Bullet For My Valentine // Jinjer // Atreyu // Live Review // The O2 Academy // Birmingham
After a few week’s break from photographing, I found myself heading back to one of my city’s biggest and loudest venues for a rare venture into the metal world as one of my favourite bands from my teenage years, Bullet For My Valentine headline the O2 Academy, Birmingham with support from Ukrainian metal heavyweights Jinjer and American Metalcore veterans Atreyu. Upon arrival at the venue, the queue felt a mile long. As far as the eye could see was a sea of black T-Shirts, the go-to sign of a metal show, and as the room started filling, the anticipation started to rise.
After an incredibly short wait, Atreyu took the stage to genuinely (and I know I say this a lot) the biggest reception I’ve ever experienced for an opening band. The crowd erupted into a ferocious frenzy as the band started. Within moments, I realised I had been missing out by not checking them out sooner. Amazing musicianship and vocal performances mixed with some truly phenomenal stage performances made both me and the incredibly well-filled room have a great time for the entire duration of the set. It’s a shame they were only opening as I’d love to see a longer performance that tight. A band I’m going to pay more attention to going forward. The set’s highlights were without question the band’s latest single Drowning and Save Us. I can’t recommend seeing Atreyu live enough.
After fighting through the crowd for a cigarette, I made it back in to get ready for the next act, the Ukrainian metalcore heavyweights Jinjer. I first photographed Jinjer back in 2019 at a festival and was excited to see just how much the band had grown since, and my god they had grown. Crushing riffs, phenomenal vocals and a ridiculous amount of heaviness were gifted to those in attendance, and they ate it up. The strongest part of the set though was the blend of tight, technical musicianship and the stage presence Tatiana has masterfully crafted over the last few years. While Jinjer isn’t a band I usually listen to, their live shows are something to behold. My personal highlights were Who’s Gonna Be The One, Pit of Consciousness and Dead Hands Feel No Pain. A great support act that just keeps going from strength to strength.
It wasn’t a long wait until the night’s headline act, Bullet for My Valentine hit the stage. Forming in 1998, it’s quite rare to see bands heading into their 25th year as a group, but within the first three songs alone it wasn’t hard to see exactly why they managed to hit a quarter of a century as a band. With their blend of Metalcore, Thrash and Modern Metal flooding the airwaves, I was very quickly taken back to being a teenager as 4 Words (to Choke Upon)’s riff started up. With a setlist covering the band’s entire discography, it’s amazing to see how the band’s sound has changed so drastically whilst still being identifiable. The highlight of the set though was the group’s stage presence, despite not being the most energetic band of the night, I couldn’t take my eyes (or ears) off the stage for the entirety of the performance. A truly great band that I’m glad can still pull crowds like this. See them live, that simple.
After the night ended, it was great to hear the excitement of all those in attendance. Great bands, great crowd, all in all just a damn great show. Check out all the bands as soon as you get a chance, as all three acts are more than worth the cost of a ticket.