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LIVE REVIEW: Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester

The Impericon Never Say Die Tour has boasted consistently strong lineups in the realms of metalcore, deathcore and hardcore for years now. Year in, year out the tour showcases the best the scene has to offer and 2016’s edition of the tour is no different. With seven bands performing to a sold out crowd in Manchester, with a stacked bill would each do enough with a limited time on stage to hold their own?

Polar live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver
Polar live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver

Opening the tour was one of Britain’s own homegrown talents, POLAR. The five piece’s blend of hardcore is nothing new or original but their live performance opening the Never Say Die Tour packed a fairly solid punch. The chugging riffing of Fabian Lomas and Tom Green kept the crowd bouncing and the enthusiasm from frontman Adam Woodford was admirable. Unfortunately for POLAR, whilst fairly impressive in the live environment, musically there was not many moments that were awe-inspiring. Breakdowns were predictable, the drumming from Nick Jones, whilst consistent, lacked the cutting edge. POLAR ooze enthusiasm and that is commendable but musically, the band offered little to really make them stand out in a over-populated crowd in hardcore.

Rating: 6/10

Words: James Weaver

Australian symphonic deathcore act MAKE THEM SUFFER launched into their set with thunderous grooves, and did not let up throughout. The band seemingly excels at writing catchy melodies and grooves, and while on record they fall flat, their material translates incredibly well to a live environment. MAKE THEM SUFFER played their blend of black metal-inspired deathcore a year previously with fellow Australians THY ART IS MURDER, and performed an incredibly impressive set. This year, their performance did not quite live up to the standard set by themselves. It almost seemed tired, stagnated. Unfortunately, MAKE THEM SUFFER seemed to suffer under their own tried and tired material of relatively bland symphonic deathcore. Yes, their sound translates well live, but there is little to be done when the band’s members seem almost bored paying said sound. The set, for all its high points, leaves a bitter taste on one’s tongue.

Rating: 5/10

Words: Henry Jones

Fallujah live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver
Fallujah live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver

A band’s live sound, by function, must be well developed enough to allow each individual instrument to be distinguishable from the others, along with the errant frequencies milling about in a confined space. Upon achieving this tenet of performance, one may notice a bizarre convolution. It is a great thing to find the balance of instruments on a stage, but a greater thing is to find that balance, and then push it backwards in a defined and deliberate manner, backwards towards that brilliance of a singular sound. San Francisco-based progressive death metal titans FALLUJAH have achieved just that. Making a triumphant return to the United Kingdom in the wake of their stellar Tech-Fest performance this summer, the band’s volatile mixture of chaotic riffing and atmospheric beauty provided the perfect boost of dynamism to push the audience into a more energetic state. Unfortunately, the band was waylaid by technical issues, which put the set on hold for several minutes. To the crowd’s delight, this did not cut into the already extremely limited set of less than half an hour, and things were back up and running quickly to allow the band to charge into a setlist involving all three full-length releases. A masterful performance and brilliant set choices greatly outshined any system glitches presented to the band.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Henry Jones

 

Whilst Alex Erian may be more known for his work with deathcore bruisers DESPISED ICONOBEY THE BRAVE‘s blend of hardcore has a major pull in the hardcore community. With only two records under the band’s belt the choice in setlist was a fair mix of both records. From the anthematic chorus on Full Circle to the ferocious drumming of Stevie Morotti on Live and Learn, the band oozed energy that swept amongst the crowd. Whilst it’s fair to say that OBEY THE BRAVE made for perfect billing for a tour like Never Say Die, the band’s blend of hardcore was fairly predictable. Vocal deliveries were typical of the style but not inventive and the riffing of guitarists John Campbell and Terrence McAuley quickly became repetitive. It’s not that OBEY THE BRAVE were awful live, they weren’t, it is just that the band didn’t offer enough to be something truly special.

Rating: 7/10

Words: James Weaver

Carnifex live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver
Carnifex live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver

CARNIFEX have seen a few changes in recent years. To start, they hired a lead guitarist, which has certainly influenced the band’s writing style. They took on a sound more heavily influenced by black metal, while also managing to incorporate extended range guitars and adopting some truly huge bouncing rhythms. As with MAKE THEM SUFFER earlier in the evening, CARNIFEX’s more recent material translates absurdly well. On record, the band offers nothing too spectacular barring some magnificent solos and a fair selection of tone exhibits. Live, they excel beyond expectations. This is an exciting example of a band with ten years to hone their live sound applying their skills to a new style and a new direction. While the change of style and direction is not wholly different, it is significant enough to notice a defined uptake in the band’s performance. Rapid blast beats, swirling tremolo riffs, and the ever-present rumble of the extended range all provided the night with a much-needed sense of theatrics, which translated extremely well to an ecstatic crowd.

Rating: 7/10

Words: Henry Jones

Thy Art Is Murder live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver
Thy Art Is Murder live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver

THY ART IS MURDER were rapidly exploding in metal until the sudden departure of vocalist CJ McMahon last year threw a spanner in the machine. With Nick Arthur [MOLOTOV SOLUTION] filling in to front the band as they search for a permanent replacement for CJ, there were question marks surrounding whether the band could deliver the same intensity as fans have come to expect. Thankfully, for the most part, the band delivered a performance that was utterly ground-shaking. From Andy Marsh and Sean Delander‘s slick riffing on Light Bearer to the sheer monstrous breakdown on Reign of Darkness, the band’s approach to deathcore is colossal. Whilst Nick Arthur did a formidable job in terms of matching the vocal deliveries that fans have come to expect, sadly, the shoes that have been left to fill are slightly just too big. Whilst impressive in their ability as a unit in the live environment, as THY ART IS MURDER ploughed through their set it quickly become repetitive and mundane, leaving the end result as rather forgettable.

Rating: 7/10

Words: James Weaver

Whitechapel live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: Henry Jones
Whitechapel live at the Impericon Never Say Die Tour @ Club Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: Henry Jones

The headline act of the evening approached in the form of one of the leaders of their genre, Knoxville, Tennessee deathcore pioneers WHITECHAPEL. Like CARNIFEX, the night’s headliners have recently celebrated their first complete decade together as a band. They have seen a whole ten years of development, from their generic deathcore roots to their almost progressive groove-focused present state. This development has brought the band huge successes, and the bonus effect of providing a rich and detailed setlist featuring a well-balanced list of material from each chapter in their history. The night was also of note as it would be the first time Manchester received a taste of the band’s recent full-length record, Mark of the Blade, in a live setting. Once again, WHITECHAPEL have proved conclusively that they are in the upper echelons of deathcore. The set consisted of a rich tapestry of pendulous grooves, vicious riffing, and delightfully tight performances from the entire band. WHITECHAPEL have truly nailed the formula in the sunset of deathcore’s days. Theirs is a history many will emulate, but none will achieve. There’s something magnetic in a band that is still as powerful and innovative ten years into their career, let alone one that can still be as imposing in a live setting. This is the forefront of deathcore, even if the genre is slowly sinking into the dust.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Henry Jones

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