August Burns Red ‘Messengers’ Anniversary tour at the Camden Underworld

We are here on a cold London night outside the small Camden Underworld. Above the venue a massive AUGUST BURNS RED: SOLD OUT sign resides. This is night 1 of the US Metalcore bands European celebration of their Messengers album; The record that carved a place out for them in the annals of Metal history. This is also the first time they’ve played this intimate venue since their very first UK shows.

As we head inside, we hear 4 piece tech band Napoleon take the stage and show their virtuosity. This band have long been a unique Beacon in the UK metalcore scene, showing a blend of technicality with Osborns highly blistering yet melodic riffing fused with Thompson’s (formally of Climates fame) passionate yell as well as drummer Mendoza’s precise grooves. We can see why they were chosen to support. Although not initiating a massive reaction from the crowd, we can see they have a niche fanbase supporting them, pockets of the crowd shouting back every lyric. At one point Wes takes a break to mention how honored he is to be supporting a band he’s been a fan of since he was about 16. The reaction this garners from the tiny venue shows how special the night is for many of the audience, as many of the crowd had probably been jamming Messengers a decade ago as teens. Napoleon finish their set and we await for August Burns Red to take to the stage.

After about 15 minutes and drunken rendition of “Chop Suey” from the crowd. The Pennsylvania five-piece appear onstage, instantly recognizable to an eruption of applause from the audience. Seeing a band of this level do what they do in a venue 3 times smaller than they usually play is a treat

From the very first notes of “Truth of a liar” the floor clears as the downstairs area of the small venue becomes a full fledged Mosh zone. Guitarists Rambler and Brubacker play every note, riff, and polyrhythm with great ease, swaying around onstage with JB donning his iconic sandals. Vocalist Lurhs growls every beastly vocal, scream and mosh call with utmost conviction amidst all the crowd surfing. The main star of the show and the one who’s talent was most evident on this album, setting them apart from hordes of similar sounding Metalcore bands, was in his zone at the back. Matt Greiner plays every snare hit, every complex fill as if it was his last, even though having written parts in his late teens they must be incredibly easy for him now. All in all the performance was a perfect rendition of the album.

One appeal of August Burns Red is that, despite them playing incredibly heavy and uncompromising music, it doesn’t come with as much posturing as there usually is in this genre. This is evident when Luhrs takes a break to tell the crowd about a pillow he received from a fan for the tour and Brubacker chimes in to say this was the most Metal stage banter they have ever had. Although the music sounds very serious, they don’t take themselves very seriously which comes across completely in their stage presence. After finishing off the album with impending performances of An American Dream and Redemption, Dustin and Matt take 3 minutes to do a dual drum solo and then tear straight into their new song Invisible Enemy. To much of the dismay of the crowd they only followed up with two songs, however they were the songs the crowd wanted to hear. Empire off their fourth album Leveler and a crushing rendition of Whitewashed.

Lucky fans will be able to catch them again at the same venue a few days later, but even if you were only able to see it for this one night, you’d walk away having experienced something special, seeing a band of this caliber decimate such a tiny venue is what this genre should be all about.

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