Sunday, 30 September 2012

Live review: While She Sleeps, The Garage, Glasgow

 Last night was without a doubt a special event for all the hundreds, possibly thousands that gathered into the modestly sized venue that is the Garage in Glasgow. For many, last night was a chance to let one's hair down with a big night of moshpit inducing metal (Maybe after their first real week of university) and for others it's a chance to truly witness the live spectacle that is a show by While She Sleeps. After the constant layerings of positive press towards the band and the 5 spade worthy performance recorded on their debut album This is the Six and the past glory felt on their 2010 mini album The North Stands for Nothing, it's surely time to complete the While She Sleeps experience by seeing them live. And that's what yours truly managed to do when they tore The Garage in Glasgow apart on their first headlining tour of the UK.

 As I take an examination of the people that are also going to the show, it's fairly staggering of just how diverse the metal bands seen on the T-Shirts of all those attending the gig are. Obviously While She Sleeps T-Shirts and T-Shirts for main support act Bleed From Within are in large supply, but you can see T-Shirts ranging from such established names of Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses and Metallica, to fellow names in metalcore in the vain of Bring Me the Horizon, Asking Alexandria and Suicide Silence and while we're at it, people have Attila, Blink-182 and Saint Vitus shirts on. Clearly, the promise of While She Sleeps has been attracting rock and metal fans of an extremely broad nature. I myself showed up adorned in my Lamb of God T-Shirt as a way to express the Ramblings of a Rock Fan view on This is the Six that it is the kind of album that the Virginia quintet intended the set the path for when the Virginia quintet released the modern metal icon that is Ashes of the Wake.

 As the initial group of those queuing enter The Garage, it's just in time to get there for the opening act POLAR. to begin tearing the venue a new one from a fairly early stage. It's commendable that the band do make such a real effort to put on as fierce a show as the can as the venue is definitely only half full at this point and if they're putting in a full effort, the crowd certainly aren't. It's only when they unleash established single H.E.L.L from their killer new album iron Lungs that everyone treats them like headliners. The only full hearted reaction to the band comes from the people occupying the empty part of the venue between the front of the stage and the bar, known as "hardcore dancers", an activity that I've heard of before in a not exactly positive fashion, but seeing the kind of insanity that it allowed for, I guess it works, if not really my idea of gig etiquette.

Somehow, the reaction that POLAR. receives from their last song alone immediately makes them a serious contender to take away the award for band of the evening and it certainly makes it already difficult for zany electro-metallers Crossfaith to top. But the Japanese sextet certainly put a full effort into making the evening their own and their selection of big songs, whether it's the drum and bass with breakdowns of Snake Code or the riff heavy cover of The Prodigy's Omen. It's with them, they suddenly find the amount of people jumping up and down to their songs and number of moshpits they've created increasing. And with that they exit the stage with a whole lot of new fans and hopefully in a world where bands that mix metalcore and electronic elements pop up at a regular basis, let's hope these guys get remembered.

 Often times when you visit a gig, it will be a local band that opens up the show. And I suppose, it's testament to local boys Bleed From Within to how far they've come over the course of two albums that they're the main support for this tour. Naturally, when they board the stage here in Glasgow, they receive a heroes welcome, with a backdrop in their name already being set up. And frankly, it's little wonder such a warm welcome is being received, Glaswegian or not, they manage to raise the roof commanding every soul in the room to get jumping up and down to their viscous metalcore assaults, as each breakdown sounds like an extra layer of monolith-ism being served up. By the time their set ends they've put on a set triumphant enough for this tour to have been headlined by them. It's almost difficult to imagine how tonight's headliners are going to top this.

 But of course they do, which is no disrespect to the previous bands, but they manage to serve as an effective set up to display just how powerful and formidable a set from While She Sleeps really is. They obviously provide the highlights of the evening, following a welcome from the audience that suggests the meeting of metalcore royalty, the launch straight into the intense bouncing rhythms of Until the Death before launching the rest of the night into the ultimate setlist to soundtrack devastation. As frontman Loz Taylor screams out "WE ARE ALL DEAD BEHIND THE FUCKING EYES", the crowd instantly assembles themselves into the millionth wall of death of the evening and perform them with as much, if not more passion than every other wall of death performed that night. Meanwhile, the likes of Be(lie)ve and Our Courage, Our Cancer manage to sound tighter, heavier and packed with a more emotional impact and bigger melody live than they ever could on record as the beautifully constructed guitar work of Sean Long and Mat Welsh is projected tightly across the room for the audience to simply lap up. The entire set is an array of kinetic chaos and it is finally when This is the Six's title track is blisteringly performed that my personal time in the moshpits reach levels of pure euphoria that it feels like having an outer body experience. As Loz finally elaborates correctly on how Glasgow always has the ability to have some of the most mental crowds at metal shows, the band close the set with the beautiful Seven Hills as Loz launches himself into the crowd to be carried by masses of adoring fans. Including myself. With that the evening ends, with While She Sleeps journey to becoming the metal band on everyone's lips becoming stronger than ever.

 And with that, another evening of intense metal, perfectly written songs that I've always wanted to hear live and on the whole terrible photography is over, but it's not going to be a night that I'll forget any time soon. The devastating power that all the bands delivered was enough to get walls of death going from the crowd within the first few minutes of the gig. After several late nights of partying and pub visiting to break me into university, it's so refreshing to know that in terms of good times impact-full moments and everlasting memories, rock and metal gigs still do the finest jobs of great nights out, especially when you consider a band as truly special and game-changing as While She Sleeps proved themselves to be. After lat night my opinion of While She Sleeps has become higher than it was when I originally heard This is the Six in it's entirety. So with that and lack of a better idea, I will end this review with the same sentence I used to finish my review of that album:

 While She Sleeps are the new kings of metal. And they demand their crown now.

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