I arrived to catch the last couple of tracks from hardcore/death metal/grind outfit Oceano, who hail from the city of Chicago, Illnois, USA. The Academy 2 is already full to the rafters so that I have to shuffle through the crowds to get a good view. It’s pretty easy to see these guys though as they are charged full of energy and pogoing around. Their vocalist is a huge ball of pissed off, intimidating muscle and veers between guttural growls and throat ripping screams. Some of it seems a bit standard metalcore noise but they have good energy. Thumbs up.
Next up are As Blood Runs Black who take things in just a touch more of a metal direction, with some wildly technical guitar interplay between their male/female axe attack. There are also some more melodic death metal harmonies between these two…thirds, sevenths, ninths, what have you. More of an epic sound than the previous lot. I’m not sure what the vocalist is so earnest about all the time, but they are good to watch.
Showing some more diversity from the pure ear bleeding approach, next up are the intriguingly named Horse The Band. I really enjoy this band’s deviance from the metalcore norm, employing as they do some psychedelic/ trancy keyboards amongst the brutality. There also seems to be more use of light and shade within the dynamics of each song and a few more smiles and less unrelenting earnestness from the musicians. I like to see performers look like they enjoy themselves on stage.
I have a wander around the merchandise stand. This tour has been sponsored by Imperial Clothing, who I believe are an originally German based alternative clothing company that sell lots of metalcore band t shirts/hoodies, as well as street/skate wear etc. I’ve noticed that metalcore bands now seem to employ the same illegible looking scrawly band logos that were popular in the death metal scene a few years ago. It’s funny to see it mixed with hoodies, baseball caps and Vans trainers. I suppose the style reflects the development of a new mix between extreme metal and hardcore culture, both musical and clothing wise.
Next up, Despised Icon. These guys are the joint headliners for the tour; on mainland Europe they head the bill, but in Britain they play second fiddle to Brighton based Architects. I’m sure some will accuse me of a pro Brit bias, but I think tonight’s bill should be repeated throughout the whole tour. Despised Icon are a ferocious live presence and really get the crowd going with their unrelenting brutal mix of hyper fast grind and hardcore beat downs.
The Scream masks that they all put on at the kick off is a nice touch. However they’re a bit like being punched in the face repeatedly for twelve rounds; unless you’re a masochist you’re going to want some variation from the repeated bludgeoning pretty quickly. I can see they do what they do and they do it well but I wasn’t the only one that found the dual vocals from their crotch grabbing frontmen a bit tiresome. Someone next to me stated simply ‘This band is f’in crap’.
Just one opinion there yes, but I felt the difference when Architects came on. I don’t have any particular allegiance to the band and have never seen them before. But they built up an atmosphere, keeping a sense of heaviness, but with less posturing, better tunes and more different dynamics. The crowd had thinned out a touch by the end i noticed, but there was still a rapturous response and plenty of circle pits. A few intrepid crowd surfers braved security to reach the stage and dive headlong back off it.
The end track ( i think it was called ‘Follow the Water’) was a standout but there were some great soaring choruses throughout. A chap at the bar…thoroughly nice chap with well reasoned musical views, disagreed with my take on the two bands, saying that for him Despised Icon filled a primal need to bang your head and shake your fists better than any other band on the bill (if you’re reading this, cheers for the whisky John!) And fair play to him, but I don’t think I’m being a blinkered Anglophile when I say that Architects were the stand out band of the evening. Quality will out.
Review – Adam Moffatt
Photos – Steve Gerrard