Review by Matt Bradley
Aurora have had quite a good time recently – they all won significant sums of money after placing bets on their namesake in the Grand National, then opening up a sold out show in their hometown supporting three of the UK’s hottest metal bands. Birmingham’s own female-fronted metalcore quintet kicked off proceedings tonight in fine form, with their ear-pleasing tunes sounding like a mixture between the compositions of Killswitch Engage, the electronic sounds of Fear Factory, and the icing of the cake being leading lady Jess Calvesbert’s vocals ranging from singing to screaming much like a modern version of nu-metal girls Kittie. Solid openers with a potentially bright future.
Runners up in the ‘from furthest up north’ category, Silent Screams hit the stage next. Leeds’ latest export smashed their way through track after track from their debut album When It Rains and even squeezed in the brand new single ‘The Way We Were’. Relatively new frontman Joel Heywood did a good job of getting the crowd involved although it seemed at times he was letting the crowd sing just a little too much and his mannerisms were so much like the late Mitch Lucker from Suicide Silence that eventually it started to seem like he was imitating, which took away from his performance. The rest of the band were spot on, however, and it was plain to see why these guys get such a good reaction wherever they go.
Without a doubt, Heart of a Coward write some of the most groove-laden yet menacingly heavy riffs in modern metal and as they kicked off the main support set with ‘Nightmare’, the whole crowd could not help but bang their heads. Technical, brutal, crushing, beautiful – HoaC have it all in their music and it would be forgivable to think that they are a band that sound smashing in the studio but fail to bring it live. Fortunately that is not the case with these dudes; Chris Manbridge is just as tight behind the kit onstage in the studio, Carl Ayers and Steve Haycock’s guitar wizardry is just as clear and alpha male vocalist Jamie Graham’s voice is powerful as a bulldozer too. Whilst not quite as good as their performance two days before in Nottingham, tonight’s set from the Milton Keynes lads was still the kind of stuff that most bands should be striving for themselves.
All the way from bonnie Scotland, Glaswegian metallers Bleed From Within smashed onto the O2 Academy stage with near-boundless energy and intensity. Obviously high on the fact that their headlining gig was totally sold out, the boys from up north delivered track after track of ferocious, high octane, Irn Bru-fuelled metal, ranging from 2009’s ‘Serpents of Divinity’ to material from their recently released sophomore full length, Uprising. It was a testament to the quality of said new tracks when they got a better response from the audience than older stuff (not that the cheers for that was lacklustre by any means), and aside from a couple of idiots deciding to turn the mosh pit into a real fight (swiftly broken up and escorted out by security, although the break did unfortunately halt momentum), the crowd were fantastic and ate directly out of front man Scott Kennedy’s hand, especially during tracks such as ‘The Novelist’ and ‘It Lives In Me’. This was the seventh date of the BFW UK tour: loads of fresh UK metal and absolutely zero rest. Sorry, God, but it was worth it.