Trivium

support Power Trip + Venom Prison
author AP date 22/03/18 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

When Trivium ceased with reinventing themselves somewhere in the wake of their excellent 2008-album, “Shogun”, it was my cue to hop off the bandwagon. In honesty, I am only here for the sake of Power Trip and, to a certain extent, to give Trivium the chance to redeem themselves after frontman Matt Heafy’s illness rendered their most recent concert in Denmark nigh disastrous. But judging by the youthfulness of the audience packed into Pumpehuset tonight, the band has garnered an entire new fanbase during the last decade, and these fans seem to hold the likes of 2013’s “Silence in the Snow” in much higher esteem than I do. The pieces are thus in place for a good show to ensue, but first, there is, as usual, the support acts to scrutinise.

All photos courtesy of Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

Venom Prison

The first of these was less than convincing when I was introduced to them last year and that is sadly my impression of them tonight as well. Given the hype that certain British media outlets have been pouring over the Welsh deathcore quintet since the release of their début album, “Animus”, in 2016, it is remarkable that they still struggle to connect with their audience in any meaningful way. While one needs to be predisposed to deathcore in order to appreciate the band’s style, there is nothing wrong with tracks like “Celestial Patricide” — on the contrary, songwriting ability and technical prowess are two categories where Venom Prison is difficult to criticise. No, the culprit is to be found in the indifference with which everyone but vocalist Larissa Stupar carry themselves, like pot plants unmoved even by the maelstrom that Stupar’s fiery presence gives rise to. Her wild and confrontational antics (an extension of her waxing lyrical about misogyny, abuse and anti-fascism) deserve a band willing to fall off of its hinges, and a band willing to look as brutal as they sound on the older closing track, “Primal Chaos”. Not surprisingly, everywhere one looks, the arms of the audience remain tightly crossed for the entire duration of the nine-song set and what little applause there is, seems to be nothing else than a simple courtesy. If Venom Prison hope to establish themselves as a force in the deathcore genre, Stupar’s colleagues need to up their game tenfold.

4

Power Trip

With Slayer about to lay down its weapons at last, thrash metal enthusiasts have begun to ponder what band(s) could/should take the torch from the Bay Area legends. One name that frequently pops up in those discussions is Power Trip — a fairly new entrant to the genre, whose sophomore outing “Nightmare Logic” had ‘most everyone in thrall after its release last year. The Dallas, TX-born outfit has the intensity, the unapologetic attitude and, most importantly, the quality of riffs to make a rapid ascent into the genre’s upper echelons and, having wasted no time in bringing their tunes on tour, their showmanship is already honed to an extent that audiences will come from far and wide to see them live.

It may be Trivium’s fanbase that forms the brunt of tonight’s audience, but that does not stop the entire front half of the venue from erupting into a circle pit by vocalist Riley Gale’s command when “Hammer of Doubt” is let loose. The band’s marriage of brutal, old-school thrash with elements of hardcore punk seems to sit very well with the people attending here, and when the time eventually comes to unleash “Firing Squad” — one of the most vicious outtakes from “Nightmare Logic” — the violence of the pit has reached a dangerous level. This is hardly a surprise though, given that Power Trip’s own antics seem to be driven by sheer animosity. Raw, unhinged and loaded with vitriol, their performance reminds of the footage I have seen of Slayer’s intimate concerts early in their career, in which each musician wears an expression just as menacing as the tone of the given song and spares no sweat in translating that severity into a relentlessly energetic presence.

Indeed, it is high time that Danish fans be given the opportunity to experience Power Trip in more intimate confines than what the band has been afforded thus far, because if they can invite such mayhem to a big venue, their smaller shows must be absolutely devastating. That needs to happen before the Texan quintet inevitably joins the thrash metal royalty so that sometime decades ahead, those of us that were present can speak of it as if it were a mythical event. Such conjecture aside, however, it does not seem to matter much where one gets to watch Power Trip right now — the effect is the same: whiplash and bruises. Thus, once “Manifest Decimation” concludes the band’s ferocious set, people should be well and truly warmed up for the evening’s headliner, albeit valid concerns have arisen that Power Trip has set the bar too high for Trivium to reach.

8

Trivium

Whether that bar is out of Trivium’s reach or not, however, the people of the audience are at least determined to make this the best Trivium show they have seen. And as a ‘veteran’ of more than ten of the Tampa, FL-born group’s concerts, I must honestly confess that never before have I witnessed such a rowdy display from their fans as tonight. From the onset of “The Sin and the Sentence” (the title track to Trivium’s latest album) and all the way through to “Beyond Oblivion” at the other end, the moshpit spans wall-to-wall, stage-to-sound box, and during every chorus, the crowd unites in a booming singalong. Say what you will about Trivium’s music but one thing they do better than most is the writing of massive anthems that sprawl out of the foundation of thrashy metalcore that grew to be their trademark after the release of 2005’s “Ascendancy”. And although I may have developed a slight grudge against the quartet since, it is impossible to resist the urge to let a few words out myself during the title track to that effort, and of course “Drowned and Torn Asunder” later on.

Unlike that dud of a concert at VEGA last year, the four musicians are all in good health and high spirits tonight, and, noticing the fervour with which the audience is relishing their efforts, guitarist/lead vocalist Matt Heafy actually sounds convincing in his remarks that we ”(…) are fucking amazing tonight!” and “definitely the craziest crowd (they’ve) seen all tour!”. With his tongue out in best Gene Simmons fashion, he and his colleagues wear their widest grins and play their instrument harder and heavier than ever before, doing everything they can do reciprocate the spirit shown by their fans on the floor. I would have to go back more than a decade to find another instance of guitarist/vocalist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto so ferociously disposed, and with the level of energy inside the venue seeming only to intensify with each passing song, culminating in an ultra-vitriolic rendition of “Strife” (the only representative of 2013’s “Vengeance Falls” tonight), it is hard to dispute the genuineness of Heafy’s satisfaction with how things are proceeding.

Watching the concert unfold, it is thus difficult to present a convincing argument for why my own enjoyment of it is not on that same level. But I suspect it comes down to something so trite as how the setlist is put together. While in my opinion, Trivium has chosen the very best of “The Sin and the Sentence” for it, the same cannot be said of the other records, most of which are represented by a single song. “The Crusade” may not have been the Floridians’ proudest moment, but surely rarer picks like “Ignition” or “To the Rats” would have been more interesting to hear than “Becoming the Dragon”? And I cannot be alone in finding it just a little bit tiring to hear the bland balladry of “Until the World Goes Cold” off “Silence in the Snow” for the umpteenth time? And what about something off “Ember to Inferno”? Completely ignored on this occasion, where the inclusion of “Fugue (A Revelation)” or perhaps “Pillars of Serpents” could have provided a brilliant blast from the past just before the encore.

The composition of a setlist is and always will be a subjective matter but there are nonetheless some objective parameters to it as well. Please understand that complaining about my personal favourites not being included has nothing to do with it; it is the tendency of tonight’s setlist to omit the variety and dynamics that are otherwise found in Trivium’s repertoire that produces the biggest issue, so that more than once (perhaps because of my remaining outside of the moshing activities?), the show enters a completely dissociating segment, until one of the standout tracks à la “The Heart from Your Hate” or “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” ropes me back in. As people are asked to sit down and jump up during the intro to “In Waves” then, I find myself with bittersweet feelings about the concert overall. This is by far the most energising Trivium concert I have seen, yet it also has plenty of moments during which I’d rather be doing something else than trying to find redeeming qualities in a given song.

7

Setlist:

  • 01. The Sin and the Sentence
  • 02. Throes of Perdition
  • 03. Betrayer
  • 04. Ascendancy
  • 05. Sever the Hand
  • 06. Inception of the End
  • 07. Until the World Goes Cold
  • 08. Becoming the Dragon
  • 09. Thrown into the Fire
  • 10. Strife
  • 11. Drowned and Torn Asunder
  • 12. The Heart from Your Hate
  • 13. Beyond Oblivion

— Encore —

  • 14. Shattering the Skies Above
  • 15. Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
  • 16. In Waves

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