It is worth noting that I haven’t been to too many metal gigs since Sonisphere in 2010 and so I don’t think I was fully prepared for the immense brutality that encompassed this metalcore concert. When I went to see Iron Maiden in 2011 and Avenged Sevenfold last December, I was sat comfortably in the upper echelons of a stadium venue and had to enjoy the music from a distance. This time, however, I was on the floor of an upstairs section of the Institute that seemed to have been constructed purely for circle pits and walls of death. Having taken the cheap option and driven early with my mate Tom to a car park near the Institute, I was informed that the bus of the band I was to be interviewing had broken down, that they were therefore late and they would meet with me after they played their set. Unfortunately this meant that we had to wait for half an hour in the queue before the doors to the venue even opened. I had only been to The Institute once before, albeit the ground floor venue, to watch ScHoolboy Q earlier this year so it was nice to have a change of scenery.
After paying an extortionate £2.60 each for a can of Red Bull, we set up camp towards the back of the room so as to avoid the inevitable mosh pits in the middle. First up was Slaves [7/10], a band that had only formed this year from various members of other hardcore bands. The standout part of Slaves’ short set had to be the vocalist, Jonny Craig, who surprised me with his incredible vocal range from the second he opened his mouth. As good as Jonny was, however, I felt that a voice of his calibre might have been wasted on this experimental rock band, and sometimes he didn’t really blend with the heavy instrumentals. Despite being a new band, the members of Slaves are abundant with experience and their technical proficiency showed throughout the set.
In Hearts Wake [9/10] came on after a short interval and had the crowd doing their bidding almost straight away. This Australian melodic metalcore group created a fantastic atmosphere and each song was usually accompanied by a brutal circle pit or a crushing wall of death, as instructed by the harsh vocalist, Jake. In a similar vein to Bury Tomorrow, In Hearts Wake have found the perfect blend between melodic vocal segments and intense beatdowns. I wasn’t fully aware of this group before I booked my tickets but, as I informed Ben the guitarist during our interview, they have made at least one new fan tonight in me. Make sure to check out their most recent album, Earthwalker, which came out earlier this year!
Neither I, nor my friend Tom, were particularly fond of the penultimate band, Hands Like Houses [5/10], who seemed to be out of place and would have benefitted from performing after Slaves and before In Hearts Wake because they didn’t really get the crowd going and created an unnecessary interruption in the heavier atmosphere that In Hearts Wake had introduced. I might just be bias because I’m not really their intended audience – their music catered more to teenage girls – but I just couldn’t really get into them and I was waiting for their set to finally end so I could go and interview In Hearts Wake before Bury Tomorrow came on.
Bury Tomorrow [9.5/10] completely stole the show on the first night of their Runes Tour, despite the strength of some of their opening acts. In May this five-piece band from Southampton released their third album, Runes, which reached number 1 in the UK Rock Chart, and for a very good reason. From their inception in 2006, Bury Tomorrow have gone out to prove that metalcore is still relevant in today’s metal scene, and they put on a hell of a show. Singer Dani’s harsh vocals were absolutely on point throughout their set, not to mention the soothing melodies of guitarist and clean vocalist, Jason, on the choruses of most of Bury Tomorrow’s songs. These guys provided a rare case where their live performance sounded as good, if not better, than their album tracks. I couldn’t resist singing along to some of my favourite songs from their second album, The Union of Crowns, such as ‘Knight Life’ and ‘An Honourable Reign’, as well as new favourites ‘The Torch’ and ‘Man on Fire’ – with which they opened their set – from Runes. Each song flowed flawlessly into the next, with commentary on the energy of the crowd from Dani, and they managed to please their older fans with two tracks from their first album, Portraits. On the whole, Bury Tomorrow played a great blend of their older and newer stuff, with perhaps understandably more emphasis on their tour’s namesake album. If it weren’t for my eyewear I probably would have dived headfirst into the never-ending mosh pit in front of the stage, such was the intensity of the performance. Bassist Davyd, drummer Adam and guitarist Kristan provided a brilliant backbone of intricate musicianship as a testament to how far this band has come in the five years since their debut album. I expected a good performance from Bury Tomorrow but they provided one of the best metal shows I have ever seen and I’ll be looking out for future gigs in Birmingham, as should all fans of metalcore.
(Photo courtesy of Kris Gill)