[All of Katie’s photos are now online at Flickr]
With the information “Hatebreed are headlining” hitting my brain like a Tomahawk cruise missile, it didn’t take an awful lot of persuasion to convince me to cover the gig and I’m so happy I did!
To say that the day got off to a bit of a rough start would be a gross understatement. I had a late finish at Bon Fest the night before and only managed to get a couple of hours sleep at the most. I wanted to leave in good time, ensuring that I beat any morning rush hours and make it to Manchester with time to kill before doors opening. My ever faithful Vauxhall Insignia (potential litigation from Vauxhall on the cards here?) decided that wasn’t happening and my engine overheated twice on the journey down, which resulted in more F words than I think even Corey Taylor himself could spew in a short space of time. All credit going to my flatmate (travelling down to England for unrelated reasons) we managed to successfully overcome that obstacle and make it to the Academy, albeit 2 hours late. This meant I unfortunately missed the first 3 bands, however I believe Katie Frost covered the London gig and has a few words about them…
Australia’s Hellions are a very energetic band. The lead singer bounced and spun around the whole stage as if this was the first show he’d ever done and he was desperate to impress. Even though they were the first band on there were maybe 200 people there and they were starting to get into the music already. There is a little video from the Manchester date on their facebook that gives a pretty accurate representation of their set.
Hundredth have a more melodic sound. Their FB describes them as “melodic hardcore” which I would agree with. Again, they seemed to be quite popular with lots of people wearing their merch. It’s always good to go to events like this and see a decent crowd awaiting the opening bands rather than just turning up halfway through for those further up the bill. Hundredth deserved to be seen and hopefully next time they’re over here it’ll be to play to even bigger audiences.
The addition of smoke and lightboxes to the stage ahead of Eskimo Callboy’s set sent a ripple of trepidation through the photopit (as smoke and up-lighting can make it impossible to get half-decent shots of a band) but I ended up getting some of my best shots of the day during their set!
Hailing from Germany, “electrocore” Eskimo Callboy were another high-energy band and for me were one of the more interesting bands to watch. This doesn’t necessarily mean I thought they were fantastic, but they certainly brought something a bit different to the bill with their smoke machines, industrial techno beats and clean-vocal sing-along choruses mixed in with metalcore.
Their song “We Are The Mess” sums up their style for me (you can catch it on YouTube). Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but I for one enjoyed their performance.
[And back to Pit Troll in Manchester…]
Academy two is an actual functioning student union on the outskirts of Manchester city centre. It’s much like every other student union I’ve been too. By that it has a bar with dimensions bigger than the concert hall upstairs, anyone would think that students love to drink!
First on offer for me were Milton Keynes metallers Heart Of A Coward, ex Sylosis frontman Jamie Graham confidently working the crowd who had no hesitation in getting involved right from the start. The drawback to this early enthusiasm was the pit was comprised entirely of crowd killing, hardcore dance twats – who if they weren’t recklessly swinging all their limbs in every direction, completely disregarding whoever got struck in the process, would spend the majority of the set supermanning random people stood on the edges of the pit. I wished that Stone Cold Steve Austin would have appeared and levelled every single one of them, as an unwritten understanding between security staff meant I couldn’t do that myself.
A short changeover time between bands, ideal for someone as impatient as me, meant I didn’t have to wait long for Canadian dual-led deathcorists Despised Icon to take to the stage. Whilst the band were on form musically, the crowd activity was sadly much the same. Rather than having a vibrant pit filled with maybe 100 people all there to have a good time, it was again made up of about 10 to 15 nobheads auditioning for the UFC. I also felt really bad for vocalist Alex when he announced he wasn’t allowed to initiate a Wall Of Death. It seems that more and more venues are placing these constraints on touring bands as they’re so frightened about getting sued. All they’re doing is sucking the fun out of metal gigs, if you ask me!
Next up was a band I was very much looking forward to, Utah’s very own Chelsea Grin. It would be completely unfair of me to say their set fell flat but unfortunately my expectations weren’t completely met. From the footage I saw on YouTube, CG is instrumentally made up of 3 guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. I hotly anticipated what kind of live sound this would produce but they were a man down in Manchester with only 2 guitarists on stage. I’d also heard quite frankly terrifying testimonials about Alex Koehler’s voice but much to my disappointment it was to difficult to gauge the full power of his voice as the sound seemed to go from good to bad, bad to good periodically. Who was to blame for this audio mismanagement I’ve no idea, but I’d love to boot them in the clackerbags. Once again the pit was also dominated by a small group of windmilling douchebags.
Pit wise, I decided to try take charge for the next band as they’re friends of mine and I wanted them to have good memories of Impericon. Bouncing onto stage like Tigger on crystal meth, Blessthefall greeted the Manchester audience by soaking them with beer. The music began to play and I managed to start a small mosh pit with more and more people gradually getting involved when they realised I wasn’t there to intentionally mess people up. The guys delivered a killer set, hardly standing still for any of it. Vocalist Beau Bokan warned the audience about the amount of coffee he’d consumed and then proceeded to defy any venue safety rules that might be in place about crowd surfing and actively encouraged it. This initiated a steady stream of bodies over the barrier and began to put an even bigger smile on my face. The last time I saw BTF was in Glasgow supporting Architects. During that gig Beau got on top of my shoulders and had me carry him round the dance floor. I signalled to him to brave it once more and he did during their final song, much to the delight of his fans who clamoured to sing into his microphone.
The somewhat controversial (you can read the band’s biography yourselves) Emmure kept the energy from BTF’s set flowing nicely right up until they hit a massive bump in the road in the form of technical difficulties. Very much to his credit, vocalist Frank Palmeri worked hard to try keep the crowd engaged during a quite awkward-feeling few minutes whilst they rectified the technical issues. For some constructive criticism once the difficulties had been dealt with I thought they would play a faster song in order to reinvigorate the crowd as by that point the mood had been killed a fair bit despite Frank’s best efforts. However, they didn’t play a faster song and this did them no favours. Thankfully, they found their rhythm again and the remainder of their set was a mosh crazy smorgasbord of breakdowns, headbangs and crowd chants.
Northlane had a very large, very obvious, very noisy fan base at Impericon. Mainly of the female variety (Me, jealous? Nah!). They may not have been to my taste musically, not to say it wouldn’t grow on me after a while, plus I didn’t seek to be a killjoy so I joined in with the madness that was occurring on the dance floor. Northlane it seems are keen to stand apart from many other bands in their genre. Vocalist Marcus Bridge looks like a metal version of Russell Brand and his band mates I could only describe as coal miners with instruments, given the varying placement of black paint on their faces and bodies. The reason I found it quite difficult to dig Marcus and his coal miners in a musical sense is there were contrasts in styles that I personally found too conflictive, almost as if I was watching a crossover between Pantera and Thirty Seconds To Mars. As I said though, Northlane want to stand out and going by the following in Manchester on Tuesday night, they’re doing a damn good job of it. Fair play to them.
Now for the main reason for Pit Troll’s appearance at Impericon. Motherf**king HATEBREED! I found it quite amusing how the crowd dynamic changed on the dance floor from skinny jeans and vest wearing teenagers to bearded up bikers and bodybuilders (Hatebreed = awesome workout music). Swaggering on to stage like a gang looking for trouble, they looked the business.
Singer Jamey Jasta wasted no time and started absolute anarchy with two words: “Destroy Everything”. The crowd killers were well and truly relegated to the back rows now as the dancefloor became a bomb blast of mosh pits, headbangs and fist pumps. Donning my Jason Voorhees hockey mask I managed to get a shout out from Jamey dedicated to the Friday The 13th of May release of their new album The Concrete Confessional. Much to my surprise, their set list featured only one song from the upcoming album and funnily enough it was “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today” for which the promo video was released only a few days previously.
“As Die Hard As They Come” started the biggest circle pit I’d seen all day, it’s just a pity that the Manchester Academy 2 now holds the record for the slipperiest floor I have ever encountered. Long story short I went flat on my arse. Twice. If you fancy a laugh at my expense, check online – maybe somebody caught it on camera.
Powering through classics such as “Perseverance”, “I Will Be Heard” and “Defeatist” Hatebreed took the Academy apart piece by piece before ending on a high with “In Ashes They Shall Reap”. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who attended that evening and didn’t leave drenched in sweat with the early onset of laryngitis. It was my sixth time seeing Hatebreed and I’m already growing impatient to see them again.
All photos courtesy of Katie Frost Photography.