Review – Wage War

Date: Wednesday 15th January 2020

Venue: The Key Club, Leeds

Supports: Thorhill, DED

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The Key Club is known for putting on awesome January shows over the years with previous sold out shows from the likes of You Me at Six and The Bronx and 2020 is no different with tonight’s headliners skyrocketing through the ranks of new metalcore bands. Having missed the opportunity to catch them at Slam Dunk 2019 after a clash with Busted, tickets were purchased instantly once the tour was announced and with the announcements of Thornhill and DED as support bands it was a bonus for me to catch some new bands at the same time. Tonight also held a special place in my heart as it was the 50th Time that I had been to a gig in The Key Club which doesn’t seem like a big number until you actually think about how many band that I’ve seen in that place from newer bands just starting out to the well-established ones playing intimate shows. Roll on 50 more in the next few years!

Tonight’s opener’s came in the form of Australian metalcore outfit Thornhill. With the show being sold out it was no surprise that there was a fairly sizable crowd already in the venue by the time the band took to the stage and this certainly brought energy to the room helped out by Vocalist Jacob Charlton making the most of the room on the small Key Club Stage. The band put on a decent opening act and it was clear to see there was a pocket of Thornhill fans at the front signing along to their every word. Some of the lighter songs lacked a little punch in the mix however their heavier tracks made sure this was doubled down on and sounded incredible. The standout from the set came in their final song of ‘Where We Go When We Die’ and really left a lasting impact from their set. Mixing the lighter tones of previous tracks with the heavier vocals and riffs it made for a nice ending to their set. The chorus fading out to the crowd’s applause before one final breakdown was a masterclass. It was great to see that the large crowd were keen to get involved as well with a few members of the crowd already opening up the pits. A promising sign of things to come for later acts. All in all this was a solid set and I’ll be adding Thornhill to list of bands to check out this week.  


Next up were DED bringing their heavy nu-metal all way from the USA. My path with the band had crossed before after seeing Vocalist Joe Cotela perform alongside In This Moment at Download Festival in 2018 however tonight’s show was completely different and really focused on the darker side of things. Being the odd one out on tonight’s bill didn’t seem to faze the band and taking to the stage in corpse paint and some questionable outfits really highlighted just how different they were from the other two bands tonight both in look and in sound as well. With a similar nu-metal style similar to the likes of Slipknot, they didn’t disappoint and from the start of ‘FMFY’ it was clear that DED were here to do thing’s their own way. With Joe’s fast almost rapped vocals being centre stage over the thudding guitars a standout moment came in ‘Anti-Everything’ which had heads banging along through the large crowd. A moment to mention as well was the fantastic tone of the baseline intro to ‘disassociate’ which built brilliantly into the rest of the track and really highlighted just how good the band sounded tonight. To sum up their set in three parts: heads were banged, fists were pumped in the air, and a good time was had by all. There was no doubt that DED had got the crowd warmed up nicely and from the sounds of it they had gained a few fans at the same time


Tonight’s headline band need no real introduction as Wage War are certainly up there as one of the most exciting young bands in metalcore at the moment. New album ‘Pressure’ was marked my most people as one of the years most anticipated releases and with it delivering fantastic tracks it was no surprise that tonight’s show at The Key Club was completely sold out.

 From the moment Wage War took to the stage and opened with ‘Who I Am’ and ‘Prison’, the crowd were pummelled from the very start and it gave everyone a very good idea of what kind of show would follow for the next hour and a quarter. After a brief introduction the band launched into older track ‘Don’t Let Me Fade Away’ which saw tonight’s sold out crowd all singing along in unison. With both the Screams of Vocalist Briton Bond and the clean singing of Guitarist Cody Quistad on fine form it really made for an impactful performance with the two styles really contrasting each other brilliantly. Not much later into the set and it was time for the first of the bands heavy hitters, ‘Alive’. From the moment it rang out the crowd was transformed into one big mosh pit. Being the first Wage War song that I ever heard it was a nice surprise to hear it early on rather than being played one of the closers. Keeping the energy up at 100% is no easy task but Wage War made it look like child’s play with Briton controlling the crowds every movement. It was great to see that the tracks from ‘Pressure’ got just as much love as older tracks with huge singalongs for both ‘Gravity’ and ‘Me Against Myself’ reaching deafening levels. A standout moment tonight came from new track ‘Ghost’ which hadn’t previously caught my attention but sounded incredible live. With an intense opening with soloing guitars and heavy fast drums all behind the powerful screams, it took no prisoners and had the entire Key Club raging along with crowd surfers being passed around and circle pits opening up in the middle of the room. As the main set came to a close Wage War were determined to end it in style and what better way to do that than with the lead single from ‘Pressure’ – ‘Low. This worked perfectly and was a huge ender for the night with the crowd going even wilder than they had been. Shouts of “You don’t know low like I do!” filled the room at deafening levels which made it clear that the song connected with tonight’s massive crowd. With the brutal breakdown dropping just after it really showed off the power that the band could deliver and just why they were held in such high regard.

After a brief pause for everyone to catch their breaths the band then came back out for tonight’s encore. The encore came in two parts, with the band opening it up with newer track ‘Hurt’ which showed off the impressive song writing and lighter style from the new album. It also went to show just how well the new album as a whole had landed with the crowd. With that out of the way there was only one way that tonight’s show was going to go and that was with the huge ‘Stitch’. Going out with their heaviest track, Wage War made sure that no one was left stood still and with sweat dripping from the roof there was just time for one last pit. Some tracks grow on people and some become instant classics. The latter is definitely the case for ‘Stich’ with it being a mainstay on everyone’s metalcore playlists. As the band left the stage tonight it was clear that their success is solidly down to the hard work and fantastic ability as a band. Having sold out tonight’s show as part of a 9 day UK run really showed the demand that Wage War have created and will certainly go a long way towards them playing much bigger venues next time they return to our shores.

Wage War

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