Last Sunday, a swathe of post-hardcore and metalcore bands descended on Amsterdam’s Melkweg venue as part of the annual Impericon Festival, which is hosted by the alternative clothing brand of the same name. All Things Loud was there to bring you coverage of the sold out event.
With twelve bands all set to play on the same stage over the space of nine hours, you could definitely suggest that Impericon Festival is pretty full-on. This heavy load of artists, paired with an early start time, proved costly for opening band My Iron Lung, who performed to a sparse crowd of roughly sixty to seventy people. However, this lack of audience didn’t deter the San Diego quartet from pulling everything out of the bag for their brief, twenty minute long set. Leaning more towards the lighter side of hardcore, akin to contemporaries such as La Dispute, the band performed a tight set which unfortunately didn’t receive the strong crowd reaction it deserved. By the time Swedish post-hardcore troupe Adept took to the stage, the room had filled up considerably as frontman Robert Ljung launched himself powerfully around stage for 25 minutes. Featuring the likes of Dark Clouds and Secrets in their short set, Adept proved that they’re just on the outskirts of becoming “just another hardcore band”. With most bands in this heavy scene, all the drops tend to sound similair, yet Adept add an extra touch to their songs which gives them an added edge. Live, Adept are colossal, something which can’t be said of a lot of their contemporaries. One such contemporary is the San Diego deathcore quintet Carnifex, who border on the indecipherable spectrum of –core metal. With tracks such as the brutal Slit Wrist Savior and gruesome Hell Chose Me, Carnifex were the first band of the day to incite plenty of hectic crowdsurfing and circle pits. With a whole room of people singing (read: growling) along, it was hard to ignore the popular effect Carnifex had on the room, especially when it virtually emptied once the band left the stage. Having said that, though, Carnifex are one of those bands whose songs are almost indistinguishable from one another, irrespective of all the technical ability and double-bass prowess involved.
Following a short, oversleeping-infused delay, Massachusetts five-piece Bane took to the stage in order to give the crowd a fierce wake-up call by means of powerful and catchy hardcore. Baseball cap clad-frontman Aaron Bedard, who is considerably older than the rest of the band at the ripe old age of 46, careered across stage as if his life depended on it, before spending a handful of songs hanging across the barrier in the crowd. Bane is hardcore as it should be, complete with altering time signatures, wailed vocals and riffs which scream “MOSH PIT”. Being As An Ocean followed, with frontman Joel Quartuccio giving security a hard time by launching himself offstage and onto the Melkweg balcony. This resulted in him jumping into the crowd, with a mass brawl ensuing in the process. Following Being As An Ocean’s departure from the stage, it was time for Australian deathcore collective Thy Art is Murder to fill the gap which was left by Emmure on the line-up, with the Frankie Palmeri-fronted group cancelling due to vocal issues. The Sydnesian quintet, who will release new studio album Holy War this summer, powered through a set of melodic deathcore which saw frontman CJ McMahon dedicate one song to the Dutch city of Leiden. McMahon is not the most conventional metal frontman ever, engaging with the crowd by telling corny jokes and little stories about the songs. It made for some light entertainment between the heaviness, with McMahon later making his way into the crowd the fist bump fans.
Canadian hardcore punkers Comeback Kid followed, with frontman Scott Wade wailing his way forcefully throughout the set. Elements of post-hardcore presented themselves throughout the set, although it was very clear from the off that Comeback Kid are exactly what modern hardcore punk should be – raw, rebellious and melodic. Australian rap/hardcore group Deez Nuts followed, adding some different styles to the wide palette that is Impericon Festival. With hip-hop influences all around, the JJ Peters fronted quartet drew a considerable crowd for their crossover hardcore. “This is the time of our lives and we’ll live it up” shouted 1,300 fans as Peters and his band rocketed through a thirty-minute long set. Whitechapel proceeded to follow, proving rather too similair to the preceding deathcore bands Carnifex and Thy Art is Murder. Their songs, which are equally indecipherable from one another, clearly require a lot of technical ability in their guitar lines and double-bass drumming, yet it just borders a bit too far on the boundary between acceptable and “too much”.
Stick To Your Guns, who followed, did more than just play their songs for a crowd, rather coming armed with a clear message. Walking onstage to a pre-recorded empowerment speech, the Orange County quintet mixed elements of screamo and metalcore with post-hardcore. Frontman Jesse Barnett took time out to give two separate ‘speeches’ throughout the set, the former concerning marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd, and the latter covering an important topic – the current state of our planet. The main point he tried to put across was that, in order to help make a difference in the world that we live, we have to do something ourselves instead of sit passively and observe. Performing in front of a backdrop which depicted riot squads, Stick To Your Guns definitely showed that they have a point to prove in what was by far the best set of the day.
The day was closed out by a double header of deathcore and post-hardcore courtesy of Suicide Silence and The Ghost Inside, respectively. The former pulled off one of the weakest sets of the day in a bland mixture of deathcore which saw new frontman Eddie Hermida showcase the only hope left in a band who are by far past their best. What former, deceased vocalist Mitch Lucker achieved in terms of screams, Hermida overpowered with his brutal, powerful voice. Aside from that, though, Suicide Silence is a band well past their sell-by date. Headline act The Ghost Inside, on the other hand, used extra lighting rigs to enforce an extra sense of ferocity upon the crowd. With a strong back catalogue in tow, set highlight Engine 45 encompassed everything that Impericon Festival is about – fierce instrumentation, anthemic choruses and a sense of unity which binds (almost) everybody together. By the time 2016 rolls around, a whole new breed of bands will be ready to tour Europe and take on the Impericon Festival.