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N.J. Metal/Hardcore Festival

Date: 11/14,15, 2003
Venue: Convention Hall, Absury Park, NJ
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Again someone else tries to hold a metal fest in New Jersey similar to the great ones featured in all the European countries. Problem is, as usual things don’t run smoothly, bands don’t go on time or get the proper amount of time to play. Too many artists are on the bill instead of better variety and higher end names.

Friday seemed to go ok with running times a little behind but not too bad. The day featured a stop from the Symphony X/Strapping Young Lad tour where unfortunately both bands had to go on earlier in the night and playing on a small stage in the hallway of Convention Hall. Why? More so Symphony X belongs on the big stage and the sound quality was just useless for a band of their caliber. Another tour stop was Dimmu Borgir, Nevermore, Children of Bodom and Hypocrisy. First time playing the U.S. Children only had 30 minutes which was too short for a band with their stature. They stole the show for me and I think they won over the audience with their brand of melodic symphonic death metal. “Every Time I Die” and “Silent Night Bodom Night” sounded great.

Nevermore were next and singer Warrel had some mic problems though for Jeff Loomis’ leads you could hear everything. They are using Testament guitarist Steve Smith on rhythm until they get a permanent replacement and he fit in just fine. They did a couple from their latest cd which the tunes sound better live. Dimmu Borgir should have closed the night, instead they were followed by Nile, Morbid Angel, Phil Anselmo’s noisy Superjoint Ritual and Danzig who neither as dynamic as Dimmu. The mood was set with a dark orchestral intro where upon first listen you can see how they are one of the top black metal bands. The first video/single “The Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” is a very strong and commanding piece showing their dominance of the stage. In appearance and sound quality you can tell Dimmu Borgir are serious about their craft and stand above others of this genre.

I also can appreciate them more after seeing them live with Cradle of Filth the next and the difference between the often compared two are very different.

Night two, as with night one, had too many extreme bands, Suffocation, Hate Eternal, Deicide and Krisium among the many lesser names, and lacked variety which caused the attendance to be less than what it could have been. Headliners Cradle of Filth and Type O Negative were the more varied of the night. Type O Negative had sound and scheduling problems from the start with their set list cut short. The band did not shy away from expressing their frustrations with the keyboard player knocking down a chain link fence on stage several times and Peter Steele complaining and drinking beer like he was sitting at a bar stool. Their performance hence suffered being less than enthusiastic and more so going through the motions.

Cradle of Filth featured an interesting segment during their set. Two gargoyles perched on either side of the drummer appeared stone like at first. As the show progressed they began to come to life and move around heckling the members and audience, making a nice addition to their already eerie presence. Dani Filth recreates mostly all the high pitched squeals and low end growls from the cds which after awhile become too redundant and lose its effect.

Unless this New Jersey festival gets a much better variety for next year I don’t see many people interested.
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