It’s been far too long since Crossfire favourites Hell is For Heroes played a central London venue, and judging from the size of the queue outside the Islington Academy on Saturday night, they’ve been sorely missed. Inside the venue is seemingly buckling at the walls, fans old and young rammed up against the barrier, this is the kind of band that you need to be up front for.
Welsh upstarts Dopamine impress as support, their brand of guitar driven, bass heavy screamo pop is fresh, sharp and well worthy of this slot. Introspective lyrics and catchy tracks make them one to watch – they could well follow their fellow Welshman Funeral For a Friend and Lost Prophets into the mainstream.
Onto the main course, Hell is For Heroes. The West London five-some have picked up the pace in the last year, and their new self titled album is due out later in the spring. Having been released from EMI, the band released their last album on UK indy label Captains of Industry but have now found a home at Burning Hearts, with Epitaph signing them for releases in US. It seems that this post-hardcore act have hit the ground running, and tonight’s show, is a homecoming if ever there was one.
Justin Schlosberg has always been the consummate frontman on stage, you feel the anger, fear, determination from every lyric etched over his face, his body twisting, veins standing out in his neck – and tonight it no different. From the go word Schlosberg rules the stage, by the time the familiar chords of ‘We Can Climb Mountains’ drop in, he’s got the crowd reacting to his every movement, every swagger, ever twisted smile. It’s a mixed set of new and old, ‘You’ve Got Hopes’ stands out in the new material, and from the last album ‘ Models for the Programme’ has been ironed out to perfection.
Hell is For Heroes have the ability to take their studio sound and boost it skywards in a live setting, whilst never losing the crisp slant that they have on record. Tonight their sound thumps through your body, Findley’s bass lines reverberate through your ribcage, whilst the most presentable drummer in rock, Joe Birch, never drops a beat. The sheer intensity of sound hurling off the stage is breathtaking, ‘Disconnector’, ‘Night Vision’, ‘Sick/Happy’ ‘Kamachi’ and the wonderful ‘Slow Song’ lift us off our feet as Schlosberg launches himself into the crowd to howl out the lyrics.
For encore the band slink back all, grins in place, “We only play these on very special occasions…like tonight” Justin salutes the crowd and we’re diving heading into the sublime ‘You Drove Me To It’ from The Neon Handshake. A heart thumping, dizzying anthem if there was one, Schlosberg goes into overdrive once more,
‘They won’t break us..they won’t ground us’ feels like it’ll lift the roof clean off the Academy, whilst the floor below trembles under the ferocity of the show, ‘Three Of Clubs’ unites the crowds with the ‘us against the world’ mentality that Hell is For Heroes seems to magically entwine you with’ ” I’ll suffer…I’ll suffer with YOU MY FRIEND’ is launched out, the half the front row threaten to topple over the barrier.
Hell is For Heroes are survivors, they’ve been through highs and lows and come out fighting every step of the way. Having found a home with Burning Hearts they’re coming back into their own, determination and talent clearing their paths. Here’s hoping they get the recognition they deserve with this new album, and for gods sake guys…don’t leave it so long next time ok?