Hatebreed / Emmure / Dead and Divine / Straight Line Stitch / Baptized in Blood Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON September 8

Hatebreed / Emmure / Dead and Divine / Straight Line Stitch / Baptized in Blood Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON September 8
Say what you will about metal, but a good metal band that knows what their audience want and consistently deliver, can be just as popular as the next pop starlet. After 15 years, six full-lengths and several prominent career opportunities for founder / frontman Jamey Jasta, it was evident from the rabid crowd of Hatebreed fans who crowded the Phoenix on Wednesday night that the band has got their groove on lock.

However, the four opening acts supporting the Connecticut quintet were another story. One can also surmise that just like a savvy bride, Hatebreed selected unattractive bridesmaids to make them stand out. Yes, a bit harsh, and yes, one has to give Jasta credit for taking a handful of up-and-comers out on the road, but the roster was not only uneven in terms of the line-up, but that the sound crew felt the same way as it was evident that that perhaps saving the best sound mix for last was the best way to go. London's Baptized in Blood and Knoxville, Tennessee's Straight Line Stitch are promising bands that just like New York's Emmure and Burlington, ON's Dead and Divine were plagued with bad sound. The muffled vocals were indecipherable and despite all the bands' valiant attempts in getting the crowd's attention, the response was flat. But the main issue was that the two bands that directly preceded the headliners were so bad that one wondered who put organized the evening's schedule. Emmure's sounds like a horrible mix between Limp Bizkit, Brooklyn-flavoured Korn with a bit of Crabcore thrown in, with clichéd, nu-metal stage moves ― perhaps they thought the crowd would be too young to notice. Dead and Divine simply lacked originality and would have been better to have opened the evening.

Thankfully, Hatebreed did what Hatebreed do ― kick serious ass. With a professional crew, their sound check paid off as the sound miraculously improved. With fan favourites like "Doomsayer," "Conceived Through an Act of Violence" and "Under the Knife," the band clearly consisted of consummate performers who knew who their audience was and how to satisfy them. They played for the crowd, and the crowd ― a surprising mix of youngsters and grey-haired folk who proudly wore the band's vintage concert shirts ― showed their appreciation in return.