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Bullet For My Valentine/Killswitch Engage/Cane Hill
O2 Academy Brixton , London

Luke Loki Milne
Words: Luke 'Loki' Milne

bullet for my valentine

Fans of Welsh Heavy Metal act Bullet For My Valentine prepared to 'Scream, Aim, Fire' as the band took to the stage of Brixton's O2 Academy in early December as part of their UK winter tour. Performing two full-length sets for a big London crowd (including a full play through of their 2005 debut album 'The Poison' on the Saturday), BFMV shared the stage with two supporting acts; American Metalcore giants Killswitch Engage and relative youngsters to the scene, Cane Hill.

As the venue began to fill with a swarm of excited fans, New Orleans Metallers Cane Hill are tasked with warming up the stage from the icy grip of the winter evening. Formed in 2011 and currently signed with Rise Records, Cane Hill seem to take a large chunk of inspiration from Korn, opting for some hauntingly familiar stylistic choices that fans of the Californian nu Metallers will surely pick up on. There's a little Clawfinger thrown in there, with a dash of Slipknot and even perhaps a pinch of Marilyn Manson... just for good measure. Truth be told, it all works rather well when mashed together into a big, crunchy Heavy Metal paste.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many opening support acts, the (intentionally) lesser quality in sound engineering detracted slightly from the experience of their performance at the Brixton Academy. It wasn't until long after the gig that I was able to truly appreciate Cane Hill to their fullest, listening to their 2016 debut album 'Smile' from the comfort of my own home. It's a shame really, as their first studio release has a really hard bite to it.

Even so, the crowd at Brixton rides on the anticipation of things to come, responding well to Cane Hill as they work their way through their set. A quick changeover allows time for fans to grab a beer and some merch from the stands to the rear of the venue before Killswitch Engage explode onto the stage. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz brings his typically humorous stage presence to life in seconds, cracking smiles out on the crowd's faces as he roars out ridiculously aggressive requests to see their private parts.

Enjoying the success of their early 2016 release, 'Incarnate', Killswitch Engage have been busy touring their new material with a main stage performance at Download Festival, performances in Australia in March 2017 and a North American tour with Anthrax announced, due for arrival in November.

Their performance at the O2 Academy features a blistering set taking a broad range of tracks from their seven album back catalogue, from more recent fan favourites 'Hate By Design' and 'Alone I Stand' to the classic crowd-pleasers 'My Last Serenade' and 'My Curse'. Song by song, every moment is well-executed and fuelled with grinding aggression and power.

The crowd is positively electrified, to the point where it feels as though the entirety of the 5,000 capacity venue could take control from the hands of vocalist Jesse Leach, singing the lyrics to every song right back at the stage with fists raised high. Leach, clearly humbled by the sheer power of the fans response, takes a moment between songs to thank the crowd for their support throughout the years. In truth, despite the fact that BFMV are the headline act of the tour, it feels as though many of the night's crowd are in attendance purely out of love for the Massachusetts Metalcore quintet.

Killswitch may have turned the heat up just a little too much. A small fire breaks out high up in the stage rafters during the wait for the Welsh headline act, and the smell of burning plastic pours across the venue. The crowd seems largely indifferent to the tiny, flaming inferno; opting instead to point, cheer and film the outburst of flames until they are extinguished by the crew. It puts a small delay on the arrival of Bullet For My Valentine, but the crowd keeps themselves entertained with various chants and chatter.

The lights dim, and the crowd roars with excitement as vocalist Matt Tuck arrives onstage, stood in front of a huge lighting rig with banners spelling out the band's abbreviated name. The band are in the process of shooting a tour DVD, and as a result of this the crowd are treated to an impressive display of stabbing, bright and aggressive stage lighting, searing pyrotechnics and a forceful set list of some of the best and brightest of BFMV's lengthy history. Many fans in attendance on the Friday will be back in 24 hours' time for their second performance at Brixton Academy, a full-length play through of 'The Poison'.

Riding on the buzz whipped up by Killswitch Engage, the crowd continues to sing, mosh and raise their horns in appreciation of the band's thunderous performance. In truth, BFMV's choice to shoot their tour video during the performance brings an equal measure of positives and negatives. On the positive side, their performance at the Brixton Academy is energetic, high-flying and nigh on flawless – a music junkie's wet dream.

On the more negative side, there seemed to be a little less character coming from Matt Tuck and the band. I've echoed time and time again the opinion that a live performance is a band's opportunity to lower the barrier between them and their fans, share in some laughter and step down from the 'rockstar pedestal' for a moment. With filming of the DVD taking place, this element seems of secondary importance.

The night burns on at full swing as the band continue their onslaught of highly charged, highly polished modern Metal. You have to admire a band with ten plus years of activity and such an energetic fanbase that spreads across a broad and healthy age range. Despite nearly burning down the venue, Bullet For My Valentine pulled off a great show to round off the year, amplified by the presence of Killswitch Engage, with Cane Hill undoubtedly drawing more attention to their debut release.


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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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