Live Review: Hatebreed, Black Dogs & Demoraliser – O2 Academy, Islington – 04/05/2013

imageDue to various circumstances – this evening’s ridiculous doors opening/closing times (6-10pm to make way for “Club De Fromage” – London’s “premier pop night”, apparently), Tottenham Hotspur’s game overrunning due to a late kickoff, and me turning up at the wrong venue (yep, I am that guy – I went to the Highbury Garage instead), I completely missed Demoraliser’s set, for which I apologise profusely. A quick visit to their Bandcamp page reveals that they hail from fishing town Grimsby, are fond subscribers to the way of “Chug Life”, and sound a bit like ‘Horizons’-era Parkway Drive, which can only possibly be a good thing.

I also only catch the tail-end of Black Dogs set. but what I see is a decent showing from the Northerners. It’s a cool move from tonight’s headliners to take two up-and-coming UK bands on tour with them, and from the evidence I witnessed, Black Dogs have seized this opportunity with both hands with an impressive display. While their music may not quite be reinventing the wheel, Black Dogs certainly have a fire and passion that translates to tonight’s sold-out crowd, who respond to the grooves of tracks like ‘Savages’ with plenty of neck-elasticating practice for the bill-toppers. (3.5/5)

I last saw Hatebreed 9 years ago, on a monstrous bill alongside Slipknot, Slayer and Mastodon for the first Unholy Alliance tour – pertinent, as tonight’s set is dedicated to the memory of Slayer’s late guitarist and founding member Jeff Hanneman – and the Connecticuters have not lost one iota of their potency in the live arena in that time. While I may have certain reservations about tonight’s chosen venue (the words “soulless”, “aircraft” and “hangar” spring to mind), the quintet make this place their own right from the word “go”, the rabid masses eating out of their palms. Charismatic frontman Jamey Jasta’s vocal is powerful throughout, even on newer cuts which see him abandon his harsh bark for a cleaner sound, and his between-song banter is priceless – tapping his wrist to signify “CIRCLE PIT TIME” and declaring “anyone standing still (during the next song) is the biggest Robbie Williams fan in here tonight” being particular highlights. Hatebreed enter their twentieth year as a band in 2014, and provide cuts from their entire discography (well, almost – songs from 1997’s classic ‘Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire’ are notably absent), but it’s a finishing flourish of ‘I Will Be Heard’ and ‘Destroy Everything’ that really raises the roof tonight. If you let your brain take a little vacation for the night, it’s impossible to watch Hatebreed without a huge grin on your face; they’re brash, they’re dumb, but goddamn they’re fun too. Beatdown-centric metalcore doesn’t get much better than this. (4/5)

3.75/5

Words by Ollie Connors (@olliexcore)

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