It’s easy living in the UK to look over at the US and be jealous of some of the tours they get. The packages that are put together are often those people dream of and yet over here we tend to get the headliner with much smaller support. It wasn’t until I drove halfway across the country and over the Welsh border to Cardiff to see Parkway Drive with Killswitch Engage and Thy Art Is Murder in tow that I understood why. This country just isn’t that big…we shouldn’t need these huge tours to get us out to see our favourite bands.
Opening the show were Parkway’s Australian compatriots Thy Art Is Murder (7). Despite sometimes feeling like they were getting lost in the vastness of an arena they didn’t always seem overly comfortable in, the Aussies did a good job warming up a crowd that badly needed it and, despite only having a few songs, made the most of their opportunity. These were still ‘their fans’ at the end of the day and the reception they got throughout must have felt like a headline show. TAIM are a band with few frills and that have found what they’re all about and that started to show with a couple of songs left. They were in their groove and the Welsh crowd was part of it.
Next up were kings of consistency Killswitch Engage (8). Somehow despite the various changes over the past 20 years of which everyone is more than aware, they have maintained their ability to put on a show that rarely dips below great. From the opening bars of ‘Strength Of The Mind’, through ‘My Curse’ & ‘My Last Serenade’ to closer ‘In Due Time’, the Massachusetts metal legends (I think 20 years puts them in that category) built on what TAIM started by taking us on a journey through a career that has seen them outlast many of their peers through a studio catalogue up there with any metal band and a live show that was showcased for us on this chilly Friday in Cardiff.
With frontman Jesse Leach on top form and a band behind him that haven’t had an off day in their career, this was always going to be a treat of a set and with what seemed like a 50/50 split between KSE shirts and non-KSE shirts in the crowd there was little surprise that the reception and participation throughout was up there with the headliners. We’ll never know how much of a crowd would have been here with lesser support, but it was proved that bringing Killswitch with you on tour is always a good idea. Unless you’re not a good live band.
Luckily, the main event was a band that is going to be the main event worldwide for years to come. Opening up with 4 robed people carrying fire poles to the stage whilst the sound booth kept the arena nice and toasty. As they got to the stage I was expecting brimstone to rain down upon us, disappointingly that was the end of the fire for a while though. What started was a band on top form putting on a show of passion, intensity and then later on plenty of fire and bangs.
Having been announced as headliners at Bloodstock 2019 since this show, it was great to see a full stage show from a genre where plain and simple seems to suit the rest. The fire intro, the lights and the interludes that allowed Winston McCall to build an atmosphere that is unrivalled in the metalcore scene. Having the balls to bring a string quartet onto stage was an interesting move too. The choreography of it was spectacular, though I’m not sure it hit the mark musically, with the four of them fading into the background on occasion. A shame, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This band has many detractors on the old interwebs but there were none inside this grand building on this night. Parkway have earnt their wings and now they get the chance to fly at Bloodstock in just 6 months time. That is a potentially career-defining set for the band and one that you won’t want to miss. Get your tickets here: bloodstock.seetickets.com/event/bloodstock-2019/