Celebrating the best in metalcore, hardcore and deathcore, touring festival Impericon Festival has grown to one of the must attend all-day events in the alternative music fan’s calendar. This year’s lineup boasts a host of international hardcore, metalcore and deathcore heavyweights including IN HEARTS WAKE, MISS MAY I, CARNIFEX, BEING AS AN OCEAN, a number of UK support bands, and the headliner – Australian deathcore gods THY ART IS MURDER. Here is Distorted Sound‘s lowdown on the day’s events unfolded…
Doors opened at 1pm, and the first band of the day were on stage shortly after – Leeds-based hardcore outfit HIGHER POWER. Having attended the festival last year, it quickly became apparent that the crowd turnout this early in the day was noticeably greater than before. The band’s energetic brand of Yorkshire hardcore wasted no time in opening up the room, with hardcore dancing and two-stepping dominating the relatively small space of Academy 2. Despite some issues with feedback, the band powered on, providing an exciting start to the day.
Following HIGHER POWER were melodic hardcore band CASEY, long-time favourites of the Impericon brand. CASEY gave the audience a more upbeat performance than their predecessors, with a healthy sing-along from the crowd throughout their set. Despite being evidently shy, their frontman Tom Weaver radiated a sort of charisma that drew the room in. CASEY appeared at the festival this year along with MISS MAY I, BEING AS AN OCEAN and THY ART IS MURDER as part of THY ART’s Heaven and Hell tour. Regardless of the fact that they weren’t as heavy as many of the bands on the day’s lineup, CASEY certainly held their own.
Next up were up-and-coming UK tech-metallers NAPOLEON. In terms of their genre and sound, they are interesting as they fuse what is essentially a melodic hardcore base sound with technical lead guitar reminiscent of melodic metalcore bands like ERRA. Throughout their half-hour set, the band delivered tight breakdowns and an impressive vocal performance from Wesley Thompson, although his vocals could have been argued to lack a certain amount of range. However, the harsh vocals were powerful and melded well with the technical rhythms of the band’s drummer, who incidentally was sporting a VOLUMES shirt, perhaps as a nod towards the band’s more progressive influences.
BRUTALITY WILL PREVAIL
The day started to take a heavier turn when BRUTALITY WILL PREVAIL hit the stage. Some will have been surprised to see the Welsh hardcore legends so far down the bill beneath the metalcore and deathcore bands higher up the bill, but this may just be a reflection of the comparative popularity of certain genres today. However, this seemed to go out of the window when the band started playing, as the pit opened up to its largest of the day so far. Hardcore dancers took to the floor as Louis Gauthier’s aggressive, barked vocals chanted their hate down into the crowd. Due to this, along with the guitarists’ downtuned slams, violence was stirred up in the crowd to perhaps an extreme degree – fights broke out and at least one audience member was arrested. Regardless, this did not quell the enthusiasm of the band’s performance, and the vocalist successfully crowd-surfed around the pit and back to the stage at the end of their set.
BROKEN TEETH continued in the same vein as BRUTALITY WILL PREVAIL, with tight and technical hardcore from the bowels of the Manchester metal scene. Somehow, in the course of their set, BROKEN TEETH really seemed to set themselves apart from the other hardcore bands that played earlier. The whole band oozed energy and the crowd fed from it – perhaps it was their local roots that rallied the audience together, but the crowd participation and atmosphere in the room seemed to take a step up from the previous four bands. Barring a moment of lapse in their performance when the vocalist forgot his words, this really was a stellar hardcore performance.
IN HEARTS WAKE
Marking the half-way point for the festival, the sixth band to take the stage was Australian metalcore band IN HEARTS WAKE. Immediately, the atmosphere in the room rocketed as the band opened with their song Refuge, written for their joint EP with NORTHLANE, the Equinox EP. ‘Welcome to mayhem’ was screamed by the crowd back to vocalist Jake Taylor, whose expert screams put the previous bands on the bill to shame. Through the course of the rest of their set, the band traversed their discography, playing newly released single Warcry, all the way back to their first album with Survival (The Chariot). This was IN HEARTS WAKE’s first time playing the UK in several years, and this showed in the large turnout of their fans for the festival, despite them being only half way up the lineup. A true metalcore tour-de-force to kick off the international bands for Impericon Festival.
MISS MAY I
MISS MAY I’s career in the world of metalcore has been rocky in the past few years, with their peak arguably coming toward the beginning of their career with albums Apologies Are For The Weak and Monument. However, this did not stop them from delivering a surprisingly well-received set, packed with classics and new songs alike. Highlights included Forgive and Forget, Relentless Chaos and Hey Mister, and whilst the pit was noticeably empty, there was a nostalgic singalong for the classics. Whilst MISS MAY I may have to give way for newer names in the world of metalcore, their experience definitely still shows in their live performance.
With the end of Impericon Festival drawing near, it was time for heavy bands to take the stage. First up of the final three bands of the day were deathcore heavyweights CARNIFEX. With a name deriving from the Latin word for ‘butcher’, they were arguably the heaviest band on the bill – and this fact shone through in their performance. From classic songs such as Lie To My Face, to the newer, more black metal influenced material from their new album Slow Death, CARNIFEX got the crowd head-banging more than any other band so far that day. An exciting moment came when, for the first time outside of the US, the band performed their cover of SLIPKNOT’s The Heretic Anthem – resulting in hysteria in the audience. Time and time again, CARNIFEX prove that their traditional brand of deathcore is here to stay.
BEING AS AN OCEAN
A startling change in genre was then in store, as BEING AS AN OCEAN hit the stage. From blackened deathcore to melodic hardcore, many of the fans of heavier music may have been sceptical of this lineup choice. However, BEING AS AN OCEAN utterly dispelled this doubt with an emotional, technical and tight performance. Their raw, and at times beautiful, songs had the whole room singing along, as vocalist Joel Quartuccio walked through the crowd, and at other times outbursts of extreme metal aggression appeared as a contrast to this – such as in their successful song The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget. Undoubtedly, BEING AS AN OCEAN will have recruited many new fans at Impericon Festival with their impressively visceral and powerful performance. As the co-headliner for the ‘heaven’ side of THY ART IS MURDER’s Heaven and Hell tour, BEING AS AN OCEAN more than earned their main support slot at Impericon Festival.
THY ART IS MURDER
THY ART IS MURDER’s meteoric rise to deathcore stardom has been riddled with difficulty since the release of their most recent album in 2015, Holy War. Arguably the most reputable member of the band, vocalist CJ McMahon, left the band in late 2015 for personal reasons, and the band toured the UK twice in support of PARKWAY DRIVE and the Never Say Die! Tour with guest vocalist Nick Arthur of MOLOTOV SOLUTION. This year’s Impericon Festival headlining performance marked CJ’s first show in the UK since the Holy War release tour in 2015, and needless to say, the atmosphere in the room was one of great anticipation. Once they eventually did take to the stage, THY ART IS MURDER delivered what can only be described as an hour-long deathcore masterclass. Opening with Holy War had the crowd screaming along to the controversial and anti-religious lyrics, and throughout their set the band brought out old classics from their 2013 album Hate, such as The Purest Strain of Hate, and their hit Reign of Darkness to end their performance. As a long time THY ART fan, it was slightly disappointing that they did not bring out any older material – this sentiment was echoed in the crowd by many people shouting for the band to play Whore To A Chainsaw. Despite the lack of older material in their set, the band’s performance was an utter triumph for deathcore, which wouldn’t usually fill a room the size of Academy 2. An incredible end for Impericon Festival.
Check out our photo gallery from the action at Impericon Festival from Rebecca Callaghan Photography here: