Impericon Never Say Die! 2019, @ Engine Rooms, Southampton November 10th 2019

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Impericon Never Say Die Tour Poster UK 2019

In the early 90’s/Mid 2000’s package tours were all the rage. Tattoo The Planet, Ozzfest, Family Values, and Roadrunner Roadrage being chief amongst them. As a teenager in the early days of a scene, these kinds of shows were the lifeblood of burgeoning scenes and subgenres. However the prospect of a 7 band bill on a Sunday night becomes less appealing in your 30’s, as it’s a cruel reminder than gigging is very much a young man’s game in non seating venues. When the lineup is as good on paper as the 2019 Impericon Never Say Die tour is, sometimes it’s worth making it out the house.

Alphawolf (7) suffer from a smaller crowd than they deserve. Being the second band on this ludicrously early bill, the venue is still filling up when they take the stage. Despite this and their short set time, they seem very up to the task, ripping through a set of muscular aggro metalcore than gets those in attendance moving. Whilst hardly being the most original band on the bill, they bring enough to the table to wake the crowd up and keep the energy high.

Polar (9) fair a lot better with a much larger and more enthusiatic crowd. I will admit that they are a band that has never crossed my path, but after this display tonight they definitely caught my attention. This is everything that hardcore should be nowadays. Intelligent, brutal and heart wrenching. This is as good as it gets, and the amassed crowd seemingly agrees. There are some more poignant moments in the set when the band are joined onstage by a female vocalist who really cuts through the riffs and gets right into the emotional marrow of the songs. Simply put this was a very impressive jolt of perfectly execute hardcore that should have seen them a lot higher on the bill.

No sooner has the energy in the building picked up, that Our Hollow, Our Home (6) do everything in their power to suck it back out again. Aas the most local band on the bill, they pull the largest crowd of the evening, but they put in a performance that, even being kind is mediocre at best. They seem up for it, but they do nothing that screams as being original or even remotely interesting. On a bill of bands from a similar scene, they fade into the background and do nothing here that makes their inclusion on the bill worthwhile.

King 810 (8.5) stand out like a sore thumb on a bill of this nature. Make no mistake about it though, they are a shot in the arm that has a large group of dedicated fans in tonight’s crowd. Time has done nothing to dull their edge, they still sound as venomous, vicious and just outright dangerous. David Gunn is still one of the most terrifying and captivating frontmen in modern music and as they tear through a set largely made up from their debut album and their most recent release. Cuts like ‘Kill em all’, ‘Fat around the Heart’, ‘Alpha/Omega’ and ‘Vendettas’ still sound as brutal and skull crushingly heavy as they ever have done. This is a performance from a band that some people may have thought had fallen off in recent years , but that is simply not the case. King are still here and they are just as intense as they ever have been. Absolutely incredible all around.

In Hearts Wake (6) were once poised to be a huge breakout band, following their fellow countrymen Parkway Drive on the rise to stardom. In hindsight that faith in them certainly seems misguided or at the very least a bit premature. Tonight, this high on the bill and coming on the heels of a blinding set by King 810, they simply provide musical wallpaper and look as though they are going through the motions, dolling out uninspired riffs, generic call and commands, and simply lacking in any of the things that made people believe they had so much potential so long ago. History might be a little kinder to In Hearts Wake overall and it’s entirely possible this is an off night, but it’s certainly not enough to justify having them in this spot on this bill.

Tonight’s headliners Crystal Lake (9) are just utterly spellbinding and are quickly building a reputation as one of the best bands rising up through heavy music They are an absolute sonic firestorm that just melts everything in it’s path and although the crowd has thinned and is suffering gig fatigue, they give everything they have to the band, who return it tenfold. Crystal Lake sound huge live and are uttely vicious in their delivery, even more so than the most famous drowning victim of the location with which they share their name. Mark my words, if the band can keep this momentum and expand upon it then the world will be theirs for the taking.

As with most tours of this nature, tonight’s show had some very high peaks and some very deep lows, but overall it was good value for money and proves that at it’a strongest the metalcore/hardcore scene still has plenty of innovation and life in it, but at it’s worst it shows that some bands are just happy to just ride the corpse of a scene into the ground rather than trying to actually put any effort into bettering themselves or the scene.

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