Bullet For My Valentine

support While She Sleeps + Coldrain
author PP date 15/11/15 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Another Sunday night show. The day of the week that almost all concert arrangers in Denmark have come to loathe due to the difficulty of convincing Danes to get out of their comfy Sunday routines and into the show. Yet there have been quite a few of them during October and November, no doubt due to the incredibly busy gig schedule we've all had the pleasure to witness during the past couple of weeks. And usually, when you have a popular enough band, people will show up anyway, which is also the case tonight. Unfortunately, Amager Bio has pulled a fast one on all of us, and failed to inform that the concert started at 19:30 already instead of 20:00 as indicated on the website and on the Facebook event, which meant that those of us arriving just on time for Coldrain's supporting set bore witness to the last few minutes of their show instead. Really unfortunate, and alas, no review from us for that band. Luckily our photographer Nikola Majkic was early and managed to capture a few good shots of the band.

Coldrain

While She Sleeps

As tonight's special guests, While She Sleeps direct a sizable audience in convincing fashion from the get go. A recurring "Brainwashed, brainwashed, brainwashed" sample turns into a crowd chant of the same before the band explodes onto the scene with the some monstrous energy they've always performed with. They struggle for a moment with awful sound, but compensate with solid crowd control mid-song, with everyone in the band excelling at inciting circle pits, getting the audience to pump their fists, or to bounce up and down on command. "This Is The Six" opens up the mosh pit big time with the band quickly adopting a look that's usually more akin to headliners of the night. "Jump up, wake the fuck up" the singer shouts, throwing fuel into a fire that's enraging near the center of the crowd, where an impromptu wall of death as a direct response to the singer's brief divide it gesture. By the time we reach "Our Courage, Our Cancer", the sound has improved significantly, and on stage, the band shows no signs of tiring. We're talking huge jumps and the vocalist kneeling to scream on stage, whilst the rest of the band are engaged in equally energetic roles in their respective positions on the stage. When you combine their energy with the spellbinding quality that their songs offer even on first live listen, it's not hard to see why While She Sleeps are considered one of the very best metalcore bands from the UK for the time being.

While She Sleeps

"New World Torture" has the whole audience bouncing up and down as if they were on a trampoline during its "We are the underground" sections, and for "Seven Hills" the band encourage a wave of crowd surfers to make their way towards the stage. People pack closer to the stage, and eventually vocalist Lawrence Taylor leaps over the barrier, delivering harrowing screams while being thrown around on top of the audience. For "Four Walls", he even stands up on top of the audience for a section of a song that draws loud cheers from everyone in the audience. At the end of the day, what we've witnessed is a passionate performance characterized by its sheer urgency and magnificent songs. This is exactly why people are raving about While She Sleeps, who tonight deliver a set that easily eclipses that of the headliners.

8

Bullet For My Valentine

In comparison, the lengthy "Thunderstruck" (AC/DC) backing track that leads into a "V" sample feels a little unnecessary after the raw display of power delivered by WSS just before. Yet tonight is the night of chants, it appears, as a loud "Bullet, Bullet, Bullet" chant develops as the band walk on stage. And here comes the good news: Matt Tuck has seemingly recovered his ability to deliver throat-wrenching screams, at least if one is to base by opening song "No Way Out", which is off their newest album "Venom". Throughout the album Bullet readily echo "The Poison" era in stark contrast to the frankly awful "Temper Temper" from a couple of years ago, which has clearly landed well with fans. The audience responds with a surprisingly convincing sing-along, which suggests BFMV fans may agree with my notion of "Venom" being their second best album overall. This pattern repeats through the concert: "You Want A Battle? (Here's A War)" receives a massive response from the crowd despite it's overly dramatic gang chorals (or perhaps that is exactly why). Once again, Tuck showcases his ability to deliver throaty screaming that we were told was supposed to be gone for good after an injury resulting from the debut album tour. Glad to have you back, Matt.

Bullet For My Valentine

The first three songs are a bit of a power statement. The crowd is enchanted by the new material that sandwiches "4 Words (To Choke Upon)", which kickstarts the pit in the process. "Raising Hell" is the first weak track of the evening, but, fortunately, it is followed in rapid fashion by one of the only good tracks off sophomore album "Scream Aim Fire", namely the title track, which ends in a massive breakdown that drives the crowd wild. Then it's back to the older material again: "The Poison" arrives, but it appears that very few people know the track, that is, until the a capella section where people are singing along once again. What's most striking about songs from this era is how good they still sound ten years later, while songs like "The Last Fight" and "Alone" off the mediocre "Fever" are considerably weaker in contrast. And tonight, "Fever" tracks, in particular, are truly exposed bare for what they are: barely passable material from a time when BFMV felt lost in translation as they sought to find their new identity within the hard rock realm. Fortunately, with a sixteen song set loaded on mostly "Venom" and "The Poison" songs, we're left with only three songs off this record, two from "Scream Aim Fire" and none from the hopeless "Temper Temper" record to our delight. Suggests the band is decisively heading back towards their roots in every way imaginable.

Bullet For My Valentine

At this point we've mostly been treated to weaker material since the strong opening tonight; to call the middle section nondescript isn't far from the truth. Fortunately, the band pick it up again with a slew of metalcore classics including "Tears Don't Fall", which receives a massive sing along, and the band's (still) best track, "Hand Of Blood" from the debut EP days. The blinding guitars and the raw screams of this track never cease to amaze, which is why it's up there with As I Lay Dying and All That Remains classics as one of the best metalcore songs written in the history of the genre.

Bullet For My Valentine

An encore follows, where the band plays "Your Betrayal" and "Waking The Demon". The latter's popularity has always been a question mark for me despite its lightning speed delivery, and instead the band should've opted to close the set with "Broken" from the new album which is skipped on altogether. Shame, considering it's the best track on the record according to many. As the closing notes to "Waking The Demon" come around, two things come into mind about the show and the band in general. One, the only albums worth listening to are the first one and the newest one, and two, despite all the good moments, it's hard to think about the band as anything but an expired product. Had "Venom" been the sophomore album we'd be talking a different story, but there have been too many weaker albums in between to recover from the image that BFMV are a relic from an era no longer relevant, a symbol for the downward spiral of metalcore as a genre in general. This is in stark contrast to the While She Sleeps set earlier, which felt inspired and impassioned in a wholly different way than the autopilot-like stand-still show that BFMV delivered tonight. Professional and a surprisingly good setlist, sure, but also predictable and not particularly memorable in any manner.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. No Way Out
  • 2. 4 Words (To Choke Upon)
  • 3. You Want a Battle? (Here's a War)
  • 4. Raising Hell
  • 5. Scream Aim Fire
  • 6. The Poison
  • 7. The Last Fight
  • 8. Venom
  • 9. Alone
  • 10. Worthless
  • 11. Guitar Solo
  • 12. Army of Noise
  • 13. Tears Don't Fall
  • 14. Hand of Blood
  • --Encore:--
  • 15. Your Betrayal
  • 16. Waking the Demon

Photos by: Nikola Majkic

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