Live Review: Northlane, Volumes, The Acacia Strain and Hellions – O2 Academy Islington, London – 08/10/2015

imageAfter a whirlwind of a year, things in the Northlane camp seem to be a bit more settled now. With new vocalist Marcus Bridge nicely acquainted with the scene and a new album written, recorded and out in the world, the only way seems to be up for these Melbourne-based bruisers. It only seems fitting now for the uncertainties of 2014 to come to a point and be put to bed at a sold out show in the heart of London.

First up though are Hellions, who manage to wake up an unfamiliar but already responsive crowd. Their fiesta-tinged hardcore sounds even more ferocious and snotty in the live setting than on record and their half hour slot seamlessly wins them a fair few pockets of new fans. (3.5/5)

The Acacia Strain receive a heroes’ welcome as they take to the stage making it feel like a few individuals came out tonight just for them. The Massachusetts masochists make light work of their set as their venom-infused downbeat tunes coat the stage like tar, and vocalist Vincent Bennett prowls from side to side regurgitating hate-filled psalms and projecting water in every direction. It’s not the most engaging or poignant display, but it isn’t half fucking heavy. (3/5)

Despite being a man down, Volumes aren’t letting that put a dampener on their party. Pulling in The Contortionist vocalist Mike Lessard to replace the busy-at-home Michael Barr, the band pull out a tight and exhilarating set. With ’The Mixture’ and ’Wormholes’ receiving the sort of sing-alongs a headline band usually conjure, and the intensity focused in the centre of the room never faltering for a second, it seems that won’t be long until we see these progressive mosh monkeys back over playing on their own terms. (4/5)

It is the main event that is the biggest spectacle though. Opening on an atmospherically biting ‘Obelisk’ before the tectonic force of ‘Rot’ sends the room into raptures, Northlane aren’t messing about. It is just under a year since they debuted Marcus Bridge as their new frontman to the UK on the road with Parkway Drive, and the notable distance they have travelled in terms of showmanship, battery and togetherness is astounding. The band have never sounded so vibrant and carefree, and it is a pleasure to see them loving what they do again.

Though the newer material has been lapped up hungrily by the adoring congregation, it is older cuts such as the beautifully destructive ‘Quantum Flux’ and technically frenzied ‘Scarab’ that really gets the blood pumping. The band have honed in so deeply on their live show, with strobe lights flashing to create a claustrophobic but enriching environment, that it goes above and beyond just a metal show. A neck-breaking one-two of golden oldie ‘Dispossession’ and circle pit favourite ‘Masquerade’ closes the evening out in considerably volatile fashion and sees Northlane come into a world of their own. Where they could have faltered and fallen, they have bulked and come out fighting. They have grasped at the opportunity to reach the next step and the risk has paid off. The next time Northlane hit the road in the UK, the crowds will be bigger, the setup more adventurous and the noise coming from the stage even more vibrant and elevating. That’s a guarantee. (4.5/5)

3.5/5

Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)

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