On March 4th, 2023, O2 Guildhall Southampton was rocked by a metal extravaganza featuring performances from BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE and guest specials from JINJER, and ATREYU. The genre of the music was a topic of debate, with some labelling it as Metalcore, others as Thrash, and still others as Heavy. I had trouble following the lyrics in the music, but I suppose that isn’t what metal music is about; it’s more about the bass and the heavy sounds that are produced than it is about the words as such.
The US-Americans ATREYU came on first, with a powerful, heavy start, shaking the arena. ATREYU, a California-based metalcore band, has eight albums to their credit and gave a few songs from their most recent album, “Baptize,” a live performance. Lead singer Brandon Saller’s smile and charisma had the audience engaged and laughing as they asked for one more song towards the end as Brandon teased the audience asking them to come on tour with him. They were incredibly exciting and set the mood right before JINJER arrived on stage.
JINJER is a 4-piece Ukrainian combo, grown rapidly due to their innovative approach to metal music. Undoubtedly the modern and in-demand metal band of the present with a unique style that blends traditional Ukrainian folk music with heavy metal. JINJER’s music is a unique blend of progressive metal, hardcore sound, and groove metal. They came on stage with their song ‘’Who’s Gonna Be the One’’ and played the hauntingly, beautiful ‘’Pisces’’. It is truly impressive how the band effortlessly transitions between harsh screams and clear vocals, leaving viewers in awe. It’s remarkable to witness such intense and commanding sounds emanating from a female vocalist. Their technical prowess is matched only by their creativity, as they bring new life to a genre that has become stagnant in recent years.
The audience was transfixed as JINJER unleashed a flurry of complex riffs and breakneck rhythms. Each song is a journey, taking the listener through a range of emotions and moods. Lead vocalist and guitarist Roman Szymczak is the driving force behind the group, with her powerful, vocals and intricate guitar work, with Bassist Mykhailo Kalinin and drummer Dmytro Vasylenko provide the thundering rhythm section that underpins the band’s sound.
JINJER’s music is political and socially conscious, often addressing the struggle for independence and freedom in Ukraine. The band’s lyrics are poetically written and full of passion, reflecting the deep emotions that are present in their music. When listening to them for the first time, you won’t know about the meaning, which is what I think has turned my perspective on heavy metal as a first-time listener. Music is a way to express emotions, and with pre-conceived thoughts about this genre, after learning more about what the band represents, it ironically warms my heart.
Fans began yelling “bullet” as the moment finally arrived, and as the screams grew louder, they arrived with a bang. The Welsh metal band, formed in 1998, kicked off the show with “Knives,” immediately sending the crowd into a frenzy. Their music is a fusion of classic heavy metal, thrash metal, and metalcore. The band’s sound is characterized by powerful guitar riffs, fast-paced drums, and aggressive vocals that are often delivered in scream or growl style. Their lyrics often deal with themes of love, loss, betrayal, and personal struggles, with a focus on introspection and self-reflection. The band’s musical style has evolved over the years, from their early days as a thrash metal band to their later work, which incorporates more melody and clean vocals.
At their latest concert on Wednesday night, Bullet for My Valentine gave an intense and energising performance; they are known for their high-energy performances and raw, visceral sound that appeals to fans of all types of heavy metal. Lead vocalist Matt Tuck demonstrated his impressive range, belting out hits from their extensive catalogue like “Tears Don’t Fall” and “Scream Aim Fire.” Crowd favorites like “Your Betrayal” and “Waking the Demon” had fans moshing and headbanging along with the band. My favourite moment was when ‘’Tears Don’t Fall’’ came on, it started with a melodic acoustic start, having the crown also singing too.
The stage production was also impressive, featuring an array of strobe lights, pyrotechnics, and video projections. The band’s chemistry and dynamic stage presence kept the energy high throughout the entire set. There was a moment the lights turned off and they walked off stage, at this point the audience were so upset, and begging them to come back on. Soon they played one of their older hit songs, ‘‘Tears don’t cry’ which is one of my favourites along with ‘’Bittersweet memories’’ which wasn’t played, but I highly recommend if you want something slightly less heavy. In between songs, Tuck engaged with the audience, encouraging them to sing along which was truly a mesmerising and special moment.
Overall, Bullet for My Valentine put on a thrilling and unforgettable performance that left fans buzzing with excitement. With their electrifying stage presence and powerful sound, this Welsh metal band is a force to be reckoned with in the live music scene.