A usual headlining tour, due to a number of different reasons, tends to have two support acts. During DevilDriver‘s October 2009 UK tour they’ve decided to stretch it out to four. Now, if you can do your maths right, that’s a total of five bands in one evening! The fact that all the bands on the bill are of the extremely heavy variety, this evening is not for radio-friendly trained ears, and isn’t too far from a mini-metalfest.
Malefice (***) kick things off to a great start despite they’re rather short setlist time and minimal stage space. Their chugging riffs, hellish screams, and blasting drums combine to warm the early bird crowds nicely. They even spark the rare occurance of a huge, though not many participant fueled circle pit before closing, which sees constant “Oh my god” remarks from vocalist Dale Butler, who’s clearly astounded by the crowd’s unseen reaction.
A second and final UK band for the night take a second swing at showing the crowd how it’s done, and sadly Trigger The Bloodshed (**) just aren’t on their game this evening. What should be delivered as brutal and exhilirating is just churned out as boring and average at best. The small stage room may be the main crutch to their downfall, but can’t be blamed as the main culprit. It’s a shame the band come across disinterested, as for the most part the 5-piece are as tight as ever, but don’t put that extra punch in to take them away from the branding of ‘just another support band’.
It’s a good thing that Suicide Silence (****) are more than capable of picking up the pieces, despite the sheer levels of their destructive stage presence and exceedingly aggressive sound. Mainly sticking to material from their latest album ‘No Time To Bleed’, the 5-piece Californian’s manage the impossible by making tracks like ‘Smoke’, ‘Wake Up’, and ‘Genocide’ sound far more brutal than their studio versions can limit themselves to. Frontman Mitch Lucker gives off an aura of strength and dementia, and though constricted by small stage room is as menacing and commanding as ever, all the way ’til the closing seconds of ‘No Pity For A Coward’.
Things are brought down to a low again thanks to final support band Behemoth (*) from Poland. Though black metal is meant to be dramatic and to an extent theatrical in its deliverance, Behemoth take the piss on all marks. For a start, frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski‘s microphone stand is a large pentagram supported by two weaved serpents which takes up a lot of the stage. When the 4-piece come on, the just stand stone still looking into space whilst playing for the first 10 minutes, looking completely bored and uninterested in what’s going on. What’s more, the band extend their almost death inducing boring set for almost 20 minutes – which in turn shortens the headliner’s set dramatically. If this wasn’t enough, then the fact that Nergal returns from the surprising request for an encore wearing a helmet similar to what you’d see on The Lord Of The Rings move trilogy. To some this may be impressive and cool, but ultimately is a little pathetic.
Despite their set length shortage, DevilDriver (***) still manage to deliver the goods to an audience that are vastly here for them – being the main attraction obviously. Songs like ‘Pray For Villains’ and ‘Clouds Over California’ come along with the trademark crowd appreciate the metal mob are most known for; scarily huge circle pits. Over 80% is swallowed by a mass of people running around like a relentless stampede similar to ones you’d find created by wildlife on the Discovery channels. Dez Fafara admits himself that he’s not one good with talking inbetween songs, and would rather play more songs in place of such banter – a statement more than welcomed by the Manchester crowd. ‘I Could Care Less’ only sees further carnage from the audience, and though greatly appreciated for their heavy metal style, DevilDriver could pull a bit more out of the bag for their sea of fans before them. Entertaining and exciting without question, but the dent of time shortage thanks to the act before them may well have made the difference between a great set and an amazing one.
Written by Zach Redrup