39 min read

Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

A race into Nottingham started the evening of well. Sat checking ‘X’ for any set times for tonight’s show, I see the first band are on at 18:30, bugger I had previously seen that this was the ‘Doors’ time. I quickly head for the car as its 17:30.

It’s plain sailing to the venue, thankfully, so with minutes to spare, I’m in and set up ready in the pit for the first band on the under card, Swedish Melodic Death Metal band ORBIT CULTURE. I confess to being unfamiliar with these boys, but I’m sure with their Swedish heritage they won’t disappoint.

Formed in 2013, in Eksjö the band line up is Niklas Karlsson on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Richard Hansson on lead guitar, Fredrik Lennartsson on bass and hidden in the corner Christopher Wallerstedt on the kit. With four studio albums and 3 E.P.’s already under their belt, they kick of a smoke-filled set with ‘UNDERWATER MARCH’, a musical theme from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, by way of an intro.

The smoke is thick and lit with a dark blue back light. This gives way to the blistering onslaught of ‘NORTH STAR OF NIJA released on the 2020 album NIJA. It’s a smorgasbord of dropped tuned riffs and growled vocals that slam in to your very soul, hard! The growled vocal gives way to a clean one but not for long as the thundering drums, with spectacular foot work crush.

The crowd are far more aware of the band than I am, I shamefully admit, as those who have come along early doors are fist pumping along to the ridiculous speed of Wallerstedt’s fast feet. The filthy melodic phases are smothered with a Viking growl that befits the mighty Ragnar himself. A thunderous opening to the night that gets a huge reception from the partisan crowd.

the title track to the new album, ‘DESCENT’ quickly follows, it’s more of the same percussive slams and growling vocals and guitars that fizz along, riffing a repetitive lick that breaks down into a concussive onslaught that thrusts the air out of your lungs and squeezes the very being out of your soul. The set so far has been one of brutal beauty.

We get the second of four visits to this, the latest album ‘Descent’ with ‘FROM THE INSIDE’. The harsh lighting continues as we get solid reds and blues and then a wall of blinding white light from behind. The theatrical middle 8 allows for a slow worded passage which finishes with a scream worthy of any Harpie.

The growl and clean vocals juxtapose comfortably as a piercing guitar lick assaults the senses before dirty riffs and thundering drums round this out. Staying with the same album the kicking continues with ‘ALIENATED’. The fast feet and slammed snare blast beats build this one and before you know it the dark dropped tunning’s sandwich the frayed voice of Karlsson.

He’s doing a great job; I’m loving the feel of this band. The crowd seem to agree as they are bouncing as one. Rock City is sold out and it seems everyone has turned up for early doors, this is great for the undercard, they get to play to a decent crowd.

This has the obvious effect of them playing out of their skins. The crowd are reacting accordingly, each feeding off the other, it’s a great atmosphere. ‘STRANGLER’ from the 2021, 6 song E.P. ‘SHAMEN’ continues with the brutality. Its simple intro riff lays down the carnage ahead, the frayed vocal rips in hard followed by a clean voice.

The passages are simple but hard hitting as it plods along like a weary pair of legs trudging into the abyss. A filthy slower passage gives the song an added dynamic. The crowd switch from fist pumping to heads whirling as the guitar soars over the growling filth.

The song dies suddenly and the crowd erupts. There are calls for songs but Karlsson apologises but says it’s a hell of a night, a hell of a crowd and they can’t wait to be back. They finish the set with the brutally honest, explosive ‘VULTURES OF NORTH, again from the new long player.

Dark and filthy riffage and stupid fast feet bolster the frayed chants. Heads are down and hair is spinning. The lights are pulsing as the columns of smoke are billowing from either side of the stage. Looking at the balcony, the crowd up there are all nodding like the Churchill dog on a cobbled road. It’s a thundering finish to the set, full of nods to ancient Norse mythology, hard hitting and memorable. I enjoyed that a lot.

As usual it’s all hands-on deck for a quick change over. Before we get to the headliner we have another band, and one I’m pleased to say I’ve seen and enjoyed before. From north of the border and proud of it we have ‘BLEED FROM WITHIN’. This is a 5piece formed in Glasgow in 2005. It features Scott Kennedy on Growled, Frayed vocals, Ali Richardson on drums, Dave Provan on bass, who alas is absent as he was when I saw them in June.

On lead guitar is Craig ‘Goonzi’ Gowans and on clean vocals and rhythm guitar is new boy Steven ‘Snev’ Jones. Having been around for a few years it’ll be of no surprise that they six studio albums along with half as many, E.P.’s. The latest album ‘SHRINE’ being released in 2022.

The house PA releases the dulcet tones of ‘SKYE’, the 55 second intro to the latest album SHRINE, as the band make their way on stage to huge crowd applause. They waste no time in getting down to business with a set that comprises a brutal collection from the last to albums.

Title track, ‘SHRINE’ kicks of the thundering brutality. Kennedy is instantly on the risers howling at the crowd as he stamps his feet. The concussive kick drum is shattering the peace, confetti falls from the overhead lighting, from a previous party night. ‘Goonzi’ is windmilling his hair as the clean vocal from ‘Snev’ adds a moment of tranquillity only for it to be brutalised with the finesse of an attack of rampant zombies.

The dual harmony riffs of ‘SOVEREIGN’ take over as the guitars show their dexterity with some filthy dark playing. The mental feet of Richardson are working like he’s got a good dose of Saint Vitus’s Dance going on behind the kit. ‘LEVITATE’ starts nice and peacefully, but you know damn well it’s all going to go to that dark place, yip on queue Kennedy’s growl hits you square in the jaw.

No excuse me or warning, just whack, like a wet fish across the cheeks. Pitch squeals scream out over the dirty frayed vocal. The clean passages, like I said previously, give the sound a proper ying and yang effect. Gowans scorching solo, again rips a refreshing hole in the dirt and filth of the doomed filled passages.

With banter flying back and forth Kennedy isn’t shy in telling the crowd to “shut the f&$k up” when they start jeering at the mention of Scotland. It’s a fun moment that leads into ‘PATHFINDER’ from 2020’s album, FRACTURE. The doom-laden riff has the cockroaches scurrying for cover, as heads are slamming along to the concussive barrage being laid down.

Jones on stage left is smiling as he tears into his nasty riffs, as Kennedy takes to the risers again, and grins at the crowd before dropping down and growling like a possessed demon. ‘KILLING TIME’ follows, a fast and furious number that slams like a runaway dodgem car. The threatening vocal is furious as it screams into your bones. Surfers have been coming over the top steadily now, the security making sure they get on their feet and are away, the odd one stops to check their pockets, a bit late now chaps. The band get a great response when this one stops.

Once again Kennedy speaks to the crowd about the metal community being one, he says “he’s fed up with watching crap going down and gigs and calls for everyone to look out for each other”.

‘I AM DAMNATION’ continues the set, it’s the final song from the new album. Screamed vocals start the brutal onslaught of dropped tuned riffs and thundering drums. Hair is spinning as the song builds, Jones and Kennedy fight with the vocal styles before Kennedy takes over and delivers a frayed vocal of immense proportions. He poses on the riser arched back and the lights flashing around him as he screams skyward, all hell has let loose as drums and guitar slam and drone around him.

The final song of the night is from 2020, ‘THE END OF ALL WE KNOW’ is furious as it builds, screaming guitar and fast feet deliver an intro that is sliced apart with the screamed vocal from Kennedy. He’s on form and powering along before he gives the signal and the band stop dead. He’s up on the security barrier, there’s a man down in the pit and he’s spotted it.

With a bit of help he’s gotten to his feet and helped from the hall, with no one knowing what has happened, Kennedy shouts out to the carer to go meet them at the Merch stand. having, previously mentioning about looking out for each other he’s shown that he stands behind his preaching’s. Good man.

Sadly, the set is finished. Nowadays with early curfews and the like the band can’t finish the song. The set has been one of sheer musical brutality, fast, thunderous with a great melody and clean vocal, every bit as good as the June show, except we didn’t get Kennedy’s foray into the crowd, to be carried around by the fans.

Another quick turn around and we are set for lift off of the main act tonight, Matt Heafy and the boys of TRIVIUM, back in the UK for the second time this year. I caught them in Birmingham back in January, what a stunning show that was too.

Formed last Century, doesn’t that sound a long time ago, in 1999. As an eighth grader, Heafy was invited to try out as lead guitar in a friend’s garage band, it was called ‘TRIVIUM’ (a three-way junction in Latin). After auditioning a Metallica tune, Heafy was in and the band was born. As is usual, members come and go, and with the departure of Lewter in 2000, Heafy took on the vocal duties.

The band have been Gregoletto who joined on bass guitar and Beaulieu on guitar since 2004, there have been numerous drummer until Alex Bent joined on in 2016 so he is the, relative, new boy on the block so to speak.

With that sorted the band have produced an impressive 10 studio albums since 2003. The latest being ‘In the Court of The Dragon’ released in the October of 2021. Of which the 1:28 long, ‘X’ is now being played as the band walk on track. The crowd, a capacity one at that, has erupted as the band take to their instruments. In comparison to the O2 in January, when I last photographed them, Rock City is a small intimate venue. It’s as if the band are amongst the crowd. With its lower stage height, half of the height of the O2, it’s a great venue for band connection.

Heafy is dressed in the same Japanese dragon emblazoned jacket and another bright pair of sneakers, he’s also let his hair grow since the year start UK tour. His striking looks beam out across the stage, as, he hangs his black signature 7 string Epiphone Les Paul guitar in place, The band waste no time in getting down to business with the rip snorting opener, ‘IN THE COURT OF THE DRAGON’ the title track from the 2021 long payer.

This is an abusive song that lets you know that the band are on it and enjoying life. The red eyes on the dragons at either side of the stage glare at the crowd as Heafy patrols the stage, his vocals abusive and destructive as he does so. He pulls the shapes as he stands, his tongue hanging down to his chin as he does so in a Gene Simmons sort of stance, btw I’d say it would give Gene’s a good licking! A trade mark look that he proceeds to perform at every opportunity through-out the night.

In fact, a friend from Record Collector Magazine, Emmie, remarked that the tour should have been called the ‘Lizards and Wizards’ tour due to it. The ‘Goblins and Wizards’ title has raised an eyebrow from the band, Heafy mentions it with a shrug and a WTF sort of gesture.

With a quick greeting we get the first of several tracks from 2008’s banging album ‘Shogun’, this first track is ‘DOWN FROM THE SKY’ and comes across with the subtly of the pending nuclear holocaust that it was written about.

The search for new ideas for the band led them to change producers, this was the first with Nick Raskulinecz. Heafy’s screaming vocals are more dominant than on the previous album ‘The Crusade’. This thundering track smashes along with the power of an H bomb. The screaming guitars work well against the frayed Heafy vocal. The melodic phases bring a calm before the storm.

A great addition to the set. Talking of The Crusade the next track is from that album, ‘BECOMING THE DRAGON’ about Japanese mythological tale of Koi being transformed into dragons after swimming up the Dragons Gate waterfall. With its Metallica style it’s a thumper of a track full of fast feet and dirty riffs. The cleaner vocal the direct opposite to what we’ve heard so far and what Trivium have become better known for.

The barrage continues with one of the better-known songs from 2013’s ‘VENGENCE FALLS’. The thunderous feet smash into your chest as ‘STRIFE’ kicks ass. The solid bass rumbles across the venue as Heafy belts out this great tune.

The soaring lead breaks from Corey Beaulieu scream across the faces of those on the front line, a quality tune that received critical acclaim from some but proved controversial amongst the hardened fans with its heavy rock orientated grooves. Normality is resumed with the pummelling of ‘PULL HARDER ON THE STRINGS OF YOUR MARTYR’ from 2005’s ASCENDANCY, the sophomore album. This was the first album to feature current guitarist Beaulieu and bass player Paolo Gregoletto. Kerrang awarded it album of the year in 2005.

A jump back to ‘SHOGUN’ and its Japanese, Greek Mythology influences. With it, Heafy howls out the opening to ‘KIRISUTE GOMEN’ It’s a brutal six and a half minutes of time changes and melodic/frayed filthy gut-wrenching nastiness. The fast fingers are put to work as the guitars pull and push the song along.

The even present brutality from Alex Bent is punishing in both speed and ferocity. We continue with Greek mythology theme with ‘TORN BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS’ a scorching tale of choosing between a 6 headed monster or a giant whirlpool. The concussive barrage, the light and shade depict the turmoil of having to choose your ultimate demise.

There is again, Metallica influences, only better, the frayed vocal takes the band to a level, that IMHO, Metallica haven’t attained since before the black album. I know that’s a can of worms but I believe the Cliff Burton era to be amongst their best.

Back to Heafy and his face pulling and tongue lashings. The crowd are on their toes, as they sail over the barrier, the security picking out the surfers and make sure they land intact. Heafy’s eyes are darting around as he watch’s no doubt proud of what he and the band are delivering. I would be, it’s fantastic.

The heat in the hall has risen exponentially as the set proceeds, hot sweaty metal heads are slamming their heads around as 2020’s ‘CATASTOPHE’ crushes all in the line of fire. Dealing with crisis that humanity brings on itself it is befitting with what’s happening in the world at the moment, with it seemingly only minutes away from a melt-down.

Heafy’s song writing is as ever on point. The bands musical interpretation of each of the songs themes is masterful. The band are solid, tight and killing it.

Looking at the recent set lists we get one of two changes that have been present so far on the tour. Tonight, is the third night, Cambridge and Norwich being the previous nights. ‘LIKE CALLISTO TO A STAR IN HEAVEN’ a rape themed song steeped in Greek Mythology means it another from SHOGUN. For those unawares, Callisto, a nymph, is raped by Zeus and eventually ends up as the Big Dipper, The Plough or Ursa Major in the night sky.

The brutal onslaught from the stage has the crowd’s heads bobbing once again, Churchill the dog would be proud of them. A jump to 2006 and the third album, CRUSADE. It follows with the tale of Andrea Yates and the murder of her five children, entitled ‘ENTERANCE OF THE CONFLAGATION’. The vocal is almost Poulsen and Volbeat- esque as it slams out, it’s an album that turned its back on the screamed vocals in a majority of its listings, but which returns for the future long player releases.

Another return to SHOGUN hits us next and the second change from the previous night’s setlist, ‘OF PROMETHEUS AND THE CRUCIFIX’, the god of fire and his gift of fire to humanity. Its full of soaring melodies and clean vocals, Heafy’s delivery is ‘fire’ as the band thunders around that voice, soaring, nasty riffs bring the frayed vocal out.

Beaulieu rips a scorching run as Heafy pouts, Gregoletto is standing at his five-string bass, rumbling out a tsunami of lows that are trouser rippling in fierceness. His weapon of choice looks huge against his diminutive figure, he’s clad, in a denim cut, emblazoned with a great selection of patches. His bass is secure in a stand, making his movements a bit restrictive.

It doesn’t stop Heafy squeezing between him and the dragon on stage left as he tries to repeatedly lick the bar over to the left. My god that tongue is tasting the air constantly, like a serpent searching out its next victim. The clean vocal of 2017’s ‘THE HEART FROM YOUR HATE’ brings the fury down to calmer level, this was released as the second single from the album THE SIN AND SENTENCE. Its more melodic theme and lyrical content helped cement the band as one of the best in modern metal according to Metal Hammer.

Bedlam ensues with the time changes of ‘A GUNSHOT TO THE HEAD OF TREPIDATION’ released back in 2005. The guitar harmonies sizzle as the footwork from Bent’s kick drums smash into your senses. The crowd join in with the repeated ‘Hey’ ‘Hey’s’ as the song slams out to a triumphant finish.

No TRIVIUM show is complete without ‘IN WAVES’ and tonight’s no exception, ‘CAPSIZING THE SEA’ is played over the house PA as the band take a moment before hitting it hard with the final track of the night. The dark, brooding and claustrophobic atmosphere is built before Heafy screams his lungs out with this hard-hitting song about suicide and battling with the damage it leaves to those left behind.

The not wanting to pull everybody down adds to the turmoil that is already being dealt with, or not. The screams and musical passages deliver the confusion and helplessness being felt. The crowd are on fire to this concussive battering. Churchill is in the room once more, as the heads are nodding with a fury that matches the confused furiosity being delivered in spades. The quieter passages allow for time to process what’s happening before your hit hard with the run for the hills and the held last notes of the song and night.

TRIVIUM have delivered yet another clever solid set of stunning content. They are a band that never disappoint, their level of musicianship, song writing and the themes of said songs are relatable and ultimately believable. The growls, screams call them what you will, never reach the point of being too much. Their placement in the songs seem well thought out and fit with the lyrical atmosphere of each one. Heafy is a talent to behold, and that tongue!! Hello girls!

Catch them on the tour, its stunning but be warned Rock City was sold out and for good reason, TRIVIUM are the real deal!

Trivium at the O2 Academy in January

Bleed From Within in June

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