Hot on the heels of a mainland European run with Falling in Reverse, Arizona’s The Word Alive bring their ever-changing brand of metalcore to the UK. Having teased new music across social media for the last few months, tonight will be the first chance for this Cardiff crowd to hear it live.
Kicking off proceedings are Swansea’s Conflicts, a young metalcore outfit with lots of energy and an equal amount of emotion. Despite only having a small crowd to work with, lead singer Ieuan Southard prances around as if it’s a sell out crowd. The music doesn’t particularly push any boundaries, but the performance is vaguely reminiscent of a Counterparts set, with some technical parts, emotionally wrought lyrics and full use of the stage. The energy is seemingly spent by the end of their short set, however, as the band dedicate their final song to George Christie, the Shields guitarist who tragically passed away recently. All in all, it’s a good set from the plucky young band. (3.5/5)
After a short break, Bridgend’s I Fight Bears take the stage. Four of the five members take their positions on stage, while the lead singer remains on the floor. This isn’t an uncommon technique, but the space isn’t utilised particularly well, as he slowly paces, rarely looking to the small crowd. The attention is drawn almost completely away from the guys on stage, who rip their way through a handful of well-crafted metal songs. Despite the odd performance style, the audience engagement is pretty good between songs, with jokes being thrown at the other band members. Ultimately, however, the performance seems tired and doesn’t leave an audience member craving more. (2.5/5)
Yet another South Wales metal band are up next in the form of Continents. Previously signed to Victory Records, the five-piece have two albums under their belt, both of which are on display tonight. Notorious for their rowdy sets, the band rip through some of the best crowd pleasers, but they fall flat, thanks in no small part to the fact that there are about thirty people in the room. Not ones to give up, it seems, Continents introduce a new song, ‘Bad Blood’, from their upcoming EP. It’s in a similar vein to their older material, and sounds just as great live. The response from the tiny crowd is positive, and the band rattles through the rest of their set, ending with usual set closer ‘Pegasus, Pegasus’, which manages to start something that resembles a small pit, but it ends there. Despite their best efforts, the crowd just isn’t giving tonight, but their efforts led to a great performance to watch, as singer Phil Cross bounds all over the stage, digging out a gritty vocal performance that’s impressive as it is boisterous. (4/5)
Any hopes for a full room are quickly dashed as The Word Alive take the stage to the same amount of people as Continents did. The band seem a little perplexed, but crack a joke or two about the small crowd and dive into their latest single, ‘Misery’. The vocal performance seems slightly off, however, but vocalist Telle Smith informs the crowd of a sickness he’s picked up. This only seems to affect his cleans, however, as demonstrated on ‘Sellout’, a track from the band’s latest album that features a few difficult to hit high screeches. Well known for his range, and despite his illness, Smith manages to perform the song effortlessly, making for one of the best songs of the night.
Only one new song is played tonight, ‘Red Clouds’, a track that seems to be a culmination of everything the band have produced over the years, from their early, pure metalcore songs to their later, more pop tracks. It gets a good reaction from the thirty people in the audience, who are still refusing to leave their feet for anything. The Word Alive seems far less willing to battle a dead crowd, and so turn to having jokes amongst themselves while performing, excluding a crowd who seemed entirely nonplussed by anything tonight.
Following this, the set goes in a linear fashion without really breaking for audience interaction, ending with ‘Trapped’, a song that would normally be a crowd favourite. It’s unfortunate that the audience is so small and uninterested tonight, as the band played a really solid set, playing a selection of songs that any other crowd would have been happy with. Regardless, the performance can’t be judged on the crowd, as there wasn’t a dip in quality musically. The band sounded exceptional, with some crushing breakdowns that hit ten times as hard live as on the record. The Word Alive are definitely a band to see again. (4/5)
Words by Ben Mills (@BenMills28). Photo Credit: Vince Dwyer.