Michigan’s STILL REMAINS shattered many a black heart following their disbanding back in 2008, but their subsequent reunion in 2011 would utterly delight the masses. The metalcore maestros would inevitably face a sink or swim situation with the release of comeback album Ceasing To Breathe – and they immediately rose to the surface with their third full-length’s heady combination of grit, diversity and startling technicality. That said, it’s been a decade since the sextet hit UK shores and finally – on a chilly October evening – Birmingham’s The Flapper looks set to be engulfed in scorching flames of pure sonic obliteration. And they’ve brought Brit boys CARCER CITY and WARS along for the ride and date six of the Out Of The Ashes tour.
Kicking off a stacked line-up are WARS and the Rugby bruisers waste zero time in engaging the rapidly swelling throng beneath them with their enticing brand of vitriolic metallic hardcore. Matching power with emotive passion, tracks like The Art of Not Knowing and That By Discord Things Increase draw influences from gleaming noughties alt-rock as well as the modern metalcore leanings of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. The remaining songs positively seethe with punishing guitars and frenzied screams courtesy of frontman Rob Vicars, although there’s melody by the bucketful courtesy of some unashamedly anthemic choruses that lodge themselves deep within one’s rattling cranium. WARS frequently showcase their fondness for riff-bludgeoning exuberance whilst the mammoth hooks come thick and fast thanks in part to the dual vocals of Vicars and guitarist Sam Barnard, and these reverberate around the ever-perspiring room. This five-piece know how to deliver – and they do so with caustic aplomb tonight.
The mercury is reaching critical level as Merseyside metallers CARCER CITY take the stage and proceed to smash straight into a set that bleeds with equal amounts of intensity and humility. Writhing bodies begin hurtling into one another as the CC contingent’s “charm and batter” modus operandi hooks all and sundry. With intricate elements of prog, tech and electronica (not to mention those glorious syncopated riffs), the mere composition of tracks from 2016’s Infinite // Unknown are a joy to behold in a live capacity, and are welcomed with sweaty, outstretched arms. Heads bang to pummelling breakdowns as frontman Patrick Pinion stalks backwards and forwards, but it’s a cathartic rendition of call-to-arms anthem Sovereign that sends everyone’ fists flying skywards, not to mention has a few punters surreptitiously wiping their eyes right before the jump-off due to Pinion’s heartfelt reminder that life is often short, and that all we can do is enjoy every moment. Harnessing palpable aggression, hair-raising cleans and interjections of melody-driven riffs, CARCER CITY are a well-oiled machine performance wise – and a sterling example of the bands currently flying the flag for British metalcore.
By the time headliner STILL REMAINS come into view, the sold-out basement’s walls, floors (and bar) are teeming with sweat and the rabid anticipation that only a band of this calibre can invoke. With bodies packed into this heaving room like sardines, it’s reached the point where people are practically climbing the pillars for a vantage point as the lights drop and the entire venue erupts to an electric To Live and Die by Fire. Dipping into their entire discography, the inclusion of mosh-inducing cuts like Bliss and fan favourite Recovery drives this capacity crowd into uncontainable rapture as they bellow along note for note with inimitable frontman TJ Miller. We subsequently bear witness to a raging armada of gargantuan riffs, seamless transitions between soaring cleans into rasping growls and crushing rhythms. Arms and legs flail to the vitriolic rampage of I Can Revive Him With My Own Hands whilst Miller’s mid-set reverence for band PR guru Kirsten Sprinks is completely genuine, as is their undying thanks and praise for our presence and loyalty over the years. The Worst Is Yet To Come is something of a contradiction in terms as it simply leaves the baying crowd breathless and hankering for more. Tonight has worked as a potent reminder of exactly why we fell in love with STILL REMAINS in the first place. A criminally underrated band who have lost none of their requisite fire despite the lengthy absence – here’s hoping they never cease to breathe as a band.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Birmingham from Serena Hill Photography here: