The Sounds Of The Underground tour, described as boasting ‘all the passion of hardcore mixed with the brutality of metal’, certainly lives up to its name – in that none of the acts involved in this UK leg have been afforded the ridiculous levels of hype and over-promotion that have plagued several of their peers (and in some cases, labelmates). It’s therefore pleasing to see that they’ve managed to pull a decent-sized crowd; with the downstairs standing area of the London Forum teeming with (mostly tattooed) punters eagerly awaiting the heavyweight thrills on offer tonight.
ALL THAT REMAINS reside more towards the metal end of the metal/hardcore spectrum, largely thanks to lead guitarist Oli Herbert’s elaborate soloing, which lends the Massachusetts quintet’s slamming riffs an extra dimension. However, it’s still early in the evening, and hence songs like ‘Tattered On My Sleeve’ and frontman Phil Labonte’s boundless enthusiasm are rewarded with little more than a small pit and a smattering of applause.
Like the sonic equivalent of a savage beating, TERROR provide a lesson in how to utterly dominate a stage. “I wanna see people on top of each other!” roars vocalist Scott Vogel, as his band whips the pit into a maelstrom of flailing limbs. The LA hardcore quintet’s no-frills hardcore may sound somewhat generic on record, but in the live setting they get by on sheer brutality and bullish aggression, pounding the audience into submission with some sickeningly heavy riffs and breakdowns. For the first time tonight, this show truly feels like an event.
The level of intensity increases with the arrival of UNEARTH, who throw some red-hot riffs and death-blast beats into a hardcore cauldron already at boiling point. There’s no big secret to their success; this is, quite simply, metalcore taken to the extreme and shot through with savage confidence. The malevolent grin on vocalist Trevor Phipps’ face says it all, as the likes of ‘The Great Dividers’ and ‘Black Hearts Now Reign’ hit home like a machete to the senses.
It’s hard to imagine MADBALL as the weak link of a show, but live-wire frontman Freddy Cricien’s constant overuse of the words ‘represent’ and ‘brotherhood’ can’t hide the fact that the NYHC veterans have been upstaged by Terror and Unearth’s punishing performances. Still, old favourites like “Hold It Down’ and ‘Look My Way’ sound suitably huge, and keep the crowd going in solid, if unspectacular fashion.
There’s a disconcertingly long wait for CHIMAIRA to take the stage, but the Ohio bruisers don’t disappoint tonight. The return of former drummer Andols Herrick to the fold has clearly strengthened the band’s renowned live power even further, and it’s a beautifully brutal sight to behold as ‘The Dehumanizing Process’ and ‘Salvation’ incite utter carnage in the pit. They barely pause for breath during this all-too-short set, and by the time live staple ‘Pure Hatred’ has tested the Forum’s foundations like never before, it’s clear to anyone with so much as a passing interest in metal that Chimaira are at the peak of their powers. An awe-inspiring end to an impressively diverse and heavy bill.