Retaining a certain amount of buzz from a brilliant weekend at Hard Rock Hell, I went to the Academy for what I anticipated would be a pretty intense night of good death metal. Little could I have imagined that this would turn out to be the most exceptional live show I have seen all year!
Hull’s Black Tongue kicked things off to an already packed room and much like at other death metal shows the Academy has put on this was an audience who were dedicated and reacted to each band as though they were headliners. All in attendance chanted and sang along when prompted, and sometimes of their own volition, and a substantial number of them had their horns raised and were banging their heads furiously to the intense and crushing breakdowns. The exuberance of the audience was more than matched on stage, with front man Alex letting loose some of the most brutal vocals I’ve ever heard. It was a killer start to the night and one which seemed for the moment like it would be impossible to top.
That illusion soon flew out of the window when New Jersey six piece Fit for an Autopsy took the stage. Taking the already exceptional energy of their predecessors and kicking it up a notch they laid waste to the Academy with a sumptuously destructive performance. At one point an enormous pit opened up in the crowd and the frenetic aggression of the music was matched with moshing of real ferocity. There was room for fun amid the chaos too; Greg Willburn invited Suicide Silence front man Eddie Hermida out on stage for a bit of brutal vocal collaboration, and throughout the set engaged in some playful banter which saw him get the whole crowd to curse the off stage Eddie out. Continuing on with the music perhaps the most impressive facet of the whole performance was the wonderfully distinctive guitar work of Will Putney, Patrick Sheridan and Tim Howley. This phenomenal performance only added to what was already an exceptional night.
As much as everyone was looking forward to Suicide Silence I would argue that this was really a co-headline night, because the response Thy Art is Murder got when they came out on stage was simply stunning. Illuminated only by the dim lights of the camera phones recording him, front man CJ McMahon stood on the monitors amid the cacophony of the whole crowd chanting his name.
It was one of the most impressive sights I’ve seen all year, but that was nothing compared to the ocean of banging heads that enjoyed the passionately aggressive music these guys put on. The deafening blast beat ferocity of Lee Stanton and the almost militaristic rhythms of the breakdowns was a stark contrast to the playful banter CJ employed in which he pitted fans of both City and United against each other. The vocal reverb utilised during ‘Reign of Darkness’ was ridiculously epic, and continuing the theme of the night during a break in the music the entire crowd belted out the lyrics to the appreciation of those on stage. What a stunning performance, and it wasn’t over yet!
Shortly before the headliners came out the crowd was hyped into even further frenzy by Korn’s ‘Blind’ playing over the speakers. Banging their heads and singing along as if the icons were on stage, the mostly young audience lost themselves in the power of the music to the extent that when Suicide Silence made their way onto the stage the room was at an absolute fever pitch.
Eddie was in a playful and authoritative mood, commanding circle pits and circle jerks (wherein he requested that male members of the audience run around in the pit with their genitals out and firmly gripped, thankfully this instruction was not taken literally). At one point he ordered the room to part but rather than instigating a wall of death he instead asked for a crawl of death. Getting the crowd down on their hands and knees, he told them that he wanted this to be “the dullest, most anti-climactic thing ever!” They obliged, and in doing so managed to top Thy Art is Murder for greatest visual of the night, my god was it hilarious to observe.
The great visuals continued as Black Tongue front man Alex came back on stage to sing a song with Eddie, who was perched atop the crowd barrier and thus created an intriguing panoramic with his fellow growler. Eddie was keen to give huge props to the opening act, allowing Alex to bask in the thunderous appreciation of the crowd.
As the set continued with ‘Slaves to Substance’ and ‘Fuck Everything’ it was clear that this was one of those gigs where both bands and audience feed off each other’s unbelievable energy. The music demands a fervent response, and the young crowd more than responded. I don’t know how to put it any other way: this was quite simply the best show I have seen all year.
Review: Michael Dodd