Unearth / Darkest Hour / August Burns Red The Opera House, Toronto, ON October 23

When two leading figures in the fusion of metal and hardcore decide to come together for a North American tour, one can bet there are going to be a few bloody noses and bruises in the ensuing pits each band spawns. Kicking the show into high gear was Pennsylvania’s August Burns Red, an energetic Christian metalcore band who, after saying a little prayer, proceeded to win over many unfamiliar fans. God boys or not, their performance spoke for itself, as the crowd gave them a very warm welcome and responded in droves to the band’s demands of movement from the stage. Taking cuts from their latest Deliver Us album and 2005’s Undoing Ruin, Darkest Hour were on the ball and by the time they rolled out the finishing touch with "The Sadist Nation,” one would think that the metalcore maniacs would be all circle-pitted out. Luckily, Unearth came out and drew every last bit of energy from the already beaten-up masses. The most amazing thing about Unearth’s live show is the way vocalist Trevor Phipps is able to recreate his voice from the studio; it is spot on, and goddamn incredible. The band’s set was undoubtedly spattered with cuts from last year’s III: In the Eyes of Fire, but a single selection from their debut The Stings of Consciousness and a couple cuts from 2004’s The Oncoming Storm were enough to keep the pits circling. What was most rewarding from their performance was the genuine joy they had to be up there. Combining antics like beer bong hits and giving CPR to guitars with the indisputable pleasure and honest "thank yous” by Phipps put a smile on faces. The one complaint was that no band played for over an hour, even the headliners who were on stage for just 50 minutes.