LIVE: Impericon Festival @ The Ritz, Manchester (27/04/2014)

Date: April 27th, 2014
Venue: The Ritz, Manchester


After several years of conquering various cities across Europe, Impericon Festival has finally decided to make its UK debut this year, finding its home at Manchester’s The Ritz. Maintaining a unique line-up to its European counterparts, the UK edition brings Bury Tomorrow as their headliners who, composed within a 10 band strong line-up, manage to sell out the festival’s first year here. This can only go one way, really.

British up-and-comers Demoraliser (***) kick things off for the first ever Impericon Festival in the UK, and they definitely give it a deserved opening. Already, The Ritz venue is starting to pack out, and the pit action gets underway nice and early. Frontman James Dexter seems to have quite a strong command over the crowd for being one of the lesser known bands on the bill, and his screams through the likes of ‘Early Years’ and ‘Reap What You Sow’ can stand against his more reknowned contempories in the genre.

Switzerland’s Breakdown Of Sanity (***) are here for what is one of their first UK shows, and judging from the crowd stood in front of them, it’s been something people have been waiting on for a while now. Their atmospheric and symphonic backing tracks are a definite refreshing inclusion, at least compared to what will be coming for the remainder of the line-up, and though there seems to be a breakdown every other minute, BOS deliver the goods.

It’s time for today’s first dose of hardcore, administered by Brutality Will Prevail (**). The Welsh outfit are undoubtedly pumped up and engaging, frontman Louis Gauthier even seems to do a full lap around the edge of the circle pit towards the end of their set closer, ‘Trapped Doors Moving Walls’. However, what seems to bring down what could be some serious momentum lies in the vocals. Gauthier‘s screams and hardcore yelps are incredibly quiet in the mix for the majority of the band’s set and, though the instrumentation backing this is indeed crushing, the almost complete omission of Gauthier holds too much of an impact.

Metalcore superstars to be Heart Of A Coward (****) are steadily making themselves a strong name on the circuit, having already performed at both Takedown Festival and Radstock this year. The likes of ‘Around A Girl (In 80 Days)’ and ‘Psychophant’ see the pits erupt, and the roar of “I don’t give a fuck” during fan favourite ‘Deadweight’ fills The Ritz, whilst frontman Jamie Graham bellows each lyric out with the strength of a minotaur.

Due to a few transport issues, Deez Nuts (***) move forward one spot instead of Stick To Your Guns. There’s a somewhat cartoonish aspect to some of Deez Nuts‘ material. With a name like Deez Nuts, of course they’re not meant to be one of your super serious hardcore bands, and the fun nature of tracks like ‘Stay True’ and the bounce of ‘Band Of Brothers’ and ‘If You Don’t Know, Now You Know’ definitely ensure the Australian outfit remain a worthy inclusion on the bill.

Finally here following some troubles at the airport, Stick To Your Guns (****) waste no time in making their presence known. Blasting through the likes of ‘Diamond’, it’s clear from the crowd that these guys are one of the main attractions to today’s line-up. Frontman Jesse Barnett is a man with many passionate words, preaching the message to the fans of the importance of hardcore music and what it has done for him, notably Terror. Mid-song messages aside, STYG deliver a sweat filled set, greeted with crowdsurfers aplenty in return.

A definite drawing point for a lot of today’s attendees is the return of Despised Icon (*****), who are set to play what will be their last ever UK show. Indeed, the floor and balcony are both the most packed out they’ve been, and evidently will be, all day. The biggest and most carnage filled pit of the day also gets awarded to these guys, with arms a-swingin’, legs a-kickin’, people a-flippin’ and, put simply, insanity. The deathcore icons bring a set of favourites from start-to-finish, with dual vocalists Alex Erian and Steve Marois bringing a bounty of blood curdling screams and roars, but it’s closer ‘MVP’ that cements Despised Icon‘s deserved respect and love in the genre. You guys will be missed.

Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn (**) are sadly plagued with some sound issues for the most part of their set, which doesn’t help when they pale in comparison in almost every way to their predecessor. Vocalist Marcus Bischoff‘s screams often get lost in the mix of everything and, as a result, Heaven Shall Burn just sound really messy and incoherant. Things start to finally normalise and pick up towards the end of the set, but by the time we hear ‘Voice Of The Voiceless’, it’s already too late to save it.

Hardcore legends Terror (*****) get the momentum back on track, and prove just why they’re still worthy of legendary status. An array of guest vocalists come onstage to grab the mic during their 45 minutes onstage, including JJ Peters of Deez Nuts and Louis Gauthier of Brutality Will Prevail, but no one does it quite like the normal formation. Songs like ‘Spit My Rage’ and the band’s set closer ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ incite some of the strongest pits that we see all day, along with wave after wave of crowdsurfers, some of which even managing to invade the stage and dive into the crowd from there. Frontman Scott Vogel even dives into the crowd himself at one point, really raising the bar for the evening’s headliners.

With just under an hour granted to them, Britain’s metalcore heroes to be Bury Tomorrow (****) are bestowed with the privilege to finish off the UK’s first ever Impericon Festival with the honour and gusto that it rightfully deserves. Equipped with a super flashy lighting rig and some huge gas cannons to boot, Bury Tomorrow‘s standard set is injected with steroids and boosted into overdrive, opening with fresh offering, ‘Man On Fire’.

Many would dispute the band’s position as festival headliner, and it’s understandable considering the hefty careers and backcatalogues held by a large amount of the bands who played before them, but Bury Tomorrow definitely hold their own and get the crowd singing back to the likes of ‘Knight Life’ and ‘Royal Blood’. Not only that, they manage to get a bunch of people onto the shoulders of their friends for ‘Waxed Wings’ and, following the news they’re shooting a video at that very show for it, encourage a plethora of crowdsurfers during another new track, ‘Hail The Lost’.

With that, Impericon Festival‘s first visit to the UK was an indisputable sold out success. With the amount of sweaty drenched faces leaving the venue with huge grins across their faces, it’d be silly to not have it return year after year.

Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)

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