The Academy 2 is shamefully empty for the opening band Lower Than Atlantis probably due to the ridiculously early set time of 6.30pm. It doesn’t seem to bother the band though who take it in their stride playing a relatively tight set hampered only by some not so amazing vocals. The effort they are putting in is evident though and some lively banter goes on between them and the crowd.
The room has started to fill and Devil Sold His Soul are up next and pull off a mind-blowing performance, their atmospheric metal washing over the crowd threatening to floor people with its pounding ferocity. Opening the set with album opener Tides with its crushing drum intro and frenetic screams of vocalist Ed Gibbs who switches from piercing screams to soft vocals like a flash is hell of a way to start. They head straight into Drowning/Sinking which flows seamlessly and as the songs twist and turn going from quiet to incredibly loud in a heartbeat it keeps the crowd on their toes. As quickly as a circle pit opens up it closes again as the tempo constantly changes. Devil Sold His Soul defiantly turned some heads this evening and have proved to be absolutely superb live putting in a flawless performance.
‘We are the almighty Norma Jean from Atlanta’ screams vocalist Cory Brandon, not that this band need any introduction. Norma Jean have been around for over 10 years and are forerunners of the hardcore scene and latest album Meredionial proves that they haven’t lost their touch and are still capable of writing heavy tunes. With only a 40 minute set to wow the crowd Norma Jean set out to tear Birmingham a new one!
The energy on stage is immense and with Norma Jean touring these shores once in a blue moon the crowd more than happy to partake in some action. The circle pit is open from the start and keeps going for pretty much the entirety of the set. Vipers, Snakes and Actors is brutal, Cory has the crowd in the palm of his hand as his demands for more movement, devil horns and fists in the air are all obeyed by the eager crowd. Creating something out of nothing only to destroy it has the entire crowd joining in for the line ‘like bringing a knife to a gun fight’, which is screamed like a battle cry. Set closer Memphis will be made to waste has Corey climbing the lighting with nowhere to go he hangs there for a while then gives up and heads for the crowd singing the last lines into the faces of those at the front. Thanking the crowd they leave the stage dripping with set having successfully conquered Birmingham.
For your average band having to follow the likes of Norma Jean would be a disaster but Brighton’s finest metal/hardcore types Architects are more than willing to give it a go and more than live up to expectations. From the minute they step foot on stage and start playing the atmosphere in the room changes, it’s not often you get a crowd who are more into it, they sing the songs word for word.
Front man Sam Carter is visibly taken aback by the sheer amount of crowd participation and proclaims it is the best show they have ever played. Resurrected and To the Death are played with technical ruthlessness, Early Grave is truly brutal and gloriously heavy. Towards the end of the set Sam pauses proceedings to give a shout out to a local fan that recently died lamenting on how much of shame it is to have someone die so young. Left for last goes out to the unnamed fan, a fitting tribute. One of the highlights of the set is Hollow Crown, as the intro kicks in Sam takes his place on top of the stage monitor and starts to sing and as the whole band comes in for the climax the crowd are singing at the top of their lungs with them every step of the way.
The encore of Follow the water has the room explodes; it’s an incredible way to end the show. Architects have proven themselves once again to be an almighty beast live and can leave Birmingham rest assured that their self proclaimed greatest ever show will ring true.
Reviewer – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photographer – Steve Gerrard