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LIVE REVIEW: EMP Persistence Tour @ 02 Forum, London

With two classic bands headlining, and a great sample of the brilliant bands that hardcore has produced in the last twenty years the EMP Persistence Tour promised to be a great night out for all involved. From returning heroes BURN and MUNICIPAL WASTE to the old guard of AGNOSTIC FRONT and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and a look to the future of the genre with MIZERY and DOWN TO NOTHING it was a jam packed afternoon. We sent Sam Dignon and James Halstead down to review proceedings.

MIZERY kick things off today with 30 minutes of crossover thrash. They might be on early but there is still a number of people excited to see MIZERY and the pit is in full swing within minutes. Blending old school MEGADETH riffing with the attitude of modern hardcore. There’s nothing game changing happening here but it’s still an immensely satisfying start and despite being better suited to tiny club venues, MIZERY feel perfectly comfortable on a stage this size.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Sam Dignon

The crowd are less enthusiastic for BURN, perhaps due to the bands lack of presence over here. With this being only their third UK show despite being cult legends in the New York hardcore scene. BURN certainly have more depth to their sound than a lot of hardcore bands but this is sadly lost today as the band struggle to fill the cavernous space of The Forum. The crowds interest dips as the set goes on despite their best efforts to keep people engaged. It’s still a solid performance from BURN with Chaka Malik proving to be an incredibly charismatic frontman, they just don’t quite manage to make a real impact.

Rating: 6/10 

Words: Sam Dignon

Down To Nothing live @ 02 Forum, London. Photo Credit: Fran Dignon

DOWN TO NOTHING really kick things up a level. The band tear through a 30 minute set rarely pausing to catch their breath. The bands energy is unmatched and vocalist David Wood seems to be channelling his inner Jamey Jasta. Like MIZERY earlier, there’s nothing particularly unique or game changing about DOWN TO NOTHING but they are so brilliant at what they do. There is rarely a moment where they haven’t got the pit moving and every time David Wood makes his way down the barrier results in a glorious pile up as every fan tries get in their mic grab. DOWN TO NOTHING just deliver a great reminder of what hardcore is all about.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Sam Dignon

Walls of Jericho live @ 02 Forum, London. Photo Credit: Fran Dignon

WALLS OF JERICHO offer up a masterclass in taught, focused aggression. A perfect fusion of metal riffs and hardcore pace WALLS OF JERICHO offer up a breakneck half hour of riffs. Propelled by a live wire frontwoman in the form of Candice Kucsulain the metallic bludgeoning of the riffs are more than backed up by the intensity of the band’s performance. Don’t mistake WALLS OF JERICHO for breakdown fodder though. There’s real nuance behind many of the band’s white hot aggression; Reign Supreme displays far more of an underlying hardcore groove than it does on record while Forever Militant finds its furrow in a thrashy sprint culminating in a breakdown that is an exercise in dynamic restraint and explosive release.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Halstead

Municipal Waste live @ 02 Forum, London. Photo Credit: Fran Dignon

After a performance like that you’d be forgiven for thinking it can’t get much better than WALLS OF JERICHO. Thank god for MUNICIPAL WASTE then who are back after a hiatus of a few years and have a renewed fire in their bellies (although that might just be the whisky.) MUNICIPAL WASTE have always been a much better band than their themes might make you think and tonight is concrete evidence of that. There’s a lot more than just the revival of a tired genre here; there’s elements of grindcore, crust punk and even traditional heavy metal; especially when the entire band present a wall of thrusting guitars during the mid-section of Sadistic Magician. A setlist with plenty of lesser-played songs and that even neglects their calling card song, Art of Partying, for no discernible disadvantage is just another sign at the quality of MUNICIPAL WASTE tonight. The addition of a new song towards the end of their short set implies there’s a great deal more to come from MUNICIPAL WASTE in 2017.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Halstead

Agnostic Front live @ 02 Forum, London. Photo Credit: Fran Dignon

With a run of bands like that it’s no surprise that AGNOSTIC FRONT don’t quite match up; but it’s not for lack of trying. There’s evidently no lack of enthusiasm for the genre music as witnessed by the band’s ecstatic grins as they bound on-stage. Their enthusiasm is undoubtable but, sadly, the main problem tonight is singer Roger Miret’s voice. His vocals just sound completely blown out tonight and just don’t have the corresponding impact on the canvas that the rest of the band paint. It says a lot that vocally the best moments tonight are when an audience member is bought onstage for a song and during Gotta Go when Chaka from BURN is invited out to perform.  Alongside the closing cover of THE RAMONES’ Blitzkrieg Bop both of the songs that Roger has help on vocals are the main highlights from tonight. It’s not enough to derail the set but it certainly isn’t strong enough for a band performing second to last on a bill like this.

Rating: 7/10

Words: James Halstead

Suicidal Tendencies live @ EMP Persistence Tour, 02 Forum, London. Photo Credit: Fran Dignon
Suicidal Tendencies live @ 02 Forum, London. Photo Credit: Fran Dignon

Watching SUICIDAL TENDENCIES in 2017 is difficult. It’s impossible to ignore this band’s legacy and how important they’ve been for hardcore music and thrash metal. But as a live band they are far from the band they once were. Opening with You Can’t Bring Me Down is an impressive start but when it then takes them nearly 10 minutes to finish the song it soon becomes apparent just how much they pad things out now. They take even longer to introduce Two Sided Politics than the song actually takes to play. After another lengthy speech the band launch into A War Inside My Head and then treat fans to Institutionalized which is quite a rarity now. For these two songs it looks like this SUICIDAL TENDENCIES set was really about to take off and deliver the classic set people were hoping for. Sadly after this it all came tumbling down.

Every song following this was introduced by several minutes of Mike Muir rambling on, often delivering a good message but it constantly takes him far too long to make his point. This seriously hurts the pacing of the set and meant things really started to drag. Whenever the band started playing a song things started to pick back up a bit but every time they stop for another speech things immediately grind to a halt. By the time Mike Muir spends several minutes talking about skateboarding it’s clear parts of the audience started to lose interest. Still when they pull loads of fans on stage for Possessed To Skate it is another brief reminder how fun SUICIDAL TENDENCIES can be. Age has certainly caught up with Mike Muir and whilst he’s performing he certainly puts everything in but it just feels like he tries to pad out the set as much as possible to cover for this.

When compared to AGNOSTIC FRONT before them who powered through as many songs as possible in a shorter set time this kind of filler is even more glaring. The majority of fans still seem to have a great time but it’s hard not to feel like any other band would not get away with this kind of behaviour. SUICIDAL TENDENCIES end up delivering the most disappointing set of the night, despite their being moments of brilliance overall the set is just boring and that is something SUICIDAL TENDENCIES should never be.

Rating: 5/10

Words: Sam Dignon

Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in London from photographer Fran Dignon here:

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