Betraying The Martyrs start the night off right. Despite their mostly deathcore sound, they had multiple songs that were surprisingly very good to sing along too. At least half the crowd knows the lyrics, and the half that don’t are still feeding off of the energy these guys are putting into an opening act. The vocalist is constantly hyping up the crowd and is a natural born performer with moves such as the classic mic swing making its appearance. The rest of the band make no fault in their instrumentals and the band close off their set by premiering a new song for the first time, which goes down a treat, and heads up guys; it has a gnarly guitar solo too.
Next up is Wage War. These guys clearly have a big following here in the UK as the crowd are extremely hyped for them. Once their second song of the night Deadweight begins, the title track off of their latest record, the crowd are literally scrambling to get as close to the barrier as humanly possible and I couldn’t see a single person not jumping. Alive, Johnny Cash and Stitch all have the crowd screaming along and this could easily be a Wage War headliner show with the reaction they are getting. Just as with Betraying The Martyrs, this is a band that knows how to play with precision. The drumming stood out in particular during this set as it seemed to be the drums that was the driving force getting the crowd moving in time.
From the first song of August Burns Red’s set, everything going on is so impressive, you don’t know what to focus on. The guitar and bass work are so intricate and detailed, lead vocalist Jake somehow switches between very high and very low-pitched screams consistently throughout the night and drummer Matt is relentless. For those that don’t listen to August Burns Red, many of their songs have a good minute or two of just instrumental work. It is this that makes me think that even someone who doesn’t like heavy vocals would still appreciate this set tonight just for the instrumentals, and for those who maybe aren’t too interested in some mind-boggling instrumentals, vocalist Jake does some very …interesting dance moves during these moments, so you wouldn’t be lacking entertainment either way.
The setlist (which you can see below) was a good mix of songs from their discography. Fault Line had a perfect intro that had every person in the room jumping and Back Burner created a mosh pit big enough that it almost took over the entire room. Some other highlights for me personally was the super long scream at the beginning of Invisible Enemy and the woah-oh sing along during Empire. The encore is also definitely worth a mention as the first “song” is actually a drum solo, one in which Matt gets the whole crowd woo-ing along. It’s not often a drum solo will actually get the audience involved so this in particular was something that impressed me. It also got the crowd extremely hyped for the last two songs. First is Float, a song from their newest record Phantom Anthem, that on record includes group backing vocals, which the crowd in Birmingham had no problem taking on the task of, and last but certainly not least is White Washed. This is a song with a minute-long intro which has the whole crowd jumping again, a song with riffs, and a song with great sing-along lyrics. A perfect choice for last song and a song that clearly has not got stale almost 10 years after its release.
This band also know how to put on a show. The lights are a work of art and their light technician definitely deserved the shout out given by Matt after his drum solo. Smoke machines are also used for those moments just as a heavy intro sets in and the band co-ordinate themselves on stage well, moving around enough to show that they too are enjoying themselves, but not tripping over each other. My only problem with their set is that the vocals seem to be way too quiet at times, but this is obviously more of a sound tech problem than an actual problem with the vocals.
Overall this band are just so talented at being a heavy metal band and after tonight’s set, I am shocked they aren’t on a bigger stage, because they are a band worthy of an arena sized stage.