There is no denying that Australian heavy metal is a force to be reckoned with over here in the UK. In recent times I’ve had the pleasure of throwing down and getting crazy in the pit with top-notch Aussie bands such as Thy Art Is Murder, Feed Her To The Sharks, King Parrot and the juggernaut that is Parkway Drive.
There are two bands from Down Under on the line up tonight. Headliners The Amity Affliction are from Gympie in north-east Queensland and Northlane are from the bustling metropolis of Sydney. Whilst both are considered metal they do have differences in their styles which I will do my best to explain.
Bolstering this tour are two mighty bands from the United States. From Ocala, Florida, Wage War are making headway in the UK metal scene with a cushty spot as main support for Japan’s coldrain back in May (reviewed by myself) and a devastating set on the fourth stage of this year’s Download (or “Drownload”) Festival. Hailing from Long Island, New York there’s also the self-proclaimed outspoken quartet, Stray From The Path who have been sticking it to the man since 2001. Seven albums later and they’re still as eager to shout the stand out lyrics from “Outbreak” off their latest album release Subliminal Criminals. What lyrics would they be you ask? – “F**K THE SYSTEM”. A huge middle finger to the ruling classes and the establishment.
Due to the ABC hosting a popular club night on a Thursday there is an earlier door time and not a huge delay between doors going green and openers Wage War taking to the stage. Kicking off with “Hollow” from Blueprints, their only album release to date, they launch straight into “Alive” and I’m pleased to see a moshpit start but I’m less than pleased when it abruptly ends for some reason. The band delivered a short but solid set and they deserved better from the crowd, but in fairness I don’t think this situation was helped by the early kick off time. I did crowd surf my friend hoping to start a chain reaction of bodies over the barrier but it was to no avail.
Very much deserved of a mention is the band’s continuous effort to lift the spirits of any audience members battling their own personal demons. This has been a key component of each gig I’ve seen them at and is a stance I hope they maintain throughout their musical career. I do hope to see Wage War again soon and as Pit Troll I will endeavour to give them a more rambunctious crowd next time.
A short time later the lights dim and the eagle-eared will have recognised Stray From The Path’s intro music as “The Joker’s Theme” from Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece The Dark Knight. Despite not being the headliner, SFTP take the title for best band that evening in my opinion. Vocalist Andrew “Drew York” Dijorio never once stopped trying to get the crowd to push themselves further in the energy stakes and he succeeded in starting a steady flow of crowd surfers and getting the circle pits going.
If you asked me to describe their style of music then I would say it’s a less technical, more raw form of Rage Against The Machine with very heavy influences from punk heavyweights such as Rancid. Keeping in line with the trend that I’ve witnessed from nearly every single American band I’ve seen recently, SFTP took time to address the highly charged political situation in the States just now, inspiring a few audience members to shout “F**k Trump!” With a message that music can be a refuge and as a means for the oppressed to stand up for themselves, are we going to see an anti-Trump rebellion spearheaded by SFTP? Who knows.
Getting probably the biggest reaction from the crowd up to this point is five piece metalcore outfit, Northlane. With the exception of lead guitarist, Jon Deiley, they’re looking slightly less theatrical than when I saw them at the Impericon Festival in Manchester back in May. Jon is wearing what I can only describe as a glitter covered balaclava – it’s like a cross between Dick Turpin and Springfield’s very own Disco Stu. What’s not changed about Northlane for me is their vocalist Marcus Bridge still looks like Booky Wook author Russell Brand and their music, sadly, is still too niche for me to become an avid fan.
There’s no denying their prowess in mixing metal with electronic synths and a big proportion of the Glasgow crowd are going nuts as the band’s set progresses from the more mellow recent music to the heavier, faster older stuff. Despite this, I’m currently not one of the converted. In Manchester I joined in with the chaos Northlane were causing as I didn’t want to be a misery guts but this time round, much to the disappointment of a small group of Pit Troll fans, I took a back seat.
When The Amity Affliction finally take to the stage just before 9pm there’s a notable change in the atmosphere. Any touring metal band that has been to Glasgow (or any Scottish venue for that matter) enough times will be familiar with the “Here we, here we, here we f**king go” chant which indicates that when you take to the stage you’ll be greeted by a scene that could be taken straight from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.
I don’t seem to recall any such chants for AA, it was more a case of screaming ladies taking over the noise department and for a second I wondered if I’d been teleported to a gig hosted by the anti-christ himself, Justin Bieber. Those thoughts are quickly rearranged when the first notes of “I Bring The Weather With Me” sound out and Joel Birch’s snarling vocals come into play.
In truth, I found it quite hard to go crazy for AA. Yes, they’re tight as a band; yes, clean vocalist Ahren Stringer can hold a tune; and yes there were some genuinely explosive moments of heaviness that had the dance floor erupting… but for me, the mixture of melodic and heavy sometimes felt at war with themselves. Coasting through a seventy minute set which included the crowd-pleasers “All F**ked Up” and “Pittsburgh”, AA finished with “This Could Be Heartbreak” and Joel declaring that the audience should defy the rule about crowd surfing resulting in ejection.
I’m not sure where Joel got this notion but the ABC is one of the most crowd surfing friendly venues out there. Their security team has been complimented on numerous occasions by several different artists on how friendly their approach is and the fact that they don’t drop anyone!
This was my first time seeing Amity Affliction live and unusually for me I left their gig without a drop of sweat pouring and no bruises, I’m taking this as a sign. I do wish them continued success but won’t be in rush to catch them live again.
All photos by Jack Barker Photography