Live Review: Killswitch Engage / Trivium, O2 Academy, Birmingham (06/02/14)

Tonight’s show was a near perfect display of how to do and not do Metalcore, with the opening bands’ showcasing poor sound and generic riffs, before the two headliners came out with showmanship, stage presence and skill.

Opening band Battlecross come out showing a lot of potential with constant smiles from the band, clearly stoked to be on the bill, and some incredibly complex riffs and solos coming from the bassist. Unfortunately this was so low down in the mix; all you could hear of the music was the same tired riffs coming from the guitars with a solo thrown in in the standard ‘just before the last chorus’ slot. That being said, this wasn’t really the bands fault, and did enough to draw attention and make me want to see them playing an environment they’re used to.

Miss May I come out next with a torrent of drop-tuned palm-muted riffs, breakdowns and mosh calls. Admittedly, what they played, they played well, and it would have been an impressive set, had this set not been played 1000 times before by 1000 different bands.

Trivium’s lesson in stage presence begins

Trivium’s lesson in stage presence begins before they even hit the stage, as two giant T’s are set up to loom over the crowd, and the stage is turned into a metal winter wonderland, a theme that’s carried on later into the set as fake snow begins falling from the sky and piling up on Corey Beaulieu’s head. Trivium are cut short almost immediately after exploding into their set with ‘Brave the Storm’ as they are forced to stop in order for a member of the crowd to be taken to the hospital, and not for the only time that night. If that doesn’t create an image of the crowd’s reaction to triviums explosive energy, then the blood found in the toilets after the set surely would have.

Musically, Trivium showed up the previous two bands by showcasing a perfect balance between melodic vocals and Matt Heafy’s harsh screams, and more importantly the ability to create a mood with the music, rather than just playing a riff that seems cool.

Killswitch Engage create an overwhelming atmosphere of unity

Killswitch Engage decide against having anything on stage that resembles a recent Disney movie, aside maybe from Adam Dutkiewicz’s headscarf, and rely entirely on the songs they have. And it works. Blasting into ‘A Bid Farewell’, the crowd comes out swinging and singing along to every word, being able to recite every song old and new, creating an overwhelming atmosphere of unity in the big choruses of ‘This Is Absolution’ and ‘My Last Serenade’. Jesse Leach manages to sing Howard Jones’ songs as if they were his own, and as if he had never been out of the band. The lack of fake snow was more than made up for by Adam Dutkiewicz’s antics, and the only thing missing from their set was their cover of Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’.

When it comes to co-headline tours, you always hold out hope that some form of collaboration will burst out on stage, and while there was a slight tinge of disappointment when no such event occurred, I left the gig bruised, sweaty and smiling.

Stephen Cripps

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