The fusion of metal and electronics has had a long history, and with acts like ENTER SHIKARI now at arena-headlining level it seems like the right time for CROSSFAITH to continue their own rapid ascension. The Japanese quintet last hit the UK at the end of last year, alongside SKINDRED, and now they’ve brought their own XENO World Tour to Liverpool.
Things don’t exactly get off to the best start though as local band ANTIHERO open the evening with a set of plodding, by-the-numbers set of tracks that feel like pale imitations of the rest of the bands on tonight’s bill. A frankly terrible cover of Testify by RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE does little to gain the band any favour, and they leave the sparse audience they have looking disappointed and, in some cases, bored.
Faring marginally better are London collective THE ONE HUNDRED, who deliver a reasonably solid, if slightly same old set of rap-metal tunes. Opening with Kingsmen from their debut release Subculture, the band manage to incite a fairly large mosh pit with little difficulty. Jacob Field possesses an undoubtedly impressive voice, but it’s largely wasted tonight as much of their material simply fails to connect too well. Airing several new songs including Monster and One Dream means the band rely on sheer power rather than familiarity in some cases, but when they do return to their hits, the result is impressive to behold.
Up next are Brighton electro-metal outfit THE QEMISTS, who seem to have the crowd on their side within mere moments. Drawing heavily from their new album Warrior Sound, the Brighton five-piece bring a far more dance-heavy sound to the evening, sounding at times like a more metal CHASE & STATUS. Vocalists Bruno Balanta and Olly Simmons have an incredible amount of on-stage chemistry, and it really shows in their vibrant performances on the opening salvo of Jungle – an especially strong track, with a titanic bassline and powerful rhythms. The undoubted highlight of their set though, comes with a surprise appearance from Kenta Koie of CROSSFAITH, who joins the band to perform their track Anger. It’s a brilliant moment, and the Academy crowd lap it up with huge enthusiasm. Finishing off with recent single Run You, it seems almost as thought the band are on a victory lap of sorts, and they leave the stage having elevated excitement levels in the room to a near-peak.
Most other bands would have a tough time following a set like that, but luckily, CROSSFAITH aren’t like most other bands. The Japanese mob are on ferocious form from the second they take to the stage tonight, emerging to the titanic synth stabs of XENO. Frontman Kenta Koie immediately charges to the front barrier, keen to get up close and personal with the now-capacity crowd. At this point in their career, CROSSFAITH have a fair amount of strong material to choose from – so much so, that fan-favourite tracks like the riff-fuelled party anthem Jägerbomb are omitted from their set tonight. In their place though, are the best cuts from the band’s fourth album XENO. The likes of Ghost In The Mirror and Wildfire, whilst different without their usual guest vocalists, still sound immensely powerful – with Koie more than proving his prowess in covering for Benji Webbe on the latter. Keyboardist Terufumi Tamano gets ample opportunity to go wild on these songs, filling the building with huge stabs of melodic synth and crushing bass in equal measure. Elsewhere, Eclipse brings yet more PRODIGY-esque dance energy, packing in an anthemic chorus the size of a small country; whilst Devil’s Party more than lives up to its name. By the time the band reach the final song of their set, the chants of “Cross-faith, Cross-faith, Cross-faith” from the audience are near-deafening, and so they power back with Countdown To Hell – an appropriately-apocalyptic sounding number in which Kazuki Takemura’s guitar and Tatsuya Amano’s drums provide the pummelling metal basis for what can only be described as chaos.
As the band eventually return to the stage for a brief drum and DJ solo, their momentum takes a slight hit as Koie forced to pause and call out an audience member for being excessively violent. It’s an unfortunate hit, but Koie’s measured response garners only applause from the Liverpool crowd. Fittingly, the band then launch into two of their biggest hits: their genre-melding cover of Omen by THE PRODIGY, and their own Monolith – the track which, for many, will have been their introduction to the Japanese titans. As they take their bows, it really dawns just how much of an impact CROSSFAITH have made in the last 4 years. If they continue their rise, then the band could well become the biggest phenomenon in global metal the world has seen in years.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Liverpool from Todd Webb