It’s late August, which means it’s about damn time the Hell On Earth Tour rolls back into town. Last year’s version was excellent, being headlined by the ever-impressive Every Time I Die meaning the bar has been set pretty high for this year. Unearth have been chosen to headline with a bunch of various hardcore bands on the support bill.
Full Blown Chaos pulled out shortly before our date arrives, meaning the first band tonight is melodic hardcore-ites Casey Jones (***). Cue confused looks from the audience as an entire band walks out instead of just one dude. Playing in a genre that is generally hard to get recognised in, the music is good but lacks something. Maybe a gimmick is needed, like the breakdowns of metalcore or that weird crab dance that Attack Attack! do. Luckily the stage banter is amusing enough to keep everyone interested; maybe Josh James could be a comedian in another life. “Butt Hash” is introduced with a few words about what it is: apparently if you piss and shit in a bottle and then put a balloon of the top and leave it in the sun, you can inhale it and get high from it. However tongue-in-cheek this is, I certainly won’t be trying it any time soon. It should also be noted that this is Casey Jones‘ last year of touring; whether or not they’re breaking up all together I do not know, but if you wanna see them live, you’ll have to get down to a date on this tour.
Next up are Nasty (**). If you were deaf, you’d be forgiven for wondering why there are guitarists on stage backing up a rapper, such is the appearance of the band. I don’t know if lead singer Matthi is hiding a tumour or something under his hat, but there’s gotta be some reason he’s wearing it in such a stupid way. Continuing on from their bro-ish image, the music is just as, for lack of a better word, “nasty”. Commence breakdown after breakdown after breakdown. Well, I say breakdown, but in reality there’s nothing to breakdown as it never actually breaks up as it were. It’s hard to tell when one song ends and the next one begins. This is stupid music for easily amused people, but you can’t deny its grooviness. The slow chug-chugging of the guitars is brutal as fuck, pummeling the crowd into the ground as stickman Nash pounds away at the drums. He looks like he’s out of an American frat, and I half expect him to jump up at any second and scream “SPRING BREAK!!”.
Bane (**) have got a lot of hype surrounding them tonight, but they don’t really live up to it as far as I’m concerned. It’s all very cliché, and for grown men to be singing about such teenage problems seems a tad silly. The final song is preceded by a token ‘this song is for when you’re really sad’-type speech which would be better suited to a Hawthorne Heights song than angry hardcore. There’s plenty of people who appreciate it all though and they certainly aren’t shunned despite being, in my opinion, the most disappointing band.
Evergreen Terrace (*****) however step it up a notch. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to be that popular in the UK (following a measly attended gig in Plymouth last year were just 50 people turned up), but there’s plenty of support for them today. Jacob from Lost (Andrew Carey) on vocals has a broken wrist, but it doesn’t stop him screaming out bizarrely titled songs from their discography, including ‘New Friend Request’ and ‘Chaney Can’t Quite Riff Like Helmet’s Page Hamilton’. Will Young (Craig Chaney) doesn’t manage a smile the entire set, but Mark Webber (Caleb James) on drums, Casey Jones (Josh James) and Alex Varian (I couldn’t think of a doppelganger for him) all seem to be having a good time.
As soon as tonight’s headliners Unearth (****) come out, it’s clear that it’s time for business. Everyone goes nuts for their all-encompassing metal meets hardcore sound with mosh pits, circle pits and the odd hardcore dancer or two flailing around the awkwardly placed metal poles in the audience. Blasting out songs spanning their whole career, including ‘Endless’ (from 2004’s ‘The Oncoming Storm’), a selection of songs from 2008’s ‘The March’ and a few from their excellent new album ‘Darkness In The Light’. Lead singer Trevor Phipps has recently been fighting depression, so it’s good to see him smiling onstage and having a good time. Drummer Derek Kerswill recently left the band meaning Killswitch Engage drummer Justin Foley is filling in for tonight. Now going into their fourteenth year of being a band, Unearth have withstood the test of time well and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come.
Written by Martin Savage