Concert Review: Born Dead Fest (Day 2) @ Empire Live, 09/02/2023

Check out Day 1 coverage here: Concert Review: Born Dead Fest (Day 1) @ Empire Live, 09/02/2023

Day 2

Confinement from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, opened Day 2 on the Empire Underground stage and immediately provided an intense, in-your-face crushing experience full of powerful riffs and punishing breakdowns. Confinement brought a mid-90s/2000s hardcore mixed with power metal sound and immediately let the crowd know they were not allowed to be tired from the previous day of festivities. Vicious, harsh vocals, menacing power on the drums, and fast-paced guitar work made Confinement an excellent warm-up for the future acts and set the tone for how the day was going to go. 

Capital City Slam band Invoke Thy Wrath opened up the Empire Live stage upstairs with a perfect medley of bellowing guttural vocals, intense shredding, and brain-melting drum work that made it impossible to stand still. Performing singles such as the recently released “Forced” and more notable singles such as “Snakes Always Smile,” Invoke Thy Wrath blistered the crowd with drumming that reached BPMs higher than I can count, shredding that I wouldn’t even be able to play on a guitar hero guitar and guttural vocals sent from hell itself. Keep an eye out for new music from these lads, as they hinted before leaving the stage that a new release is in the works and will be out in the near future.

Invoke They Wrath (Photo by Hilary Crannage)

StoneThrower from Verona, NY, found a way to include more genres into their 20-minute set than I have fingers on my hands. At first listen, you can hear a sludgy doom element in their music, slowing the tempo down to build up into a gust of ferocity later through the songs. By the final 5-10 minutes, the crowd is being assaulted with intense, chaotic metalcore-inspired riffs melded together with ferocious and often unexpected breakdowns. StoneThrower’s vocalist performed the entirety of the set with the assistance of a chair, as he was in a walking boot that limited his mobility. However, that did not prevent him or any other members of the band from providing a memorable performance. With StoneThrower originating from such a short distance from Albany, let’s hope they return soon.

Albany’s own hardcore outfit, Wrong Move, took the upstairs stage by storm with their hard-hitting, raw, and fiercely aggressive tunes that’ll raise your deadlift personal records by 50 pounds instantaneously. These riffs will put some hair on your chest whether you want it or not. Packed with brutal fight-riff tracks from their Unbeaten Records debut, “Death Made Swift,” and 2023 promo singles titled “Containment” and “Cries From Above,” Wrong Move put on a blistering performance that highlighted their ability to create a menacing visceral display of anger and aggressive instrumentation coated with powerful, raspy, harsh vocals. 

Concrete Ties put on one of the more frightening performances of the day, and I mean that in the most pleasant way possible. Performing on the smaller Empire Underground stage, the entire crowd morphed into one giant pit, getting everyone involved whether you wanted to or not. The front row had to face an existential battle of facing forward and watching the band perform or keeping their heads on the swivel to avoid catching a flying body. Concrete Ties blends elements of hardcore, groove, beatdown, and thrash metal to give an immersive, intense, in-your-face experience that sets them apart from many other bands at the festival.

Actor Observor (Photo by Hilary Crannage)

Long, majestic hair enthusiasts Actor Observor hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, gave listeners a nice break from the brutality and heaviness of the day by putting on a powerful and anthemic performance on the stage upstairs. On tour recently with fellow festival acts INSPIRIT, and He Is Legend, Actor Observor blessed listeners with ambient guitar leads meshed with strong rhythms and a vocal performance that would make all of the judges on the voice spin their chairs around. Actor Observor performed songs off of their 2018 release, “Pareidolia,” and their most recent 2022 release, “Songs for the Newly Reclusive,” with raw emotion and passion that you could feel with each note. Actor Observor finds a way to create melody and power in their performance and gets those elements of music to waltz in perfect unison throughout every single song they play.

Wisdom and War brought a unique blend of nu-metal and heavy hardcore to the intimate Empire Underground stage. Filled with ferocious vocals, crushing riffage, and powerful grooves on the drums, Wisdom and War brought exactly what their title suggests: wisdom and war. Many of the set’s tracks came from the band’s most recent release on Unbeaten Records, titled “Superior Design.” Dedicating songs to the ladies and encouraging them to kick men in their, you know what, the crowd took it a step further and kicked everyone in their everything throughout the duration of the set. Hailing from Central Massachusetts, Wisdom and War has become a frequent flyer in the Albany area, and each performance proves that they’re a growing force in the world of heavy music and that there’s not a single element on earth that can stop these folks. 

INSPIRIT (Photo by Hilary Crannage)

INSPIRIT’s performance was one of the most highly anticipated sets of the day, and they surely did not disappoint. INSPIRIT’s performance at the Born Dead festival marked the first time the band has visited Albany since forming INSPIRIT. Post-hardcore historians will remind you that this lineup is the original lineup of the legendary Boston outfit Vanna. INSPIRIT crushed their performance from the jump by cruising through their debut single “Fold,” which later would become a part of their debut Moon EP. INSPIRIT displayed a perfect recipe of what a post-hardcore band should be, mixing aggressive power riffs, raspy yet distinguishable harsh vocals, and whispy, clean choruses. And as a toast to the fans who have been there since the Vanna days, INSPIRIT closed their performance by playing a fan-favorite Vanna single titled “We Ate The Horse You Rode In On.” 

Edict took over the Empire Underground stage and turned the venue into an active war zone with their vicious beatdown and heavy hardcore sound. This band writes riffs for people who hunt their own food. These riffs will add 20 pounds of muscle to your chest. These riffs make chewing a cinderblock seem like an enjoyable thing to do. I could go on forever. From getting the moshers to swing every available limb nonstop for 20 minutes to getting others to run suicides across the venue into each other like they just had to deal with the consequences of having a bad basketball practice, Edict packed a powerful punch that made even the most docile concertgoer go absolutely feral and primitive. The mosh looked so inviting that even the guitarist and bassist joined the crowd during the final song.

Soul Blind is an up-and-coming groovy grunge-sounding band with hardcore influences sprinkled throughout their discography. Soul Blind packed a powerful punch through crushing power chord-filled and raspy clean vocals but also provided an atmospheric experience through several ambient passages that allowed concertgoers to really feel the music. Soul Blind offered an intense out-of-body experience that doesn’t usually bode well with a grungey sound, but they managed to do it and do it well. Soul Blind sounds like what Balance and Composure would sound like if they were from Seattle, or maybe what Alice in Chains would sound like if they were from the Hudson Valley. 

Pyrexia (Photo by Hilary Crannage)

I was today years old when I learned that Pyrexia is just another medical term for having a fever. This makes perfect sense, as the headliners of the Empire Underground stage had no problem bringing the heat. Bad puns aside, this brutal, slamming death metal band raised BPMs to abnormal highs while crushing with powerful guttural lows on the vocals you can only feel and most certainly can’t decipher. Members shared beers with the crowd in between songs and created a very heartwarming family party type of atmosphere, which is a playful bit of irony since the music itself is so dark and vicious. I guess this is what we call the duality of man. 

Fury of Five is the very first band I’ve ever seen that consists of every member having no legs. Okay, 0/2 on the bad jokes, but I say this because they all came out sporting camo pants and tank tops (or no shirt), and that really personified the type of hardcore this band put on display. While many fans of Fury of Five may consider themselves to be in mosh retirement, this performance ensured that there would be a mass mosh reinstatement. Fast riffs, heavy breakdowns, and even an entire Raining Blood Slayer cover kept everyone moving from start to finish. 

I AM LEGEND (Photo by Hilary Crannage)

He Is Legend brought southern riffs, two steps, and crushing power to their performance. If you can grow a beard, this band will make you want never to shave your beard again. He is Legend performed a wide variety of songs from their 20-year-long catalog, spanning from I am Hollywood all the way to “Magnolia” off of their most recent release. He Is Legend forced the crowd to battle within themselves as to whether they wanted to mosh ferociously or square dance with their addicting southern-style bluesy riffs. Combining those riffs with sonically heavy breakdowns, comedic, whimsical lyrics, thick tones, and flawlessly tight drumming, it’s hard to say that there was a better performance from any band over the course of the weekend.

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