Live review: Trivium, Code Orange, Power Trip and Venom Prison @ O2 Academy, Brixton, 21/4/2018
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Just looking at the line-up of this packed-out Brixton Academy show is enough to make any metalhead salivate. Venom Prison: the British death metal stalwarts redefining their genre with a vital, feminist slant. Power Trip: the stateside thrashers whose succinct belters instantly teleport you back to the extreme music heyday of 1986. Code Orange: the band that singlehandedly made punk-inspired metalcore cool again and, in the process, opened up the door for such acclaimed youngsters as Loathe and I, the Mapmaker. And leading this parade of heavy-hitting mayhem, Trivium: an eclectic quartet whose aggressively melodic mid-2000s antics totally transformed rock ‘n’ roll forever. For the heavy metal subculture, the significance of tonight cannot be understated. For one of its brightest and most popular lights to take three lauded, underground up-and-comers under its wing and place them onto a pedestal for the world to see restores faith in the next generation of this style of music. It’s a beacon of hope in a saturated subgenre dominated by labels and promoters that irritatingly pride receiving a quick buck from ‘80s nostalgia above nurturing new acts. With the world on their shoulders, Venom Prison (★★★★☆) shine, as always. Opening a bill this packed with sheer talent cannot be an easy feat, however, Larissa Stupar and co. use every second of their allotted half-hour to pummel with the most visceral, maniacal and in-your-face tunes conceivable. The quintet inhabit their own, exclusive world while performing, united in a realm of aggravation and grinding meditation that escapes through the catharsis of Stupar’s demonic screams and the most fiery of intense rhythms. The vast majority of tonight’s attendees will never know what it would have been like to be in the Bay Area during the peak of original thrash, but Power Trip’s (★★★★★) controversial set allows a pretty damn good approximation. The Texans’ incendiary showcase is one so brutal in its consistent fury that it has to be stopped not once, but twice, due to injuries suffered in the always-active audience. The tragic accidents reduce Power Trip’s time onstage, but an atmosphere of concern and confusion is swiftly remedied by the muscular sing-along of ‘Executioner’s Tax’ and the breakneck pace of ‘Firing Squad’. Code Orange (★★★★★) set the precedent for their impending madness early on, as yet another of Brixton’s metalheads finds themselves hurt in the moshpit during the very first song, no less. To call these American hardcore heroes diverse would be an insult: they can shift at will from the dissonant destruction of ‘Forever’ to the enchantingly melodic alternative rock of ‘Bleeding in the Blur’, thanks primarily to the triple vocal attack of Reba Meyers, Jami Morgan and Dominic Landolina. Bassist Joe Goldman, meanwhile, has the rabid energy of a man with a beehive up his arsehole, swinging wildly across the stage and encouraging a now-monumental crowd of onlookers to join in. Needless to say, there is little resistance to this notion. The ringleaders of this entire, game-changing get-together, Trivium (★★★★★), wrap proceedings up in a fantastically neat bow, their metalcore-meets-thrash-meets-hard rock stylings feeling like they combine the best aspects of each of their supports. The four-piece’s brand new album, The Sin and the Sentence (2017), is one of their most beloved discs to date, and they definitely seem to know it as they roar to life with the dynamic title track and soon follow with the raucous ‘Betrayer’. ‘Throes of Perdition’’s surprisingly early appearance demands the attention of more hardened fans, with ‘Ascendancy’ and ‘Becoming the Dragon’ then travelling even further down that more vintage rabbit-hole. The scene-cementing tone of this truly epic concert is reaffirmed as frontman Matt Heafy takes to the microphone mid-performance to namedrop more of the UK’s best metal troupes, including As Lions, Shvpes and Abhorrent Decimation (all of which you should listen to right now). A triumvirate of an encore – comprised of the grooving ‘Shattering the Skies Above’, ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr’ and the cataclysmic ‘In Waves’ – sends Brixton home happy after what has easily been one of the most important hard rock experiences of this generation. On this day, London’s heavy metal die-hards have witnessed the future. And yes, oh, yes, that future is as promising as can be. Trivium’s new album, The Sin and the Sentence, is available now via Roadrunner Records. Read more about the album in my “Best Albums of 2017” list. Code Orange’s new album, Forever, is available now, also via Roadrunner. Power Trip’s new album, Nightmare Logic, is available now via Southern Lord Recordings. Venom Prison’s debut, Animus, is available now via Prosthetic Records.
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