In a world that is slowly becoming darker and more dangerous, music is one of the most vital defences we have. With a thirst for change and voice waiting to be heard, it’s bands like Stick To Your Guns who have long been leading the pack with both their music and message. The turnout for tonight’s show, the first of two headliners at The Underworld, is a testament to both the band on a creative level but also proof that they are not the only ones on a quest for a brighter future. Playing their magnum opus ‘Diamond’ in full, the band look set to hit a real career peak here if all goes to plan. Spoiler: it really really does.
First up though, Germany’s Wolf Down bring the beef and don’t shy away from their beliefs. Bringing up communism, bigotry and veganism between their thick slabs of violence-inciting hardcore, the band play with blood in their teeth and their hearts stapled to their sleeves. Though the crowd is still filtering in, the punters who bear witness are treated to a set from a group bristling with youthful fury who possess plenty of food for thought as well as bludgeoning riffs to match. (3.5/5)
Counterparts follow and, only months after selling this room out themselves, once again prove why they are one of the hottest properties on the melodic hardcore scene right now. Dealing out choice cuts from their latest record ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ alongside the desolating battery of ‘Compass’ and ‘The Disconnect’ the band are in harrowingly emotional form and have the crowd before them thrashing for a chance to spill their guts over the microphone. With enough heartache to draw on and the inch-perfect breakdowns to match, this could still only be the beginning of a long and prosperous road for these Canadian devastators. (4/5)
Stray From The Path aren’t shy when it comes to their time in the spotlight and have the whole room moving in belligerent and chaotic style. From the menacing threats of ‘D.I.E.P.I.G’ to the intensely honest ‘Black Friday’, the band incite a total riot on the venue floor and spread their message of unsettled hostility and equal rights with a twinkle in their eye and a boot to the jaw. There’s a real electricity buzzing around the band tonight and the reaction of mosh and mayhem they receive almost has a thoroughly show stealing effect. (4/5)
From the moment Stick To Your Guns take to the stage though, things get a little bit warmer. From the opening chug of ‘Diamond’ through to the head-in-hands hedonism of ‘Built Upon The Sand’, people pile onto the stage and subsequently catapult off, fists fly and feet stamp and every voice within the restricted confines of the venue soar like it is the last thing they will ever mutter. The connection between band and fan on both a level of belief in a better world and in the power of hardcore as a mode of communication is unmatched and a sight to behold, as vocalist Jesse Barnett gets just as hot, heavy and emotional as the masses crawling before him. ‘Such Pain’ delivers self-analyzing blows of heftiness, while the lightning paced ‘Life In A Box’ and ‘Empty Heads’ see a flurry of bodies bounce off each other and deliver finishing blows of pure passion. The look of unbridled humility that is painted across the faces of the band throughout their set is one that reflects that the original spirit that hardcore was built on is still alive and kicking and that there are other people in the world who do feel just the same as they do, demonstrated in shirt-tuggingly vibrant fashion through the hectic stage invasion during ’D(I Am)ond’.
With a last-ditch run-through of the self-accepting mayhem of ‘Nobody’ and crushing story telling of ‘Amber’ Stick To Your Guns ascendancy to hardcore royalty is near complete. As moisture drips from the ceiling and people inspect the damage they have inflicted on their frames, there is a real feeling of unity within the room. With as much blood and sweat dripped into their live show as there is in their actual songwriting, the band demonstrate everything that is powerful and vital about hardcore in the modern day and that change is probably not as unreachable as it may have originally been. (5/5)
Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)