Gig Review by Steve Gerrard with Photography by Jason Broadhurst

Summer has arrived unexpectedly early in Manchester, and around the campus of the university students are basking in the sunshine. Meanwhile, outside the Academy there’s a sea of black clothing as the queue for tonight’s metalfest begins to snake around the block. The Metal Hammer-sponsored ‘The Sin And The Sentence’ tour has brought a varied line-up to town that includes the new hopes for Death Metal, Venom Prison, Texan thrashers Power Trip, Grammy-nominated hardcore bruisers Code Orange and headliners Trivium for a night of big riffs and plenty of energy. Almost at the end of a nearly 7-week European run, expectations for tonight’s show are bound to be high.

Trivium

As the huge room slowly fills up, it’s up to Welsh death metallers Venom Prison to get things off to a blistering start and they do not hold back. From the opening rumble of Syllogism they prove why they were voted Best New Band by Metal Hammer as their brutal assault punches you square in the jaw for the entirety of their short time on stage. Vocalist Larissa Stupar is a mesmerising performer and, if you didn’t already know she was a woman, you’d struggle to tell from her guttural vocal style. Her love of bands like Obituary and Dying Fetus are evident in her delivery but she’s making that vicious delivery very much her own. Around her, the four other band members showcase a technical yet meaningfully hard-hitting musicianship. A frightening Corrode the Black Sun, Perpetrator Emasculation and the wonderfully titled Womb Forced Animus pass in the blink of an eye and the band leave the crowd in no doubt that they mean business. Venom Prison will take a few weeks off before heading out to the US and Canada to join the Devastation On The Nation Tour with Aborted, Psycroptic, Ingested & Disentomb.

Venom Prison

Venom Prison

By the time Power Trip arrive on stage the venue is already almost full. The Dallas thrash band may not have the intensity of the opening act but still manage to impress with tracks from this year’s Nightmare Logic album, released via Southern Lord Records. Vocalist Riley Gale has tons of energy on stage, jumping off the drum platform, kicking and punching the air during lengthy sections of thrashing riffs combined with squealing solos from Blake “Rossover” Ibanez. Their sound reminds me of mid-80s metal and can occasionally border on parody but the Manchester fans lap it up. They wrap it all up with a frantic Manifest Decimation before they exit, having certainly gained themselves some new admirers here tonight, especially amongst the Trivium faithful.

Power Trip

Power Trip

Having seen them just a few days earlier in Nottingham, my hopes were high for another blistering performance by “saviours of hardcore” Code Orange. Although playing on a much larger stage tonight, the Pittsburgh band know how to fill the space as they continually prowl from side to side, whipping the mosh pit into a frenzy with their brutal breakdowns and intensely angry songs. Vocalist Jami Morgan may be sat behind his drumkit throughout but his presence is very much front and centre as he screams “This. Is. Real!” and his bandmates prove they are indeed the real deal. Their sound is almost certainly divisive for a crowd like this one but nobody can question their conviction or their intensity. Maybe not quite as compelling as when they play to their own fans in a club but still a blistering example of how hardcore is still progressing in 2018.

Code Orange

Code Orange

Over the past decade or so, Trivium have regularly been a touring presence upon our shores and are witnessing a definite resurgence since the release of their acclaimed “The Sin And The Sentence” album last year. Judging by the number of t-shirts here tonight, the majority of the crowd have bought tickets almost exclusively for one band. And as the intro music of Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills induces a mass singalong, the sold-out crowd is ready for the Floridians to step on stage. They waste no time in setting things off in style with the title track from their latest album and from thereon in they have the crowd in the palm of their hands.

Trivium

Trivium

Fan-favourite, Throes of Perdition quickly follows, Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy duelling guitars in classic metal fashion, and clearly loving performing to such a huge crowd. Heafy’s habit of sticking his tongue out Gene Simmons-style is straight out of Spinal Tap but this is not a band to take things too seriously. The addition of ex-Battlecross drummer Alex Bent and bassist Paolo Gregoletto add a much-needed balance as the band storm through songs like Becoming the Dragon and the mighty Beyond Oblivion. In a live setting, these songs really do come to life compared to on record. Heafy is an engaging and likeable frontman and all musicians are evidently slick in their respective roles.

TriviumTrivium

If any fans were not totally satisfied, the encore of Shattering the Skies Above, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, Capsizing the Sea and an immense In Waves seals the deal. Trivium have the presence of a classic metal band and have honed their craft to near perfection. For me, Code Orange and Venom Prison were far more exciting to watch on this occasion but I have a feeling I may be in the minority with that opinion.

Setlist:
The Sin and the Sentence
Throes of Perdition
Betrayer
Ascendancy
Sever the Hand
Inception of the End
Until the World Goes Cold
Becoming the Dragon
Thrown Into the Fire
Like Light to the Flies
Drowned and Torn Asunder
The Heart From Your Hate
Beyond Oblivion

Encore:
Shattering the Skies Above
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Capsizing the Sea
In Waves

Trivium

See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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