Tonight is a night of bands coming from all different backgrounds bringing various influences, sounds and fans. A continuing theme throughout the evening, though, is the celebration of each band’s innovation and relevance in today’s metal scene.
Arriving at half past three for a chat with Harry Jennings, drummer of tonight’s opening band SHVPES, people have already begun the queue outside the venue, sporting merch from previous Silence In The Snow tours. These are the people here for the front row that will be with Trivium till their dying day. After being escorted inside I get a sneak preview of Trivium sound-checking whilst Harry makes his way to the venue (I gather they had a rough night after the Glasgow show). Inside the stage is set and the officials of the evening are preparing for shit to go down, ambulances are ready outside and security is bustling.
Later that evening, walking onstage to varying levels of recognition is SHVPES. A considerable buzz is around them at the moment and there are a great deal of people here to see what all the fuss is about. After having gone through the album a few times myself, the opening song is indecipherable within this massive venue and unfortunately it does seem it is rather lost on some people. It actually feels a bit awkward when they call for a circle pit in the second song to a flat response.
The frustration can be seen in vocalist Griffin Dickinson’s eyes who runs through to the SHVPES faithfuls in the middle who are screaming every word. People love that. Going into the Orwellian “2 Minutes Of Hate” and title track of the record Pain, Joy, Ecstasy, Despair people are slowly but willfully getting on board. Musically this is the climax of the set.
After these tracks Griffin, in a proper punk ethos, cuts off about half a metre of hair for a charity that is also lost in the 1,500 capacity venue. This takes a lot of people back as it’s a move a headliner would do. It feels like this is the point where the band prove themselves as something real rather than out for their five minutes of fame to the fence sitters. When Griffin runs through to the pit again, everyone’s on board and people get absolutely crushed. A painful but nonetheless absolute triumph.
Despite a shaky start they truly prove themselves tonight. They seemed like another one of those opening bands that may just be forgotten later, and then they proved everyone wrong. Bravo.
There seems to be a lot of anticipation in the air for progressive metallers SikTh. When vocalist Mikee Goodman comes on there is a terrific reception. He’s obviously thrilled to be there as he wanders the stage with part menace, part madness in his eyes whilst doing his Johnny Rotten-esque stare and Ozzy-like amble across the stage.
As soon as they begin with long-time intro “Philistine Philosophies”, instantly noticeable is their thinner guitar tone due to one less guitarist than SHVPES. But this is hardly an issue with frontmen as character-heavy as theirs. “Skies Of Millennium Night” gets a crowd chant of “Look at the skies”. When the track is launched into, they display once again their incredible knack for rhythm.
Concluding the set with “Bland Street Bloom” (which is anything but bland) the dual vocalists look like two schoolkids singing along in their room, jumping about the place and losing their minds, resulting in a fall by Mikee which he laughs off well. The only real issue I find here is that the extended instrumental parts seem rather drawn out live as opposed to their adventurous atmosphere on record.
Drummer Dan Foord is absolutely on fire tonight, rivaling that of new touring Trivium drummer Alex Bent. A cracking set and an appropriately chosen support band for tonight but marred slightly by the hype for headliners Trivium.
When the night’s headliners take to their terrific stage set complete with “Ibaraki” skulls and stone platforms adorning the stage, it seems like a star-struck moment for a minute – seeing such an iconic band always is.
Opening with “Rain”, the place explodes into more of a mass of bodies scrambling over one another than a mosh. New touring drummer Alex Bent cruises through the new material with great ease, complementing the whole band’s incredible musicianship. “Down From The Sky” comes as another highlight in the set as does “Dying In Your Arms” which Matt introduces passionately.
The crowd were perfect for the band tonight, from singing along to the guitar parts in “Strife” to producing a circle pit about 15 metres wide for “Throes Of Perdition”, which just tucked into the pillars for those who’ve been to the Roundhouse before. The masses gave back the energy to the band as harmoniously as one can when thrashing around.
There are a few moments in the set that don’t quite reach the same levels as the likes of “Rain” or “Throes of Perdition”, such include “Silence In The Snow” and “Pillars Of Serpents”. These aren’t quite as well known and act as an unofficial breather before the undeniable triple whammy of “Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation” where the crowd was at its loudest; “Until The World Goes Cold”, arguable the best song on Silence In The Snow; and set closer, the defiant “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” which seems like the epitome of the gig – the crowd at its most violent and the circle pit at its widest. A terrific closer.
As the only encore, “In Waves” is introduced as Matt incites a Slipknot-esque move where the crowd sits down till the throat-shredding scream “IN WAAAAVES” with the audience destroying their voices as Matt holds the note and a face that would scare the living bejesus out of any passer-by. An epic singalong and perhaps the only song in any band’s back catalogue that could be used as a single encore.
People leave in a satisfied ache that must last till the next album cycle. This evening has gone to prove that Trivium are alive, kicking and one of the most captivating, charismatic and relevant bands of today.
All photos by Sean Larkin.