wouldn't see at a usual Lee/Peters festival) was Germany's Dew-Scented. Sure, the name is kind of
odd, but the band were simply
thrash-tastic! Even though their set was heavy on new material from their
somewhat less than stellar "Impact" release, that didn't
detract from the overall intensity. It especially didn't detract from my
joy that for once I wasn't watching a been-there done-that "grrrrroooooo...."
American Death-Grind circus. Closing with "Acts of Rage" (the
most impressive of their new songs), Dew-Scented commanded the stage from
first note to last. Everything I had hoped for.
Victory Records recording artists Between the Buried and Me impressed
me with their recent release, and I was surprised to see how well they
pulled off their insane brand of tech--jazz--metal-core live. With their
off-timed melodics and harmonics, you could call 'em "The Darkane
Escape Plan". That is, if you're a dork like me who needs to come up
with silly catch phrases for everything...yeah.
On the flipside, Type O Negative was not very impressive. I mean, the
shtick is just getting kind of old now. This band peaked in 1994, and have
been pretty much going through the motions since then, if you ask me.
While the old classics still rocked pretty hard, I just drifted off into
dreamland whenever any new material was aired. I glad that I finally saw
them, but I was just expecting a lot more than what I received. Ah well,
nothing lasts forever, I guess. Coming out to the "COPS" theme
was kinda cool, though...
NYC's Most Precious Blood (ex Indecision) wasn't too trying on the ears.
Your standard straight edge mosh-o hardcore was what you got, though it
didn't keep me watching them for very long. So-so at best.
Finally, it was headliner time. Having seen the mighty Cradle of Filth
many times on tour, I knew what to expect. An extravagant, elaborate stage
show, with the massive tunes to back it up. Sure enough, that was exactly
what I got, with Dani Filth and crew tearing up the stage like looters at
a riot. Opener "Babylon AD" was the only new cut aired off their
marvelous debut for Sony, "Damnation and a Day"; a fact of which
I was surprised, and actually a bit disappointed at, to be honest. I was
hoping to hear more.
Instead, the band opted to go for an almost "greatest hits"
type of set, airing classic tunes like "Cruelty Brought Thee
Orchids", "The Forest Whispers My Name", "From the
Cradle to Enslave", and a massive "Gothic Romance (Red Roses For
the Devils Whore)". Rocking out amidst creepy animated gargoyle
creatures / crew members (who didn't actually move until two songs in,
scaring the bejeezus out of everyone--like me--who thought they were
props!), and varied assorted stilt-walkers and dancers, Cradle of Filth
showed why they truly are the best in the biz, and the best at what they
Cradle have taken their Black Metal heritage and
simply elaborated upon it and progressed naturally over time. Like a fine
wine, Cradle have aged perfectly, and have finally hit the big time while
remaining true to themselves and their music. It does my heart good to
hear the same Cradle I did on "Principle of Evil Made Flesh" as
I do on "Damnation", and I'm sure their fans (of which there were
many in attendance) appreciate it as well.
Though there was no encore, I don't think that anyone was too
disappointed in the fact that we were finally going to get some rest and
recoup from the weekend's festivities. I also don't think anyone leaving
this first New Jersey Metal/Hardcore Fest could say they didn't have a
good time either, including myself. Sure, it could have been better, but
you could say that about everything if you wanted to. The bottom line is
that, with both these festivals and the Koshick fests, us metalheads are
the real winners. It would be a shame for one to try and put the other out
of business. I truly hope that everyone involved keeps their eyes on
what's important here, and that's love of METAL, not money.
Metal fans are not worried about which fest they are going to. We worry
about there BEING a fest to go to. Give us a weekend where we can catch a
bunch of bands, hang out with our friends, and have a good time, and we're
there. I think most fans out there agree with me when I say there is no
such thing as "too many" metalfests. There's room for everyone
out there, but there's NO room for some elite "inner circle" who
will only let you into their "cool clique" if you have enough
scene points to offer. So, with that
being said, let's just support the scene, and each other.
So, signing off the way we lowly writers always do...I'll see ya at
next year's Metalfest roundup! Up the Irons!!