Architects

support Lower Than Atlantis + Devil Sold His Soul + Norma Jean
author BL date 09/09/10 venue Academy, Bristol, UK

It was the first time I can think of in which we requested to review one show, only to take the next one on the tour schedule instead. Disappointed to certainly not go see Architects play in London, I still had hopes not to be disappointed in Bristol (having not been there before for a concert, who knew what it would be like). The lineup was a mouth watering prospect to say the least, with Devil Sold His Soul and Norma Jean both bands I wanted to check out for their highly regarded live show displays, as different as they were from each other.

Lower Than Atlantis

Of all the bands here, Lower Than Atlantis may appear to be the more different one in the lineup. But actually from a bigger perspective they and the headliners in particular originate from the same sort of hardcore and punk scene, only Architects have a far heavier and more metal finish. While I had yet to overly familiarise myself with the band's sound except for a few myspace plays, I did enjoy what I heard at least on there. The acoustics at the venue though, were disappointing to say the least. The way the sound resonated with such distortion and heavy bass meant it was difficult at times to really hear the songs clearly and this really got in the way of fully enjoying the performance at least from where I was standing. The band still played well though and there was plenty of energy and purpose in their stage presence, and what I made out from the vocals of guitarist and frontman Mike Duce sounded pretty impressive. The riffs were plentiful, the choruses were still pretty catchy to nod to just like their disc counterparts and even though the volume from the instruments and feedback drowned them out somewhat (again no fault of their own as I found out later), the furthermost front part of the crowd were still very receptive and there were decent amounts of movement. At the end of the set Mike tried surfing the crowd on some kind of case which people held up, going out in style.
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Devil Sold His Soul

It was evident that Devil Sold His Soul had brought a strong contigent of fans to the crowd as the venue began getting more and more packed before the band took to the stage. They are quickly becoming one of the new hyped names of the British underground hardcore scene with their latest record "Blessed & Cursed" getting them more deserved recognition than ever before. I was definitely excited to see what they would be like live and if they could sucessfully recreate that powerful atmosphere that works so well on record. I didn't know all the songs that well, but numbers like "Drowning/Sinking" were so good to hear and see in a live setting despite the poor acoustics slightly hampering these guys as well (the vocals sounding a little quiet compared to the instruments). But because there were more interesting quieter dynamics involved compared to the last act, I didn't have as big as a problem hearing the parts and the powerful crescendos came through so effectively and being thoroughly enjoyable. The transitions from serene and peaceful clean guitar to crashing and haunting distortion with some real passionate screams and singing from Ed Gibbs is something that becomes an experience when you see the band on stage. Interestingly the setlist was made up of mostly tracks off the new album and the only older song being "Hope" which rounded off an impressive performance to rapturous applause. This is one band who could and should make it big.

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Setlist:

1. Tides

2. Drowning/Sinking

3. The Weight Of Faith

4. An Ocean Of Lights

5. Callous Heart

6. Hope

Norma Jean

Norma Jean are the most experienced name on the bill tonight, the old hands per se, but in no way not too old to still rock a peaking capacity crowd inside the venue. The group had just recently released their new album Meridional but still managed to cover their long running career's worth of songs into a fairly meaty main support set. Cory Brandan's screams are vicious and the band have the presence and look of seasoned rock performers. The crowd seemed more reactive to the older material while occasionally just happy to take in the other songs without really looking like causing any real havoc. For closer "Memphis Will Be Layed To Waste" though, which happened to be one hell of a crowd pleaser (not surprising in anyway) as all of a sudden people began moving around violently and the noise increased fervently. "Vipers, Snakes, and Actors" was one of the other songs I actually knew the name to, like you see Norma Jean is one of those bands I never had the chance to get properly into (though I guess I really should invest more time into their songs, because they do seem pretty entertaining). Once again the sound didn't end up being that great, but heck it didn't stop the band from being a great watch regardless, and it's hard to not see why.
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Architects

It took a full 40 or so minutes for the band to finally appear on stage, and people could not have screamed louder when they finally did (and Lauren passed the time by dancing to the music inbetween the sets). The band opened with a new song of their upcoming 2011 album "The Here and Now" with "Day In Day Out", a song which I like many had already heard before. To be quite honest it wasn't a song I thought these guys would write, it's a bit different, and in my eyes a bit of a misstep. It's lacking the intensity, the aggression, and the downright nasty technical riffing from the "Hollow Crown" record - it just sounds so simplified. Still, the band did the song to the best of their ability live and it was decent to watch. For me though once "In Elegance" started afterwards I was reminded why this band is heralded as one of the pinnacles of the current wave of the British hardcore/metalcore scene, as in bloody damn good.

Songs played from then on were the usual mix of almost all "Hollow Crown" tracks with the usual exception of "Buried At Sea" from "Ruin", and "To The Death" from the first album "Nightmares" (re-recorded as a bonus song for "Hollow Crown"). There was a second new song "Delete, Rewind" which I found hard to follow at times due to the poor sound quality. It did sound heavier and a bit more technical (with tapped lead guitars) than "Day In Day Out" while retaining a decent catchy-ish chorus, alleviating part of my fears for their new album not to be as good as I'm hoping it to be. Elsewhere, my personal favourites "Numbers Count For Nothing", "Early Grave" and "We're All Alone" were flawlessly executed, and like the previous occasion seeing the band, "Hollow Crown" was played live and is frankly one of their best songs live now just the way it builds up to that fantastic climax. The band wrapped up a most rewarding performance somewhat predictably with "Follow The Water", their trusty 'encore song' that is the final send off for us, being part of the "second biggest tour they have played" - Sam Carter sounding genuinely sincere when he told us. In any case despite it being a song we all knew they'd end on, it was still bloody good, with Sam nicely changing a few of the vocal melodies. So there it was, the best overall performance by these guys yet by some margin. Everything is finally falling into place by the looks of it. This is a band looking like they want to take on the world as headliners and with shows like these, that will come.

Setlist:

1. Day In Day Out

2. In Elegance

3. Numbers Count For Nothing

4. Dethroned

5. Buried At Sea

6. To The Death

7. Early Grave

8. Borrowed Time

9. Left With A Last Minute

10. Delete, Rewind

11. We're All Alone

12. Hollow Crown

--Encore--

13. Follow The Water

Photos courtesy of Lauren Harris. To see the rest of the photos check out Lauren Harris Photography's facebook page.

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