Converge tours in the UK are rare occurrences but when they do happen they are done properly. With support from two bands big enough to be doing their own European headline tours and one of the most hyped new bands currently in metal, it is safe to say that Converge take choosing their support acts very seriously. The Academy 2 was a venue made in heaven for Converge too; large but still intimate with no barriers or security (a decision the Academy probably regretted after someone had to leave, bleeding everywhere, after a song and a half after a mic was thrown at their head.)
First on tonight is Kvelertak whose attempt at mixing Black Metal with Rock 'n' Roll (or Black'n'Roll, do you like what they did there?) falls short of the mark. Tonight they sound more like a Mötley Crüe cover band being fronted by a Viking (complete with beard and bare torso combination) than what they successfully pull off on the album. This is probably down to the sound which was terrible so all the instruments blurred in to one and the vocals were distorted and too low in the mix. This sound ruined set was a real disappointment seeing how great their debut album is. However, throughout the set was devil horns, beer drinking and references to valleys of doom so it was at least fun for all the family.
By Gaza’s set the sound had been improved dramatically and was note for note perfect for the duration of their set. Not only was there an improvement in sound quality but even a boost in the quality of band as well. While their latest, He Is Never Coming Back, is good, the band reaches a whole new level live; slow, heavy and loud. Towering over the crowd, Gaza's intense vocalist's performance was filled with anger and disgust. Sludgey hardcore is a genre done far too often these days but rarely is it as good as this.
Kylesa, the band behind last year's incredible Static Tension were up next and while the tunes were there they just didn't quite cut it live. Due to terrible sound and a quite uninspired performance, Kylesa's songs all just seemed to blur in to one leaving nothing but a slight feeling of disappointment. While Kylesa's two drummer fuelled cross between Mastodon and Coliseum works on record it seemed to be completely lost here although the soundman may, again, be more to blame than Kylesa themselves. However, the set occasionally reached the level they set on record and those moments were phenomenal.
Converge really are a spectacle live. Having spent almost twenty years in a genre where most don't last three, the four-piece have really learnt their way around the stage. However, in those twenty years they don't seem to have lost any of the energy or intensity, Bannon constantly looking like he is going to explode any minute for the duration of their set. It is also heart warming to see such a veteran band throwing the mic out to the crowd to sing entire verses and constantly thanking the audience for attending. Unfortunately, the length of their career seemed to backfire on them when certain parts of the crowd seemed dissatisfied with their set relying heavily on their two latest albums, No Heroes and Axe to Fall. However, the new and old blended perfectly together during this set from opener Concubine to closer The Broken Vow. Very few words were spoken through the set and the band powered through an impressive eighteen songs in less than an hour. The band put on a performance in the truest sense; emotive and entertaining throughout. Here’s to Converge spending another twenty years on the touring circuit.