Live Review: Shadow Of Intent w/To The Grave, Angelmaker and Enterprise Earth at O2 Academy Islington!

The first live show of 2023 for us is one of several that have been rescheduled at least four times over the past three years for obvious reasons. A sell out that has had a venue upgrade it joins five others in the same situation as Shadow Of Intent do what Lorna Shore did before them and prove that music which is as heavy as it comes is also insanely popular given the correct conditions.

After an hour long wait to get into the 800 capacity sold out O2 Academy Islington, Australian Deathcore collective To The Grave [7/10] are already on the on stage, bathed in haunting green light and decimating the week with spine juddering stuccato riff breaks. They stand for animal liberation and make no excuses for it, giving us close to home statistics about what’s going on in the United Kingdom abattoirs in the equivalent of their 30 minute set. High energy and incendiary with some truly caustic vocals, the only issue is that the material feels just a little bit paint by numbers predicable. That being said, the jackhammer footwork still rumbles, the slam vocal moments rip and a few well placed samples add a bit of atmospheric persuasion as cuts like “Red Dot Sight” and “Wastage” win over an audience waiting for the main event.

Canadian six piece Angelmaker [9/10] turn up the energy levels a couple of notches from the very start of their set, bathed in blood red light, their twin headed vocal onslaught and lethal Melodic Death Metal injections adding that bit of magic to their Deathcore roots. Tonight’s rendition of “Bloodthirster” is absolute carnage, and despite the venues policy against crowd surfing, a few get away with it. Throughout the set the solos are razor sharp and the bands drum sound is incredible so it’s cudos to the guys in the sound booth and techs. Set closer “Leech” goes down a storm, the sold out capacity crowd chanting the opening lines “You’re a f**king coward, No pity for the weak, Sever the ties, You suck the life out of me” word for word before the band take the baton and run, setting off the circle pit once more and putting an ear to ear grin on the face of drummer Steven Sanchez. It’s one of those live moments that live long the memory and will no doubt pop into the cerebral cortex when listening to the studio version of the cut. We just wish they could play for longer than they are afforded. Hint: come back with a headliner Gentleman.

Between sets while the lights are on we get treated to an eclectic mix of tunes, while a fan reads his kindle and a pair of banana costume wearing dudes sweat their socks off. The merch is on the mezzanine which means a narrow corridor walk upstairs where we cross the path of a certain Viscera frontman and Unique Leader A&R dude…

Armed with a new vocalist in Travis Worland, Blackened Deathcore titans Enterprise Earth [9/10] ensure that tonight’s headliners are on their toes. It was always a brave decision to bring them out on this run because they could have sold out this venue on their own, such is the love for them from the capacity crowd and they don’t disappoint, Worland very much the perfect replacement for Dan Watson in every sense of the phrase. He proves that early on with older cut “Scars Of The Past“, the band not only nailing it but managing to give it an injection of 5 percent more energy that makes all the difference live. Very much an underrated guitarist, Gabe Mangold pulls out all the stops tonight with a few Lamb Of God influences creeping into the groovier parts of the songs like “They Have No Honour“, nailing his face melting solos and also throwing down some Death Metal growl backing vocals. He’s got all the skills of Trivium string slinger Matt Heafy and leaves a lasting impression.

Tonight’s main event are Symphonic Deathcore brutes Shadow Of Intent [10/10] as they celebrate one year of “Elegy“, the album that came after the one this tour was originally booked for nearly 3 years ago. Enterprise Earth performed like a well oiled machine during their set but Shadow Of Intent were something else again tonight. A four piece with the embellishing synths on a backing track they are forced to be tight and nail their parts and so exactly that with Bryce Butler absolutely metronomic on the kit and Chris Wiseman slinging some almighty riffs. The light show that accompanies their set is equally as impressive as the epic grandeur of their sound, coupled together creating something of a cinematic evil offering. Old school cut “The Prophet’s Beckoning” from 2017’s “Reclaimer” is every inch the icy cold and intense offering, the leads melting the synths before the rhythm section pulverises what’s left. Later on in the set the leads are meandering in darkly beautiful melodies to the point of bordering on virtuoso with “Blood In The Sands Of Time” a particular stand out…

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