In the pit of the Forum, While She Sleeps devotees welcome their returning heroes, hands reaching stagewards like zombies. Barring a short set at Hammer’s Golden Gods last summer, it’s been a year and a half since the Sheffield metallers played the capital, due to Loz Taylor’s throat surgery and time out to write second album Brainwashed. And the fans are hungry…
But first, there’s Belgium’s OATHBREAKER . Vocalist Caro Tanghe is like a disturbed spirit that’s crawled from a crypt, long hair obscuring her face as she urgently growls. HUNDREDTH’s  melodic hardcore is more blunt, and Chadwick Johnson’s stage banter is straight from the metal frontman playbook. “Are you alive out there or what?” he snarls, gobbing into the air and catching the product in his mouth.
CANCER BATS  have no such response problems, the buzz for their show building until they barrel on, Liam’s fist triumphantly raised. Searching For Zero songs Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake and Satellites sit surprisingly comfortably next to classics like Lucifer’s Rocking Chair, the Canadian road dogs cranking out those weighty riffs.
“Motherfucking London! I knew this was gonna be a banger, but I had no idea!” yells Liam Cormier, slipping into a weird Southern preacher lilt. He gives a sermon on how lucky we are to have a scene and about how we shouldn’t take it for granted. Then the rooms rages to Beastie Boys cover Sabotage. In the frontman’s words, it’s a “fucking party.”
It’s disappointing to see people leave as WHILE SHE SLEEPS  hit the stage. Nonetheless, it doesn’t detract from the drama of a red-lit stage and the band in silhouette, before Loz fittingly sings, ‘We are the underground/They know nothing of our sound’ on New World Torture. Then there’s Brainwashed, complete with CO2 jets. This Is The Six is received by a bouncing floor and Seven Hills by those zombie hands. Loz sings, arms outstretched, and during Crows he climbs shirtless on the sound desk, echoing his adventure up the sound tower at Download last year.
While Sheffield’s great hopes play to a disappointingly reduced audience, the fans here are rabid. And as WSS keep raising their red flag on stages and in hearts, it’s clear they have the courage to conquer./o:p