Show Review: Bullet for My Valentine, Of Mice & Men, and Vended at The Riviera Theater in Chicago, IL

Vended gave the night a huge jumpstart to its heart as they came out with insane speed, power, and aggression behind both their instrumentals and the vocals. Featuring five dudes from American’s heartland of Iowa, Vended follow in the footsteps of fellow Iowa natives (and parents to two members) and metal gods, Slipknot, while still being their entity and identity. Portraying the hardships and reality of life through their aggressive and powerful sound, Vended have been touring nonstop for the last two years, determined to carve out their own path in the metal landscape with their relentless and aggressive sound.

A household name for any mid-2000s metalcore fan, Of Mice & Men are still out here killing it every night on each tour they do, proving all of the doubters wrong. At one point being one of the biggest up-and-coming metalcore bands on the planet gracing the covers of all the alternative magazines, being one of the faces of Hot Topic/Vans, headlining Warped Tour, and more, a lot has changed for Of Mice & Men over the last 10 years, but their determination, work ethic, and love for the music has provided them the ability to keep pushing forward even in the face adversary.

Originally starting out in the same vein as many other typical run-of-the-mill metalcore acts both before them and at the same time, OM&M would quickly take the world by storm with their debut, self-titled album featuring hard-hitting breakdowns, catchy sing-along moments, and soaring vocals along with some hype due to their original singers, Austin Carlile’s, connection to Attack! Attack!.

During these initial years, OM&M would double down on the metalcore sound while incorporating more melodic and nu-metal elements to their songs. Following the departure of Austin from the band, OM&M would do some internal restructuring returning to their foundational heavy sound, while keeping those vital melodic elements creating that perfectly sonic duality.

I would consider myself an OG fan of this band, as I remember when the self-titled record came out and even when Attack! Attack! were performing with their original lineup, so seeing OM&M still continue performing and releasing music is pretty awesome. A lot of bands don’t make it through a series lineup change like theirs, especially with such a recognizable face and voice Austin Carlile had, so this demonstrates the commitment and dedication the rest of the members have, which you could see on stage as they perform.

With a fan base that is so hyper-dedicated that they’re almost disciple like, even after three-plus years of not being on the road, it’s no surprise OM&M are still out here crushing it every night. I was also very surprised with their setlist. While short, they manage to hit every era of the band, playing the old-school fan favorites alongside newer tracks. I’m always glad as an older fan to go to a show and be able to recognize a good amount of tracks.

The best part is, you would never know OM&M went through a massive lineup change, as Aaron Pauley crushes it on vocals, Phil and Alan dominate on their guitar sections, and Valentino still continues to be an awesomely captivating drummer. A lot has changed over the years for them, but it’s almost a full-circle moment for me that I’m getting to see and cover them at this point in my life, as a lot has changed for me since OM&M first popped up. Just like so many other band’s careers or even our own personal lives, Of Mice & Men’s story is one of perseverance and transformation even in the face of seeming defeat.

The metalcore legends themselves Bullet for My Valentine still manage to dominate even 20-plus years into their career. Arguably one of the most influential modern metalcore acts, BFMV took the world by storm with the release of The Poison followed by Scream Aim Fire, and then Fever quickly rising to the top of not just Billboard and music charts, but also rising to the top of general music stardom becoming one of the biggest acts in rock and metal. This band was probably one of the first metalcore bands you got into when you were young before you even knew what metalcore or alternative metal actually was.

Alongside acts like Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Parkway Drive, and more, BFMV were one of those bands that helped lay the groundwork for every other act after them. Similar to that one riff on Avenged’s first record (you know which riff I’m talking about), BFMV’s mixture of heavy metal leads with post-hardcore vocals, but also angsty, edgy overtones and lyrics would resonate with multiple generations, inspiring multiple generations of musicians after them.

As a live band, Bullet for My Valentine are masters at their craft. One-hundred percent comfortable on stage whether it’s a club venue or at a massive outdoor festival, Bullet will bring that same high-level energy to their show every night. Playing 20 years of Bullet in 90 minutes isn’t easy, but they managed to do it in great fashion. Playing songs across their entire discography, it felt like I was watching a masterclass on live performance, as every aspect of their set served an important purpose no matter how small.

While many other artists do the same, it’s usually reserved for artists who perform in massive amphitheaters, arenas, or the largest venues, which is why I was so impressed with Bullet for My Valentine’s set. I was literally watching masters at work in their own right, all within a relatively small venue for a band of their caliber. You can tell they treated this tour and their live set as if they were playing the biggest venues in order to capture that high level of energy and scale they wanted. None of which was lost on fans.

Playing new tracks and classics like Scream Aim Fire, Knives, Waking the Demon, and, of course, Tears Don’t Fall, BFMV know how to make an impression through their live performance and an stage production behind them. The best part—It didn’t matter if they played new material or old songs; every song ripped from start to finish, which can’t always be said. Even better, while the classics are classics for a reason, the crowd were just as excited for new tracks as they were old ones, demonstrating their devotion to this band, but also Bullet’s ability to still write relatable and quality tracks even after so many years. An absolutely electrifying show perfect for any Bullet fan whether you’re new to them or you were listening to Tears Don’t Fall with your hood up in the backseat of your parent’s car thinking you’re the main character, Bullet puts on an enjoyable and energetic performance that should be seen at least once.

Bullet for My Valentine

Of Mice & Men


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