The Never Say Die! Tour has been an event that has run for several years now, almost becoming the annual get together for fans of the beat-down and all things heavy. Its continual expansion and consistent ability to sell out venues across Europe has lead to it becoming a real force in helping bring together newer bands and the old staples in a huge touring cycle which helps both out respectively in different ways. This year was absolutely no different so without any further ado... (Review written by Thomas Donno and Nick Spooner)

Hailing from Perth, Australia, Make Them Suffer (8/13) put in an accomplished, if predominantly musically forgettable, performance, albeit one made all the more interesting for a live synth player. The crowd intensity certainly picked up for the Blackened Metalcore mob, with each breakdown hitting hard, and guitarist Nick and bassist Jaya keeping the energy up throughout the set with relentless theatrics and stage moves that, unusually, didn't feel forced. The band also contain enough stylistic nuance to keep the attention of a crowd hungry for mosh moments. The strongest song of the set, Ether, closed out their time on stage, with the breakdown halfway through causing some serious neck ache around the venue.

Possibly the one band that didn't really fit in with the usual beatdown affair of Never Say Die was San Francisco's Fallujah (11/13), whose brand of atmospheric technical death metal puts them in a different category to the other bands on the bill. Uniting a sound that is both hauntingly beautiful and absolutely crushing is no easy task, but Fallujah set out to bring the Ballroom round to their way of working, and did so with consummate class. As the gorgeous opening to set-opener Sapphire gave way to an onslaught of blasts and strobes, the crowd grew and grew, each song drawing a larger cheer than the one pervious. Amber Gaze and the older Cerebral Hybridization brought the big riffs, before set closer The Void Alone sped the crowd off into outer space, a song that, like Sapphire, is a perfect synopsis of the Fallujah sound; beautiful, eerie, technically astounding and in places utterly devastating. Despite a slightly muddy mix for which muffled the rhythm guitar and the snare, Fallujah truly brought their 'A game' and won over heaps of new fans in the process. If you're not yet listening to Fallujah, stop reading this and go check them out.

At the other end of the spectrum is Obey The Brave (6/13), whose take on Metalcore is one that kept some heads down the front nodding, but demonstrated them to be a band with absolutely no discernible originality whatsoever. The passion and intensity from frontman Alex Erian (Despised Icon) is certainly authentic, and no one could suggest that the other musicians on stage aren't enjoying themselves, but this ain't going to win any prizes for pushing the genre in new directions. However, Obey The Brave had undeniably been a big draw and, despite each breakdown moulding seamlessly into the one that had preceded it, the band get credit for keeping the floor moving and maintaining a high-octane performance.

Following on from this slightly more generic slab of Metalcore came a performance which erupted the floor at The Electric Ballroom in to scenes unlike anything yet seen that afternoon. Carnifex (10/13) started out a bit slow, with the crowd wearily banging their head along to the opening few numbers, but by the time Hatred And Slaughter smashed itself across the venue we went from a few headcases losing their minds at the front to about two thirds of the crowd. As already noted, it takes a lot for bands in this field to display any kind of overwhelming originality that places them atop the pile, so whilst Carnifex are not breaking any particular boundaries with their musical output, in the live environment they display a level of intensity far beyond many of their peers at the moment. There is a genuine feel of danger throughout their set, an aspect from which we can expect to see this band growing stronger and stronger over the coming years. Yes they've just released their sixth studio album in the space of nine years, but with the backing of Nuclear Blast now behind them we can probably expect to see Carnifex topping this bill in years to come at an absolute minimum.

As the carnage whipped up from Carnifex began to settle and whilst everyone was trying to catch a breath the lights went down again to an absolutely booming cheer with the anticipation for Thy Art Is Murder (11/13) reaching breaking point. You'd need only be in the venue for about five minutes that day to see that every other person there was wearing some form of Thy Art Is Murder merch. They weren't headlining, but with the kind of form they're in at the moment they probably should have been. Opening with the title track from last year's excellent Holy War, from the word go everyone in the venue was absolutely transfixed. Considering the fact that the band lost vocalist CJ McMahon recently it was impressive to see a band still be such a force live. Current touring vocalist Nick Arthur is doing an absolutely stellar job leading the line at the moment - with the kind of power backing him on stage there's no surprise Thy Art Is Murder have steamed onwards so effortlessly.

On to this evening's headliners then, and with the fact that as we mentioned the vast majority of the audience seemed to be there for Thy Art Is Murder, it did feel like the crowd had thinned somewhat but that didn't stop Whitechapel (9/13) delivering a characteristically intense live performance. Their latest album has been met with relatively muted response, echoed here as most of the older material fared a lot better with the crowd. Phil Bozeman remains a huge presence on stage, dictating both his band behind him and the headbangers in front of him with apparent ease but whilst Whitechapel have been an important band for so many of the younger acts towards the lower end of Never Say Die! each year, (and tonight their set was a good watch), it won't be long until they're overtaken at the top. Thy Art Is Murder's set felt like it unified the whole of the Electric Ballroom in to one big experience, Whitechapel failed to both keep everyone inside the venue and lost the attention of a fair few of those who did. Solid set, but could just as easily have been slotted in lower down the bill.