As I Lay Dying

support Sanctity + Anterior
author PP date 07/06/07 venue Barfly, London, UK

Despite having attended dozens of gigs in various parts of Camden, walking through the district at day light was a first time experience for me, and I recommend it for anyone wanting to do some touristy stuff in London. It was vibrant in all senses of the word, starting from the various punk/goth shops to the whole multiculturalism on display, and lets not forget the cozy rooftop terraces either. I had been anticipating tonight's lineup for weeks, mainly because As I Lay Dying nearly always perform brilliantly live, but also because the young up and coming Welsh metalcore band Anterior was up on the bill, making tonight somewhat of a metalcore fan's wet dream.

Anterior

Apparently, tonight's show was only Anterior's second ever show in London, and I was also told they haven't played too many shows around their home in Wales either. So I was waiting for them to take on stage with mixed expectations, as on their upcoming debut album these guys are definitely giving Bullet For My Valentine a run for their money in Wales, but since they are such a young and inexperienced band (in the words of a record label PR guy 'they just popped out of nowhere'), the otherwise amazing songs might not translate through live as well as one would hope. And to some extent, I was right. "The Silent Divide" and "Dead Divine" were absolutely killer, if the only view you focussed your sight on was the ridiculously fast fingers of guitarist Leon Kemp. The solos the band has on record are breathtaking, and he nailed them spot on live as well. But the rest of the band wasn't exactly eyecandy. Vocalist Davies' throaty screams in the vein of All That Remains vocalist Labonte echoed around the venue, but he didn't move much on stage and didn't exactly inspire chaotic mosh pits across the venue. But it's hard to blame the band for that, because the crowd was (aside from one or two mad metalheads) mostly apathetic to their music, but that's probably because their album wasn't going to release before 2 weeks from the show.

Sanctity

North Carolina based Sanctity, the second band on the bill, intially didn't inspire me at all when I had a listen or two on Myspace. I was expecting a generic-as-hell metal set, which I was planning to spend entirely at the rear bar of the intimate venue. It's not the first nor the last time I'll say this, but I'll take my words back and admit I was wrong upon the initial listen to this band, because they absolutely destroyed live. Frontman MacEachern's performance was vivid and enthusiastic, full of passion which could be seen in how his massive orange hair was everywhere during their performance. The rest of the band were long haired - some might say generic - metal heads as well, but unlike some bands, their entire performance wasn't revolving just around two-meter long hair being swirled around like it was in a washing machine. The guys exchanged positions, moved back and forth on stage, causing their songs to sound fantastic live, making an impression most of the crowd based on the intensity of that mosh pit that broke out in the middle of the crowd. In normal circumstances, their grade might even be higher than it is, but As I Lay Dying's headlining set simply put the whole night into a rather skewed perspective.

7

As I Lay Dying

When I said skewed, I really meant disproportionate. In fact, I feel sorry for both of these bands for having to support one of the best live acts on the planet, because half an hour after the show I was still shaking in ecstacy, even after having spent £15 on a band shirt after the show. Ladies and gentlemen, As I Lay Dying simply destroyed everything and everyone tonight. I don't know what they were thinking when they kicked off the set with "Forever", but I don't think the security or the people on the sidelines were ready at all. The entire venue immediately transformed into a lethal mosh pit with dozens of trend-moshers (you know, the windmill/karatekid type), and people were flying all over the place, hitting the walls and falling on the ground. Tim sounded even more brutal than usually, and the lines "Forever your eyes will hold the memory" were growled along passionately by the crowd. People were grabbing others on the shoulders to jump and get their fist higher in the wallowing sea of fists that flew towards the stage after each blast beat. It was difficult to see the band at all from all the hands and bodies reaching towards the roof, but the little that was visible underlined exactly why people are so damn passionate about this band - their stage show is absolutely dominating. Tim aggressively stomped from one side of the venue to the other, jumping against the crowd surfers and grabbing people by the hands, growling in their face and just generally appearing as a lunatic on the stage.

By the time the band reached the end of "Confined", the venue's temperature had risen above the healthy levels, and most of the sweat covering you was most likely from the 200 or so other people in attendance tonight. That should describe how much people were being thrown around the venue in the massive mosh pit that dominated the confined space. At the end of Empty Hearts Tim & co actually had to take a break from playing and ask the audience to calm down for the sake of the people at the front. Ok, I was actually lying, they only cared about their amps, because Tim told to the crowd they need to chill out and relax because their amps were getting turned off by people ramming into them while crowdsurfing. The poor single security guy couldn't do shit when about eight bodies at a time were flying towards the stage constantly, crashing into the band members and equipment. I think it's needless to say this request had no chance of being fulfilled tonight.

I didn't think the show could get any better after the band had played their undoubtedly two most popular songs followed by three awesome songs from "Shadows Are Security", but then Tim announced after "Darkest Nights" that they wanted tonight's intimate show to be a special occasion where they could play some really old material before they would return to the UK to play bigger shows in support of their upcoming album "An Ocean Between Us". So imagine the reaction when the oscillating opening riffs of one of their oldest songs "Illusions" faded in from the speakers. It was heavy and crushing, and I don't think I've ever seen as violent pit as during this song. "Behind Me Lies Another Soldier" was my personal highlight, and it gave people some time to breathe in between the chaos that ensued across the venue during the other songs. Its slow tempo and screeching screams created a magical atmosphere where everyone just stood still with their fists slowly imitating the rhythm, while screaming along to the "Take what I have, take these broken remains" part of the song. But the next workout session was just around the corner as the band broke into "Meaning In Tragedy" and "Through Struggle", before finishing off with "94 Hours", leaving everyone drenched in sweat - but I don't think a single soul could have left this show unsatisfied. I even had brought two friends along, one of which had absolutely no knowledge to the band, and the other didn't either but he isn't into screaming music at all, but both of them came out of the venue shaking, giggling and almost shouting out loud of joy and how much they fucking loved that show. Incredible.

Setlist:

  • 1. Forever
  • 2. Confined
  • 3. Empty Hearts
  • 4. Reflection
  • 5. Darkest Nights
  • 6. Illusions
  • 7. Distance Is Darkness
  • 8. Behind Me Lies Another Fallen Soldier
  • 9. Meaning In Tragedy (?)
  • 10. Through Struggle
  • 11. 94 Hours

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