It has to be said, this year has been a bloody good year for bands touring together. It may be only February (and ages to go till festival season) but wow, there are some epic combinations. Then there’s the show we’re heading to tonight. We not only have monsters of metal Killswitch Engage and Trivium, but also Miss May I and Battlecross. There are some shows where the line-up is just so perfect that you can’t wait to see it, and tonight is one of those nights.
Given that its 7pm on a Tuesday night, there is a decent crowd to see Battlecross open the show. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, this tour is the first time that the band have hit these shores. And boy do they hit us hard. The band describe their music as “fucking in your face Metal” – a pretty damn accurate description. Battlecross immediately demand the attention of the audience, and their energetic brand of heavy metal quickly gets the crowd head banging. With their windmill-head banging antics, killer guitar riffs and bass lines that pound harder than Lennox Lewis; Battlecross are the perfect band to start the night. Vocalist Kyle Gunther has all of the energy of a demonic hell hound, and a voice to match, as he bounds across the stage. Flesh & Bone is a particular favourite of the crowd. Blasting through a short, but ridiculously tight set, we are left sweaty and wanting more. We can’t wait to see these guys at Download. (7)
After the brutal force of Battlecross, Miss May I seem somewhat pale in comparison. It’s not entirely their fault; the sound is muddy, which makes everything really hard to hear. Plus vocalist Levi Benton bounces across the stage so quickly it makes the vocals even harder to catch. Having said that, there are still plenty of screams from the audience and plenty of crowd surfers pass over our heads; so it can’t be all bad. (5)
When two great bands co-headline a show, it’s all too tempting to draw comparison between them. On this occasion however we’re going to try to judge each on their merit. Although expectations are obviously high as these are two of the biggest metal bands of the last 10 years.
Trivium put on an elaborate stage show tonight, involving blasting us with fake snow and a pretty much constant cloud of smoke. This may look epic at a festival but being up front at a medium sized venue made for a pretty unpleasant experience as more than one member of the crowd choked to death. All in all Trivium give a polished performance with tonnes of enthusiasm from the band, and Matt Heafy’s voice sounds better than it has in a long time. The audience bounce so much they literally make the floor shake. Although it is a slightly less ‘popular’ set with a number of glaring omissions, Trivium brought it tonight. Highlights are stunning performances of Shogun, In Waves and final song Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr, which had a tremendous reaction from the delighted crowd. Well done Trivium! (8)
Killswitch Engage give us a pretty much flawless performance tonight. Having seen the band before with previous frontman Howard Jones it was hard to imagine what Jesse Leach would bring to the party. Wow how wrong that assumption was, seeing Killswitch as they are now rather than 5 years ago was like night and day. Tonight we saw a band who were obviously loving what they do, who were tight as tight can be musically and, most importantly, had an engaging frontman rather than a one word wonder and a clown.
Not that Adam Dutkiewicz didn’t still mess around (he was wearing hotpants for gods sake), but the guitarist’s bouncing around was matched by a mobile frontman who has a stage presence to match the style and power of his voice. Even a blackout can’t hold Killswitch Engage tonight, and the band keep on bantering then playing in spite of technical troubles. Jesse Leach’s heartfelt vocal leaves Killswitch Engage coming out top tonight, with Trivium not far behind. (9)
If you missed this tour, you really missed out! Make sure to catch both bands at the Download Festival if you are going! You can also check out an interview Rocksins conducted with Killswitch Engage’s main man Jesse Leach on the London show of this tour right here.
Words by Lisa Fox