Bring Me The Horizon

support Architects + The Devil Wears Prada
author AP date 01/02/11 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It says something about the size of the Danish scene when even the heavyweights in the genre have trouble selling Store Vega out. Granted, the event fell midweek in the capital, preventing all but the central and peripheral dwellers from attending due to issues to do with school, work and money. Perhaps a venue like Lille Vega or Amager Bio would be better suited for accommodating bands of this caliber (at least on weekdays)? It's not that Store Vega was echoing with vacancy tonight, with most of the available floor downstairs occupied by masses of alarmingly young attendees, but it does pose a danger that the headlining act might not be willing to give it all, especially if we're talking about a band capable of, and used to, playing before thousands of people.

The Devil Wears Prada

For me, the evening's opening act was the American metalcore collective Devil Wears Prada. As ever, the band is a sight to behold, with hardly a moment of calm to temper their hyper-energetic stage presence. Even with severe sound problems bringing forth the profuse double pedal all too well in the mix, one gets the impression that The Devil Wears Prada are not messing around: the countless breakdowns, for once, sound serious, and the technical riffs surrounding them are delivered with precision. And when the wall of bass emanating from the speakers loosens its grip to make space for the band's melodic alter ego, one cannot but marvel at guitarist Jeremy DePoyster's pitch perfect clean incursions in the likes of "Danger: Wildman". But at the same time, there is something decidedly clichéed about the performance, with the synchronised jumps and headbanging feeling more like a well-rehearsed publicity stunt than a spontaneous outpour of energy. Call me a cynic, but even vocalist Mike Hranica's tireless efforts at engaging the crowd, sprinting from side to side and screaming every last bit of passion out of his lungs along with chunks of his throat, seems incapable of convincing me. Maybe it's the obligatory confession of faith that comes expectedly towards the end of the set, but something about The Devil Wears Prada, both live and on record, makes their music feel like an element of a calculated product series spat out of some metalcore manufacturing plant. They're simply ticking all the right boxes enamoring naïve pre-teens and catering to mosh-monging hardcore kids. And so, while the interplay between the extreme and the pretty has been honed to perfection on a song like "Dez Moines", it sounds like it was written to a formula known to succeed in certain circles. In short: The Devil Wears Prada are always an entertaining band to watch live provided you have even the slightest familiarity with their songs, but there is very little to set them apart from the host of other bands practicing this style of metalcore (Greeley Estates, for instance). The word is predictable.
7

Architects

Architects are up next to prove their worth following a disappointing new album. The Britons know their evolution has alienated some fans sworn in by "Hollow Crown" and made others skeptical, so rather than trying to convince them otherwise right off the bat, the set begins to the familiar tune of "Follow the Water". In turn, vocalist Sam Carter and his crew is greeted with an enraptured crowd response; the evening's proceedings thus initiated beyond any expectation. Architects are not a band disheartened by low turnouts, having managed to pull circle pits off in the past with virtually empty venues, and as ever, the band is breathing confidence tonight. The setlist has been carefully designed for both divisions - those fond of the newfound pop sensibilities on "The Here and Now", and those longing for the band's tech metal days - including both fresh, booming arena anthems in "Day in, Day out", "Learn to Live" and "Delete, Rewind", and classic fan favorites "In Elegance", "Hollow Crown", "Dethroned" and "Early Grave". We have our luck to thank that the sickening ballads the band has mustered up for the new album are nowhere to be heard, and that instead, the band is coming at us with full force and relentless abandon. Striking a fine balance between cacophonic disarray and massive sing-alongs, the setlist could not have been better devised had I picked it myself (although with more time, "Buried at Sea", "To the Death" and "You'll Find Safety" would have been welcome additions).

In the past, Architects have had some trouble handling their instruments with the proficiency they demonstrate on record, but tonight, it seems the band has finally fallen into a comfort zone where pulling off a demanding tapped lead on the move is no chore at all. On the new songs, which emphasize a more simplistic, chord driven approach, the level of energy is of course even higher, but overall the band before my eyes is one with thrice the experience and precision they had last year, supporting Underoath. But even so, while the performance lacks completely in flaws, it never pulls my jaw toward the floor or prevents me from checking my watch. Architects might be considered as battle worn veterans in the scene already, but steps still need to be taken to differentiate their trade from the growing number of djent-riffing, time-bending metalcore shooting stars shipping over here in legions. Musically Architects achieved this long ago, with "Hollow Crown", but with the recent lapse into poppier territory where Alexisonfire already thrives, the time has come to take their show into another dimension.

Bring Me The Horizon

From the moment scene heroes Bring Me The Horizon enter with the intro of "Anthem" lingering in the background, it is obvious that vocalist, misanthrope and teen idol, Oli Sykes, has blood on his tooth. Having casually assessed us from behind the scenes, he has decided the crowd to be worthy to receive his full wrath, and so, signaling the beginning of the end by parting his arms, he transforms the venue into a maelstrom of flailing bodies and achieves what most bands have tried to, and failed at, many a time in the past. Less than a minute into "It Never Ends" the floor is divided by a foreboding vertical space, followed by the left and right spectator clans converging at its centre with considerable momentum. Wall of death - the first of many tonight - has finally succeeded in Denmark. The energy is infectious, with band and crowd fueling each other's unprejudiced violence, even if the choice of songs is not fully in accordance with the bloodthirsty mood governing tonight.

High on confidence, low on mistakes, and riding a decent sound mix, Bring Me The Horizon woo us through sheer power and precision leaving no one cold. At the same time, maturing has its downsides, particularly for a band marred by voluptuous controversy, as expecting a band infamous for breaking the rules does not pay off tonight. Instead, the setlist has been tailored to reflect the band's current mainstream success, meaning that the profane, chaotic stuff of "Count Your Blessings" has had to succumb to the band's more accessible side. For the casual listener this is good news as it provides ample opportunity for crowd participation, but for the more battle hardened of us, the newfound pop sensibilities are simply not convincing enough to match the aural and visual violence of the early years. Since Oli himself is no tenor, and newest member Jona Weinhofen can do backup at best, the band attemps to spice things up with numerous guest spots. Denmark's very own Jacob Printzlau (who used to sing for The Fashion and directed the video for "It Never Ends") steps in to cover Josh Franceschi's contributions on "Fuck", Sam Carter expectedly handles his duties on "The Sadness Will Never End", and Tek-One's Tonn Piper joins in for some rapping during "Football Season is Over".

But as cool as such details are (the triforce vocals courtesy of Sykes, Weinhofen and Printzlau on "Fuck" are chilling), it is difficult not to feel like the most essential element of Bring Me The Horizon is missing. Rather than living up to the unpredictable, chaotic and visceral show that past incidents like being thrown off stage foreshadow, the band is surprisingly tame in their delivery tonight. The audience, on the other hand, seems overcome by folie á deux, which is the most natural reaction to songs as explosive as "Alligator Blood" and "Diamonds Aren't Forever". And so, while Bring Me The Horizon fare well when it comes to executing their material glitch-free, the show is a little too safe for my liking. It will be interesting to see whether such an approach can propel the band into the big league where arena venues are mundane, and also what fate awaits the remnants from the band's ferocious past. Will the old material be scrapped altogether to push the band's current image, or will the band also continue to mine its roots and establish itself as an unstoppable live force?

Setlist:

  • It Never Ends
  • Chelsea Smile
  • Alligator Blood
  • Fuck
  • The Sadness Will Never End
  • Crucify Me
  • Football Season is Over
  • Blessed With a Curse
  • Anthem
  • --Encore--
  • Diamonds Aren't Forever

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