Review by: Stefan Putwain Photos: Simon Kneller
Although not a complete sell-out this was still a very packed gig in the relatively new venue for Bristol at SWX. The former nightclub now converted to a venue that has entertained the likes of Pitchshifter and Therapy? recently.
Light The Torch
Light The Torch, the project formerly known as Devil You Know, sees Howard Jones return looking lean and full of energy for this performance. The former Killswitch Engage vocalist displaying all the range he had with his former incumbents but even more depth. This sounded like vocals from earlier in his career like Blood Has Been Shed, or indeed, at points like Adam Warren from Oceano, such was the ferocity. But in keeping with his abilities to sing, belts out with perfection tunes from the recent release, Revival.
With tunes like ‘Die Alone’, ‘The God I Deserve’, ‘The Safety Of Disbelief’ and ‘Calm Before The Storm’, it is no surprise that the crowd immediately warm to the band. With Francesco Artusato handling the crunching riffs on guitars, Ryan Wombacher on bass and complimenting Jones on backing vocals and Mike Sciulara completing this four-piece on drums. Half an hour was only enough time for Light The Torch to rip through a short set, but quality rules over quantity as this was a set honed to perfection. The warmth the Bristol crowd holds for Howard Jones was evident. Be sure to check out the headline tour running around the UK in late April. This was a flawless set. It is rare night when a support band lights up a venue like Light The Torch did. Setting the tone for an incendiary night. (10 out of 10)
Norma Jean, the metalcore band from Douglasville, Georgia, would always have had a tough act to follow being sandwiched between a metal legend and the pioneers of melodic death metal. But they set dutifully about their business and take the crowd by surprise as they started without any fanfare. The crowd almost as one checking their phones and taking a collective breather after the energy of the Light The Torch set. Despite the cataclysmic sound of tunes like ‘Children Of The Dead’, ‘Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else’ and ‘I, The Planet’, Norma Jean fail to grab the attention of a crowd eagerly anticipating In Flames. (6 out of 10)
In Flames take to the stage and treat us to a set packed with 19 songs linking classics from the past to absolute smashers from their new album ‘I, The Mask’. Kicking off with ‘Voices’, it is clear that the new material is even better live than on record and stands up to their illustrious past releases. So having ignited the crowd with that ‘Everything’s Gone’ from their 2015 release, ‘Siren Charms’, is up next. Jumping back to the early 2000s for ‘Pinball Map’. Bjorn Gelotte seemingly effortlessly crunching out the riffs and melodies on guitars. Anders Friden clearly enjoyed the crowd response to the first three songs. With Chris Broderick, stepping in for Niclas Engelin, to handle guitar duties for this tour.
When you have such an extensive catalogue of classic songs to choose from it is difficult to decide on a setlist that will please everyone, but In Flames do that in spades. Lacing the set with new tunes like ‘Call My Name’, ‘(This Is Our) House’, ‘Deep Inside’ and ‘I Am Above’, proving they stand up to the crowd favourites in ‘Leeches’, ‘Colony’ and ‘My Sweet Shadow’.
This truly was a treat, In Flames, if you will pardon the pun, were on fire. Revelling in the welcome the band received, they approached this set with humour and the reciprocation was evident for the pioneers of melodic death metal. With even a couple of jibes thrown in about Brexit, Friden invited us all to move to Sweden. Closing the set with the brutal ‘I Am Above’, ‘Cloud Connected’ and ‘The Mirrors Truth’, In Flames showing that age has not wearied their desire to weave their melo-death magic over the SWX crowd.
I might see a better gig than this later in the year but for the moment it will be hard to knock a night and a performance like that off the top spot.
(10 out of 10)
Set List for In Flames.
Where The Dead Ships Dwell
Call My Name
Monsters In The Ballroom
All For Me
(This Is Our) House
Here Until Forever
The Chosen Pessimist
My Sweet Shadow
I Am Above
The Mirrors Truth