Despite Of Mice & Men’s healthy following, the Forum isn’t full to capacity, but that isn’t going to stop the people down in the pit having a good time. First up are melodic Aussies HANDS LIKE HOUSES , whose emo-tinged tracks don’t quite have the punch they do on record. A synthy backing track melts into the guitars to make a thick soup of whimsical riffs, but set closer Introduced Species has enough speed to get the crowd bouncing.
CROWN THE EMPIRE  are in good spirits as they bring their metalcore-lite to the stage, with frontman Andy Velasquez skipping onto the stage in a sharp suit. But from the moment they open with Are You Coming With Me?, with a chorus that feels like it was written with singing along in mind first and craft second, it’s clear that there isn’t a lot of substance to their sound, which veers between by-numbers metalcore and pop-punk-tinged whinging. Weight Of The World is hooky enoughto nod your head to, and closer Machines has the biggest, boomiest sound, but modern metalcore is at its most interesting when the formula is played with, and that’s not happening here.
OF MICE & MEN , though, know how to switch things up. They’ve been skirting round the edges of nu metal for a couple of albums now, and the snarling opening riffs of Pain prove they know exactly how to work it into their sound without straying from their heavy roots. Austin Carlile is on fine form, and his distinctive growl spits the lyrics out with conviction. Using his struggles with Marfan’s syndrome as songwriting inspiration is clearly catharsis for him; as he prowls the stage and bends double, he’s obviously lost in the music. The mood tangibly lifts when they unleash Would You Still Be There three songs in, and continue the run of stone-cold fist-pumpers with Broken Generation and Never Giving Up.
With melodies that recall Linkin Park and riffs heavy enough to give Killswitch a run for their money, OM&M remain one of the most interesting metalcore acts around, unafraid to mix up the genre with non-traditional influences. They finish with a nod to their early days with Second & Sebring, where Austin and Aaron Pauley’s vocals blend perfectly. The show might not have sold out, but they perform as if it did.
Feels Like Forever
Would You Still Be There
Never Giving Up
You’re Not Alone
Second & Sebring