FESTIVAL REVIEW: Impericon Festival, London (2016)
Another day in London, and another Impericon Festival to boot. This one saw a huge lineup of bands like Hatebreed, Northlane, Emmure, Bless the Fall, Chelsea Grin, Despised Icon and many more put together for the pleasure of the fans.The opening band Hellions played as the crowd slowly trickled in, but they didn’t let this put them off, and the Aussie mob give it their best, and up next were Hundredth –melodic hardcore from South Carolina. Things picked up when they hit the stage with “Break Free”, and started the first pit of the day. Vocalist Chadwick Johnson‘s constant attempts to generate more response from the crowd really made the band’s performance stand out, and the four-piece did well with their set consisting of songs like “Free Mind / Open Spirit”, hinting at their potential as a live act.
German electrocore group Eskimo Callboy rapidly made the whole room move as one, opening with “Crystals”, later followed by “We are the Mess”. Making the younger people in the audience lose their minds and totally owning the stage, the band went through the set working the crowd perfectly with mini circle pits and mosh pits throughout. Next up, Chelsea Grin delivered a tight performance that solidifies their brand of deathcore. They definitely sounded better in a live environment than on records and Alex Kohler gave it his best shot, but to some it wasn’t as impressive as they’d heard or expected. However, the whole band played brilliantly throughout, with breakdowns heavy enough to compete with the best and the crowd welcomed them with open arms.
Heart Of A Coward, the local boys from Milton Keynes, a band with formidable live reputation, once again proved it with a solid set list composed of tracks like “Hollow”, “Deadweight” and “Shade”, where the fans followed lead vocalist Jamie Graham‘s orders and grabbed every person on their right and left and started to headbang. Singing with him as a whole, Jamie had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Bless the Fall opened with a bang, with “Hollow Bodies” getting a great response from the public, showing what an impressive live outfit they’ve become, with frontman Beau Bokan grabbing the crowd’s attention from the word ‘go’. His bandmates hammered out the fiercest of rhythms, all with a healthy dose of bass, while Jared Warth played some intricate riffs and rhythms along with screaming his ass off and keeping the crowd’s attention.
Despised Icon, newly signed to Nuclear Blast, made a remarkable impression, bringing an edge to the day’s line-up. Intense stage presence and performances that float so smoothly through some of the most amazing time signatures I have ever seen, gave me the chills. Frontmen Alex and Steve are two confident and powerful vocalists, with their perfect timings and tones. The whole band was insane to watch and the London crowd didn’t stop the pit until the very end. Emmure followed, starting with “Bring a Gun to School” and “Nemesis”. It was a mix of flying bass and heavy guitar riffs while frontman Frankie worked the stage. They aren’t known for their in-between song conversation, and they placed the emphasis on what matters –the music! Songs like “4 Poisons 3 Words” and “Drug Dealer Friend”, in their ferocity, seemed to set the audience on fire, with an exciting mix of moshers, crowd surfers and hardcore kids.
Northlane came on stage, full of energy, looking to continue the party with a bang. Initially, they were impressive but it didn’t take long for the set to start dragging, as the band fired out a stream of identical new songs. None of it was particularly bad but the songs just showed a lack of aggression compared to the day’s line up. The band’s stage presence showed a slightly-lacking imagination despite all the synchronized headbanging and guitar swings.
Finally, Hatebreed set foot on the stage, and the crowd had been anxiously awaiting their favorite band. Immediately, they ripped into a jaw-dropping, ear-bursting set. The stage presence of the whole band was great. Jasta was dead-on and just tore up the stage like he always does and guitarists Wayne and Frank looked so damn comfortable up there. With songs from the new album ‘The Concrete Confessional’, and all the way to ‘Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire’, the band managed to impress once again, not only by focusing on their own playing but also by seeking interactions with the crowd at every chance they had. “Life for This” followed and the crowd was entirely out of control, as expected. Passionate songs and chaotic shows are some of the reasons Hatebreed has been around for so long, and their humble attitude towards their fans and other artists adds to this.