The annual metal and hardcore Stillborn Festival closed out the year at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT, on Dec. 31.
The lineup included Crowns Of Kings, Signs Of Hope, Dead By Wednesday, Bateman, The Distance, Glassjaw and New Haven’s hometown hardcore heroes Hatebreed.
Billed as the reunion of New York’s post-hardcore outfit Glassjaw, there was a lot of anticipation for the newly re- formed combination of past and present members. After the completion of Glassjaw’s set there were a large number of fans that left the venue. Luckily this allowed the Hatebreed fans an open floor to take position. The room filled as Hatebreed began to take the stage but never reached the maximum capacity that it did during Glassjaw’s performance.
Bringing it back to where it began for the Bridgeport/ New Haven quintet, Hatebreed unleashed an onslaught of over an hour of brutal, metal-influenced hardcore that resonated so loudly from the speakers at Toad’s Place, no amphibian could have survived.
With the recent addition of guitarist, Frank Novinec (ex. Ringworm, Terror), the sound that bellowed throughout the club was deafening, as the thicker guitar crunch added by guitarists Novinec and Sean Martin, and the pounding beats of Matt Byrne, left my ears bleeding through 2007.
Since their formation in 1994, Hatebreed’s honest and heartfelt approach to the hardcore scene showed through as they took a moment out of their set to pay respect to former guitarist Lou “Boulder” Richards who recently passed away. Jasta also showed his admiration for longtime bandmate, bassist Chris Beattie who has been with Hatebreed since the beginning.
They followed up the tribute with songs such as “Last Breath” off of 1997’s Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire and kept the crowd moshing with popular songs “I Will Be Heard” and “This is Now.” They also played many songs from their recent Roadrunner debut, Supremacy, such as “To The Threshold,” “Defeatist” and “Destroy Everything.”
Jasta fist-pumped his way to every corner of the stage while Sean Martin kept the riffs flowing with his constant head banging, enticing the crowd to become more and more excited. Jasta rose above the crowd, standing on sound equipment, hovering over the pit of sweaty hardcore kids while they chanted along with him.
The night’s festivities climaxed when hundreds of balloons filled the space as a large flat screen dropped down from the ceiling to reveal a projection of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Every hardcore kid and metal head’s eyes were simultaneously glued to both the tv and Jamey Jasta as his band prepared to pop open bottles of Dom Perignon. Those of us who were not as fortunate to be able to spend over $100 for a bottle of bubbly were graciously given free noisemakers and glasses of champagne at the bar, courtesy of the house.
The celebration ensued as Hatebreed Supremacy Cigars were thrown out into the crowd. The group continued to play into the early morning hours of the new year, ending their set with a cover of Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” as they exited the stage.
The display of testosterone charged aggression and punishing pit style left me with the feeling that Hatebreed fans truly are “As Diehard As They Come.”