As I Lay Dying

support Darkest Hour + Himsa + Architects
author PP date 08/09/07 venue Mean Fiddler, London, UK

Us poor Europeans on this side of the pond always get to watch with jealousy how the tours in the US are always stacked with more hot and incredible names than take the trip across the atlantic in a month. Finally our prayers had been answered though, as As I Lay Dying was returning to celebrate their recently released new album "An Ocean Between Us", and with them brought cult metalcore heroes Darkest Hour, the lesser known but equally impressive Himsa, and of course an up and rising local band Architects. I was understandably excited, after all the bill boasts of two names that are in my top 5 favorite bands of all time, consistently popping up in my regular playlist rotation. Seems like I wasn't the only one, either, as I was trailing the massive line that had built up behind Mean Fiddler, a 800 capacity venue jampacked in the heart of London.

Architects

First act to get on stage was Architects, a band I've read much hype about without ever having the chance of hearing any of their actual music. These young kids from Brighton hit the stage with such intensity that it was impossible not to stand there in awe. Wearing their Converge shirts, the effect of this highly influential band on Architects was also audible in their music (halfway Norma Jean, halfway Converge), but more importantly in their bombastic live show. Despite the two metre gap between the stage and the barrier, vocalist Sam kept on catapulting himself across, landing on unsuspecting members of the crowd in a fashion that can only be described as a daunting experience. The rest of the band threw themselves across the stage vigorously, resembling a slightly more controlled version of Converge on stage. A quick glance across the crowd tells the story why this band has half a million profile views - almost half of the venue had their fists in the air, and the mosh pit was filled with trend-moshers throwing their karate kids around like comlete retards. If any of you in that pit ever pass by this article - do the same in front of a mirror and try not to laugh, it looks too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Not to wonder too much offtopic here, though, I have to say that the band's show was one of the most captivating and intense shows I've seen from a third support band at a show.

7

Himsa

When Himsa released their debut album "Hail Horror" to the unsuspecting public back in early 2006, it was received with mixed reactions, including on this very website. Retrospectively thinking a 7 is probably a far too low grade for an album which combines melodic metal and metalcore so seemlessly that tracks like "Pestilence" and "Seminal" are still tracks that I listen to on a regular basis. But tonight, something was wrong. Himsa had a decent following at tonight's show, perhaps not as big as Architects just before (them being a local band it isn't surprising), but they couldn't get the crowd going, nor their stageshow to the same level as their album is. Most of the show consisted of the band standing still, aside from their vocalist who did a couple of cool stunts for the crowd much like Architects just before. Sure, people had their eyes glued on the guitarists whose intricate solos were dueling each other, but aside from these moments there just isn't much to talk about. The band came on stage, played their shows, and went off in what could be the new definition of a routine show. Compared to the wild acrobatics and chaos that ensued on just 20 minutes before them, the show came across as rather tame.

4

Darkest Hour

Twenty minutes after Himsa's rather miserable attempt of a set, the lights dimmed and the acoustic guitar interlude of "Doomsayer" triggered a huge cheer from the crowd. So huge that it made me think about getting my ears checked, because the last few times Darkest Hour have been in the UK only a handful of people have known them at most. Almost each time I've seen the band they've been plagued by sound problems, but such issue wasn't present at all today at the Mean Fiddler. The band hit the crowd like a storm, raging back and forth in their usual highly entertaining style. Vocalist John Henry doesn't have to resort to throwing himself onto the crowd, because his aggression is perfectly portrayed by his relentless back and forth swining across the stage. "Sound The Surrender" received a thunderous roar from the crowd, with people going absolutely mental in the mosh pit. The less known new song "Stand And Receive Your Judgement" received a slightly milder response, but the band didn't seem to notice, the stage was all encompassed in aggression. And then it happened. The band played "Demon(s)", the single from their new album "Deliver Us", and the crowd went mental. It's hard to believe, but there was actually a singalong, and it was absolutely massive. More than half of the crowd was screaming along to the lines of the song, and especially the chorus caught me completely off guard - the difference their show with Between The Buried And Me earlier this year was just so overwhelming that I found it difficult to believe. I guess my ears were in condition, after all. After the obvious high point of the show, where John Henry had caught the attention of everyone in the show at once, he asked the whole crowd to put up their hands and swirl their fingers - "you'll know what I mean when we play this song", and so we did. "This Will Outlive Us" was absolutely mental, with the entire crodws fingers moving at an insane pace high up in the sky. It was an image so vivid that whenever I'll hear talk about a Darkest Hour live show, I'll always think of that very specific moment. My only criticism must be the choice of the final song. Fair enough, they only had about 35 minutes to play their set, but choosing "Sadist Nation" instead of "Convalescence" or "These Fevered Times" is kind of an odd choice in my opinion. But regardless, Darkest Hour were at their very best tonight.

Darkest Hour Setlist:

1. Doomsayer (The Beginning Of The End)

2. Sound The Surrender

3. Stand And Receive Your Judgement

4. Demon(s)

5. This Will Outlive Us

6. Deliver Us

7. With A Thousand Words To Say But One

8. Sadist Nation

As I Lay Dying

I must admit that I was a bit afraid how the new As I Lay Dying songs would turn out live, because no matter how you twist it, they are way, way different from anything else they've written during their career span. Fortunately, all my fears were completely unwarranted for, as you are about to find out. There was no observable difference in neither crowd reaction or how the band played the songs, and even if there was, they probably turned out better than their old songs. "Within Destruction" caused a massive circle pit which was far too lethal for me to dare to be a part of, and the clean parts of "Nothing Left" saw the venue engage in full-volume singalong. Clearly the fans had received the album well despite my mention of mixed reaction by critics in my review of the new album. Tim was his usual brutal self, with no sign of tiring even after playing what must be hundreds if not thousands of shows during their career. The new bassist Clint impressed me a lot with his clean parts, which sounded better than they ever have as far as I can remember from previous As I Lay Dying shows.

But even so, I couldn't help but feel that it was the old classics that caused the crowd go most mental. I recall very vividly after "Meaning In Tragedy" a bunch of people all around me with the biggest smiles of their lives, and hearing "they are so fucking great live" being repeated all around me by the crowd. "Confined" received the biggest singalong as you would've imagined, it even beat "Forever"'s manic screams, though only just by a tiny bit. I don't wanna draw any conclusions from this yet, because it had only been about two weeks since the album's release in the UK, so people still haven't had the chance to accustomize themselves with the record. Realistically though, the connection between the band and the crowd never seemed as intense as it had been in smaller venues that the band has previously played in, simply because the theoretical maximum awesomeness that can be achieved at a show like this is extremely limited because of the barrier.

Earlier on in the review, I spoke of the Architect frontman doing Converge like crazy stunts to jump on the crowd. The stunt of the day award, however, must go to frontman Tim Lambesis. Just before playing "94 Hours", Tim announced to the crowd how good it felt to be back in the UK. He said it was like coming to a second home, referring to his home town San Diego, where they just recently played on Warped Tour (and where coincidentally one our scribes was present). They did a vague reference to the massive circle pit around the sound tent at San Diego, before asking the crowd if it was possible to go around the mixerboard at the back of the venue. "I want you guys to get a circle pit going around that mixerboard" - guess what happened? Unsuspecting people standing at the sides on the back were basically mowed down by crazy (me included) pit enthusiasts who basically created the largest circle pit Mean Fiddler has seen to date. People were throwing fists all around while revolving the mixer desk, and I have to say I'm surprised nobody got seriously hurt because of the slippery-as-ice floor and the elevated mosh-pit area of the venue. It was dangerous, but at the same time awfully fulfilling to break all the predefined rules of the venue at once - the best possible representation of tonight's show.

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