Impericon: Never Say Die Tour @ O2 Academy, Islington

5th November 2014
Review by Tim Bolitho-Jones
Photography by Graham Hilling

Not a fan of hardcore? You are, you just haven’t been to a Terror show yet. One of the most beloved bands in the scene is back in London on a cold November night to headline the Impericon: Never Say Die tour at the O2 Academy. And true to form they put on a frantic, fast paced show to cap off a great night of heavy music. It’s quite a line-up too, the staggering seven band bill meaning the doors open ludicrously early and with a large chunk of ticket buyers still at work, the venue feels very big and empty when the night kicks off.

Capsize Capsize

The initially sparse crowd doesn’t put off Capsize or No Bragging Rights however, the two opening bands putting in earnest and enthusiastic sets.

Capsize Capsize

Both deal in straightforward melodic hardcore, to the extent that they’re pretty much interchangeable, but you can’t deny their passion.

No Bragging Rights No Bragging Rights

They get a few fists pumping, make some new friends and get us through that awkward phase at the start where only three or four guys indulge in hardcore dancing.

No Bragging Rights No Bragging Rights

In contrast, More Than A Thousand are a bit more slick and noticeably more metal than everyone else on the line-up. They’ve got a lot more hair for starters, have a wealth of thrash riffs in their arsenal and write songs about horror movies rather than the eternal plight of the underdog.

More Than a Thousand More Than a Thousand

They walk onstage to a wall of disinterest and apathy, but by the end of their brief set the pit has swelled dramatically, everyone is clapping along and singer Vascos Ramos is grinning from ear to ear.

More Than a Thousand More Than a Thousand

It’s when Obey The Brave turn up however that business really picks up. The recent ‘Salvation’ album was clearly popular with London’s hardcore fans and the pit rages from start to finish.

Obey the Brave Obey the Brave

Security start looking a bit worried when ‘Short Fuse’ triggers a remarkable display of fist swinging violence and ‘Full Circle’ is a breakdown heavy slice of macho insanity. The gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down.

Obey the Brave Obey the Brave

If Stick To Your Guns were at all intimidated by this however it doesn’t show.

Stick to Your Guns Stick to Your Guns

Vocalist Jesse Barnett might just be the most hyperactive frontman in hardcore, leaping from one end of the stage to the other during the opening ‘Empty Heads’ and not slowing down once.

Stick to Your Guns Stick to Your Guns

He leads the now frenzied audience through thirty minutes of big choruses and thundering power chords as crowd surfers swarm over the barrier.

Obey the Brave Obey the Brave

They’re noticeably heavier live than on record and when the Impericon tour next rolls into town, don’t be surprised if they’re headlining.

Stick to Your Guns Stick to Your Guns

After such an adrenaline packed set, there’s a noticeable dip in the energy levels when Comeback Kid first emerge from the shadows, everyone pausing to take a breath and try to shake the lactic acid from their limbs.

Comeback Kid Comeback Kid

The working class Canadian heroes have a wealth of hits in their back catalogue though and it only takes a few minutes for things to pick up again.

Comeback Kid Comeback Kid

Circle pits open up for ‘False Idols Fall,’ ‘Should Know Better’ triggers a mass sing-a-long and the ever popular finale of ‘Wake The Dead’ is nothing less than pandemonium.

Comeback Kid Comeback Kid

What has been refreshing about tonight’s gig so far is that everyone has been more or less well behaved. There’s been plenty of axe-kicking, fist swinging and comfort blanket waving chaos sure, but there’s been hardly any of that infuriating ‘crowd killing’ that’s become de rigeur lately. No-one is aiming punches at the bystanders and while the pit is raging, it’s more than possible to enjoy a pint next to the bar without any risk of it being spilled by someone drastically trying to overcompensate on you.

Terror Terror

That being said, the security staff still look incredibly pissed off when Scott Vogel comes bounding up to the barrier encouraging his fans to jump on each other’s heads. “They wanted a hardcore show, let’s give them a fucking hardcore show” he roars and the audience obliges.

Scott Vogel gets intimate with the crowd Scott Vogel gets intimate with the crowd

There’s still no crowd killing during Terror’s set, but there’s no chance of getting anywhere near the front because every inch of floor space becomes part of the pit.

Terror Terror

And it’s fucking brilliant.

Terror Terror

By this point of the night, some people have been on their feet for over five hours but there’s still enough energy to power a fusion reactor. Bodies are flying all over the place and Vogel’s manic charm is enough to whip even casual bystanders into a fury.

Terror Terror

Old classics like ‘Last Of The Diehards’ and ‘One With The Underdogs’ are short, abrasive blasts of chorus bellowing vigour and twelve songs flash by in what feels like seconds. And while their set is cut slightly short thanks to the venue’s basement flooding, it’s still a raucously upbeat end to a fantastic, if somewhat exhausting gig.

Terror Terror

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