• Charlotte Claber

Impericon: Never Say Die / Louder Live

November means one thing for European metalcore fans: it’s time for Never Say Die! Sponsored by Impericon, this tour has been hitting the UK and wider Europe since 2007, with the likes of Parkway Drive and Architects taking part. This year’s lineup has pulled in quite the excitable crowd in Manchester, with co-headliners Being As An Ocean and Northlane being the main topics of conversation in the queue for the venue.

Even though doors are at 5:30pm to make room for the seven bands on the bill, an impressive number of people arrive in time to watch the first band, Californian Thousand Below. Their set is short but is well-received by the crowd, with energetic songs and charismatic vocalist James DeBerg making it fun to watch whilst heavy parts like those in the last song ‘Vein’ are not lost on the fans who nod along.

Next up is Currents, who start the set with their most streamed song, ‘Apnea’. In an interview with Turn It Up Louder, guitarist Chris Wiseman called this song a ‘staple’ for every set, and he seems quite right. Its fast riffs and screams instantly bring the energy up in the room, and the first pit of the night begins. The highlight of their set, though, is their new single, ‘Into Despair’. Having only released it a few days before, the band are surprised to find that many fans already know the lyrics; Brian Wille (vocals) talks about this further in the interview.

As they finish up, more people file in in time to catch Polar, the first British band of the evening. At times the set is slow, with the crowd taking a while to warm up to them and become responsive, but their confidence shows that, with plenty of touring experience under their belts, these guys aren’t fazed. They finish their heavy set with the massive track ‘Blood For Blood’, by which time there’s a positive response from the front to the back, and especially in the pit.

Welsh post-hardcore band Casey evidently have a huge fan base in the North West, as the crowd can be heard passionately singing along to vocalist Tom Weaver’s gripping cleans, and countless hands are in the air throughout the set. The tracks are emotional and delivered powerfully, and Weaver takes the opportunity to talk about mental health. He points out the Hope For The Day stand amongst the merch, where fans can talk to the charity’s founder Johnny Boucher about any problems they have. He comes onstage after their set, explaining how he runs the suicide prevention charity, and receiving the loudest applause of the night.

The pace picks back up as German Alazka come onstage. With their bouncy tracks and two vocalists, crowd participation is expected, but the crowd far surpass these expectations, and the band have most of us consistently jumping through the first song. It doesn’t stop there, as fans take it upon themselves to sing along, wave, clap, jump and even crowd surf without needing to be asked. Newer melodic songs showcase singer Kassim Auale’s stunning cleans, but older fan favourites such as ‘Monuments’ were appreciated.

Now, for the headliners. As Being As An Ocean enter the stage, cheers ring out, and the back of the crowd watch the first song – atmospheric ‘OK’ – through screens as fans are eager to immortalise the moment with pictures and videos. A highlight of this set is the second track, ‘Dissolve’ from their newest album ‘Waiting For Morning To Come’; fans sing “I wear my heart on my sleeve” so loudly it even drowns out Joel Quartuccio’s passionate delivery, and it feels like the entire room is singing for most of the set. Quartuccio’s harsh screams against the ambient guitar and synthetic parts make the room come alive with emotion, then the band travel through their back catalogue with the oldest songs last. They finish with a song from their 2012 debut album ‘Dear G-D’: ‘The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget’. The more raw hardcore sound of older songs such as this one are taken well by the Never Say Die crowd, but these moments are weak compared to the ambience and emotional energy that came with the beginning of the set. Still, the room was pretty alive in one way or another the whole way through and neither the fans nor the band were let down.

Australia’s metalcore scene is thriving, and Northlane provide us with the perfect example on this tour. It feels like the whole crowd is screaming along as everyone lets go for the evening’s official headliner. It’s no wonder, with the most impressive uncleans of the night from vocalist Marcus Bridge, and riffs and breakdowns to match. Songs like ‘Refuge’ are expertly put together which translates well into harsh build-ups and breakdowns full of cymbals and chugs that are impossible to refrain from headbanging to. The massive chorus of ‘Citizen’ is a memorable moment, as most of the room seems to know it. The final song of the night is ‘Quantum Flux’. With streaming numbers at least double those of other Northlane songs, it’s the best song for the job. Full of strong screams, breakdowns and atmospheric breaks, it’s received well by the metalcore fans of Manchester, who leave having had more than their fix of Never Say Die madness… until next Autumn!

All photos by Charlotte Claber (Instagram: @charlotteclaber.jpeg )