The biggest problem with all-ages shows is the distinctly work-unfriendly opening times of the venues. For us this made catching Upon a burning body impossible, although the buzz in the venue that greeted us as we walked through the doors to the heaving venue suggested that they were excellent; a band to catch next time then.
Indeed, it was heart-warming to see the venue so packed for a metal show. The stalls and balcony of the aging, but surprisingly excellent, HMV institute in Birmingham were absolutely rammed with enthusiastic, sweaty punters of all ages, all revelling in a line-up of quite superb quality. The growing appeal of this younger generation of bands can be neatly summed up by the wide variety of ages, fashions and band t shirts on display, not to mention the excitement generated by pre band playbacks of Iron Maiden, invoking mass sing-alongs and general hysteria.
Taking the stage, Caliban were not in the mood to take prisoners. With only a short set time at their disposal they made the most of the crowd’s rampant enthusiasm with three blistering tracks from the immense ‘I am nemesis’ getting an airing alongside older tunes from the band’s not insubstantial back catalogue. Opening track ‘Dein R3.ich’ was a monumental start to proceedings, Andreas Dorner’s terrifying vocals kept to the fore by a well balanced mix that happily persisted throughout the entire show. ‘Memorial’, meanwhile, stole the show by being even more intense than its recorded counterpart and whilst the majority of the crowd (if T shirts are anything to go by) are here for Trivium, the atmosphere was still suitably intense in the full-to-bursting mosh pit.
A highlight for many, when As I lay dying took to the stage it was like a bolt of electricity passing through the room. Tim Lambesis is a full-on frontman indeed, a blur of constant movement exhorting the crowd to jump, head-bang and generally destroy the venue, his success is guaranteed by the fact that he leads by example, and his fist-pumping, hair-flailing antics make the crowd look tame by comparison. However, all the energy in the world wouldn’t produce such results if the band didn’t have the songs to back it up, but As I lay dying are old hands at this game and their material has been getting steadily better since their inception with material from recent album ‘Awakened’ sounding particularly strong. Opening with ‘condemned’ is an inspired move, the whole band launching into the song as if their very lives depended upon it, and witas every member played with a fiery intensity and proficiency that locked the vicious groove down tight, the over-heating and furious mosh pit had no choice but to respond by sending body after body over the barrier. Highlights of the set included first single from the album ‘Cauterize’, the melodic ‘defender’ and the closing ‘the sound of truth’, although with such a powerful set choosing highlights does feel a touch redundant.
The reason, however, that the HMV institute is stuffed fuller than a Sumo wrestler at an all-you-can-eat sushi bar is clear from the moment Trivium’s metallic logo is unveiled on stage causing an almighty roar of approval to go up throughout the venue. It’s a long wait as stage hands take down and reassemble the stage to accommodate the band, but by the time the opening bars of the intro tape for ‘In Waves’ rings out the entire crowd is foaming with anticipation. And what an opening song! As the band take the stage the din is near unbearable and then Matt Heafy roars into the track, his vocals crystal clear through the mix and the guitars sharp enough to draw blood at a hundred paces. You simply cannot fake this level of excitement and proficiency and you can see from the demeanour of the band that they are having the time of their lives playing a set packed with hits to the faithful crowd. ‘In waves’ is the perfect opening barrage with its crushing mixture of tight riffs, addictive melody and simple screamed chorus line and it sent the crowd wild. From the very start bodies were pouring over the security barrier and this stream increased to a positive flood as the show continued. Matt’s stage presence is also dead on – his between-song raps were sincere without being cheesy, and heartfelt without feeling overly emotive. You can see from the smile that appeared on his lips regularly throughout the show that he’s having a blast and that exuberance transferred itself effortlessly to a crowd who had already been decimated by the previous acts. Tracks such as ‘into the mouth of hell we march’, ‘Entrance to the conflagration’ and ‘watch the world burn’ are metal classics in the making whilst newer tracks like ‘built to fall’ have no lesser impact. The set ends with a shattering ‘throes of perdition’, the band declaring that they’re still not tired and the crowd responding with a vigour that damn near destroys the venue. It’s a thrilling, life-affirming show and confirms once again that whatever the detractors might have to say (and their voices seem to be weakening these days) Trivium are a rock-solid metal act with the song-writing skills, the musicianship and the attitude to continue to grow.
Shows like this are the very lifeblood of an active metal scene. How often do you get to see four quality bands for about the price of a round of drinks. Caliban and As I lay Dying both turned in solid, exciting shows but the plaudits have to go to Trivium who, even after such lauded support acts, managed to ramp up the temperature a few notches for a performance that came close to immolating the stage. An amazing night and Trivium cannot return to the UK soon enough.
Thanks to Jola for the amazing photos