When I first got into “metalcore” at the wee age of 16, the concept of a religion-based band held no real merit for me from the outside looking in. If you told me that by the time I’d be pushing 30 that a little under half of the heaviest acts in the metalcore scene were going to be Christian based, I probably would have told you to fuck off. Clutch your bible close, because apparently it can also be used as a flashlight. This past Saturday night I got the pleasure (mostly) of catching In Hearts Wake and Fit For A King on their co-headlining tour at La Tulipe here in Montreal. Most of these bands are considered Christian-based metalcore bands, and I’m going to try my best not to make a ton of religion-based jokes like a cunt.
Cracking open the night like a righteous can of whoop ass was Phinehas from Los Angeles, CA. This four piece brings a vibe reminiscent of the new-wave of American metal; think As I Lay I Dying, or a much simpler All That Remains with significantly less scandalous activity in both cases. Heavy and groovy is their game, with the occasional hint of teen angst and clean vocals (yes, this is a trend you’ll notice all night long). This act did not disappoint as an appetizer to the evening, keeping their compositions simple, their performance by the book, and the volume high. That last part was seemingly their only downfall, as my broken-ass ears found the bass section to be a little outbalanced and sore thumb-ish within the rest of the overall sound. Otherwise, a fantastic act and definitely worth the addition to your catalog.
Following up was a familiar name (if you’ve been reading any of my ramblings for an extended period of time). My last encounter with Like Moths to Flames from Columbus, OH was a little less than pleasant, and depending on why you would read anything I write, you’ll either be happy or pissed off to know that this past experience really wasn’t any better! Before being a grumpy bitch as usual, it should be noted that I found this act’s hasty set up to be incredible impressive. LMTF showed up at set time, and flew on stage with absolute professionalism. That said, their mix suffered for it (be that the main reason or not). This is an act that relies on a variety of layers. With melodic and harmonic riffs, and vocal patterns left and right, if it’s not given the fine tuning of a headliner, it tends to end up as a mess. This, in my opinion, is a perpetual case for LMTF, as lead guitars hid under a mountain of crunch tones, and clean vocals were perpetually exasperated or crowd-saved. That said, this act has a die-hard following; dig it or don’t, I fail to see them going anywhere any time soon.
Co-headlining act Fit for a King from Dallas, TX are, without question, an old favourite of mine, and a repeated victim of my drivel here at Bucketlist Music Reviews. Now that you’re aware that I’m completely biased when I get to see this act, I can now blow your mind. The songs selected and the way they were performed showed us a great time, but was it as perfect as my first time back in 2014? Sadly not. The continued plague of rough mixing had infected this act as well, leaving an off-time feeling between guitar and drum sections. With regards to vocal sections, frontman Ryan Kirby brought the heat as always, with two little problems. First, both Kirby and bassist/clean vocalist Ryan O’Leary sounded like they haven’t had a day off from tour all year. (Note: this is the second day of this run.) The second problem was that Kirby has also taken up clean singing responsibilities, which is seemingly a recent development. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but at the time of this particular performance, it needed work. I was both excited and a little concerned when the band flowed into “Skin & Bones” as it’s easily one of my favourite songs to cry to. Was it butchered? No, but was it as good as the piece deserves? Also no. I firmly believe that at this time both vocalists need to take a little time and work on this with a coach to further themselves. All that said, “Warpath” still slayed like a motherfucker.
Here we were, the last act of the night, and a looming fear of further mixing difficulties when Byron Bay, Australia’s In Hearts Wake knocked it out of the fucking park. This was an act I admittedly had low expectations for, not because they’re lacking in musicianship, but because like the bands before them, they’re heavily produced and require a lot of love and technicality to bring to life in a live show. Life there was, ladies and gents. Heavy but clean, loud but precise, and cheesy but with an air of maturity that I have yet to see in their previous performances. The front vocals were consistent and impressive, the cleans sounded real and exact, the compositions were on point, and even their little fucking stage antics that I once ridiculed even felt and looked natural. (Yes, this means I actually enjoyed “the boat shtick”). In Hearts Wake have truly grown into a great act, who add to the conversation about “What the fuck is in the water down in Australia?” The new tunes were vibrant and fun, and the old tunes like “Divine” and “Earthwalker” showed their age in the sense that they’ve been refined and shined. Performances like this are exactly what the progression of a band should always be like, and I can say without any question that this was a pair of pants well worth the shit.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson