Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
support SikTh + Shvpes
author AP date 03/03/17 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN
Sometimes you needs to put some distance between a band and yourself in order to regain perspective — to remember what it was that made it so appealing in the first place. And that is exactly the story of my relationship to Trivium, whose early albums had me enamoured and then gradually faded into the background until suddenly, years had passed since I last spun one of their records, let alone watched the band live. But with the main touring cycle of their latest album “Silence in the Snow” now completed, Trivium has been able to concentrate on their origins of late, issuing a deluxe edition of their début album, “Ember to Inferno”, last year and announcing this tour built on the shoulders of older material. It was the perfect opportunity for me to rejoin the crowd after a five-year hiatus and gauge how the band fares on stage these days.
Shvpes out of Birmingham, United Kingdom have a potent marketing weapon in vocalist Griffin Dickinson, the youngest son of Bruce Dickinson. Obviously, the apple did not fall far from the tree — but nonetheless far enough that, without being aware of the fact, one could never guessed Griffin to descend from one of the most legendary singers in heavy metal. Albeit performing with the same, tireless enthusiasm as his father, Griffin’s singing is a far cry from Bruce’s indelible howling; he utilises that ultra-fashionable screaming style that blurs the boundary between metal, hardcore and hip-hop and intersperses it with cleans rooted in the domain of metalcore (think bands like Of Mice & Men or The Word Alive). He does it all with flying colours and soon has especially the younger members of the audience in his palm, jumping, singing and raging in the moshpit as “False Teeth” airs; dutifully waving their lighters during the title track to last year’s “Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair.” album; and opening up a circle-pit and wall of death to go with the evening’s last two pieces, “God Warrior” and “Shapes”.
Although Shvpes offer little by way of innovating on the stereotypes commonly associated with metalcore from hair-raising bass boom effects to your usual juxtaposition of hard and heavy verses with emotional choruses, it is hard not to be impressed by their collective desire. All five musicians perform with a vigour that will doubtless result in a queue to the backstage shower, ostensibly fuelled by the warm welcome they are given and consequently hellbent on making sure that some booker will be eager to land them a headlining show at one of Copenhagen’s smaller venues in the near future. And that passion is so intoxicating that even the most disillusioned former connoisseurs of metalcore (among them the undersigned…) should feel refreshed, even hopeful for the future of the genre.
One of the major draws of his package was the inclusion of SikTh — a cult act from Watford, United Kingdom widely regarded to have been key to the emergence of ‘djent’ as a genre. Unlike Shvpes just before, SikTh can pride themselves on penning highly original tunes mixing progressive metal, mathcore, nü-metal and avantgarde. My excitement about seeing the band live at last is laced with skepticism however, given that music as complex as SikTh’s tends to force certain limitations on the instrument-wielding members’ ability to unfold themselves physically. That fear proves to be well-founded, too: it is not until the tapped guitar and bass solos embedded into evening’s third last piece, the magnificent “Skies of Millennium Night”, that guitarist Graham ‘Pin’ Pinney and bassist James Leach begin to stir, having settled for still-standing, downward-facing precision execution for most of the set. Drummer Dan 'Loord' Foord likewise spends most of his effort on undivided focus. It sounds fantastic, but looks rather static.
Much of the performing art is thus up to the two vocalists, Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser, whose jumps and vocal exchanges comprise the brunt of SikTh’s show. At the risk of incensing the band’s disciples however, it seems to me that SikTh would be better off with just Goodman, the more eccentric and uniquely voiced of the two. Rosser is a decent singer and screamer, but his presence is completely eclipsed by the strange styles that Goodman spits out, often sounding like KoRn’s Jonathan Davis and a brutal death metal growler within the space of only a few seconds. He is a strange and fixating character, really animating the likes of “Philistine Philosophies” and “Pussyfoot” and inspiring the crowd to mosh along for the entire duration of the set. But in the end, the lack of any tangible symbiosis between the five members makes everything else feel somewhat robotic, and as a result, SikTh never manages to form a proper connection with the audience.
Although Trivium’s popularity in Denmark looks to have been grossly overestimated by the promoter, the atmosphere among the attendees is encouraging, with the vast majority of concert-goers up for a party. And as the band storms onto the stage and the introductory notes of “The End of Everything” give way to “Rain”, there is little here to suggest that the Floridian metallers have any other desire; the four musicians all wear gleaming smiles and play the track with hellbent determination. But when frontman Matt Heafy switches to clean pipes for the chorus, a flash of cringe washes over the audience — there is no question, the man is stricken with illness and as a result, there is a very defined ceiling to the notes that he can reach. In all honesty, the chorus sounds like s**t and puts a stark damper on the high expectations that I had for this show.
Most of the audience nonetheless seems unfazed, happily indulging in some pit action and attempting stage dives from the get-go (the band’s crew is having none of it though; the first and only diver is first tackled, then held in body-lock all the way through his dive by a roadie, much to everyone’s amusement). Certainly, if you can ignore Heafy’s hoarseness, the four musicians seem to be not just in excellent form, but also buoyant mood, with Heafy frequently exposing his tongue during guitar solos in best Devin Townsend fashion and lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto looking as mean and menacing as ever. The performance represents vintage Trivium and for long-standing fans such as myself, the decision to weigh the setlist so heavily in “Ascendancy”’s favour is of course welcome. The sad thing is that because of Heafy’s illness, a couple of tracks are trimmed from the setlist, among them the seldom played “Pillars of Serpents” off “Ember to Inferno”.
As the show moves forward, my feelings toward it grow increasingly mixed, thus. The band is unquestionably yielding 110% in terms of energy and the crowd is operating at a similar level. Heafy even commends the audience for its efforts, deeming this as the best Scandinavian show on the tour after witnessing a wall of death during “Throes of Perdition”. But when chorus after chorus falls short of its potential, personal favourites like “Down from the Sky”, “The Deceived” and “A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation” (interestingly though, it is the newer tracks that receive the loudest reaction, owing perhaps to a generation shift among the band’s fans?) end up sounding flat and disenchanting — they lack that final power to really rattle you. This is frustrating because I really want to be enjoying the concert, especially given the lengths that Heafy & co. go to, to compensate for the lacklustre vocal delivery. But alas, sometimes circumstances beyond one’s control do too much damage.
- 01. Rain
- 02. Forsake Not the Dream
- 03. Down from the Sky
- 04. Entrance of the Conflagration
- 05. The Deceived
- 06. Dying in Your Arms
- 07. Strife
- 08. Dusk Dismantled
- 09. Throes of Perdition
- 10. Silence in the Snow
- 11. A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
- 12. Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
— Encore —
- 13. In Waves