Flying around the world on the back of the release of their new album Node, Northlane landed in the UK early October and graced the second city on their second date. Playing at a fairly small venue that is seemingly reluctant to invest in any form of air conditioning, it is a surprise that the show was not at a bigger venue given the size of the band nowadays. This just meant more joy for those who did attend and had the chance to soak in the unifying atmosphere that Asylum gigs tend to bring.
It felt unusual to be greeted by a straight-up deathcore band with chugging breakdowns and slowing time signatures upon arrival; it seemed a far cry from the atmospheric and progressive metal sound the headline act usually brings, but that is exactly what The Acacia Strain [6/10] are. Their brand of metal is terrifyingly brutal and each chug on their 7-strings shakes the skull; but they do their brand of metal well, as was clear to see by the passion they put into their performance to a crowd where only a few seemed to have heard of them before. Stopping between songs mid-way through the act, vocalist Vincent Bennett gave a haunting monologue on how their music is meant for the fans, encouraging the crowd that tonight was the night they can unleash their anger: something they certainly did after that. The whole thing did however seem rather out of place here, and The Acacia Strain, through no fault of their own, didn’t really fit in with the succeeding acts.
Next up were LA boys Volumes [8/10], joined on stage by guest vocalist Michael Lessard of The Contortionist while usual co-vocalist Michael Barr is back home working on their new album. These guys were last here in April of this year, opening for Of Mice & Men at the much larger O2 Academy, so it is no surprise that in a smaller venue they really knew how to bring the party. Breaking right into “91367” after coming on stage, it took a while for the crowd to get over what can only be assumed as confusion over the change in vocalist, but it became clear within second of the first song that Lessard was an ample stand-in. Fan favourites “Erased” and “Edge of the Earth” had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs, pits opening from wall to wall and kids bouncing from back to front. By the time they tied up their set with old classic “Wormholes”, crowd participation had hit its peak, and the atmosphere felt big enough that Volumes could be mistaken for a headline act.
It was just the right performance to warm the crowd up for Northlane [8/10], whose definitive metalcore was as alive as ever, with the now sweat-filled room only adding to the insane atmosphere. Although it was tragically cut short to an hour at most due to a nasty Asylum curfew, it was more than enough time the Aussie 5-piece needed to completely blow the crowd away. New kid Marcus Bridge was particularly in his element – the once shy, unassuming vocalist is now calling the shots, but he didn’t once let this spare his incredible soaring melodies nor his brutal screams. Opener “Obelisk” showed off the lads’ newer, softer directions, whereas “Quantum Flux” showed us how the band, and especially Marcus, can still live up to classic Northlane heaviness; so much so that Bridge blew the crowd away with his rendition of “Dispossession”, off Northlane’s first album Discoveries. Effortlessness in general was a running theme of the set – Nic Petterson’s kit work was terrifyingly true to the records; encore “Masquerade” was complete with the virtuosity which could have been taken straight from the original recording, with a few cheeky drum riffs and fills to spare. Gus Farias from Volumes rejoined the stage for this ending number, his gritty scream and swagger reminiscent of ex-vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes from Northlane days of old. You can’t deny that this set went past quickly, but that just shows the lasting impression of the band’s undeniable knack for live music – rhythms and crowd chants that quaked the room made this a night to remember, and this tour will no doubt introduce this exciting new chapter of Northlane’s history to the masses.
Photo credit to www.kris-gill.co.uk