Parkway Drive

support The Ghost Inside + Miss May I + Confession
author AP date 23/04/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Monday, April 23rd boded a dream line-up for the moshwarriors of Copenhagen and Malmö, with heavyweight hardcore and metalcore bands from opposite corners of the globe. Given the star-spangled line-up at Groezrock this weekend, it was a great relief to be able to watch these bands, who are all booked to appear at the festival, in a club setting before, in order to make room for four other must-see bands that will be playing concurrently with them over there. As a testament to the popularity of the four bands, Pumpehuset is nearly at full capacity when I arrive just before the evening's first performance.

Confession

First in line are the Australian hardcore/metalcore fusionists Confession, lead by former I Killed the Prom Queen vocalist Michael Crafter. Based on my previous experience with them I set my expectations low, as the band's breakdown-centric mosh music does little to impress me, but given our editor-in-chief's positive remarks about their newest album, "The Long Way Home", it is nonetheless with a hope for a slight improvement that I watch the band emerging on stage. Sadly, Confession are not in good form tonight. In an effort to come across as extreme and imposing as possible, the sound has been cranked up to a point where it is nigh impossible to hear the delicacies of newer material such as "Confused/Hopeless", "Heartless" and "The Long Way Home", and to make things worse, drummer Shane O'Brien is still reeling from smoking up in Christiania earlier, with the result that he has serious trouble keeping up with the rest of the band.

Although the music, as mentioned, is of little interest to me, it is still easy to understand why the band is so popular: when they're heavy, they're really heavy. Songs like "Asthma Attack", "That's Not the Goose", and a somehow befitting cover of Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" provide the perfect soundtrack for pit madness and countless stage dives, but it baffles me why Confession insist on including sugary clean vocals in some of them, especially as guitarist Dan Brown is unable to deliver them on tune live. So despite the fact that Confession doubtless provide a satisfying experience for those more interested in moshing than music, the godawful clean vocals and overall poor sound mix make their set rather forgettable.

5

Miss May I

With a slightly better mix and a desire to collect new fans, Miss May I do a much better job with their traditional metalcore. Starting with the brilliant "Relentless Chaos", the first thing established is that clean vocals are a powerful tool in metalcore when sung with power and precision as by bassist Ryan Neff here. The next is that one needs not add innovation to the palette in order to sound relevant; armed with a plethora of instantly memorable staccato riffs and melodic leads, guitarists Justin Aufdemkampe and B.J. Stead quickly prove themselves as worthy peers to their counterparts in As I Lay Dying - on newer material such as "Our Kings" and "Masses of a Dying Breed" - and Darkest hour - on the older songs "Forgive and Forget" and "Architect", delivering their parts with both skill and finesse. And finally, adding to their strength is Jerod Boyd on drums, whose inventive percussion no doubt makes him one of the band's most prized assets.

True Miss May I look and sound very similar to the two aforementioned bands, but applying a tried and tested formula in this case is a recipe for success. Although the guitarists are hindered somewhat by the technical nature of the music, collectively the band comes across as energetic, and hellbent on impressing us given it is their first time in Denmark. Vocalist Levi Benton in particular, does a commendable job at enamoring the audience with an imposing, emotive presence on stage, glistening with passion. The absolute highlight of their set comes with the brand new "Hey Mister", which will be featured on their upcoming third album "At Heart" this summer, which seems to push Miss May I's sound in a much more distinct direction.

The Ghost Inside

The Ghost Inside impressed us a lot last year when they played alongside A Day to Remember across the Øresund strait in Malmö, so it was interesting to see whether or not they would be able to muster up an equally stirring performance tonight. The band, comprising vocalist Jonathan Vigil, guitarists Aaron Brooks and Zach Johnson, bassist Jim Riley, and drummer Andrew Tkaczyk, take the stage without fanfare with a brief hello plus introduction, resonating a DIY attitude as one would expect from a hardcore band, and launch straight into "Greater Distance" from their most recent album "Returners". Unfortunately the quality of the mix has once again taken a bullet, so it is extremely difficult to distinguish the legato melodies that separate The Ghost Inside from most hardcore bands from the enormous wall of sound unleashed by the rhythm instruments.

The problems are fixed to some extent come "Overlooked", which is just as well because it is the following "Chrono", the brand new song "Outlive" and the brilliant "Unspoken" that emerge as the most memorable moments in the band's set. Given the nature of much of the audience, the response that meets the band is nothing short of fantastic, with a huge moshpit operating throughout their performance, and as expected, this energy rubs onto the band as well. Still, given the, in my opinion, wavering quality of older songs like "Provoke" and "Faith or Forgiveness", The Ghost Inside lack that something to match Miss May I just before.

7

Parkway Drive

By now, Parkway Drive is a notorious band in the Rockfreaks.net inner circle, with an ambiguously documented incident at Groezrock two years ago resulting in countless inside jokes about the band. It has all been with good heart of course, as we have yet to experience the band putting on a performance deserving of our demeaning remarks. And we are not about to start tonight, either. When Parkway Drive enter the absolutely rammed confines of the upstairs room, it happens to a heroes' welcome, and with a powerful opening trio in "Unrest", "Boneyards" and "Idols and Achors", it takes the band only a few minutes to establish their dominion over the venue for the next hour or so.

Parkway Drive are quite simply on fire tonight, and if ever there was reason to question their popularity, such doubts are swiftly swept aside by this preeminent display. The setlist is expertly composed of the best of all three albums, with "Sleepwalker", "Home is for the Heartless" and "Breaking Point" providing the most compelling moments. If the 13 songs aired tonight comprised one Parkway Drive album, it would surely be worthy of higher regard than I have offered each of the three individually, even if the mid-set trio "Karma", "Dead Man's Chest" and "Deliver Me" does depart from the fantastic riffs of the remaining songs to make room for chug oriented structures and confounding breakdowns. Even though personally I would have replaced these three with songs like "Frostbite", "The Siren's Song" and "Pandora", they do inject balance into the set, so that those fond of moshing also have an opportunity to unfold themselves. During these songs the stream of stage divers and crowd surfers is at an all time high, and one must applaud Pumpehuset for their decision to not hinder things with a barrier despite the size of the headlining band.

What consolidates this as an extremely good performance is the band itself, however. With seldom seen joy, the band appear eager to deliver the best show they possibly can, and as such the energy expelled by each member seems boundless. My only complaint is that the set could easily have been longer so as to make room for the aforementioned three songs; but probably this would have dampened the euphoric mood in the room that culminates during "Romance is Dead" and the usual encore "Carrion".

8

Setlist:

  • Unrest
  • Boneyards
  • Idols and Anchors
  • Anasasis (Xenophontis)
  • Sleepwalker
  • Karma
  • Dead Man's Chest
  • (Untitled new song)
  • Deliver Me
  • Home is for the Heartless
  • Breaking Point
  • Romance is Dead

--Encore--

  • Carrion

Photos courtesy of Rasmus Ejlersen

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