First to take the stage tonight is Scotland’s Bleed From Within, who waste no time in whipping the modest crowd into a frenzy from the get go. Singer Scott Kennedy commands the venue from the first note’s of “Leech” with “Get the fuck up” roaring through the P.A. The venue capacity instantly explodes in a blur of young whipper snappers flinging themselves all over the Academy floor as Bleed From Within blast through their set with a pace that just doesn’t give up.
BFW are tight as hell and hungry to impress the growing crowd. Duel guitar riffing by Craig Gowans and Martyn Evens complements the solid foundations provided by Davie Provie (Bass) and Ali Richardson (Drums), who’s double jobbing tonight due to Sylosis tub thumper’s absence. Kennedy is gushing with energy and loving every minute of the show, which is evident by the sheer energy that he demands from the small space available on the stage.
Up next is “Uprising”, “Last Of Our Kind” and “I Am Oblivion” before a heartfelt “thank you from Kennedy who seems almost taken aback from the reaction of the crowd. Finishing up with “It Lives In Me” see’s Kennedy ending up in the tumble of the pit, surrounded by a tangled mess of sweat drenched hair and an assortment of Metal T-shirts.
For an opening band, Bleed From Within do a fine job in setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
With such a good opening performance from BFW, there is most definitely an obvious pressure for Sylosis to take it a little further tonight. Fear not, upon taking the stage to thunderous approval, the Sylosis boys burst straight into “Fear The World” which just erupts straight out of the traps. Despite singer Josh Middleton’s lack of guitar presence in the mix, the band are sharp, tight and already taking layers of skin off the faces of the front row.
Keeping a momentum of pace and speed, Sylosis hammer out “Stained Humanity” and “Conclusion of an Age” before the chugging riff of “All Is Not Well” come’s rolling out of the house P.A. Sylosis have a huge sound that just rumbles through the venue, crushing all in it’s path.
Following their last gig here in Ireland as support to Lamb Of God, Sylosis prove they are no one trick pony’s, as they outdo themselves with majestic precision during”Teras” and yet again, proceed to decimate the Academy’s now battle field like main floor.
Filling in on drums tonight is Bleed From Within’s Ali Richardson, who does a damn fine job, and looks very much at home with Sylosis. Finishing off a concise and powerful set with “Altered State of Consciousness” and “Empyreal” leaves the now exhausted Academy gasping for air and running for the merch stands. Sylosis are a supreme live act and should be headlining venues of this size in the not to distant future, if Overdrive had anything to to with it.
Chants of “Devildriver” gather volume from the depths of the now packed main floor and with the black out lights signalling the arrival of Dez Farfara and the rest of DD, the deafening screams can be heard from the bowels of the venue.
First up is “Head Onto Heartache” which get’s the place moving front to back. Dez is on fine form and almost seems a little too “happy” to be here. Switching between playful banter to slightly confusing “bumper sticker” type statements he grins through his wooly beard and works his stage and the audience with ease.
Singing the praises of the Irish and announcing that his girlfriend is from Dublin, it would seem apparent that Dez really is stoked to be here. “Hold Back The Day” and “Not All Who Wonder Are Lost” come fast and hard with a solid sound and good energy.
Although the venue is lapping up Devildriver’s offerings, there is somewhat of a lull in parts of there set that seem a little too predictable and rehearsed. “Before The Hangman’s Noose” and “Oath Of The Abyss” do their best and keep the crowd consistantly busy.
With parts of the show featuring Dez calling out members of the audience for filming the gig on their phones rather than taking part and enjoying themselves, is met with an uneasy but hilarious reception.
“I Could Care Less” and “The Appetite” generate hectic pit activity, as venue security usher the ecstatic kids towards the pit exit before they try to high-five Dez who responds most of the time and seems to be keeping his half open eyes on everything that is happening in the venue tonight.
An introduction to U.S Indie band AWOL Nation’s “Sail” see’s Dez proclaiming that they “just want to have fun” and we “should all live our life before we die”. As strange as Dez can be at times, he is a captivating and unpredictable front man, which is a rarity amongst most of today’s Metal bands.
The remainder of Devildrivers set does what is say’s on the tin. The kids on the floor are exorcising their demons through the power of music and everybody seems happy, especially Dez.
A particular “highlight” of the show is “Clouds Over California” which is received with a circle pit that ranges from the front stage barrier to the sound desk. A human vortex is created in the middle of the Academy floor that seems to be sucking shoes right off people’s feet as they were picked up and thrown around the venue like a puppy’s play toy.
Final tracks “Ruthless” and “Meet The Wretched” bring the evenings performance to a close rather abruptly. As the last chords of “Meet The Wretched” ring out, the house music come’s blaring out of the P.A. almost instantly not giving a chance for any calls for an encore.
Guitar picks and drum sticks are thrown out with Dez now in the pit shaking hands and dishing out hi-5’s to all the kids in the front row.
Overall Devildrivers debut performance in Ireland was a success with some highlights here and there, but overall the winning performance of the night was a tie between Bleed From Within and Sylosis.
Words – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – All photography by Steve Dempsey of Down The Barrel Photography.