Kicking off proceedings only five minutes after doors open, German young bucks TO THE RATS AND WOLVES  are given the unenviable task of not only firing up tonight’s cavalcade of pop metal, but doing so to a far-from-full Brixton Academy. Frontmen Dixi Wu and Nico Sallach trade fiery roars and anthemic cleans back and forth, captivating an ever-expanding audience with cries for jumps and mass chants that are enthusiastically met. At his band’s first ever London gig, Nico is especially grateful as he takes to the mic between songs, happily thanking his onlookers. The up-and-comers deliver a display of youthful passion and hunger that almost outdoes the first co-headliner.
Armed with an array of pyro and fanciful LED visuals, ASKING ALEXANDRIA  have the pomp that their support lacked, as well as a truly ecstatic crowd as opener Into The Fire invokes manic wails of delight. What they don’t have, however, is the same drive and synchronicity. While guitarists Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell are clearly in high spirits, newly returned frontman Danny Worsnop feels mostly isolated from his hard-rocking cohorts. Prospects improve towards the tail-end of the set, though, when the quintet bust out a trio of cuts from their latest, self-titled album: Eve, Where Did It Go? and Alone In A Room. Clearly invigorated by their new material, the group click, rediscovering their mojo in time for a satisfying and enrapturing conclusion.
Love them or loathe them, BLACK VEIL BRIDES  always evoke a powerful response, and tonight is no exception. Despite touring to promote their new record, Vale, the Californian glam stalwarts’ performance mainly constitutes older material, infectious single Wake Up being one of only two new tracks played. The vocal reception it enjoys cements its status as a future setlist regular before Rebel Love Song continues Andy Biersack and co’s appeal as misunderstood outcasts. It’s an image that Brixton laps up. When They Call My Name and Lost It All show a more tender side to Black Veil Brides’ arena rock stylings, while still eliciting titanic, word-for-word singalongs, setting up the climactic catharsis of The Legacy and Knives And Pens. The encore is the usual trilogy of Perfect Weapon, Fallen Angels and In The End, each of which achieves more adulation than the last, ending this harmonic extravaganza with exactly the kind of visceral rock that fans paid to experience.