A Bullet For My Valentine/Killswitch Engage tour was for many mid-00’s teens nothing more than a fantasy. Fast forward a decade, and the line-up is finally here. While neither band is currently at the height of their popularity, this is still nothing short of a metalcore extravaganza, but who came out on top?
Kicking off the night are US upstarts Cane Hill. Seemingly alien to many of those in attendance, the band slowly begin to win people over, bringing the bounce with tracks like ‘Gemini’ and ’Time Bomb, reintroducing the spookier, darker elements popularised by the likes of Korn and Manson. However when frontman Elijah Witt calls for “no dicks, just clits” when addressing the female portion of the audience, we are reminded why much of what characterised nu-metal is best left in the past. (2/5)
Having been a pretty consistent presence since their inception in 1999, it’s easy to take a band like Killswitch Engage for granted. Sure, latest record Incarnate may not be their finest hour, but what the Massachusetts quintet bring tonight is pure fire. Old favourites like the utterly crushing ‘Numbered Days’ are given a rare outing, while the singalongs to set stalwarts such as ‘This Fire’ and ‘My Last Serenade’ threaten to level the building. The star of the show however, is the now settled Jesse Leach: breathing more passion than ever into older songs while taking on Howard Jones-era material with aplomb, this short, sweet set is nothing short of a masterclass. (5/5)
Bullet For My Valentine have a lot of catching up to do, then. Returning for the first time since the disastrous Temper Temper, they may have been stripped of their arena status, but Matt Tuck and co. are still as slick as ever. Eschewing Temper Temper material for a set that blends old favourites with some surprisingly effective new cuts. The pithy-on-record ‘You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)’ is unexpectedly monstrous in a live setting, while teen angst anthem ‘Hearts Burst Into Fire’ is dusted off for the first time several years to a fevered response.
Matt Tuck is a commanding presence, but is at times upstaged by the band’s new engine room. Bassist Jamie Mathias’ considerable vocal talent sees him take on the bulk of the screaming duties and high harmonies, while ex-Pitchshifter sticksman Jason Bowld is a monolithic presence, revitalising songs with fresh fills and blasts. (4/5)
Despite an enthralling spectacle from both of tonight’s heavyweights, there could only be one winner. Although Bullet brought a polished live show and some solid gold tunes, few bands could hold a flame to Killswitch Engage on this form. More energetic, more anthemic and above all more passionate, you’d be hard pushed to see a better metal set this year – we have our winner.
Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)