London Electric Ballroom
Whilst it’s heartening to see such a large queue outside the Electric Ballroom for a hardcore bill of tonight’s calibre, it’s less heartening that, nearly an hour after the doors have opened, said queue is still moving at the speed of an arthritic snail. The door staff appear to be taking the very concept of incompetence to new heights, and the result is a hell of a lot of (justifiably) pissed off punters that have paid around £15 each for the privilege of being made to freeze their arses off in the cold November night, whilst missing the first band into the bargain.
It makes for an initially subdued atmosphere that This Is Hell can’t quite overcome, although they certainly give it their all, leaping around the stage like demons on hot coals as the pit starts to resemble a rather inept display of synchronised aerobics. It’s still early days for the Long Island quintet, but as they blast through the likes of ‘Here Come The Rains‘ and ‘The Absentee Ballot‘, they show plenty of promise.
Cancer Bats are an altogether meatier proposition, and tonight they sound utterly massive; unleashing what is arguably the most thrilling display of stoner-core power since Corrosion Of Conformity last hit UK shores. Frontman Liam Cormier is his usual aimiable self; a grinning, headbanging, mic-swinging loon of a vocalist, whose enthusiam is infectious. “I want this whole fuckin’ room to be partying!” he declares; and it’s an invitation you’d be a fool to refuse.
They prove a tough act for Parkway Drive to follow. Granted, you can’t fault the Aussie metalcore crew for effort, and they do have more than enough chunky riffs and monolithic breakdowns to keep the hardy souls in the pit beating seven shades of shit out of each other. But bands of Parkway Drive’s ilk are ten a penny these days; and although they get by on sheer brutality tonight, they offer little that leaves a lasting impression.
Comeback Kid‘s ‘Broadcasting…‘ album is arguably one of the finest hardcore releases of 2007, and hence they certainly deserve the baying throng that greets them tonight. You get the feeling that they – like most hardcore bands – would be more at home in a smaller, barrier-less venue, but they rip through the likes of ‘Talk Is Cheap‘ and ‘Lorelei’ with enough passion, power and precision to compensate for the relative lack of intimacy.
It is, of course, the closing ‘Wake The Dead‘ that unites the crowd like never before; with the security struggling to cope as flailing bodies fly at them from every angle, and vocalist Andrew Neufeld wisely surrendering his duties to the masses. It’s a celebratory end to an event that has ultimately proved a success after a very shaky start. Never Say Die indeed.