At last, the weekend every metal head in London had been looking forward to: the first weekend of December 2011, the weekend where legends Machine Head were to grace us with their Eighth Plague Tour, and Metal Hammer’s Defenders of the Faith III tour, headlined by Trivium, was to make a return to the mighty Brixton Academy once again. Having made it to both over the weekend, I could see at Brixton that I wasn’t the only one who had a metal filled weekend. Battered, bruised and ready to rock, Defenders of the Faith III was ready to tear Brixton apart.
We made it inside just in time to see Norwegian rockers Insense take to the stage. You had to feel for the guys coming out to a room barely filled up due to a prompt start to stage times, but that didn’t take away from the effort that was put into their performance. With what seemed a majority crowd unaware to the music from Insense, their main aim was to kick off the night in true rock and roll fashion, get everyone pumped for the next few hours and of course to gain some new fans. It may have been a very short set but overall it was a solid performance and they did a good job.
Up next were London’s very own home-grown heroes Rise to Remain, who were welcomed onto the stage with open arms from their crowd. A dream come true for any London band is to play this venue and tonight you could see that their time had finally come and they meant serious business. Having headlined to a couple hundred at the Underworld a few months previous, to now play in front of a few thousand at Brixton is a massive step forward for these guys and I was happy to witness it. They launched into their set with their first single “The Serpent” from City of Vultures; we hadn’t even made it through the first song before front man Austin Dickinson showed fans once again how energetic and may I say slightly mad he is by climbing the speaker stack at the side of the stage before leaping back onto the stage to lead fans into “This Day Is Mine”.
Fellow band mates Ben Tovey, Joe Copcutt, Will Homer and Pat Lundy were giving it nothing short of 110% effort and energy throughout their set, feeding off of each other’s happiness and high spirits from what they were achieving tonight and on the whole tour. Austin seemed to be in or on the crowd a lot more than he was on the stage for the half hour they were performing, always living up to the Dickinson surname of being a fantastic front man in rock music. Other tracks to grace their set were title track of their debut album “City Of Vultures”, “Power Through Fear” and two fan favourites “Nothing Left” and set closer “Bridges Will Burn”. Their set tonight proved just how talented Rise to Remain are and that very soon they will be back here headlining this very venue; they deserve it!
Sadly their set had to come to an end but up next was mysterious melodic metallers Ghost. I didn’t know much about the band or what to expect when they had been announced for this tour, but am always excited to see new music from support bands. 3 stain glass window type backdrops came down from the ceiling in preparation for their set, the lights went down and suddenly you got the smell of incense (not the band), something commonly associated with religious ceremonies and ritual purification so I knew something interesting was about to happen. The staging was very dark and evil, and to me turned creepy when 4 people came out dressed as what looked like hooded monks, faces covered, who just stood at the front of the stage as the intro music continued to fill the air in the venue. Five more people dressed the same then slowly made an appearance on stage, the instrumentalists of the band, also referred to as the Nameless Ghouls, all took to their positions to await the arrival of lead singer Papa Emeritus, dressed in a cardinal outfit (that’s a Bishop if you don’t know), with a face painted to that of a skeletal mask, all of their identities are very much a secret to the crowd.
Already, Ghost stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the bill and I didn’t know what to make of it all…and it seemed like the majority of the crowd felt the same way. It wasn’t music you could really mosh to…or start a circle pit to…or head bang to… in fact, unless you knew the lyrics, which are heavily satanic influenced, you couldn’t really do anything. I’m all for variety on tours, but I just don’t think this worked this time which was a shame because their costumes were highly effective. The loudest cheers came at the end of their set as everyone prepared for In Flames.
The crowd reaction to the lights going down for In Flames could not have been more different to what we had just witnessed from Ghost. It was clearly a much anticipated return to the UK for the Swedish metallers, as they have not done a full UK run for a long time! However, having played a set at this year’s Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth, it was obvious that the UK fans needed and wanted more, so their name being on the bill for the Defenders of the Faith III went down a treat. Trivium’s very own Matt Heafy has stated that “Without In Flames, Trivium wouldn’t exist” so this was a special tour in more ways than one.
Having released their 10th studio album this very year, it must’ve been difficult to squeeze in all the crowd pleasers as well as new tracks from the album, but their set was filled with a 10 track mix of old and new. New tracks “Sounds of a Playground Fading”, “Deliver Us” and “All For Me” went down a storm as the first 3 songs of the night with lead singer Anders Friden applauding the crowd for their enthusiasm and crazy energy to each track. Fan favourites “The Quiet Place”, “Cloud Connected” and “Take This Life” released carnage upon those in attendance tonight; it was a triumphant evening for In Flames and everyone was left happy with sore necks and covered in sweat.
The night was not over though, oh no. Last but not least, headliners tonight were the mighty Trivium! I’ve been a fan of these guys since their Ascendancy days so to have seen them progress as a band since then is always a pleasure. The last time I saw Trivium at Brixton was during the Black Crusade tour a few years ago, another full on metal onslaught to which they were under the legends that are Machine Head, now they were back, headlining that very venue with more metal. It’s well known that Trivium have faced some criticism during their career with album The Crusade taking the brunt of that criticism, and with a reasonably recent member change of drummer Travis Smith for Nick Augusto, some would think they had something to prove, but us UK fans love these guys and need nothing from tonight but an awesome show. Having released two albums since that controversial album, Shogun and latest addition In Waves, the four guys in Trivium were back on the rise! The lights went down and the roar from the crowd proves the excitement that filled the atmosphere.
The somewhat eerie introduction from latest album In Waves, “Capsizing The Sea” is a minute and a half perfect representation of the calm before the storm…as Nick, Paulo, Corey and Matt walk out on stage prepared to take on London as they hit the halfway mark of this tour. Matt Heafy has no trouble in creating a tornado of chaos as he screams out title track “In Waves” sending the crowd into a whirlwind of mosh pits with bodies flying everywhere; it was the perfect way to kick off their part of defending the faith! Unlike In Flames who opened with 3 tracks from their latest album, Trivium took a step back in time to their brilliant album Ascendancy giving fans old favourites “Drowned and Torn Asunder” and “Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation” without a break between tracks to make the first 15 minutes of their set just utter madness!
Other old tracks throughout the night included “The Deceived”, “Like Light To Flies”, and a live rarity for fans “Departure”, a song introduced by Matt telling everyone that they really struggled to play live before, so to hear that for the first time was a real treat! Not a single song was played from The Crusade, but it didn’t seem to go a miss as Shogun favourites “Down From The Sky” and “Kirisute Gomen” caused loud sing a longs and head bangers galore. “Dusk Dismantled”, “Black” and latest single “Built to Fall”, all off of 2011’s In Waves were all, as expected, received with the highest of love and appreciation from their fans. “Black” in particular was one of the best new songs received by the crowd prompting an enormous circle pit involving fans old and new.
Approaching the end of the night, there was time to chuck in crowd pleasers “Dying In Your Arms” and “Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr” as let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been the same without them! Set closer was “Throes of Perdition”, which was a surprising change from hearing “Pull Harder…” close the majority of times I’ve seen them live. Trivium was as usual on top form tonight, they were in total control. There was no encore tonight, but it didn’t need one! They had ended the night in the best way possible and summed up why the UK loves this band. The Defenders of the Faith III tour had come to an end and was once again one epic heavy metal filled evening.