By Brandon Ringo
The NEMHF lineup each year consistently features bands taking part in some of the best metal and hardcore tours of the year. Whether they are tours sponsored by the festival, or just a tour full of sick bands making a stop in Worcester, the addition of these tour packages into the NEMHF lineup each year ensures that fans at The Palladium get more than their money’s worth every year – even if it’s the only show you attend all year. Below we’ve spotlighted some of the more interesting tours that are either making a stop in Worcester, or even culminating there.
Mission Quest to Metal Fest Tour:
One unique feature of the NEMHF is its Mission Quest to Metal Fest tour. This year it started in Austin, TX and moved across the country finishing up in Worcester, MA with all bands performing at the NEMHF. The tour provides a great sample of the festival’s incredible lineup. It is also a great way of exposing young, up and coming bands to huge new audiences. Finishing up its fourth year, the 2014 incarnation of the tour focused more on the festival’s rawer hardcore side. Though the tour featured many different variations of the lineup, there were at least two bands who headlined the tour a majority of the time.
This year will mark the fourth time Cruel Hand has played the festival and judging by the strength of last year’s Born Into Debt, We All Owe a Death 7″, they will be coming out with all guns blazing.
Alpha & Omega
Coming to the festival for the second year in a row, their hateful mixture of hardcore and metal is guaranteed to keep the pit moving as it hits with the subtlety of a crowbar to the dick.
In addition, a majority of the dates of the tour also featured:
Brutal NY hardcore with a little thrash thrown in for good measure.
Old school hardcore from Nebraska full of genuine anger and sick grooves.
Though they formed in 2011, they are quickly developing a big name for themselves as one of the hottest up and coming metalcore bands on the scene.
The Richmond, VA scene is infamous for its amazing punk and metal bands, including Naysayer’s tough-as-nails brand of brutal old school hardcore.
Will To Die
Absolutely brutal, metallic hardcore with less chugga and more flesh-melting riffs.
Metal Alliance Tour:
Beginning with last year’s inclusion of Anthrax, Exodus, Municipal Waste, and Holy Grail, the NEMHF heavily featured the Metal Alliance Tour into its mammoth lineup. This year the Metal Alliance Tour makes another stop in Worcester and is even heavier than last year! Thanks to headliners Behemoth and Goatwhore, the 2014 incarnation of the Metal Alliance tour is bringing some of the best blackened death metal on the planet to cities all over the US, but they are also joined by some other bands who are quite capable of bringing their own special brand of hellfire.
There’s no doubt that 2013 was a star-studded year for heavy metal, especially for the two-man black metal monstrosity known as Inquisition. Initially hailing from Colombia, now relocated to Seattle, WA, Inquisition took the mainstream heavy metal media by storm last year with their brilliant record Obscure Verses for the Multiverse. Armed to the teeth with violent, buzzing, technically sound riffs for days, anyone who catches Inquisition live that thinks a two-man metal band can’t be heavy is in for an incredibly rude and hateful surprise.
Hailing from Norway, the home of black metal’s blasphemous and bloody 2nd wave, 1349 plays with a hellacious fury the way its forefathers intended. Consisting of members with names like Ravn, Archaon and Frost and decked out in corpse paint, 1349 make themselves a definite must-see act.
Black Crown Initiate
Coming from the bloody and frostbitten tundra (or maybe really the pleasant Amish country, but still) of Reading, PA, Black Crown Initiate are one of underground metal’s best-kept secrets. Though currently unsigned, BCI play a very unique style of heavy metal that leans towards a more modern death metal version of Opeth and their 2013 EP Song of the Crippled Bull is absolutely brilliant. After a spring loaded with sold out dates playing to hordes of blood-hungry Behemoth fans, expect Black Crown Initiate to be scooped up by a big label very soon.
Best In Brutality Tour:
Another insanely heavy tour making its way through Worcester this year is the Best In Brutality tour featuring (sorta) label mates Broken Hope and Oceano sharing headlining duties. This is the inaugural run for the tour which aims to bring together different styles of death metal to create the ultimate extreme metal experience.
Though Broken Hope originally broke up in 2002, they have since reunited, signed with Century Media Records, and released one of the greatest records of their career. If you like incredibly brutal, technically proficient old school death metal with no frills, Broken Hope will more than exceed expectations.
This year marks the third time these Chicago deathcore titans have played the NEMHF. They are a band who has been through a lot over the past five years and have managed to rise to the top of their genre in lightning fast time. Their tried and true formula of blast-beat laden death metal and brutal breakdowns has won over countless metal fans around the world and there’s no doubt they’ll keep that train rolling.
Kublai Khan, a young metalcore band from Texas, is a prime example of what can happen with a good work ethic and an obsessive drive to succeed. Over the last few years they’ve been hard at work touring and playing as many shows as humanly possible and also self-releasing their own albums. All their hard work has paid off now, as the band recently signed to Artery Recordings and plan on continuing to take on as many tours as possible. 2014 marks their first performance at the NEMHF and it’s sure to be a memorable performance and also the first of many.
Mind-numbingly technical death metal with enough blasting to appease old school bangers, but also with enough breakdowns to keep the pit moving.
Rivers Of Nihil
Hot on the heels of their impressive debut album for Metal Blade, they’ve been making a big name for themselves over the last year or so. This year they are making their first stop at the NEMHF and combined with the buzz generated from this tour, their momentum is only going to continue growing.
Worldwide Plagues Tour:
Formed by guitarist Jon Schaffer almost 30 years ago, Iced Earth has been a model of consistency, as well as ridiculously awesome old school heavy metal throughout their career. This year, in celebration of their new record Plagues Of Babylon, the band have launched the Worldwide Plagues Tour which will be invading many different countries. The tour is also making a stop at the NEMHF and will do its part to inject a heavy dose of epic, progressive, symphonic and downright catchy metal to an already diverse lineup.
Read interview with this band here.
Though the NEMHF normally features metal bands on the heavier side of the genre, occasionally bands like Turisas, Dragonforce and Ensiferum showcase metal’s more epic and colorful side. This year things will get epic as shit when Sabaton takes the stage. They are a Swedish power metal band with a knack for furious shredding and triumphant songs with lyrics about battle, making them the perfect soundtrack to a glorious night of drunken headbanging.
Led by former After Forever singer Floor Jansen, ReVamp continues the tradition of fantastic heavy metal from the Netherlands. Thanks to their undeniably catchy melodies and technically proficient riffs, they fit in perfectly alongside Iced Earth and Sabaton and Jansen’s supreme pipes are also sure to make them stand out big time at the NEMHF.
When it comes to professional sports and hardcore/heavy metal, the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts has produced some legendary winners. Obviously the creation and continued success of the NEMHF into its 16th year is a victory in and of itself, but to make things better, the festival has always made a point to bring together some of Massachusetts’ favorite metal and hardcore sons, but this year they’ve taken it to a whole new level.
All That Remains
Read interview with the band here.
Sam Black Church
Read interview with the band here.
Though Unearth have played the NEMHF 5 times previously, this year will be a particularly memorable one. You see, it was almost 10 years ago in June of 2004 when they released their landmark effort The Oncoming Storm. The band has gone through a lot in the 10 years since they first burst onto the scene with a giant thud, but they have shown no signs of slowing down.
The Acacia Strain
Though the band’s lineup has changed over the years, The Acacia Strain still has its roots firmly planted in Massachusetts and the Northeast. One place in particular they have been firmly rooted is Worcester, MA, specifically at The Palladium during the NEMHF. This year marks their seventh appearance at the NEMHF which is second-most of any band. Musically, their style is also rooted in the same style it was when they first started out, only now it’s leaner, meaner and more brutal than ever.
Formed in 1985, Slapshot have been playing their punishing style of old time hardcore for almost 30 years now. One of the band’s signatures over their career has been their uncompromising aggression. With their performance at the NEMHF this year, you can expect nothing short of a Zdeno Chara-sized boot to the gut.
Boston is home to some of the greatest hardcore music ever created, as well as some of the angriest. Among the great bands to come from the city, one of the angriest is Ramallah, the bludgeoning hardcore act fronted by Blood for Blood vocalist Rob Lind. With a new record promised in 2014 in addition to their performance at the NEMHF, Ramallah are going to have a big year and their set is guaranteed to be one of the highlights without question.
Colin Of Arabia
Hailing from Brockton, MA, Colin Of Arabia play a very brutal, no non-sense, thrashing style of hardcore unmatched by many of their peers. This will be their third year playing the NEMHF and they are certainly not a band you want to miss.
Within The Ruins
Anyone who has seen Within The Ruins at any of their three previous appearances at the NEMHF can attest that their live show is basically a clinic on making music that’s equal parts brutality and unfathomable technicality.
One of the upsides to having a premiere music festival is that when you treat good bands well and they have fun, they tend to come back. The other good thing is that they tell their friends who also want to show up and play. The majority of the festival’s lineup this year is comprised of bands that have played the NEMHF at least once before and in some cases 6, 7 or even 8 times.
There are also quite a few bands that are making their first trip to the fest. Whether they be a young up-and-coming band looking for a lucky break, or a band from outside the US finally getting a chance to play such a huge festival, these rookies are going to be looking to make a massive impact at the NEMHF in 2014.
Sadly, Bleeding Through’s third performance at the NEMHF will be their last. In fact, it’s being billed as their final East Coast show. The band announced last year that they were breaking up and shortly thereafter began a stretch of farewell shows with the final shows happening this year. Though the band is done, their legacy is still far-reaching and their set at the NEMHF is definitely going to be one you won’t want to miss.
Upon listening to Nile’s amazingly deep and well-researched lyrics involving Egypt and its mythology, you’d be forgiven for being shocked hearing that they are from South Carolina and not Cairo. One thing that might also surprise you is just how brutal and technically proficient they are even after 20 years. This year, they are embarking on the final leg of their At The Gates Of Sethu World Tour which showcases a discography-spanning setlist and many songs never played live before. When they take the stage at the NEMHF, break out your invisible oranges and your favorith Ankh necklace and prepare to get destroyed.
Scars of Tomorrow
It’s kind of hard to believe this band has been around for over a decade now. In fact, I still remember downloading some of their songs on hxcmp3.com (R.I.P.)! Though it’s been quite a while since the band has put out a new record, they are currently working on the new one and will be out for blood once they hit the road. Coming from the same Orange County metalcore scene as Bleeding Through, Eighteen Visions, and Throwdown, these guys do metalcore the old fashioned way and they do it very, very well.
I Declare War
Seattle, Wa’s I Declare War is a classic example of a band doing one thing and doing it very well. In their case, that one thing is making deathcore that is suffocatingly heavy with very few frills and a whole lot of ferocity.
For Gideon, the 2014 NEMHF marks the third year in a row they’ve played the prestigious festival, yet each year their spot has gotten higher and higher on the bill. Thanks to their aggressive touring schedule and insanely catchy brand of metalcore, as well as their incredible live show, it’s no wonder they keep getting invited back.
Nails is the kind of band that’s absolutely perfect for festivals like the NEMHF. Mostly because they take fast, no bullshit hardcore and combine it with all the evil vibes and guitar tone of early 90’s Swedish death metal. If I could get in the pit for just one band at this festival, Nails would be the my choice because their music serves as the perfect soundtrack for people gathered in circles to beat each other to death unmercifully.
Thy Art Is Murder
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, these guys have mastered the art of preposterously disgusting death metal. They have basically taken the deathcore formula and stripped it apart with a chainsaw, added a bit more death and hatred and glued it back together with a tube of Krazy Glue.
Loyal To the Grave
If Tokyo, Japan is famous for one thing, it’s that they do NOT fuck around when it comes to creating things. It makes sense then, that Tokyo’s Loyal To The Grave make a brand of hardcore music that is also equally as no-nonsense. One listen to Against The Odds, their debut for Eulogy Recordings, and it’s obvious that their love of old school thrash and punishing hardcore is almost as important to them as beating their audience to a bloody pulp each and every night.
If Kadavar’s music were a person, more than likely that person would be roughly 50 years old and outfitted with a Blue Cheer shirt and bong-water-scented cologne. Though this German power trio’s sound is old enough to have its own AARP card, their 2013 record Abra Kadavar features a magical display of psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll and served as knife to the throat of the un-ending slew of throwback rock ‘n’ roll poseurs.
Hateful, fast, blackened hardcore punk from Milwaukee. Really no other description is needed for Enabler and their malevolent, blasphemous brand of crossover thrash/hardcore. If you don’t break someone’s face during their set, you’re definitely not doing it right.
From Clifton, NJ, these guys have only been around for a little over two years, but they already have the musical precision of grizzled veterans. With a natural ability for shredding balls and breakdowns heavy enough to make you contemplate fist-fighting your favorite relative, these guys won’t be unsigned for long and are a can’t-miss band at this year’s NEMHF.