Live Reviews

Hatebreed – Live

The Acacia Strain, Gehenna
Oxford Zodiac

In an age where tour packaging is the norm and local supports are becoming more and more overlooked, it’s refreshing to see tonight’s line-up going against the grain. Hand picked by Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta, local lads Gehenna get things started with a sufficient clout.

Don’t let their appearance fool you, these skinny bastards muster some of the heftiest beatdown assaults you’re likely to hear outside of the big leagues, and the enthusiastic reception afforded to them by those here early enough suggests a job well done.

By contrast, The Acacia Strain‘s biggest achievment is in sucking almost all of the good natured anticipation mustered by tonight’s openers right out of the air. On record their furious death metal-meets-hardcore assault is nothing if not utterly punishing, but right now it’s about as interesting as genital warts. Shorn of a guitarist they’re pitted against the odds immediately, with songs sounding flat and their onstage swagger stinking of arrogance above confidence. “We condone violence and aggression,” declares vocalist Vince Bennett. “So let’s see some rage.” Nice.

You pretty much know the score with Hatebreed by now. Huge, fist-pumping anthems, wild circle pits and roars that sound like a lion being fisted right up the bumhole. Slamming through early set cuts such as ‘To The Threshold‘ and a fittingly titled ‘Destroy Everything‘, the hardcore behemoths quickly send just about every punter present into ecstacy, opening up pits that swallow the majority of the venue with ease. But what stands out above all else tonight is the length of the quintet’s set.

The trouble with being a hardcore band is that many songs barely reach the 3 or even 2 minute marks, and having stretched from little under an hour to a good 80 minutes there are simply too many times when it’s easy to switch off. Old classics like ‘Last Breath’ still burn with infectious desire while the anthemic ‘I Will Be Heard‘ is enough to have the whole venue screaming in unison, but it’s perhaps too little too late. Hatebreed will always remain one of hardcore’s most successful and ultimately devastating propositions, but tonight is a shining example of how less really can be more.

Ryan Bird