Gig Review and Photography by Neale Hayes

Tonight we visited the O2 Institute Birmingham for a night of fine modern metalcore with Northlane and some absolute gems in Invent, Animate and Erra in supporting roles. The venue itself was busy early on.

Northlane (41 of 66)

First up we had Invent, Animate a progressive ‘djent’ style band from Texas. After having toured locally and working their way up the old fashioned way, they signed to Tragic Hero Records in 2014 and released their second album ‘Stillworld’ in 2016.

Invent Animate (7)

‘Celestial Floods’ actually reminded me of Northlane funnily enough, with flashes of Periphery. Piercing djents shot out in a sinister manner, with raw; speedy drum rolls and the deep guttural vocals from Ben English. The song transcends into post-hardcore routes with cleaner parts shrieked by Ben rather than growled; reminiscent of old Rou Reynolds’ style in earlier Shikari work. ‘White Wolf’ followed in the same manner; comparable to the UK up-and-comer Loathe. The choruses providing a spacey refrain from the harsh chugs.

Invent Animate (5)

Invent Animate (8)

Next up, American metal band Erra. The anticipation was high for this band, murmurs flooding throughout the room before they entered onto the stage.

Formed in 2009, they have released 3 EP’s to date and 2 studio albums, having toured with the likes of August Burns Red, TesseracT and Upon A Burning Body. They are signed to Sumerian Records.

ERRA (15)

‘Luminesce’ from their latest record ‘Drift’ (2016), again strong Northlane vibes throughout, the spacey, synthy backing track really gives an otherworldly vibe to their music. Throw in some catchy hooks from Jesse and fast, aggressive screaming from J.T. Cavey (ex Texas in July) and you have Periphery-esque mix of old Shikari and full throttle ‘djent’ post-hardcore.

‘White Noise’, a single released in 2011, sees more of a technical-progressive side to their journey as a band, ‘Veil of Maya’-esque some of the guitar work in this is mesmerizing to hear, experimental djents came flying in left right and centre. Lyrically I found the song on the money too, speaking of religion it’s effect on the world.

The band knows how to make an impact, J.T. Cavey led from the front, he was eager to make a statement, passion oozed out of his performance and the rest of the band followed suit, they really took this opportunity and ran with it. The crowd loved every second.’Skyline’ saw some of the older, faster and more experimental djents with it, thrown in with the more refined songwriting and the added contrast of Jesse’s cleans versus the aggression of J.T. The overall vibe is very trippy and ambiguous, it’s great to see such a progressive movement being incorporated into metalcore; every song is a journey.

ERRA (20)

ERRA (22)

Northlane arrived on stage and people knew something big was about to go down. They’ve gained a great group of loyal fans over here in the UK; being known for delivering a fantastic live show is a big part of it. They have released four studio albums to date and tonight were treated to a sizeable 14 songs; 8 from their latest release Mesmer (2017), 3 from Singularity (2013), 2 from Node (2015) and one from Discoveries (2011).

Northlane (63 of 66)

Frontman Marcus Bridge appearing in the darkness, backlights illuminating him with the intro to ‘Colourwave’ (2017) playing, he dives straight in with full force, aggressive screaming and jumping around the stage boding well with the fans. The song shifts in a dream like state with dreary cleans from Marcus to beautiful sections of screaming, of course, with the djents coming in cutting through the softer tones.

Older material such as ‘Worldeater’ (2012) is where the brutality really came from here. Possessing less of a progressive vibe and more of a djenty hardcore feel to the music; Marcus’ screamed vocals were anguished and distraught, full of emotion. ‘Get your hands up’, and everyone in the room raises their hands, it’s a beautiful sight. He commands the crowd with a wry smile which is nice to see. Arrogance is never a trait.

Northlane (43 of 66)

Northlane (47 of 66)

‘Dream Awake’ from Singularity (2013), for me was approaching the straight up hardcore roots at the start, Marcus’ fast shouty vocals giving the song an unstoppable pace, it slows down to a beautifully sung piece before the drums slam down, shattering the peaceful refrain, ‘Wake up from the nightmare’. This song impressed me lyrically, ending with ‘my self, my world, my people, my home, my everything’.

Northlane (48 of 66)

‘Citizen’ I found to be quite a metalcore-esque song but with progressive slow burner tones; Marcus takes the audience on a journey, using every aspect of his vocal range. ‘Caught in the undertow’, people chant out aloud, smiles fill the room. The best part of this song is when Marcus screams, ‘Blow the whistle from a burning stake’, the djents spiral out of control across the room and arms are aloft, a massive room size pit is currently underway and it looks like a tasty one.

Northlane (51 of 66)

‘Set me free!’, we have now entered djent heaven. ‘Quantum Flux’ is my favourite song by Northlane, the song is just a pure a simple banger. There is no other way of describing it, the slower parts compliment the heavier parts and blend together in a way which is genius.

Northlane (54 of 66)

Northlane (55 of 66)

What a night. They ripped it up tonight there is no question. Marcus Bridge has proved himself a more than worthy replacement for Adrian, and even though the music from the last two albums as been more progressive than metalcore, it still holds up and is a blast to watch live.

See the full photoset of all 3 bands here.

Northlane (61 of 66)

Dream Awake
Quantum Flux


Leave a Reply