LIVE REVIEW: IMPERICON FESTIVAL 2016 @ O2 FORUM, LONDON

2.30pm on a Tuesday is an unholy time to have doors open for an all day festival bill, especially one that boasts the likes of Despised Icon and headliners Hatebreed. The Forum obviously is slow to fill as most of today’s attendees are most likely still at their 9-5 jobs, but we can’t wait for them to turn up so let’s get into it. 
Hellions have the task of opening up today and crack on straight into their groove-laden hardcore. Complete with rough vocals and an infectious delivery it looks like we’re off to a promising start. Ambient elements creep in and have some of us swaying to the gentle rhythm of their at times beach chill vibe, the Australian shining through. The Sydney crew bust out the melodic ‘Nottingham’ which is received with polite applause, a solid start to today. (6/10)

hundredth
Hundredth – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

Up next is the bruising Hundredth to deliver their destructive and well thought out cuts of hardcore. ‘Break Free’ straight off the bat see’s the band go hard and they don’t let up. A chaotic light show enhances the performance and with songs like ‘Unravel’ and ‘Free Mind/Open Spirit’  there’s no chance that they can miss today. It’s crushing, break neck speed hardcore delivered by a confident set of young men with boundless energy. ‘Weathered Town’ signals the end of their set and Chadwick makes his way to the barrier to sing with the fans down the front. An extended breakdown session mesmerizes us and leaves us wanting more. (8/10)

Eskimo Callboy
Eskimo Callboy – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

Self proclaimed electrocore unit Eskimo Callboy arrive on stage clouded in mysterious and dark blue lighting as they break out the synth samples and smoke machines to add a different flavour to today. Their slightly eccentric wardrobe choices only help make our minds up that this mashup of metalcore and electro is not for us. The metalcore is your standard Warped Tour nonsense that is neither groundbreaking or new and the synths are European dance cliches. However we can’t fault the enthusiasm and effort being put it, every member nailing their parts and the duel vocalists Sushi and Kevin get the crowd bouncing and moving, upping the participation levels here in Kentish Town. (6/10)

Earth shattering riffs are on the cards next as the only UK band on the bill today, Heart Of A Coward are up. As expected, it’s crushingly heavy stuff. Jamie Graham is no stranger to large crowds and he commands the throng of pit participants with ease. ‘Deadweight’ feels like it could make the roof cave in at any moment, the “I don’t give a fuck” refrain sounding even more menacing live. By the halfway point of the set though the down tuned madness does start to get a little tedious, breakdown style riffing over and over with the occasional melodic section thrown in. The fans in the pit are still into it though and the set continues on in frantic fashion as the boys fly the flag for us here in London. (7/10)

heart of a coward
Heart Of A Coward – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

 

Veterans of the deathcore scene Despised Icon are back once again. After successful shows last September at Ghostfest the Canadian crew are back to bring their intense live show. There’s an air of anticipation before even a note has been played as the room is getting more and more full by the minute. The one two vocal attack of hardcore influenced Alex Erian and screamer Steve Marois is on devastating form tonight, ‘Day of Mourning’ sounding as fresh and visceral as it was back in 2009. The band are tighter than ever before as drum machine Alex Pelletier covers every inch of his kit in a performance of controlled chaos on stage. Alex jumps up and over the barrier and is lost for a good minute or so as the diehards horde themselves around him to scream in his face and mic. Leveling the place with an enormous rendition of ‘MVP’ is one of today’s highlights, leaving a lasting impression on everyone here. (8/10)

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Chelsea Grin – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

More deathcore is on its way with Chelsea Grin gracing the stage next. Technically laced guitar parts with high pitch screams is what’s in store for the next half hour and it wears thin rather quickly. Sparkly guitars and boy band attire still don’t stop this from being forgetful and worst of all, bland. There’s nothing new here apart from the ludicrously loud bass drops they shove into the set that are far too much and almost unsettling. The new material slides in amongst the older stuff with ease and actually surpasses it judging by the crowds excitement. Still there’s nothing new or exciting here to keep us interested. (5/10)

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Chelsea Grin – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

Possibly the most anticipated set of the day is up now, the return of Emmure, aka Frankie Palmeri and some hired hands. All the focus is on Frankie here tonight as the band rip through ‘I Thought You Met Telly and Turned Me Into Casper’ and the incendiary ‘Sunday Bacon’. The riffs are scathing and scratching with unpleasant tones which is in keeping with the bands lyrical content at times. Even though they’ve dropped a guitarist this is probably the tightest and meatiest sounding we’ve ever seen Emmure. During the set at Ghostfest, Frankie and his then bandmates looked like they wanted to be anywhere else, but now Frankie isn’t just rooted to the spot he’s bending his body awkwardly and covering the stage front and back. He also seems to be in apologetic form almost, his facial expressions suggesting he knows this second chance has to go well and that he wants the fans to stick around for the future. After this set we’re convinced that Emmure still have a place in our world, even if the songs do all sound the same. (6/10)

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Northlane – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

Northlane come along with the technical and atmospheric blend that have seen them rise rapidly up the ranks at festivals and touring packages in a short amount of time. It’s especially impressive seeing as Marcus Bridge only joined the band on vocals some 18 months or so ago. First single released with Marcus was ‘Rot’, and it sounds incredible tonight. It fills every inch of the Forum with it’s cleanly picked verses and explosions of emotions. ‘Masquerade’ welcomes back Dre Faivre from Hellions on guest vocals, flowing into an outrageous and set highlight ‘Quantum Flux’. Crowd surfers get up and over the barricade and helped down by the brilliant security team tonight and there’s smiles aplenty from the audience in attendance to the five men from Sydney. ‘Obelisk’ annihilates with it’s groove and low end as the set frantically comes to an end. An impressive showing from Northlane, we wouldn’t be surprised if they headlined this tour one day. (8/10)

hatebreed
Hatebreed – Photo Credit: JPC Photography

Finally the time has come after 7 hours of brutality. Hardcore illuminaries Hatebreed are here to destroy everything. The inspiring figure in the bandana Jamey Jasta commands and controls this room from the get go. Normally frontmen look pissed off and looking to start a fight for no reason, not Jasta, he’s all smiles and laughs tonight, but it doesn’t take away from the intensity him and his band perform. Not having a setlist also must help with the fun as Jasta shouts out songs randomly from a sheet of around 40 songs throughout. Going all the way back to where it all began with ‘Smash Your Enemies’ from the ‘Under The Knife’ mini album shows just how hard and fast Hatebreed can be. “NOW IS THE TIME FOR ME TO RISE TO MY FEET”, fan and festival favourite ‘I Will Be Heard’ makes everyone lose their shit. The diehards, the occasional listener and the people who don’t want to go home unite to sing loud and true this inspirational and magnificent hardcore anthem. ‘Honor Never Dies’ and ‘Perserverance’ are also aired to manic responses. The Forum may not be sold out tonight but that doesn’t matter, it’s been a day of varying genres from bands of different ages and generations, and it’s been a blast. (8/10)

Written by Joshua Clarke (@JPClarke91)

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