Parkway Drive + Emmure + The Word Alive + Structures @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – 14 November 2012

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Review by Dan Perks

One look at the queue outside the Ballroom in Birmingham  and its clear at 27 years old I’m going to be one of the more senior members of tonight’s crowd,  a fact that causes a fellow attendee to snort and laugh at the fact I’m over 16 and at this gig. The other thing that is abundantly clear from the queue is that tonight is going to be all about Parkway Drive, although there are a handful of Emmure fans, the odds are in Parkway Drive’s favour.

Show openers Structures explode onto the stage with their brand of Djent metalcore, the crowd of people that have managed to trickle into the venue respond to the energy given off by the band with chants and the inevitable ballet that mosh pits have become. The band power through a set of crushing beat downs, sub bass drops and technical riffs with the only real chink in their chain being the clean vocals, which would have been a tad more bearable if bassist Spencer Maclean used more microphone technique, but all in all Structures provide a welcomed and heavy opener to tonight’s events.

The second act on tonight’s bill, The Word Alive, are greeted with a lukewarm reception from tonight’s crowd, but after calling for the nights first circle pits and providing ample anthemic choruses and group chants the crowd a rapidly begin to shine to the phoenix natives. I’ve got to admit that the thrash tinged metalcore complete with subtle touches of synth did very little for me but by the end of their set I was very much in the minority of people not sold by The Word Alive.

The volume of people in the Ballroom seems to double before tonight’s main support, which is unsurprising with the recent buzz surrounding Connecticut five-piece Emmure. The moment the band takes to the stage the energy and atmosphere take a level up.  Emmure are showing any none believers in the crowd tonight that they deserve the hype around them, they faultlessly bombard the audience with offbeat hardcore and beat down after beat down. The crowd lap up every second of it and as the band play through a varied set list from across their back catalogue before leaving the stage to a rapturous applause.

As soon as Parkway Drive’s intro sparks fills the venue the crowd erupt into a deafening roar of approval and right from the offset, Parkway drive are faultless and captivating. Riding high on the back of one of the year’s most acclaimed albums, Parkway Drive look like they are having the time of their lives on stage tonight. But amidst the Cheshire cat smiles and colourful Hawaiian shirts is a frantic heaviness and musical professionalism lacking in a lot of metal core bands in recent years. It’s not only the band that are on form tonight, the audience are in fine voice as well, without any instruction needed the crowd sing along to the anthemic chants of ‘Wild Eyes’ and powerful choruses of ‘Karma’. Frontman Winston McCall informs the crowd that the band are all feeling the effects of the journey over here and thanks them for the energy given off. If a jet-lagged Parkway Drive can be this good then a well-rested Parkway must be cranking it past 11 on a regular basis. After a set that includes a number of tracks from the new album, which included ‘Swing’ for the first time live, as well as fan favourites from Deep Blue and Horizons the band say good bye and leave the stage. But yearning for more the crowd begin calling for an encore. The clapping, cheering and foot stomping shakes the very foundations of the Ball room, it’s not long before the band return to the stage to perform ‘Home Is For The Heartless’ and ‘Carrion’ which are greeted with the loudest crowd participation of the night which includes a generous display of Jazz hands from everyone in the audience. After tonight there is no doubt that Parkway Drive are changing the face and reputation of metalcore for the better and they deserve every second of the ovation that they are given as the final notes of ‘Carrion’ drift out of the venue.

Set List: Sparks, Old Ghosts/New Regrets, Sleepwalker, Karma, Wild Eyes, Boneyards, Romance Is Dead, Swing, Deliver Me, Dark Days, Deadmans Chest, Idols And Anchors, Blue And The Grey,

Encore: Home Is For The Heartless, Carrion