On March 4, 2023, O2 Guildhall Southampton was rocked by a metal extravaganza featuring performances by BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE and guest specials from JINJER and ATREYU. The genre of the music was a matter of debate, with some labeling it Metalcore, others Thrash, and still others Heavy. I had trouble following the lyrics of the music, but I guess that’s not what metal music is about; it’s more about the bass and heavy sounds being produced than the words themselves.
The Americans-Americans ATREYU went in first, with a powerful and heavy snatch, which shook the arena. ATREYU, a California-based metalcore band, have eight albums to their credit and offered a few songs from their most recent album “Baptize” a live performance. Lead singer Brandon Saller’s smile and charisma kept the audience entertained and laughing as they called for one more song towards the end as Brandon joked with the audience asking them to go on tour with him. They were incredibly exciting and set the mood right before JINJER hit the stage.
JINJER is a Ukrainian 4 piece combo, which grew rapidly due to its innovative approach to metal music. Undoubtedly the modern and in-demand metal band of the present with a unique style that combines traditional Ukrainian folk music with heavy metal. JINJER’s music is a unique mix of progressive metal, hardcore sound and groove metal. They took the stage with their song “Who’s Gonna Be the One” and played the hauntingly beautiful “Pisces.” It’s truly impressive how the band effortlessly switches between harsh screams and clear vocals, leaving viewers in awe. It is remarkable to witness such intense and commanding sounds emanating from a female vocalist. Their technical prowess is matched only by their creativity as they breathe new life into 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 that takes the listener through a variety of emotions and moods. Lead vocalist and guitarist Roman Szymczak is the driving force behind the group, with his powerful voice and intricate guitar work, with bassist Mykhailo Kalinin and drummer Dmytro Vasylenko providing the thunderous rhythm section that underpins the band’s sound.
JINJER’s music is politically 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 you first hear them, you won’t know the meaning, which is what I think has changed my perspective on heavy metal as a first time listener. Music is a way of expressing emotions, and with preconceived thoughts about this genre, after learning more about what the band stands for, it ironically warms my heart.
The fans started chanting “bullet” when the time finally came and as the screams got louder they came with a bang. The Welsh metal band, formed in 1998, kicked off the show with “Knives,” sending the crowd into an immediate 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 a shouting or growling style. His 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 beginnings as a thrash metal band to their later work incorporating more melody and clean vocals.
In their final concert on Wednesday night, Bullet for My Valentine gave an intense and energizing performance; They are known for their high-energy playing and raw, visceral sound that appeals to fans of all kinds of heavy metal. Lead vocalist Matt Tuck demonstrated his impressive range, singing hits from his extensive catalog like “Tears Don’t Fall” and “Scream Aim Fire.” Crowd favorites like “Your Betrayal” and “Waking the Demon” had fans bobbing and nodding along with the band. My favorite moment was when ”Tears Don’t Fall” came on, it started with a melodic acoustic start, with the crown also singing.
The stage production was also impressive, with a variety of strobe lights, pyrotechnics, and video projections. The band’s chemistry and dynamic stage presence kept the energy high throughout the set. There was a moment when the lights went out and they left the stage, at which point the audience was very upset and begged them to come back. Soon they played one of their old hit songs “Tears don’t cry” which is a favorite of mine along with “Bittersweet Memories” which wasn’t played but I highly recommend if you want something a little less heavy. In between songs, Tuck interacted with the audience, encouraging them to sing along, which was truly a fascinating and special moment.
Overall, Bullet for My Valentine put on an exciting and unforgettable performance that left fans in awe. With their electrifying stage presence and powerful sound, this Welsh metal band is a force to be reckoned with on the live music scene.