Unfortunately, due to it taking a while to get into the venue (perhaps it would have been a better idea to open the doors more than half an hour before the first band) we entered Manchester Academy 2 just as openers Hellions were ending their set, so our day began with Hundredth instead. The band was in good spirits, thanking the crowd for coming down early to check them out and the energy displayed onstage from the fourpiece was tremendous, with members bouncing about and giving the performance their all. The set finished with frontman Chadwick performing from the crowd in an attempt to get a pit going – which he ultimately succeeded in.
After a few technical difficulties (in which the crowd amused themselves by singing and dancing along to S Club 7, Soft Cell and Kylie – stellar choices of between-band songs from Manchester Academy) Eskimo Callboy took to the stage and whilst at first I wasn’t sure what to expect as they were a little different to the rest of the bands on the bill, it wasn’t long before I got into the swing of things and connected with the show. The first song had a very muddy sound but the sound quality improved for the second song as the sound techs ironed out the creases and that was when things properly got going – the awesome mix of hardcore and electronics was tremendous. At times it felt like they were trying to do too many things at once but despite this it just seemed to work! In particular drummer David was tremendous and added a lot of meat to the beats and electronic lines being projected into their performance by playing in sync with them. It was just a highly enjoyable set and by the end of it a good chunk of the crowd were dancing and pumping their fists in the air to the music. Not bad for a band that was arguably the ‘odd one out’ on the lineup!
Up next was Heart Of A Coward and whilst their set was good, it was admittedly somewhat samey and it seemed to drag a little, resulting in a set that was sometimes a little difficult to connect with. As with the bands prior to them, it was nice and energetic but it did feel like the band needed to do more to truly make an impact, so unfortunately wasn’t the most memorable as performances.
As Despised Icon took to the stage, the whole room erupted with cheers and the crowd was behind the band from the get go – the response they got was phenomenal and it seemed like the band could do no wrong! It was great seeing them returning to the stage after such a long absense and the wait was definitely worth it to finally see this talented band live. There was a humongous circle pit pretty much from start to finish, which even got a bit violent during the final song as it opened up so wide that it almost enveloped the entire room! It was a great set from a great band – and we’re already excited tohear the new album too!
Perhaps it was just me, due to the raucous response the band got, but Chelsea Grin saw the quality of the festival take a serious nose dive. Aside from the fact the band made use of obnoxious headache-inducing flashing lights on the crowd, meaning that you couldn’t really look at the stage for a prolonged period of time, the music just all blended together and it just seemed like the band was simply making as much noise as they could for for the sake of it. There was also nothing that made the performance stand out – well, the visuals I was actually able to witness, as my eyeballs ended up aching after a while due to the lights – and I found myself counting down the minutes until it was finally over, which wasn’t a great way to spend a band’s performance.
Bless The Fall took to the stage to a half full room but thankfully more people showed up as the set progressed. The passion displayed onstage was really nice to witness and it was a tight and solid performance. Additionally, frontman Beau ended the set by crowdsurfing whilst simultaneously singing, which was awesome, and although nothing really set them apart from the other bands on the bill, it was certainly one of the more enjoyable sets of the night.
Having been unfamiliar with Emmure prior to their performance at Impericon, I thus wasn’t aware of what they were like before their lineup shake-up so I went into their performance with an open mind and it was a decent show, with the band presenting a united front – you’d not have guessed there had been a recent change as it was a tight and together performance. Unfortunately, Emmure also made use of the flashing lights – although not to the scale that Chelsea Grin overused them – and it seemed a little pointless that there was big gaps between songs with little crowd interaction because they could have easily fit in another song into their fairly short set.
Penultimate band Northlane added a nice element of melody to the evening after having a bunch of bands essentially bellowing at us all day, and they were certainly a visually interesting band to watch due to the black paint strewn across their faces. Frontman Marcus worked hard at engaging the crowd, frequently interacting and getting everyone involved, and it paid off because more and more people seemed to get into the performance as the set continued, and it was an all-round enjoyable performance as a result.
Ready to smash the last drops of energy out of the crowd, Hatebreed took to stage more than 7 hours after the festival first flung open its doors. Bandana-clad frontman Jamie Jasta demanded pits, and that’s exactly what he got as the Connecticut metalcorers tore through their discography spanning set. While the room was some way from full, the free space just meant more room for the vigorous moshing of the faithful. With smiles stretched from ear to ear on every member, Hatebreed went hard, but never broke a sweat. With more than 20 years of gigs behind them with one lineup or another, it’s perhaps no surprise that they seemed as polished as they were ball-breaking. Destroy Everything, I Will Be Heard, Live For This and Doomsayer all made appearances, as Impericon 2016 was brought to its triumphant close.
Unfortunately, we had to miss the performance of Hatebreed in Manchester as we had to dash to get the last train home (thank you, bank holiday Monday!) but our photographer in London, Matthew Higgs, kindly stepped up to review the Hatebreed set in London.