LIVE: Wage War / The Devil Wears Prada / Siamese @ Electric Ballroom, London

By Dave Stewart

It’s been a good year for metalcore, hasn’t it? If we’re being honest it’s been a good few years for metalcore, let’s not kid ourselves, but this year has felt different and it’s largely down to the full revival of the touring circuit. Bands have been held back for the last three years – especially international bands that have been unable to travel into the UK – and the hunger to see those acts return to the stage has been at an all time high throughout the year. That hunger was definitely felt at Wage War’s final night of their UK tour, where the mass of onlookers displayed a ravenous appetite for all things heavy. 

The Electric Ballroom was already filling up nicely as Siamese took the stage, and they waste no time getting the crowd warmed up for the onslaught that lies ahead of them. The Danish quintet’s sound straddles devilishly low grooves and soaring angelic melody (the latter helped in part by a violin which slotted into the mix surprisingly well), sometimes jumping between them so fast it’s like flicking a switch, and those sudden shifts often startle the crowd. That shock translates into appreciation, mind you, with the crushing heavy parts of the set creating woo’s and eurgh’s in various pockets around the room. They’re an energetic bunch too, with vocalist Mirza Radonjica darting from side to side to ensure the entire crowd felt like a part of the set as the band laid down a very sturdy foundation for him to jump off of. They definitely managed to create a buzz in the room and, little did everyone know, that buzz was about to become a deafening roar.

We don’t need to introduce The Devil Wears Prada, do we? The legendary band have been going from strength to strength for their entire career, something that latest album ‘Color Decay’ has shown, and their set tonight proves that their live shows are getting better too. Within moments of coming in stage, TDWP raised the bar so high that if this evening was a rollercoaster ride, the openers wouldn’t have been allowed on. Bursting straight into action with a volatile performance of ‘Sacrifice’, they whipped the crowd into a frenzy almost immediately, with vocalist Mike Hranica and guitarist/vocalist Jeremy DePoyster ordering a pit for the opening track’s crushing breakdown that the crowd was more than happy to provide. 

Everything that followed was a wonderfully balanced tightrope walk through their back catalogue and their new album, with highlights being the iconic ‘Danger: Wildman’, the crushing ‘Born To Lose’, crowd favourite ‘Outnumbered’ and the adrenaline-surging ‘Salt’. We’ve never seen them so fired up and we’ve seen them a lot over the years, and that energy saw the spark that makes the band so special evolve into a terrifying blaze that we couldn’t take our eyes off of. The set felt like it was over far too soon, probably because it had the power and punch of a headline set, but their job was to prepare the crowd for the real headliner and the entire room was definitely ready for more. Ending their set on a delicate note with ‘Chemical’ was a genius move, gently bringing the room back down to Earth after a mad half-hour – hopefully the next time we see them, it will be for their own headline run.

The room already felt pretty full for TDWP, but as Wage War take the stage it feels as though the crowd has doubled in size. The band are currently riding a high after the huge success of 2021 album ‘Manic’, and as soon as the opening notes of ‘Relapse’ creep through the PA, the pit-hungry members of the crowd start their ceremonial pushing and shoving to kick the evening off the right way. The first thing that becomes immediately noticeable is the insane tightness of the band. The whole band launches into action at the exact same millisecond and the gut-punch it delivers leaves a lingering grimace on the faces of everyone in earshot. This is the final show of the run and they look far from tired; they’re well rehearsed, they’re energetic, perfectly in sync with one another, and they’re just getting started. This is going to be quite a show.

The band’s collective foot stays firmly on the gas as they continue to deliver smash after smash to the ravenous audience. The one-two punch of ‘Teeth’ and ‘Low’ keeps the electricity in the venue at peak levels, before the band dip into their 2017 ‘Deadweight’ record for a few songs, the highlight of this trio of tracks being a soaring rendition of ‘Gravity’. The crowd are loving what they’re hearing – something that’s clear to see from the size of the pit and the volume of their screaming – and the band visibly loving what they’re seeing, too. A good time to drop one of their latest ragers ‘High Horse’ into the set? The perfect time, in fact; every earth-shattering riff bounces through the venue like an unchained wrecking ball, reminding everyone it hits that the band have a lot of bangers in their arsenal.

One of the highlights of the entire set comes in the form of their latest album’s title track ‘Manic’, which sees a record number of phones leave pockets to record this clearly sought moment. From the haunting verse delivery to the catastrophic breakdown, it’s all played with fury and precision, and that fury spreads through the crowd as they all yell in unison for that iconic deafening scream. The band treats the room to so many faultless performances of some of their biggest and best, from early favourites ‘Alive’ and The River’ to more recent standouts ‘Death Roll’ and the epic ‘Circle The Drain’, and they’re clearly having the best time. Front man Briton Bond reminds the crowd several times throughout the set how grateful they are to be back in London and how good the tour has been – they even go as far as to say that tonight is their favourite show of the whole run. They probably say that every night, but you know what? Everyone in the room believes them, and that’s all that matters. The band ends the night with the brutally brilliant ‘Stitch’ which successfully summons all of the remaining energy left in the room to be expelled, and even after their 15 song set we’re all still wanting more. After 3 years away from touring on this side of the world, this is an incredibly powerful way to make a return. 

There’s something special about Wage War that’s not as straightforward as you’d think to put into words. Their live show is intense, but so many other bands have that too. Their music perfectly balances melody and heaviness, but so does the music that’s coming from a lot of the bands in their genre. That special something is almost like an aura – as soon as they took the stage tonight the room was hypnotised and they managed to hold their gaze without any gimmicks or trickery, just a few synchronised lights, next-level musicianship and pure, unfiltered ferocity. A lot of metalcore is done well, but it’s not always done this well, and that allows Wage War to stand out not only as a band that are really nailing their craft, but as a band to look up to and admire. 

Tonight proves that metalcore is not only thriving, but it’s growing. Legends of the genre and its future are pushing it to new heights, and we can’t wait to see how high they can go.