Imperial Never Say Die! Tour

support Architects + Despised Icon + HORSE The Band + As Blood Runs Black + Oceano + Iwrestledabearonce + The Ghost Inside
author AP date 04/11/09 venue Electric Ballroom, London, UK

Compared to the star-spangled line-up last year, the annual touring festival Never Say Die! had scaled back on the expenses this time (no doubt a consequence of the current financial climate), and booked smaller club venues for a much less varied bill, with fewer established big guns at the helm. Architects, who were featured in a rotating early supporting slot last year, were bumped up to a co-headlining act together with Despised Icon, with HORSE The Band as the honorary guest and As Blood Runs Black, Oceano, Iwrestledabearonce and The Ghost Inside handling support duties.

Doors opened at an unusually early hour to reveal that the guestlist was the length of a small essay with a plus one for every guest, which meant that probably around half the turnout tonight had slithered their way in without payment - an alarming fact considering that the show was far from sold out and tickets were selling at half the face value outside. Less profit means less money to book an attractive line-up and ultimately the demise of the entire concept - but then again, six hours with growling and breakdowns galore takes its toll on one's feet and patience. But enough with the ranting, let's get down to business.

The Ghost Inside

The Ghost Inside belongs in the thicker end of the metalcore genre and naturally this meant melody was kept at a constant low with the amp stacks unleashing a near-impenetrable wall of bass. Soon it became clear, however, that it was not the fault of the amps, but rather the lack of texture in the band's chosen first few songs that blurred it into an unattractive mess. After the pit fiends had their fix, the final three songs took on a much more melodic edge, kind of like a less technical rendition of Misery Signals, which restored the remaining crowd's interest. Still, neither the music nor the performance seemed like anything out of the ordinary, and certainly not enough to warrant greater recognition than a solid, average

5







Iwrestledabearonce

One of the two real standout bands on this bill were Iwrestledabearonce, and despite my best efforts to scour the net for references, I still cannot place them in any category. The band plays an extremely avantgarde, experimental form of grindcore which spirals off into a million directions including jazz, disco, swing and electronica. Their strange image is further consolidated by frontwoman Krysta Cameron appearing on stage wearing a Furby costume for shits and giggles. There are few things more entertaining than someone dressed as a Furby stomping on stage like that now infamous crabcore move, to music that might as well have been written for an old school Nintendo game.

On stage the band is as all over the place as the multi-directionality of the music, with band members climbing speaker stacks and throwing themselves around in violent spasms reminiscent of the Chernobyl child dance. Now have a look at this video for a taste of just how eclectic the band can be musically speaking and you should have a pretty solid idea of what kind of performance we're talking about here. What's perhaps most surprising about it is how ridiculously technical and original the band's music is - and regardless of how retarded an image they manage to project of themselves, this is a genuinely entertaining band to watch and laugh with, earning them a commendable

Oceano

Oceano on the other hand now reads as one of the most disappointing live acts this scribe has ever seen - not as disgusting as some who have received bottom marks from me, but about as interesting to listen to and watch as the ruffling of autumn leaves on the ground. At least some of those more repulsive performances have had that slight capturing effect stemming from their utter lack of taste. Seriously, I am almost convinced that out of the 25 minute allowance afforded to Oceano, somewhere between 90 and 95 percent was spent chugging away at an endless breakdown while their vocalist delivered growls so low they were indiscernible in the mix. Oceano's music borders on the ridiculous, and represents everything that I hate about deathcore. It naturally follows that I spent most of their performance wishing them off stage to make room for the more interesting acts on the bill tonight.

4



As Blood Runs Black

While As Blood Runs Black never interested me much, their repertoire of infectious riffs has been enough to earn some airtime on my playlist. Considering the brutal nature of the music, it contains a surprising amount of melody and even the vast amounts of breakdowns are bearable for the most part - and consequently I found myself oddly looking forward to the band's set. After overcoming the initial shock that the band now has a very attractive girl handling the rhythm guitar, the verdict is that As Blood Runs Black's performance is neither disappointing nor very impressive. I derive no displeasure out of watching them, but at the same time, I am struggling to find something interesting to say about the show, which leads me to conclude that the most appropriate grade for such a professionally played but predictable set is




HORSE The Band

What does one say about this band that justifies their oddity? Slightly less entropic, but no less silly than Iwrestledabearonce, HORSE The Band have the demeanor of an erratic kindergarten class on their first field trip. Nathan Winneke appears on stage eating a bowl of chili con carne and proceeds to dedicate their entire performance tonight to the lady who cooked it for him, while his counterpart Erik Engstrom on the keyboard does his everything to spark controversy and outrage with high school grade piss/poo jokes and comments regarding anal fisting.

Like a horde of psychotic druggies on an out-of-control acid trip, HORSE The Band up the ante thousandfold and deliver the evening's most memorable performance. High on energy and probably every drug known to man, the five-piece struggle to find space on stage for their wild antics, and on more than one occasion come this close to splitting each others' heads open with swinging instruments. And if you thought Iwrestledabearonce's humorous demeanor incited a few laughs from the crowd, then HORSE The Band's set is something resembling stand-up comedy, with announcements like "We've got fourteen songs left... on this tour." interspersed between their electro-laden post-hardcore, metalcore, or whateverthefuckitiscore songs - which are quirky enough on their own to provide an evening's worth of high-value entertainment.

8

Despised Icon

Now, Despised Icon is a band that, as some readers may have picked up on, strikes all the wrong chords with me and consequently manages to piss me off to no relent. Having said that though, there was always the vague possibility that their brutal, unimaginative music would somehow translate into a good live presence, and I decided to keep an open mind. It was wrong to hope for such pleasantries though, and as BL's falling asleep halfway through their set might suggest, the performance was almost completely devoid of anything noteworthy.

The band's two vocalists look like two rappers from south L.A., dressed in the obligatory basketball kit and showing 'true' hand gestures and deliver a monotonous barrage of screaming and growling respectively, and breakdown after breakdown similar-minded kids mosh themselves into battered, bleeding corpses. The show's highlight is (predictably) Alexandre Erias' superhuman drumming, but even that blurs into a constant rattle of bass drums and snare. Redemption comes too late, when during the snailing breakdown in "MVP", the vocalists of The Ghost Inside and Oceano join the band on stage to deliver an admittedly impressive finale to an otherwise bland and forgettable set.

Setlist:

01. Les Temps Changent

02. Furtive Monologue

03. Retina

04. The Sunset Will Never Charm Us

05. Diva of Disgust

06. Day of Mourning

07. In the Arms of Perdition

08. A Fractured Hand

09. MVP

Architects

From crowd response it's obvious that Architects are the band everyone came to see, and not without reason, watching the relentless energy with which they deliver their songs. Never still, never pausing, Architects plough through the venue like a raging bull, and like the exact opposite of Oceano and Despised Icon. The performance picks up in intensity with every song, racing toward a punishing finale with some of the band's fastest, most extreme material.

Sam Carter remembers to thank the audience for their faithful support, pointing out that just last year the band were billed as one of the smaller acts on this same tour and now they're headlining it - a dream come true for any young band. Overall, despite their insanely technical nature which earns Architects the right to boast, the songs are delivered with a humble modesty you would never experience with their brothers in arms, Bring Me The Horizon, who have all the subtlety of an elephant in a lamp store.

Still, one shouldn't exaggerate the merits of this performance simply because it is so much better than those of Oceano and Despised Icon, because on some level the delivery does feel a little routine and controlled. There is so much fury in the band's music that's just waiting to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting horde of scenesters that's never let out, and as a consequence one gets the impression that Architects are decidedly tame. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that some members' mothers are in the venue watching them tonight? Nonetheless a satisfying finale to an evening of ups and downs.

Setlist:

01. Numbers Count For Nothing

02. Dethroned

03. You'll Find Safety

04. Buried at Sea

05. In Elegance

06. We're All Alone

07. Left With A Last Minute

08. To the Death

09. Borrowed Time

10. Early Grave

--Encore--

11. Follow the Water

Click here to see more photos from the gig.

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