Well, here it is again – the Never Say Die! Tour. it’s a metalcore festival which tours European cities every autumn. It’s officially named ‘Impericon NSD,’ after the retail store Impericon who also organize another tour called Impericon Festival every spring. The NSD tour started in 2008 and since then have seen the likes of Parkway Drive, Unearth, Architecs, Protest the Hero, and many others. And this year’s tour with Northlane headlining is set to be a beauty.
The lineup this year is as follows: Thousand Below, Currents, Polar, Casey, Alazka, Being an Ocean, and Northlane. The main reason I attended was to watch Sharptone Records’ acts Currents and Alazka – who I will be covering in this review – and also new comers to the label, Polar. Again, the top bods at Sharptone must be fist-bumping for signing these guys for sure.
Right away, the anticipation for the event to get going and overall vibe in the SWX Bristol was electric. This venue is superb – with hanging white globes from the ceiling, two large bars, a balcony area, and the occupancy of around 1800 people in the downstairs main room. Located smack bang in the heart of Bristol makes it the ideal venue for this event.
The first band I was there to witness live was Currents. I’ve been aware of these lads for a while now, and since the release of ‘The Place’ – I feel is their safest album – I was ready to witness their live antics. Being second on the bill, the fans were already warmed up. The boys in Currents managed to keep the momentum going with their hard, solid-hitting riffs and drums that match every guitar note – the twiddling fast guitar runs in the background supplied by a seven-string axe is just superb, along with breakdowns to make even the shyest person get involved (even if it’s a gentle head nod). I bet you couldn’t resist moving whilst hearing these lads deliver. Go and check them out if you don’t believe me. Vocals were aggressive through most tracks with the subtle and melodic parts on a few. If you have tickets to any of the dates of this tour make sure you get there early.
Polar are already well-established, but with their recent signing to Sharptone Records, keep your eyes and ears peeled for newest offerings and a list of amazing dates soon. They stormed onto the stage and were not messing around, smashing straight into their heavy, hardcore metal sound. Vocalist, Adam Woodford looked like he meant business stomping around the stage and eventually standing tall on the in-house monitors, arms open, then dropped down to deliver one of the best vocal performances of the evening – not just vocals, but the energy and passion he has to head this band into battle. he also busts into a growly clean vocal, which cuts through and keeps the songs stomping along at a nice, heavy pace. The set was crammed full of aggression from start to finish – the catchy riffs with the odd, cheeky double bass drum and breakdowns to get you moving. A perfect set, lads.
I’ve seen Alazka a few times now, and they are one of those bands that never disappoint. They are a dual vocalist band – which is a mix of melodic vocals delivered by Kassim Auale (who uniquely walks onstage every time he does his vocals and then leaves and stands by the side of the stage until he sings again), and then the aggressive vocals are delivered by Tobias Rische. This combo of vocals is a marriage made in heaven – ok, that’s a cheesy line – but seriously, it works so well. What you hear in their videos and on record is exactly what Kassim sounds like live – truly amazing and mesmerizing to witness in the flesh. These guys pull you in every time you watch them. It’s down to there heavier side, getting you to move along to every beat and guitar note through the aggressive parts. Then when Kassim sings, it’s like a massage for your ears. If you are not aware of them, please go and check them out. I’m hooked and I’m sure you will be.
Northlane are BACK. But first, I will explain why I say they are “back.” This review is not going to start well, but just hear me out – it gets better. I’ve been a fan from the first album, ‘Discoveries’ – which is a masterpiece. It took me a few years to see them live, and last year I watched them after the release of ‘Node’ and I was bored and disappointed due to the lack of old material being played. Also, I felt the whole set was just atmospheric down to lighting and choices of songs, and each song just blended into each other – they all lacked energy. So tonight, my expectations were low. Well, wow! I was pleasantly surprised. The Northlane I had heard when I first heard their ‘Discoveries’ album were present tonight – YYYEEESSSS! It was down to every element – the mixture of old and new tracks they played, and Marcus Bridge (who replaced the original vocalist) was truly worthy of the position – he had bags of energy. Delivering a couple old tracks the way he did was just how I thought Northlane would be. I’ve deleted the ‘Node’ tour performance from my memory and have a new, fresher memory now. I hope they get to read this and stick to the recipe they used tonight from here on. I will also say they definitely deserved the headline spot on this tour. Northlane are BACK, so get a ticket.