Live Review: Parkway Drive, Heaven Shall Burn, Northlane, Carnifex – O2, Bristol.

One of the most anticipated European tours this year finally hit UK shores. PARKWAY DRIVE have been a driving force (ahem) in the metal industry, and have produced some of the finest work over the last decade. This time they were back with Death Metal band CARNIFEX, Metal Core quintet NORTHLANE and German extreme metal band, HEAVEN SHALL BURN.

Opening up, were Carnifex, a band that held nothing back, and took full advantage of their opening slot. The last time Carnifex played in the UK, they were supporting EMMURE on the ‘Impericon Never Say Die’ tour and it was fair to say that since then they have only got heavier. They played a set comprising mostly of their new album. It was great to hear the new tracks, but I think the crowd would have responded better to a mixture of both classics and current tracks. Heavy, brutal and definitely got the night off to an exciting start, but I think the crowd reaction would have been better if some classic tracks had been included.

Next up were one of the most anticipated bands on the tour. Northlane have been under the spotlight over the past couple of months. After wishing farewell to previous vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes, they are back with newly appointed frontman Marcus Bridge. They started the set by playing ‘Genesis’ and ‘Scarab’, the opening tracks to ‘Singularity’, their latest release. From the off, the crowd was bouncing and giving Marcus a warm British welcome. To follow they played ‘Rot’, the first track that Northlane have released with Marcus at the front. The crowd participation intensified, and it was clear from Marcus’ expression that he was loving being part of Northlane, and thoroughly appreciating the reaction that he received from the crowd. The final song of the set was ‘Quantum Flux’. This track is one of Northlane’s most renowned tracks and as guitarist Jon Deiley played the opening riff the crowd surged, followed by a beaming grin from Marcus. This was great to see. After speaking to bassist Alex Milovic earlier that day, I was anticipating an incredible show, but even my high expectations were blown out of the water. The addition of Marcus has only added to their ability as a band, and has opened many doors to the ever-growing ambition to create original and mind-blowing material. This is a band to watch out for, and one that I would highly recommend seeing live.

To follow Northlane were German extreme metal band, Heaven Shall Burn. Before the show, I had never listened to Heaven Shall Burn. Now I cannot stop listening to them. As a live band, they are one of the best I have seen in a long time. They brought one hell of a show, and got the crowd well warmed up for the headliners. For a band that have been relatively quiet in comparison to the likes of Northlane and Parkway Drive, they seemed very current, and gained their respect on what was one of the best tours the UK has seen this year. They played a ten song set, that comprised of both decade-old songs from the album ‘Antigone’ and tracks from their latest release, ‘VETO’, each track getting the crowd involved and allowing the audience to appreciate the only European band on this tour. I would highly recommend catching these guys live. As a fan of up-and-coming bands, it was great to see a mature band that captured the energy of the audience like this, and being so well received by a crowd that seemed to be of a hardcore mentality.

Topping an already incredible night, was one of the biggest metal core bands of this decade. With a spotlight on guitarist Jeff Ling, the set started with the track ‘Wild Eyes’. The crowd roared and as frontman Winston McCall took to the mic the room lit up revealing a devastating backdrop of smashed car parts and rubble. As the confetti canons fired Parkway Drive set about tearing apart the O2 Academy, and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The crowd were tearing into each other from the off, with circle pits and moshing continuing throughout the thirteen song set. The set comprised of songs from the early days of their repertoire, right up to their current album, ‘Atlas’. Playing songs from all of their albums, Parkway conducted a set that captured the awe of the crowd throughout, even leaving some fans in tears by what they had witnessed.

As a vocalist, Winston McCall is one of the most dominant that I have ever witnessed. His stage presence was powerful, embracing and inspiring. As a band they were incredibly tight, and had one of the most powerful set lists to show that off. It was great to see a band that had the ability to play such a tight set whilst having a good time. More often than not, bands can loose stage presence due to their reliance on gear or special effects… not Parkway Drive.

Big leads, massive breakdowns and gut-wrenching growls were enough to make this band the best live band I have ever seen. Having rattled through a set of their finest hits, they came to a close with ‘Swing’. As the song ended the chants began for Parkway to grace the stage for just a little bit longer. They came back, and played two of their biggest party anthems to finish the evening. ‘Horizons’ and ‘Carrion’ were the perfect way to end what had been an incredible show. The show ended with a second explosion of confetti, and the crowd erupted. Stunned, broken and in shock, we left O2. As I made my way through the crowd, some were still singing the lyrics, some were in tears, but this was communal experience, and great to see.

Two of Australia’s finest exports have made this one of the best tours to hit Europe this year. With Australia being at the heart of the worldwide scene at the moment, I think this tour shows that there is no sign of that stopping. With Northlane breaking into the worldwide scene, and Parkway Drive extending their already impressive reign upon the metal core scene, Australia is proving that it has a lot to offer, with more bands rising up through the ranks. This is not the last we’ll hear of Australian bands touring here in Europe.

Review and photography by Siôn Roe

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