Darkest Hour + Bleeding Through + Beneath The Massacre + guests @ Birmingham Academy 2 – 15th May 2009


I very nearly had a heart attack when I was told at the last minute that there were seven bands on the bill tonight — dependant on how you looked at it, this was either going to be a-few-bands-too-many overkill or an extremely excellent value for money gig. One thing was for sure the Thrash and Burn UK Tour 2009 promised to be a grindcore, deathcore, mathcore, melodic death metal, metalcore (and enter any other genre you feel appropriate here) extravaganza.

Unfortunately, I completely missed Floridian-based Success Will Write Apocalypse Across The Sky’s set while waiting for my pass to be sorted out. (Although we met guitarist Aaron Haines at the t-shirt stand, who seemed like a thoroughly nice guy and was happy to stand and chat for ages!). Which meant the first treat of the night came in the form of Arsonists Get All The Girls. I can see why these guys come under the Experimental deathcore banner – their sound is a complex mix of traditional death metal spattered with almost synthy pop electronica overtones and (in places) ska undertones! If you don’t believe me check out ‘Claiming Middle Age a Decade’ and ‘Shoeshine for Neptune’ and if you like it you will be pleased to hear they have a new album due out on July 14th 2009 called ‘Portals’.


Now I am not entirely sure the vastly expanding crowd really knew what to expect from War From A Harlots Mouth — they probably could not have imagined a frenetically furious and gargantuan grating grindcore sound being interspersed with some sort of fucked-up finger-tapping jazz fusion guitar work — but that is exactly what they got! The boys from Berlin are definitely pushing the boundaries here and I have to say it is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea but personally I think ‘If You Want to Blame us for Something, Please Abuse This Song’ and ‘Crooks at your Door’ were outstanding offerings.


Anyone craving a more traditional death metal/core experience would not have been disappointed with the carnage that was Carnifex – this band for me were straight up death metal at its best. They shattered the atmosphere with fast and furious renditions of ‘The Diseased and the Poisoned’ and ‘My Heart in Atrophy’; accompanied by Shawn Cameron’s quick-fire and pulsating drumming. Vocalist Scott Lewis is an absolute enigma — I have never heard anyone able to produce such a diverse din from within — even Linda Blair would have been impressed, this man can do high pitched resonating in one breath and low guttural grunting in the next — I have to say it is almost disconcerting to hear! Carnifex ended their set on a high with ‘In Coalesce with Filth and Faith’ and obvious crowd pleaser ‘Lie to my Face’.


Just when you thought it couldn’t get any heavier, Beneath The Massacre battered you into submission like a beefier, more brutal big brother version of the band before! Every song was incredibly tight, guitarist Christopher Bradley showed off some immensely intricate guitar skills and although vocalist Elliot Desgagnes was thwarted with a few technical issues with his microphone — it did not detract from the overall bombardment.

For the first time tonight Beneath The Massacre had achieved in getting the whole place moving in the latter half of their set — there had been sporadic splinter group outbursts of crowd participation throughout the night so far but BTM unified them all and moulded them into a moving mass. Song-wise ‘Reign of Terror’ stood out like a Monolith on the skyline. These guys have done the Montreal death metal scene proud tonight which I understand is fast becoming famous in a similar way to the Bay Area for thrash metal in the 80’s.


Bleeding Through eased us in with the ethereal ‘Finnis Fatalis Spei’ and the crowd went wild. So without further ado they trounced through one great song after another including ‘Orange County Blonde and Blue’, ‘Tragedy of Empty Streets’, ‘Beneath the Grey’, ‘Rise’ and my personal favourite ‘Love Lost in a Hale of Gunfire’. At this stage it is quite clear that the crowd loves them, and I am sure they are forever ingratiated when vocalist Brandan Schieppati says “it is great to be back in this city, thank you for coming along and supporting the bands”.

This band have such a great vibe with Marta Peterson not so much tinkling the ivories as hammering them and added in with some serious bass brutality from Ryan Wombacher it makes for a technically good solid sound harmoniously intermingled with melodious tinges. Before we knew it, Bleeding Through were wrapping up with ‘Revenge I Seek’ and ‘Kill to Believe’, leaving the stage to chants for more.

Now I know it had been a long evening but the venue seemed to empty out considerably before Darkest Hour stepped out under the lights. Not deterred though they unleashed their own particular brand of fury in style — kicking off with ‘Doomsayer (the beginning of the end)’ and a dazzling display of forcefully energetic activity on-stage.


As Darkest Hour progressed through a colossal heavyweight set which included some fantastically fast fretwork from Mike Schleibaum and Mike Carrigan on ‘An Epitaph’, tremendously throbbing tub-thump thudding from Ryan Parrish on ‘Demons’ and ‘District Divided’, I almost felt sorry for those people who had chosen to leave — they did not know what they were missing and those fans who had remained were giving it their all! Vocalist John Henry only added to the hysteria by heckling the crowd with “make some fucking noise for the Thrash and Burn Tour everybody”.

The whole evening came to a fabulous finale when Darkest Hour played ‘With a Thousand Words to Say But One’- be sure to check out their new album ‘The Eternal Return’ which is due out on June 23rd 2009. These melodic death metal deities from D.C. had delivered an absolutely outstanding performance with some memorably mesmeric moments. They provided the perfect cataclysmic climax to a blindingly brilliant bill!

Review – Amanda Jones
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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