If you so much as have your toe in the realm of punk and hardcore, then you're likely to be aware of Sick Of It All. They were one of the scene's pioneering bands of the late 80s and 90s, being one of the best at injecting metal tones into the genre and they're still influencing new bands to this day. Records like 1994's 'Scratch The Surface' and debut 'Blood Sweat And No Tears' are staples of heavy music that have made Sick Of It All a classic band on the scene. Their recent efforts are just as solid and, as they came to Leeds' Brudenell Social Club touring newest album 'Last Act Of Defiance', they delivered a show as legendary as their history.
For starters, though, we had Swan Song who were, quite frankly, insane. Their frontman was nuts, swinging his mic like a lasso, climbing the wall between the bar and stage floor, and screaming two centimetres from people's faces. All while being soundtracked by low and crunchy guitars. Very intense. Next were Night Stalker, who may not have been as lively, but were great nonetheless. Their songs were more 80s influenced with their swagger-laced riffs and catchy fills. They leant towards rock 'n' roll fun which was undercut by livid vocals, like Black Flag in their more accessible moments.
Broken Teeth ignited the first pits of the night, but had the weakest songs and didn't give that good a performance to make up for it. They didn't stand out from any other modern hardcore (or 'beatdown') band and, aside from their frontman stomping and jumping around a bit, the band played their songs with much less enthusiasm than their fans' reaction to it.
When Sick Of It All hit the stage, frontman Lou Koller roared, 'Let the games begin". If by games he meant mosh pits and stage dives, the game had well and truly began within their first few moments as everyone was going for the gold. It was impossible not to lose yourself to songs like 'Machete' and 'Injustice System', which are very hyper and aggressive with their pummelling rhythms and are made for crazy shows like this. The band themselves were very energetic. It's hard to believe that Sick Of It All are nearing their third decade as a band. Lou dominated the stage with youthful dynamism and much audience participation, while his brother, guitarist Pete Koller, was yet more physical; running around the stage and jumping some impressive heights, all while producing the riffs that sent the audience into a frenzy.
As well as beating each other to Sick Of It All's set list, people were singing their hearts out with them. As aggressive as they are live, the band's songs are strong on hooks and meaning. Take new release 'Road Less Traveled'; an ode to hardcore, saying that it may not be the easiest music to be into, but those who are have a blast. It's a message that held some weight based on the night's show.
Before 'Scratch The Surface', Lou prepared a wall of death and, when the song's thundering intro kicked in, so did the crowd; slamming into each other and adding to the chaos before continuing to mosh and stage dive at liberty. People were still pumped on adrenaline and driven by the restless tunes in Sick Of It All's arsenal by the show's end; 'Built To Last' brought the gig to a stop and what a perfect closer it was. It was one that everyone could yell along to and lose themselves one last time to its unrelenting musicality.
There was a point in the night where Lou asked how many people were seeing Sick Of It All for the first time and he was amused that he could "count them on one hand". It's not surprising that the majority of people at the show were people who've seen them before, as they're a band you're going to want to see as many times as possible.
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