Words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
With yet another high-profile metal band visiting Dublin in early 2017, it looks like the mournful memories of 2016 has now well and truly faded. Trivium are back in Ireland kicking off the final tour in support of their 2015 album Silence in the Snow and the guys have been in the capital rehearsing and relaxing for days ahead of tonight’s triumphant return for another sold-out show at the Academy.
We arrive just as support act Sikth are taking to the stage, a full twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Luckily, the venue is already heaving with eager fans, and many are obviously familiar with the British progressive metal quintet acknowledged being one of the pioneers of the djent movement, along with Meshuggah who also recently graced these shores. Formed in 1999, Sikth released just two full-length albums before going on hiatus in 2007, until making an appearance at the Download Festival in 2014 shortly followed by an EP of new material. They kick off their set with ‘Philistine Philosophies’ from that EP. The rest of the tracks are taken from the first two albums and the high octane vocal tag team duo of Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser keep the energy levels soaring throughout the performance. The mix of clean and screamed vocals backed by liberal double bass drum and complex guitar solos grabs the unsuspecting members of the audience by the balls and preparing them for the main event.
A super-quick changeover sees the house lights dim at 20:45 as the familiar sound of Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills’ blares through the PA in keeping with other Trivium headline shows. Aside from the backdrop bearing an illustration of the white skull featured on the cover of Silence in the Snow embedded in a temple, no fancy props clutter the stage. Indeed, none are necessary or expected.
In the two and a half years since their last visit to Dublin, then drummer Mat Madiro was replaced by Paul Wandtke, who was in turn replaced by former Battlecross sticksman Alex Bent. First, onstage, tonight marks his live debut in front of a capacity crowd, and one can’t help but feel nervous on his behalf. He is quickly followed by the remaining stable core of guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and frontman Matt Heafy. ‘The End of Everything’, the recorded intro track to their 2005 album Ascendancy soon makes way for ‘Rain’, the first live track of the night.
Receiving marginally less public exposure than Gene Simmons’s, Matt Heafy’s tongue is immediately on display as he licks his chin regularly between grins and growls. And his growls sound better than ever, after his recovery from vocal chord damage in 2014. Of course, this being the first night of the tour, we are lucky to hear them in a rested and healthy state. The coarseness continues with ‘Forsake not the Dream’ from In Waves, with the clean vocal chorus parts helped by the willing crowd. This second track sees the crowd surfing begin and receives a massive reaction from the audience who begin to chant “Tr-vi-um” until Heafy acknowledges that it is great to be back in Ireland and hopes that we are ready to party with them. Later he re-affirms the Irish roots that he and Gregoletto both have (obviously Heafy sounds more believable) and thanks to the Irish for embracing their music before their own country did.
The set continues with songs cherry-picked from all seven of their studio albums, favoring Ascendancy and somewhat surprisingly only including three songs from the album they are here to finish promoting. This, along with comments made by Paolo to us during our interview, hint at a return to a heavier style for the next album due to be recorded this year. Nonetheless, new tracks like ‘Rise Above the Tides’ and title track ‘Silence in the Snow’ receive a positive reaction from the crowd, and the look of pride and gratitude on Heafy’s face is clearly visible as they sing along loudly to the chorus of ‘Until the World Goes Cold’.
Thundering drums and blistering guitars trigger more surfing and circle pits for ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr’ as the show nears its finale. A brief backstage breather before the Floridian foursome return for one more tune. The recorded intro ‘Capsizing the Sea’ makes it immediately obviously what is to come, and sure enough, title track ‘In Waves’ kicks our asses one last time. An ideal set closer, full of explosive energy and a memorable riff and rhythm left ringing in everyone’s ears. Heafy promises that they will keep coming back so long as we keep coming to see them. You’ve got a deal, Matt!