LIVE REVIEW: Impericon Never Say Die! Tour @ KOKO, London (04/11/2018)

Date: November 4th 2018
Venue: KOKO, London
Line-up: Northlane / Being As An Ocean / Alazka / Casey / Polar / Currents / Thousand Below


The Impericon Never Say Die! Tour has become a permanent and much anticipated feature in the rock calendar, and for good reason. It’s previously been headlined by acts like as Parkway Drive, Suicide Silence, We Came As Romans, and Emmure, and that’s not even accounting for the numerous support acts who have gone on to huge things.

This year, the honour is given to Aussie metalcore heroes Northlane, with a boatload of excellent supports. In fact, it could be the strongest line-up this tour has ever seen.

Thousand Below [6] kick off the behemoth of the night with some decent post-hardcore. They’ve managed to get a notable crowd down considering it’s not even 6pm yet, and appear to have a few fans in the audience too – looks like they may have won some hearts when they were over here earlier this year with Dance Gavin Dance. The vocals in particular are strong, with stunning cleans from guitarist Josh Thomas juxtaposed with gritty screams from frontman, James DeBerg.

The crowd has swelled considerably by the time Currents [7] take the stage, which is good, as their djent-y metallic grooves are perfect mosh pit fodder. Plenty get stuck in as new track ‘Into Despair’ starts out mellow and sombre, but quickly descends into breakneck chugs and blistering drums. Frontman Brian Wille is at the helm, providing caustic growls for Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi‘s riffs for days.

If you’re anything like us and you’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of South East bruisers Polar [9], then you’re in luck, as they’re back and better than ever. Their time appears to have done them the world of good, as they seem truly energised by their new material. Latest single ‘Drive’ is enormous – in a different vein to their older work, but with a soaring chorus, lifted by guitarist Tom Green‘s backing vocals as frontman Adam Woodford dives into the crowd. Not to be outdone, the ever invigorating ‘Blood For Blood’ is as hefty as usual, and the crowd bellowing “Where the fuck have you been?” has never felt so relevant. Where the fuck HAVE you been, Polar? 2019 isn’t ready.

It’s hard to expect anything less than a stunning performance from Casey [9], and, naturally, they deliver. Loveably awkward frontman Tom Weaver lets the crowd, who seem overcome with emotion, sing the start of ‘Fluorescents’, while he stands grinning in awe. Despite the absence of lead guitarist Liam Torrance, everything still sounds as ambient and weighty as ever, with Toby Evans‘ fretwork shining on the likes of ‘Phosphenes’ and the emotive ‘Bruise’. By the time set closer ‘Hell’ rolls around, clusters of the crowd can be seen with their arms around each other screaming along to every cathartic word. Casey are simply one of the best bands in the country right now.

Alazka [9] storm the stage, and instantly act like the venue is their own – and the way every eye in the room is on them, it might as well be. Cassim Auale‘s vocals sound smooth as silk and soar around KOKO’s rafters, whilst Tobias Rische‘s screams inject a ferocity and energy into the set that causes the pit to break open time and time again. The poppy melodies and delicate guitars of ‘Hearts Of Gold’ and ‘Empty Throne’ are interspersed with chunky riffs and breakdowns to keep things from feeling syrupy, and there’s so much energy on stage that, at times, it’s difficult to know where to look. Sounding like Architects had a child with Dance Gavin Dance, Alazka have a sound all their own, and tonight turn in a performance worthy of future headliners.

California’s Being As An Ocean [8] are up next, and if you were getting a little tired by now, this band might be a welcome respite. Their tracks are mostly generous slabs of melodic hardcore with some interesting spoken-word bridges that are best enjoyed when allowed to just wash over you. However, that’s without accounting for the energy of frontman Joel Quartuccio, who seems to spend more time in the crowd than he does on the stage, as he scales the monitor stack and flings himself into the pit, much to the open mouthed horror of the security staff. But, y’know, fuck health and safety, because when you’ve got bangers like recent single ‘Know My Name’ in the set, it’s got to be done.

A heartfelt rendition of ‘Dissolve’ has emotional fans singing along in the same calibre as Casey earlier, and an onstage marriage proposal between fans lends an aww-inducing touch. The gorgeous ‘L’exquisite Douleur’ is poetic and arresting, helped all the more by a dazzling light show. In fact, the lights for the entire set are the most mesmerising seen all night. There’s a palpable connection here between fans and band, and as Quartuccio once again finds himself enveloped in the pit for set closer ‘The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget’, that connection is made physical and all the more obvious. If you aren’t a part of it, you’ll find yourself wanting to be.

Headliners Northlane [8] have a lot to live up to, given the incredible performances seen so far. They seem more than up to the challenge though, and as the Aussie five-piece takes the stage, they receive the warmest welcome of the night – no mean feat, considering. There’s a real old school feel to their set tonight, hinted at when they choose not to open with the more obvious choice of ‘Citizen’ from latest album ‘Mesmer’, and instead opt for ‘Genesis’ and ‘Scarab’, the first two tracks from 2013’s ‘Singularity’. It’s a fast and furious start, and vocalist Marcus Bridge, who didn’t originally record them, adapts to the older tracks with ease and aplomb.

Elsewhere, newer song ‘Vultures’ is equally as scathing as any of the older material, if not more so. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of tracks from the excellent ‘Mesmer’, and the likes of ‘Colourwave’ in particular sounds absolutely monstrous, with Bridge showing that he can produce dreamy cleans alongside vicious screams. Drummer Nic Pettersen effortlessly turns in the drum performance of the night, demolishing cymbals left and right with dizzying skill.

Ending the way they started, with a return to old school on the smooth, slow burning ‘Quantum Flux’, Northlane aren’t just a band with some good moshable tunes – they’re also a thoroughly entertaining watch, and headlining what could quite possibly be THE tour of 2018.