Live Review : Hollywood Undead + Loathe @ Mountford Hall, Liverpool on April 27th 2019

A wise person once said ‘be careful what you wish for, it might come true”, so after insinuating that the overlords at ROCKFLESH towers should consider broadening the remit of the assignments they send me on, here I am well out of my comfort zone both geographically and genrely. You see Nu-metal/rap metal (call it what you want) is just not my thing, it emerged at the point where Metal and I were on a break and I was busy seeing others genres and its appeal has ever since failed to land with me especially with my love of death growls and scuzzy doomy riffs. To top it all I’ve crossed the border and am in Liverpool, which as a life-long Manchester City fan feels a rather uncomfortable place to be at present!

However I am in familiar territory with opening act Loathe as they are practically ROCKFLESH’s house-band given the amount of times that we have covered them in these pages over the last couple of years. With their recent rise in popularity we all feel like proud parents as after loads of second and third billings in small clubs across the North West here they are on a big stage with a virgin crowd to impress. They start with ‘It’s Yours' and as ever Loathe just explode out of the starting gates in a maelstrom of snarly riffs and blast-beats. They are clearly a totally new proposition for almost the entirety of tonight’s crowd and for many are probably the heaviest thing they have ever been presented with. It therefore takes a wee while for the connection to be made but following a declaration from charismatic and dynamic frontman Kadeem France that they are fellow Scousers and this is a hometown show, the audience as one fall into the groove and fist pump the air as if Loathe were the headliner. 

Loathe live are a swirling cacophony of contrasting styles as they mix fairly standard Metalcore with more experimental interludes, what glues it all together is their passion, energy and conviction. Kadeem is the human dynamo at the heart of all of this and spills his guts out on the stage as if his life depends on it. As is his want it isn’t long until Kadeem goes a wandering and halfway through the set he pole-vaults over the barrier and sings while kneeling in a pit made of punters filming him. It is one of those “I was there moments” and I suspect will result in Loathe becoming the “favourite new band” for many in the crowd. There is the promise of new stuff and 'White Hot’, which drops as the penultimate track, is utterly incredible; a perfect balance of harsh angular riffs, melodic breaks and pulsating energy. We wrap up with Kadeem now jacketless encouraging the crowd to raise their lit phones high and praising the passion and pride of a Liverpool crowd. The term breakthrough moment is overused, but tonight was the point where for me Loathe put in their application to be a big bloody thing and backed it up with a career defining show. Until next time boys, until next time.

Hollywood Undead start their set as most others would finish theirs. As 'Whatever It Takes' kicks in we get confetti and fire, lots and lots of fire. Then one by one, each of the five permeant members emerge, sing/rap a versus and then make way for the next member, in fact the whole track is a blurred merry-go-round of swapped lines and positions. I am immediately aware musically that this isn’t my cup of tea but as a spectacle it is simply stunning and one of the most striking starts to a show I have had the good fortune to see. This may be Backstreet Boys with tattoos, but I am gripped as the staging and stage presence is just so impressive. As we bundle into the 'California Dreaming' its all change as guitar and keyboard duties are swapped and vocal responsibilities exchanged, in fact it is like this for the rest of the set as the band prove to all be highly proficient multi-instrumentalists. They also just don’t stop moving and fill every inch of the stage, it proves both very hard to track and also very visually invigorating. The masks they used to single them out as a bit of a Slipknot rip off are long gone and what we are left with is a band very confident in their own skin.

Musically it’s Eminem fronts Avenged Sevenfold and to be honest its all very safe and lacking in danger. As someone who had the good fortune to see Public EnemyBeastie Boys and Wu-Tung Clan in their prime, this is all very restrained and neutered but it is delivered incredibly well. Even though it all feels rather lightweight to me, I really need to take my hat (its got a Anaal Narkath logo on it) to what good performers they are. As we rattle through eighteen tracks from across their career the tempo never lets up and the strobes, lights, fireworks and stagecraft continue to dazzle. I am also aware that I am probably the only one not being completely swept up in the music, in fact one lucky fan gets hauled up on stage to play guitar during the very Cyprus Hill Comin' in Hot' and it is at that stage that I exit stage right to get my last train (if they did a set of note perfect Morbid Angel covers in the encore then I take it all back). So overall (don’t tell anyone) I actually really really enjoyed the gig, musically they are unlikely to be bothering my Spotify account but boy can they put on a show!

Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki