Monthly Archives: May 2013

Live Review: Senses Fail – The Underworld, London

At first glance tonight’s line up is an odd one: Post-Hardcore veterans Senses Fail, British Punks Marmozets and Pop-punk band Handguns. All three are very different bands with very different fan-bases. Still, it’s good to see an experienced band bring some young blood out on tour.

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Handguns kicked things off with a set full of high energy Pop-punk tunes. With Pop-punk being so popular right now it can be hard to really stick out in the scene, and whilst Handguns don’t have a particularly original sound they are still an enjoyable start to the night. There are a few die-hard fans at the front singing along to every song (and pointing a lot) and even a few stage-divers later on in the set. (7)

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Next up were crazy British Punks Marmozets. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, it’s impossible to say they are a boring live band. Every member throws themselves around the stage for the entire set and even play from the audience at points. The band even gave fans a taste of a brand new song “Move, Shake, Hide” from their upcoming debut album. Throughout the set the band sound great with Becca Macintyre delivering an amazing vocal performance and the band sounding tight, even during the more technical sections. Closing song “Vexed” saw pits open as well as the entire drum kit being moved into the crowd and members of Handguns join Marmozets on vocals. It’s a chaotic end to their set and is incredible to watch. (8)

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Finally it’s up to Senses Fail to bring the night to a close. Their latest album Renacer was a huge change for the band, bringing in a much heavier sound, and opening with a track from it was a great move as it got the crowd fired up immediately. Despite only being out for a littler over a month, songs from Renacer such as “The Path” and “Canine” were sung back to Senses Fail as if they were classics. However when Senses Fail actually busted out the classics such as “Calling All Cars” and “Can’t Be Saved” the room went insane. Despite not being at the highest point in their career Senses Fail still seem incredibly happy to be playing shows, especially when so many similar Post-Hardcore bands have disbanded. Frontman Buddy Nielsen jokes with the crowd in between songs and keeps things lighthearted but still performs with an incredible amount of passion. Encoring with “Bite To Break The Skin” see’s one final sing along before the night ends. Senses Fail might only be playing to a few hundred fans but that doesn’t stop them from putting on a great show for those fans. (9)

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With the Post-Hardcore scene being in such bad shape right now, becoming more watered down thanks to certain bands, it’s a shame Senses Fail aren’t bigger. They are easily one of the best Post-Hardcore bands around right now. Tonight Senses Fail proved there’s still life left in them. (8)

All photos were taken by Fran Dignon, check out her flickr page for more: http://www.flickr.com/photos/frandignonphotos


Album Review: Sleeping With Sirens – Feel

ImageSleeping With Sirens are currently one of the biggest names in the American Post-Hardcore scene. It’s quite hard to understand why seeing as both the bands previous albums weren’t exactly amazing. But Sleeping With Sirens currently have a huge and incredibly dedicated fan-base and with Feel the band are hoping to get even bigger.

Unfortunately for Sleeping With Sirens, Feel is one of the worst albums released this year. Opening track “Feel” sounds like a Coldplay song if Chris Martin was constantly inhaling helium, for a Post-Hardcore band that is not a good sound. Elsewhere tracks such as “Here We Go” and “Low” are completely forgettable Post-Hardcore fodder. Most of the songs on the album barely even qualify as Post-Hardcore, if it wasn’t for a few screams or some guitar riffs this could easily be mistaken for a pop album. There are a few guest vocals too such as Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins and Attila’s Fronz but these do little to help and in some cases make things even worse. Rapper MGK appears on the track “Alone” and makes what was already a bad song even worse. The only slightly redeeming feature about this album is at the points the band sound good so its possible to enjoy some of the instrumentals, but it’s all dragged down by Kellin Quinn’s whiny vocals and awful lyrics.

It really is hard to believe that a band who are releasing music this bad are getting as big as they are. Its almost impossible to recommend Feel in any way. What’s unfortunate is that despite being awful, Feel is going to be hugely popular and loved by all of Sleeping With Sirens fans. If this is what modern Post-Hardcore has come to then I worry for the genres future. (3)


Live Review: Slam Dunk Festival, Hatfield, Part 2

As the second band of the day, Australian Metalcore crew House Vs Hurricane took to the Monster Energy Stage. Playing to a moderately full tent, it took them very little time to get mosh pits open and everyone in the tent bouncing. Whilst not having the most original sound they still played with constant aggression and high levels of energy, helping them to stand out above many other bands playing this stage. (7)

A few bands later Heights came out, unfortunately playing to the smallest crowd so far, however this did not stop the band or the fans in the tent making it the craziest and most energetic set yet. With front-man Alex Monty coming down to the barrier within their opening track “Forget”, shouting along with the handful of extremely dedicated fans towards the front. Heights set only improved from here, with both the crowd and the pits increasing in size throughout each song. Heights are a controversial band in the UK Hardcore scene, from losing old fans due to conflict between the band and old members to a change in sound on the newest album whilst also gaining a handful of new fans, the band have still faced their fair share of criticism in past months. However after this performance it is clear they deserve their place in the UK Hardcore scene, being one of the most energetic, fun yet still excellent live bands around. (9)

Soon after this Ska Punk veterans [spunge] began their set on the Vans “Off The Wall” Music Stage. Drawing in what was likely one of the oldest crowds of the day due to the bands history, [spunge] hosted what could be considered the funnest 40 minutes of the entire festival. Closing their set with catchy fan favourite “Kicking Pigeons” and brilliant cover “Centrefold” it became impossible to keep count of them amount of dancing men with mohawks. (7)

Staying on the Vans Music Stage, flying the flag for British Pop-punk was Me Vs Hero. With what could be considered a risky move the band opened with relatively new track “Heisenberg”, however it was good seeing the risk paid off with the die-hard fans singing along. Throughout the rest of their set, Me Vs Hero gave a great high energy performance, showing how much potential this band have. It is a shame so many British pop-punk fans pay little attention to the UK scene in comparison to the American scene, with bands such as Me Vs Hero, it could be incredibly successful. (8)

Later in the evening, Post-hardcore veterans Senses Fail took to Tiger Stage. With opening track “Renacer”,  front-man Buddy Nielsen was straight into the crowd amongst fans, demanding pits to open directly in front of him. These high levels of chaos carried on throughout the set during both old fan favourites such as “Calling All Cars” and far heavier new tracks such as “The Path”.  The new heavier sound in Senses Fail’s music seems to introduced new life into their live show, with the band performing with more energy and excitement than many younger bands at the festival, as well as being far more in touch with the fans than these bands. Despite not being at the highest point in their career, Senses Fail are showing no signs at quitting soon, still releasing both incredibly strong albums and putting on a great live show. (9)

Finally, Canadian Hardcore heroes Cancer Bats came bounding onto the stage of the tiny room. Opening with older track “Sorceress”, front-man Liam Cormier is straight onto the barrier headbanging with fans. Cancer Bats’ set carried on as the most chaotic set seen today, playing songs from every album even old rarities such as Shillelagh, with Liam inviting as many crowd surfers as possible over the barrier and getting mosh pits to open as big as the smallest room of the festival could handle. The band carry on the prove why they are known as one of the best live bands around today, cramming in as many songs as they could into the hour they had and not a single one of them being seen as a low point. This is especially true when they can pull out fan favourites such as “Bricks and Mortar” so earlier in the set, and things still just improve from there. Not only do Cancer Bats put on a mad, energetic live show with Liam climbing across the bar down the side of room, but the band left on stage still sound as good as they do on record, and easily compensating for any small technical issues they may face. Tonight was a prime example of why Cancer Bats are one of the biggest Hardcore Bands around today. (10)


Album Review: Polar – Inspire. Create. Destroy.

ImageReleased through the clothing line Drop Dead, Inspire. Create. Destroy. is the latest EP for Guildford Hardcore mob Polar.The EP is a follow up to last years debut album Iron Lungs and is some of Polar’s best work yet.

Opening track “Inspire” starts to demonstrate the bands progression with its mixture of Hardcore riffing and more melodic guitar work. Along with front-man Adam “Woody” Woodford’s vocals it helps to create a huge sound that wasn’t around on Iron Lungs. However it’s on “Create” where Polar really excel, the song perfectly blends pure aggression with anthemic moments and is easily Polar’s best song yet. Closing track “Destroy” further shows that Polar have one of the most dynamic sounds in Hardcore using quieter moments to increase the impact of the breakdowns. Lyrically Woody is as angry as ever screaming every word with an incredible amount of passion. It’s clear that a lot of the lyrics were inspired by the hardships Polar have face as a band and its clear they are not giving up soon as Woody screams “There’s still hope for me, I won’t go quietly”.

At only three tracks and lasting just over 11 minutes, Inspire. Create. Destroy. doesn’t last very long but it is clear that Polar were aiming for quality over quantity and they’ve delivered exactly that. Three incredible Hardcore tracks and a good taster of what’s to come on Polar’s next album. (8)


Live Review: Slam Dunk Festival, Hatfield, Part 1

The 2013 Slam Dunk line was easily the biggest yet. With a great mix of loads of genres and some of the biggest names in Rock, Pop-Punk, Metalcore, Hardcore and Post-Hardcore appearing over the festivals five stages. With such a huge line up it was difficult to pick which bands to see and lead to some inevitable clashes so here’s my review of all the bands I saw over the course of the day.

Opening up a stage is always a difficult task. Luckily Melodic Hardcore band Heart In Hand were well up to the task. Kicking things off on the Monster Energy stage the band played an energetic and emotional set with plenty of early pits opening up. Front-man Charlie Holmes even throw himself into the crowd during set closer “Only Memories”. (8)

Unfortunately Our Last Night just cannot match this. Despite pulling a large crowd to the Monster Energy stage the band just play such mediocre Post-Hardcore music that its almost impossible to stay interested. It doesn’t help that the vocals are so inconsistent either. However the band do manage to pull out a cover of Adele’s “Skyfall” which doesn’t completely suck. (5)

Over on the main stage, Pierce The Veil were playing to a ridiculously large audience. Its crazy to think about how many people would have been turned away if these had still been playing on the Monster stage. Its impressive how far Pierce The Veil have come on in the past few years. They look and sound incredibly slick live. They still need a few more killer songs but the likes of “Caraphernelia” and “Hell Above” sound great. Unfortunately a guest appearance from Sleeping With Sirens front-man Kellin Quinn almost ruins everything. The audience might love it but Kellin’s vocals sound absolutely awful live during “King For A Day” and it just ends the set on a low point. (7)

Back on the Monster stage The Word Alive are playing to smaller audience than they really should be, perhaps this is due to Sleeping With Sirens playing on the main-stage at the same time. This doesn’t stop them from putting everything they’ve got into their performance. Things just get better as the set progresses and “Life Cycles” ends things with a large pit opening and the majority of the audience jumping around and singing. (7)

Starting 10 minutes late due to technical difficulties during their sound-check, it seems that the odds were stacked against Bury Tomorrow, with the packed out Monster Energy stage getting impatient. However, the moment Bury Tomorrow launch “Lionheart” all of those problems are forgotten, what follows is 35 minutes of sheer chaos. Dani Winter-Bates proves himself to be one of the best Metalcore front-men around, commanding the crowd with ease getting a huge circle pit going for “An Honourable Reign” and fans to get on their friends shoulders during “Redeemer”. Bury Tomorrow continue to prove that they could be the next big thing in the British Metalcore scene. (9)

Playing one of his final shows with Devil Sold His Soul front-man Ed Gibbs is incredibly emotional tonight, even coming close to tears on more than one occasion. This emotion only adds to the impact of Devil Sold His Souls Progressive Metalcore. Its a shame the band are playing on the Tiger stage as it really limits the amount of people who can see them. They have such a dynamic sound with songs varying from heavy, poundings riffs and screams to almost hauntingly beautiful moments. Its an emotional send off for Ed Gibbs and brings this chapter of Devil Sold His Soul’s career to a close in a perfect way. (9)

Back on the Monster stage Memphis May Fire were busy getting their crowd jumping with their fairly standard Metalcore. Its not that they are bad, but after seeing bands like Bury Tomorrow destroy this stage earlier in the day Memphis May Fire just seem dull. It doesn’t help that Matty Mullin’s stage banter just seems very arrogant, referring to himself as “the voice of a generation”. They are easily one of the most forgettable bands of the day. (6)

Finally its up to Your Demise to bring things to a close on the Monster stage. Being a late addition to the line up probably didn’t help them as their crowd was considerably smaller than Memphis May Fire’s, but this didn’t stop them from ending the day on the best way possible. Your Demise are known for getting lots of stage divers during their gigs but with a huge security pit this seemed unlikely. That was until Ed McRae invites fans to fill up that area and begin stage diving. “Born A Snake” see’s the fans lucky enough to get into the security pit flying from the stage and this seriously annoys security but is a great spectacle. With the news that Your Demise are playing their final year as a band its clear that they are going to be missed within the hardcore scene. “The Kids We Used To Be” is just the perfect way to end things with the entire crowd singing along as well as moshing and crowd-surfing. Before the song Ed reminds the fans that having fun is the most important thing at shows and no one in the audience could disagree tonight. When Your Demise play their final show next year it will be a real shame. But until then Your Demise will continue to remind people why they are one of the best UK Hardcore bands around. (9)


Slam Dunk 2013 Preview

ImageSlam Dunk festival makes its return this weekend with its biggest line up yet. For the first time there is also a third main date with a Midlands show being added. With such a strong and varied lineup that covers several different genres over its five main stages. Whether you are a fan of Rock, Pop-Punk or Metalcore there are tons of bands to see.

Headlined by All Time Low, Slam Dunks main-stage covers a variety of mainstream Rock bands. Some of the strongest British Rock bands around are playing this stage with Deaf Havana, We Are The Ocean (except for Hatfield) and Mallory Knox all there.

Pop-Punk fans will definitely want to head over to the Macbeth stage. With some of the biggest names in modern Pop-Punk such as Four Year Strong and The Wonder Years playing. Its not all Pop-Punk and rock though, fans of heavier music have plenty to look forward to. Expect a crushing set from Heights who are effectively playing a hometown show on the Hatfield date. Fast rising British Metalcore band Bury Tomorrow will also be a band not to miss if you’re in the mood to mosh. And of course, Canadian Hardcore heroes Cancer Bats could arguably deliver the set of the day when they headline the Tiger stage.

Which such a strong line up its gonna be hard to pick who to see so here are five bands worth checking out:

5. The Wonder Years: Their latest album The Greatest Generation is easily one of the best modern Pop-Punk albums released and the songs from it will surely be amazing live. Of all the bands playing on the Macbeth stage these are the best and will be well worth watching.

4. Deaf Havana: Expect massive singalongs when Deaf Havana playing Slam Dunks main-stage. It won’t be the most energetic and explosive set of the festival but with songs as good as “I’m A Bore Mostly” and “Hunstanton Pier” that won’t be a problem for Deaf Havana.

3. The Word Alive: American Metalcore crew The Word Alive smashed it at Slam Dunk festival last year and look set to do it again this year. Some of the best pits of the day will open up when The Word Alive take to the stage.

2. Devil Sold His Soul: With front-man Edward Gibbs playing his final shows with Devil Sold His Soul at Slam Dunk festival, these will be some of the most emotional sets of the whole weekend and that alone should be reason enough to watch them. Devil Sold His Soul’s amazing Progressive Metalcore also makes them one of the most unique bands on the line up.

1. Cancer Bats: “Hail Destroyer”, “Lucifer’s Rocking Chair”, “Bricks & Mortar”, their amazing cover of “Sabotage”… No other band on the Slam Dunk line up has as many bangers as Cancer Bats do. If that’s not enough of a reason to see them then how about the fact that they are just a great live band who are incapable of playing a bad show.

Unfortunately not every band playing are as good as these, here’s five bands who should probably be avoided:

5. Blitz Kids: Whilst Blitz Kids aren’t necessarily a bad band, they are boring live and just don’t stand out against the other British rock bands on the line up.

4. Itch: Its a real shame that Itch’s solo work doesn’t compare to his previous band The King Blues. His rap influenced solo work just comes off as annoying.

3. The Summer Set: Arguably the most Pop sounding band on Slam Dunks line up, The Summer Set are just far too cheesy to really appeal to anyone who isn’t a teenage girl.

2. Chunk! No Captain Chunk!: Imagine a band who basically rip off A Day To Remember but do it badly and you’ve got Chunk! No Captain Chunk!

1. Sleeping With SirensPost-Hardcore’s answer to One Direction will no doubt draw a huge crowd when they play the main-stage at Slam Dunk but its hard to see why. Perhaps its because of how their front-man Kellin Quinn looks, surely it can’t be because of their music. They are a band who seem to have forgotten the “Hardcore” element of Post-Hardcore. Luckily with so many other bands to see these can be easily avoided.

Slam Dunk Festival takes place on Saturday 25th of May at Leeds University, Sunday 26th of May at Hatfield University and Monday 27th of May at Wolverhampton Civic.


Album Review: 30 Seconds To Mars – Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams

ImageAlmost four years after their last album This Is War, 30 Seconds To Mars have finally made their return with their fourth studio album Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams. Often accused of being simply a vanity project for frontman Jared Leto, can 30 Second To Mars prove themselves to legitmately be one of the biggest modern rock bands around with their newest album?

The album begins on a slightly odd note with the more orchestral song “Birth” and it all just comes off as slightly pretentious, a complaint that is often made about 30 Seconds To Mars. However, “The Conquistador” and “Up In The Air” bring things back to familiar territory with both songs featuring choruses big enough to fill stadiums. Its impossible to deny that Jared Leto is an incredible frontman with one of the most powerful voices in rock music and he once again proves it on Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams, delivering a consistently brilliant vocal performance. Musically the album mixes various styles and sounds with some tracks being guitar driven whilst others are more electronic. It helps to give the album a really dynamic sound. Lyrically the album seems to focus on the themes in its title which does lead to some quite ridiculous lyrics but they work within the theme of the album. For the most part Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams is a great album, however there are a few moments when it just gets too pretentious (instrumental track “Pyres Of Varanasi” in particular). Fortunately the quality of the songs does make up for the these moments.

Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams isn’t a huge departure from their last album, instead it just feels like a natural progression from that album whilst also being their most musically diverse album yet. 30 Seconds To Mars could even move up to headlining slots at festivals such as Reading and Leeds on this album cycle. (8)