Review by Brady Deeprose, Photos by Lisa Billingham
The dual headline assault from US heavyweights KSE and Trivium rolled through the UK, with the majority of shows sold out, including this particular evening. Fans braving the poor conditions to stand and wait for hours outside just to get a little closer to the action is testament to the unwavering support these two acts have gained over their near 15 year careers.
Opening up was Battlecross, one of Detroit’s latest offerings, a blend of modern thrash, death metal and metalcore. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much until hearing that they had Shannon Lucas (Ex-The Black Dahlia Murder) behind the kit, at which point my interest was peaked. Hitting the stage with the confidence of a much more experienced act, Battlecross took no prisoners with their refreshing and energetic take on thrash, pulling together all of the best bits from their influences: tight grooves, blast beats and riffs a-plenty. Vocalist Kyle Gunther (or Gumby as he’s affectionately known) sounded at times like a younger Trevor Strnad and, for a TBDM fanatic like myself, this was definitely a good sign. All of this comprised what was easily one of the best performances of the night, if a bit short at around 15 minutes.
Miss May I were up next, which was a treat: if you’re into bland, cookie-cutter meh-talcore. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to get into a band that seem to be following the trends, both musically and visually, set by their genre’s frontrunners (Asking Alexandria et al.) Frontman Levi Benton was suitably passionate but what the group lack is a real identity: there was nothing that I hadn’t seen done a hundred times before and significantly better to boot. The crowd seemed to get more into it but surely there’s something amiss when a band can play a brand new song and everyone knows exactly when the chorus/breakdowns will drop, exactly how long each section will be and exactly where the feel will be when each riff changes? In their defence, they battled poor sound (to which I’ll accredit the blame for bassist/clean vocalist Ryan Neff missing a fair few notes) and atrocious lighting (which, admittedly, was an issue for Battlecross too) admirably and didn’t let it stop them doing their thing… whatever it was.
With their stage set, flanked on each side by the classic Trivium ‘T’ and dripping with Maiden-esque atmospheric smoke and ice, Florida’s finest modern metal mob (Brave This) Stormed into view. I say view, the smoke buried all but guitarist Corey Beaulieu for the majority of the first song. Despite the less than exciting tracks from last years Vengeance Falls, the set flowed pretty well, pausing only to allow some kids who got hurt in the pit to be carried out to safety; much to the crowds appreciation. The main sticking point for me is relatively new drummer Nick Augusto and his noticeably sloppy playing. Classics ‘Down From The Sky’, ‘A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation’ and ‘Shogun’ were all but butchered with him clearly not even attempting some of the more technical beats. As, for me, Trivium’s beauty is in their nuance, I struggled to enjoy the songs as I normally would have. A closing ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’ was the anthemic saving grace to a somewhat mixed bag of a set.
One of metalcore’s biggest success stories, Killswitch Engage came out to a packed academy and had never looked more at home. As the last few notes of the ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ rang out, the Boston crew wasted no time in getting down to business, ‘A Bid Farewell’ pleasing pit-dwellers and head-nodders alike. A set brimming with old and new classics alike, the atmosphere was boosted by the presence of returning ex-vocalist Jesse Leach absolutely nailing Howard Jones’ tracks ‘Rose Of Sharyn’, ‘The End Of Heartache’ and ‘My Curse’ (This was particularly impressive as the last few times I’ve seen him with KSE, he was only hitting about 80% of Howard’s notes). Older fan-favourite ‘Rise Inside’ was a welcome surprise before an emotional ‘Always’. Adam D was on top form proclaiming a love for ‘beer, mediocre riffs and titties’ as well as encouraging ‘Slam Dancing in a circular motion’.
Killswitch, throughout their career, have had a fierce live reputation and tonight’s show was no different. From the hilarious stage moves of Adam D to the commanding presence brought by Jesse Leach, everything promised by a KSE show was delivered. Oh, and there were some riffs. Lots and lots of riffs.
1. A Bid Farewell
2. This Is Absolution
3. The New Awakening
4. The Arms of Sorrow
5. This Fire Burns
6. Beyond the Flames
7. Rose of Sharyn
8. Rise Inside
10. My Last Serenade
11. Turning Point
12. Fixation on the Darkness
13. In Due Time
14. The End of Heartache
15. My Curse
See more of Lisa’s photos here;