Attack Attack!

support Kill Em Dead Cowboy + Hopes Die Last + Bury Tomorrow
author BL date 31/01/11 venue Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK

Tonight was going to be an interesting night. It would be the first time seeing probably one of my favourite UK bands in 2011, nice and early to bring a good start to the year. But then they were supporting Attack Attack! whom they had befriended when they toured the US. Suffice to say Attack Attack! have always been a big controversial talking point here at Rockfreaks.net when this album got graded. It was also the first time Attack Attack! had come to the UK, and I for one was most keen to at least see how the crowd here in this packed and busy Wedgewood Rooms would receive them.

Kill 'Em Dead Cowboy

Due to a slight problem with our photopass, I didn't get to stand on the main floor to review Kill 'Em Dead Cowboy until one or two songs into their set. Lead vocalist/singer Sam sported a look similar to that of Daniel Winter Bates from Bury Tomorrow maybe a few years back (short hair) - which was the least of the comparisons I could draw for these guys to Bury Tomorrow. Both are fairly local to the Portsmouth area (only half of Bury Tomorrow), both play straight-up metalcore, both use screamed vocals and clean vocals. Bury Tomorrow have the added benefit of being around a bit longer, having that international touring experience, and significantly more refined sound. This basically made it kind of hard to not think about Bury Tomorrow while watching these guys play. They put on a decent show and some people in the crowd seemed enthusiastic to respond to any calls for crowd participation. As for the music, well Bury Tomorrow do it better, so I wasn't particularly gripped in that sense. That and I thought the clean vocals could stand to use a lot of work, the way the singer tries to lower his voice just sounds completely out of place in this musical setting. Maybe some future potential but some way to go yet.

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Hopes Die Last

Italian emo/post-hardcore act Hopes Die Last started their set with arguably their best song in "Some Like It Cold". Harking back to the Chasing Safety-ara Underoath with clean vocals mixed in with sharp piercing screams, dynamic use of anguished sounding melodies to a backdrop of dissonant guitars - it was a great way to introduce themselves to a largely unfamiliar Portsmouth crowd. However that song aside, you can't really say much of the same for the rest of what they played. Other than their signature closer in "Call Me Sick Boy", their other songs were only mildly comparable in quality or lasting appeal (this being the main weakness of their last album). Some new songs were played and they sounded mildly more exciting with some surprisingly heavy new elements. However with the crowd remaining largely flat in terms of movement (not that they weren't into what they saw by the sound of the cheers), it was difficult for Hopes Die Last to really pick up any strong sense of momentum even despite any theatrics of the short bassist (who did half of the clean vocals) acting like the crazed emo-performer who would throw themselves around or to the floor on stage. So they just played their set without much delay, speeding through the songs at least professionally despite not giving anyone much reason to remember their performance.

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Bury Tommorrow

This is the fifth time I've witnessed Bury Tomorrow live, and while I never tire of seeing these guys perform, I was wondering how they could improve on all the previous times I've seen them and not start to seem too familiar. Well it turns out all you have to do is to just do everything you've done before, but make everything five times better. This was without a doubt, the best Bury Tomorrow performance by some long way even despite such a short set - really, these guys kicked ass. The crowd did their part too, their voices threatening to deafen along with the shattering noise level of the guitars. Everything about the performance just had that exciting flair that was only a result of what this band has achieved in a relatively short space of time in international touring experience, and just maturing as musicians. Sure there was a slight American feel about the band now: the stage moves, the super tight sound and some guest vocals from Caleb Shomo from Attack Attack! - but Bury Tomorrow certainly showed us that metalcore is not a dead genre by any means. Most of the best songs from their discography were included including some of the newest additions in "Waxed Wings" with it's wicked tapped guitar riff, and the best crowd pleaser/absolutely-epic-track in "These Woods Aren't Safe For Us". By the end of the set I am proud of two things, that these guys are considered my "local band" (from Southampton), and that I was here to see the band at the start of what will no doubt be their real year.
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Setlist:

1. Casting Shapes

2. Her Bones In The Sand

3. Anything With Teeth

4. Waxed Wings

5. These Woods Aren't Safe For Us

6. You and I

Attack Attack!

So why are we all really here? Synth-metalcore-post-hardcore-crabcore outfit Attack Attack! probably don't need any introduction to anyone who has been alive in the music scene for the past two years. That said there is (or at least there was until their last album) this general stigma of mentioning this band (and not the other similarly named Attack! Attack!) out loud, though oddily I am not someone who like many thought "Someday Came Suddenly" was just an atrocious mix of techno-dance with scene post-hardcore and Crabcore. Ofcourse by no means do I take a band like Attack Attack! seriously - in that you can probably even enjoy them as an amusing gimmick that will wear off after some extended listening. Their self-titled followup stirred up no less criticism even though it was, from a lot of aspects, a technically superior album with some branching into more metalcore/hardcore territory, along with more dubstep instead of techno-dance electronica.

So what were they like? Well surprisingly for some I'm sure, the band performed pretty well on stage. Their execution was super tight and the sound was perfect (but then it is just a lot of breakdowns, a lot of dissonance, and a lot of strummed chords), they interacted with the crowd and kept them entertained (who by way were mostly loving every second of it), and were full of energy and enthusiasm especially from how Caleb seemed genuinely stoked to be there, with this being their first time in the UK. Was there a lot of crabcore? Surprisingly not really aside from the occasional synchonised headbanging move almost every American or American-influenced scenecore band had adopted (that includes Bury Tomorrow as well). Clean vocals were handled fairly competently (as in no autotune, though Attack Attack! had already long abandoned it more or less anyway) by an unknown guitarist that had joined this now recently made four-piece for this tour, with former singer/guitarist Johnny Franck departing a while back to persue his relationship with God. They opened surprisingly with the sluggish and brute force hard hitters "AC-130" and "A For Andrew", but quickly visited older material in "Dr. Shavargo Pt. 3" and "The People's Elbow" (both actually fairly decent songs).

Unfortunately the last train from the venue back to Southampton was at 23:33, and because the show organisers thought it would be a fantastic idea to start the whole evening at 20:00, the curfew was meant to be 23:30 and therefore we wouldn't have made the train had we stuck with the show til the end (it takes about 15-20 minutes to get to the station if you power walk). We would have preferred to stay to witness what I'm sure would have been a fun (if not hilarious) end to the night, especially after we left they played "Renob, Nevada", "Sexual Man Chocolate" and "Stick Stickly" which were the three songs I actually wanted to see from this band - but it wasn't meant to be. Nonetheless after seeing most of the set I think Attack Attack! at least from a performance point of view, should get some credit for being at least good at what they do and delivering no less than what people expect, and I wouldn't mind seeing a full set some other time.

Setlist:

1. AC-130

2. A For Andrew

3. Dr. Shavargo Pt. 3

4. The People's Elbow

5. Lonely (only the dubstep part)

6. Smokahontas

7. Turbo Swag

8. Renob, Nevada

9. Sexual Man Chocolate

Encore:

10. Hot Grills, and High Tops

11. Stick Stickly

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

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