All That Remains & The Haunted

support Anterior
author AP date 24/01/09 venue Islington Academy, London, UK

Since the Astoria venues succumbed to the idea of a business park there instead, concerts scheduled there had to be moved some place else; in Astoria 2's case, most of them to the O2 Academy in Islington, a somewhat smaller establishment in a far less convenient location with respect to Waterloo. Then there were the horror stories of the worst sound in town. Nonetheless, having looked forward to this show since it was announced back in July, this wasn't a show I was prepared to miss.

Anterior

Other than having scanned through some of the band's material minutes before leaving for the show, Anterior is a band I know very little about. They're Welsh, and I've been told that they play music that sounds like what Killswitch Engage would sound like had they hired Phil Labonte rather than Howard Jones. The irony methinks, need not be mentioned. What does need to be mentioned is what a positive surprise Anterior's performance is. Granted, save for the occasional headbanging, there really isn't that much going on, and it would probably be a less rewarding show were it not for the prodigious skill of the two guitarists. Seriously, it's hypnotizing to watch Leon and Steven shred the shit out of their axes without so much as a single fuck-up, even if that means standing still looking focused or using that foot-on-amp stance a few times too often. And here I was, expecting but a thirty minutes of average metalcore.

Anterior's allowance tonight is a mere thirty minutes, which, with songs averaging at the five-and-a-half-minute mark is somewhat disappointing. Fortunately, the band is well aware of the constraint, waste no time on interactive bullshit, and actually manage to play through most of "This Age Of Silence". But as mentioned before, those thirty minutes aren't all that captivating when attention is not drawn to the guitar work. In short: while Anterior do nothing wrong per se, getting the crowd sufficiently stirred up for what's to come, the show lacks that something, which distinguishes the truly unique from the vast amount of contemporaries. That is not to say, however, that the show isn't one of unquestionable quality and consistency, more than enough to warrant a solid

7

The Haunted

I'd be lying if I claimed I was here for any other band than The Haunted, their performance at Fredericia Hardcore Festival two years ago permanently imprinted in my memory as one of those concerts that does not lack that something. Needless to say, my expectations are high. Beginning with "Little Cage", probably the heaviest track off the band's latest album, "Versus", the room is filled with an air of slight skepticism; will this be a mere promo-concert for that album? By the chorus comes, there seems to be a mutual understanding that this cannot, and will not be the case. And surely enough, from then on it's time travel through the entirety of the band's millennium of discography: just four from "Versus" and three from "The Dead Eye", with the majority of material selected from the band's older produce.

What makes this show, and in fact all of The Haunted's shows so damn exhilarating is the atmosphere they whip up. Peter Dolving is a genuine show man, narrating us through the band's history and littering the pauses with ballsy comments about Hitler's haircut, comparing it with some of the fringes he sees up front, about the high average age in the venue today, "thank God!", and about himself, "a sweaty, semi-psychotic dickhead". Indeed, it's this semi-psychotic nature of the music itself that is most intriguing about the show. Dolving has the demeanor of a psychopath as he screams through the crowd-pleasers "All Against All" and "The Medication", culminating in a finale consisting of the brutal and just downright mean "99", "Dark Intentions" and "Hate Song". Alas, fifteen songs later it still seems like it was all over too soon. Not that any of us care, what with the band having put on one of the most solid, uncompromising shows I've seen.

Setlist:

01. Little Cage

02. The Drowning

03. Moronic Colossus

04. Trespass

05. The Medication

06. The Flood

07. D.O.A.

08. All Against All

09. In Vein

10. Trenches

11. Bury Your Dead

12. Faultline

13. 99

14. Dark Intentions

15. Hate Song

All That Remains

Another band I watched at said Fredericia Hardcore Festival two years ago; alas, the show then was a disappointing one, which has shaped my expectations for their performance tonight to be low, but nonetheless optimistic. Phil was, after all, suffering from a cold then and the crowd was far from enthusiastic. If the crowd is anything to judge by this time, though, it's about to be much, much better. "The Air That I Breathe" kicks things off and immediately, without the slightest exaggeration, every person in the room is singing back at Phil. Hell, even Mike Martin, who seemed so indifferent that last time is sporting a huge smile. One song after the other, it becomes clearer to me that this band's material was written to be played live; every word is reciprocated by the audience almost to the point where it becomes hard to hear Phil himself, who, by the way, couldn't sound much better tonight.The stage is lit up like a rainbow to emphasize that we're, above all else, we're here to have fun, to mosh and sing along.

For just over an hour All That Remains give us our money's worth, showing why they're considered one of the three kings of the metalcore genre; and as much as I'd like to decry them for such calculated material, it's impossible not to be impressed by how convincing and engaging it all sounds live. Most of tonight's material comes off "The Fall of Ideals", arguably their best album, but it's the rarely played "For Salvation" and the encore, "This Darkened Heart" that are the real gems of the evening. As such, there are no weaknesses to point out in connection to the show: the mix is perfect, the setlist couldn't be much better and Phil engages the crowd in a manner rarely seen by this weathered scribe. It's so close to being perfect without ever getting there for no discernible reason.

Setlist:

01. The Air That I Breathe

02. Undone

03. Become The Catalyst

04. Not Alone

05. The Weak Willed

06. Chiron

07. It Dwells On Me

08. Before The Damned

09. Indictment

10. Six

11. For Salvation

12. We Stand

13. Two Weeks

14. This Calling

--Encore--

15. This Darkened Heart

Photos courtesy of Danielle Kelly

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