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Brighton Concorde 2
May 28th 2015

Sam Hayler

sam hayler

coal chamber

One of the greatest live shows I've ever experienced.

At 6pm on Thursday 28th May, an army of goths, rockers and nu-Metal fanatics made their way into the small Concorde 2 venue in Brighton to witness a spectacle they'd anticipated for months.

Considering their pioneering role in the development of the nu-Metal genre, and the mainstream success in their late-nineties/early-noughties career, it was exciting enough when the band officially reformed in 2011 after a break of eight whole years. But in 2014, anticipation began to build as it was revealed that a new album was on the way, which would be released by the nu-Metal gods under the label Napalm Records.

And now here we are in 2015, a matter of days after the album hit the stores and a mixed crowd of varying ages and backgrounds are storming their way through the doors of a very underwhelming club venue. From the outset it was apparent that some were there just for the support acts, with die-hard SOIL and Dope fans sporting their merchandise like battle armour.

A British band called The Defiled was recently thrown onto the bill to replace American Head Charge after an unexpected cancellation, so it was fair enough to say that they didn't have many (if any) hardcore fans awaiting them. Regardless, there was a collective hype that had spread through the crowd like wildfire. It was show time!

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Despite being one of the better known support acts, it was American industrial legends Dope who strutted onstage first, oozing charisma from every orifice as they cussed their way into our hearts. Each song crashed into the next so spectacularly that it was hard to tell when one had finished and the other had started.

But that was all a part of the charm, and before we knew it, they were nearing the end of a mesmerising set. The crowd had already opened up a mosh-pit, which for a support act is extremely unheard of. But this is Dope we're talking about! They were on a mission, and nothing was going to get in the way.

For a brief moment, I was fooled into thinking that they were about to play something softer and down-tempo, after Edsel spouted to the crowd "Are you guys ready for a love song?" Little did I know, the band was about to head straight into 'Die Motherfucker Die'.

It was definitely the highlight of their set, displaying the perfect amount of musicianship, stage chemistry and flare. We were very sad to see them leave the stage, and I'm sure Brighton would scream at the chance to see them again in the near future.

I must confess, I did not see a great deal of The Defiled's set. As little as I enjoy their musical style, it wasn't due to Metal snobbery that I decided to step outside for fresh air. I was battered and worn from Dope's high-octane set and needed a minute or two to recuperate, as did many others. I spoke to a few others after the gig, however, and they said that The Defiled was on very good form, giving a significantly better performance than they had in the past.

Then, we came to one of the bands I'd most anticipated seeing: SOIL. The band have a distinct dirty Metal sound that has yet to be met by upcoming nu-Metal outfits, which is just amplified by the gritty powerhouse that is Ryan McCombs. For those who don't know, Ryan suffered a stroke late last year, and has been recovering from the effects of this over prior months. It was a miracle that just five weeks after the incident, he still managed to pull off a show in the States.

Many of us fans were urging the former Drowning Pool vocalist to take it slow, but it was clear that Ryan had his heart set on the stage, and NOTHING was going to stop him from doing what he does best. He didn't look any worse-for-wear upon entering the stage, and from that second he started singing the crowd went bezerk.

The rest of the band were as tight as tight could be, obliterating the club's PA system with their loud distorted sound. But it was really Ryan who took the spotlight, giving one hundred percent of his energy and enthusiasm to put on a legendary set. When he sang the very personal track 'Redefine' there was a moment where even the burliest men in the crowd were tearing up.

His health struggles really added that extra ounce of emotion to each lyric, even in the chaotic tracks 'Pride' and 'Halo'. Perhaps the best compliment to the band was that they never even needed to say the words "open the pit" - it opened for them. They finished with a cover of Ram Jam's 'Black Betty', which was like a gig within itself. The crowd went absolutely wild, singing along, throwing their now tired and bruised bodies around to the thundering drumfills and dirty southern riffage. It was the one moment in the night where I saw a complete unity between all of the different fans in the crowd. A Metal Utopia.

Finally, we came to the act that everyone had most wildly anticipated, the mighty Coal Chamber. Dez Fafara and co entered the stage after a very tedious wait, but the moment they began to play all that standing around became very much worth it. Everyone seemed to shrug off their fatigue for the final and most thrilling segment of the night, which began with the extremely popular single 'Loco'.

When compared with some of their earliest performances, I can say that the years of experience were reflected in the overall improvement of their live sound. Everything was spot-on, with the angst-ridden riffs chugging ever-so-angrily over energetic drum patterns. Mikey Cox proved himself to be an incredibly committed sticksman on the night, hitting the skins like a wild baboon.

It was a relentlessly aggressive performance on his part, so much so that a roadie kept running over to douse him with bottled water. I don't mean however to take away the focus from the other band members, who were truly exceptional in their musicianship throughout.

Whilst little emotion was expressed through the stone cold gazes of the guitarist and bassist, Dez's vocal attack was brutal and filled with heart. All his years fronting the groove Metal titans DevilDriver have seen an incredible development in his overall presence, and the screams have just grown grittier with age. He seemed to bring everything he'd learned to the table, performing classic CC songs like they were fresh from the oven.

Each number had the crowd moshing, headbanging, thrusting, dancing – they didn't know what to do with their bodies. The two people whov had been snogging each other's faces off for the entirety of the night even managed to detach themselves from each other – hallelujah!

Dez even told off another couple for getting intimate during their set, which provoked much laughter amongst the surrounding Metalheads. This was a metal show, not a pre-pubescent love fest. Overall, Coal Chamber didn't disappoint at any moment in the set. They proved just why they've gained such critical acclaim over the years in the mere space of an hour, which is somewhat of an achievement!

The entire night was one to remember, and my respect goes out to all the bands who played on the bill. They all gave it their absolute best, and showed the people of Brighton a solid night of (primarily) American Heavy Metal.

There are few gigs that bring together such a diverse audience of people, and it really is a special thing when that happens. It reminds you of that unspoken bond between rockers and Metalheads, the bond that is in many ways more meaningful than blood. We are one huge family of dysfunctionals and outcasts.

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