Architects

support Every Time I Die + Blessthefall + Counterparts
author TL date 03/03/15 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Take a moment and look at this tour package. You can argue about whether it's the case for Counterparts, but these bands, in their home countries, are otherwise all headliner-size in their own niches. To see them on the same bill for less than 200 DKK is an amazing proposition on paper, and a good indication that someone has understood that being headliner size across the sea doesn't necessarily make you as big in mainland Europe, and that bundling some good bands together is hence an awesome way to make sure fans arrive at a nice and full venue, with a nice and diverse evening of music ahead of them.

As good as such a proposition looks on paper however, the actual production is a challenge to execute, with four sets needing to be fitted in a weeknight show between the reasonable hours of 20:00 and 24:00 and consequentially, the sound would unfortunately prove to be suboptimal for most of the night. As for the reports on individual sets, PP and TL decided to review two each, based on past familiarity with the bands on the bill.

All photos courtesy of thorstraten.eu

Counterparts

One of the key up and coming bands within the melodic hardcore movement right now is Counterparts. They're a smaller band, thus placed at the bottom of tonight's admittedly stacked bill of quality artists, but you can tell the kind of impact they are having on those in the know. A small, but extremely dedicated and passionate fan group is going crazy up front throughout the set, especially during the first few songs where the band's stage performance is equally energetic and passionate. The mic is shared straight away with folks up front singing along to every word, characteristic of the melodic hardcore genre in general with its inspirational lyrical themes and uplifting melodies. Especially "Outlier" receives a solid response with the crowd up front screaming "I AM WHAT I AM" from the top of their lungs, making a formidable amount of noise for being just a handful of fans.

Sadly, the echoing sound quality does the band no favours, leaving many of their intricate guitar melodies sounding messy and unclear in the mix. It does improve somewhat as the set goes along, but not enough to convince other people in the venue not familiar with the band. Then again, Counterparts' music is so heavily lyrics-related, and the songs are rather complex arrangements overall with multiple sections leaning on depth-laden instrumentation and complicated dynamics, so they're always going to be a polarizing band when experiencing live for the first time. Those of us who know the band beforehand are finding the songs great, and the band recognizes that passion by sharing those moments with us by essentially only playing to this segment while the rest of the crowd look on confused. The muddy sound isn't helping here, either, so towards the end the audience thins out and the band's bouncy stage energy dwindles somewhat as a result. Objectively grading, the show wasn't that great, but those of us familiar with songs off "The Difference Between Hell And Home" sure were having a good time.

PP

Blessthefall

Arizona quintet Blessthefall have built themselves a solid career on making the most of metalcore's bread and butter. They mix blazing guitar harmonies with bittersweet clean lead vocals and vulgarly heavy breakdowns and screaming, and their "scene" background is clearly visible in their appearance on stage as well. They're veterans of the American metalcore circuit, and as such it's no surprise to see them compensate for muddy sound with bouncy energy and constant crowd interaction. The finer points of their dual-guitar arrangements are lost almost completely, but the heavy punches have decent impact at least, and similarly, the band's supporting growls have a good presence, while frontman Beau Bokan's cleans fall out here and there, perhaps from him being out of breath, or perhaps because they're ambitiously high on record in the first place.

The fact that they don't sound particularly great does not seem to faze the band the least though, and Bokan wastes no time before trying to reach out to the audience, encouraging activity on the floor. There's a different but no less excited segment up front now, who seem to enjoy themselves on a level comparable to the Counterparts fans, and when the crowd is invited to invade the stage and high five the band members before diving back out, the evenings first crowdsurfers come up. It's fun and good-natured to watch, but at the same time it feels a bit like reception is strongest for "What's Left Of Me", the stand-out track from the band's 2009 album "Witness", perhaps showing a symptom of the band's resistance to any noticeable development in their sound since then. Considering the impaired mix and the overall sameness of the actual music then, Blessthefall fare roughly the same as Counterparts, satisfying those that were big fans beforehand and leaving everyone else a bit cold.

TL

Every Time I Die

Speaking of divisive experiences, Every Time I Die is always going to be a love/hate type of a band for most. Their raw expression is as brutal as it is uncompromising, as unfriendly as it is chaotic, as groovy as it is southern fried. Still, their live performance is usually nothing short of magnificent, ranging from pure chaos to explosive on-stage energy that usually translates perfectly into tightly packed club environments like Lille Vega tonight. "Everyone run in a circle", screams Keith Buckley before "Bored Stiff", before declaring a false start because people weren't responding to his demands sufficiently enough. Off we go again and the chaos that ensues in the crowd is perfectly matched by the explosive on stage performance. New album highlight "Decayin' With The Boys" further throws fire on the gasoline with it's catchy "Kill the lights" clean vocal chorus in the midst of the southern fried hardcore / mathcore expression. Likewise, "Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space" unfolds with ridiculous amounts of activity both on stage and in the crowd. The band comes at you with a punishing intensity and wave after wave of jumps, spins, and crushing barrages of brutalized mathcore riffage translated into chaos. The urgency and immediacy levels are through the roof as the whole band is going ape shit on stage, engaged in constant movement and throwing their guitars around their bodies with little regard to the safety of those nearby.

There's no barricade tonight, Buckley explains, because we're meant "to get the fuck up here and stage dive". Yes, the pansy dives from Blessthefall are replaced with full blown Groezrock style madness for a few moments where the security must be losing its mind with bodies flying in all directions. "How many of you guys were at Copenhell when we played in the pouring rain?", Buckley recalls, clearly sharing a special memory with those of us who were there moshing in the giant lakes of water as the sky fell upon us during their late afternoon set. These type of homely reminders create a strong connection between the band and the crowd, and it's therefore no wonder Buckley calls tonight the best show on this tour so far. With a great setlist that also counts "We'rewolf" among appearances entertaining the crowd and a bombastic amount of energy on stage, there's no reason to doubt the honesty behind his words tonight, even if the show ends on a truly odd note with the experimental and slow track "Moor" to close things off. This was a power demonstration of epic proportions and nearly as good of a showing as when the band nearly burned down Loppen six years ago.

PP

Architects

With Architects being the headliners it comes as no surprise that the changeover before their set is longer, and that the attention they enjoy from both the light- and the sound desk is much improved. Combine this with the fact that they also appeal more widely to a much larger portion of tonight's audience and the foundation for a good show is present from the very beginning. There's less experimentation in the Brits' sound than in ETID's, and less tongue-out guitar heroics than with Blessthefall, but instead the group has worked for albums on end to refine the perfect balance between metalcore's basic elements. And with last year's "Lost Forever // Lost Together" the band's mix is at its most potent, improved also by the fact that frontman Sam Carter has found diversity in his howling without trying to force melodious parts into his repertoire that he isn't suited for. Given that you can actually hear these qualities better now, and given the more atmospherically flashing blue and white light, it's no wonder that a beastly song like "Dead Man Talking" soon has a good third of the venue losing their shit up front, roaring along to "These martyrs! Seek no adoration!". The band is as recklessly energetic while performing as is appropriate for their furious music, yet they remain quite businesslike between songs, pausing only to ask the audience to give it up for the bands before them.

As such, songs follow in quick succession, reaching back for cuts from both "Daybreaker", "The Here And Now" and even as far as the "Hollow Crown" standout "Follow The Water", which gets a fine reception indicative of how that was the album that initially got the band noticed in the local scene. "These Colours Don't Run" alongside "Day In Day Out" and "Colony Collapse" and dedicated followers of the fans should thus be happy with a healthy serving from the group's recent discography. That being said, it's probably for the best that the set does not extend past its fourteen track length, as any more would risk exposing the somewhat invaried feeling of intensity they operate with. In a sense though, it feels pretty hardcore to do as they do: Play some of the angriest music around, exorcise their rage against broken systems in communion with their audience, and deliver punishing, mosh- and scream-along-friendly songs in a prolonged burst before leaving after a relatively unceremonious encore, ending with "Gravedigger". The band could perhaps have done well to include just a couple of pauses for people to catch their breath, in which they would also have had room to flash some more personality. Some (like PP above here) will also argue (and give grades thinking) that ETID were better on the evening, which comes down to whether you prefer the wilder, yet much less focused songwriting of the Americans, but it can't be denied that Architects both unified a great part of the audience and sounded by far the best of any of the sets. Frankly, without looking to bands that blur hardcore or metalcore's dogmas way more radically than Architects do, it's hard to think of many who do it better at the moment.

8
TL

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