While She Sleeps and Cancer Bats tag-team London

What happens when WSS and Cancer Bats share a stage together?

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Two of the most exciting bands in the world right now joined forces for one hell of a package tour that climaxed in England’s capital last night. Could they live up to the hype and who would come out on top? This is what we learned…

Co-headliner Gigs Start Early

With two full headline sets to contend with tonight, on a Thursday lest we forget, it’s some slog across London during rush hour to make the early doors. So we miss Belgians Oathbreaker and arrive during the dying embers of Hundredth’s set. Which is a shame, because what we do see of the South Carolina five-piece certainly gets the blood pumping for what lies ahead. It’s brutally intense, rumbling hardcore, but the guitarist’s Nirvana t-shirt is a clue to the melodic nous that’s buried deep below the feedback and fronting.

Cancer Bats Are As Reliable A Live Band As There Is Possible To Be

“We’ve been coming here for nearly ten years,” says Bats frontman Liam Cormier from the stage halfway through his band’s set. Yes you have, Liam. And in that time, it’s fair to say, nothing has really changed in the world of Cancer Bats except for the size of the venue they are playing. Sure you’d expect to see a boisterous set of pummelling punk rock with skyscraper guitar riffs to knock your socks off at a venue like The Barfly or The Underworld, but what’s amazing is that Cormier and co. still continue to dazzle in environments alien to the type of music they specialise in. Be it the main stage of Download or here tonight, it’s rare that a band can transcend their setting so easily. Changing every venue into a small, sweaty club.

Real People Love The New Cancer Bats Album

While the general media feedback to new CB album Searching For Zero appeared to be fairly lukewarm, the reaction to the material aired from it tonight makes a mockery of the idea that Cancer Bats have dropped a dud. Opener Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake sets the viscous tone for what’s to follow, a huge pit opening up immediately as guitarist Scott Middleton peels out its doom-laden riff. There’s no denying that Satellites or closer True Zero sound as massive as anything in their arsenal here tonight, and the reaction to them is no different to that of staples of the band’s back catalogue like Hail Destroyer, Road Sick or their always anthemic cover of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. This set is now watertight.

**This Is The Last Time You’ll See While She Sleeps In A Venue This Size **

While She Sleeps are billed as co-headliners here tonight. But even Liam Cormier seems to admit that one band dominate the bill when he thanks While She Sleeps for letting Cancer Bats join them on the bill. As great as Bats were, there’s a whole other level of excitement in the room as the lights dim and WSS wander on and stand stock still in the centre of the stage to milk the adulation of their fans. It might sound trite but, it’s undeniable, While She Sleeps look like rockstars. And, armed with another brand new set of anthems from the recently released Brainwashed, they’ve almost won before a note has been played. The Forum isn’t an intimate venue by any means, but it feels way too small to hold them.

British Metal Needs This Band

While She Sleeps aren’t the only great contemporary metal band from the UK but they sure as hell feel like the most important at the moment. Although they come from the punk rock underground, WSS are certainly now bearing all the hallmarks of what defines metal in 2015. The guitar interplay between Mat Welsh and Sean Long is technically impressive as they peel off thrashing yet melodic riffs and frontman Loz Taylor scrapes away his vocal chords with a throat-shredding performance. Brutal though it is, you can’t argue with the immediacy of songs like This Is The Six, Our Legacy or New World Torture. And, even though Loz leaves the stage to climb his way through every corner of the venue during Crows, the songs are the stars here – the closing Four Walls elicits a mass singalong that could probably be heard in WSS’s native Sheffield. This is a band uniting people and repping for British metal in the most inspiring of ways.

Whoever You Were Here To See, You Got Your Money’s Worth

Two headliners, two very different bands, playing two very different sets. While Cancer Bats have done amazingly to take the sound of filthy underground punk rock and turn it into a successful career, crossing over into more mainstream areas, While She Sleeps are at the start of a journey that will see their sleek and futuristic metal become very important to a very large number of people. One day this gig will be talked about in hushed tones by those present. Whatever side of the fence you sit on, or maybe you prefer to sit slap bang in the middle, this was a night to remember for all the right reasons.

While She Sleeps setlist

The Divide New World Torture Brainwashed This Is the Six Seven Hills Torment Kangaezu Ni Life In Tension Death Toll Dead Behind The Eyes Our Courage, Our Cancer We Are Alive At Night Our Legacy Trophies Of Violence Crows Four Walls

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.