NOVEMBER 3rd 2015

Review by Lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

This was my first time seeing a lineup to get into the Rickshaw Theatre extend from their doors right to the intersection with Main Street.  For those of you that don’t know the area, that is a good 2/3 of a city block. The fans cannot be blamed thought they had an epic lineup to be waiting in the misty night for: In Hearts Wake, Thy Art Is Murder, Miss May I and headliner Parkway Drive.

Once I got inside things got heated. Literally. The temp in the building went up about 10 degrees for every band that hit the stage.This made for very interesting people watching and even better electricity as the music raged on.

In Hearts Wake was a band I’d never heard of prior to hitting this show.  Apparently it’s not uncommon though to not have heard of any band from across the pond that classifies as any type of metalcore or off-shoot thereof.  Does that say that it’s just crazy hard to break into a North American market if you’re an Australian band? Or is it just that the stick has been rammed so far up Vancouver’s ass that we’re forever playing catch-up in learning about great new other worldly bands?  Regardless, I at least was exposed to some great music and awesome new groups to expand my listening library.

As for the performances: real quality stuff. In Hearts Wake opened the night and they had one of the bigger crowds I’ve seen for an opening band at the Rickshaw. If you’re at all familiar with metalcore, these guys follow that same formula and don’t deviate too far from the equation. With that in mind, you do need to know that they were a really cohesive and well-rounded band considering this was their first time ‘state-side’ (which usually means they haven’t been around that long).  In reality, In Hearts Wake formed in 2006 but without researching European/Australian markets, you may not have heard of them until now.

Consisting of Jake Taylor (unclean vocals), Kyle Erich (bass, clean vocals), Eaven Dall (lead guitar), Ben Nairne (rhythm guitar) and touring drummer Conor Ward, In Hearts Wake have been playing music together since they were about 11 years old (with the exception of two former bandmates).  They are electric on stage and burn through their set like fire chasing the last oxygen in the room. All members were set on pumping up the crowd and getting their participation. I found it hard as a serious person with serious business to be focused on (insert sarcastic laugh here) not to jump around and thrash with the rest of the commonfolk. Bass lines were heavy hitting, guitars were higher-tuned and melodic, and the play of the clean versus unclean vocals really made this set a pleasure to watch.  They plowed through songs like “Survival”, “Breakaway” and their closer, “Divine”; all of which had an overwhelmingly positive message in this sometimes rather fucked up metal music off-shoot. If I Prevail, Egypt Central and In Flames ate Linkin Park for breakfast, their collective afternoon shit would sound something akin to In Hearts Wake (that’s totally a compliment guys).  Although they were a similar taste in the metalcore mouth, I’m sure they will have more to show as they work toward finding their own niche in the industry.

Next up was Thy Art Is Murder: hands down the most angry, amped, deathcore-skewed band of the night but a great compliment to the others on the bill.  Without a solid dose of doom and gloom that crowd would have been sure to rip through the Rickshaw walls. In the running theme of the night, this band also hails from Australia and have also had a tough go making a name for themselves in far away lands. Thy Art’s reputation has likely proceeded it, however, as they have been controversial essentially since their inception back in 2006.  But when vocalist Chris “CJ” McMahon, guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh, bassist Kevin Butler and drummer Lee Stanton burst into their opener, all the bad-mouthing is forgotten. McMahon, in a dark raincoat, hood up, gets growling and vibrating, looking as if he’s exercising these demons on stage before your very eyes. There are lots of guys out there that can yell, grunt and gripe in front of a crowd but very few can make it sound so bloody enticing as does McMahon.

As anti-religious, sometimes misogynistic, and surely dark as their lyrics are, Thy Art Is Murder is surprisingly personable and actually quite funny when they get to chatting.  Obviously McMahon couldn’t help but mention the shitty area for the venue and that the only worse one they had played at was in the slums of South America. Having said that, the band was impressed by the energy and bravery of the crowd for showing up to such a sketchy neighbourhood for their show that they gave it their all through tunes like “Absolute Genocide” and “Holy War” with McMahon even getting off stage and standing on a bar to stage right. The crowd was raging, the band was killing it and the entire experience was borderline religious (ironically).  Not to belittle the rest of the band who were righteously bass and drum heavy, but McMahon set the tone with his multiple personality vocals and at points almost Korn-esque moments of beatboxing.  Unreal performance hands down.

Following them were Dayton, Ohio boys Miss May I. This was the only band of the night that I had seen before, and then only in a festival setting.  As a fan already, I of course had a blast seeing them rip it up on stage again.  They are a group so happy to be on stage doing what they love to do that when they went through a near bankruptcy a few years ago by way of greedy managers and contract bullshit, it was all they could do to keep from calling it quits.  For a band that released their first full-length studio album before they were out of high school; to this lay-girl they’re still living the dream even if it comes into realization in a shite neighbourhood like Main and East Hastings.

They burst the roof from the venue when they tore into “I.H.E.” off their new album “Deathless”. As with the melodic metalcore genre, the clean and unclean mixed in a molotov cocktail fit for a room full of moshing meatheads.  Most of their set was from the new album, but not to any real disappointment: it has a huge following and is arguably one of their best albums to date.  While Levi Benton (vocals), Justin Aufdemkampe (guitar, backing vocals), B.J. Stead (guitar, backing vocals), Ryan Neff (bass, backing vocals), and Jerod Boyd (drums/percussion) exert a ridiculous on-stage energy, they’re also talented musicians with fingers like lightning and sticks of thunder; though there’s not a force on this earth that could make Benton’s hair come to a halt. After “Bastards Left Behind”, the title track “Deathless”, “Masters of a Dying Breed” and “Turn Back the Time”, Miss May I finally served up some classic tunes in the form of “Hey Mister” and finished with a full floor and packed balcony of fans calling for more. Although I can’t say enough about the performance…boys: get some damn ladies’ tees at your merch table.

Finally it was time for the headliners Parkway Drive to hit the stage. The crowd had been chanting for them all night, despite the stellar lineup before them.  Twelve years strong and a mostly consistent original lineup, Parkway Drive are also Australian but have clearly cracked the code for making it ‘big’ in the North Americas.  Having not toured in Canada very much or very extensively, this show was clearly years in the making and the band couldn’t have disappointed.  Vocalist Winston McCall, guitarists Luke “Pig” Kilpatrick and Jeff Ling, bassist Jia “Pie” O’Connor and drummer Ben “Gaz” Gordon gave 200% from the pinnacle to the pit (and my was there a pit).  I have never been pushed around even at the height of a metal, thrash, or punk show in Vancouver, but this night was an exception.  Even on the very outer edges of the pit’s first line of defense, I got shoved back a few times which absolutely shocked me.  I’m guessing that’s chalked up to the never ending stores of energy the little teenaged fuckers allowed at this all ages show have and burn through at an outlet like this.

So Parkway gets off with “Destroyer”, the first track on their new album “Ire” and literally shoots cannons full of streamers into the crowd.  They barely take a breath before firing into “Dying to Believe”, also from the new album.  Most of the set was new album-heavy, but they did mix in an oldie or two including “Karma” and “Carrion”.  Special mention has to be made about the dedication seen by Ling on this tour.  He was wheelchair-bound after tearing a hamstring and rolling around on stage still killing it (just trying to one-up Kilpatrick who was also wheelchair-bound during a recording session back in 2013).  Anyone there would have had to tear up at “Wild Eyes” or “Romance Is Dead” when he absolutely murdered his guitar. All instrumentals were consistently great during the set, with superior trade-off between melodic riffs and raging lines, and nowhere was this more apparent than during “Deliver Me” which solidified Parkway drive in my mind as one of the epitomes of melodic/metalcore fusion.

Throughout the set, McCall acted as a conductor, orchestrating the crowd, getting them up and going to their maximum. I’m sure the biggest circle pit Vancouver has seen or will ever see occurred between the four walls of the Rickshaw that night. For the money paid to attend this show, fans were treated to a great range of musicianship and an unreal display of talent.  Whether a newbie to the scene or a hardened veteran, there was no way an attendee would have been disappointed by the show.  Especially when Parkway Drive not only asked for the crowd’s participation but actually let them dictate one of their last songs of the night by asking if they wanted a new one or an old one (their entire show was predominantly a push for the new album).  Understandably the crowd screamed for an oldie and was served “Home Is For the Heartless” off their 2010 studio effort “Deep Blue”.

I was so happy to be a part of this night and so glad to have been able to witness the four bands converge on one stage during this epic three hour ordeal. Metalcore is so under appreciated and yet it seems to have the ability to cater to such a variety of tastes while still satiating that need to just rip around and scream. How it is such a miss in Vancouver is a mystery, but so long as Metaltitans has a say in it, a voice will be screamed from the skyscrapers in support.