Live Review: August Burns Red at O2 Academy Islington

It’s a cold December evening and almost a year after their sold out double header at the iconic Camden Underworld for the 10th Anniversary of “Messengers”, August Burns Red are back in town with this year’s effort “Phantom Anthem”. It’s the final UK date before a further 3 Mainland European stops and home in time for the holiday season. 

Opening up tonight are French via Leicester Metallers Betraying The Martyrs [9/10] who we saw earlier in the year headlining UK Tech-Fest. They may have added some more traditional Metalcore elements to their Extreme Metal sound in more recent years but they know what sounds good and how to put on a show. Tonight is no different as the bad drop a phenomenal set on an unexpecting audience much to everyone’s surprise close out with a brand new previously unreleased song. Keyboard player and co-vocalist Victor Guillet is on fine form, regularly either picking up his keys and playing them like a guitar or leaving them behind completely in favour of swinging his microphone and banging his head. “Lost For Words” goes down a storm.

It’s been a huge year for Wage War [9/10] who, with their album “Dead Weight” have broken through into the mainstream media as a band on the rise and rise. After a phenomenal display from Betraying the Martyrs, they have to be on their “A” game and they don’t disappoint. Smashing through tracks like “Dead Weight” to get the pit going and them slowing things down for the big sing-a-longs that are “Gravity” and “Johnny Cash”, their set is a master class in how to work an audience. Closing their set one high with “Stitch” is a means everything ends on a high. The pressure is on for the bands next album for sure, the expectations are high and the desire to see them continue to do well is out there. 

Finally, the headliners August Burns Red [9/10] take the stage. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania quintet have been around for 15 years now and have transcended Metalcore into a far more Technical orientated sound of late. The volume of tapping lead passeges and lead flourishes from JB Brubaker that are simply breath taking is out of this World and it lifts the rest of the band into playing their best. New songs like “King Of Sorrow”, “Float”, “Invisible Enemy” and “Dangerous” are phenomenal tonight and despite sticksman Matt Greiner having a heavy cold, he still manages a drum solo and pair of encore tracks. This is how it should be done.

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