Review: Trivium – O2 Academy Glasgow

After laying waste to Dublin and Belfast with three soon-to-be-legendary gigs, Trivium made the short, blustery journey over the sea to Scotland for the opening night of the UK mainland leg of their rescheduled ‘Dead Men & Dragons’ tour. And in these worrying times of overseas bands being forced to cancel UK & European tours because of the cost of living crisis, it is heartwarming to see that so many of the shows are posted as sold out, or low ticket warnings. Tonight, the Academy is rammed. Utterly rammed. One of those nights where you get acquainted with everyone around you simply because in between bands there is zero movements in and out of the pit. That hard-earned space is not being given up easily, and even the corners with restricted views are packed out. All for one of the strongest bills for some time, and also for one of the most consistent metal bands of recent years – Florida’s very own Trivium.

With an ever-changing setlist from Trivium that keeps both the fans and the band themselves on their toes, the common denominator for each gig is the choice of intro music piped through the PA at full volume: Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To The Hills’. Always a stirring few minutes regardless of where you hear it, and rammed in alongside 2000+ like-minded individuals it is the perfect way to get the vocal chords warmed up for the carnage that ensues once the curtain drops and the stage explodes to life with bursts of warm colours and perhaps the clearest sound heard for some time in a venue notorious for being hit and miss in the sound department.

But before the galloping bass lines of Steve Harris reverberated around the old Art Deco-themed building, there was the small matter of sublime performances by the two outfits acting as special guests on this lengthy outing from the Floridians. First up, Sheffield metalcore/hardcore noise merchants MALEVOLENCE. And to put it bluntly; MALEVOLENCE fucking destroyed the old venue. They ripped it a new one. Jesus, they were unstoppable. From the very instant that the house lights dropped and the intro music of Inner Circle’s ‘Bad Boys’ came blaring out of the PA, this was like a headlining gig for the quartet from the Steel City. Not only is vocalist Alex Taylor a commanding presence, but he is such a warm and congenial frontman that it’s almost as if you are watching your best mate up there controlling the crowd like that old geezer that parted the Red Sea centuries ago. But unlike Moses, Taylor is parting the crowd in preparation for hell to be unleashed in the form of one almighty circle pit after another, especially during ‘Self Supremacy’ where he commands the crowd to “…push it back and open the floor up, and if someone falls then you pick them up…”, and once the pit opens up…man, what a sight to behold. During the breakdown, Taylor is down from the stage and at the barrier surveying the carnage playing out in front of him, after a few moments, he is back onstage high-fiving every crowd surfer who comes over the barrier. After a stunning version of ‘Higher Place’ – where the main stage lights are switched off and the only illumination is from hundreds of phones lighting up the front of the stage – Taylor barks “…let’s see some crowd surfers…” and the crowd responds in kind. After dozens of hardy souls pour over the barrier, and the song ends, Taylor tells the crowd to “…make some noise for the security!” – what a shift the security team put in, and this was only the opening band! One of the strongest sets by an opening band that this venue has witnessed in quite some time, and extra brownie points to MLV guitarist Josh Baines who is fast becoming something special indeed. Job done.

So much has changed in the nine years since German extreme-metallers Heaven Shall Burn last played Scotland that it is difficult to know where to start. Sadly, due to the worldwide lockdown and what followed afterward, and now the subsequent cost of living crisis that is crippling touring bands, the live entertainment business has changed drastically since Marcus Bischoff and company last whipped up a crowd North of The Wall. One thing that has not changed at all is the intensity and sheer brutality that Heaven Shall Burn brings to a show. And after thirty minutes or so of atmospheric, ambient music played through the PA, the band finally takes to the stage and Bischoff stands back, arms folded across his chest, soaking up the applause, looking around the packed venue, and taking it all in with the same sense of wonder and amazement that a small child has on their first visit to Walt Disney World. After decades in the business, it’s obviously still a thrill for Bischoff to hear that roar, and even during pummeling moments such as ‘Übermacht’ (the mixture of lyrics in German and in English totally crushes) the smile is not far from his face.

The sixty-minute set begins in the same way as the 2020 studio album ‘Of Truth and Sacrifice’; with the short intro of ‘March of Retribution’ followed by the crushing ‘Thoughts and Prayers’. The twin guitars of founding member Maik Weichert, and his partner in crime Alexander Dietz, slash through the darkness as the surge from the crowd begins to boil over and the crowd surfers begin to let loose. It’s not that often that a bassist steals some of the limelight from the frontman, but with his bass slung low, and his impressive headbanging (especially on ‘Bring The War Home’), HSB bassist Eric Bischoff is a joy to watch, and combines brilliantly with drummer Christian Bass to lay down some impressive, solid foundations. Local hero Pit Troll (“7ft Of Mosh Pit Mischief”) is on duty in the pit and you cannot miss him as he is the rather large gentleman in the Bane mask, with him on duty, everyone is in safe hands – lovely fella. Highlights of the set include a stunning version of ‘Forlorn Skies’ which Marcus Bischoff introduces as the “Oldest song of the set…”, and a glorious cover of the punk-meets-extreme metal classic from Edge of Sanity – ‘Black Tears’. Let’s not leave it another nine years before returning, eh guys?

With the 2021 studio album ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’, and its 2020 predecessor ‘What The Dead Men Say’ slaying all before them, Trivium are on a hot streak in the studio, Finally, after what seems like an eternity of these shows being pushed back, Trivium are able to do what they do best and put on one hell of a metal show. The pent-up aggression has finally been released and metal’s nicest guys are back in front of UK and European audiences. And what a show it is! Beginning with a curtain drop – still, the best way to open a gig, yeah? – the four-piece turn-back time and slam into ‘Rain’ from 2005’s sophomore effort ‘Ascendancy’, and it is on. The ‘Shogun’ theming of the stage is stunning without being overpowering or cheesy; two coiled dragons stand guard over each side, the massive backdrop is gorgeous (as is Matt Heafy’s jacket!), and Japanese artwork runs the length of the backline, as well as adorning Alex Bent’s drum riser – although, from a distance, the elongated design of the artwork in front of his kit does make it look like Baby Yoda is standing staring at Bent (Jeez, this guy can play…his playing on ‘To The Rats’ will make your head explode). Pit Troll/Bane is watching like a proud Papa as pits open up (the breakdown towards the end of ‘Rain’ is brutal) and surfers start to go over, the sharp riffage from Heafy and Corey Beaulieu spurring them on every inch of the way. Beaulieu’s harsh backing vocals provide the perfect foil to the short bursts of clean vocals from Heafy. Surrounded by such strong visual imagery, it’s amazing to think that the overriding visual delight is that microphone stands are set up all along the stage which means that Heafy is not restricted to purely performing in the centre, and every time that he goes to either side, he is met with roars of delight because he is there for more than just the usual few moments.

With bassist Paolo Gregoletto a perpetual ball of energy as he covers every inch of the stage coaxing the crowd to bounce or open up a pit, Trivium blitz through a set that puts others to shame. While some bands choose to repeat the same set night after night, and others don’t want to play deep cuts for fear of alienating the casual fan (Aerosmith tried the deep cuts years ago, and failed miserably), Trivium are mixing it up by constantly changing parts of the setlist by moving the position of particular songs, and giving rare outings to others over different nights, all of which means that fans hitting multiple gigs do not know what is coming next. Tonight, the most recent album ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’ is only represented by the killer title track, but ‘Drowned And Torn Asunder’ from ‘Ascendancy’ is dusted off…the guitar work from Heafy and Beaulieu on this one is a joy to watch (as it is the entire night).

A few highlights stand out in particular; first of all, there is the crowd surfer who goes over during ‘Throes of Perdition’, and once he comes back out from the side of the stage, the song ends and he makes a dash for the toilets which are situated right at the back of the hall, he fights his way through the heaving throng and just as he is almost at the toilet entrance Matt Heafy introduces ‘Catastrophist’, the surfer mouths “FUUUUUUUCK” and turns tail and bolts straight back through a few thousand people to get back into the pit and surfs over the barrier. Funny enough, never did see him coming back to visit the toilet, make of that what you will. The ten-minute monstrous, epic version of ‘Shogun’ is hard to beat, but the everlasting memory of the evening is when Matt Heafy pauses to pay tribute to both acts that performed earlier; clearly a big fan of MALEVOLENCE, the ever-generous Heafy points them out as a band going places, and then there is Heaven Shall Burn – as Heafy points out a band that “…changed the way that I heard music when I was 16…”. The admiration between Trivium and Heaven Shall Burn is there for all to see, so much so that Trivium have just shared their cover of Heaven Shall Burn’s ‘Implore The Darken Sky’ which is featured on a split 7″ that the bands are selling on the road and directly to fans while touring Europe together.

Trivium are on fire right now, and the tour is only a handful of dates old, imagine how insane this tour is going to get once Obituary joins it for the lengthy European mainland leg which runs through until February 20th in Frankfurt, Germany.

It’s only January and already a hefty marker has been put down for other tours to try and top. And as for those that bemoan about the supposed lack of headliners on the metal scene: TAKE THEIR FUCKING HEADS.

Review – Dave

All images – Dave Jamieson

Check Also

Helldown: New single/ video – March Of The Damned

Commanding metallers HELLDOWN charge onwards with the release of their vicious single and video, March …

Charlotte Wessels joined by Simone Simons (Epica) for new single

Astonishing singer-songwriter Charlotte Wessels (ex-DELAIN) has joined forces with Simone Simons of Epica for her …

WOLFBRIGADE announce new album

Swedish hardcore punk icons and recent Metal Blade signees WOLFBRIGADE will release their eleventh full-length …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *