Atlanta based metalcore act Issues are a band that have been forged in the fires of controversy from their earliest incarnations. Originally formed from ex-members of fellow metallers Woe, Is Me, there was initially much tension and acrimony between the two bands. This tension resulted in much mud-slinging on Twitter, a couple of strongly worded diss-tracks released on both sides and, not entirely coincidentally, a massive publicity boost for both bands. As well as this, Issues went through a couple of line-up changes before they even recorded a single note. Recently though, relations between the Issues and Woe Is Me have been repaired somewhat, so the music can finally speak for itself. Tonight’s the sold out first night of Issues first ever UK tour, and the pressure is high on them to deliver on the promise of their well hyped debut EP.
Opening up this evening are With One Last Breath, a metalcore band hailing from Yorkshire. They sound like the sort of band for whom the word generic was invented. This is text book, cookie-cutter metalcore, nothing unusual about it at all. Screamed verses, clean choruses and guitar breakdowns are all present and correct, and perfectly mediocre. The lead singer has a powerful enough voice on the screamed parts, but his clean vocals quickly become rather grating. The balance is really off on the sound as well, the drums are far too loud and everything else is almost inaudible. This is lethal for the already nondescript songs and means they all blend together into one big lump of noise. Not good at all.
Next up are Crown The Empire, a band from Texas who refer to the music they play as ‘arena rock hardcore’ and speak of their desire to combine heavy guitar breakdowns, with more anthemic pop-inspired choruses. Well, contrary to those lofty words, from their first song it sounds like we might just be in for another hour of generic metalcore, which, at this stage in the evening, really would be too much to bear and would probably necessitate going to the bar for a drink and not coming back. However, all is not lost, and as the second song kicks in, Crown The Empire really come into their own. It’s still mostly metalcore, but there are flashes of melodic brilliance and a chorus that comes very close to justifying that slightly pretentious ‘arena rock hardcore’ tag. As the set continues, it becomes apparent that the generic first song was just a mis-step and that Crown The Empire really do have something unusual to bring to the over crowded metalcore genre. Their flashes of melody and electronic touches go a long way towards making them stand out, and the crowd absolutley love them as well, giving them a phenomenal reception and rewarding them with several hideously sweaty mosh pits. They’re by no means a perfect band, but they’re certainly a good one, and with a little more polish, could be something quite special.
Finally the moment comes for Issues to take to the stage, and the band receive a rapturous reception from the crowd, instantly banishing any fears that they may not be quite as loved on this side of the Atlantic ans they are on the other. The front row is a particularly manic place to be, with the crowd jumping, clapping and starting mosh and circle pits all over the place. The band’s frenetic, high energy set is all the more impressive given that they only arrived in the UK this morning, and are running on practically no sleep, a fact lead singer Tyler Carter doesn’t hesitate to remind the crowd of. With only 7 songs and one cover to their name this was never going to be the longest of sets, but Issues give it their all for the entire time they’re onstage. ‘Princeton Ave‘ is a definite highlight of the set, its combination of catchy chorus and brutally heavy verses is wickedly effective. There’s a bit of technological screw up towards the end, as the sound cuts out as Issues launch into their last song and this does kill the momentum a bit. Ultimately, however, the band power through, and the sound comes back on in time for an amazing finish with ‘King Of Amarillo’. Well, after a performance like that, it’s pretty clear that Issues’ career is on a definite upward trajectory from here on out.