Back when the tickets were announced for this, I was excited. Having been an In Flames fan for years and having seen them numerous times over the past 10, its always been one band I can count on to be consistently good in a live setting. The excitement and anticipation soon turned to dread though given the release of Siren Charms – a very mediocre album (in my opinion). With setlists and albums increasingly becoming more melodic metalcore based than the melodic death metal the Swedes are famous for, part of me was thinking this might not be such a good gig after all. With Wovenwar and While she sleeps added to the line up, it was certainly looking more miss than hit.
On stage first were Wovenwar who as many know, were formed when As I Lay Dying got a new frontman after the previous one got sent down for conspiracy to facilitate murder. Having reviewed their debut effort earlier in the year and found it average, I already knew what to expect from the band. What I didn’t expect was their sound to come across better in a live setting than on CD. Opening up with “Rise Again”, the vocal harmonies and three guitar based metalcore assault worked out well. “Profane” got the crowd going a bit and the best track off of their album, “Tempest” was well received. They closed with “Prophets” which kind of killed what little momentum they had managed to build up with the crowd. As mentioned earlier, the band came across better live than on CD and maybe with more material behind them, they could get better in time. The only problem I could see is a lot of people might have been expecting As I Lay Dying material or something rather similar to that style of metalcore.
Following up in the main support role were Sheffield based While She Sleeps. Playing a hybrid of metalcore and hardcore, they won the majority crowd over instantly with their throwback to the mid 2000’s brand of bland mediocrity. On stage, they had a great presence. They came out swinging and the crowd repaid this with a lot of pitting and shouting along, but when the singer demands the crowd to “Open this fucking floor” 4 times in one song (7 times all set, clearly he has been taking lessons from Rob Flynn in stage banter) it kinda ruins what credibility they might have built up with this reviewer. “Close” went down great live, had a really big heavy groove to it and during the last song, the singer invaded toe crowd just to help give the security more of a headache given how they had been dealing with crowdsurfers for the majority of their set. If While She Sleeps can make a success out of a mediocre sound, fair play to them. They know how to work a crowd, and in this day and age, that’s what matters.
As I said earlier, I was a bit wary about the upcoming In Flames set and the previous band didn’t fill me with much reason to be optimistic. The only thing keeping my hopes up was the fact that In Flames always deliver live, that is one thing which they have kept constant over the years. Taking this in mind, I waited as the band walked out and hoped the new material would be better live than on the album. The Swede’s stormed through their set with the usual precision and excellence they do. Ander’s vocals were strained through it and it helps explain why they’ve switched direction and leaned more towards the metalcore side of the spectrum.
Old favorites “Trigger”, “Cloud Connected”, “Only for the weak” and “The quiet place” were in there, along with an unexpected surprise in the form of “Resin” from the mid 90’s. Newer songs like “Rusted Nail” went down well with the crowd and sounded alright, but apart from that, it was just like any other In Flames gig. Anders was on fine form with the crowd and the band sounded as tight as ever. During Only for the weak, Chris, the head of the In Flames UK Street team was invited up on stage to film the song (Keep your eyes peeled on YouTube to see this) and the majority of people were highly satisfied with “Take This Life” as the closing track.
Overall, they may not be the same In Flames I love and they really have shifted musical directions now… But live, they still have it!
(Review and photos Fraggle)