With a line-up marking a real ‘old guard vs new guard’ divide, Taste Of Chaos looks to be a chance for new bands to show off their wares while pummeling the masses with some classic floor stompers.
Alabama’s Maylene and the Sons of Disaster open with a blend of southern rock and metalcore, tinged throughout with bluegrass stylings. With three albums of great songs to pick from it’s a shame then that the set suffers from classic opening-slot syndrome – through no fault of their own the sound levels are shot to hell, the three guitars often blurring into one messy noise, only occasionally clearing up to allow a glimpse of their infectiously riffy rock and powerful vocals. It feels like a taster of what they can produce at their own shows, and that’ll definitely be something to look forward to.
Every Time I Die perform with a complete disregard for any sense of structure – like their recorded material the live set is a clashing mix of outright guitar noise and barked vocals punctuated by moments of clarity, the chaotic rhythms settling into heaving breakdowns, crooning clear vocals or funky interludes. You never really know what to expect at any point. Standout tracks like We’re Wolf and Bored Stiff show off how tightly controlled the chaos is, and it’s a style that clearly has fans as the erupting pit spills flailing legs and arms in all directions. It’s impossible not to like the group’s cocky swagger – they don’t give a damn if everyone likes their music, they’re just out to make some noise and start a party.
It’s time for some classics as Cloud Connected’s cinematic intro erupts into one of the finest head-banging riffs. With a career spanning nine albums and nearly twenty years you’d hope that the Swedes could tear the roof off, and In Flames certainly deliver with a set that covers old school favourites like Pinball Map, sound-defining The Quiet Place, and the more recent, more melodic March To The Shore. The quality of the performance is without argument, but the most surprising thing is the age of the crowd. Previous In Flames pits I’ve seen have purely been the older, long-hair brigade, but this new pack of teens throwing themselves into every track are a clear sign of the band’s consistent and long-term appeal.
As the lights go up for Killswitch Engage the house is packed to the rafters, and from the opening chords the room doesn’t stop moving. What impresses most is that while the songs, pulled from all five albums, aren’t overtly ‘technical’ the structure is nigh on perfect – no solo is too long, meatier riffs chug along at a pace and there’s no dead air in the whole performance. Howard’s voice is extraordinary: going from growled verses to operatic, open-lunged choruses with unbelievable control. Their stage presence is also second to none, Adam D scampering around in a pink tutu like an ADD child without his Ritalin, while Howard looms and struts from left to right backed by the powerhouses of Joel and Mike throwing shapes. The clincher comes with My Last Serenade – with every voice in the building singing it pitch perfectly even the band seem stunned by the result. In recent times it feels like Killswitch have dropped off the map slightly, but from tonight’s performance surely festival headline slots are the only step left?