The Word Alive

support I See Stars + Dayshell
author BL date 01/12/13 venue The Cellar, Southampton, UK

After The Story So Far played at The Roxx in Southampton some weeks ago where people had to be evacuated based on fears the first floor venue would collapse - the show tonight had since been relocated to The Cellar venue. Having never actually been to The Cellar (despite living in Southampton for a few years) it initially did not fill me with the utmost confidence of it being much of an improvement. The stage and pit floor were still on the first floor and space was a commodity. Not only that but the stairs to that floor from the ground level went straight into the middle of the pit and there was no barrier - is that even legal? In any case, I was still excited in seeing exciting prospect Dayshell in the UK for the first time (featuring former Of Mice & Men singer Shayey Bourget), I See Stars who just put out quite a solid new record, and one of my favourite metalcore bands currently in The Word Alive.

Dayshell

Dayshell's set introduction in "I Owe You Nothing" hit the largely unfamiliar Southampton audience with massive walls of rhythm guitars, crashing drums and beefy bass - a mix that is monstrously heavy sounding despite the music being arguably the lightest tonight. The audio equipment did not sound the clearest nor cleanest which was somewhat frustrating to begin with. Fortunately frontman Shayley Bourget spared little time in introductions before showing us an edgier version of the voice we heard when he sang so brilliantly on the last Of Mice & Men records: piercing screams blended effortlessly into his more familiar smooth as silk like singing voice as his ability to hit the right notes never faltered once. The crowd was initially slow to warm to the band's stage presence, and so Shayley moved down to the pit a few times as he sang to rally some spirit and get the blood moving which was a fun gesture. Instrumentally Dayshell shared barely a few facets of the post-hardcore/metalcore sound with Shayley's former band Of Mice & Men: bendy low guitar riffs, power chords, and the odd aggressive short pseudo-breaks. Yet Dayshell surpassed that all by also incorporating Deftones like introspective atmosphere, more progressive song structures, great use of dynamics, and crescendo building that elevated the interest of many here who had never heard of the band before. There were a few parts of the gorgeous "Edge Of The World" and the bombastic "Share With Me" which simply put, were enthralling to witness even with the rather subpar acoustics of the venue. Dayshell is a band to keep an eye on.

Setlist:

  • 1. I Owe You Nothing
  • 2. Imbecile
  • 3. Edge Of The World
  • 4. Not Coming In
  • 5. Share With Me


I See Stars

If I had any fear that The Cellar may suffer the same fate as The Roxx before the night began, then I See Stars must have tried their best to ensure the worst case scenario for that. The bass ouput had unimaginable density the mass of many planetary bodies which more or less drowned out the guitars, and even caused the bass sound equipment to malfunction at one point. More importantly it also rumbled the ground enough to shake it dangerously. Despite this, no one in the crowd could resist jumping their feet (which didn't exactly help) to the frantically pulsating EDM/dubstep elements featured on new songs like "Murden Mitten". This was helped on by strong performances from the dual combo of screamer Zach Johnson and singer Devin Oliver. Zach's harsh vocals had taken me back by just how frighteningly guttural his growls sounded - ruthlessly complementing I See Stars' new fondness for Earth shatteringly heavy sounding electronica backed breakdowns. As expected however, Devin was the perfect counter-balance to Zack with his pitch perfect shrill pop voice, and like Shayley in Dayshell before him - never failed to hit the demanding high notes in the sweet vocal melodies with some nice improvisations thrown in. Fine cuts from their latest record "New Demons" dominated the setlist, which were received well with chaotic clashes in the pit constantly and the place threatening to implode, whilst "NZT48" and "Filth Friends Unite" from the previous album were also chucked in for good measure. A fellow in the crowd did shout out loud at one quiet point between songs what I had been thinking all the way to the end though - "Play 'What It Means To Me' PLEASE!". While it didn't happen sadly, I See Stars left with a more than favorable impression, and the floor in what must have felt like a completely battered state.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Initialization Sequence
  • 2. Ten Thousand Feet
  • 3. NZT48
  • 4. Follow Your Leader
  • 5. Murder Mitten
  • 6. Violent Bounce (People Like You)
  • 7. New Demons
  • 8. Filth Friends Unite


The Word Alive

The Word Alive began with a pair of older songs in "The Wretched" and "The Hounds of Anubis", and clearly not wanting to be outdone by I See Stars, set the volume levels to almost destructive. If you were stood next to the speakers by the front like I was, then your ears would have probably had their life expectancy shortened by a good few years. Surprisingly the sound was also the cleanest it had been all evening. Nevertheless, lead vocalist Telle Smith continued the theme of supreme vocalists in great spirit and even better form with particularly impressive screams and the best delivery of his choruses I've witnessed in recent years. The rest of the band weren't far behind with some blistering live guitar soloing from Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti that had most of the audience in awe of their blazing technical prowess. Though it's not entirely new that these guys know how to play, I would imagine fewer were perhaps aware of the sheer raw skill of the youngest member drummer Luke Holland. His seemingly impeccable technique, manic yet refined fills and constant stick tricks kept the entire stage looking incredibly busy all night long which was a visual and sonic delight. To cap it off, Telle paused the show momentarily to ask the crowd if anybody had indeed noticed Luke was "sort of 'okay' at drums".

Fans who had been around before the first album "Deceiver" should have all appreciated the inclusion of "Battle Royale" from their "Empire" EP in the set here. The song held up well to the newer material alongside the likes of the maniacal "Evolution" and the supremely catchy "Dragon Spell" despite the progression since those the early days being relatively obvious. The Word Alive do allow tempers to simmer momentarily as the chilling "Astral Plane" became an unexpected inclusion in the proceedings later on. Telle's sombre and heartfelt performance was perhaps the most dramatic of the night thus far, giving a unique reprieve during the quiet stages before the song picked up speed and urgency for the closing stages. Having been to quite a few The Word Alive shows in the UK, I've always had the impression that Telle is a genuine performer in the scene who is honest and appreciative of the fans before the band. His hope that those watching and listening will feel something special to take away with them to perhaps inspire them is an uplifting message, even if it's been said many times before. And as always it's also a message embodied and personified by their final song "Life Cycles" named after their new album. The opening lyrics of "I'd rather die for what I believe, than live a life without meaning" has yet to feel any less impactful, and has by now endeared itself towards the band despite the countless times those words had been uttered, screamed, yelled, and sang with complete conviction. For a performance this good it was just a shame The Word Alive did not play a longer set and even an encore.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. The Wretched
  • 2. The Hounds of Anubis
  • 3. Evolution
  • 4. Battle Royale
  • 5. Dragon Spell
  • 6. 2012
  • 7. Entirety
  • 8. Astral Plane
  • 9. Life Cycles


Photos courtesy of our own Lauren Harris.

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