Partly because it feels like ages since Welsh metal crew Bullet For My Valentine have been on the road in the UK, and partly because the supporting bill of Jinjer and Atreyu is so strong, anyone without a ticket for tonight is, to put it bluntly, shit out of luck.
A complete sellout, the energy levels are ramped up from the moment California metalcore/rock outfit Atreyu races onto the stage. A hundred miles-per-hour wall of energy, the Cali favourites get straight down to business with frontman Brandon Saller diving straight into the pit about five minutes into their set. Judging by the reaction to the recent single “Drowning” and the anthemic “Save Us,” Atreyu’s return to the UK and Leeds has been one these fans have been highly anticipating.
Although there is no doubt who the headliners are, it has to be said that the excitement for the arrival of the Ukranian tech-metal juggernaut that is Jinjer, created a crackling atmosphere around the room. An absolute sense-shattering performance from the Ukranian band; from the light show to vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk’s neon outfit, every moment of their set was mesmerizing. While happy to sit back and let Shmailyuk soak up the attention, the band are no slouches as the likes of “Copycat” and “Dead Hands Feel No Pain” absolutely level the 02 Academy.
It’s incredible to think that Bullet For My Valentine’s debut, The Poison, came out in 2005, eighteen years ago. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Welsh metal outfit, but, considering there is literally no space left in the room as they slam into opener “Knives,” it would seem the band continues to hold a special place in the hearts of the UK metal community.
To which the band return that loyalty with a set that spans their career and sees them deliver exactly the kind of performance you would expect from them. A tight display from the quartet, they power through the likes of “Piece of Me” and a fan-favourite staple of their set for a long time now, “4 Words (To Choke Upon).”
Continuing through a mix of old and new from “Hearts Burst Into Fire” to “The Last Fight” to a wall-shaking “Scream Aim Fire,” the four-piece are unstoppable by this point. Showcasing their ability to write both neck-wrecking metal bangers and more melodic numbers, their three-song encore sees the group hammer through “Your Betrayal” and “Tears Don’t Fall” before wrapping things up with an anthemic “Waking The Demon.”
From experience, very few bands have packed out this venue like Bullet For My Valentine did tonight, and judging by the strong supporting bill and the reaction to their set, there can’t have been many who left feeling short-changed.