Metal Hammer Presents: Defenders of the Faith III (2011 Tour) [Show Review]

Line Up: Trivium (headliners), In Flames, Ghost, Rise to Remain, Insense

Venue: O2 Brixton Academy, London, UK

Date: 4th of December 2011

Reviewer: Tristan French

Only one thing was going through my head as I boarded the tube to Brixton on the evening of the 4th of December 2011, that I would finally be able to see the band that I’d be waiting to see since I was 13 years old, I speak of course of the mighty Trivium. All that I can tell you is, that its been well worth the wait, as the Floridian foursome have returned not only with their crushing new record, but have shown that they are ready to take their place as one of the best live bands to ever grace the stage.

Of course, I’ll get to that later, there’s still another 4 bands to go through. After depositing our winter wear in the cloakroom (what? London’s bloody freezing in December!) my comrades and I (including former Shotgun Enema bassist Luke McIntosh) headed straight for the front. Little did we know, that we had the best seats in the house. As the hall began to fill, the intro to Insense’s opening track “Death For Me, Death For You” crept slowly, before erupting into some of the heaviest playing I’ve ever heard. Accompanying their short set with skillful drumming at the hands of Truls Haugen, brutal riffs, great clean sections, epic bass playing (I thought the strings were about to snap half way through) provided by Ola S. Hana, all garnished by vocalist and frontman Tommy Hjelm’s surprisingly varied vocal range. Needless to say, a great warm up and a sign of things to come later on.

Next up, were up and coming British (the only British band of the bill I might add) metalcore act, Rise to Remain. These boys redefined the genre with their debut record “City of Vultures”, and their live act reflects this just as much. As soon as the band literally exploded onto the stage with opener “The Serpent” (after choosing to soundcheck themselves as opposed to having technicians do it) Brixton erupted into a maelstrom of movement, with the band transferring all of their excitement to the crowd. Although their set was short, the band managed to leave a lasting impression on the audience, with frontman Austin Dickenson proving that crowd control clearly runs in the family (even going as far as to jump into the audience and crowdsurf over us!). Ending the set with “Nothing Left” and the resinous “Bridges Will Burn” left echoes ringing throughout the O2 Brixton, another indicator that Rise to Remain are released, and they’re out for blood!

As Rise to Remain left the stage, taking the appropriate time to thank us, the obscurity and mystery began, as a series of synthethic stain glass windows descended from the ceiling. As the smell of incense filled the room, we all knew who were coming next, Sweden’s foremost rock’n’roll/satanic crossover band, Ghost. As the Nameless Ghouls took their positions during a fairly ominous and shrouded opening, frontman, or should I say our sermon leader, Papa Emeritus made his grand entrance, accompanied by an incense burner (explaining the earlier scent). Honestly, for the majority of their set, the entire Brixton Academy stood completely still, in awe of the psychadellic theatrical performance that is Ghost. Ghost have appeared to be bringing back what was left by Alice Cooper, for

metal as a form of theatre. Every hand gesture put forward by Emeritus was done so with grace and precision, even going as far as to wander across the stage flicking his hands at us, placing us effectively under his spell. Ending their set with their hit “Ritual” Ghost left the stage as they came on, mysteriously and calmly, leaving us to gawk at what had just transpired.

The next band of the evening need no introduction. I speak of course of the legendary In Flames. The production that came with this show was a clear display that In Flames are a band that have clearly paid their dues, with an elaborate light show encompassing the entire setlist (which I’ll admit...kind of distracted from the music at times, given that everyone except frontman Anders Friden was a silhouette). Nonetheless, the set was riddled with tracks from the new album, including the catchy title track “Sounds of a Playground Fading,” lead single and fist pumping “Deliver Us”, the slow and sludgy “All For Me”, the fast paced heart racer “Fear is the Weakness” and of course recent single “Where the Dead Ships Dwell.” The highlight of this for me, were guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin’s brilliant exchanges and harmonies, clearly showing their brilliant chemistry and dynamic. Friden’s humour also shined through, clearly stating that he “loved us all” and upon seeing the “NO CROWDSURFING” signs, he stated that he “Didn’t like them.” Ending the set with hits “The Quiet Place”, “Cloud Connected” and “Take This Life” , left London in a feral state of mind , and demonstrated once again why In Flames are as revered as they are within the metal world

With four bands having performed, the time came for the main event. As the eerie knells of “Capsizing the Sea” filled the venue, we all knew what song that the mighty Trivium would open with. Waiting just the right amount of time before making their entrance, frontman Mattew K. Heafy poised himself carefully above the microphone before letting out a roar of “IN WAVES!” amplified ten fold as the anticipating London crowd sang (or should I say growled) along. Trivium’s set was perfectly balanced and didn’t contain a single low point for me (being the massive fanboy that I am) and being right the front was truly a blessing. After the opening track, Trivium burst straight into Ascendancy territory playing both “Drowned and Torn Asunder” and “A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation”, furiously darting across the stage in order to please each and every section of the crowd. The energy given off by the band was phenomenal, and this was only three songs in! Matt Heafy’s addresses to the crowd never failed to inspire (especially when it came time to challenge us to be better than Manchester!). The set contained old favorites such as “Like Light to the Flies”, “Dying In Your Arms”, “The Deceived”, a song never played in London before, “Departure”, and of course the old single “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” which consequently sent the entire crowd into a frenzy as we sang in unison. Of course songs from Trivium’s latest made it as well, with songs such as “Black”, “Dusk Dismantled” and “Caustic are the Ties That Bind” really showing off the bands return to form, through brilliant guitar exchanges between Heafy and co-guitarist Corey Beaulieu. The album’s latest single “Built to Fall” was the icing on the cake to this already awesome set. Of course, we couldn’t get away without a bit of shogun with “Kirisute Gomen” really lowering the tone as the 7-string guitars were unleashed. This was accompanied by the union inspiring “Down from the Sky”, which lead to a chorus of “heys!” and show closer “Throes of Perdition” before which Heafy once again instructed us to “Fucking Explode!” after stating that they would always return to London. After a series of pick throwings

(caught one! Huzzah!) and a truly triumphant bow, it was clear to all of us that a band that had burst onto the metal scene at such a young age, Heafy only being 17 when Ascendancy was released, had truly come into their own and were ready to take their place in the spotlight.

Needless to say, I remained encapsulated (as well as hypnotized by the pick) on my train journey home. Defenders of the Faith III is a gig that I won’t soon forget, and has left me in anticipation of seeing Trivium again.

Ratings for the night:

Insense: 8/10

Rise to Remain: 9.5/10

Ghost: 9.5/10

In Flames: 9/10

Trivium: 9.99/10 (Hey, I’m biased, what can you do?!)

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