Dragonforce, Alestorm & The Defiled Live Review From London at The Shepherds Bush Empire

If you were to put a metal tour together, putting Dragonforce, Alestorm and The Defiled together on the same show doesn't seem like the most natural combination. Nevertheless, this eclectic trio have been touring the UK together and we went along to experience it for ourselves.

Upon arrival at the Shepherds Bush Empire, there was a rather large queue snaked around the building. As a result of processing the masses of humanity, we missed most of the opening bands' set. What we were definitely in time for was The Defiled, who were performing on home turf being Londoners and had a sizeable fanbase in attendance as a result. From the opening breakdown in the set opening Call To Arms, it is clear The Defiled mean business tonight. Frontman Stitch D was at the very top of his game throughout their half hour set, and by the time a new song from their forthcoming second album is aired there are large amounts of people bouncing on the floor of the empire.

The Defiled Unleashing Call To Arms

Finishing off with old favourite The Resurrectionists, The Defiled leave to a thunderous response, pleasing the faithful and winning a load of new fans in the process. Metal Hammer have identified The Defiled as one of the best new metal bands from the UK over the last couple of years and performances like tonight prove just why that is.

By the lack of room on the floor, the sea of pirate based merchandise and costumes and the deafening cheers they receive as the lights go down, one would think that we were all at an Alestorm headlining gig. The singing, insane moshpitting and general monumentally positive response to Scotland's pirate metallers during their 45 minute set meant we might as well have been.

The level of crowd reaction was fully deserved as Alestorm ripped through favourites such as opener The Sunkn Norwegian, Wenches and Meed and Captain Morgans Revenge in impressive fashion with various band members soliciting the audience participation along the way.  A particular highlight was slower song Nancy The Tavern Wench, with SBE transformed into a sea of waving hands and swaying bodies. Concluding with a sprint through "rum" (because there was one minute left), Alestorm are hailed by the crowd one last time and then depart, leaving everyone wanting more but very happy.

"To The Bar!"

At this point, my opinion of Dragonforce's prospects of following either of their main support bands were were that they didnt have a chance in hell. My three previous experiences of Dragonforce live were a combination of appalling sound setup (twice) and the band being so smashed they could barely play (once) so expectations were low, but with new singer Marc Hudson on board it was worth giving them another chance.

Some of the crowd seemed to have departed having satisfied their need for pirate metal after Alestorm but the majority of the venue remained full for the performance of Britains' most well known power metal band. Initially, my fears looked likely to come true with yet another poor sound setup rendering Hudson virtually inaudible for the first couple of songs. With the band getting ever more frustrated ("I guess this gig was doomed from the start" mused Marc Hudson in-between songs), the sound engineers finally sorted out the issues in time for old hit Fury Of The Storm from the Sonic Firestorm album and from that point on things took a definite upturn. Now that Marc's vocals were actually audible, he was able to showcase that he is a very good power metal singer (and sounds scarily similar to previous Dragonforce frontman ZP Theart at times). 

Shredding during Operation Ground & Pound
Dragonforce did a very good job of mixing the old material with the new, and unlike some bands when they get new singers have not abandoned their previous material. Indeed, this is the first time in four experiences of this reviewer seeing Dragonforce live that Through The Fire & The Flames has sounded really rather good (and where you could hear and understand all the words). Cry Thunder from the band's first album with Hudson The Power Within finished off the main part of the evening, before a relatively short and sweet encore of fan's favourite Valley Of The Damned finished the evening on a high. 
Tonight, Dragonforce proved, with a new singer onboard and with the rest of the band seemingly sober, they're a very good group of musicians, even if they continue to be blighted by sound mixing and other technical issues. For people like myself who had written them off, go and give them another look, you might be surprised. The Defiled did themselves' absolutely no harm either with a powerful performance, but the winners on the night were definitely Alestorm, who in all likelyhood celebrated their triumphant evening long into the night at the bar. 

Scribbled by:

Lover of most things with a foundation of rock or metal. Totally bypassed the grunge movement and was introduced to metal by Metallica and the nu-metal revolution of the early 21st century. Extremely keen photographer (music and otherwise).