A capacity crowd fills Manchester’s O2 Ritz. The atmosphere is electric. Bury Tomorrow are playing the biggest headline show of their career, accompanied by three hard-hitting support acts. It has the potential to be an explosive show.
Japanese metal band Crystal Lake (3/5) open the night. Offering a short, energetic set they display flashes of greatness and showy diligence. They know their way around a big breakdown and when they bang out songs like ‘Prometheus’, they love it as much as the audience.
Cane Hill (3/5) make the most of their nu-metal catalogue, belting out a set full of big, driving riffs. Songs like the brazen ‘Fountain of Youth’ are weighty and satisfying, others rely on energy that isn’t quite there. By blending in swirls of guitar James Barnett varies the soundscape, but it’s the meaty riffing the crowd responds to. Vocalist Elijah Wit makes a sturdy, powerful presence, summoning the night’s biggest mosh pit during ‘Too Far Gone’ – an impressive feat, given the competition. Toward the set’s end they start throwing around bass drops like loose change, to the point it undercuts what they’re playing, but it’s a solid overall performance.
Alaskan stalwarts 36 Crazyfists (4.5/5) play with a weathered mastery. This is their night, absolutely everything goes their way and, importantly, they seize the moment. The sound is perfect, every riff sounds crisp and powerful. Opener ‘Death Eater’ crackles with promise, but when they unleash ‘At The End of August’ the crowd lights up. Brock Lindow is bear-like and supremely confident, his juddery voice shines with every inflexion and devasting scream. ‘Bloodwork’ is polished razor-sharp and sounds immense, but even their biggest hits are eclipsed by ‘Sleepsick’ from last year’s ‘Lanterns’. The drumroll intro sets off violent groove-laden riffs, combined with the blood red lighting it’s nothing short of stunning. With a heartfelt ‘Old Gold’ paving the way for the now classic ‘Slit-Wrist Theory’, it’s an extremely impressive performance.
After twelve years together Bury Tomorrow (3.5/5) have earned the sold-out venue. Kicking off with ‘No Less Violent’ they work hard for their applause. Compared to their supports, the sound is louder, brash but muddy. The riffs on songs like ‘Knife of Gold’ are pummelling and the audience sings every big vocal hook. However, the band’s secret weapon is frontman Daniel Winter-Bates. With a vast stage presence, during songs he haunts a raised platform, silhouetted by the lights, throwing ghoulish shapes, screaming or grunting with terrifying intensity. Yet, when everything goes quiet, he is warm, friendly, and speaks fondly, to the delight of the crowd.
With more chugging and less melody older songs like ‘Cemetery’ and ‘Royal Blood’ bring out waves of crowd surfers, giving bassist Davyd Winter-Bates and lead guitarist Kristan Dawson chance to leap around like they’re in an exercise video, which might explain the drop in the band’s energy toward the set’s end. Clean vocalist (and guitarist) Jason Cameron has a shocker for the first couple of songs, breathless and struggling to find the notes, but four songs in, on ‘An Honourable Reign’, he hits his stride. From there on he’s dangerously on-point but can’t stop the set sagging until ‘Overcast’ brings a welcome change of pace. With songs like ‘The Age’ and closer ‘Black Flame’, the band are on top form, but it’s a good set rather than a great one.
Words by Ian Kenworthy (@WhisperingSand). Photos by Connie Taylor Photography and taken at o2 Forum Kentish Town, London – 15/12/2018.