LIVE: Bleeding Through / Ithaca / Nihility / Chamber @ Underworld, London

By Dave Stewart

Six years ago, Bleeding Through played their last ever UK shows. They all individually had too much going on in their lives, and the importance of finding balance outweighed the importance of the band – it was the right time. Everyone thought that was the last time they’d ever see one of metalcore’s greats perform. Little did they know that 2018 would see the release of a brand new record, followed by their return to UK shores for a special one off London show in 2019.

The record ‘Love Will Kill All’ was positively received by critics and fans alike, so naturally the announcement of their comeback UK performance was welcomed with pure excitement. The queue outside Camden’s Underworld displayed an army of metalheads eager to pile into the venue to witness a long awaited return to the stage – but before the legends could take their turn, a few bands were tasked with warming up the horde.

First up was Midlands-based hardcore crew Chamber, who brought their aggressive and in-your-face brand of noise for the crowd to play with. Unfortunately, only a couple of members of the crowd wanted to play, with most of the onlookers remaining static and unimpressed for the duration of their set. If you look these guys up on YouTube you’ll see that their live shows are normally a breeding ground for chaos – this performance was almost the complete opposite. Their songs had plenty of punch and weight in places, but the punches lacked any real impact and their messy and somewhat lifeless performance failed to woo the audience in any way.

Next up was Nihility from Southampton, armed with a similar brand of hardcore to the preceding band. Their performance was a whole other demon, though, with troves of precision and energy enhancing their sound. They were a far more oiled machine, with brutal distorted tones and slamming breakdowns spilling out of the speakers. The crowd still didn’t burst into pit action, but the appreciative nodding of heads slowly spread through the venue, earning them more and more applause as their set progressed. Front man Josh Gibbons also gave a very heartfelt speech about suicide and the importance of speaking out if you’re struggling – a very important topic in today’s music scene that needs more attention. A solid and passionate performance.

The final supporting act was London locals Ithaca, and they wasted no time dropping jaws in the crowd. They stomped all across the stage and forced their jagged tones directly into the audiences faces, leaving them no choice but to bathe in the now dangerous waters. The venom and the aggression in the music was perfectly balanced with their frantic and unrelenting performance, providing a visceral and raw soundscape that was impossible to ignore. Front woman Djamila Azzouz owned the stage, switching from delicate waltzes to frantic flailing as she projected her tortured vocals out to the room. Set closer ‘Impulse Crush’ set the room alight for the first time that evening, with its dischordant stabs and meaty chugs causing every itchy foot in the room to burst into action. A perfect warm up for the chaos that was about to follow.

The electricity in the room was at an intensely high level. Every inch of the room was animated by excited chatter of what was to come, conversing about what they might open with, what songs they’d play, how far back in the discography they’d go. All of a sudden, amidst a room full of cheers and roars, they took to the stage and keyboard player Marta Peterson led them into both of the opening tracks from the newest record – ‘Darkness, A Feeling I Know’ and ‘Fade Into The Ash’. The crowd rushed towards the front of the stage like a tidal wave, screaming every single word directly back at front man Brandan Schieppati as he glared back down at them with an enormous smile on his face. They were back, and they were very clearly happy about it.

The rest of the set was a tour through all of their biggest and best material, covering almost every record in their career. They stormed through perfect renditions of the thunderous ‘Declaration’, the anthemic ‘Love Lost In A Hail Of Gunfire’, the hardcore tinged new cut ‘No Friends’ and the pit-birthing ‘Tragedy Of Empty Streets’, to name a few. The set list was incredible, with so many highlights that it would be hard to write about all of them without a full case study.

One of the early highlights of the set was ‘For Love And Failing’, which the band ripped into with almost no warning. The crowd barely got the chance to join in with the opening “I don’t give a fuck” before the entire width of the room became a battleground. Brandan passed the mic back to Ithaca front woman Djamila to take over vocal duties for a part of the song, before launching herself on top of the crowd to surf out the remainder of the track. There wasn’t a single person in the room that wasn’t grinning for this one – a flawless performance of a track that seemed to double up as a sort of passing down of the torch from one genre defining band to another.

Their performance of ‘Sister Charlatan’ was incredible too. As soon as the opening chords began to burst out of the speakers, audience members gazed at the stage in awe, eagerly awaiting the blistering darkness that was about to unfold. The epic synths came to an end and the punishing blast beats began – blast beats so robotically tight they caused the music surrounding them to sound even heavier. The choruses soared too, with everyone in earshot basking in their glory as they sang in unison with the band.

The show stealer was the set closer though, infectious crowd favourite ‘On Wings Of Lead’. For a lot of the old school fans, this was one of the first tracks they heard, as well as being a track that helped shape their musical tastes going forward. The crowd reaction for this was nothing short of spectacular, with bodies flying both towards and off the stage for it’s duration. The chorus singalong was almost deafening, with Brandan often opting to simply appreciate what was happening around him rather than be drowned out by the adrenaline fuelled fans shooting past him in every direction. The perfect end to a triumphant return to power.

They couldn’t have put a foot wrong if they tried. The entire crowd was here for one reason and one reason only, and that was to celebrate the return of one of metalcore’s biggest and best bands. It didn’t really matter what they played, and to an extent it didn’t really matter if they played it well or not. They were back, and that was the important part. The evening was just made better by the fact that they picked up exactly where they left off, and made a few things very clear to everyone in attendance – they’re back, and they’re just as powerful and unstoppable as they ever were. Long live Bleeding Through.