London has lacked metal this January the way it’s lacked sunshine. The endlessly grey and pigshit-miserable drizzle was matched by a gig calendar bereft any head-banging, horn-throwing metal action. Which is why the Islington Academy tonight is packed tighter than a nun’s naughty bits for the first true heavy hitters the capital’s seen in 2009. The foul weather alone wasn’t about to stop a legion of grizzly metalheads from packing out this North London concrete shoebox.
So it’s with pumping fists that London greets the Swedish powerhouse, The Haunted. When it really comes down to it, people’s enthusiasm for the Swedish thrashers never really died – they don’t really care about the diarrhetic mess of an album that was The Dead Eye, or care to argue as to whether last year’s Versus album was the sound of The Haunted returning to form, or that of a band running scared back to their musical safehouse. What people do care about is seeing frontman, Peter Dolving, writhe across the monitors, barking with the kind of ferocity that science previously only thought possible by letting a Panzer tank loose in Disneyworld with a trained pack of wolves at the wheel. The walls almost hiss when the heat and sweat of the mosh-pit touches them.
Watch The Haunted perform ‘Moronic Collosus’ at the Islington Academy 24/01/09:
After that kind of skull-cracking, All That Remains are forced into launching into their A-game from the off to justify their position at the top of the bill. For a while they do just that – their choppy metalcore ducks and weaves against expectations, while landing blows on the audience with a hell of a lot more heft than last year’s Overcome album would lead you to expect.
But for all Phil Labonte and co’s chestbeating, they don’t have the iron-hard stamina of their Massachusetts metalcore brethren, Killswitch Engage, and ATR’s inability to find a solid groove starts to irritate as the gig wears on. For the riff-starved hordes of London, its still more than enough to raise every fist in the room, but we can’t help but wonder how much more rapturous the response would’ve been if it’d been The Haunted closing tonight.
All That Remains / The Haunted @ London Islington Academy photo gallery by Danielle Kelly