Four Times Still Not Enough
Anthrax and Hatebreed @ The London Astoria, 14 June 2004
by: Jackie Smit
Unhelpful door attendants and a brief but annoying quarrel over the guestlist results in my missing the first act on tonight's bill, Bullet For My Valentine, and while I can't claim to be familiar with them in the slightest, all reports indicate that they played an extremely well received set.

By the time I make my way to the floor area of a packed London Astoria, Hatebreed's road crew have just about finished setting up the band's gear, and a tangible air of excitement has gripped at least a part of the audience, who start chanting impatiently for the New York quartet to come out and get down to the business at hand. It's quite a strange pairing if you ask me, putting hardcore's new favourite poster children on the same bill as the thrash veterans. Still, considering that Hatebreed have been doing their best to immerse themselves in the metal scene as much as possible of late, taking extreme acts Hate Eternal and Cephalic Carnage on the road with them, it's probably not that far-fetched an idea.

There is a visible division between the older and I dare say less raucous Anthrax crowd, and Hatebreed's more exuberant and physically intense followers however, and this is made abundantly clear by the opening of a sizeable circle pit at the start of Hatebreed's set -- populated by a mere fifteen or so punters, who proceed to throw windmill-punches at all and sundry, as the band begins their assault. Now, I could probably go on at length about my hatred for hardcore dancing, and tonight -- as ever -- is no exception; a select few nearly ruining the evening of everyone around them through sheer inconsideration and stupidity. Thankfully though, Hatebreed's performance is solid as they come and certainly interesting enough to draw my attention away from this display of base-level humanity. Even though the band do grow slightly monotonous after twenty-five minutes or so, the likes of "Live for This", "Beholder of Justice", "Facing What Consumes You", "Perseverance" and "Hollow Ground" have never sounded more menacing and aggressive.

"I Will Be Heard" signals the end of Hatebreed's set and sees the hardcore fans quickly disperse to make way for a throng of Anthrax supporters who pile their way toward the stage in anticipation of tonight's main event. It has to be said that whatever for criticism has been leveled at these guys in the past -- whether warranted or unwarranted -- they still retain an undeniable presence and charisma which, at least in my book, make them one of the few truly unmissable acts in metal. Judging by the deafening roar that greets the opening strains of "What Doesn't Die", at least 3000 others share my opinion, and as Scott Ian, John Bush and the rest of the boys take to the stage, they are clearly in their element right from the off.

Performing with more energy and passion than most of their peers could hope to muster in a lifetime, they run through a veritable list of classics, from "State of Euphoria" to "Caught in a Mosh" to "Only". And while their album counterparts may have started showing their age some time ago, there aren't many songs in any genre of music that can match the sort of intensity that emanates from songs like "Death Rider", "Madhouse" and "Got the Time" tonight. Curiously though, despite the airing of rarely performed favourites like "Keep It in the Family", it is the double-headed grand finale of "Bring the Noise" and (not so surprisingly) an impromptu cover of "Whiplash" that garners the most enthusiasm from tonight's decidedly old-school crowd.

Ultimately tonight's performance is a triumph all round. It may be the fourth time that Anthrax have been in the capital in just over two years, but London clearly can't seem to get enough of them -- which for a band that was all but pronounced deceased around the turn of the century by virtually everyone in the media, marks a truly astonishing rebirth.

(article submitted 23/6/2004)

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