Slam Dunk: The Review

Moving around the stage, Trash Boat may have looked a little tired, but move they certainly did! Playing Slam Dunk South very close to their hometown of St. Albans, this bombastic quintet gave the Key Club Stage the opening it deserved. Blasting through favourites from their Brainwork EP had an increasingly busy room pushing forward to the barrier to scream back every word. The true highlight came in the set close, however, as the band launched into the premiere single of their upcoming full length Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through. Leaning into the crowd, vocalist Tobi Duncan performed Strangers in style, though regrettably no cameo from The Wonder Years’ Dan Campbell today! [7/10]

Opening the Main Stage were Moose Blood, the latest band to start the explosive phase within this scene. They kick off the madness on the enormous stage with latest single Honey which only debuted on the radio a matter of weeks ago, and in no time at all crowdsurfing is a common occurrence. Their usual manner onstage of complete humility and shyness is apparent, and as per usual clash massively with their huge melodies and riffs including first song and fan favourite Bukowski which is met with mass hysteria among the crowd. A really easy watch and great singalong was had by all. [8/10]

WSTR played one of the earlier slots on the Impericon stage, but you wouldn’t have guessed that from the crowd they drew – this small room was packed all the way to the back. Having faced something of a meteoric rise through the ranks of pop punk over the last year, it’s incredible how refined WSTR’s live performance is. Ripping through the majority of their debut EP SKRWD as well as their well-practiced cover of Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff, it’s a set that will be very familiar for fans of the band. Nevertheless, nobody seemed to be put out by this, with WSTR playing in a slightly heavier style than they began with; their set was excellent. [9/10]

For the first time in six months, Young Guns took to the stage in their typical bold style. They have never been one to shy away from the pressures of going big. They stormed out onto the stage and ripped through Daughter Of The Sea from their first EP [2009’s Mirrors], and played tracks from all eras of the band, showing just how far they’ve come in their seven year history. Mid-set, frontman Gustav Wood announced they’ve been “under the radar for a few months” and during that time they’ve written and recorded a whole new record which is due out this summer. The band then proceeded to play Bulletproof which is presumably on the new record, and it was massive. Expect even bigger things from this band this year because it will be huge. [8/10]

Before the band had started, you could see the room gradually being filled with more and more people until the room was almost full. Good Charlotte’s prodigies Waterparks were full of energy and their songs got a fairly good reception. The highlight of the set had to be the Witt’s joking with the audience between songs, and at one point he asked the crowd for someone who vapes to come up on stage with them to be their “human smoke machine” before blasting into Pink. The songs they played were “by the book”, radio-friendly pop punk that you could’ve heard hundreds of times before, but their performance and onstage persona made it a far more memorable set. [7/10] (Words by Will Turner)


Florida pop punk legends Mayday Parade have had a far more hard-hitting sound since their 2015 album Black Lines than beforehand, with the band sounding a lot tighter after their album releases and subsequent tour. The new tracks including Keep In Mind… were incredibly punchy and incited bouncing, not only on the floor but with all four permanent members of the band; drummer Jake Bundrick was a notable absentee but his space was filled by Dylan Taylor, who more than made up for the loss. The band played through a set dominated by the classic albums and the new, with two thirds coming from Black Lines and A Lesson In Romantics, and not a single track was played from 2014 album Monsters In the Closet, not to much surprise from the audience. A fantastic set overall from a band on top form. [8.5/10]

As soon as Cane Hill started playing, they had the crowd entirely in their hands. A pit had opened up within the first song and the band played with pure fury, with riffs tearing the room apart that could have come straight out of Slipknot’s self-titled album all those years ago. The band encountered some sound issues, which made vocalist Elijah Witt too quiet to the point where he could barely be heard which is a shame; the rest of the band sounded tight for the whole show. Ending with crowd pleaser Time Bomb, they had the room bouncing and left everyone with very good impressions. One to watch in future, for sure. [9/10] (Words by Will Turner)

As It Is stood in front of a hyped up crowd on The Key Club Stage, having followed Trash Boat, ROAM and Hit the Lights, they kept the pop-punk vibe well and truly alive. The Brighton boys opened their set with Concrete and this introduced their renowned energy and passion from the word go. They followed this performance with Cheap Shots and Setbacks which, again, was full of liveliness that was only increased when Alex Costello of Roam joined them on stage for a chorus. Mid way through their set, they played one of their older songs, Horoscopes which went down excellently with hard-core fans at the front of the band who had clearly been waiting in anticipation for them to hit the stage. They finished off their performance with their first single release, Dial Tones. Throughout the set, both vocalists Patty and Ben, seemed to be singing with an edge and vigour that isn’t usually present in their none-festival performances. It was obvious that all the guys were giving this performance something a little bit extra and getting the crowd insanely pumped. [7/10]

We Came As Romans took some time to warm up on the Atlas Stage, but inevitably performed a stellar set once they found their stride. Lacking some of the technical stage wizardry they might expect on their own tours, the band’s dual vocalist system often left one of their talented singers to look a little lost on stage waiting for their part. As the set progressed, however, and the members became more kinetic, this issue disappeared. Playing a set dominated with tracks from their recent self-titled album to finish on the mighty The World I Used To Know, the band proved themselves worthy of their slot. [7/10]

Real Friends took the stage to a packed out, queued up Key Club Stage. Blasting through two old favourites, vocalist Dan Lambton paused to address the “elephant in the room”: His vocals are slightly off due to some throat issues he’s been working through all day. Despite this, the effort he puts in throughout the set is admirable, with the crowd doing the band proud in support. They continue with Floorboards, from the Everyone Who Dragged You Here EP. The band’s second album The Home Inside My Head had only released a few days prior to the show, and the songs played from this record didn’t gain quite the same response, like Mess, but it’s only a matter of time. They followed this with another song from the record, Scared to be Alone and the set ended somewhat surprisingly with their 2014 single Loose Ends. Although this choice was rather unexpected it did in fact tie up any ‘loose ends’ and the band seemed extremely comfortable performing this and happy with how their set had gone over all. They managed to give their fans what they wanted while maintaining the attention of those who would not have necessarily listened to the band beforehand. [7.5/10]

Many gathered to catch metalcore quintet Northlane tear Slam Dunk a new one, and they weren’t disappointed. The Australian group turned the university campus into a death match, with unrelenting crowd surfing and mosh pits being the order of the day. Opening number Dispossession turned the crowd on like a light switch, before their collaboration track with In Hearts Wake Hologram drove them even more insane. Since the release of Node, it seems Northlane have grown to extraordinary new heights, and with closing song Impluse, you can see that in abundance from the audience. [8/10]

Hellions jumped onto to the Slam Dunk line up only days before the festival due to the unfortunate news Beautiful Bodies had pulled out but the Aussie hardcore band didn’t disappoint. Their set, despite being performed to a small crowd, was lively with a 3-man pit during Creasy and general jumping about throughout. With their new album due out in July, they showcased the newly released song Quality Of Life while still playing older songs The Great Fabricator and Nottingham creating a mix of chaotic post-hardcore with a pinch of punk rock, a set with something for everyone. [7/10]

The words “symphonic” and “metalcore” don’t go together in many people’s minds, but it is an undoubtable connection to make once The Amity Affliction hit the stage, wherever they play. Opening their set with new track I Bring The Weather With Me is a bold move, especially as it was only released a couple of weeks back, but the crowd knew every single word and moved along accordingly which clearly thrilled the 5-piece on stage. The set was very much dominated with 2014 album Let The Ocean Take Me, which is seen by many to be one of the best melodic metalcore records ever, and of course set-favourite Open Letter featured, as well as non-album track Shine On to round off a triumphant trip across the world from their native Australia. [8/10]


Once again, Mallory Knox proved why they are set to become of the biggest bands in the UK scene, drawing in a big crowd who feed off every huge anthem the Ely 5 piece.   Opening with the massive Shout At The Moon, there’s no messing around, even if it is a one off weekend for them, as they continue working on their eagerly waited follow up to 2014’s Asymmetry.   Old school anthems such as Beggars, Wake Up and the monumental Lighthouse prove how much Mallory have solidified themselves, and with this as of yet titled album getting closer and closer, you can’t help feel that upon its release, Mallory Knox will once again climb further and further up the ladder.

Boston Manor brought took to the Kerrang! Fresh Blood Stage to fly the flag for UK pop punk, blasting through a powerful set. The band’s live show is truly excellent, with Henry Cox’s vocals filling the room without missing a beat. Alongside playing material from their recent EP Saudade and previous release Driftwood, the band debuted a new song, teasing an album that will release later this year. Boston Manor had the crowd joyfully push-pitting and throwing themselves over the barrier – but what else would you expect? [8/10]

Inarguably one of the most anticipated acts of the day, Creeper took to the Kerrang! Fresh Blood Stage to perform a magnificent set full of their usual, much-loved theatrics. There are very few frontmen who can hold a crowd like Will Gould can, gesticulating and jumping through his sonorous vocals. The crowd extended back out of the doors to the stage, and it’s clear that Creeper will not be billing lower down for long. Playing a set-list that spanned their three releases, it was a credit to both band and fans that everything produced the same frenetic response. The band called for a crowd-surfing competition for the penultimate song Lie Awake which had the crowd relentlessly throwing themselves over the barrier. As Will Gould pointed out, there was a “tangible magic” in the air throughout the set. Creeper are a very special band that will be going a long way, with this show only lacking some of the dramatic stage-show that headline shows allow though not subtracting from the excitement whatsoever. [9.5/10]

Issues hit Slam Dunk fresh off their UK tour that saw them headline mid-size venues across the country with Astroid Boys and Hacktivist in tow, who both appeared at the festival with them. The band had no hesitation in playing material from their new record Headspace which had only just hit one week since the release the day before they hit the Atlas stage, and they opened their set with the thundering second single COMA. In a mix between old favourites and new stunners; The Realest, Never Lose Your Flames and Mad At Myself get huge singalong reactions, and slightly heavier numbers Love Sex Riot and Blue Wall have the crowd bouncing and moshing about before they close up with non-album single Hooligans to mark the dawning of their tine in the UK before they head off to Europe to continue the tour after a show in Southampton. Truly the ultimate blend of pop and metalcore to another level, triumphant in all respects as always. [9/10]


The crowd for Four Year Strong was mighty, seeming to stretch the walls of the Key Club Stage. Filling the room with some of their best upbeat and eclectic tracks, Four Year Strong have nailed their formula straddling the void between punk and hardcore.  Opening with We All Float Down Here from their recent self-titled album, the crowd were hit with a wall of musical excellence. The years of experience of the band radiated off the stage, with perfect stage chemistry between every member. Four Year Strong played flawlessly together throughout their entire set showing off their talent and making it hard to find words to describe how seamlessly they work together to create an accomplished sound that only comes with years of commitment and their set was jam packed with hit after hit to display this: What’s in the Box, Go Down in History and Maniac (R.O.D) to name but a few. The crowd were completely at ease knowing that they were in the hands of these proficient rock experts, allowing them to lose themselves in the live music and guaranteeing everyone an incredibly good time. [8.5/10]

The Story So Far have a mixed reputation for their live shows, but their headline set at the Key Club Stage blew all doubt away. Opening with the immense Heavy Gloom, the powerful drum intro built the atmosphere in the room to gargantuan levels. The Story So Far had their fans going crazy, and the barrier was a welcome safety measure (for band and crowd alike, some might say). Whilst Parker Cannon was almost uncharacteristically upbeat, the rest of the band were rather static and did not contribute much visually. Despite this, The Story So Far had fans raucous, though some of Parker’s Predator (film) references fell flat. The length of their headline set allowed the band to span their discography, with perhaps the best response coming from their debut album material. Like them or not, The Story So Far can play big, big shows now, and they are still rising. [8/10]

Of Mice & Men took to the stage at Slam Dunk for the first set of UK shows since last March’s headline run that resulted in their first live album/DVD Live At Brixton being released last Friday (27th May), much to the thrill of their fans this side of the Atlantic. They opened their set with a classical backing track to build tension before running up the stairs to the stage to crash through first song Bones Exposed. OM&M are a band that never ignore any of their eras, and their setlist and chat between songs proved their gratefulness that the crowd has stuck with them for so long. They repaid all those waiting with pit-inducing Public Service Announcement mid-set, and shooting back in time all the way to 2010’s self-titled record for fan favourite Second & Sebring. They finished off the day at the Atlas stage with the usual explosive rendition of The Depths which shows Austin’s complete control over his devoted audience, and finally a huge crowd singalong of You’re Not Alone to round off what had been an incredibly heavy and active day for all those waiting at the stage. [9/10]

Of Mice & Men

Brendon Urie and co rocked up on stage without twitching an eyebrow or breaking a sweat, and Panic! At The Disco kick off with their latest single Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time and just keep soaring onwards and upwards. Their high energy performance not only showcasing Brendon’s impressive vocal range but also the true showmanship he has learnt over the years; Nine In The AfternoonVictoriousReady To Go and spine tingling rendition of Queen’s famous Bohemian Rhapsody are all massive, and send the crowd into a frenzy. Despite playing a set consisting predominantly of new material from Death Of A BachelorPanic! still manage to draw in a massive crowd, testament to their tight musicianship and decade old legacy.  They ended the show on a high with a huge pyro show, showering the crowd in confetti during Emperor’s New Clothes. Many believe their glory days are over, they couldn’t be more wrong. [9/10]

ISSUES – Headspace

The second record from genre-fusers ISSUES is here, with Headspace as its title. The record is first since the departure of Scout Acord from the permanent lineup of the band though is still produced and played on by him.

During the writing/recording process, vocalists Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn spoke a lot about it being a risky album with a lot of genre-breaking and irregular tactics employed but the product has come out far differently; it sounds like a progression of the style and musicianship of the members and a further exploration of their individual styles and talents rather than a change entirely. The most remarkable exploration is that of bassist Sky Acord, who until now has been used predominantly to play djent/metalcore-style riffs on his 5-string but you just have to listen to first single The Realest to hear that his funky, rhythmic style is coming out in full swing on this record.

Following the release of the Diamond Dreams EP, the band have incorporated some of the acoustic-sounding electronics in the start of some tracks (most notably to kick off Yung & Dum) and this brings a new feel to the tracks that the mainly industrial and garage electronics of the first full-length never brought; an emotion to a sound that is generated by a machine. In addition, the clean(ish) vocals from Michael mark a move in his role in the band from “screamer/unclean” to just an all round “vocalist”, and his slightly more gruff voice contrasts nicely with Tyler’s pop/hiphop-mastery in his vocals and when combined with the electronics makes for some beautiful moments within the fibre of the tracks.

The album is littered with the metalcore influences especially in the guitar and drum parts with downtuned guitars often as low as drop A# and sometimes even A, with a lot of open chording and dystopian bends, coupled with double-kick beats and cymbal crashes over the top which leave the record being pretty heavy, especially in tenth track Blue Wall.

Looking just from a vocal perspective, the harmonies of Tyler’s cleans, Michael’s semi-cleans and uncleans and backing/gang vocals bring a huge sound that can be matched by very few bands in the modern market and when this is coupled with Sky’s funk basslines and the super heavy rhythm of drummer Josh and djent-style leads from AJ it makes an (in parts) unbelievably heavy yet inherently listenable 13 songs and frankly this is one of the best releases of the last 12 months.

Standout songs from the 13 are first single The Realest for its fantastic opening to the record and setting the tone for the new ISSUES era, second single COMA for its funky opening riff and soaring chorus while having crushing moments, and Hero for being the most soulful and demonstrative song of the lot for showing what this band is and what it can be, proving they can do what they like with aplomb.

Headspace will be released Friday May 20th in stores


ISSUES Have Another New Song

The third (and presumably final) track to be released before ISSUES‘ Headspace is released next Friday is here, by the name of Blue Wall, and you can listen to it below!

The track follows the mood set by the first two songs, though is easily the heaviest of the three while it takes on the rap-metal style raps and heavy instrumentals with Michael’s screams over the top.

This record will be huge. Check it out next Friday (May 20th).