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New England Metal and Hardcore Festival

April 16, 2011

The Palladium, Worcester, MA

New England Metal and Hardcore Festival: A three-day event designed for only the most HxC (“hardcore”) individuals. The NEMHF has occurred annually in Worcester, Mass., at the Palladium ever since the festival’s inception in 1999.

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the last day of the festival, Saturday. Fortunately, the last day happened to have the best closers: Between the Buried and Me (BTBAM), and Hatebreed. These are arguably the best bands that the Palladium had to offer; however, I personally enjoyed BTBAM and Born of Osiris the most. Born of Osiris, which played before BTBAM, is a progressive metal/deathcore band from Chicago, Ill.

My friends and I stood out from the rest of the crowd. Here we were, West Campus MIT students dressed in jeans and T-shirts, as plain as seeing liquid nitrogen tanks on campus. There they were, clad in piercings, tattoos, band T-shirts, long hair, and crazy beards. I would wager that the only Asian male that was at the Palladium for the concert was a certain Next House friend that was with me. The bottom line: It almost didn’t seem as if we belonged there.

I’ll be honest here — in the past year I haven’t listened to much metal, and overall I’m more of a metalcore, progressive metal-type person (think Protest the Hero) rather than a heavy, death metal-type person. However, the raw energy of screaming, indecipherable vocals was overwhelming — it was definitely calming to be in the presence of waves of amplified beats. Problem sets became less important and all that was relevant to life was the machismo lyrics screaming at me.

People are generally excited to see Between the Buried and Me. I wouldn’t be wrong to assert that they were the staple of the entire three-day festival. During the 15-minute set-up for the band’s performance, people were shouting “BTBAM” (Bee tee … BAMMM!!!) non-stop. I found it cute how much the average person was into BTBAM — at one point, I heard someone mention that “It makes me smile when I see so many Between the Buried and Me T-shirts,” in reference to perhaps 20 percent of the entire concert population wearing some form of BTBAM apparel. But I must agree, Bee tee BAM was quite spectacular. They mixed their concert playlist up, rocking out some of their older material as well as songs from their newest album, The Great Misdirect (2009).

Hatebreed tends to be characterized by more grating vocals. I am not a fan of Hatebreed as much as Between the Buried and Me. Nevertheless, it was a calming experience to listen to all this heavy metal, even Hatebreed. The Palladium created a temporary escape for me, such that my mind became fixated only on the music and not on trivial details of life.

For someone who is a metal amateur, this was definitely a festival worth going to. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to be scared of getting flattened by multiple 300-pound, ferocious-looking biker-esque males at least once in their lives. Even if you are not familiar with most of the bands that were playing (like I was), it is still worth checking out the festival next year just to increase your HxC credibility.