The unusually early door time for While She Sleeps’ co-headline show with Cancer Bats at Newcastle University’s Student Union may have put off some of the punters, but plenty still make it to the opening band’s set. Belgian quartet Oathbreaker take to the stage to deliver a passionate burst of their intriguing blend of punk and metal; songs like ‘As I Look Into the Abyss’ and ‘The Abyss Looks Into Me’ sit very well with the crowd and warm them up.
Main support Hundredth come across like seasoned veterans – their furious hardcore and vocalist Chadwick Johnson’s restless energy are both impossible to be exposed to without responding. The crowd is moving, the pit opens up, and songs like ‘Break Free’ and ‘Carry On’ elicit empassioned singalongs. As the final bars of outro ‘Soul’ ring out, it seems as though the Californian mob are more than ready to headline shows of their own over here.
Cancer Bats fans are crazy. The Canadian hardcore punks take to the stage and chaos ensues. With the easy stage presence that comes from touring for years, Liam Cormier has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand from the first riff of ‘Arsenic In The Year of The Snake’ to the final moments of ‘True Zero’. The venue quickly becomes unbearably hot as the band put their audience through their paces – there’s blood on the floor and sweat on the walls, and it is brilliant. The band’s new record received mixed reviews, but the new material sits comfortable alongside old favourites like ‘Road Sick’ and the energy is undeniable. The band blow away everyone in room, proving once again why their live reputation is a formidable one.
The room empties out a little, to the dismay of the While She Sleeps fans in the room. It’s been a while since Steel City’s finest metallers played in Newcastle, but a thinner crowd doesn’t mean any less of an enthusiastic response to the five-piece. Their new album ‘Brainwashed’ has heralded a triumphant return for the band, following vocalist Loz Taylor’s throat surgery and the complications that ensued. Live, the band give Cancer Bats a run for their money and Loz’s vocals are better than ever. New tunes ‘New World Torture’ and ‘Torment’ sit well alongside old favourites like ‘Our Courage, Our Cancer’ (which brought a tear to this reviewer’s eye) and ‘Seven Hills’. This is a band that doesn’t believe in barriers – guitarist Mat Welsh plays on top of the bar, Loz repeatedly hurls himself into the crowd and it feels just as much like a welcome back party as it does a gig. The band thank their fans, and the night draws to a close with ‘Four Walls’. Bruised, aching and bemusedly trying to locate my glasses, I’m left in a state of complete awe.
– Iqra Choudhry
Venue: Newcastle University Students Union
Support Band: Cancer Bats, Oathbreaker, Hundredth