|Trivium/SikTh/Shvpes – Belfast, Limelight 1 – 12 February 2017|
|Written by Jonni D|
|Monday, 13 February 2017 23:45|
It’s been the best part of a decade since Trivium last graced Belfast with their monolithic modern metal, and judging by the buzz outside of the Limelight tonight, it’s been long overdue. There’s a palpable anticipation in the air, and it’s understandable why. Ever since their breakthrough 2005 release, ‘Ascendancy’, the band have been an old reliable of the genre, delivering quality material yet never remaining beholden to one stylistic template. This adaptability has helped them survive this far into their career, whereas many of their contemporaries in the oft referred to New Wave of American Heavy Metal have since fallen to the wayside. Two days into their European tour, Trivium are here tonight to set the record straight that they are still just as vital a force in the current metal scene, and they have the arsenal to prove it.
First up tonight, and having just recently released their debut album, ‘Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair’, are Shvpes from Birmingham. Their set is possibly the biggest surprise of the night, as the band fire on all cylinders from the off, with an exhilarating blend of melodic hardcore, hip-hop and tech metal rhythms. Frontman Griffin Dickinson is a revelation; with a spitfire delivery akin to Zach de la Rocha and just a dash of Mike Patton-esque weirdness to his clean vocals, he is a commanding and magnetic figure onstage.
When he demands a circle pit during the eponymous ‘Shvpes’, the crowd dare not refuse, as the singer leaps among them to make sure havoc is ensuing. The band sound monstrously heavy, filling the venue with massive, syncopated grooves on ‘State of Mine’, and the atmospheric hooks of the album’s title track. With the audience chanting the band’s name as they vacate the stage, it’s undeniable that Shvpes have left a sizeable impression. An unexpected delight.
When SikTh decided to call it a day in 2008, the metal world was bereft of one of the most unusual bands ever to grace the genre. Much like System of A Down, it was impossible to compare SikTh to anyone else, with so many idiosyncrasies and oddities that were very much unique to their music. Now, as they prepare for the release of a new album this year, this support slot acts as a reintroduction of sorts, and there is a very real question as to whether or not Trivium’s audience will embrace, let alone be aware of, this strange band.
While there are clearly fans in attendance familiar with their back catalogue, SikTh have a bit of a job on their hands following such a stellar opening act, and at first they appear somewhat flat in comparison. ‘Flogging the Horses’ still packs a mighty punch, but it’s not until Mikee Goodman’s shriek signals the opening of ‘Pussyfoot’ that the band ups the energy levels and begins to win the crowd over. For the uninitiated, it must be a bemusing experience; Mikee pulls out all of his quirky barks and yelps, and even offers up one of his infamous spoken word entries, which unfortunately is met with some embarrassed giggles and chatter.
However, as the band launch into the bonkers ‘Skies of the Millennium Night’, Mikee and co-frontman Joe Rosser (replacing Justin Hill) rally the crowd into a sing-along and orchestrate some pit action, while Dan Weller showcases why he is one of metal’s unsung modern guitar heroes. When Mikee asks if anyone will be back for their next Belfast gigs, it’s hard to believe that there aren’t a few intrigued out there that will take him up on his offer.
Deciding to blast Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills’ through the PA system before they take the stage is a genius move on Trivium’s part; the converted joining with one voice to bellow out the heavy metal hymn in ceremony for the main event. By the time the band lead into the explosive opening of ‘Rain’, they already have the crowd eating out of their hand. Before they have even reached the first chorus of the song, the crowd surfing and pit movement has already begun. Such is the high intensity and fervour from the fans throughout the entire set, and Trivium capitalize on this.
This is a far more assured and confident band than the one that played here last, with Matt Heafy having developed into the archetypal heavy metal showman. Matt has been unprecedentedly candid about his recent vocal issues, however his new, more measured technique in no way impedes on his performance, as is shown by his acrobatic delivery of ‘Rise Above the Tides’ and the monumental ‘Silence in The Snow.’
The band opts for a reasonably humble stage set-up, aside from the tastefully impressive light show, and Asian themed backdrop. Rather, Trivium let the songs do the talking, and it’s quite the conversation. Each album gets a look in within the set; surprisingly even ‘The Crusade’ (an album often downplayed by the band) is represented by the blisteringly thrashy performance of ‘Entrance of The Conflagration.’ While the big hitters from ‘Ascendancy’ such as ‘A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation’ and ‘Dying in Your Arms’ go down a storm, equally so do some of the unexpected deep cuts.
The bowel-shakingly heavy ‘Dusk Dismantled’ proves just how feral the band can be, while ‘Strife’ is the quintessential metal anthem, with its fist-pumping middle-eight and chanting section. Musically, Trivium are a well-oiled unit, with Corey Beaulieu reliably shredding within every ounce of his being and Paolo Gregoletto locking everything together in tandem with new drummer Alex Bent. Hopefully, this one’s a keeper, as he appears to manoeuvre the many styles of Trivium with seeming ease.
The surprise addition of ‘Pillar of Serpents’ from the recently re-released debut ‘Ember to Inferno’ is evidence of just how adept Trivium has been at delivering crushing, yet palatable metal from their inception. However, it’s the one-two punch of the encore that threatens to capsize the front barrier. ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr’ and ‘In Waves’ end the night with gargantuan riffage and impassioned crowd participation as if purging something sinister from within. It’s a victorious end to a phenomenal set, and after such a performance one can only assume that the rest of the crowd is imploring the same thing of Trivium tonight: just don’t make us wait so long next time.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Marc Leach/Uber Rock 2017
Check out our interview with Paolo Gregoletto HERE.
Trivium’s UK tour continues as follows: