Monday, 20 February 2017

Trivium - Nottingham Review

I have been a Trivium fan since around the time The Crusade was released in 2006, and have enjoyed their rise from the original melodic metalcore scene that dominated the mid-2000s to a polished and heavy modern metal band with a large global fanbase with seven well-received albums to their name. I first saw Trivium on the touring cycle for The Crusade at the Plymouth Pavilions in 2007, and from what I remember it was a great show. It was the first gig that I went to on my own, and it therefore was a very important step on the road which I am now miles down. Despite regular UK tours since, I have been unable to make a Trivium headline show since for a variety of reasons. They always seem to come at bad times, when the gig calendar is already pretty full and other life events need more attention. This was rectified two years ago when I saw the band headline Bloodstock Open Air Festival in 2015. The was the first show of the Silence in the Snow touring cycle, although the album would not be released for a couple more months, and it was a triumphant show that demonstrated that Trivium are capable of stepping up the plate and pulling out all the stops. Sadly this set was not as well-received by many of the Bloodstock faithful (reading the Bloodstock forums would lead you to believe that Trivium's 2015 performance was one of the festival's worst) but then Trivium have for some reason always been on the receiving end of a large amount of stick from portions of the metal community - probably due to their association with the metalcore scene all those years ago; or for deviating somewhat from their successful early sound with various tweaks and experimentations. I was glad then when the final leg of the Silence in the Snow touring cycle was announced and contained a few UK shows, one of which I could easily make. Nottingham always feels like a bit of a second home to me having spent so much time there when I was at University, and I have seen many great bands at Rock City over the years.

Before Trivium graced the stage however the crowd was treated to a couple of support acts, the first of which was British modern metalcore act Shvpes. While this sort of music will never my favourite, I liked the Killswitch Engage/early Trivium-style metalore but everything else since has left me cold, Shvpes put on a good show for the half an hour or so they were on stage and managed to create quite a bit of energy in the room. The mix of heavier verses with pseudo-harsh vocals and more melodic choruses has been done to death now, but Shvpes managed to make it sound fresher than many others who have attempted the style recently. I think this was helped by frontman Griffin Dickinson's stage presence and he danced around the stage, and even got into the crowd at one point, whipping up energy as he went. While Shvpes will never really be my thing, and let's be honest their name is awful, they gave a good account of themselves in Nottingham and doubtless made themselves a few new fans in the process.

Tech metal pioneers SikTh are a band I have always struggled with, and seeing the band live on their reunion tour in Plymouth in 2014 did little to alter my opinion of them. The whole tech metal, and eventual djent, scene does absolutely nothing for me at all and SikTh were an integral part of getting that movement off the ground during the early part of the 2000s. That being said, their set at this show was more enjoyable than anything I have heard/seen from the band before. It might be that it was condensed and shorter than usual, but some of their songwriting seemed to make more sense this time around. Frontman, emcee, and all-round weirdo Mikee Goodman has one of the strangest and most versatile voices in metal as he screeches and croons his way through SikTh's caustic and technical music. Despite being a guitarist down, which oddly was not acknowledged at all by the band, SikTh managed to make more sense to me than they ever have. I will never be a SikTh fan, but I think I am slowly beginning to see why they are held in such high regard.

Despite SikTh getting a great reaction from the crowd, it was no secret that everyone was there to see Trivium. By this point, Rock City was packed out and when the houselights went down and the band took to the stage with Rain from 2005's Ascendancy the energy levels in the crowd really ramped up and this did not let off for the entire length of the band's 90 minute set. Despite being part of the Silence in the Snow touring cycle, only three songs from that album were played with the band opting to play a good mix of songs from across their back catalogue with all seven of their albums represented at least once. While it was somewhat disappointing not to hear more of the newer material, what was played went down so well that it seems churlish to complain. From the outset it was great to see that Matt Heafy (vocals/guitar) was in such great form vocally. He has had more than his fair share of vocal issues in recent years, which has seen Corey Beaulieu (vocals/guitar) taking the lion's share of the lead harsh vocal lines live, but this time around Heafy took back on much of the harsh vocal responsibilities, still ably assisted by Beaulieu, and sounded great for it! This allowed songs like Forsake not the Dream, which was also a showcase for new drummer Alex Bent, to sound more like the original recorded versions with Heafy back on (mostly) full vocal duties. Rise Above the Tides, from the latest album, was an early highlight and showed that the new material can easily stand up alongside the older classics despite being much more stripped-back and melodic in tone overall. Strangely enough it was a song from The Crusade, an album that was dismissed by many when it first came out, that saw a lot of movement early on in the set. Entrance of the Conflagration saw a rather large mosh pit open up on the venue's floor and it was great to see so many really getting into the music. The only song I feel that should be permanently retired now is the rather twee Dying in Your Arms, which definitely feels like an offshoot of the emo culture that was big at the time in 2005 and does not sit well alongside the modern, slick, heavy songs that Trivium have crafted since. It was the only weak point in an otherwise strong setlist that showcased the best of the band's history. The second half of the show was best however, with the pseudo-prog metal of Throes of Perdition kicking the action up into the next gear, before Silence in the Snow saw one of the biggest crowd sing-a-long sections of the evening with the large Rock City crowd drowning out the band at times. This song was also one of the few where Paulo Gregoletto (bass guitar/vocals) was clearly audible, as sadly he was often burried in the mix. The band even celebrated the re-release of their 2003 debut album Ember to Inferno, which was out of print until late last year, with a rendition of the crushing opening track Pillars of Serpents which has aged surprisingly well, and certainly felt more at home in the set than Dying in Your Arms! The last three songs were real crowd pleasers with A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation, newbie Until the World Goes Cold, and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr all following in quick succession to cap off a fantastic set of metal anthems. There was of course time for one more, and In Waves followed. This seems to have become the band's traditional finishing song now, and the strong groves of the song make for an excellent display of crowd movement live. It ensured the night ended on a high, and displayed why Trivium are held in such high regard by many. The setlist was:

The End of Everything
Forsake not the Dream
Down from the Sky
Rise Above the Tides
Entrance of the Conflagration
The Deceived
Dying in Your Arms
Dusk Dismantled
Throes of Perdition
Silence in the Snow
Pillars of Serpents
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Until the World Goes Cold
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Capsizing the Sea
In Waves

Overall this was a fantastic evening of live metal in Nottingham from a band that really is part of furniture now in the modern world of heavy metal. Trivium have more than earned their place in this canon, and I am sure they will continue to impress for many years to come.

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