BRING ME THE HORIZON+ Architects+ Clone the Fragile+ Dead Summer Rising. Furnace, Swindon. 29.10.05

What's this then? Metalcore, hardcore, haircore? The 3rd wave, the 4th?

The reason people get annoyed with genres that come from out of nowhere to outstay their welcome is that the amount of copycats triple, overall quality drops like a stone, it gets harder to tell genuine heart from eyes filled with dollar signs and saturation point comes all too quickly. Like they say, there's only so much shit you can take.

But let's reserve that kind of judgement for at least an hour.

Dead Summer Rising
are really young and play that way. They are brilliantly talented but the whiff of fandom is overwhelming. There's Black Dahlia Murder, As i Lay Dying and Norma Jean in their lively hardcore but not one original note. Yet.

Clone the Fragile are better within a mic check and when they get down to it are writing the kind of familiar but exciting riffs capable of grabbing the attention of rooms twice this size. Theirs is still predictable stuff but at least gives the impression it will carry on after the spotlight drops.

And things only get better. Architects are awesome. They bring the Johnny Truant smash and grab approach from their shared Brighton hometown. Their dance moves and discordant mania may be fashion faux pa on such a black clad bill as this but they play genuine shredding metal, fierce and professional.

Already granted underground celebrity and much taunted for major stardom Bring me the Horizon may have won the audience over before playing a note but the adoration isn't entirely unfounded. The band are all decent players, with a live presense already pegged, and out of their stick thin frontman comes the voice of the devil. When the crowd know the words they sing along, when they don't they kick the shit out of each other. Not exactly good clean fun but at least they mean it.

It's debatable how many people are here for the music and how many got in free to wave at their friends but everyone caught proof that the UK underground is alive and kicking, sometimes in the wrong direction and, as always, some way behind the Americans, but kicking fast and hard.
Reassuring stuff


HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS+ Silverstein. Zodiac, Oxford. 21.10.05

Oxford smells like crap. Upstairs the Zodiac is thick with the funk of pubescent teens dancing badly to their new favourite bands.

As it is Silverstein could be one of too many bands dishing out similar screamy emo and the crowd would go just as wild. Songs like 'Giving Up' and 'Discovering the Waterfront' are neat adrenaline spikes but pimpled by bum notes and feedback, luckily the kids are screaming loud enough for no one to notice.

It is surely a huge joy for Hawthorne Heights to play some new songs tonight; they've been playing tracks from their 'The Silence...' debut for three years, and a real treat for the crowd to hear them. But it doesn't really seem to matter. The new tracks which are more of the same heavy melodic rock but darker and more frantic, recieve the same reaction as fan favourites like 'Niki FM' and 'Speeding up the Octaves', but the band look a little bored at playing any of them.
The screaming is ceaseless while HH go through the motions and this is the best gig these fans have ever seen- until next week.

An average night celebrated like the second coming.


Slowly we peel away the layers...

...and light slips through the cracks.


This is desert hardcore- dusty throated vocals over pounding drums and screeching guitars that scream love songs for sandstorms. And like they say 'if it ain't broke...', so there were no concessions to fashion for album number two 'Found in the Flood', released earlier this year.

Go see them make a giant racket and dance like idiots but not care when they tour the UK with The Fall of Troy and Fear Before the March of Flames next month.


DOPAMINE +Reubens Accomplice +Firstborn. Bullingdon, Oxford. 12.10.05

DOPAMINE + Reubens Accomplice + Firstborn. Bullingdon, Oxford. 12.10.05

This is one of those tours that sneaks up on you, a trio of interesting names messing around with getting a buzz about them, playing good songs in British basements-

Firstborn are first up and ripping off Incubus, their lively rock songs are nothing new but they play them with good old British charm and a rare intelligence. And it always makes a change to hear a singer with a sense of humour and even better, one who can sing.
Reubens Accomplice's light melancholy is at odds with the flashes of fun and brilliance elsewhere. It may be their folksy, road-weary style or maybe the only Americans on the bill tonight were expecting something more than a dark, half-full Oxford backroom to greet them.
Dopamine are good, their tunes as anthemic and endearing as on record. Opening with their debut albums one-two punch of 'Destroy Something Beautiful' and 'Laruso' is enough to get people looking up from their pints and when they lock together with the squeal and speed of 'Lifeline Excercise' this is fun, foot-tapping stuff that would sound utterly engulfing on a huge stage.

-there's obviously not a lot of money behind Dopamine and their tour, and that's probably the way it's going to stay, but that doesn't stop them playing without pretence or attitude and shaking awake tiny venues like the Bullingdon nightly.


HELL ON EARTH '05. Mean Fiddler, London. 08.10.05

This is more like it.
Despite plenty of examples to the contrary over in the States, the UK has had no experience of tour packages like Hell On Earth. Tours featuring the more interesting or experienced of bands playing metal and hardcore rather than a hasty line up of usual suspects and flavours of the month we love so much (Cough...Give it a Name, Taste of Chaos...Cough).

And Neaera prove a perfect antidote to all the floppy fringes and tight pants fighting for space at the bar. Behind the speedy guitar, sneering vocal growl and familiar but crushing breakdown the band are hilariously but unashamedly foot-on-the-monitor all out metal. They face the impossible, engaging a London crowd and 5 in the evening but do so with entertaining music and huge smiles.

Agents of Man have learnt their tricks at the Pantera and Biohazard school of noise, combining groove and power with a gritty melody, but despite their older, heavier material bringing the first real pit action of the day they haven't quite graduated.

Evergreen Terrace have lighter and punkier edges that work really well. Theirs is the sound most applicable to the fashionista element present but they play with such obvious desire and passion; frontman Andrew making the first of todays excursions into the crowd, that there is no sound of departing bandwagons and a real sense of justice in the busy pit that greets them.

Heaven Shall Burn are devil music. This is what satan coughing black bile must sound like, and its fucking brilliant. Desperately heavy rhythms grind and roar and fit and start and frontman Marcus has a simply monstrous voice. The fact that HSB have been engineering goliath hardcore like this for years is painfully obvious and their set is a real highlight.

But then we get to As i Lay Dying. The main attraction, and they better have something special ready to make the Mean Fiddler forget about the knee cramp and back pain from standing up the last six hours.
Fortunately, from the first note the band are titanic, in the original, not the boat sense of the word. AILD are the most professional here tonight, with no embarrasing mumbling, a real sense of 'show' and the way their new material always drills its hardcore crunch back to unforgettable melody.
Every band member is moving and sweating buckets by the time they play '94 Hours'. The pit hits overdrive and therein lies a problem. I'm sure getting punched in the face is great fun but it also makes for addictive viewing and the violence on the dancefloor makes it difficult to pay attention to the music. And when that happens at a show this good it's a real shame.

Some of the bands tonight have a tendency to attract the sweaty shirtless male back to metal, which is never good, but they are all resurrecting the lost art of having some fun at a rock show, and that is exactly the point.