Live Review: AxeWound & The Smoking Hearts – Academy 3, Manchester – 03/10/12

Challenged with a queue for what looked to be a sell out show in Manchester Academy 1, the pressure was on for AxeWound and The Smoking Hearts to pack out the small, sweaty Academy 3. Before fans even got into the Academy 3 room they were greeted with a surprise, to find that members of the two bands were selling their own merch and it’s this down to earth attitude that I love about a band. Crowds of fans waited to purchase something, to take photos and to shake hands before settling themselves a spot in the venue room.

With only two bands on the line up tonight, both The Smoking Hearts and AxeWound needed to impress and without tempting fate I was pretty certain that they would do just that.

First on the bill was London’s The Smoking Hearts. Walking on to a somewhat peaceful sounding intro, this soon transformed as the members grabbed their instruments and kicked into opener ‘Blue Nun.’ Charismatic frontman Ben Mills soon had the crowd right in the palm of his hand, engaging with the room from the minute that he stepped out on the stage. ‘Destroy!’ was a particular crowd pleaser, with Mills asking for interaction with the lyric “This is time to destroy,” which the crowd were more than happy to shout back. ‘Stomper’ ended their set with a bang, with their tight sounding live performance leaving everybody cheering across the whole venue. Assuring us all that Manchester won for “the most people knowing who we are,” I think it’s safe to say that The Smoking Hearts picked up a fair few new fans as well with tonight’s outstanding performance. [4/5]

Next up were headliners AxeWound, the new found supergroup who have been at the forefront of talk in the metal scene since their announcement. The crowd had already begun chanting before AxeWound even stepped foot on the stage, and this chanting continued through the majority of the night.

Having only just released their début album ‘Vultures’ two days before the show it was risky to assume that fans would have listened to the tracks enough to shout words back and show much involvement. This was certainly not the case, with the crowd going wild to opener and title track ‘Vultures,’ where lead guitarist Mike Kingswood imitated the featured Synyster Gates (Avenged Sevenfold) guitar solo with what seemed to be great confidence. AxeWound treated their fans to every song off of the album, including crowd favourites and already released tracks ‘Exorchrist,’ ‘Cold’ and ‘Post Apocalyptic Party’ where the room shouted in unison, opened up mosh pits and appeared to be having the time of their lives. ‘Collide’ was a personal favourite of mine, slowing the set down yet creating such a powerful and atmospheric mood in the tiny Academy 3. Packing out their set with a cover of ‘Fucking Hostile’ by Pantera, the crowd stood in disbelief, continuing to thrash about in a mosh pit circling the venue. After much appreciation in between tracks, the supergroup ended their hour long set by playing ‘Exorchrist’ for a second time, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. [4.5/5]

As I left the venue hearing the likes of “best gig of my entire life” and “I can’t wait to see them again,” I’m confident that every single person that left Academy 3 tonight will show both AxeWound and The Smoking Hearts their continued support. Well done lads!

4.5/5

Words by Hannah Gillicker.

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