by Alex Payne
Metalcore has found itself in weird spot in the last few years. As a genre it’s garnered an undeserved reputation for being a little too cringe inducing and formulaic, shunned for existing in the awkward space between more accessible rock and heavier formats of metal. Clearly, it would be easier to embrace the stereotype, as many have done, to tap into the legions of hungry fans waiting to devour any new music, but it’s safe to say that Cardiff received the opposite experience at Motorpoint with a blistering demonstration of originality and innovation from Architects and supporting acts, Polaris and Beartooth. Fresh from supporting Parkway Drive, Australian rockers Polaris kicked off the night with an enthusiastic set, which was well received by the eager crowd. Huge mosh pits blossomed at the foot of the stage just a couple of songs deep into the set, and the band were blessed by a crowd that were impressively receptive to the now infamous tricks bands love to deploy; waving the lighters, commanding the crowd to jump, and the emotional tribute. It truly was a testament to the prowess of the band to break free of the usual pitfalls of the overly ambitious opening act.
While Beartooth have now overtaken Architects in terms of streaming numbers, their British presence is far weaker, which explains their status as support. Ultimately it benefited fans, being treated to two powerhouses of the genre in one go. It was a little frustrating to have the set so heavily skewed towards the newest but understandable, because album promotion is the purpose of an almost perpetually touring band like Beartooth. Over the past half a decade I’ve been lucky enough to see ‘Toof play seven or eight times, in a wide range of environments ranging from pokey dive bars, to monolithic arenas and festivals, and it’s evident that the band possess a distinctly anthemic quality that allows them to excel in front of large crowds, enthusing the mobs of metalheads with energy, and their performance at Motorpoint was no different. Muffled mixing on lead singer Caleb Shomo’s mic restricted some of their ability, but Beartooth still managed to serve the role of support well.
Finally, Architects. Ascending the stage under the cover of an impressive light show, the quintet began with Modern Misery, a single packed with chugging riffs off of their latest album, Holy Hell. Vocalist Sam Carter’s coarse and abrasive vocals filled the venue, manipulating his voice into an instrument with the abusive power to match the rest of the bands performance. Despite having a setlist so densely populated by songs off the latest album, the band still managed to sneak in many fan favourites, including Naysayer and These Colours Don’t Run. What separates Architects from the competition is the authentic pain their emotional lyrics tap into, the tragic passing of founding member and guitarist Tom Searle is a source of inspiration, and was honoured not just in a touching tribute, but by the continued success of the band.
If you go to one metalcore gig this year, make it Architects.