Tag Archives: Metal

*Review* Slam Dunk Festival Midlands – Birmingham, The NEC 27/05/17

On Saturday 27th May, having flown into Birmingham Airport the previous day, I headed to the NEC for day one of Slam Dunk Festival 2017. Having attended the Midlands date in the NEC the year before (the review for which you can view by clicking here) I was very excited for this year’s event and had been looking forward to it, very impatiently, ever since the dates were first announced. This year we were also attending the North date in Leeds as we felt that one day was simply not enough the year before.

We made sure to get there early to avoid ques, particularly in light of the horrific attack that had occurred in Manchester earlier that same week, which had resulted in a heightened security presence at the festival, every precaution was being taken to ensure the safety of attendees, as we made our way through the NEC towards the festival entrance we had our bags checked by armed police. We got to the festival entrance just after 11.00, the queuing, security check and wristband collection were all surprisingly quick. This year some of the outdoor portion of the festival site was open early and acted as a waiting area, some of the merch tables were already set up too, which was a plus for fans looking to buy merchandise early. Unluckily the weather was not great, it was windy, cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain, a complete shame as it was boiling in Birmingham the day before.

As 1.00 hit the rest of the festival site opened, after a quick look around some of the outdoor site to familiarize ourselves with the locations of the stages we would be seeing bands play on later in the day, we made our way back to the stage closest to the entrance, the “Monster Stage”. The first band on the stage was Canadian Pop punk band Like Pacific and they had drawn a decent crowd. After they had finished playing their first two songs frontman Jordan Black addressed the crowd “thanks for giving a shit and coming out early. I’m in a different country right now, this is sick.” Throughout their set, he gave shoutouts to other bands playing the festival, including Seaway, Trophy Eyes and Boston Manor. Despite how early it was in the day they got a great reaction from the crowd, from the onset of the set a group of people near the front were singing-along, during their 2nd song “Richmond” I spotted the first crowd surfer of the day and more followed throughout the rest of the set, and a circle pit even got going during “Distance.” Before playing “22a”, Jordan spoke to the crowd about his Grandmother and how the song had been rewritten lyrically shortly after she had passed away. Like Pacific are a genuine band, as shown by Jordan interacting with the crowd plenty throughout their set. It was an early but strong performance: 8.5/10.

Next, we made our way to the “Rock Sound Breakout Stage”, which was a small stage that upcoming bands were playing. The first band we were catching there? Upcoming Welsh emotional hardcore band Casey, of course. Casey are a band that already has what you could call a “cult” following, as the large crowd they had drawn so early in the day could attest to, with a large amount of them decked out in Casey merchandise. Their performance was incredibly atmospheric. There were issues with the smoke machine on stage but the band didn’t let that interfere with their performance in any way. Their songs simply flowed into each other live, the heart wrenching “Fade” faded into the melodic “Darling”, which was followed by an intense performance of “Teeth.” “Passion Flower” showcased the bands range of sounds with its vocals mainly consisting of spoken word verses. The emotional “Hell” resulted in a big sing-along from the crowd, and its ending felt like a sudden ending to the set, which felt strangely appropriate. Casey are a band that you should know about. They pull off their intense, emotional, and simply breathtaking sound perfectly live: 9/10.

We headed to the “Jagermeister Mainstage”, hosted in the NEC arena itself, for We Are The Ocean‘s set. The three Slam Dunk sets that weekend were We Are The Ocean’s last sets before their breakup, due to this the arena’s standing area was already pretty full. They kicked off their set with “Trouble Is Temporary, Time Is Tonic” before a big sing-along came in the form of “What It Feels Like”. Truthfully I am not a huge fan of the band’s releases after vocalist Dan Brown left the band in 2012, and during the next two newer numbers frontman Liam Cromby’s voice seemed notably weak. “Good for You”, the only song in their set off their last album “Ark”, sounded a lot stronger, showcasing a good display of Liam’s vocal range, and a decent portion of the crowd was singing-along, clearly not everybody had forgotten about the band after Dan’s departure. The crowd sang the opening line, “I won’t pretend that I did the best I can”, of “Runaway” solo. A lot of the crowd produced their lighters and phone lights during “Confessions”, lighting up the room. “Confessions” was a big song that almost sounded like it was made for arenas, despite being written so early in the band’s career. “The Waiting Room” into “Nothing Good Has Happened Yet” made for an incredibly strong ending to the set. Liam addressed the crowd just before finishing “Nothing Good…” by saying “thank you for coming tonight and sharing this with us,” and then the crowd finished it by appropriately singing the final “just let me go” on their own. A bittersweet set that showcased the lows and the many highs of We Are The Oceans career: 7.5/10.

We headed back to the “Monster Stage” for American Pop punk band Cute Is What We Aim For. They were playing their first UK shows in 9 years and were playing their debut album “The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch“, released back in 2006, in full, as part of their 10th anniversary tour for the album, which was sure to be a serious nostalgic highlight of the festival for a lot of attendees. By the time they kicked off their set the area in front of the stage was packed full of people (as the photo above shows) despite it still being early in the day, which showed just how much people still cared about the band. From the moment “Newport Living” started a huge portion of the crowd was singing along, at points almost completely drowning out vocalist Shaant Hacikyan, and the crowd only got louder as they started to play “There’s a Class for This.” Before “Finger Twist & Split”, Travis from We The Kings came out with a drink for Jeff Czum, who had turned 21 the last time the band had played the UK and who had turned 30 this time. Shaant explained how their first UK tour was in 2006 supporting Paramore and then said that “this is super surreal, thank you so fucking much.” He mentioned how he got drunk at the pre-party the night before, before “The Fourth Drink Instinct”, during which the crowd sang the “she thought that she could buy happiness by, by the bottle” part of the song solo. Afterwards, Shaant said “fun fact I was electrocuted throughout that entire song” and continued on with the set. Before their biggest hit “The Curse of Curves”, Shaant stated that it was probably the explanation for why they were even there. During “The Curse…” the crowd was expectantly at their loudest singing-along, some got on the shoulders of their friends, and Shaant shook the hands of the security personnel in front of the stage. Shaant interacted with the crowd throughout the entire set and his enthusiasm was infectious and the nostalgic songs that so many people in the crowd knew the entire words to were played perfectly. It had clearly been far too long since they had last played the UK because the crowd seemed to love and appreciate, every second of their set: 9.5/10.

We headed to the “Impericon Stage” for English punk rock band Counterfeit. Counterfeit features actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who is best known for his roles in films like Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Twilight Saga and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. We arrived late to the set but it turns out so did Counterfeit as times were running late for the stage, Jamie declared that they had to cut four songs from their set. Counterfeit wasted none of the brief time they were given on the stage; a wall of death got going during “Romeo” and a sweat soaked Jamie entered the crowd and stood in the centre of a circle pit during set closer “Enough.” Even though they were short on time, Counterfeit pulled out all the stops and gave the set their absolute all: 9/10.

I quickly made my way to the “Jagermeister Mainstage” to catch the end of American hardcore band Beartooth‘s set. I caught the end of “In Between” and “Hated.” The mainstage area was absolutely packed full of people singing-along and watching Beartooth play songs that sounded like they were made to be played in arenas.

I planned on catching rising American metalcore band I Prevail play the “Impericon Stage” next but truthfully things got a lot bit too chaotic and uncomfortable for me. Slam Dunk clearly made a mistake putting I Prevail on such a small stage. Due to the power of social media, I Prevail have amassed a huge following, not just in America but in the UK too, a lot of it on the back of their hit cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” which at the time already had over 30 million views on YouTube. As it was their first ever UK performance, in fact their first ever performance overseas too, there was an insane demand to see them live, to the point where tonnes of extra security personnel had to be called to the area to block the entrances to avoid it getting even more full of people. The above is a photo of people trying to see I Prevail despite the stage area already being blocked off by security. Future festival headliners?

I made my way early to the “Rock Sound Breakout Stage” for American metalcore band Sylar‘s set, staring in awe at the huge crowd that was attempting to get into the stage next to it to see I Prevail. Truthfully Sylar had a rough spot, the start of their set overlapped with some of I Prevails and as such the crowd was small to start with but grew larger after I Prevails set ended. The small crowd Sylar had at the start of their set was a dedicated one though and most of them were singing and screaming along from the moment “Gambit Rogue Delight” kicked off the bands set. Sylar made an interesting choice to play an older, heavy track next, “Golden Retreat” off their first album “To Whom It May Concern”, which got the crowd headbanging. A more mellow track, the title track off their latest album “Dark Daze”, followed before “Live / Breathe” during which vocalist Jayden Panesso got the crowd to scream the repeated “I don’t know anymore” part solo. Jayden is an incredibly solid frontman, he interacted with the crowd throughout the entirety of the set and dedicated the set to the people who were singing along. Latest single “Soul Addiction” made an appearance and they finished the set off strong with “Assume.” An all too easy: 9/10.

We headed to see American rock band We The Kings set on the “Monster Stage” next, they were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut self-titled album but weren’t playing it in full. We were pretty late but it turns out that they had only just finished the 2nd song of their set, multiple stages were clearly running late with stage times. Before playing “Secret Valentine”, vocalist Travis Clark stated that it was the “song I wrote after I first had sex.” They played the chorus of “Say You Like Me” to, in Travis’s own words, be able to say that they did. The band finished their set off by playing “Check Yes Juliet”, easily their most well-known song, for a second time, which the crowd seemed to be entirely okay with as they spent the entirety of it singing so loud that they drowned out Travis’s vocals. We Are The Kings are simply a fun band live: 8.5/10.

We caught some of American band The Movielife‘s set on the same stage, another band playing the festival that was invoking nostalgia in some fans, but sadly did not seem to have drawn a large crowd compared to other bands that we had seen playing the stage so far that day. Next we made our way to the “Fireball Stage” to catch some of American ska punk band Less Than Jake‘s set. The band has been around for a very long time, since the 90’s, and their fans had seriously filled out the large room and were actively singing along. They let slip that they thought they were headlining the stage until somebody told them that Bowling for Soup was. “Overrated (Everything Is)” sounded perfect live and I was very glad that I caught it.

We made it back to “Impericon Stage” for most of American alternative rock band Madina Lake‘s set. Madina Lake had reunited for a tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album “From Them, Through Us, to You” and their set mainly consisted of material off it. They were easily the band at this year’s nostalgia heavy festival that invoked the most nostalgia in me as I had started listening to them only a few months after they released the album, which feels like a life time ago now. We caught the very end of “House of Cards” and it was followed by the lyrically dark “Pandora.” The next two songs “One Last Kiss” and “Let’s Get Outta Here” had the crowd singing along before the band broke out an unexpected cover of Blur’s “Song 2.” It is pretty questionable to play a cover song when you are meant to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of your debut album and playing songs off it that don’t normally make the cut live, but the cover went down well with the crowd. They finished their set with the expected anthem that is “Here I Stand” to a huge applause from the crowd. Nathan Leone’s vocals seemed notably weak throughout the set but he seemed to be incredibly energetic otherwise and kept throwing himself into the crowd during the set. The band sounded a bit out of practice but otherwise, they delivered a serious throwback of a set: 7.5/10.

We made our way back to the “Monster Stage” for the final time that day to catch stage headliners Neck Deep, a Pop punk band from the UK. At this point, it had gotten pretty dark out and the only lights illuminating the area surrounding the stage were those on stage, so it was a good thing that Neck Deep had brought plenty of those. They started their set with a new song that had only been released a few days before Slam Dunk, “Happy Judgement Day”, which sounded great live. “Gold Steps” followed and the crowd sang the “I’ve been moving mountains…” bit towards the end. Before “Lime St.”, vocalist Ben Barlow, asked the crowd to jump up and down, he then dedicated “Losing Sleep” to anybody who was there with friends. “Serpents” resulted in a very loud sing-along with the crowd. Ben said that the next song played, “Crushing Grief (No Remedy)” off their debut album”Wishful Thinking”, was “for anybody who has followed us since the beginning” and Jordan from Like Pacific came out to do guest vocals during it. Ben said that “we are taking it way back” before playing “Tables Turned” off their second EP “A History of Bad Decisions”. The crowd shouted along to “Kali Ma” before they played another new song off their upcoming album “The Peace and the Panic”, “Where Do We Go When We Go” which was a big one live. Ben took a moment to talk about how he used to go to the festival as a kid and now his band is headlining a stage at it.

They turned off most of the stage lights and stripped things back for “A Part of Me”, almost the entire crowd sang along to it, and afterwards Ben said “Slam Dunk that was beautiful. This is the longest set we’ve ever played.” Then he proceeded to talk about how they released three versions of the next song they were going to play “December”, they played the full band version of it and it generated easily the loudest sing along of the night. Ben pointed out how everybody watching them was missing Enter Shikari’s set to be there, so the band played some of “Sorry You’re Not A Winner” to make up for that. Then he mentioned that they had just announced a headlining UK tour. They finished their set with “Can’t Kick Up The Roots” with the crowd jumping along to most of it.

Neck Deep’s first time playing a full length headlining set surprisingly never felt like their first one, a strong setlist, well-played song and an engaging frontman made for a very enjoyable set: 9.5/10. Now bring on Dublin in October.

We managed to leg it to the “Fireball Stage” for the last two songs of American Pop punk band Bowling for Soups set, and they were exactly the two we wanted to hear; “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and “1985”, which made for a perfect ending to a jammed back day of music.

Stay tuned for part II of my massive Slam Dunk Festival 2017 review, when I review Slam Dunk Festival North.

*Review* While She Sleeps – The Academy, Dublin 01/05/17

On 1st May 2017, English metalcore band, While She Sleeps, kicked off the month by playing a very long overdue Irish headliner in The Academy in Dublin. They were touring in support of their brand new, independent release, their third album ‘You Are We’.

Fizzy Blood opened the show, while their music may have been a bit out of place for this show, they put on a feverish performance anyways and got a great response from the crowd. They put a lot of effort into trying to win the crowd over and were rewarded with a wall of death during their last song: 6.5/10.

Landscapes, on the other hand, put on an atmospheric and intense performance. While they did not put a lot of effort into trying to win the crowd over, they got a warm response from them. Not a lot of crowd interaction but a decent performance none the less: 6.5/10.

The crowd started chanting While She Sleeps name as their intro started to play. The band’s stage production included swaying light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling. As they took to the stage and kicked off their set with ‘You Are We’ the title track off their new album, the assembled crowd exploded to life for the first time that night, throughout the song people were either jumping along or involved in the massive pit that was taking up most of the crowd, a long overdue headliner indeed. While She Sleeps sounded absolutely massive and continued their set with the crushing sound of ‘Civil Isolation’, with the entire crowd clapping along during its contrasting melodic bridge. Next up was an old favourite ‘Seven Hills’ off the band’s debut album ‘This Is The Six’, triggering the first big sing-a-long of the night, during the song the band’s vocalist, Loz Taylor, climbed into the front of the crowd and screamed the lyrics along with the crowd, an early and big highlight of the night.

Jumbled sound clips played throughout the venue before ‘Brainwashed’, the title track off their second album, kicked in, during which the crowd parted ways for the first massive wall of death of the band’s set. As the intro of ‘Empire of Silence’ started the crowd began clapping and singing ‘woah’ until it kicked in. Another heavy track ‘New World Torture’ followed it, triggering another wall of death. Guitarist and clean vocalist, Mat Welsh, grabbed an acoustic guitar and played the intro of ‘Wide Awake’ with it before being handed back his electric guitar for the rest of the song, the band got a very large circle pit going in the crowd during the song. Loz picked up and put on an Irish flag he was handed and was met with ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ from the crowd, after which he said that if he had known that, that was what he had to do to get that response from the crowd he would’ve done so earlier in the set. Loz dedicated the next song ‘Our Legacy’ to the entire room, during which he performed a mic swing before climbing onto the crowd.

Next was ‘Feel’, the heavy number got most of the crowd head banging along. Before the band played ‘This Is The Six’, Loz demanded a circle pit around the sound desk, which the crowd gladly obliged with. They ended their main set with another big sing-a-long in the form of recent single ‘Silence Speaks’. As they left the stage the crowd once again began chanting ‘While She Sleeps, While She Sleeps’. The band came back and kicked off their encore with ‘Four Walls’, before which Loz demanded that the crowd light up the whole room and for people to get on each other’s shoulders. The final wall of death of the night happened during ‘Four Walls’ before the band finished their set with ‘Hurricane’ as the entire room erupted for one last time, either singing and screaming along or by getting one last mosh in.

This was a long overdue Irish headliner from one of the most genuine and hardworking bands in the UK scene. While you’d question While She Sleeps setlist focusing on their newer material, the fact is, their new album ‘You Are We’ is their strongest release yet, both on record and live. The band have found the perfect balance between the melodic and heavy sides of their songs, and their live energy is as infectious as it has always been, except now it is even more refined and arguably even stronger. An easy: 10/10.

*Review* Avenged Sevenfold & Disturbed – 3Arena, Dublin 07/01/17

On Saturday 7th January American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold returned to Dublin for the first time in just over three years to kick off their ‘The Stage World Tour’, the tour is in support of their seventh album ‘The Stage’ which was released out of the blue back in October. Support on the night came from American heavy metal titans Disturbed.

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Before Disturbed had even taken to the stage the standing area was packed fans who had made sure to turn up early for them, showing that while Disturbed may have been supporting Avenged Sevenfold that night they are still a band with a very large Irish fanbase of their own. They kicked off their set with the title track of their most recent album 2015’s ‘Immortalized’ before going back 15 years and playing ‘The Game’ off their debut album ‘The Sickness’. The first half of their set was mainly material off their first two albums, however, these songs sounded far from perfect live, it was as if the band was warming up while playing them, most notably, the vocals during ‘Stupify’ sounded a lot weaker than you’d expect from a heavier song. Despite how weak the first half appeared to me, the crowd did exactly as vocalist David Draiman told them to, including screaming the ‘fuck’ parts during ‘Stupify’. The first standout performance of the set, their cover of Simon & Garfunkel ‘s ‘The Sound of Silence’, which has been nominated for a Grammy, signalled the turning point in the set. The lighter stripped back performance of such a timeless classic, with acoustic guitars, bongos and keys with the crowd singing along to almost every word with lighters and phones raised high into the sky, was simply breathtaking. It was followed by a strong performance of ‘Inside the Fire’ off 2008’s ‘Indestructible’, complete with pyro, with pyro sticks burning throughout the set and pyro blasts every time Draiman said the ‘fire’. Another standout was ‘The Light’ during which Draiman requested a moment of audience participation, asking them to raise their phones and lighters every time he uttered ‘the light’, which resulted in the 3Arena being lit up beautifully throughout the song.

They finished their set off with increasingly stronger performances of hit after hit; ‘Stricken’, with a perfect vocal performance from Draiman, ‘Indestructible’, with its headbang inducing pace, and ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, with the crowd raising their fists in time to it. The final song of their set was the expected performance of ‘Down with the Sickness’ with a big pyro blast ending, which was followed by the crowd chanting ‘Disturbed’. The band asked for a quick picture, took it, and then Draiman said ‘I hope to see you again soon’ as the band left the stage. Despite being the support act on the night Disturbed played a full headlining set, their stage production included more pyro than I have ever seen a band use live and it did nothing but add to the show. However, they seemed to spend the first half of their set warming up, but the second half of it more than made up for this with hit after hit and plenty of standout moments: 8.5/10.

Prior to Avenged Sevenfold taking to the stage both Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ played out through the venue’s speakers, the start of a theme that the band’s setlist would expand upon. As this was ‘The Stage World Tour’ there was a lot of buzz prior to the show in regards to what the stage setup would be like for them. The central piece of this stage set up was a giant floating cube with screens on the two sides of it that were facing the crowd. There was also three more large rectangle screens on either side of the cube making their way from the back of the stage towards the front of it. The stage itself was a pretty big rectangle with a walkway leading out into the crowd and two holes in it where members of the crowd who had paid for VIP were standing, making them a part of ‘the stage’ and show itself. While the set up was impressive, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed by it, due to all the recent interviews with the band that I had read prior to the show, I expected there to be more to it.

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The screens flashed white and the band’s deathbat logo appeared on the cube just before the 5 piece made their way to the stage. They kicked off their set with the title track off their latest album, from which the tour takes its name, ‘The Stage’, with vocalist, M. Shadows calling out to the crowd; ‘let me hear you Dublin,’ and hear them he did, as the crowd sang-a-long, showing their dedication to the band, by already knowing all the words to the ambitious 8 and a half minute monster of a track. They followed it up with an early stand-out of the set, ‘Afterlife’ off the band’s self-titled fourth album, with the crowds singing overpowering M. Shadows voice during the chorus, they finished the song to major applause from the crowd. ‘Dublin, how are you doing this evening?’ M. Shadows asked before making a joke about how the band might get given out to if they drink Guinness out of a can. Black and white footage began playing on the screens and the crowd started chanting, as the band started playing the title track off their sixth album ‘Hail to the King’, which was well received by the crowd despite how much the album split fans opinions upon its release back in 2013.  It was followed by the first live performance of ‘Paradigm’ off ‘To The Stage’ with M. Shadows telling the crowd ‘I wanna see a circle pit on this one’. Before playing ‘To End The Rapture’ off the band’s debut album, 2001’s, ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’, M. Shadows said ‘I like this little arena. We are gonna play shit from all the records’. The short song was quickly followed by the heavy sound of ‘Chapter Four’ off their 2nd album ‘Waking The Fallen’.

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A strong performance of ‘Buried Alive’ off 2010’s ‘Nightmare’ was another stand-out of the set with its multiple guitar solos and its powerful outro section. Before ‘Angels’, another debut live performance, the cube started moving towards the crowd while rotating, then began flashing an image of a planet. During the song, which is one of the bands more ‘chilled’ songs, a mosh pit got going in the crowd with M. Shadows saying ‘only in Dublin’. After the song, the cube moved back to the back of the stage. As ‘Nightmare’ kicked off the crowd exploded to life singing the loudest they had so far that night and multiple mosh pits started throughout the crowd, the crowd sang multiple parts of the song on their own with no need for any help from M. Shadows. M. Shadows continued to speak to the crowd saying ‘it is always a pleasure to get over here to Ireland. This will hopefully give promoters more confidence in us so we can do more shows in Ireland. Alright, best show of the tour.’ Before ‘Almost Easy’ he gave a shoutout to Disturbed telling the crowd that ‘they are a big band and that they don’t need to be here with us’.

During the section of ‘Sunny Disposition’ that featured the sound of a siren, M. Shadows used a megaphone instead of his microphone, which was pretty punk and complimented the big, heavy, weird, and long, song perfectly. The band made an interesting choice to play ‘Warmness on the Soul’ as an instrumental. A giant inflatable spaceman, with a skull face and a light up head, exploded out of the back of the stage, as the band started playing ‘Planets’ off before the band finished their main set off with ‘Acid Rain’, both songs being off of ‘Hail to the King’ made them weird choices to finish out the set with. M. Shadows shouted ‘Dublin, Ireland thank you so much for tonight and we’ll see you next time,’ as he left the stage.

Once again the deathbat appeared on all of the screens as the band made their way back onto the stage for the encore. ‘Bat Country’, oddly the only song in the set off ‘City of Evil’, kicked off the encore with the crowd shouting ‘he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man’ before exploding, the song resulted in the biggest mosh pits of the night and one of the loudest sing-a-longs. M. Shadows gave the band’s former drummer, The Rev, who died in 2009, a shoutout, dedicating the next song to him, before mentioning that his own Dad was at the show, and stating that there was Irish in his family before asking why he can’t grow a better beard. The epic, 8 minutes long, ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ was the clear standout performance of the night, with The Rev’s haunting vocals playing out through the venue’s speakers seven years after his death, and the clear loudest sing-a-long of the night, with the crowd shouting, singing, and screaming back every single word of the song. The final song of the night was the expected performance of, the heavy, ‘Unholy Confessions’ off ‘Waking the Fallen’, allowing members of the crowd to get one last good mosh in.

While the main set could have been finished off with a stronger song, like the somehow missing performance of ‘Beast and the Harlot’ off ‘City of Evil’, I have to give it to Avenged Sevenfold for putting together a very ambitious stage setup, coupled with a set that covered the band’s entire career, and for easily the best crowd interaction from a band I have ever seen take place in an arena: 9.5/10.

 

 

*Review* Motionless In White (with New Years Day) The Academy, Dublin 14/01/16 (Throwback Thursday Review #1)

Occasionally due to a combination of my college workload, general work, and busy lifestyle, a review is left to the side and forgotten about, in some cases, like this one, they are already half written, the purpose of Throwback Thursday Reviews is to make sure these reviews see the light of day and to give people who did attend these shows a chance to look back at them and reminisce. 

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On Thursday 14th January 2016 American gothic metal/metalcore band Motionless in White‘s ‘Beyond the Barricade‘ tour finally hit up Dublin after being previously postponed back in November 2015 after the Paris terror attacks. Support on the night came from the UK’s Silent Screams and another American band New Years Day. It was the first time Motionless in White had played Ireland since the release of their 3rd album ‘Reincarnate’ and just over two years after their previous headlining show in the venue back in September 2013.

Upon arriving at the venue shortly after doors I was surprised by the huge turnout, from just the size of the large que that was making its way into the venue I knew this would be a far more packed out show than their previous one in the venue.

Silent Screams were first up and truthfully I was not impressed. While I might just be getting too old for the genre, I found their brand of metalcore to be as generic and boring as possible. Unclean vocalist Joel Heywood seemed to be unable to keep up with the pace of the vocals on the tracks and as such a lot of the vocal parts went un-screamed live. Their current single (at the time) ‘Everything Ends’ made an appearance but with added clean vocals that do not appear to be on the version of the song released as a single. Silent Screams are probably just not for me but the moshers in the crowd did seem to react correctly: 6/10.

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New Years Day were up next and opened their set with the industrial tinged sound of ‘Kill or Be Killed’ off their third album ‘Malevolence’, which was released only a few months before the show in October 2015, followed by the ever-catchy ‘I’m No Good’ off 2013’s ‘Victim to Villain’. Later in the set, they played the title track off ‘Malevolence’ live for the first time, during the bridge the other members of the band stood still like statues while vocalist Ashley Costelloe kept singing the lyrics, they sprung back to life as the song kicked back in. ‘Angel Eyes’ was performed next but instead of Chris Motionless coming out to sing his part, as you would expect, they sampled it, clearly not bothered by this the crowd still sang-a-long to the whole track. They finished their set off with ‘Defame Me’. Overall the band is surprisingly strong live, Ashley’s vocals were a little bit lacking at times but she really knows how to work a crowd, and as a unit, they perfectly capture the spirit of 80s LA Strip Glam Rock, just in an updated form: 8/10. I went on to review part of the band’s set during Slam Dunk Birmingham in May 2016, you can check that out by clicking here.

MIW motionless in white

Motionless in White kicked off their set to the beating sounds of the Korn like ‘Death March’ before keeping the nu-metal influenced theme up with the ode to Slipknot that is ‘Devil’s Night’. The set included a tonne of live rarities, the first we were treated to was ‘Fatal’ off the Deluxe Edition of ‘Infamous’, it’s sound being more like the band’s older sound than their current one, which has made it a fan favorite. ‘Abigail’ the first single released off of ‘Creatures’ their debut album released back in 2010 followed it, before a very rare appearance of ‘Undead Ahead’ off the same album, which was only played a handful of times back in 2011 before being added to the bands set towards the end of 2015. The crowd sang-a-long to every word of ‘A-M-E-R-I-C-A’ off ‘Infamous’ before another rare appearance in the form of the Marilyn Mansionesque ‘Hatef**k’ off the same album. Keeping with the early 00’s nu-metal vibe they covered Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’ next, quite a surprise but fun none the less. Ashley Costelloe came out to perform ‘Contemptress’ with the band. ‘Immaculate Misconception’ moved from its usual spot in the encore to a spot in the main set with the crowd screaming-a-long to its aggressive lyrics. ‘Sinematic’ off ‘Infamous’ was another rare appearance, resulting in the band having played the entire deluxe edition of the album in The Academy’s main room other than one song (‘Burned at Both Ends’). The final rarity included in the set and used to close the main set was ‘Scissorhands (The Last Snow)’ the closing song on ‘Creatures’ and my personal favorite part of the set.

The band ended their set with a quick one-song encore performance of ‘Reincarnate’ the title track off their newest album released back in September 2014, the song is, in my opinion, the accumulation of all the band’s influences and these individual influences were showcased throughout their set, with songs clearly inspired by Korn, Slipknot, Marilyn Mansion, Rob Zombie, Bleeding Through and even a cover of a Linkin Park song.  Motionless in White no longer require as over the top a stage production, as they had the previous time they headlined the venue, to keep a crowd entertained, because Chris Motionless’s vocals clearly have improved in the two years since they had previously played The Academy, and the band is now an even more cohesive unit than before, this combined with a near perfect setlist made up of both hits and live rarities from their back catalogue are why I am giving them: 10/10.

*Competition* All Time Low (& Good Charlotte) 3Arena, Dublin on Feb 16th 2016!

Competition ends on December 7th, the winner will then be picked!
Just Retweet the tweet below and Follow @IrishRocknMetal on Twitter to enter, if you do not follow you can not claim the prize!

You can also enter by liking and sharing the image on Facebook! via: 

 

ALL TIME LOW
‘BACK TO THE FUTURE HEARTS TOUR’
WITH VERY SPECIAL GUESTS
GOOD CHARLOTTE
3ARENA, DUBLIN – 16 FEBRUARY 2016
*TICKETS ON SALE NOW *

ALL TIME LOW are pleased to announce Good Charlotte as special guests for their date at Dublin’s 3Arena on 16 February 2016 as part of their ‘Back To The Future Hearts’ tour.

Tickets priced €37 inclusive of booking fee are on sale now from Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.ie!

For more see: www.alltimelow.com / www.mcd.ie  / www.ticketmaster.ie

*Review* Against the Current (with Beware of You) The Academy 2 13/10/15

against the current review On Tuesday 13th October American pop-rock/pop-punk band Against the Current’s ‘Gravity World Tour’ hit up The Academy 2 in Dublin! The headlining show was sold out weeks in advance and support came from local Dublin alternative pop-punk band Beware of You. The tour was in support of Against the Current’s ‘Gravity’ EP which was released back in February.

Arriving shortly before 6 I was directed into ‘The Green Room’ to chill until the VIP Meet & Greet was finished, right inside the door of the room eager fans had already formed a relatively long que. A short while past before the crowd rushed downstairs into The Academy 2 and within a few minutes it was almost impossible to see past the crowd that had gathered in front of the stage. The usual issues The Academy 2 has as a venue for sold out shows were pretty obvious but that was not going to kill the mood tonight.

As 6 o’clock hit Beware of You made their way to the stage. Beware of You are a relatively new band having only formed back in January, since then they have managed to not only play the Electric Picnic festival but to release their debut EP ‘Self Portraits’ back in August. Having caught them numerous times at this point I was excited to see what they could do in front of a sold out crowd of about 200 screaming preteens and teenagers. A few weeks before the show guitarist Tara Behan had decided to leave the band, as such they were playing this show as a 4 piece, I honestly expected some of their usual energy and strength to be missing but they quickly proved me wrong.

They kicked things off with ‘I Can’t Explain’ and then followed it up with ‘I’ll Forget You’ the outro of which was a bit off but being down a guitarist a few little things being off was to be expected while they work out the kinks. Despite this the usual infectious energy and jokes were there, members poking fun at each other like they do at every other show they play. By the time the lead single off their EP ‘Control’ started the crowd was really getting into it. During ‘Losing Game’ both bassist Brian and guitarist Sam take advantage of their wireless setups by leaving the stage and started playing in the crowd instead during which they did a few laps around the crowd, the crowd of course ate this up. They headed back to the stage for ‘All I Know’ before heading right back into the crowd during ‘Breaking Down Doors’, squeezing right into the middle of the tightly packed crowd. Vocalist Leah Moore declared that the next one ‘Fearless’ was a new one as an 8-bit intro started playing, the song itself seems very strong, sounding very reminiscent of Tonight Alive’s last album. The aptly named ‘I’m Done’ finished up their set to applause from the crowd.

Despite recently losing a member Beware of You showcased exactly why they are a breath of fresh air in the Irish music scene by bringing the show to the crowd, doing their best to ensure that everybody in the crowd had a good time and will remember their name: 8/10.

Post show I caught up with bassist Brian Loughney to hear what his thoughts on the show were:
‘’We want to thank everyone who came early to see us play and everyone for hanging out afterwards to get pictures and autographs. It was our standout show of the year and one that will be hard to beat. We’re already in talks about doing shows around Ireland to see everyone that we met at the Against the Current show and we can’t wait to make that happen. Everything about the show just showed us and Against the Current why the Irish are the best fans in the world!
Also Against the Current are some of the nicest people, we hung around with Chrissy afterwards and had a great chat and some craic. She also had her first ever drumstick lollipop, which she loved.’’

Around 7.30 Against the Current took to the stage to deafening screams from the crowd. The bands vocalist Chrissy Costanza was almost impossible to see from the back of the room due to her short height. They kicked their set off with the double kick of ‘Talk’ and ‘Paralyzed’ off their ‘Gravity’ EP, Chrissy’s voice sounded quite strained during the chorus of ‘Talk’ but when you have been playing non-stop shows on a world tour for months it is sure to take a toll on your vocal cords. They followed these two new songs up with a couple of old tracks, ‘Infinity’ the title track off their EP of the same name released back in May 2014, ‘Something You Need’ off the same EP and an even older track ‘Thinking’ (‘’The first song we ever wrote’’ – Chrissy) from back in 2012. In comparison to the newer tracks these older tracks do not come across anywhere near as strong, even live, and it was clear from the crowd’s reaction (or lack of a reaction) that not many of them were overly familiar with the songs. Switching back into the new songs with ‘Dreaming Alone’ Chrissy asked the crowd to sing it with her as it is meant to be a duet. They followed this up with their latest single ‘Outsiders’ and Chrissy gave a heartfelt speech about being on the outside of the norm and not understanding how people expect you to meet their expectations and ideas of how you should live your life when everybody is different, as you’d expect the song went down pretty well with the crowd. The title track off their ‘Gravity’ EP then had the strongest crowd reaction of the night before another track off the ‘Infinity’ EP ‘Comeback Kid’ was played, in contrast to the older songs played earlier in the set ‘Comeback Kid’ fits in well with their newer tracks. They quickly jammed the first minute and a half of ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day before performing a strong full cover of The 1975’s hit ‘Chocolate’.

‘Fireproof’ closed out the main set with a stronger crowd reaction than I expected it to get, it is my personal favourite off the EP but it has not been as well received as the other tracks. They then explained how they would normally leave the stage before coming back and playing two more but The Academy 2 being The Academy 2 this is almost impossible to do. At some point during the set Chrissy said she loved Ireland and explained how this was not her first time in Ireland, as her senior trip in High School a few years earlier had been a trip to Ireland. They took a quick crowd selfie before finishing their set by playing ‘Brighter’ and then ‘Another You (Another Way)’. ‘Another You’ makes a strong last song by being another example of an old song that fits in well with their current musical direction and song quality.

Against the Current is a band with a lot of potential, they have a very strong label in the form of Fueled by Ramen, the label known for breaking bands like Paramore, Panic! At The Disco and most recently Twenty One Pilots, and their newer songs have the energy and hooks to help them achieve a similar level of success to those bands, a few weaker old songs are currently holding back their set but in time they will be able to replace them, an equally enjoyable and solid set: 8/10.