Coal Chamber Live In Exeter Review

One of the biggest shows to hit Exeter this year, hit the Lemon Grove on May 27th. Bringing a whole host of class acts along for the ride, Coal Chamber were bound to bring a master-class of metal to the South West.

To open up the night were Dope, and boy, are they a class act! From the off, they provided a lesson in how to open a show. Getting the early crowd jammed into the venue, and conducting the first mosh pit of the evening at only 7:30. For a four-piece, they sounded huge, with cracking riffs coming from guitarist Andre Karkos (Virus), punishing vocals from Brian Ebejer (Edsel Dope) and plenty of split jumps from bassist Emil Schmidt (Acey Slade), not to mention the impeccable time-keeping from drummer Racci Shay. I don’t think there could have been a better opener for this night. The room was packed, and with Edsel commanding the crowd, it was a set that was worthy of a much higher slot on the bill.

To follow a stunning opening performance from Dope were UK’s representatives, The Defiled. Gaining themselves a huge reputation throughout the UK and Europe, The Defiled were one of the bands that I was looking forward to tonight. Unfortunately, I found myself left highly disappointed. It was a very average performance for a band that had so much ‘hype’ built up about them. It was clear to see a few committed fans were taking to the front row, but the crowd reaction said it all. After Dope getting the room crammed, it was increasingly apparent that there was much more space around the room as The Defiled’s set progressed. Playing mainly tracks off of their latest release ‘Daggers’, it was clear that tonight was not the night for them. It could have been down to the fan base of the tour, but I think it was a bit of a let-down after a stunning performance from Dope.

Up next, were a band that hit the UK twice last year, and played the Lemon Grove with the mighty Skindred, Soil. They put on a performance worthy of a headline slot. They played a great variety of tracks from across three albums including ‘Whole’, ‘Scars’ and ‘Redefine’. It was great to see them taking full advantage of the main support slot, and they clearly were having a blast. A flawless performance on all counts, and one that had people being dragged out of the crowd due to battles in the pit, wounded, but with smiles on their faces… the sign of a good show. As Soil’s set came to a close, they finished with a cover of Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’. This was exactly what the crowd required, and had the night at a high, with the whole crowd singing along, even in the bar, out back. For a style of metal that I would not normally pay attention to, Soil certainly caught my attention, and I will be catching them next time they grace the UK’s shores, for sure.

Tonight’s proceedings concluded with the mighty Coal Chamber. A band that need no introduction other than to say, ‘we’re back!’. After taking 10 years out, they returned, and put on what is arguably the best show to grace Exeter’s live music venues this year. Visually, a captivating band, that had flawless performance aspects and live sound. Again, flawless. Performance-wise I cannot put forward any criticism. They nailed it. As a band, it was clear to see they loved performing, and as whispers went round the crowd saying ‘I wish they’d never split up’, it was clear that they wished they hadn’t either. They all looked ecstatic to be playing together, and even though a little messy in places, it was clear to see they were having the best time, and the crowd picked up on that. The set was a ‘best of Coal Chamber’, even though they had only released their brand new album ‘Rivals’ a couple of weeks earlier, they still played a majority of older tracks. Playing 15 songs across 4 albums including ‘Dark Days’, ‘Chamber Music’, ‘Coal Chamber’ and ‘Rivals’, this was a set that you would regret missing. As the fans poured out of the Lemon Grove, it was clear to see that their return was a huge success, and they would be welcomed back in the South West any time.

Coal Chamber now head out to play some shows and festivals in mainland Europe, before returning to the US for their headline tour with Fear Factory. We hope they grace our shores before too long. We need more shows like this heading down to the tour-starved South West.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”15″ gal_title=”Coal Chamber”]

Review by Siôn Roe. Photography by Jamie Sweetlove

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