This week is like the Musicscramble old man festival, in that we get to go home and have dinner and a nice kip between bands. Dec 5th saw Machine Head (read Gareth’s review here), and tonight the metal barrage continued with the “Defenders of the Faith III” tour featuring Insense, Rise to Remain, Ghost, In Flames and headlined by still-young-despite-being-around-for-ages metal powerhouse Trivium.
Sadly I didn’t make it in time for Insense, but I’m reliably informed by my erstwhile co-writer that they were pretty decent. I did walk into the venue near the beginning of Rise to Remain’s set however and I’m happy to say it was a pretty good start to my night. I’d seen them once before in a support slot at King Tut’s and they were honestly rather unremarkable, but since then they’ve released their debut full length “City of Vultures” and have come on in bounds since then. They were punchy and sharp and a million miles away from when I’d seen them before. They still lack that killer tune that could launch them into the stratosphere, but it was a worthy warm-up slot that got the reasonably small number of folk in the venue at this point going.
I’ve no idea who invited the next bunch of wallopers to join this tour though. Ghost were just mince. At best they were comical, but in a “how shit is this” kind of way. The whole band were dressed in black hooded cloaks like evil monks (or wannabe Sith) except for the frontman who was like a priest in negative. Riff wise there were some bits of value which reminded me of Rob Zombie, but any enjoyment from them was quickly cut short by the monotone wail being drooled down the mic. Maybe I just didn’t get the joke as the emo goth kids were loving it, but I thought they were just outright shit. I know it just sounds like I’m having a farty old whine, but musically they didn’t resemble or fit with any of the other bands on the tour, so I genuinely wonder why they were part of it.
Next up were Swedish metal legends In Flames. I’ve been a fan of In Flames for years and I must admit with each new release I’m finding them more of a shadow of their former selves, so when they opened with the first three tracks from latest release Sounds of a Playground Fading I found myself getting a bit bored already. But then “The Mirror’s Truth” hit which, despite being a relatively new track, hit the sweet spot and got me hooked. From then on I tuned into the rest of the set and really enjoyed it. The sound in the O2 Academy can really vary and metal does tend to be a bit muddy and ribcage rattling overly bass heavy which was the case here, so we moved from the main floor to a slightly higher location next to the sound desk. This saw a vast improvement in the overall sound and just made In Flames set much more enjoyable.
It turns out that moving position had a second benefit. When Trivium took to the stage to the intro from new album “In Waves” the crowd began to part. When the stunning track of the same title began there was an instant Wall of Death as the crowd crashed together, and for the next hour or so the insanity of the pit didn’t abate at all. Trivium treated the crowd to a superb set tonight sampling tracks from most of the discography. It was clear that of all the acts on the Defenders tour, Trivium were the most anticipated. The circle pit covered almost the whole floor level of the venue with shirts, shoes and bodies flying everywhere. Even the massive gruff security dude standing on the side had a grudging respect for the level of fan fervour on show.
But the music was the important part and Trivium certainly didn’t let me down. They were tight, Matt Heafy’s vocal was mostly excellent although a little shaky here, though the screams shared with guitarist Corey Beaulieu were spot on. Drumming was still on the ribcage rattling level of double kick and bass wasn’t too overpowering which was grand. The new material is sounding brilliant too and sits brilliantly with the older stuff.
All in all, it was a great night with a fine mix of young upstarts, panto, old hands, and current rulers of the metal circuit.
The Musicscramble old man festival continues with Steel Panther, Motley Crue and Def Leppard on Fri 9th Dec and Twin Atlantic on Sat 6th, so watch out for reviews for those to come.