Tonight Rock City goes back to its roots. With three monstrous metal acts ready to grace the stage – sporting almost 30 years worth of experience between them – it’s set to be a great night.
First up are openers Light The Torch. On paper you could be deceived into thinking the quartet are the least experienced, having formed in 2014. But look a little closer and the under-the-radar supergroup is revealed. Leading the pack is the immediately recognizable Howard Jones (former member of Killswitch Engage, and Blood Has Been Shed for those somehow not in the know). Jones’ vocals are effortless. Whether growling down the mic, or singing at the top of his lungs, the years of experience has honed, rather than depleted, his mass of talent.
Bleeding Through bassist Ryan Wombacher, ex-All Shall Perish guitarist Francesco Artusato, and drummer Mike Sciulara stack up the band nicely. With most songs in the half hour set from recent album Revival (the first under the Light The Torch name) this is the full package. Unfortunately, the older crowd were either saving their energy for the headliners, or just weren’t familiar enough with the band. Even so, the applause, cheers and chants of ‘Howard. Howard.’ suggests they are more than happy to delve into the Light the Torch back-catalog as soon as they leave tonight.
Next up are the frantic and formidable Norma Jean, who explode onto the stage with ‘I. The Planet‘. While they blast their way through the ten song set, the audience still holds back. A mosh pit opens up here and there, but it’s not until the halfway mark – ‘The Anthem of the Angry Brides’ – and with vocalist Cory Brandan’s insistence, that the horns are raised and the room finally loosens up. The numerous layers Norma Jean have to offer are of full display, the anthemic ‘Sword In Mouth, Fire Eyes‘ sits right beside the manic ‘If You’ve Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty‘, the latter rousing up a well-deserved circle pit.
Finally, the band everyone has been waiting for. As soon as In Flames step out onto the stage, all the pent up energy erupts. Crowd surfers, raised arms, and loud voices greet the Swedish metal mob during opener ‘Voices‘, and carry on through out the hour and a half set.
It’s an absolute testament to the bands staying power that recent record ‘Call My Name‘ is shown just as much love as old favourites. Talking of old favourites, In Flames do not mess around when it comes to the set list. Playing choice cuts off all 10 albums released in the past 20 years, we would be hard pressed to believe anyone in attendance could leave disappointed.
The absolutely epic ‘The Chosen Pessimist‘ acts as a nice interlude. Placed in the middle of the 19 song set, it gives both the band and the audience a well-deserved respite from the pummeling high-energy high-temperature show.
Vocalist Anders Fridén spends little time chatting between songs, although he does introduce the oldie but goodie ‘Colony’ with a humorous ‘I know we look so young and well groomed, but we’re gonna take you back 20 years’, and later dedicates the anthemic ‘I Am Above‘ ‘to all the wankers out there’. After a heartfelt thanks, In Flames end on the aptly titled ‘The End‘.
Tonight has shown that with established bands come dedicated fans, and that time and experience can keep that spark alight – fanning the flames some 30 years after they ignited. (pun definitely intended.)
Words and Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard