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Coal Chamber, Soil, The Defiled and Dope @ The HMV Ritz, Manchester, UK

COAL CHAMBER / Soil / The Defiled / Dope
in Sunday, 31 May 2015 at The HMV Ritz
by Danny Sanderson

Nu Metal is a form of music that often divides opinion. Ever since the genre began to rear its head in the mid-1990's, its been one of those forms of music that you either love or despise. There's rarely a middle ground. But this music's enduring appeal is clear to see from time to time. Tonight is one such example; not only are we being treated to one of the first club shows from COAL CHAMBER have done in this country for well over a decade, we also get a chance to see some other magnificent firsts as well. Notably, the first Manchester date by DOPE, a band who have never graced this fair isle with their presence despite their popularity on these shores. Also, we have the ever wonderful SOIL to look forward to, bringing their brand of intense and ferocious Metal back to the Rainy City for the first time since they opened for SKINDRED over a year ago. All this, coupled with an appearance by rising stars THE DEFILED, makes this a show that's not to be missed, and it certainly lives up to the hype that has built up around it since it was announced.

By the time that DOPE hit the stage for their inaugural Manchester show, the venue is practically heaving. This would normally be quite surprising, because I have seen some great bands open in this venue to a handful of people, and sometimes even less. But admittedly, DOPE aren't just another band playing any old show. This is one of their first ever live shows in the UK, something that seems surprising when you consider that the band have such a huge following over here, ever since the Chicago based quartet released their magnum opus, "Life", just shy of fifteen years ago. They ascend the stage, and are given a heroes welcome. And Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ, can these guys perform well live! They match the audiences energy with plenty of their own, and play as if they're headlining the show rather than just opening it.  They fly through a veritable melting pot of their classic material, from "Die Mother Fucker Die" to "Addiction", and arguably one of the best moments of the whole night, a brilliant, impassioned cover of BILLY IDOL's legendary tune "Rebel Yell", which really gets the whole crowd going. The reaction from the crowd is fitting for such a great act; the assembled DOPE faithful basically pulse with energy throughout their amazing, yet sadly short, set. They leave the stage to cheers, having not only pleased their die hard fans, but having gained a fair few in the process.

1. Violence
2. Bring It On
3. No Way Out
4. Fuck The Police (N.W.A. Cover)
5. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol Cover)
6. Die Mother Fucker Die
7. I'm Back
8. Sick
9. Addiction
10. Bitch

Next up comes a band that have been particularly close to my heart for a good long while; THE DEFILED, who have been brought in to replace AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE. This is my fifth time seeing them live, and sadly they just don't do anything for me this time around. They have energy in bucket loads, as per usual, and have an incredible stage presence, and have a nice bit of back and forth with the fans in between songs, but they don't really get a major reaction. Maybe it's because DOPE put on such an incredibly opening performance that they were hard to top, maybe it had something to do with the fact that the band first two releases were barely represented in the live show tonight (a fact that is an absolute shame), or maybe it was something else entirely. It's definitely not for want of trying, as they have a palpable stage presence as always, but tonight they just didn't hit the spot the way they have done in the past. Nonetheless, they received a warm reception, and they do get some people moving, opening a mosh pit and get a few people to gesticulate within it. Hopefully next time they will be back on form and storm the stage as they've done so many times before.

1. Sleeper
2. As I Drown
3. No Place Like Home
4. New Approach
5. Blood Sells
6. Running In Circles
7. Unspoken

And then it's time for us to witness SOIL live. These guys are always phenomenal live, and tonight is no different. They receive one of the most rabid receptions of the night, and within seconds the crowd is moving and cheering to great them as they play the opening notes of "Loaded Gun". At points there's almost a carnival atmosphere about the show, and the band perform extremely well, playing with a confidence and swagger of a band who knows they have the audience in the palm of their hand. The two songs that end their set, the bands classic tune "Halo" and a cover of RAM JAM's "Black Betty" go really well, and sees vocalist Ryan McCombs disappear into the crowd and sing one of the bands most famous songs among their fans. To say this band has a strong stage presence is an understatement, and they leave the stage to an even greater raucous than they came on to, which is a sign of just how well they did tonight. Clearly COAL CHAMBER have a very tough act to follow up.

1. Loaded Gun
2. Breaking Me Down
3. The Hate Song
4. My Own
5. Pride
6. Redefine
7. Halo
8. Black Betty (Ram Jam Cover)

After a significantly longer change over time, the lights dim and it's time for COAL CHAMBER to hit the stage. They finally hit the stage, and get an absolutely thunderous response, before they open with, surprisingly, "Loco", one of their more well known tracks. I honestly thought this song would have featured higher up on the set list, but it is nonetheless a great to hear this song so early on. By this point, the temperature in the venue has reached almost furnace levels, but the oppressive heat and humid air do not slow down or even hinder the band, who proceed to hold court over the audience at the Ritz, and dominate the stage with their brilliant, weird and experimental take on Nu Metal. Considering that this band haven't really played the UK in ten plus years, it's very hard to believe, because the amount of people who are there, and what's more, becoming involved in the music in some way, suggests that this band have never really been away. I'm actually surprised by how many COAL CHAMBER songs I can actually remember, and even how well the tracks off of the new album "Rivals" are received when placed alongside classic tracks. It's a testament to the enduring appeal of their music, and their ability to craft new material, that comes through very well during to nights performance. By the time that "Sway" dissipates and the crowd begin to file out, it's clear that this band have still got it, both live and on record.

1. Loco
2. Big Truck
3. I.O.U. Nothing
4. Fiend
5. Rowboat
6. Something Told Me
7. Clock
8. Drove
9. Not Living
10. Dark Days
11. I
12. Rivals
13. No Home
14. Oddity
15. Sway

This has been a fantastic night, and this has been a great evening from the very beginning to the end. We've seen some of the greatest and most well known bands of this genre, and sampled the possible future giants of the mainstream Metal scene. It's a celebration of both the past and the future of the music we love. I look forward to seeing all of these bands live in the near future.

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Edited 21 March 2023

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