LIVE: Bullet For My Valentine / Killswitch Engage / Cane Hill @ O2 Academy, Brixton

By Christopher Lee

At one time, Bullet for my Valentine were heralded as the saviours of British metal. Their debut album,’The Poison’, burst onto the scene 12 years and was followed up by the hugely successful career. The band toured solidly, amassing an army of fans. A lot of things have changed since, and they’ve been overtaken other bands. With that, tonight has an air of expectation about it. Not only have the band announced that they’re filming the show, but they are being joined by two excellent support bands.

First up are New Orleans Nu Metal outfit, Cane Hill. Having dropped their hugely successful second album, ‘Smile’, earlier in the year, the band are returning for their second U.K. appearance this year. Playing a solid half hour set, they open surprisingly with a cover of ‘Black Sabbath’, which certainly gets the crowds attention. The stand out moments of the set come in the shape of their original material. Tracks such as ‘(The New) Jesus’, and ‘Gemini’, transport you directly back to the late 90’s, yet somehow seem to make nu metal relevant again. Closing out the set with the furious ‘Time Bomb’, the number of people head banging along seems to increase infectiously throughout the crowd. Cane Hill have set up the evening perfectly, and surely gained themselves a few new followers.

Next are metalcore stalwarts, Killswitch Engage. The Massachusetts band have enjoyed something of a resurgence since original vocalist Jesse Leach rejoined back 2012. They’ve released two albums since and haven’t looked back. Taking to the stage with guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz screaming “I wanna see all your dicks!” they launch straight into’Alone I Stand’. Leach’s vocals, both screamed and sung, are exceptional. He enters the crowd for ‘Rose of Sharyn’, screaming, “Get out your phones and whatever, I’m coming in there,” commanding the crowd to get the circle pit going around him like a swirling vortex. Not to be outdone, the crowd are on equally fine form during ‘A Bid Farewell’, singing every word at the top of their lungs.

Leach and the band power through a set of recent tracks and classics, the highlight of which comes towards the end of the set with three of their biggest. The guitar intro of ‘My Last Serenade’ is enough to get everyone in the crowd singing along in ‘made the hair on the back of my neck stand up’ moments. This trend carries on through ‘The End of Heartache’, which sees the crowd in full singing voice but also erupting into mosh pits at every opportunity. Leach takes a moment to “Get emo for a second,” thanking everyone for attending and closing the trio of epic tracks with, ‘My Curse’. Signing of the set with newest single, ‘Strength of the Mind’, the band leave the crowd wanting more. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long to welcome Killswitch back.

Now, if you thought that would be a tough act to follow, you’ve probably never seen Bullet for my Valentine live before. The venue is plunged in darkness as ‘V’ plays to a backdrop of strobes. The band make their way on stage to be illuminated by the house lights and a huge ‘BFMV’ banner. Frontman Matt Tuck and his band are suited and booted as they take their place, erupting into ‘No Way Out’. There’s no lack of movement throughout the venue as the band power their way through an opening salvo but the place truly goes insane when ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’ is blasted out perfectly.

There’s a brief respite as ‘Venom’ sees a pretty spectacular laser show. This doesn’t last long, though, as we’re treated to a classic in ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’. Whilst the band plan on playing through ‘The Poison’ in full the following night it’s still nice to get a taste of their debut album. Tuck then addresses the crowd, explaining that they’ve been on this tour cycle for 18 months now and whilst it’s been incredible, “there’s nothing like being at home,” cue ‘Hearts Burst into Fire’. With the set now coming to an end, we get a couple of newer tracks in ‘Alone’, and ‘Worthless’, before they end on ‘Hand of Blood’. The encore sees the band explode with newest single, ‘Don’t Need You’, but the highlight of the night comes after in the shape of a rousing performance of ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ and a brutal rendition of ‘Waking The Demon’.

Bullet have been technically impressive tonight, and will hopefully see a return to form for a band who have undoubtedly shaped modern British metal.