Asking Alexandria / Blessthefall / Buried In Verona
170 Russell, Melbourne 08/04/2016
Review: Daniel Bonnici | Photos: Sarah Lay
There is no middle-ground with memorable rock’n’roll. Quite simply, a band should be loved by some, loathed by others. The endless “this is sick/this is shit” debate is what makes rock’n’roll exciting, and Asking Alexandria are one of those bands that have gained notoriety through the back and forth of opinionated heavy music enthusiasts alike. If you’re in, you’re in, and if you’re not then get the fuck out! Currently embarking on a tour of Australia and Southeast Asia in support of their highly anticipated new album, The Black, the Brits and their brand of high-octane metalcore rolled into Melbourne and brought along Blessthefall and Buried In Verona to give 170 Russell a run for its money.
Buried In Verona had the auspicious task of cutting the ribbon on the evening’s proceedings. No strangers to adversity, and clearly having reached a point where they are now unfazed by the daunting task of opening sold-out shows, the band took to the stage with an air of bravado and confidence that has made them one of the country’s most popular and interesting live metalcore acts to watch.
The Sydneysiders wasted no time in whipping keen show-gazers into an early frenzy, with their signature razor sharp choruses and soul-crushing riffs – frontman Brett Anderson easily swayed the crowd into partaking in his trademark war-cries, most notably the “you fuckin’ make me sick!” of “Separation” from 2015’s Vultures Above, Lions Below. The band hammered relentlessly through a no-nonsense seven-song set, complete with pummelling renditions of tunes spanning all the way back to 2005’s Saturday Night Sever, putting their stage time to rest with fan favourite “Hangin’ By Their Toes”.
From the moment Blessthefall’s introduction music stole the attention of the crowd, the already brooding energy flooding 170 Russell seemed to hit unprecedented levels when the Arizona quintet burst on stage with with an uncompromising explosion of power and force which can only be developed and fine-tuned through over a decade of destroying venues all over the world. The band appeared to almost levitate, the feet of each member barely touching the ground before taking perch on a fold-back monitor or drum riser, only to launch themselves and their guitars through the air again without missing a goddamn beat! The crowd responded accordingly in a tangled mess of raised hands, screaming every growl and melody back in the face of vocalist Beau Bokan, and Bokan and his band seemed to thrive off it, like deprived vampire bats with an unquenchable thirst for blood.
Blessthefall validated exactly why they are worthy of the illustrious and long-living career they have worked so hard to achieve, not once letting the attention of their adoring fans waiver. The band allowed barely enough time for their audience to catch their breath in between songs, apart from taking a moment for Bokan to lament “Fuck young people, this is so much cooler than last night!” in reference to the all-ages instalment of the tour the evening prior. Blessthefall would prove themselves a hard act to follow, and could have easily been mistaken for the night’s headline act.
Never a band to shy away from controversy, there have been a number of questions surrounding Asking Alexandria’s latest voyage to this country’s shores. The last time the band’s greater Australian fan base got a chance to see them play in 2014, Asking Alexandria had a different singer, with new vocalist Denis Stoff joining the band in May of 2015 after the departure of much loved frontman Danny Worsnop. The veil was about to be lifted on the next era of a band with cult-like status, but would the cult continue to worship? In short… Fuck yeah they would! Any dark clouds of doubt shrouded over the 900-strong crowd seemed to swiftly evaporate within minutes of the band’s entrance, long haired and clad in torn denim and leather, launching almost strategically into “I Wont Give In”, the first taste of the new record given to fans almost a year ago. It immediately allowed Stoff to introduce himself to this audience as their new leader, and the Ukrainian prince looked just as at home as his longer-serving bandmates.
Despite giving a glimpse into the future of Asking Alexandria playing a number of new cuts from The Black, the band was careful not to neglect the past, treating fans to old-time pleasers including “Not The American Average” and culminating in “The Final Episode” from the record that birthed the giant back in 2009: Stand Up and Scream. The punters at 170 Russell were left dripping in sweat with burning throats and grins of pure satisfaction. The Black had swallowed Melbourne whole, chewed it up and spat it out – and we can’t wait to do it all again.